Archives For HDTV

The OTA Flatenna Showdown

Dave Zatz —  February 7, 2015 — 23 Comments

hdtv-antennas

As many contemplate cutting the cord for basic, yet high-definition television viewing, or to perhaps augment cable with advanced over-the-air capabilities, as we’ve done with Tablo, finding a great antenna is paramount. Most are probably best served by roof-top or attic placement, yet it’s the least practical for a variety of reasons. While Mohu may have pioneered the “flatenna” several others have joined the fray. And I reached out to a few players in this space that have kindly provided their least obtrusive indoor antenna offerings for an OTA receptivity showdown. Which will wear the crown of best indoor antenna?

Comparing antennas is an exceedingly difficult task, as our individual locations in relation to the broadcast towers obviously vary in terms of distance and interference (either within the home or the environment). Not to mention, different stations around the country broadcast with differing strengths and frequencies. To make matters even more complex, not all tuners are not created equal — meaning the televisions, over-the-air DVRs, and other devices we each possess will have varying degrees of reception. So your mileage will absolutely vary from mine. Most small, indoor antennas are rated for receptivity in the 25-35 mile range, but those that are offered with amplification can be extended to 50ish.

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samsung-spam

Like many of you, I’ve questioned the value of a “smart” TV. On one hand, quick access to online apps like Netflix courtesy “Input 1″ ~with no additional equipment~ is quite appealing. However, despite advances in performance and functionality, we’re not going to replace our televisions at the same rate we might be compelled to pick up the latest and greatest streaming solutions. Not to mention reboots and advertising further diminish the value prop.

Sadly, to get the very best panels and processing these days, whatever new set one acquires will likely be saddled with an Internet platform. And no one abuses that connectivity and customer goodwill as effectively as Samsung. What they and Delivery Agent call a “Solution” the rest of us will call a “problem” … as David Chartier and the Boston Globe point to a newly introduced overlay that drops a (Dunkin’ Donuts) ad unit on top of a possibly related commercial. They presumably use metadata markers, as TiVo has, to determine when to hit you with an ad. But really the technical intricacies are secondary to the compromised user experience and disruption. Continue Reading…

Two Weeks With Roku TV

Dave Zatz —  January 12, 2015 — 6 Comments

I wasn’t the only member of the Zatz family that picked up a new television this season. And, unlike my Vizio experience, Mom has been quite pleased with the two TCL Roku TVs I chose for her. Of course, her expectations and tolerances in this realm are far more, uh, relaxed than most of our regulars – so context is indeed important.

Upon moving from Florida to Virginia in 2013, I had Mom unload her truly crappy living room television while hanging onto her 32″ bedroom Vizio with an understanding that we’d come up with a more modern solution once she furnished her NoVA condo. As the furnishing have now (mostly) arrived, it was time to identify new televisions for the bedroom and the living room, with the Vizio earmarked for the den/office. I originally thought a pair of 42″ HDTVs might do the trick and figured she’d benefit from the same manufacturer, remote, and interface. With that in mind, my original thought for practicality was to pick up whatever Vizio model Costco had on the floor. She’d had good luck with her original Vizio and Costco includes a stellar warranty and technical support.

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10 Days With Vizio M Series

Dave Zatz —  January 11, 2015 — 35 Comments

m-series-vizio

Cue the sad panda. I had high hopes for a new 65″ Vizio M Series. But, after 10 days, Best Buy has reclaimed it. The M Series was notable for providing a solid picture at a reasonable price. And, when the 65″ dropped to $1000 during promotional holiday pricing, we pulled the trigger. Beyond “bang for buck” in regards to size and pq, Vizio is one of the few manufacturers that passes 5.1 audio — which could be a major selling point for those with a Sonos Playbar or Vizio 5.1 solution of limited inputs and prefer to use the TV as an HDMI switch. It was for me. Continue Reading…

We’ve been quite enamored with Tablo, since our first product demo at CES 2014. In fact, our very own Adam Miarka is a highly satisfied customer of this effective bit of clever gadgetry that provides both over-the-air DVR and Slingbox capabilities. Beyond the existing 2- and 4-tuner models, CES 2015 heralds the Tablo Metro… which houses 25-mile range high def OTA antennas within the existing enclosure.

Two very small but incredibly powerful fractal antennas inside Tablo METRO capture OTA TV while intelligent switching technology enables the antennas to operate independently to capture signals originating from broadcast tower locations, even if they are located in opposing directions.

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Best Buy To Launch Roku TV

Dave Zatz —  January 4, 2015 — 5 Comments

Roku-TV-Insignia

As with CES 2014, Roku’s 2015 Vegas outreach will skew heavily towards their TV partnerships. Last year, Roku introduced TCL and Hisense televisions with the Roku experience built right in (versus questionably successful “Roku Ready” MHL-like stick accessorizing). Indeed, I found the end product so compelling that I ordered two 40″ sets for Mom (review to come). And, apparently, I’m not the only one enamored with Roku’s boxless design as two new manufacturers have joined the fray. While Haier televisions aren’t so interesting, Best Buy is also unveiling a line of Insignia Roku TV models… which we fully expect will outsell and outperform the largely forgotten TiVo TV.

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The Ghosts of CES Past

Dave Zatz —  January 4, 2015 — 2 Comments

With the 2015 edition of the annual Consumer Electronics Show upon us, it’s time to reflect on how various companies utilize their time in the sun. And, unfortunately, the signal to noise ratio is not always favorable for the gadget blogger given a large number of introduced products that skulk away with nary the follow-on discussion and no product on shelves.

Some of the more intriguing CES 2014 items we covered that pulled a Houdini:
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