Archives For HDTV

google-tv-home-screen

I’d like to suggest an update to this Google TV FAQ, as the schedule has clearly been blown (and by any or most objective measures, Google’s initial foray into television services has been a failure).

Expect many more applications after we open the Android Market on Google TV in early 2011.

“Early 2011″ has obviously come and gone while Google TV has remained largely stagnent. Yeah, it provides a few nifty tricks, like that video overlay, and there’s tons of potential. But the interface remains a mess and a large percent of the web video we want to get at is blocked (by the providers). And then there’s all the apps. Rather, the lack of.

That’s the bad news. The good news, unveiled at Google’s developer conference this week, is what looks to be a significant reboot of the Goole TV platform this summer. Based on Android 3.1 (Honeycomb), and as reported by NewTeeVee, the new experience more efficiently directs folks to the features they’re seeking… including a full blown application Market. As you can tell from the screengrabs, the refreshed UI appears at once both more sophisticated and more streamlined. I only hope early adopters of original Sony and Logitech Google TV hardware and rewarded for their gamble with an update. Continue Reading…

While HDTV Skype video chat isn’t entirely new, Logitech’s joining the fray – bringing their webcam expertise to Skype-enabled 2011 Panasonic Viera televisions. What looks to be the same fantabulous HD USB camera/mic array offered to (the very few) Logitech Revue Google TV customers will ship later this month as the Logitech TV Cam for Skype at $150. While not inexpensive, for what’s essentially an accessory, I found my Logitech video chat experiences on Google TV surprisingly compelling. More so than Apple’s Facetime, even. Yet, it was also a very limited experience in being tied solely to Logitech’s network/community. Whereas the Skype ecosystem is massive. And as we contemplate our next living room TV, Panasonic just inched slightly ahead of Samsung in the hunt.

In an attempt to produce that oh-so-elusive all-in-one “God Box”, EchoStar has introduced the SlingLoaded HDS-600RS to the UK. Not only is it a dual tuning Freesat+ DVR that offers Internet apps (BBC iPlayer is up first), it also provides integrated Slingbox placeshifting capabilities. Allowing one to enjoy those 150 free satellite channels around the home… or anywhere beyond.

The inscrutably named HDS-600RS is available for pre-order from Amazon, ships next week, and clocks in at £350 — which equates to about $575 USD. On one hand, that seems somwhat pricey and you’d think EchoStar might have provided something more than a 500GB drive or thrown in the mobile apps to sweeten the deal. On the other, there’s a lot of functionality to be had here and it’s not like owners will be burdened with box or content subscriptions/fees.

Slashgear went hands on with a company rep and shot video of the box in action (and where I swiped the UI shots from) – check it out!

Click to enlarge:

yahoo-widget-tv

Back in November, Yahoo announced their intention to expand their Connected TV platform beyond television manufacturer curated widgets into a full fledged app store. The plan was set to go live in March. Well, here we are. And the schedule’s been blown:

It’s not clear at this point when the store will be open for consumers.

Mari’s prescient Yahoo TV post headline out of CES sums it up: “Falling for Yahoo Again, Knowing Heartbreak Ahead”. Good ideas are not enough. Timely execution and partner support are also requisite.

As the owner of a Yahoo Connected TV, my initial excitement (Netflix, Vudu, weather!) has been replaced by fear and loathing. I don’t know if I should be directing my ire towards Vizio or Yahoo, but any potential gain I might have received from integrated Internet widgets has been offset by platform unreliability. As in: my television has a predisposition to reboot while accessing apps. Adding insult to injury, when the TV manages to stay up, half my widgets say the network is unavailable… contradicted by the other half that report no issues. Unfortunately, I’m not alone. From GigaOm:

Here’s something I didn’t imagine when I hooked up my brand-new Vizio XVT553SV TV last week: It crashed. Again. And again. And again. The culprit? Turns out the “smart” Internet apps made my television really dumb.

Continue Reading…

Our very own US-based TiVo Community has launched a dedicated area to discuss the new Virgin Media TiVo. And, thus far, commentary seems somewhat and eerily familiar to feedback from TiVo Premiere early adopters (running the Flash-based, high definition user interface).

First up, whereas our hardware features a dual core processor that actually runs on a single core, it seems that still only 2 of the 3 Virgin Media DVR tuners are currently active. Next, one of my Premiere complaints has been a somewhat sluggish interface, and this sentiment is echoed by several Virgin UK customers – and can be seen in the video above.

Having said that, this is new hardware (Cisco) on a new network (Virgin) for TiVo… featuring what may be the completed HDUI. And boy does it look sharp. In fact, some of our UK counterparts suggest Virgin Media acquire TiVo.

Today’s deal of the day comes to us via Dell’s official eBay account… Where they appear to be liquidating a number of new 32″ Sony Bravia LCD HDTVs.

We’re probably in agreement that 32″ is too small to act as a primary television. However, it could be a reasonable size for a bedroom or den. Sony is generally well regarded in this space, but what makes this television (KDL32EX40B) exceptionally compelling is the built-in Blu-ray player (along with connected Internet services including Pandora, Amazon VOD, Netflix). Now I can’t personally vouch for this set, but if I had a need I’d probably make a purchase given the features in relation to that $470 price tag.

Two cautions: In a TV of this size, you can probably assume the speakers aren’t anything to write home about and “wireless ready” is not “wireless” – so you’ll want Ethernet nearby for those “Smart TV” services. Both the eBay listing and Amazon page spell out the specs.

(Thanks, Jon!)

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.