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.

Marantz AirPlays Its Hand For Music Streaming

Marantz were early arrivals at the Apple AirPlay shindig, stating that its Melody Media all-in-one system, was "the world's first AirPlay certified music system". Since that announcement, Denon has also confrimed that it will come a rocking down AirPlay avenue, via a firmware update on some of its systems. And now, Marantz has announced a similar plan and declared what systems it will be including in its AirPlay line-up.The AirPlay update will be coming to Marantz's SR7005 AV receiver, the AV7005 AV preamplifier, the NA7004 network audio player and the Melody Media (M-CR603) networked CD receiver. Ken Ishiwata, brand ambassador of Marantz said: “Marantz has always been at the forefront of every music packaged media playback, be it mono LP, stereo LP, CD and SACD. "However people’s lifestyle and needs changed. Nowadays the use of iPod and iPhone is very popular and rapidly increasing. That is why it is a natural step for Marantz to make AirPlay possible on our products and we strongly believe this way of listening music will bring Marantz closer to people. "AirPlay uses Apple’s lossless format and this allows high quality music playback from the Marantz systems. AirPlay adds yet another great dimension to the content enjoyment experience made possible through Marantz’s relationship with a variety of streaming partners. "Our consumers, as well as valued retail partners, have always depended on Marantz for the most advanced innovations and leading-edge technologies that take the home entertainment experience to the next level and provide creative solutions for maximum enjoyment and flexibility." It isn't yet known how much the upgrade will cost, but we expect it to be around £40 (US $60).

Netflix Testing Streaming-Only Model in the U.S.?

A Netflix spokesperson would not confirm nor deny online chatter the DVD rental service is testing a $7.99 streaming-only plan in select markets nationwide. According to hackingnetflix.com, Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix is testing a plan that would include a $2-per-month option to rent one DVD at a time, bringing the total cost to $9.99 per month — $1 more than the current $8.99 plan for one DVD and unlimited streaming. Last month Netflix bowed a $7.99 (Canadian) streaming-only plan in Canada — the company’s first foreign business venture. CEO Reed Hastings mentioned Netflix would be launching a streaming-only service in the United States in the near future. “We’re always testing consumer sentiment for everything related to Netflix, whether it is pricing, website design, content or devices,” said Netflix spokesperson Steve Swasey, adding he wouldn’t confirm any specific testing. Noteworthy is that Netflix has offered a domestic ($7.99) streaming-only option for Starz Media content, which includes Disney titles, since 2008.

Hulu Prepares IPO Amid Battle With Netflix

Popular U.S. Web video service Hulu is prepared to raise as much as $300 million in an initial public offering likely to be led by Morgan Stanley, according to sources familiar with the matter.  Hulu is ready to raise $200 million to $300 million in a deal valuing the company at about $2 billion, and could file a prospectus with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission before the end of the year, one source said.  A decision could come by November, the source said, adding that the offering is contingent on the renewal of rights to carry shows, some of which expire in a year.  The online video service, backed by General Electric Co's ( GE.N ) NBC Universal, Walt Disney Co ( DIS.N ), News Corp ( NWSA.O ) and private equity firm Providence Equity Partners, was launched three years ago as an ambitious attempt to harness the explosive growth in online video viewing.  The worldwide online video market is expected to hit $16.1 billion through paid and ad-supported services by 2012, according to ABI Research, which tracks media trends.  Hulu is now the second-largest Web video service behind Google's YouTube in the United States.

Belkin Conserve Gateway Connects to Smart Meter to Provide Energy Usage Insight in the Home

Belkin today announced its Conserve Gateway, a router system that pairs with your smart meter to provide real-time insight about home energy use. Conserve Gateway delivers this information via a simple web interface.  The interface allows people to easily track and reduce energy use in their homes and learn conservation tips. Further, it offers utility companies the ability to push information to Conserve Gateway with advice or calls to action, such as: “By using your dryer more efficiently, you can save up to $76 per year.”  Its protocol was informed by extensive ethnographic research that proved most people don’t know what a kilowatt-hour (kWh) is and have even less of an idea about where power comes from.  Both Google with the Google PowerMeter and Microsoft with Microsoft  Hohm also offer real-time wireless internet energy monitoring services.

Google TV puts Apple TV on Notice - Will Apple's "Hobby" Become Irrelevant?

Google’s early unveiling this week of some of its content partners and strategy for Google TV provided a solid preview of the company’s television strategy. According to Paul Erickson, Senior Analyst at IMS Research ( imsresearch.com ), the potential capabilities and embedded product reach of Google TV may make another high-profile over-the-top (OTT) video play, Apple TV, largely irrelevant to consumers over time. Although the latest version of Apple TV has been significantly improved and Apple continues to deliver a strong user experience, Erickson remains doubtful: “Apple has struggled over time to make Apple TV a hit with consumers due to issues with pricing, content, and awareness. The product is now squeezed between broad OTT video capabilities on game consoles and Blu-ray players, and the search-augmented, integrated television+OTT video experience that Google TV is slated to deliver across TV and set-top box form factors.” “Google’s strategy to deliver the Google TV experience on an platform-agnostic basis, regardless of whether Google’s guide, search, applications, and OTT video capabilities are combined with cable, satellite, or terrestrial programming, makes it a product that will have a larger impact than Apple TV. This is also due to broad content support, with Google TV supporting a larger selection of content partners that is only expected to increase over time. Some of Apple TV’s more innovative features, like remote control via iPhone or iPod, already have their equivalent in Google TV, which supports remote control via Android smartphones as well as the iPhone.” Google TV still faces some hurdles of its own, with announced retail hardware partners at this time limited to Sony and Logitech, and a few missing pieces in its content offering, notably Hulu Plus, Flickr, and others. These limitations, however, are only expected to be near-term. Erickson, who will shortly begin work on IMS’ 2011 report on Internet-delivered TV, believes, “Google TV fundamentally differs from Apple TV in that its scale is larger and less constrained; tight integration of live TV, OTT video, and Internet-driven search and applications, either in set-top box form or built straight into your TV. Without a careful re-imagining of exactly what Apple TV’s value proposition will be within this new competitive landscape that Google TV is likely to occupy at the high end, Apple’s “hobby” of Apple TV is likely to remain such.”

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Automation & Control - Featured Product

Light sockets; Not just for lights anymore

Light sockets; Not just for lights anymore

Smart Bulbs are out there and they can do far more then just provide light. Speakers, projectors, wi-fi extenders and more. The standard light socket that is wired up and ready to go in nearly every home in North America is now providing an easy and affordable option for home owners and renters alike to enter into the world of the "Smart Home". Here is a look at some of the Smart Bulbs and Smart Lighting options out there, and this list is just the beginning. In this ongoing article we hope to continue to add to and grow this list, so stay tuned!