Fall Of a Different Kind: LCD TV prices expected to drop soon

September 29, 2010 by  
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Looks like we may have jumped the gun a bit on the prices of LCD TVs. Flat-screen LCD HDTV prices are expected to drop at least five percent in the next few weeks, says DisplaySearch, as reported by CNN originally.

This is due to several factors: the economy, the time of year, but mostly its just oversupply. Dealers are overstocked, and they’re looking to clear out stuff as quickly as possible, making for some very good possible deals in the coming weeks and months out there.

Paul Gagnon, director of research at DisplaySearch stated flatly: “Manufacturers were playing a game of chicken, hoping demand would be there and reluctant to be the first one to let prices fall. Only recently did they come to the shocking realization that prices needed to fall. That will have a good impact on holiday sales.”

Black Friday this year is expected to have some of the lowest prices on LCD TVs ever, starting as low as $199 for certain 32″ models.

HD Highlights: ESPN debuts popular shows in HD

September 29, 2010 by  
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It’s about time, we say: ESPN finally debuted popular shows Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption in HD formats today. While it’s been way too long for these shows to make the jump, they look pretty good, according to many reports. Details to follow:

After an all-too-long wait, two of ESPN’s most popular sports shows finally made the jump to high definition today and we couldn’t help but grab a few snaps to see what they look like in 720p. One interesting note is that the network is simply letterboxing the same 16:9 feed for SD viewers, which probably explains the large font on Pardon The Interruption’s upcoming stories ticker. Naturally, Woody decided to work in an HD reference nearly every time he was up on Around the Horn today, but once the jokes and the background messages fade, we’ll still be appreciating the much, much better looking highlights.

Hopefully, more stations currently airing shows in SD will follow ESPN’s lead on this.

The Word is No: HDTV buyers say 3D isn’t a big deal

September 26, 2010 by  
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We aren’t exactly shocked: a recent large survey indicates 3D isn’t enough to lure people into buying a new HDTV if they already own a recently purchased one. Yep, not a lot of shock here really. The numbers: 83% of consumers say 3D isn’t enough to make them want to buy a new TV, according to an article published by CNET.com very recently.

But TV makers from Panasonic to Sony to Samsung have invested big time in new 3D HDTVs designed to grab consumers and encourage them to sink their wallets into new technology. However, sales have been slow overall; reports are that only a little over a million 3D sets will be in homes by the end of 2010.

Deloitte’s study also found that 60 percent of consumers won’t pay more for a TV with 3D included. That’s bad news for many companies sinking a lot into promoting this new end of the HDTV spectrum. Here’s to hoping they just improve the 2D experience of sets and not worry too much about the third dimension for now.

Lies and (Digital) Videotape: DirecTV not being honest about HD channels

September 26, 2010 by  
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We’re all for 200+ HD channels being carried by any provider these days, but we don’t in any way support lies or deception in calculating those channels, and we’d even say it hurts the HD industry for providers to lie about this.

Take DirecTV’s advertising for example: they claim around 200 HD channels since the launch of their new satellite awhile back, but honestly, they aren’t anywhere near that number of channels if you really look at it, and they’re missing key channels already present and available with other providers, such as AMC HD, BBC America HD, E! HD, Turner Classic Movies HD, G4 HD, National Geographic Wild HD, TruTV HD, Style HD, and others.

And to make matters worse, DirecTV still claims in promos that it carries “just about everything in HD.” Based on that list above, this is a lie.

Here’s to hoping subscribers make providers more accountable for deceiving advertising that could make customers believe they’re getting the whole HD experience when they really aren’t.

Still Here: Runco releases new Plasma HDTV offerings

September 25, 2010 by  
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Runco is a company that’s been around for a bit and usually offers large high-end offerings for professional use, but does offer consumer level products as well through various sources, and is poised to release some very cool new screens to the general (if ones with deep pockets) public. Read on:

Runco’s continuing to develop its plasma HDTV offerings with the new Vistage series. Available in 63-, 58- or 50-inch sizes, the 1.7-inch think panels also include the company’s latest scaler, the DHD-LS. Unlike that projector we just mentioned, these do 3D with the addition of active shutter glasses and an IR emitter, courtesy of an add-on pack shipping early next year. We got a quick glance at the screens which promise contrast and black levels “previously unachieved in the industry” and while they did look amazing, you may not be able to decide if cashing out for between $6,000 and $10,000 for one of these screens is worthwhile — until you find out you can outfit the back of the panel with decorations including your college logo of choice.

Official release is scheduled for the end of the year, according to various sources.

Sharp Tech: New trio of HDD-armed Blu-Ray players make their appearance

September 25, 2010 by  
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It seems the newest trend among media players is to extend beyond simply playing back media, but storing and presenting it a new way, which is Sharp’s intention with this new trio of players debuting across the globe soon (later in the US than on Asian shores). Read on:

You won’t find this trio hitting US shores anytime soon, but those situated in Japan have a new gaggle of Sharp BD decks to ogle. The BD-HDW65 and BD-HDW63 both include a pair of TV tuners, BDXL support and compatibility with Blu-ray 3D titles, with the only difference being the hard drive — there’s a 500 gigger in the former and a 320GB drive in the latter. The BD-HDS65 goes with a single digital tuner, a single analog tuner and a 500GB hard drive, which might prove useful for storing copious amounts of drama from Sky TV. You’ll also find WiFi integrated throughout, not to mention an Ethernet jack, HDMI output, component jacks and DLNA support.

Whispers are that the first two should ship next month, with the last unit going on sale in Japan mid-November; pricing is as expected, not cheap. We’re hearing ranges from ¥90,000 ($1,066) to ¥120,000 ($1,422), which moves this one into the elite category price wise.

3D Goes 4D: Sharp releases Quattron HDTVs to the US

September 23, 2010 by  
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It appears Sharp is still busily engineering in their labs, and marketing directly to the states for the first time in awhile: they’re announcing the soon-to-be-released line of Quattron 3D HDTV models to the US. See more about their engineering feats here:

Sharp made US 3D fans very happy today by announcing the immediate availability of its new 52 and 60-inch AQUOS Quattron 3D TVs at CEDIA. The LED backlight side-mount scanning LE925 series starts at $4199 with the bigger brother going for $5299, feature two pairs of 3D glasses bundled in, a dynamic contrast ratio of 8,000,000:1 and IP control plus RS-232 for home automation fans. The Ethernet port or optional WiFi adapter can also be used to stream Netflix, VUDU or a variety of other over the top video services. What’s interesting is that Sharp is claiming its 4th color (yellow) Quattron technology offers a brighter image which can overcome the dimming, that 3D glasses are known for. Also, a first is that the 3D glasses can convert the 3D signal to 2D for that one 3D hatter in your party (not to be confused with the TV’s ability to convert 2D material to 3D).

We love the fancy new tech, hopefully it does well enough to be emulated in some form by other companies.

Chicken Noodle Hi-Def: E’s The Soup now airing in HD

September 21, 2010 by  
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We rarely mention specific shows in these columns, but this one is a personal favorite: E Channel’s The Soup, a show that makes fun of reality shows and pop culture in general that’s pretty much right on for the most part. It’s hosted by sarcasm master Joel McHale, who has made a living out of being a snarky commentator.

In related news, after being on in SD since 2004, the show is now being produced in HD starting this week, and is airing in many markets in HD as of this writing. It’s about time, as the show has been pretty late about arriving in HD, and is a welcome addition for anyone who laughs at pop culture at large on a regular basis.

Oddly, DirecTV does not carry the show in HD, in yet another war with Comcast, one of its chief rivals.

Warner Exec: ‘Blu-Ray will be around for many years’

September 20, 2010 by  
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Warner Bros. big-wig Barry Meyer has been quoted as stating that DVDs and Blu-ray HD discs will be around for a number of years, according to an article by Home Media Magazine, and that despite some predictions that discs will soon be replaced by Video on Demand and streaming video type media, Meyer told an industry conference last week that disc sales seems to be solid and stable after several quarters of small percentage declines.

This is good and bad news, we suppose. The good news: The discs you’re buying now won’t be obsolete in just a few years. The bad news: eventually, yes, On Demand streaming will replace hard media for many in the know. Of course, discs will always have some place among those who can’t be bothered with fancy tools or modern technology of any kind, so they won’t die off completely.

Meyer continues: “The physical DVD market is going to be around a lot longer than VHS was. That little silver disc is a pretty ubiquitous thing. It is high quality, usable on a lot of different devices, portable and all that. And until we start getting digital into that place that is as ubiquitous, playable on multiple devices and as portable as DVD, I think you will see physical hanging around for a long time.”

We do agree, but will add that Blu-Ray (in our opinion) will replace standard DVD within the next 5-10 years or so, even among much of the mainstream audience, especially considering the quick decline of players and disc prices.

Opinion: Do women value HDTV as much as men?

September 20, 2010 by  
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It’s an age-old question: the difference between men and women, and what they value vs. what men value. In this case, do women care about HDTV as much as men do? Apparently (according to a recent survey by a company), the answer is a pretty big NO.

Read on:

UK-based research firm Mintel has taken some time out of their usual schedule tracking the sales of pies and and pasties (Beef Pie is leading) to investigate consumer reaction to HDTV and says its results indicate women are far less enthusiastic than men about high definition televisions. Even with nearly 20 million HDTVs in Britain, less than half of the people surveyed are actually receiving HDTV broadcasts. According to Mintel, women are turned off by a focus on sports in the programming and don’t think the increase in picture quality is worth paying for.

Interesting stuff, though in this writer’s house its much the same story with my female love (‘It’s the same!’) which seems to support this survey. It should be noted that she appreciates the HD more nowadays, though she does sometimes start surfing at SD channels too much of the time.

More Blu-Ray News: The Incredibles coming soon?

September 19, 2010 by  
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We always like to keep tabs on new 1080p releases on the HD medium, and this one would be quite cool if it happens: the now modern classic animated masterpiece, The Incredibles. Here’s a quick take on this possible coming soon event:

Just when we’d plotted out all our future Disney disc purchases, TheHDRoom is back with a roundup of Blu-ray release date rumors and what’s included but one of our favorite flicks, The Incredibles. It’s a bit shocking we haven’t seen this movie (among many, many others) on Blu-ray yet, but the site says to keep your early 2011 calendar open for now.

Feel free to keep an eye out for this and more films headed to BR in the near future. Now that Redbox has BR stocked openly, it should only be a matter of time for many great films to head to Blu-Ray.

Firmware Update: Welcome and Hello, 3D HD Blu-Ray and PS3

September 19, 2010 by  
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It appears Sony is on the ball with the very latest in HD 3D Blu-Ray, and after much discussion, rumor and turmoil, Sony is about ready to unleash 3D Blu-Ray support for the PS3. The following describes in more detail the news itself:

We’ve been waiting for 3D Blu-ray support to hit the PS3 for a good long while now, and Sony’s been promising it would happen for, well, exactly that same amount of time. Yesterday the company confirmed that the 3D-enabling 3.50 firmware update is less than a week away, dropping on September 21.

We like the news, as the further this drops into the mainstream, the better chance it has of not being a bust. We applaud (finally!) Sony’s efforts to catch up with this technology.

Newness News: Toshiba releasing LED HDTV series in the US

September 16, 2010 by  
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Toshiba hasn’t been quiet all this time, they’re releasing a group of gorgeous Toshiba HDTVs that was previewed at IFA, and they’re coming to a living room near you, assuming you’re in the USA.

Just as we expected, Toshiba has come out with the US variants of its well-regarded LED-based Cinema Series, with the big-time WX800 models (46- and 55-inches) getting 3D Resolution+ technology, 240Hz processor, 802.11b/g/n WiFi included, the company’s own Enhanced NET TV service with the always fun Yahoo! widgets and a native 1080p panel too. We’re out of breath from all that, and you may be too when you get this in your living room.

The lower end VX700 models (again, 46- and 55-inches) is meant for those ok with 2D (read: most of us right now), but are fairly similar aside from that.

Thursday’s (Again) Thrilling HDTV Deals

September 16, 2010 by  
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The last time these deals were thrilling was here. It’s been awhile, so let’s revisit the thrill once again:

6ave.com has a very nice Panasonic TC-L42D2 42” 1080p 120Hz LED LCD HDTV for $823.00 – 4% off coupon we supply you with: “AFL4COUPON” = $790.08 with free shipping. For LED that’s pretty amazing we have to say.

Tiger Direct has a great deal on a top of the line smaller model: the AOC LE23H062 23″ Edgelit LED HDTV for $230 + $9 shipping = $239 shipped. First class tech, third class price; the kind of deals we love.

Thanks for reading and join us again soon for more amazing deals!

Black Friday Predictions: Big Bargains on the way?

September 14, 2010 by  
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50″ HDTVs for $550? 32″ LCD HDTVs for less than $200? Blu-ray players for $70 or less? Yes, all of that and more could happen this Black Friday, according to several web sites that regularly monitor such sales every year.

These are just some of the awesome deals that retailers will offer on HD-related products on Black Friday, predicts a web site that tracks retailer discounts on what has become the unofficial opening of the holiday shopping season, BlackFriday.org. We believe them, since they’ve been pretty on the mark most years up until now.

We love the deep discounts, but another rumor we’re really excited about: Blu-Ray discs selling around the $5 mark that time of year as well, which should help the medium make some inroads with penetration market wise, and bring the hi-def experience within the budget of many more people.

MNF Makeover: Better HD resolution and better sound

September 14, 2010 by  
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Monday Night Football is an institution for many sports lovers across the country, and now according to published reports, it’ll look and sound even better than ever before. 5.1 surround sound and new fangled cameras, along with super slo-mo coverage top the list of tweaks. Read on:

According to the press release, this year will be the first time ESPN’s MNF is produced in 5.1 — does this mark the death of “Circle Surround”? We’ve asked for more details, but we’ll wait for our ears and receivers to tell us if there’s a difference. A few things that should definitely be noticeable to all (even international viewers, with ESPN Deportes on the scene and, for the first time, live coverage in the UK) are the addition of high speed cameras set to shoot at 500-600 fps (up from last year’s mere 300fps cameras and capable of up to 1,000fps, remember the Olympics?) for even clearer shots, and new “Maxx Zoom” cameras. These should provide a whole new angle on goal line plays from a cluster of cameras mounted at the goal line and shooting at “up to eight times normal HD resolution.” Even the old telestrator has gotten a revamp, with features that look straight out of Madden 2011 highlighting what players see, do and tracking their movement.

We like the changes, and feel that the move to ESPN really encouraged these improvements in the presentation (as much as it was disputed when it migrated from free station ABC to ESPN).

THX Jazz: LG announces fancy new Plasma HDTV units

September 12, 2010 by  
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Remember when we said Plasma was almost dead? Well, perhaps its death may have been exaggerated a tad bit, it seems…as LG announced the launch of fancy new Plasma units coming soon – with THX certification. More details below:

LG is touting its plasma PX950 as the first THX-certified 3D HDTV, and while we didn’t run into it at IFA, the company held a press gathering this week in New York to make up for it. So if this set meets THX’s rigorous demands — 400 bench tests and 1,000 data points spread out over 30 test categories — how does it look to the average consumer? Well, LG certainly has done a lot to prevent ghosting — that is, image doubling from sync issues with the glasses — and we were able to enjoy some pretty extreme horizontal viewing angles.

We heard some rumors about blurring with high-speed images at the showing though, so buyer may need to beware, perhaps. No firm prices announced yet, but we’re expecting a several hundred dollar premium over the normal Plasma HDTV unit.

Mixed Survey News: 3D interest high – Paying for it? Not so much

September 11, 2010 by  
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This year’s hot new feature in HDTV is 3D as we’ve reported here quite a bit, but of course we have expressed our doubts about people being interested enough to pay a big premium to view it and buy 2K+ sets for it. The chart displayed here should provide an easy way to see people’s point of view right now.

Nielsen and associated groups have completed the first big-time study including exposure to 3DTV content with focus groups and a quantitative study including lots of people from all walks of life. The phrase “marketing challenge” becomes apparent with the numbers of consumers stating they are likely to buy a 3DTV in the next year going down after they watch it and factoring in the additional cost and limited content, with 57% getting up in arms about the required glasses. Many said if the technology became glasses free, they would consider it more. No surprise there really.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens as the tech develops further and eventually no longer needs glasses.

Games and HD: Game Show Network to go HD soon

September 10, 2010 by  
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It appears this network is done playing games with HD, so to speak: The Game Show Network will launch a High-Definition simulcast channel next week, Broadcasting & Cable Magazine is reporting. They’re one of the few holdouts in the HD parade, but that silence will now be broken, it looks like.

The new HD channel is scheduled to launch officially September 15, but a GSN official would not reveal which cable/TV providers would carry the channel at launch, but he told B&C that several operators are testing the signal and getting ready to add it. “Most operators are shooting for 100 plus HD channels and we think we will be one of those services,” he stated.

Reports are now that GSN is now producing all 10 original shows in HD now and some syndicated shows are converted to high-def as well. It’ll be a hi-def game world on some networks very soon.

Bonuses are good: New Blu-Ray release to include free HD movies

September 10, 2010 by  
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While the release of Charlie St. Cloud on Blu-Ray isn’t always cause for celebration (unless you’re female or a ‘sensitive’ type guy), but more noteworthy on this release is the inclusion of bonus HD movies available through internet streaming, included on the disc via BD-Live, a much discussed but little used BR feature that could have potential, but is hamstrung by lack of widespread acceptance so far.

It’s the second flick by Universal to offer buyers their choice of bonus movies viewable through internet streaming. Lorenzo’s Oil and What Dreams May Come (also like the Get Him to the Greek deal because both films have not yet been released on Blu-ray) can stream to a user’s HDTV via their BD-Live connected Blu-ray player, almost magic-like.

We like the bonuses, but we’re also hoping other studios pick up on this sort of thing and offer it in the future.

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