Vudu Support Coming to Boxee

Add Vudu to Boxee's list of streaming video tricks. The Wal-Mart-owned Web video service will be offered as a native app on Boxee's hardware and software platforms starting in November. On the D-Link Boxee Box (due November 10), the full library of Vudu movies--including titles in 1080p HDX video and 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus surround sound--will be available. On the Mac and Windows software version of Boxee, the same content will be available, but video output will be limited to standard-definition playback. The $200 Boxee Box is the fourth and final major Internet TV device to hit stores this fall, following new Roku boxes, an updated Apple TV, and the first wave of Google TV products. We'll have a full review by mid-November.

Harman Invests $100M in China Operations

Harman, parent company of 15 brands, including JBL, Lexicon, and Mark Levinson says it plans to invest another $100 million to bolster its manufacturing and research capabilities in the People’s Republic of China. This new plan follows an initial investment phase of $75 million undertaken in 2007-2008 to establish manufacturing and R&D operations in Shanghai, Suzhou, and Shenzhen. As part of the latest investment plan, Harman will partner with the northern city of Dandong to create two new manufacturing operations with a total joint investment of some $50 million. From its new automotive electronics and audio systems operation in Dandong, Harman will conduct development, engineering, and manufacturing for the world’s leading automakers. To attract the R&D and manufacturing of Harman’s brands into the region, the City of Dandong will provide various incentives including infrastructure build-up. Harman is currently evaluating potential Chinese companies or test facility acquisitions for the remainder of its planned investment.

New Western Digital Media Player Offers Blockbuster On Demand

Western Digital Inc. Oct. 26 unveiled an updated media player that for the first time grants users access to transactional video-on-demand movies from Blockbuster. The WD TV Live Hub media center, which is available exclusively from Best Buy for $199.99, also features Netflix streaming, Pandora music, YouTube videos, Flickr photo sharing, AccuWeather.com, and MediaFly repurposed video podcasts from ESPN, CNN, NBC and MTV, among others. Media players, including devices from Roku, Seagate, and Netgear, among others, represent conduits linking the Internet with the television. With consumer electronics products such as connected HDTVs and Blu-ray Disc players expected to be a key holiday retail item, standalone media players are increasing content selections, compatibility and hard drive capacity to remain competitive. Indeed, the WD TV Live Hub features 1TB storage capacity, two USB ports, HDMI connection and wireless connectivity (with separate adaptor). The customizable user interface enables personalization of screen backgrounds and user interface themes, as well as setting of favorites and content ratings. Standard wired or wireless USB keyboards can be used for text input for activities such as searches of local content and YouTube and Facebook interaction. “Connected media players are an exciting new category that is helping to redefine home entertainment,” said Wendy Fritz, SVP, computing, at Best Buy. During an Oct. 25 demonstration of the media center, Jeff Chen, senior product marketing manager for Western Digital, said the box is Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) compliant, allowing it to communicate with most other connected devices found in living rooms. “So far people have been extremely impressed with it,” he said.

WallWizard's App to Control Motorized TV Mounts is Off the Wall

WallWizard, a relative newcomer in the TV mount world, has introduced a software application that permits remote control operation of the brand's motorized mounts from Apple iPad, iPod, iPhone via Wi-Fi, and Smartphones via Bluetooth. WallWizard's Control System is a 2-piece solution that consists of the brand's proprietary ControlWand software app which consumers download from App stores for $9.99, and a Wi-Fi / Bluetooth accessory that is available from authorized dealers at a selling price of $119.99. According to Sales and Marketing VP Craig Matthews, WallWizard is the first brand to offer such an application. One of the special features is a Gyro Mode, where the motion of the motorized mount duplicates the motion of the handheld device without having to push any additional buttons. In the Auto Mode, the mount can detect whether the TV is On or Off, and move the mount Up, Down, Left or Right. In the Manual Mode, the user can control the motion of the mount by pressing on the appropriate direction arrow. "Offering this type of next-generation motorized technology at prices as low as $149 sums up what our young WallWizard brand is all about, which is "More Mount for Your Money," added Matthews.
 In another example of innovation in the manual operation mounts, WallWizard's team of robotic engineers (the engineering is robotic, not the engineers) incorporate a cam mechanism that enables the TV to be swiveled or tilted using only a finger, creating less wear and tear on the TV and the viewer.

Xpand Universal 3d Glasses Now On Pre-sale Through Amazon.com

XPAND Universal 3D Glasses are currently the only 3D glasses that work with all the 3DTV brands and models, 3D computers, 3D gaming consoles and cinema. “The most anticipated product in the history of 3D is now a reality,” says Maria Costeira, CEO of XPAND. “The introduction of the XPAND Universal 3D Glasses represents a watershed moment in consumer electronics, as I am confident the glasses will serve as catalysts in the worldwide adoption of 3D systems for the home.” The Universal 3D Glasses can be pre-ordered on Amazon.com.

Sony expects TV price falls in U.S. by year-end

Television prices are likely to fall in the U.S. market ahead of the year-end, the head of Sony Corp's loss-making TV division said on Thursday. His comments came hours after LG Display, the world's No. 2 LCD flat screen maker, reported its worst operating profit in six quarters on sliding prices for panels. "I think TV prices as a whole will of course fall. There is a lot of inventory in the market," Sony senior vice president Yoshihisa Ishida told Japanese reporters at a briefing in Tokyo to mark the launch of the company's Google-enhanced televisions in the United States. "But what is different from the past is that we cannot necessarily rely on unit sales rising," Ishida added. "We cannot be sure that manipulating prices will mean the market expands again," he said. The launch date for Sony's Google TV, which enables users to search and toggle between live TV, Web content and apps, has not been fixed for Japan and other non-U.S. markets. Ishida said Sony, the world's third-largest maker of flat TVs after Samsung and LG Electronics, would have to reconsider pricing for its Google TV if it seemed too far out of sync with other sets. At present he does not envisage dramatic cuts in prices, which start at $400 for a 24-inch model.

Networks Block Web Programs From Being Viewed on Google TV

ABC, CBS and NBC are blocking TV programming on their websites from being viewable on Google Inc.'s new Web-TV service, exposing the rift that remains between the technology giant and some of the media companies it wants to supply content for its new products. Full-length episodes of shows like NBC's "The Office," CBS's "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," and ABC's "Modern Family" can't be viewed on Google TV, a service that allows people to access the Internet and search for Web videos on their television screens, as well as to search live TV listings. Logitech International S.A. and Sony Corp. began selling devices running the software this month. Spokespeople for the three networks confirmed that they are blocking the episodes on their websites from playing on Google TV, although both ABC and NBC allow promotional clips to work using the service. ABC is owned by Walt Disney Co., CBS is part of CBS Corp., and NBC is a unit of General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal. The move marks an escalation in ongoing disputes between Google and some media companies, which are skeptical that Google can provide a business model that would compensate them for potentially cannibalizing existing broadcast businesses.

CEA Opens Doors To Consumers

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) will invite individuals -- consumers -- to become part of CEA, and to celebrate membership they will be able to attend the last day of the 2011 International CES in January. That was the main surprise in the keynote of Gary Shapiro, president/CEO of CEA, during his keynote speech at Tuesday lunch during the organization's Industry Forum, being held at the Fairmont Hotel, here, in which he discussed the industry, the economy and a little politics. Consumers will be invited to become members of CEA for the first time -- who will be called Consumer Technology Enthusiasts, or CTEs. These new members will be able to participate in beta tests of new products, be part of an online community, and be given insider access to the industry, Shapiro said. The recruitment program will begin on Nov. 9 with information on membership fees and other details, which will be announced by CEA at its annual International CEA press event in New York on that day.

Boxee Box ships November 10th

From the Boxee Blog:  We just got final confirmation from D-Link that the Boxee Box will start shipping on Nov 10th. Boxee and D-Link will have a launch event in NYC to celebrate and demo the Boxee Box, complete with Boxee 1.0.  People who pre-ordered from Amazon should receive their Box as early as Nov 11. The Boxes should start appearing in stores on Nov 17th (if you are the type of person who can’t wait the extra week you should probably pre-order from Amazon today).  D-Link has gone the extra mile (or kilometer) and turned mid-November into a worldwide launch. You can already pre-order the Boxee Box in Canada, Australia/New Zealand, UK and in other countries across Europe (these units will all start shipping on or shortly after the 10th).  On the evening of the 10th Boxee and D-Link will have a launch event in NYC to celebrate and demo Boxee 1.0, a new version of Boxee software that will initially be available only on the Boxee Box and will later roll out to Mac, PC and Linux.

While 3D TV Captures Consumer Attention, the Industry Tunes Into Connected TV

While much of the news coverage surrounding TV features concentrates on 3D, the quiet revolution of connected TV is reaching new heights with over 40 million units expected to ship in 2010. According to the DisplaySearch Q3’10 Quarterly TV Design and Features Report, the category is forecast to grow to over 118 million in 2014. TV set makers continue to develop new service platforms to offer a variety of new formats for TV viewing, while broadcasters are also launching their own standards and portals this quarter, such as Hbb.TV and YouView.  Despite the growth of the connected TV segment, no clear front-runner has emerged.  The Quarterly TV Design and Features Report reveals that only around 10% of the connected TVs sold in Japan have joined a network so far, while expectations for North America have been scaled back as the TV market struggles in the region this year.

SMART.TM Introduces New INSTEON® Powered Home Control Products

SmartLabs, Inc. has launched a new line of home control products under the brand name SMART. The products, which were introduced at the 2010 CEDIA Expo in Atlanta, GA, will be available to dealers and installers in November, and will feature SmartLabs’ award-winning INSTEON technology. The initial launch features 13 home control products to control and automate lighting, appliances and temperature. All of the SMART products are compatible with other INSTEON products including Smarthome’s retail INSTEON line of products, ISY and other INSTEON-compatible products. The line is also compatible with popular front-end systems like Crestron, AMX and ELK systems, which allows installers maximum flexibility when presenting solutions to homeowners.

Crestron Digital Media is 3D Ready

Crestron today announced that the DigitalMedia™ (DM) product line delivers 3D. Other manufacturers require additional video processing and hardware to support 3D; not so with DM. With DM, it's seamless. A free, simple update is available for download from the Crestron website. For the ultimate in flexibility, DM also supports 3D to 2D scaling. If a family member is watching a 3D movie in the home theater, it can be watched in the master bedroom or kitchen at the same time, in 2D; you don't have to have a 3D TV in every room. Crestron DM is the only complete, integrated solution for the digital age, and it enables customers to enjoy the impactful 3D experience in the comfort of their own homes. With DM, uncompressed digital signals, HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, Ethernet and USB keyboard/mouse control are seamlessly managed and distributed up to 330 feet over a single DM 8G shielded twisted pair wire or up to 1000 feet via a multimode fiber strand.

Online Sports Broadcasts: Live Opportunity For Advertisers

Many sports leagues, such as The PGA, MLB, NCAA and Indian Premier League (cricket!), are exploring online-only distribution rights through their own websites, YouTube, or other licenses. For example, MLB.tv presents all of its live games online and then fills standard commercial breaks with digital ads.  Viewers have access to the games of their favorite baseball teams wherever they watch video and the sheer volume of games played a year-162-opens up the restrictive volume of true video advertising. Live online broadcasts of sporting events -- allowing people to watch on their computers, iPads, or mobile devices -- have the potential to grow viewership for these events significantly, because viewers aren't tied to their TVs at home. Live online broadcasts will also present unprecedented opportunities for brand advertisers to connect with engaged viewers in a more interactive way than a TV commercial, through banner ads, full-page takeovers or widgets.

Samsung: Glasses-Free 3D TV Unlikely in Next 5-10 Years

Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest flat-screen television maker by shipments, said glasses-free three-dimensional TV sets won't be a common household item in the next five to 10 years because technical hurdles still exist before such TVs can be mass-produced at an affordable price. B.K. Yoon, Samsung Electronics' visual-display president, said at a forum that while 3D without glasses is possible on cellphones and other small mobile devices, there are still challenges for 3D TVs. However, rival Toshiba Corp. of Japan earlier this month unveiled the world's first glasses-free 3D liquid-crystal-display television sets, less than a year after most set makers launched 3D television sets that require the cumbersome eyewear. The company has said it plans to start selling the glasses-free TVs in December. Many analysts agree with Samsung, noting that it will likely take at least five years to bring the glasses-free 3D TVs into living rooms at an affordable price.

Sony Google TV HDTVs And Blu-ray Player Details Revealed

Sony on Tuesday officially launched four HDTV's loaded with the Google TV interface, as well as a Google TV Blu-ray player. The company's Google TV products will be called Sony Internet TV and will range in price from $399.99 for the Blu-ray player to $1,399.99 for the 46-inch HDTV. Sony first announced plans to produce a Google TV-branded set at the search engine giant's May I/O developer conference. Sony said it would bring to market HDTVs loaded with Google TV, Google's Android operating system customized for HDTV screens. Google TV aims to provide a clean and easy way to browse the Web, watch TV, and run applications all on your HDTV. The four HDTVs and Blu-ray player all include a remote control that features a thumb-sized QWERTY keyboard. Sony said the remote has design elements borrowed from a controller of a Sony PS3, like the trigger buttons on top and two directional pads on the front. It was very comfortable to use.

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