Engadget: It doesn’t scream quality (or maybe the legion of professional stock photographers were all on vacation last week), but the June-bound Avi Stylix does have something that the vast majority of me-too iPod / iPhone docking stations do not: an embedded 7-inch LCD. The usual suspects are also here, including a Dock Connector port, twin two-watt speakers, USB port, SD card slot and a bundled remote. The kicker is its ability to stream Netflix, but there’s an obvious catch; you’ll need an iPhone or iPod touch with a live internet connection in order to do so. There’s no actual WiFi module built into the main unit, so you’ll need to rely on your connected device to pull in the content. Still, for $99.99, it might not be a bad bet for your guest room. Or your office desk, since you know you aren’t getting any actual work done.
Electronista: Sharp Japan has launched the BD-HP90, which it first announced back in September. The 1.3-inch thin device supports 3D Blu-ray content in 1080p at 24fps as well as support for DVDs, CDs and digital formats through USB including DivX HR and JPEGS and MP3.
But like many home entertainment devices currently available, it is also web-enabled. It offers support for Netflix video and Pandora audio streaming through its in-built Wi-Fi or Ethernet connections. It DLNA compliant giving users the option of streaming media from compatible devices wirelessly for display on a connected TV.
The Sharp BD-HP90 ships in Japan on November 20 for the equivalent of $450. US availability and pricing has not yet been announced.
Electronista: Rental chain Blockbuster Video will close between 810 and 960 stores by the end of 2010, an SEC filing reveals.
While putting a significant number of people out of work, and closing off some markets, the move is expected to add another $50 to $60 million to annual earnings before expenses like taxes and interest.
The company has over 7,000 stores worldwide at present, scattered across Asia, Europe, the US and Australia.
Substituting somewhat for the lost stores will be a kiosk expansion. The company has plans to move from 497 kiosks now to 2,500 by the end of 2009, and some 10,000 by the middle of 2010.
Blockbuster’s main competition in this area is Redbox, a division of Coinstar that likewise rents DVDs through unattended machines.
One Barclays analyst, Douglas Anmuth, suggests that the store closures will likely benefit Netflix, the dominant American renter of video via mail and Internet streaming. Blockbuster has suffered in recent years as Netflix has grown, though the former has also been impacted by purely digital services.
These include Hulu, YouTube and the iTunes Store, the last of which also sells movies and TV shows in addition to renting them. Digital remains a relatively minor contribution in terms of industry rental profits.
Gizmag: In the not too distant future, the most essential set-top box for the modern home will not be the Blu-ray player, freeview box or even a satellite or cable receiver, but the home media streamer.
While still at a relatively early stage of development, a streamer offers a similar service to the humble MP3 player in its ability to support playback of digital media formats, most notably video.
So what exactly do these devices do, and why are they so special? Well, as is usually the case with new technology, streamers come in various shapes and sizes and vary quite wildly in the specific features they offer.
Predominantly, a streamer’s job is to transmit digital video files across a network from a library stored on a computer to a television. Exactly how adept they are at doing this and what else they can offer the home user is what separates the men from the boys in this market, so we’ll take a look at five boxes that should be ticked in a successful, versatile device.