Samsung plans to offer Google TV sets

Sony won't be the only company offering Google TV in its televisions. Samsung plans to run Google's software, which allows users to surf the Web and manage their DVR, among many other features, in a set of HDTVs that it expects to announce in January. The company's intentions were revealed by Samsung TV business head Yoon Boo Keun to the Bloomberg news agency. He didn't provide any further details. With that January announcement, Samsung is lining itself up to become the second company to offer Google TV in its array of televisions. Sony released its Google TV-equipped HDTVs last month. Sony's Google TV devices range in size from a 24-inch display to a 46-inch model. Prices on those sets are between $600 and $1,400. Google TV can also work on devices aside from televisions. The platform is currently available on the Logitech Revue set-top box. It's also running on a Sony Blu-ray disc player.

Atlona Technologies has won HomeToys.com's Innovative products from CEDIA 2010 with its entry of the 7" HD Testing Monitor as voted on by HomeToys.com readers.

Atlona Technologies has won HomeToys.com’s Innovative products from CEDIA 2010 with its entry of the 7” HD Testing Monitor as voted on by HomeToys.com readers. The contest had 24 entrants and garnered well over 2000 reader votes with 811 of those going to Atlona. As the winner Atlona will be awarded a 1 year marketing partnership campaign with an enhanced listing in HomeToys.com’s company directory; a value of $676.00. The theme for HomeToys.com’ s next contest will be Ultimate CE Holiday Gifts with the 1 year Marketing Partnership from HomeToys.com up for grabs again. Product entry will be open from November 16th – December 15th while voting will end December 31st. Please view the guidelines and restrictions for contest rules.

TiVo Unveils Holiday Price Cuts

TiVo kicked off Monday a limited-time holiday promotion, slashing up to $200 off the price of certain set-top DVR boxes. Pricing for TiVo Premiere and TiVo Premiere XL boxes have been reduced to $99.99 with a one-year DVR service commitment of $19.99 per month, which TiVo said amounts to an upfront instant savings of $200 on each device. The price for the large recording capacity TiVo Premiere XL was cut to $299 from $499, and also requires a one-year service commitment at $19.99 per month. TiVo said the "holiday prices" will enable cable viewers to better what they get in a typical cable system DVR by integrating broadband content and other features in one box and with one remote. A broadband connection is required to access Internet content. "TiVo delivers the best entertainment experience money can buy for your HDTV. And in keeping with the holiday spirit, we've listened to our customers and reduced the upfront cost making it even easier to give the gift of TiVo to yourself or others," stated Joe Miller, senior vice president of retail sales and marketing for TiVo. "TiVo is the easiest and only complete way to get both television and broadband content in one simple experience. Whether you want traditional TV or movies, web videos, or music you have access to an amazing array of Internet content from Amazon Video On Demand, Netflix, Hulu Plus (coming soon), YouTube and more -- plus your live and recorded cable television programming all packaged in one sleek device." The boxes are available through the TiVo website and Best Buy stores.

Universal Remote Arrives Within A Pillow, Makes Channel Surfing Hip Again

It's a pillow. And a remote. And if your powers of observation are anywhere near "strong," you've probably deduced by now that you're looking at a universal remote control... albeit one that's wrapped within a pillow. We've seen similar creations come around in concept form, but leave it to the folks at Brookstone to turn this thing into a reality. Purportedly, this unit can be programmed to work with over 500 devices, and there's a power-saving auto shutoff feature that'll definitely be overrode by your incessant squeezing. We wouldn't count on this thing actually working well, but for $29.95 (in addition to the cost of two AAA batteries, of course), we highly doubt you'll find a more fashionable, lovable cube of cotton.

CEA ANNOUNCES BEST OF INNOVATIONS DESIGN AND ENGINEERING HONOREES

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® announced its 2011 CES Best of Innovations Design and Engineering Award Honorees. The International CES Innovations Awards honor outstanding advancements in design and engineering across 35 consumer electronics product categories. Innovations entries are judged based on overall engineering qualities related to technical specifications and materials, aesthetics and design qualities, the product’s intended use and function, unique features and how the design and innovation of the product compares to others in the marketplace. In addition to the Innovations Showcase, Best of Innovations Award Honorees will also be displayed at CES Unveiled: the Official Press Event of the International CES from 4-7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 4 in The Venetian Ballroom of The Venetian. Click here to see the full list.

Hulu On Track To Generate $240 Million In Revenue This Year

Hulu should make more than $240 million in revenue in 2010, a dramatic surge from the $108 million it collected in advertising revenue last year, Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar said during a keynote address at a technology conference in San Francisco. Earlier this year Hulu said it was profitable but hasn't given details. And on Wednesday, Kilar didn't offer projections for advertising revenue in 2011 and beyond, which is what investors really want to know. The 3-year-old service -- which counts among its owners the entertainment giants NBC Universal, News Corp. and Walt Disney Co. -- is looking for ways to grow. It's weighing several options, including a public stock offering. It could also lure new private investors, giving it resources to fund the expansion of its subscription service, Hulu Plus, to portable devices such as Apple Inc.'s iPad, as well as game consoles. Bringing in new partners could also provide the company with money to buy out the stake owned by Providence Equity Partners, which invested $100 million in 2007 to launch the site. However, at Wednesday’s conference, Kilar seemed most interested in underscoring the power of Hulu's key revenue stream: advertising. Hulu expects to continue to generate most of its revenue through commercials even though it is launching a subscription service. Kilar noted that 352 advertisers pitched their products and services on Hulu during the last three months –- delivering 800 million streams in October alone. He also cited industry research that users had a higher recall of the ads they watched on Hulu than on traditional television.

Lutron Launches Energy-Saving Campaign

Lutron Electronics Thursday announced a multimedia campaign aimed at spreading awareness of its products' energy-saving attributes. The campaign includes a series of four 30-second TV commercials, a new website at LutronSavesEnergy.com and a continuation of the company's Mobile Experience Tour next year. The TV commercials will air on HGTV and the DIY channel. "Lutron has been committed to saving energy since 1961," Chris Murray, senior vice-president of Lutron's residential solutions business, said as part of the annoucnement. "In fact, we estimate the installed base of our products already saves the nation nearly 10 billion kWh of electricity, or approximately $1 billion in utility costs per year. This latest campaign is our most coordinated effort yet to educate the public on the many energy-saving benefits of Lutron products."

Boxee Goes Hunting for Big Bucks

Boxee, which makes software that makes it easy to watch Web video on your TV, celebrates a big milestone this week, when the first Boxee-branded hardware starts shipping to consumers. The start-up is celebrating with an event at New York’s Irving Plaza. But the company’s next big move likely won’t happen in public view: Sources say Boxee is out trying to raise a significant funding round, likely in the $10 million to $15 million range. I’m told that existing investors Union Square, Spark and General Catalyst, which have helped Boxee raise $12 million to date, all plan to re-up, and will likely pick up half of the round. No word on who the new money is, or how close the round is to closing. CEO Avner Ronen will need it sooner than later, though. His two-year-old company now has a significant payroll–33 people, at last count–and very little revenue coming in the door.

Philips Uses Exit Statement To Flush Out Buyer For Pronto Business

Speculation is mounting that Philips may have been crying "wolf" when they announced that they were set to shut down their Pronto control business with insiders now claiming that the actions of last week were designed to flush out a buyer. According to Michael Henriksen the Managing Director of Qualifi, which distributes Pronto products in Australia, the Pronto operation has been "Up for sale" for some time. "It would not surprise me if they are trying to flush out a buyer with their announcement last week that they were going to shut the operation down," he said. According to sources in Asia, Philips has been engaging with potential acquirers of the remote control and home automation line for several months but no one has put a satisfactory offer on the table for the IP and brand name. Philips was hoping that an IP automation company would want to capatalise on the IP as several companies move to software applications that can be used on Smartphones and iPads or a new generation of Google Tablets. Evidently, Philips received so much interest in the product since the announcement of its demise, that the company is now entering discussions with suitors.

Nine Reasons Smartphones Are Dumb Remotes

As the Internet and TV converge in living rooms, lots of folks, including the New York Times, have been drooling over the idea of smartphones as next-gen remotes. On the surface, this seems like a cool idea. After all, smart mobile devices have touch screens, keyboards, and all sorts of other bells and whistles that should equal an enhanced, enjoyable smart-TV experience. Once you scratch the surface, however, you soon realize what a terrible and impractical idea an app-enabled smartphone remote really is. Here, then, are nine reasons your smart device is a lousy TV remote. 9. It’s still a phone 8. Battery life 7. A phone is a personal device 6. It will still get lost in the couch. Click here to read the full article by Jeremy Toeman of Cnet Crave.

Big Cable Is Bleeding: 500K+ Subscribers Lost In Q3

There’s now even more evidence that subscribers are cutting the cord and opting out of paying for cable: By adding up subscriber losses from four of the top five cable companies, we found that more than half a million users have ditched their cable companies.  The carnage began last week when Comcast announced it had lost 275,000 basic cable subscribers, but it has continued as Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications and Cablevision have all reported major subscriber losses of their own.  No. 2 cable provider Time Warner Cable announced today that it shed 155,000 cable subscribers during the third quarter, which included 46,000 digital video subs. Yesterday, Charter Communications reported that it lost 63,800 basic cable subscribers during the previous quarter. And Cablevision said this morning that it shed 24,500 subscribers during the same period, including about 5,000 digital video subscribers.  Add that all together and you have more than 500,000 customers that left their cable providers last quarter, and that’s just data from four of the top five cable companies that have reported earnings. (No. 3 cable provider Cox Communications is privately held and therefore doesn’t have to announce its subscriber losses for all the world to see.) No doubt even more subscribers have left some of the smaller, non-public local and regional cable providers over the past few months.

Wi-Fi, HomePlug Groups To Collaborate On Smart Grid, Home Energy Apps

 The Wi-Fi Alliance and the HomePlug Powerline Alliance announced an agreement Tuesday to collaborate on applications that allow smart energy grids to interoperate with "connected" homes. The two alliances are part of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel, a forum that coordinates smart grid standards. They plan to collaborate on wireless and wired network applications for what the forum calls its Smart Energy 2 Applications Profile.  The Wi-Fi Alliance believes that working with HomePlug will help mesh Wi-Fi equipment and devices connected to home powerline networks. The collaboration is focused on helping bring about "a great user experience with smart home technology," Edgar Figueroa, the Wi-Fi Alliance CEO, said in a statement. 

Dish Exec: Hulu Is Destroying the TV Industry

Hulu users would wait a lot longer to catch up on their favorite shows, if Dish Network VP of Online Content Development and Strategy Bruce Eisen had his way. “If I can watch Glee tomorrow morning and I don’t have to pay a pay TV service –- I think that’s bad,” Eisen said during a panel about cord cutting at the Streaming Media West conference this morning. The model of sites like Hulu that make catchup content available immediately isn’t benefiting the industry, he said, adding that broadcasters should instead reserve catchup episodes for authenticated TV Everywhere services, and only make them available freely after 30 days. “If people decide that they don’t have to pay for pay TV, then one of the pillars (of the TV industry) starts crumbling,” he said.

Target, Walmart, Best Buy Tempt Tech Shoppers

With many experts predicting that consumer electronics will emerge as one of the hottest gift categories in an otherwise hum-drum holiday, Walmart, Target and Best Buy are already sweetening the shopping options. Walmart is planning "The Amazing Walmart Electronics Event," kicking off Nov. 6, with low prices on a full line of Vizio HDTVs, including a 26-inch model for $198, a Compaq laptop for $288, and a $50 gift card for the Sony PlayStation 3 Move Bundle. And Target says it will begin offering the iPhone -- expected to be one of the season's most coveted gifts -- in some 850 stores that include Target Mobile centers beginning Nov. 7, and is cutting prices on iPod touch and offering two-for-one video games. Best Buy is rolling out its new line of Beats by Dr. Dre headphones and Beatbox portable speakers, and offering "Free Phone Friday" specials. That's because while an estimated 32% of shoppers plan to make a consumer electronics purchase this season, reports the Consumer Electronics Association, they're also expected to be exceedingly price-wary.

Philips Discontinues Pronto

Leuven, Belgium-based Philips has pulled the plug on its Pronto remote control line.  The company issued a statement to the European press over the weekend that read in part: "In December 2009, Philips announced the intention to relocate some of its existing remote control activities in Leuven, Belgium to Asia. At the same time, the intention was communicated to investigate alternative strategic options for the Pronto business, as this activity no longer fits with the Philips strategy. Following thorough research, no suitable partner was found for the acquisition of these activities. As such, Philips confirms today that it will discontinue the Pronto product line and related activities."  Philips said it plans to offer support to users of the existing line. The company also said it "will engage in a dialogue with its social partners on the consequences for the involved personnel of this announcement."  The announcement came less than two months after Philips launched its latest Pronto product,  the TSW9500 in-wall touchscreen , at CEDIA EXPO in Atlanta, as well launching a  new, more robust website  for the line.

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