Archives For HDTV

Amongst all the dazzling new televisions and parade of tablet devices, there were two products and services that clearly stood out during my abbreviated CES journey.

FiOS TV… As An App

While we saw at least three methods of bypassing the cable box at CES, none excited me more than the Verizon FiOS TV approach. Verizon’s collaborated with both Samsung and Panasonic to load up their IMG 1.9 TV/DVR experience as an app on various connected devices. Such as the Samsung BD-C6900 as photographed above. Additionally, Verizon has ported their new IP-based television experience to some game consoles they’re not quite ready to disclose. All told, they’ve currently got FiOS TV running on over 3 dozen devices… that are not cable boxes. What if your PS3 was also your DVR? Or your Blu-ray player was your extender? And your live “cable” TV was built into your connected television? I’m confident Verizon will succeed where the lethargic cable industry’s tru2way initiative has failed. And this is only 2/3rd of the news that excites me. The other third has me even more giddy (as a new FiOS TV customer) and is something we’ll hopefully be able to cover in the near future.

Motorola Atrix Smartphone/Netbook Combo

Dozens and dozens on Android-powered devices were on display at CES. But none were more powerful, attractive, or clever than the Motorola Atrix. By itself, the Atrix is a top flight smartphone boasting superior specs. But Moto has sweetened the deal by mating it with an optional companion laptop module. Pop the Atrix into the accessory and the 11″ netbook, with 6-8hr battery life, springs to life via a custom “webtop” app that resides on the phone. You’re not just tethering your data services, you’re tethering the processor, storage, and operating system as well. Unfortunately the critical question of “How much?” remains unanswered.

What’s Up With The ZaggBox?

Dave Zatz —  January 8, 2011

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Zagg was present at the ShowStoppers CES event Thursday night… sans their yet-to-be-released ZaggBox. The one we took a look last year appeared to have an interesting industrial strength feature set along with possibly industrial prices. Zagg tells me they’ve brought a new person onboard to hit the CEDIA crowd hard to work distribution deals and expect to launch this year. It sounds like there’s a possibility a stripped down ZaggBox could head straight to consumers, but I wouldn’t count on it. Additionally, Zagg still won’t reveal from whom they acquired this tech – so that remains a fascinating mystery given Zagg’s product line.

We haven’t spent much time discussing the new OnLive gaming service, as I’ve had difficult time seeing how a micro-gaming console ($100) could find momentum situated somewhere between casual smartphone or iPad gaming and the Xbox/PS3 contingent. However, as OnLive’s game library is streamed from the cloud, integrating into the upcoming connected Vizio VIA Plus HDTV line could change the dynamics… and marketing challenges. With the console essentially baked into the television and with the only investment being a controller along with an inexpensive title or all access game pass ($10/month), I could see folks without “serious” gaming consoles giving OnLive a try. And, perhaps, liking what they find.

(via Technologizer)

Vizio Dumps Yahoo For Google?

Dave Zatz —  January 3, 2011

2011-vizio-lineup

Vizio’s begun dropping details on their 2011 lineup, including what could be a defection from Yahoo connected services in favor of Google’s broader ecosystem… which corresponds nicely with a Vizio expansion into mobile gear.

This year Vizio Internet Apps (VIA) will become or be augmented by VIA Plus, their take on Google TV. While the Goog’s connected television platform is currently pretty rough, it’s not a bad horse to bet on. Especially given the obvious Android-powered mobile device tie-ins Vizio’s promoting.

Vizio is no stranger to the connected television space, having been the original Yahoo Internet TV widgets pioneer and delivering possibly the first mass market QWERTY remote. In fact, our temporary bedroom television is a Yahoo-powered Vizio and I’ve quite enjoyed streaming Netflix and Vudu video content over 802.11n… without requiring a separate box.

We’ll reach out to Vizio with hopes of clarifying the fate of Yahoo widgetry on their HDTV hardware.

Dave’s New “Temporary” TV

Dave Zatz —  December 4, 2010

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Our big move begins today, although the movers don’t actually arrive until next Saturday, and I’ve been debating how to best handle our television situation. At the time of purchase our bedroom and living room HDTVs were top notch and reasonably sized for their respective placements (and eras). But bigger is better… Except when it’s a large tube TV I no longer want to mess with. So the current plan is to hand down the 30″ Panasonic HDTV CRT tomorrow to the in-laws for basement usage, leaving a void in our new master bedroom. Ultimately, the 42″ Panasonic plasma will move up there. But I’m not ready to research and purchase our next living room television (~55″).

So I swung by Costco yesterday looking for a smaller and economical “temporary” bedroom television. And, as you can see from the pics, I landed on a Vizio — the 22″ M221NV, for $230. It’s probably not the best display, it’s definitely not even close to good sound, but it’s Yahoo widgetized! There was a nice looking 23″ Samsung at the same price point, but I figured the integrated apps might be fun to have around. Although Sony and Google would have us think different, Internet-connected televisions aren’t a new phenomenon. In fact, the folks behind the Popcorn Hour used to build HP’s retired solution and Yahoo TV has been around a few years.

By default, a number of widgets are pre-loaded and viewable in the collapsable ticker. Not only can you add and remove apps, but I discovered you can even load custom content for a quick look – like the local weather or stock prices (see bottom right pic). I couldn’t remember my Pandora credentials and gave up on the tedious text entry, but had better luck efficiently linking Netflix. Over the integrated 802.11n connection, a few minutes of playback was super smooth and looked good. I had wanted to link my Vudu account, but it seems like I may only be able to create a new one. Will need to examine that further.

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As far as what I don’t like, the remote is perhaps the worst fingerprint magnet ever. Also, it relies on the Yahoo Widget blue button to cycle through screen resolutions and viewing options – something that wasn’t apparent (as I skipped the quick start guide). Lastly, it’s not clear which apps can expand beyond a sidebar display into fullscreen or how I’d toggle it.

In the end, I assume this TV will be perfectly suitable for a few months of bedroom CNN and HGTV… and suspect we’ll also get in a decent amount of box-less video streaming. Although, we’ll save the big event content for our living room. At the end of its service period, I imagine the Vizio will become a kitchen TV or maybe an external 1080p computer display that could serve double duty for various blog projects. I continue to be amazed at how far flat panel display prices have fallen. Beyond that, it’s also pretty surprising that one can get a display with Internet-connected content for $70 less than the cheapest Google TV product.

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QOTD: Record From HDMI?

Dave Zatz —  November 2, 2010

Today’s question of the day comes to us via Rick in the comments:

Do you know of a way to get an HDMI signal into a TiVo like device? I would like to record my own stuff and watch it with instant replay etc. Do you know of a solution?

This is an interesting topic that we’ve touched on before. There’s nothing that technically prevents recording data or a signal transmitted over HDMI. However, HDMI licensing specifically prohibits DVR-esque recording. At least that was the case when I last examined the spec, back during my Slingbox days. Interestingly, Gefen put out a “HD Personal Video Recorder” ($999) a few years back that either intentionally or accidentally ignored the HDMI recording restriction, as I had no problem whatsoever grabbing Comcast’s 1080i HBO feed. But that’s since been corrected and, generally speaking, Rick’s probably not going to find a reputable, mainstream DVR product to meet his requirements. He’ll need to record from existing component connectivity or pick up something like the HDFury that converts a digital HDMI signal to analog (in addition to spoofing a HDCP handshake) if his source box has limited HD outputs.

Well, this is unexpected. When Vudu dramatically shifted course to de-emphasize their own hardware in favor of a licenseable software platform, I figured their original set-top would wither and die. As it turns out, the companies did right by their customers and have ported the newer appilicious Vudu experience in its entirety to the early adopters that (barely) kept Vudu – afloat before being acquired by Walmart.

In addition to the app platform, Vudu’s original P2P movie queuing has been replaced by the CDN-powered HDX 1080p streaming. Plus, the new experience is web-based – so Vudu hardware should mirror Vudu-enabled HDTV and Blu-ray players going forward.

Lastly, as you can see from the pics, I dug my Vudu out of the closet to verify the update. And I had forgotten how heavy it is – several pounds, compared to the several ounce (new) Apple TV. My, how times have changed. (via Engadget)

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