DVICE: Who wants a separate DVR? With three new models of Sony TVs, you won’t need one, as they come with 500GB hard drives built right in. Not enough? You can expand them via external hard drives.
All three models are 1080p LED LCD TVs and come in 40-inch, 32-inch and 22-inch varieties. Those hard drives will be able to store up to 65 hours of HD programming, which should keep you set for a while. They’re coming to Japan first, but they may end up on these shores soon enough as well.
Newlaunches.com: Panasonic’s Viera range of HDTVs has just a new addition in the G3 series – the TH-L42G3. As usually, Panasonic has crammed the new device with quite a bit of functionality making choce just that much more difficult when you’re in a store. This latest 42-inch LCD HDTV is LED backlit, comes with Speed drive technology 2 that is designed to better control vertical / horizontal high motion videos to reduce blur tilted in all directions. It’s even using IPS technology to provide for better viewing angles. An Auto mode uses a sensor that detects the environment you’re in with respect to lighting conditions and will automatically control brightness, contrast or black levels for optimal viewing. An HD Optimizer adjust settings to enable HD content to be the best it can ever be and also helps with standard definition when you’re watching TV or DVD or playing low res games.
Another handy feature with the G3 series is an SD card slot that allows you slip in a memory card and record stuff from Live TV. There’s even a USB port for connecting a thumb drive or HDD for recording or viewing purposes. The full function remote control comes equipped with a record button as well. Oddly though, at least according to the page’s translation, the content recorded onto the SD cards can only be viewed on a VIERA TV. All possible connections are available with the G3 from HDMI to D4 inputs, Ethernet connectivity and Composite and analogue as well. An energy saving mode should also help you cut back on those large electricity bills for the avid TV watching household. The VIERA TH-L42G3 will be out in Japan by February 18 next year and will have an approximate price of $1789 (US or 150,000 Yen).
TechRadar: It won’t be too long before CES 2011 is upon us. Taking place from 6-9 January 2011 in Las Vegas, CES sets the tone for the tech year.
Apple may not be present, but just about everyone else is – from the electronics giants such as Sony, LG and Samsung to the tiniest software companies. CES covers the whole gamut of technology, so you’ll also find Microsoft and Nvidia alongside names such as Kodak and Polaroid.
CES, or the Consumer Electronics Show, is the place where the industry meets, does business and – most importantly for you – launches new kit. TechRadar will be there in force to bring you the latest news and hands-ons from the event, but what can we expect to see there?
Last year, 3D was the main theme alongside every single company talking about the environment. This is a slightly odd thing to hear in Vegas, which is possibly the least environmentally friendly location known to man. Expect those companies who haven’t yet gone big on 3D – such as Sharp – to go fully 3D this time around.
We’ll also see plenty of universal glasses available – specs you can use with various 3D TVs, not just those from one manufacturer. And expect a lot more hype behind 3D Blu-ray.
The movers and shakers at CES 2010
Traditional LCD will seem like old technology at CES 2011 – it’ll be LED all the way. Movement on the next-gen OLED tech has been slow so far, with only Sony, Samsung and LG really demonstrating anything of worth.
Sony has had its 11-inch on-the-market XEL-1, Samsung with an OLED laptop and 40-inch TV demos and LG with the UK’s larget OLED TV, which clocks in at 15 inches. Expect far more to come at CES from various manufacturers.
Highlights from CES 2010 included Samsung’s LED 9000 series and the first look at the Toshiba Regza Cell television – though we’ve since learnt that the Cell is yesterday’s news and will be replaced by the new Cevo processor.
As well as connected TVs, there will also be plenty of other connected devices – we’ll surely also see a plethora of Google TV devices. Google TV will come to the UK in 2011.
GOOGLE TV: Will CES 2011 be where Google TV really takes off?
In terms of computing, we’re expecting lots and lots more in the way of tablets. Dell has not been too secretive about its desire to produce larger siblings for the Dell Streak, so expect more from them.
Likewise HP – we’d predict that the leading PC manufacturer won’t be too far behind with a tablet-based device. Lenovo also had plenty of Snapdragon-based devices at this year’s CES. Will we see more at CES 2011? Will it be the LePad?
But the most interesting part will be the operating systems these guys end up using. Will the buzz continue to be around Android (which Google says isn’t yet ready for tablets anyway) or will we see something new from Microsoft or will the Redmond giant just hope for the best with standard Windows 7? And what of Chrome OS – it’s all gone quiet on that front.
We’re also expecting plenty of announcements from Intel and Nvidia, so watch this space for more.
Born Rich: Setting-up a home theater room demands both money and knowledge. Unless you want a themed home theater room like some of the opulent home theaters we have earlier told you about, you won’t need anything beyond the Bose 46-Inch “VideoWave“ LCD TV that comes with 16 built-in speakers for the cinematic surround sound experience. The company is touting the innovative VideoWave 46″ backlit LCD as its most advanced product ever, the result of 10 years of research. The TV set uses “Phaseguide” technology, which makes it possible to link seven of those 16 speakers with a single, nanosecond timing system, which alternates the sound from each speaker for an omnidirectional sound effect.
In addition to the built-in 16 speakers, there are six compact subwoofers in a magnesium chassis, inside the TV which are placed facing each other, so that all the mechanical vibration cancels out for a rich bass. What makes handling this compact home theater in a simpler way is a universal remote that allows any device connected to the TV to be controlled via a simple onscreen interface. The VideoWave will retail for $5349 starting October 14th, exclusively at Bose stores only.
Übergizmo: While the specifications of the next TV you purchase are certainly important, the color might be something you were considering too. The bad news is that many manufacturers seem to think that we should be content with our TVs being black. The folks over at ColorWare have different opinions of course, and instead of coloring your usual BlackBerry or MacBook, the company is now offering to tweak the color scheme of your TV too. The company is more than happy to provide a custom quote on the TV of your choice, but we don’t expect it to come cheap.
DVice: Tops on my home-entertainment wish list is the experience recorder invented by physicists played by Louise Fletcher and Christopher Walken in Douglas Trumball’s Brainstorm. Such a gadget is highly fanciful (and likely to be co-opted by the military, just like in the film), but there are five bona fide home theater trends we’ll see take off in 2010, almost all of which are connected to connectivity — and reality.
- Wireless HD
- DIY home automation
- Connected HDTV
- 3D HDTV
- Mobile DTV
1. Wireless HD
We likely will see the first HDMI 1.4-equipped gear at CES in January 2010, which means two things: 3D and the ability of multiple HDMI-connected devices to share a single Internet connection. But by then, HDMI may be old technology.
The era of wireless HD connectivity is here. A WirelessHD consortium has created a wireless standard using the 60Hz band to connect your high-def sources to an HDTV up to 30 feet away with no cable whatsoever. You can hear the cheer from the folks with wall-mounted flat panels who can now get rid of that ugly dangling HDMI cable snaking to their gear stack.
Three HDTV makers have demonstrated WirelessHD sets: Panasonic (the 54-inch plasma Z1, $5,500, October), LG (two LH85 LCD models, a 55-inch for $3,200 and a 47-inch for $2,400, and the 55-inch 55LHX, $4,800; the latter two sets will be available later this year), and Sony (two XBR10 models, a 52-inch for $4,500 and a 46-inch for $5,000, both due next month).
All come with a transceiver/tuner box to which you connect your varying high-def source boxes (cable, video game, media server, et al). Don’t feel like shelling out for a new HDTV? Both Monster and Geffen will be selling wireless HD kits for retrofitting today’s HDTVs, which are likely to run less than $1,000.
2. DIY Home Automation
The Clapper is the closest to home automation most of us can afford — until now. Home automation companies (think Crestron and Savant), those who make whole-home systems to control AV, lighting, thermostat and security functions — realize in a down economy they need to expand their market from the shrinking pool of multi-millionaires who can afford sophisticated custom systems to the rest of us.
Up-and-coming Control4 plans to produce iPod-simple, (relatively) affordable and retrofitable home automation — all controllable through your TV instead of expensive touchpad’s. Control4 is spreading its wireless ZigBee system through deals with such mainstream companies as Pioneer, Sony and Panasonic, and is now selling its DIY home control wares through Best Buy.
Crestron is fighting back with its own simplified DIY ZigBee-based system called Prodigy. An average six-room wireless Prodigy system including controls for multiroom AV, lighting and climate runs a mere $3,200. Savant has answered the mass market call with its iPhone-centric Protégé system, which would run you around $5,000 for a basic system.
3. Connected HDTV
Sony, LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Toshiba are all making HDTVs that connect to the Internet to bring you Web video. According to In-Stat, 36 percent of digital sets sold in 2013 will be network-enabled. You might figure these are expensive, high-end models. Nope. In December, Costco will start to sell a connected Vizio 55-inch LED-backlit LCD that likely will sell for less than $2,000. And Samsung is even more connected-committed: 23 of its HDTVs, nearly half of all its models, are Internet TV-capable.
Is the long-promised convergence of the PC and the TV finally here? HDTVs aren’t the only living-room devices able to pull in Web-based content. Among the connected Blu-ray players available now or coming soon: Toshiba’s first Blu-ray player BDX2000 ($250, November); Sharp’s first connected model, the BD-HP52U ($350, October) with a Netflix update due in November; Sony’ first connected Blu-ray, BDP-N460 ($250, October) with an update for Netflix streaming this fall; and LG’s previously announced BD390 with built-in Wi-Fi will get Vudu at the end of this month.
4. 3D HDTV
Sony’s recent announcement of 3D PlayStation raises the stakes and improves the chances for 3D HDTV taking hold to a public leery of leering at TV through dark glasses. Panasonic is trying to run over the 3D competition with a truck — literally.
A massive, tricked-out Panasonic 3D HDTV tractor trailer is currently roaming the country, encouraging all those who enter to don electronic glasses and view an impressive demo. Yep, 3D HDTV is coming to a mall parking lot near you. But Panasonic certainly isn’t the only TV vendor betting on 3D. JVC offers the 46-inch GD-463D10 ($9,000) 3D LCD display, but compared to Panasonic’s demo, the less said about that the better. Mitsubishi hawked 3D-Ready DLP sets — whatever “3D-Ready” means — and several high-end projector companies demo’d five- and six-figure models.
An analyst called Alfred Poor with GigaOM Pro says there’ll be 28 million to 46 million homes with 3D HDTV worldwide by 2013. We’ve offered admittedly contradictory prognostications for 3D, so at this point let’s just say, we’ll see what happens.
5. Mobile DTV
This isn’t exactly a “home” theater trend, but a year ago, we reported on the impending arrival of Mobile DTV, which will let us receive and watch pristine DTV pictures on a number of portable devices. Industry watchers (myself included) figured there’d be some products by the end of this year.
Recently the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), a voluntary association of more than 800 broadcast stations, announced it had (finally) finished the Mobile DTV standard. The group celebrated by bussing a bunch of government bigwigs around Washington, D.C., showing off live local news, weather, sports and other programs broadcast from seven Washington-area TV stations and received on Mobile DTV-compatible mobile phones, laptop PCs and netbooks. Samsung and LG are likely to have the first Mobile DTV products, if not sometime this year then certainly early next. One of these Mobile DTV products is likely to be a USB tuner dongle for your PC. Using your PC as the TV — that’s not just a trend in home theater, it’s redefining the term.
DigiTimes: Global shipments of high-definition (HD) set-top boxes (STBs), camcorders, DVD players and video-game consoles are expected to triple from 2008 to 2012, as HD becomes the ubiquitous video standard worldwide, according to iSuppli.
Global shipments of HD-capable equipment in these categories will rise to 202 million units by 2012, up from 68.9 million in 2008. By 2012, 52.9% of STBs, camcorders, DVD players and game consoles shipped will be HD-capable, up from 21.6% in 2008.
“For the last 20 years, HD video has been the holy grail for consumer electronics OEMs, as well as for avid home theater fans around the world,” said Randy Lawson, senior analyst for DTV and display electronics at iSuppli.
“The high-tech industry’s efforts to provide HD service to every home now are finally coming to fruition. This has resulted in an explosion of shipments of consumer-electronics devices that support HD video, from new Blu-ray DVD players to ultra-thin LCD HDTVs, and even some portable media players.”
The amount of HD content available in some mature television markets is growing to the point that hundreds of high-definition channels now are being offered by the entire spectrum of television service providers – from cable, to satellite, to terrestrial and to even to telecom – due to the rollout of Internet protocol television (IPTV) services.
The rapidly growing list of HD content suppliers, along with the fast-rising adoption rates seen for HDTVs and STBs, clearly indicates that HD video transmission and delivery are becoming major motivators for consumer adoption of newer technology television displays and playback/recording equipment.
As the broadcast TV market inexorably moves to all-digital television formats, there is more incentive for the inclusion of HD support in consumer-electronics devices.
Engadget: General Electric came clean with its intentions to delve into the wide world of HDTVs last September… and then the economy, as well as GE itself, fell apart.
Earlier this year, we were actually clued in on some of the details surrounding the Tatung-built sets, but now we’re hearing that the company is pushing everything back by around three months.
GE maintains that the setback is due to “marketing rather than operational or manufacturing issues,” though we all know right about now isn’t the greatest time to introduce new high-end televisions.
We also get the idea that GE may use the time to better implement connected HDTV features given just how prevalent those were at CES, but again, we’re really just shooting in the dark here. Oh, we forgot to even ask — does anyone care that GE’s getting back into the TV biz, let alone that its forthcoming sets are delayed?
ZDNet: HDTV prices have been falling for as long as anyone can remember, and given the poor state of the economy, there was no reason to believe those prices were going to stop dropping anytime soon.
Throw in the fact that the holiday shopping season and the Super Bowl (a.k.a. the other big time to buy a new TV) are behind us, and the fact that consumer electronics Web site Retrevo is reporting that HDTV prices jumped 10 percent in February is pretty remarkable.
Ironically, retailers were apparently so willing to discount sets during December and January to bolster sales and clear inventory that they chose one of the most challenging sales month to bring prices back into control.
At the same time, it appears that LCD panel prices are firming up, which makes it harder for manufacturers to pass on the savings on panels to consumers. But with the economy looking like it’s in no hurry to turn itself around, it will be interesting to see just how long TV makers and retailers can hold the line on current prices without seeing sales dry up.