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All posts tagged "hdtv"

Friday, January 13, 2012

Roku's Streaming Stick Boosts TV IQ into the Land of Smart

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:00 AM

"Smart TVs are great and all - who doesn't want a dash of WiFi with their daily dose of reality television? - but the segment will face challenges in the market. For one, a $49 Roku LT is a much better value proposition than a $1,000+ smart TV. Secondly, the hardware moves at such a rapid pace that even with solid software updates, your smart TV will likely be outdated much sooner than you're ready to buy a new one."

There's nothing worse than a dumb TV right? Most TVs are pretty low-IQ in terms of what they can do - it's a recent development that we have TVs capable of running apps, streaming media, etc. The Roku looks like an interesting solution, but TechCrunch points out a key problem: it requires an HDMI port that supports the MHL standard, which only newer TVs do. For a product like this to be successful, it should work with the oldest, most basic HDMI port there is from years ago. Anything less than that and Roku might have a hard time selling many of these...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Psst...Your TV is Kind of Dumb: Make it Smart

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:00 PM

"It doesn't take a genius to appreciate the benefits of the new LG Smart TV Upgrader. With one little black box you can turn your current TV into a Web browsing, movie streaming, media sharing machine. Enjoy surfing the Internet from the comfort of your couch, check your FacebookTM and TwitterTM feeds on your flat-screen display and watch videos stored on your computer's hard drive without leaving the living room. The LG Smart TV Upgrader is all you need to make your TV a Smart TV, with all the online features of the latest models. If that's not brilliant, we don't know what is."

I heard about the LG SmartTV Upgrader ST600 during CES, and it looks like it's here - Best Buy in Canada is selling it for $149.99 CAD. From the looks of the specs and what it can do, it's much more sophisticated than your typical media streaming device - it's sort of like a Boxee Box in some ways (and about $50 cheaper to boot). It supports a wide variety of video file formats (MPEG2, MPEG4, DivX, DivXHD, MKV, TS TP, M4V, WMV) though I don't see ISO files on that list, which pretty much kills it for me. However, with a Web browser and a growing selection of applications, this could be just the ticket for making that TV of yours just a bit smarter.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Panasonic's Viera TX-P50GT30 Reviewed

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 01:00 PM

"We thought last year's Panasonic GT20 plasma TVs were good, but the P50GT30 knocks the spots of its predecessors. It ramps up the online functionality that's becoming such an essential item of 2011's TV feature counts, sports a drastically improved design, and best of all serves up the best 2D and 3D picture quality we've seen from a mid-range TV."

Panasonic makes some very, very good plasma TVs - I very nearly bought one a couple of years ago but ended up going for an LG model - and despite what some people might think, plasma TVs are still alive and kicking in this era of LCD TVs. The Panasonic Viera TX-P50GT30 appears to have a lot going for it, not the least of which is an attractive outer shell. The LG TV I bought? One of the reasons why is that it looked much nicer hanging on my wall. Nice to see that Panasonic has re-vamped their outer shell!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Digital Trends Reviews the Sony Internet TV with Google TV (NSX-46GT1)

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 04:00 AM

"If every HDMI cable on earth were suddenly shredded to copper threads and you could never connect another device to your TV again, Sony's Internet TVs would be the ones to own. Simply put, no other connected television packs this much content into one clean, self-contained unit. Though the lack of cables and all-in-one approach eases setup and use, Google TV's rough edges will still make us warn non-geeks away from this otherwise sharp connected TV for the time being, but patient tech enthusiasts will find a bevy of content and possibilities built right in."

There's a lot to like about the Sony Internet TV, but ultimately the Google TV part of the experience leaves a lot to be desired. Google TV is a 1.0 product, and Google is known for rapidly improving products - just look at the constant flurry of Android releases - but from the sounds of it most people would feel a sense of buyer's remorse after investing in Google TV at this stage. Or maybe not? I recall there being a few people that were feeling very pro-Google TV in our forums here before the products it was running on shipped. Anyone bought a Google TV product and want to share your thoughts on it?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sony's Google TV Event

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Events" @ 10:37 AM

The gang over at Engadget attended the Sony Google TV event, and Sony is the first TV OEM to integrate Google's TV platform right into the box. The prices range from $599 (26" TV) to $1399 (46" TV), which is definitely a price premium on the low end - in the 26" TV space, they tend to cost about $350 or so. Sony is betting that people will want to pay a premium for Google TV. They're also offering a $399 Blu-ray player that will have Google TV functionality - though it's unclear as to whether it has the "capture and re-broadcast" approach - I see two HDMI ports on the back of it, presumably HDMI IN/HDMI OUT, so perhaps.

Although this is a long, hard road to go down - asking people to replace their HDTVs to get the new technology is a slow process - ultimately I think it's better than the add-on box route in the long term. Short term, the geeks among us will probably embrace Logitech's Revue box, but long-term, I think direct integration into your TV is the way to go. Agree? Disagree? Sound off.

Tags: tv, sony, hdtv, google tv

Monday, October 4, 2010

Google TV Shaping Up to be the Real Deal?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 10:30 AM

"If it works as smooth as it looks in this preview video, Google TV could provide the kind of seamless web-on-TV experience many have been looking for. Dedicated apps, a Chrome browser, easy picture and music viewing, and more are shown off. Google TV was announced in May, but the only evidence of how it could work was provided in a simple stage demonstration, and a cartoon-styled video. It seemed like a really web-savvy DVR, perhaps, or maybe a set-top box that had a little more Google juice."

I admit I was more than a little sceptical about Google TV when it was first announced - after all, this is the same company that had Gmail in beta for five years - and working with TV manufacturers is no small mountain to climb. I remain a little dubious about whether or not Google can accomplish this task, but they have the money and resources to potentially make in-roads where the likes of Microsoft have failed. This demo looks pretty slick, but there's a rather large chasm between a pretty software demo and real, working software on a TV that you can purchase at Best Buy made by a big name-brand OEM. This site is also worth a look.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Maximum PC Shatters Display Myths

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 02:00 PM,0

"Take everything you think you know about displays and throw it out the window. It's time for a clinic on what display specs really mean-brace yourself for the alarming truth. Vision is our most amazing and complex sense, so it's no surprise that display technology is so amazing and complicated. It's also no surprise that most consumers don't have a good understanding of how displays function, or the best way to select them, buy them, use them, and adjust them."

Are you unsure what all the different features in monitors and HDTV's do or does the technical jargon confuse you? Then this great article from Maximum PC will help you understand which features are simply marketing gimmicks, and which ones you really should be concerned with. It's an interesting read as it highlights how manufacturers try to get us to notice their monitors and TV's with extra features to improve our viewing experience, yet in reality they do next to nothing. In fact, when tested by Maximum PC they concluded it sometimes makes things worse! It's a very useful piece if you are considering buying a monitor or HDTV anytime soon.

Friday, February 20, 2009

LCDs Becoming Gargantuan In Size

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 AM

"The GE name is going to appear on televisions created by a 49%/51% joint venture of GE and Tatung, a Taiwanese builder of HDTVs, computer monitors and appliances. The new company is known as GDT for General Displays and Technologies. The GE line is set to launch in late April. Honeywell has authorized another Taiwanese company; SOYO to design, sell and market Honeywell branded HDTVs. Honeywell will produce a line of LCD HDTVs from 19” to 82” screen sizes. Yes, that right, an 82” LCD Full HD TV."

LCD TVs have slowly been growing in size over the years as the technology has been improving. However, a recent announcement by Honeywell is notable as their largest model spans a hefty 82 inches. This puts it in the size class that competes against some projectors. It offers full 1080p HD, a wide viewing angle, 120Hz refresh rate and a standard compliment of connectors. It also weighs a considerable 303 lbs, so you won't be moving it around much, but it does look like a great choice for setting up a home theater and you don't want to go the projector route.

Tags: tv, lcd, hdtv, altera, honeywell, ge

Friday, January 23, 2009

My First Blu-ray Experience? It Sucked

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 11:13 AM

That's a blown-out DLP bulb from my Toshiba TV. What does that have to do with Blu-ray? Keep reading. Back in November, I finally got around to re-doing my home theatre rig. I was replacing the DVD player, the amp, and wiring everything through the amp via HDMI (a first for me). After I got it all connected, my wife and I sat down to enjoy our first Blu-ray movie: Hellboy II [Affiliate]. Being the comic/superhero geek that I am, I was really looking forward to Hellboy II but never managed to see it in the theatres. So I put in the disc, and start the movie. I was puzzled to see a text overlay in the upper left corner that says "BONUS VIEW" right from the first frame of the movie. I expected it to go away eventually, but it doesn't.

On the Samsung remote control I pressed the Bonus View button expecting to toggle this text off the screen. It didn't do anything. Puzzled, I started searching through the Hellboy II disc menu, thinking maybe there was some option for Bonus View that's somehow turned on by default. I couldn't find anything, so we stopped the movie and watched a regular DVD instead. Not a great first impression there Mr. Blu-ray! Read more...

Tags: hdtv, blu-ray, dlp

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

CES 2009: The Wrap-Up Video

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Events" @ 10:00 AM

This is my final video from CES 2009: it's a mish-mash of some short clips I captured from the CES show floor. What isn't shown is that I happened to be at the Casio booth and Stevie Wonder and his entourage walked by - pretty cool! That had me humming "Superstition" for the next hour. That's it for my CES 2009 videos, I hope you enjoyed them.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Toshiba Offers Four Times The HDTV

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"With a maximum resolution of 3840-by-2160 (so-called Quad-HD or "2k-by-4k") and a 55-inch display panel, the Toshiba Cell TV uses an integrated Cell processor to upscale current HDTV picture to fill the full display. The Cell TV, which is on display at CES, leverages Toshiba's Resolution+ technology, which Toshiba says will take lower-quality video content and upscale it in such a way that it appears crisper and clearer than when done with traditional upscaling technologies."

The battle for the best HDTV is not over. Apparently, 1080p is no longer enough with Toshiba pushing their Cell TV at a resolution that is fully four times the resolution of 1080p. Upscaling is the key to Toshiba's Cell TV. I've seen good upscaling, and very, very poor upscaling. The Cell processor should have more than enough power to push over 8 million pixels of pretty goodness. I'm sure there might be some people who say that the extra resolution is not necessary but after watching several movies, documentaries and tv shows in 720 or 1080p, I can tell you that I at least appreciate all the extra detail that HDTV brings.

Tags: toshiba, hdtv

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cringely Looking For Wireless Audio Standard

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 09:00 PM

"What’s missing here is a de facto wireless audio standard for televisions. Look on the back of any of these new TVs and you’ll find a forest of connections but none of the audio is wireless. There are RCA jacks, minijacks and optical, but no wireless. How much could it cost to add one more audio option? Not much – generally less than $10 in manufacturers’ cost."

Robert Cringely is lameting the fact that there isn't a standard for wireless audio. While there are various ways to transmit audio wirelessly, there is no standard like there is for video cables and audio cables for inside the house. Having dealt with finding a way to stream music and audiobooks to my bedroom wirelessly, I can sympathize. While I settled for the "low-tech" solution that is an FM transmitter, that technology does not provide the fidelity or capability of what a home theater deserves. He does concede to comments that HomePlug may be a feasible solution, but dismisses it owing to cost. However, earlier in the article, he notes that even sophisticated audio solutions are high in cost, owing to economies of scale. If HomePlug were to be fully embraced, I'm quite sure it would drop in cost. There are possibilities like Shoutcast and other streaming that could use an existing wireless network as well. Has anyone found a cost effective solution to provide 5.1 or 7.1 audio for a home theater?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sharp Announces All-in-One Blu-ray TVs

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 10:00 PM

"According to Sharp executive Mike Troetti, the company will release two Aquos LCD HDTVs with embedded Blu-ray players next month, right after they're unveiled during CES 2009. The TVs will come in 32 inches and 42 inches, and the latter will have 1080p HD resolution and a 120Hz frame-rate processing. Both sizes will feature a multiple slot loading rig for easy transitions between Blu-rays, DVDs and CDs. For the moment, there's no word on whether the TV will be able to play the full suite of Blu-ray disc profiles."

I imagine many of us probably balking at the idea of any television with an integrated DVD or VCR. However, their simplicity made them very popular with a lot of people. Now the same is available but with Blu-ray players! Hooray! I personally don't care for Blu-ray and all the complications that come along with it, but I can definately see the attraction for my friendsthat don't know the difference between a USB and HDMI cable. Like Wired, I have concerns about video quality and long term Blu-ray viability but I think that the simplicity will have these telvisions sell like hotcakes. Any of you tempted?

Tags: sharp, hdtv, blu-ray, aquos

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Creative Vado Now Available In HD

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 09:00 PM

"Creative introduced today the Vado HD, the successor to the Vado released back in May. It captures video in 720p and is the only pocket video cam to feature HDMI connectivity and an included HDMI cable that provides 1080i output to an HDTV. It also comes with 8GB of built-in memory that can hold up to two hours of HD video. The Vado HD also features a 2-inch LCD screen and a built-in USB connector so you can quickly connect to your PC and share your videos using YouTube or"

While I don't have a camcorder myself, the release of these tiny digital HD camcorders makes them more tempting each year. I'm sure there's still a large market for large, high quality video cameras, pocket camcorders are much easier to carry, making it that much more likely for me to have it when opportunity knocks. The big attention getter about the new Vado for me is the HDMI connectivity, which makes it easy to connect it to a TV. Unfortunately, I find the estimated two hours of recording time a little tight. Anyone who has gone on vacation knows this means you'll have to cart along your laptop to offload every day or two.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Kodak Bringing Media Hub To Your Living Room

Posted by Tim Williamson in "Digital Home News" @ 06:00 AM

"ROCHESTER, N.Y., July 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Eastman Kodak Company (NYSE:EK) today unveiled the KODAK Theatre HD Player, a High Definition (HD) media player that enables consumers to interact more freely and creatively with their most valuable possessions -- their memories. Harnessing Wi-Fi and HD technologies, a wide array of organizational and display features and access to online content through unique partners, the KODAK Theatre HD Player turns consumers into the directors of their own show with a wireless remote control pointer in-hand. The device will roll out in stages, with a market trial commencing in September 2008."

It looks like Kodak will be bringing their own HD media hub to your living room, the KODAK Theatre HD Player, which appears to be in competition with Windows Media Center and Apple TV. I haven't seen any pictures of the interface or actual hardware, but it will be really difficult to compete with Media Center's interface and Apple TV's hardware. Right now it looks like it will only be able to display video at 720p, why wouldn't they have this device future-proofed and give it the ability to display at 1080p??? I'm not too excited about this device, but I'll have to see the final hardware before making final judgement.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

ZeeVee ZvBox: A New Kind Of Media Extender With A Funny Name

Posted by Tim Williamson in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 11:00 AM

"ZvBox is the first device that allows you to watch anything you can get online or on your computer from all your HDTVs. Simply connect the monitor output of your computer to ZvBox, then connect ZvBox to your home’s cable TV wiring. ZvBox takes the high resolution output of your computer, including Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, and creates a new HD channel that you can tune in alongside your other TV channels from any HDTV in the home. ZvRemote, combined with a ZvReceiver that is attached to your computer, provides full control of your computer from anywhere in the house, including multimedia and cursor control. The optional ZvKeyboard, available August 2008, makes it even easier to compose email, surf the web, and type text for desktop applications."

For some reason I keep getting the news items about new hardware with goofy names. Luckily, the killer hardware usually makes up for the goofy name, and this plain-looking ZvBox definitely pulls off a unique feat. It magically broadcasts whatever is showing on your PC, along with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, as a new HD channel throughout your house. Just tune into this new HDTV channel on any TV in your house, and voila, instant media extender! I'm wondering if it comes with any type of software interface, or do you have to fire up Media Center (or some other type of media center) software to get that 10-foot experience? Also, for $500, wouldn't it be just as easy to buy a cheap PC with Vista Home Premium (which comes with Media Center), and an HDTV output card? Do you think the ZvBox will ZvTakeoff? Or will it ZvBomb? ;-)

Monday, January 21, 2008

There's More to HD Than Bit Rates and Resolution

Posted by Jeremy Charette in "Digital Home Talk" @ 07:00 AM

Over on EngadgetHD I've been having a discussion about bit rates with George Ou of ZDNet. George argues that unless the content you are watching is at least 28 mbps 1080p, it's "fake HD". Nevermind that the HD spec. includes resolutions from 1024x768 up to 3840x2160, and that it doesn't specify a bit rate (or rates). He goes on to say that Xbox Live Video Marketplace downloads in HD are "slightly better than DVD but nowhere near 1080i over-the-air HD broadcast quality."

Unfortunately George's argument is so narrow that he is ignoring several other factors that are for more significant. The real world considerations go far beyond bit rate and resolution. The per pixel bit rate for 720p XBLVM downloads is nearly identical to a 1080i OTA broadcast, and even identical to real world HD DVD bit rates. Granted, the resolution is lower, but the you won't see any added compression artifacts over 1080p HD discs. As it turns out, resolution is a non-issue for most people:

Almost every HDTV in homes today is 720p, not 1080p. The extra resolution available on HD DVD and Blu-Ray is wasted on most people. What's more, to take advantage of that extra resolution, you'd need:

  • 1080p native source (many lower end HD players can only to 1080i or 720p)
  • A 1080p HDTV that can display full resolution with 1:1 pixel mapping
  • Screen size larger than 50"
  • To be sitting closer than 10 feet

So who can tell the difference given these conditions? Maybe a tenth of a percent of all HDTV owners? A hundredth? Less? Yes, HD DVD and Blu-Ray are better than XBLVM downloads under theoretically ideal circumstances, but the vast majority of people will never notice the difference.

Then there's the issue of compression algorithms. DVD is encoded in MPEG-2, whereas most HD content is encoded in h.264 or VC-1. To hear George tell it, you'd think they were equals. Fact is the newer codecs result in smaller file sizes, fewer artifacts, and better picture quality. Next thing you know George will be arguing that JPEG should be abolished and all cameras should shoot in RAW.

It really irks me when people focus on minutiae, rather than taking the big picture into account. Full 1080p video downloads aren't yet practical. There isn't enough bandwidth to make it work. Most of the HDTV sets out there are 720p. In the real world, Xbox Live downloads are just as good as HD discs. Better yet, you don't have to make a trip to the store to pick one up.

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