TiVo fans everywhere are rejoicing today with the announcement of the company's new Series4 Premiere and PremiereXL DVRs, due out in early April. The new boxes have a completely new high-def interface built with Adobe Flash--a huge improvement--and new partnerships have been inked with Pandora and FrameChannel, both of which will complement the current Netflix and Amazon On Demand integration. Streamed content will have a bigger spot in the homepage limelight as will locally stored content when it comes to search and navigation. In fact, the Premiere and PremiereXL will boast 320 GB and 1 TB built-in storage for 45 and 150 hours of HD video storage, respectively. Both units will also have CableCARD and eSATA slots for memory expansion.
Also of note is the full QWERTY Bluetooth remote, THX certification for the PremiereXL and an optional wireless-N adapter. Shipping in April, the TiVo Premiere and PremiereXL are expected to cost $299 and $499, respectively.
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March 1, 2010
Home Theater A/V
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February 22, 2010
Samsung is launching 20 new 3D-compatible home theater products in the United Kingdom in March, according to the company's president. Included in the new product releases will be Samsung's 3D HDTVs which will range between 19 inches and 65 inches, the latter in its flagship 9000 line. The TVs will be released with the required active shutter glasses and content from Dreamworks and the capability to watch World Cup soccer in 3D! Samsung hasn't announced prices yet other than to say that they are "very reasonable."
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Walmart has reportedly purchased Vudu, the Hollywood video streaming service accessible from most major home theater hardware. Vudu, which used to produce its own set-top box, began to offer its software to major home theater manufacturers late in 2009 and as of now, only Panasonic and Sony haven't incorporated the fairly popular service. Though it was never profitable, Vudu did raise $60 million in venture capital and was apparently purchased for around $100 million.
Walmart likely made the acquisition to complement its leadership in DVD sales. While the company has attempted to introduce a movie and music download service in the past, it never caught on. The Vudu purchase is an attempt to cover this weak spot and to help sell more internet-connected home theater products.
Read More in: Media Streamers
February 18, 2010
Sony has introduced 4 new A/V receivers today, one of which is the company's first 3D-capable receiver. The STR-DN1010 supports 3D pass-through from connected devices to a compatible HDTV through HDMI 1.4 (4 supporting ports), has 7.1 channels, supports all the HD audio codecs, upscales content to 1080/24p, sports a further 3 component ports, and supports Sony's S-AIR technology so with the addition of a few separately purchased components can stream wireless audio to over 10 rooms. It's a bit pricey at $500 but given the relative newness of the 3D market, what can we really expect?
Sony's other 3 A/V receivers announced today don't have the same 3D support but similar features on a declining scale according to price. The STR-DH810, STR-DH710 and STR-DH510 will cost $400, $300 and $230, respectively, when released in March. The 3D STR-DN1010 won't ship until June.
Read More in: Home Theater A/V
February 17, 2010
1080p resolution isn't as good as it gets, folks! We already kind of knew that as we've seen the odd 4K products on the market, especially in Asia, but none of them really work with current home theater products. Mitsubishi is looking to change this with a new 4K2K scaler which can apparently upscale 1080p video to 4096 x 2160 pixel resolution with the new HDMI 1.4 standard. Still, at 4 times the resolution of 1080p, the upscaler still won't mean compatibility with Blu-ray for the time being. The company is expected to announced a new line of HDTVs sporting the 4K2K upscaler in the near future.
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Contrary to what some believe, plasma TVs are still alive and well. Especially over in South Korea where today LG announced a pair of Skinny Frame plasmas, 50- and 60-inches big. The Skinny Frame refers to bezel thinness, of course, which is a paltry 25mm. Not the skinniest around by any means but skinny nonetheless. The new LG plasmas also offer a 600 Hz refresh rate, ambient lighting adjustments, and the ability to playback pictures and music from a plugged-in USB drive. No word on whether the Skinny Frames will ship internationally, but for now South Koreans can pick up the 50- and 60-inch sets for 1.7 million (US$1150) and 3.8 million won ($3325), respectively.
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February 16, 2010
Sling Media has announced today that Apple has approved an updated version of its SlingPlayer Mobile app (iTunes link) for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The update is notable because the app, which streams video from your home theater to virtually any mobile device (and in this case the iPhone), now works over AT&T's 3G network while previously it was limited to Wi-Fi connections. Unfortunately you'll have to fork out $29.99 for the application plus more money for the actual SlingPlayer purchase so the app can communicate with your home theater, but if you have alot of time on your hands when you're out and about in the real world, it just might be worth it for you.
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LG's 15-inch OLED TV, the EL9500, is the world's largest commercially available OLED display--at least in South Korea as of the end of 2009. But no one knows when it will ship globally...make that no one knew. According to the Oled-display.net blog, LG staff at the ISE-2010 conference revealed that the EL9500 will be shipping stateside by the summer of 2010. Just months away. The 15-inch display is the second OLED TV to hit shelves after the Sony XEL-1 arrived way back in 2007. The price for the LG model is said to sit between $2500 and $3000--but at least this model is large enough to push out 720p resolution.
Read More in: OLED TV
February 10, 2010
Now that things are so complicated and feature-packed as a norm in the home theater world, it's always refreshing to me to see something that does one thing, keeping it real simple. JVC's new CU-VS100 HD media player is just that--real simple. The only thing that it does is accept SD/SDHC cards, enabling users to view stored HD content on their HDTVs. That's it--for real.
The media box supports MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (mts/m2ts/mov), MPEG-2 TS(tod), MPEG-2 PS (mod/mpg) formats for playback, as well as AVCHD, JPEG photos and MP3/WMA music files. Just connect it to your TV via HDMI 1.3a and you'll be ready to roll.
The box with its included remote will only be released in Japan when it goes on sale next week. The US equivalent price will be $220--maybe a bit much for its limited feature set, even if that latter part is refreshing!
Read More in: Media Center | Media Streamers
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