SB Follow-Up: Wal-Mart’s HDTV Super Bowl Madness begins

January 30, 2011 by  
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Last article, we discussed Consumer Report’s picks for the best of the best among HDTV units, now we have Wal-Mart jumping in to offer great deals on HDTVs across the board. Here’s a preview of some great deals:

* Vizio 32″ LCD HDTV (720p, 60Hz, 31.5″ diagonal screen size) – $348
* Phillips 40″ LCD HDTV (1080p, 120Hz, 39.9″ diagonal screen size) – $498 ($100 savings)
* Vizio 42″ LCD HDTV (1080p, 60Hz, 42.0″ diagonal screen size) – $548
* Vizio 47″ HDTV (1080p, 120Hz, 46.1″ diagonal screen size) – $698

$698 for a 47″, 120Hz HDTV? Now that really is madness, and Vizio has established itself as a very decent brand nowadays. It’ll be interesting to see the sales totals after the Super Bowl is played, and we’ll truly hope that really helps to move units.

Big Game, Big TV: Consumer Reports picks the top 5 HDTVs for Super Bowl viewing

January 30, 2011 by  
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Consumer Reports is well-respected for their in-depth articles on a variety of topics, including HDTV units. They’ve released their top selections for Super Bowl viewing fun, including a Sony, a Panasonic, and an LG.

We agree with the list for the most part, and notice two of the five units are Plasma technology, proving that Plasma units aren’t quite as dead as previously thought. The Sony we think is priced a bit on the high side for the screen real estate you get, but the picture is excellent, according to numerous reviews, and of course you all know of our respect for everything LG in the HD department.

Here’s the link to the article itself, and happy Super Bowl TV hunting to all of you, dear readers.

Pioneer Again: Disguised as a Sharp?

January 28, 2011 by  
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It seems coming back from the dead is pretty popular these days, and Pioneer is doing a reappearance once again – but as Sharp rebadged HDTV units, if reports are to be believed. We were quite sad when Pioneer closed their Kuro brand, but good news could be coming. More here:

It was a dark day when Pioneer announced its mighty Kuro HDTVs would be no more, but the Pioneer Elite brand still has significant cachet and will return in 2011 on new high end TVs. The bad news? They will be LCDs, not plasmas, manufactured by its partner Sharp, a not entirely surprising move since this was actually the original plan for the Kuro brand back in 2008. Apparently both see potential as Sharp will gain access to higher-end AV salesrooms and integrators for its products, while Pioneer will have TVs to match its continuing Pioneer Elite Blu-ray player and receiver lines. Despite an impressive local dimming demo at CES we’re still not sure Sharp can create enough new pixels to replace what we once had, but we should find out for sure when the new models arrive the end of the year.

We’re unsure if Sharp can make a TV like Pioneer could, but seeing is believing. We’ll report if the Sharp models are up to snuff.

No HD: Small midwest town offered no HD channels by Comcast

January 26, 2011 by  
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Now everyone wants more HDTV, no matter how many channels they have. But imagine for a second if you lived in a small town serviced by Comcast (a large provider) where you were offered no HD channels at all? Its happened, and the residents aren’t happy about it. Read on via a recent TVPredictions write-up:

Think your TV provider doesn’t have enough HD channels? What if you lived in a town where the local cable TV provider didn’t offer any High-Definition channels?

That’s right. Zero HD.

Not possible, you say. Well, don’t tell that to the high-def owners who live in the Du Quoin, Illinois area. Their local cable TV provider, a company called Comcast — yes, that’s right, the nation’s largest cable TV operator — doesn’t offer a single HD channel in Du Quoin, a Southern Illinois town which has a population less than 10,000.

The newspaper reports that the mayor and city council members have been told by Comcast that the system is “old (and) antiquated.” The cable operator also has not offered much hope that anything will change anytime soon.

Now something should be done obviously, but at the same time, is it Comcast’s fault the local system is too old to handle HD? It’s a hot topic of debate locally, and hopefully they can work it all out.

OLED News: LG aiming to start making panels by 2013?

January 25, 2011 by  
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All of you know LG is sorta king of the hill in the OLED charge of late, and now word from up high is that LG is swearing they’ll be ready to make a move in the OLED arena in the next few years, mass producing large OLED panels for the open market.

More info and pic courtesy of Engadget:

LG has plucked our heart strings once again by announcing on its Q4 earnings call that its mass production of large OLED panels will ramp up at the end of 2013. In other words, the schedule it laid out a little less than a year ago to triple OLED production via a $226 million facility expansion is still on track — which is pretty amazing given that other OLED schedules we’ve seen have been 90 percent fantasy and 10 percent hype. On the same call, vice president of LG Display Jung Ho also took the opportunity to share the company’s goal of becoming the market leader in OLED TV. Considering LG has already announced plans to release a 31-inch 3D OLED set in the US and Europe this year with a 55-inch prototype following in 2012 — it seems Samsung may now have a real fight on its hands for OLED dominance that it can’t dance its way out of. No matter who wins, though, the possibility of ultra-thin TVs gracing our walls is definitely getting brighter.

We love the heat on this technology and that companies are recognizing people want something new and fresh in the HDTV world.

Super Bowl HD: Best Buy starts up HDTV specials for pigskin epic

January 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Deals, Sony, TV Brands

Every year, it seems many companies put HDTV units on sale for the big sports day, the Super Bowl, and this year is no exception.

It will feature 14 Sony TVs, and its good from January 23 to January 29, 2011. Prices are decent for the type of units they are, indeed. Here’s more info from the source:

During the promotion, Best Buy is offering discounts on 14 different Sony sets, including:

* Sony Bravia 60-inch, 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV for $1,998 ($1,001 off the regular price)
* Sony Bravia 55-inch, 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV for $1,499 ($800 off the regular price.)
* Sony Bravia 55-inch, 1080p 3D 240Hz LED HDTV for $1,798 ($1,401 off the regular price.)
* Sony Bravia 46-inch, 1080p 60Hz LCD HDTV for $763 ($86 off the regular price.)
* Sony Bravia 46-inch, 1080p 3D 240Hz LED HDTV for $1,499 ($1,000 off the regular price.)
* Sony Bravia 40-inch 1080p, 60Hz LCD HDTV for $599 ($50 off the regular price.)

We always appreciate sales, so we thought we would pass this one on to our fair readers.

Browsing News: Opera headed to HDTV net platforms

January 21, 2011 by  
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Google TV has been pretty popular of late, but it seems they’ll be getting a little competition in the near future with the announcement of Opera being introduced as an option with internet-connected HDTV units very soon. More to read:

Opera has officially announced its much-loved web browser will be appearing on Sony TVs and Blu-ray players. There’s no specific details, but it given its low-key presence at CES a few weeks ago (Sony Insider grabbed a video of it in action on the show floor — embedded after the break — unfortunately hampered by slow connection speeds) it will spread at least across the company’s 22 new connected HDTVs. Since the browser is based off of the Opera devices SDK backbone, it’s also not a stretch to imagine that Opera-enabled web applications, widgets, or other content using standards like HTML5 (no Flash, at least not yet) could piggy back onto Sony gear at some point. The real elephant in the room though is how this move relates to the Japanese tech giant’s Internet TV initiative that’s powered by Google TV. While we can’t imagine it signals Mountain View’s solution is destined for a dumping, between this and a similar move by Samsung including a browser in its own Smart TV platform, a little bit of jealousy could be just the kick Google needs to fix some glaring issues — which we’re all for, especially if it spawns a new round of potato based cajoling.

Competition is a good thing in most arenas, and so it will be in this case, we believe.

Lawsuit Settled: Vizio vs. LG

January 20, 2011 by  
Filed under Industry News, LG, TV Brands, Vizio

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After several years and lots of legal wrangling, the ITC was just about to rule on the lawsuit between Vizio and LG when they suddenly announced a settlement between the two parties of their own accord. Settling usually ends up being the least expensive and tenuous option, and it’s good to see to two HDTV giants getting back to business as usual.

The agreement was apparently a (as of now undisclosed) cross licensing agreement of some sort, and both parties are saying they’re happy with the results. This isn’t even the first patent related lawsuit with Vizio and another party, and may not be the last either, if reports are accurate.

LG and Vizio fall on the same side of the fence when it comes to glasses-free vs. traditional 3D, so perhaps it isn’t a huge shock it turned out the way it did.

They Love It: Japan crazy about 3D Blu-Ray

January 18, 2011 by  
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Hey, we have one market that can’t get enough 3D HD: Japan, it seems is head over heels about the format. Here’s the skinny about this:

Finally, we find a market that is truly enthusiastic about 3D. Tokyo-based researchers BCN, cited by CrunchGear, report that a cool 57 percent of all Blu-ray recorders sold in Japan last month had 3D playback functionality built in, while 23 percent of all 40-inch-plus TVs sold had the ability to relay stereoscopic imagery. Both those numbers are major leaps in popularity within the nation itself and also easily dwarf penetration rates for 3D hardware in other parts of the world. 3D has apparently grown a lot more affordable in Japan, but lest you think these data are just a symptom of people upgrading their equipment without regard to its third-dimension skills, word is that there’s still a chunky 30 percent premium associated with adding 3D to your BR recorder purchase.

We’re glad someone is getting mileage out of the 3D trend in home theater, here’s to hoping this follows in the US at some point.

Directors Directive: Blu-Ray is the best

January 17, 2011 by  
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Recently 3 quite famous Hollywood directors have weighed in on the hi-def medium and said it: Blu-Ray is the best hardware based HD medium for home movies right now. As if people who read this blog didn’t know that, but its nice to hear famous figures like Oliver Stone saying so out loud. Read on:

Three top Hollywood directors last week urged Americans to buy Blu-ray editions of their movies, saying they offer the best picture and sound available in the world. That’s according to an article by The Los Angeles Times The three directors made their remarks during a panel discussion at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

“Blu-ray does a better job (than DVD) by a factor of about 12 or 13,” said director Michael Mann who has helmed such films as Heat, Ali and Miami Vice.

Oliver Stone, who has directed Wall Street, Platoon and Nixon, says consumers should consider Blu-ray discs as collectibles. He predicted that people will hold onto to their Blu-ray discs until 2050

“This is about film preservation … it’s the last hardware, the best of the last hardware. There won’t be any other hardware now,” Stone said, referring to the rise of streaming videos over the Net.  High Def Digest writes that Stone added: “It’s like having a print at home. Not only is it like a print at home, but it’s actually usually better than the old print. Criterion Classics is great, but a Blu-ray compared to it – there’s just no comparison.”

We applaud these directors for saying what we already knew: Blu-Ray is the best HD home movie medium out there, and nothing else compares.

Speedy Def: F1 to air in HD

January 16, 2011 by  
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Even people who enjoy fast cars like their races to look good as well, and it seems The Speed Channel has been paying attention to those hi-def racing fans with their latest announcement:

The Speed channel this March will begin airing Formula One racing in High-Definition for the first time.

The Formula season begins March 13 with live coverage of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Speed will air 16 of the season’s 20 races with four events airing on Fox.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with this decision and our ability to bring our rabid F1 fan base coverage of their favorite racing in HD in 2011. And Speed is going the extra mile, installing continuous fiber service to guarantee the best possible picture quality,” said Rick Miner, Speed’s senior vice president of production and network operations.

In previous seasons, Formula One Management, which handles the television broadcasts of the races, had delivered a standard-definition feed to all broadcasters worldwide. But the organization decided this year to switch to HD.

As long as large players are getting into the HDTV business, we rest assured that it will continue to grow, even if these writers aren’t really big racing fans.

CES 2011: Summary of Best Stuff (that we haven’t covered already)

January 15, 2011 by  
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CES 2011 is over and the highlights are legion, including lots of 3D developments, new models and other such news. Here our friends at Engadget have summarized the best of the rest, and given us a nice concise rundown for your reading pleasure.

Feel free to read, and drool over the coming growth in the world of HDTV, and get as excited as we are. Samsung and Panasonic in particular have some pretty neat stuff on the way, and we can’t wait to report it to you right here on these pages.

Thanks for reading on this fine Saturday!

Sign of the Times: Age suit won by HD anchor

January 13, 2011 by  
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Now this is a new one, but perhaps a sign of the times to come? A BBC host claimed their ‘wrinkles’ would be more visible in HD, and claims she was terminated for that reason. Now we know HD shows more details, but this is something very new indeed, and even slightly funny.

A clip from the BBC article here:

A 53-year-old British TV ‘presenter’ has won an ageism discrimination case after she charged the BBC fired her because her wrinkles would be more visible when the show switched to High-Definition. Miriam O’Reilly, a news reader on the BBC show Countryfile, charged that the network asked her to leave the show when it was moved from a daytime to nighttime slot; the show also began broadcasting in HD.

Talk about an issue that would never have been an issue even 10 years ago; too MUCH detail in broadcasting. Hopefully, this doesn’t signal the beginning of more such ‘sexism’ lawsuits for aging broadcasters who have outgrown the use of makeup to cover their blemishes.

Hands-On: Glasses-free 3D from StreamTV, dubbed the Elocity

January 12, 2011 by  
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Glasses-free 3D will probably be the only way HDTV 3D will survive in the years to come, and great strides are being made to make it more glasses-free. CES 2011 has a worthy new entrant in StreamTV’s Elocity line, and feel free to peruse the details:

There’s been no shortage of glasses-free 3D at CES but we can’t say we expected Stream TV, makers of those Elocity tablets, to be showing off wares of its own. While the company is promising lots of spectacle-free TVs with parallax screens in the next year, at its booth there was just a 42-inch 1080p 3T1 panel on the show floor.

The description does go on to say the display is a bit grainy and not quite the same as with the glasses (much the same story with many other 3D competitors this year featuring no glasses), but its a step in the right direction, for certain. We’ll keep an eye on this as the technology develops.

HDMI Take-Over: New Blu-Ray players to stop supporting analog video output

January 12, 2011 by  
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It’s a trend that needed to begin, quite honestly, and it’ll become official this year: Newer Blu-Ray players will only begin supporting HD output via HDMI ports. It’s a good thing that will make hooking things up and overall quality a lot better, we think. Read on:

The chicken littles have been worried about this since long before the first Blu-ray (or even HD DVD) title was ever released, and the first step towards the analog sunset has officially come. Any new Blu-ray player announced after January 1st 2011 will only output HD via HDMI — players that started shipping last year can still be sold until the end of this year though. If you just love component video, you might figure you’ll be able to get a player today and continue to enjoy it for years to come, but maybe not. You see the studios also have the Image Constraint Token (ICT) which when set on a title will tell every and all Blu-ray players to down convert analog output to 540p. The only reprieve is that if its set on a title, it must be marked on the box, and of course it can’t be retroactively set (any title you own now will continue to play exactly the same way it does on your existing players). We’re waiting for final confirmation, but apparently the ICT hasn’t been an option to studios until now so start looking for the icon on your latest purchases. The final stage in the sunset is 2013 when analog outputs will be removed from Blu-ray players completely.

We applaud the move as a welcome bridge to an all HDMI/HDTV society.

CES Madness: Philips Booth overview

January 10, 2011 by  
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Another post, another CES 2011 booth coverage article. Philips was once considered a creaky, aging company that was fading away, but this CES proves that might not be the case. Read on:

And here we were worried that Funai’s takeover of the US arm would lead to a falloff. Whatever its name or corporate structure, Philips has brought plenty of US-bound heat to CES 2011, with none bigger than the news that we will see the company’s sweet 3D-capable 21:9 ultrawidescreen HDTV on this side of the Atlantic in the second half of 2011. Today it also announced plans for a Blu-ray player with wireless HDMI, the world’s first (meaning you’ll probably need a dongle on any TV to use it until compatible displays arrive later in the year) but no surprise for an outfit that’s been pushing HD streaming for some time. On a similar front its MediaConnect app on new TVs and Blu-ray players will let it stream anything playing on a PC to the TV screen WiDi-style.

Read more with pics here on the latest in HDTV from Philips.

CES Madness: LG Booth overview

January 10, 2011 by  
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Readers here know we love LG, and their booth at CES 2011 is pure madness this year, according to our fine friends at Engadget. Read here for a little peek at their booth this year:

If there is one booth at CES this year that is going all out, it’s arguably LG’s. The massive, supermarket-sized chunk of show floor real estate showcases everything from the manufacturer’s latest phones — like the Revolution, Optimus Black and Optimus 2X — to SmartTV devices, network Blu-ray players and HDTVs. You’ll also find smart appliances linked with WiFi and smartphone apps using LG Thinq, and even a scanner mouse — not to mention a mesmerizing display wall.

Now read this for pics, details and more upcoming from (in our opinion) one of the best HDTV companies on the planet.

BR Release News: Star Wars saga to arrive on Blu-Ray in September

January 8, 2011 by  
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It’s been rumored, long-awaited and breathlessly talked about by Star Wars fans around the globe, and now thanks to CES, its official: The Star Wars saga will be released on Blu-Ray in September 2011.

It will be issued 3 different ways:

Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray (9-disc Set includes all six films)
Star Wars: Prequel Blu-ray Trilogy (3-disc set includes Episodes I-III)
Star Wars: Original Blu-ray Trilogy (3-disc set includes Episodes IV-VI)

We highly recommend the 6 pack of movies, and it will also include over 30 hours of special features, and exclusive never before seen deleted scenes and bonus footage. This sounds very impressive indeed, and we’ll be early in line to grab these. Prices will top out at $139.99 for the whole shebang, which isn’t too bad really considering how awesome these will look on BR.

Blu is the word: Blu-Ray players now in over 27M US homes

January 8, 2011 by  
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It’s official: Blu is here to stay, more than likely. Based on recent surveys and data, Blu-ray is now in 27.5 million U.S. homes, according to Digital Entertainment Group, an organization high up in the high-def disc industry. The report also states that Blu-ray title sales have doubled in the last year.

“That’s bucking the trend with what’s going on with packaged media in general,” stated Parsons, referring to declining DVD sales, which dropped 11% last year over the year before. No such drop for Blu-Ray though, which is only going up: Blu-ray sales and rentals syrocketed an amazing 53% in 2010, hitting $2.3 billion in total earnings.

Since over 60M homes have HDTVs, that almost half the installed user base, meaning the word is getting out there quite successfully. The news is nothing but good for HD pundits who predict that BR will eventually replace DVD as the dominant medium. Here’s to a bountiful future for Blu.

Article: HDTV 3D doomed to failure?

January 6, 2011 by  
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It seems we aren’t the only avenue that loves HDTV but isn’t very rosy about the future of 3D as a medium that will be around for years and years to come. Large blog site TVPredictions feels even less optimistic about its future, as much as we honestly would love to stand behind it and will it to succeed.

Among its points, it states that 3D HDTV is not convenient to use, which is one of its three points to success. Read:

At this time, 3D TV does not add convenience to anyone’s life. To watch 3D TV at home, you have to buy a new TV — at a price higher than non 3D TVs — new expensive 3D goggles if you have more than one person in your family; a 3D Blu-ray player if your TV provider does not offer 3D channels; and you have to buy all these things after you likely just purchased a new TV to be ready for the 2009 Digital TV transition.

We actually agree with its arguments, but hopefully as the tech evolves it will become easier to use. Read more about this article’s pointed opinions here.

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