Archives For HDTV


Announced a little over a year ago, it looks as if Best Buy’s Insignia-branded, TiVo-powered HDTVs are nearly upon us. From the original press release:

The new Insignia televisions will provide Best Buy customers with an exceptional, intuitive user experience for accessing online content by utilizing the latest TiVo non-DVR software and advanced television service. TiVo’s easy-to-use platform will give the viewer a one-stop-shop for delivering and searching content right on the television.

As expected, the product to be delivered features no DVR capabilities and represents TiVo’s first “connected” television – or cTV as Best Buy has christened it. Of course, the market is saturated with smart TVs at this point, yet Best Buy has tremendous marketing muscle and they’re obviously hoping TiVo’s famed user experience is compelling. In fact, TiVo’s integrated guide and universal search set it apart from most Internet-connected televisions hosting app silos. This new platform (running TiVo’s HDUI, no less!) also presents an opportunity to pump Best Buy’s Napster music streaming and CinemaNow video on demand services via WiFi. Of course, as an existing TiVo Premiere owner and someone in need of a new flat panel television, what would really set this offering apart from the competition is the ability to stream recorded content from an existing DVR on the other side of the house. Unfortunately, I can’t say one way or another if that’s on the docket. Continue Reading…

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Gadget comparison and shopping site Retrevo recently launched a new feature that enables mere mortals to decipher television model numbers. Their HDTV Decoder, found here and linked from individual product pages, breaks down the rather arcane manufacturer labels and product codes – conceivably assisting folks as they prepare for a potentially significant purchase. Additionally, when relevant, Retrevo is also identifying equivalent Costco model numbers. If only they did the same for mattresses… (which go by differing names at each and every retail outlet).

As for me, the sooner we decommission our temporary Vizio bedroom TV, the better. It’s small, with poor sound, and is prone to random reboots. The original plan had been to move our very fine 42″ Panasonic plasma into the bedroom and pick up a 50-52″ replacement for the living room. However, after noticing a slight buzz when the volume is low, as it often would be in a bedroom, I’m reconsidering our strategy. Yet I’m not quite ready to make a move, as we’ve got more pressing home improvement needs.


As a soon-to-be FiOS TV subscriber, I was disappointed to hear in May that Verizon was putting the brakes on the rollout of its latest guide software update. But today I hear that IMG 1.9 is back on track. I noted a comment in the DSLReports forums yesterday suggesting the rollout would resume and decided to do a little of my own digging. Sure enough, a very reliable source tells me Verizon will start the guide updates again next week, and the new software should be deployed nationally within a few months. As a reminder, here are some of the new features coming with IMG 1.9. Full release notes available here.


  • 16×9 guide
  • In-home streaming to and from HD DVRs
  • Re-engineered search function
  • More guide data
  • Support for Descriptive Video Service, native pass through, 1080p, and MP3 and MPEG-4 decoding on select devices


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!

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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…