Neato HD Thing of the Week: New Sharp exhibit displays the power of HD in fish form

April 28, 2011 by  
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We always appreciate really cool applications of the HD medium, and this is such an example: the 5D Miracle Tour launching Friday in Japan. Read more about it from our friends at Engadget:

….this “5D” cube opening on Friday. Constructed from 156 Sharp 60-inch HD displays, the 5D Miracle Tour can only be found at Huis Ten Bosch, a “residential-style resort built after a medieval 17th-century Dutch town” located in Sasebo City, Japan. The unique attraction accommodates 32 guests at a time, and consists of one main front screen, surrounded by additional panels on the top, bottom, left and right. Lasting eight minutes, the tour presents the story of a mermaid named Sirena, though content will occasionally change — given the transient nature of mermaids, of course.

Very cool indeed….brought to you by your friends at Screen Sleuth. We’re only hoping an exhibit like this would come to US shores at one point.

Not Done Yet: Real media still tops, according to study

April 25, 2011 by  
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If you listened to the tech articles across the web, you would think that everyone and their brother was watching movies via Internet streaming and/or Video on Demand services via cable or internet services. It’s the big new thing, right? However, a new NPD Group of thousands of avid TV watchers has uncovered that DVD/Blu-Ray is still not quite dead and buried yet.

According to NPD, 77 percent of consumers they surveyed have watched a movie on DVD/Blu-ray hi-def disc in the past 3 months. However, only 21% have watched a home movie via a digital source like on demand or streaming. That’s quite a gap that will take a long time to shrink, more than likely.

Want more telling stats? You got it: NPD also found that 80 cents of every dollar spent on home video is going for the rental or sale of DVDs or Blu-ray discs, not streams or On Demand (the latter of which is too expensive most of the time anyhow compared to hard media). Not only is HD still hot, but the real thing is still pretty hot as well.

End of an era: Philips sells out its HDTV division

April 23, 2011 by  
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Philips has been a major player in the HDTV industry for awhile now, but it seems even that couldn’t save it or make it turn a profit. After 80 years, the new CEO has decreed that history will end as of very soon.

Philips stated that their HDTV division lost the company €87 million in the first quarter — Philips will be selling the majority stake in it to Hong Kong manufacturer TPV Technology, but keeping a 30 percent ownership part and royalty payments of €50 million per year from 2013 onwards, making it a win-win deal for Philips all the way around.

It’s a sad end to a era of solid quality HDTV units, but the economy has spoken and dictated a change in strategy, and we’re here to cover it, as usual. We’ll update this as it becomes final.

Reader Opinion: Need a new HDTV?

April 23, 2011 by  
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Sometimes we like to let our users and readers speak out and help each other out. In this case: what if your HDTV broke tomorrow and it couldn’t be repaired (usually a dicey thing if its a little older with how cheap HDTVs are these days)? What brand would you want or consider?

Would you do 3D? Plasma or LCD or LED? There’s always a minefield of choices to make, and each has their plus and minus bullet points, but the good news is: prices have rarely been lower than they are right now, so now’s the time to jump on the deals.

So it’s up to you, dear readers: any suggestions for anyone who’s searching in the HD wilderness? A model that you own and enjoy that you would recommend to a friend? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments area for the benefit of others, and pass on your wisdom.

B and O strikes again: 85″ Plasma HDTV launches, and we wish our bank accounts were larger

April 21, 2011 by  
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It seems our friends at Bang and Olufsen have struck again with yet another high-priced delight for the senses with their 85″ Plasma HDTV soon to launch in Moscow (and then around the world soon after we assume). Our brethren at Engadget will explain this marvel in detail:

Bang & Olufsen’s new BeoVision 4-85 isn’t just another run-of-the-mill 3D TV for the unwashed masses. It’s a really pretty 3D TV, for the refined and the opulent. The 85-inch plasma screen comes encased in a high-grade aluminum frame, and combines anti-reflection coating with automated image controls, to guarantee crystal clear, Full HD viewing at any time of day. B&O’s first foray into the 3D/Full HD realm also features a BeoLab 10 central loudspeaker, which uses Acoustic Lens Technology to deliver consistently high-frequency sounds, regardless of where you’re sitting in relation to the speaker. And, much like its 103-inch brethren, this 85-incher comes with a motorized stand, which automatically elevates and tilts the screen to ideal viewing position whenever the system is turned on. Once you’ve finished marveling at the BeoVision 4-85′s robust design, you can turn it off and watch in awe, as the display magically lowers itself to “within inches” of the floor (where, incidentally, you’ll also be able to find your jaw).

No word on price ranges, but we’ll just assume your wallet will be quite empty after getting ahold of this thing.

Deals, Returned: Thursday Edition

April 21, 2011 by  
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We present the return of our great, almost famous HDTV deals, and without further ado, let’s kick it off with a great deal:

Walmart – How about a great deal on a Vizio 42″ E420VL 1080p 120Hz LCD HDTV for $548 – free in-store pickup included (option is $20 for shipping). With a 120Hz refresh rate, 100,000:1 contrast ratio, and 3 HDMI inputs, tough to beat this one!

BuyDig.com – You know we love LG: how about a 55LV5500 55″ 120Hz LED HDTV for $1619 and $30 off with our special coupon code “BUYDIG30” = $1589 – and with free shipping? How can we do it?

Thanks for joining us and have fun!

Good News: Earthquake in Japan not hurting LCD production very much

April 16, 2011 by  
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Earlier we reported on the tragic events regarding Japan’s devastating earthquake and following tsunami that we thought may really ramp up LCD prices and reducing production for quite awhile. Well, that may not be as true as we thought.

According to research firm iSuppli, the Japanese earthquake has not had an impact on prices for LCD HDTV units, according to an article by Home Media Magazine published last week. While the research firm notes that prices for LCD sets are expected to decline again in April (by 0.8 percent, which is a healthy drop), it says the drop is due to the ongoing abundance of back-stock LCD panels and the global economic downturn which is still going on.

They even note that production is slowly beginning to ramp upwards again, so there may be no shortage of units as feared at first. We as HD lovers heave a sigh of relief collectively.

Wii HD: Rumor no more?

April 16, 2011 by  
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Nintendo has been denying the existence of an HD console for so long its become a ritualistic chant at this point, but now rumors (quite strong, reliable ones) are surfacing at various game mags and sites that such a device in high-res will be coming out of the woodwork at E3 2011 in June.

High-Def is what has held back the machine from total gaming domination in our opinion for awhile now, as fun and cool as the console is currently. The graphics are just kinda blocky and old-school for our HD trained eyes, and apparently Nintendo agrees.

While actual hard details are in short supply, as they typically are with something like this — mostly just the typical claim that the system will wipe the floor with competitors, be the oasis for gamers everywhere, etc — they told IGN that it will fully support 1080p resolutions and be fully backwards-compatible with games for the Wii.

Naturally, we’ll believe it when we see it, so we’ll update you as details become available.

New Tech Report: Chlorine + OLED = Miracle?

April 16, 2011 by  
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Research is always finding old materials and ways to use things to make stuff better and work more efficiently, and in this case, its a substance that’s been around pretty much forever, but was never used like this.

Chlorine? Yes, it isn’t just for keeping your clothes white and your pool clean very soon. Soon, layers of it just a single atom thickness could play a huge role in OLED making, which is something we never could have predicted, to say the least.

Researchers in Canada at the University of Toronto have found that this minute amount of pool cleaner can double the efficiency of displays while knocking down complexity and driving down production costs (the best part for consumers, who love the advantages of OLED but shy away from the price tag for now).

The procedure itself is simple, involving UV light, Cl and other various other ‘sooper secret’ tech, the team was able to chlorinate standard electrode panels found in regular everyday OLEDs without having toxic gas floating around. Our prediction of inexpensive OLED’s on Wal-Mart shelves in the next few years may actually become a reality even faster now.

HD Trial: DirecTV takes a new tactic to introduce people to new HD content

April 6, 2011 by  
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We always applaud companies who take new and unique steps to show people how cool and powerful new HD channels can be, and DirecTV, as much as we have criticized them at times, have a new and cool technique for exposing their users to their ExtraHD lineup for free for a week. Perhaps reeling a bit from subscriber sadness and desire for more HD channels, DIRECTV will begin a one-week free preview of its ‘HD Extra Pack.’

The package normally costs $4.99 a month and includes eight content packed channels: Hallmark Movie Channel HD; HDNet Movies; MGM Movies; Sony Movie Channel HD; Crime & Investigation HD; Universal HD; Palladia HD; and Smithsonian HD. The free preview will go from April 6-April 13, and is available to everyone capable of getting HD on their units and TVs.

At DIRECTV’s web site, the company is also offering a free 3-month trial of the Extra Pack as well, which is even better for prospective HD searchers.

New Stuff Galore: Toshiba shows off its 2011 lineup with lots of goodies

April 6, 2011 by  
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Press for new lineup announcements is always a fun thing for us, as we marvel at companies and all of their evolutionary advances, and such is the case for Toshiba’s HDTV advances announced recently via reports on blogs and tech publications. Engadget HD has a nice little roundup of the line coming soon to a store near you:

Toshiba’s focus at CES was glasses free 3D displays, but it highlighted more conventional HDTVs today at an event in Rome. Its new TVs and laptops all tie in to Toshiba Places, which sorts out access to different types of apps for video, social networking, music and other areas and is ready to launch this month. Separating Toshiba from the competition is a slew of new technology and the top of the line 55ZL1 model checks all the boxes: Seven core CEVO CPU for image processing, a Pro-LED512 panel that is the world’s first with 512 zones of dimming among 3,072 LEDs, Personal-TV facial recognition that picks up on which user is watching then personalizes to their preferred settings and active shutter 3D glasses. The edge lit LED VL863 series will come in 47- and 42-inch versions featuring LG’s FPR passive glasses 3D and four pairs of glasses, while the 32- through 46-inch UL863 drops 3D for built-in WiFi and Personal-TV. The SL863 series is the final step down, nixing built-in WiFi.

Prices? Nope, not part of the story here, but we expect fairly competitive prices considering Toshiba isn’t usually any higher than most of the comparable technologies from other companies. The Pro-LED512 panel in particular excites us as leading edge LED technology that should bleed into other designs in the future.

Speaking of Crazy: BR edition of Scarface for $1,000?

April 2, 2011 by  
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Now we’ve seen all manner of special edition Blu-Ray HD movies recently, and we applaud the movement to release special editions of movies on BR, but this report may be crossing the line a bit: a $999 edition of the film with only 1,000 copies produced? Yes, according to reports, it’s true.

The Blu-ray edition of Brian De Palma’s 1983 gangster classic Scarface debuts September 6, 2011 and will only have 1,000 copies pressed, is indeed special but perhaps a little too much for many even devoted fans. What do you get for this this sum? A disc encased in ‘SteelBook’ packaging, a digital copy of the film, the 1932 edition of Scarface starring George Muni regarded as pretty good, 10 art cards featuring scenes from the film; and a hand-crafted Scarface-themed humidor.

Here’s a hot tip: Amazon is now selling the $999 edition for just $699. Does this make the decision easier? Let us know if you buy one!

More Blu-Ray Release News: Deluxe Superman BR set coming soon

April 2, 2011 by  
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Here’s even more Blu-Ray release news to whet your HD appetite: the popular Superman movies of the 70′s-00′s is coming to a huge complete set on HD BR very soon, and this will give you all the red-caped glory you can handle in one package.

Warner Bros. has stated the Superman: The Motion Picture Anthology package will be released June 7, 2011 for a street value of $129.95 (no doubt early sales will push it a little lower).

All five theatrical releases are included, but the eight discs include two extra versions (Superman: The Movie Extended Edition and Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, both considered by purists to be the real versions of the films) and a bonus disc with tons of extra goodies on it, including two HD documentaries and a slew of other extras from previous releases too.

Blu-Ray News: Star Wars saga set for release Sept. 16th

April 1, 2011 by  
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We reported this huge Blu-Ray news a few months ago, now we have a firm date for release (we didn’t have that previously): Sept. 16th is when you will ‘use the force’ once again, this time in crystal clear HD Blu-Ray.

We’ve heard this will be the “Special Edition” versions of the films included, fully remastered by Lucas himself for the best quality around, with tons of extras, interviews, etc. It should be a huge seller, so pre-ordering may be necessary for best results and to guarantee yourself a copy when it comes out. Feel free to comment here if you plan on buying it, we know we’ll be anxiously awaiting our copy.

Price was not released at press time, but expect prices for 3 packs (1-3 or 4-6) to be around the $50 mark or so.

A First: Samsung to produce transparent, no-backlight 22″ HDTV LCD soon

April 1, 2011 by  
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This we’re getting from a trusted source and blog Engadget is also reporting this: Samsung is about ready to produce a breakthrough product that could be the first in a wave of “transparent” HDTV LCD monitors with very high resolution and low power requirements. Read on:

They said they would do it, and by golly it’s nearly here — Samsung just revealed that its assembly lines are starting to churn out see-thru computer screens that don’t require power-sucking backlights to function. Unfortunately, it looks like the amazing AMOLED variety is still on the drawing board, but ambient light-powered LCDs are on the way, with Samsung offering a 22-inch, 1680 x 1050 resolution panel with a 500:1 contrast ratio to begin with. Sammy suggests we’ll see it in HDMI and USB-compatible monitors and suspects it’ll be used in advertising and teleconferencing first — which suggests this display won’t come cheap.

Price and exact availability aren’t out yet, but we’re thinking late this year/early next as an estimate.