Consumer Reports' First Look: The first "passive 3D" TV, from Vizio

Coming out of CES this year, one of the main stories was the debut of new "passive" 3D TVs, announced by companies including LG, Toshiba, and Vizio. One big promise of passive 3D is that you can wear lightweight, inexpensive polarized glasses like the ones you get in movie theaters, rather than the bulkier, more expensive active-shutter glasses required by current 3D sets. The first passive 3D TV to hit the market is Vizio's 65-inch VT3D650SV ($3,700), a 1080p LCD TV that uses an edge LED backlight. We bought a set as soon as it was available and recently completed preliminary testing in our TV labs. For purposes of comparison, we pitted the new Vizio set against Panasonic's top-rated TC-P65VT25 ($4,300) plasma 3D TV. It's no secret that we've so far found plasma to be a better technology for 3D, primarily due to the lack of ghosting, so we were curious to see how the Vizio passive set stacked up. In general, there is a lot to like about the VT3D650SV. For one thing, the polarized glasses are very comfortable to wear; they weigh just 0.7 ounces, so they felt very similar to wearing regular sunglasses. We also liked that you get four pairs of glasses with the TV, with additional pairs expected to cost from $10 to $30. That's a far cry from the $130 to $150 you have to shell out for active glasses. In addition, the passive 3D glasses dim the image less than any of the active-shutter glasses we've tried, enabling the Vizio to produce the most satisfyingly bright picture we've experienced when viewing 3D.

Lutron Unveils New Apple® iPad™ App For Its RadioRA® 2 Total Light Control System

Light control manufacturer Lutron Electronics has just announced the availability of an Apple iPad app for its wireless RadioRA 2 total light control system. The app is designed to control lights, shades, temperature and appliances, adding convenience and the benefits of saving energy throughout the home. The app allows homeowners to: monitor and control their system while away from home (ideal for vacation properties); enact a temporary, energy-saving "green" mode that reduces light levels and turns off unneeded appliances; personalize programming with a real-time level editor; control multiple homes from one iPad.

Google makes it easier to build sites for Google TV

Friday, the Google TV team published a couple of new design templates, as well as a still-in-beta Web UI library that Web designers can use to optimize their sites for Google TV. Within the first month of the service's availability on the Logitech Revue set top box, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and Viacom all made their websites unavailable to Google TV. The idea was that this would limit users' access to only the sites that the content providers designed specifically for Google TV. If you're a pessimist, you could say it was done to limit users' access to certain streaming video content. If you're an optimist, you could say it was to ensure users had the highest quality sites available on their Google TVs. Either way, if you're a Web designer, you now have some easy tools to rebuild your video site with a pre-made "10-foot UI" for Google TV. All of the templates are open sourced under the Apache 2 license, and they support sites that utilize HTML5, JavaScript, CSS and Flash.

ISE attendance jumps 22%

This year's ISE attracted a record 34,870 attendance to the Amsterdam RAI, representing a 22% increase on last year's figure. Mike Blackman, managing director, Integrated Systems Events, commented: "We have had a fantastic three days here in Amsterdam, our show aisles being packed with technology buyers and specifiers from the moment we opened on Tuesday morning to the doors closing at 6pm on Thursday." A total of 715 exhibitors, including 150 new companies, exhibited, representing an 11% rise on ISE 2010 - covering some 26,650 net square metres of floor space. "ISE has a distinctive European flavour but it is increasingly a forum for global business," Blackman said. "We have had substantial visitor growth from Russia, the Middle East, Africa and the Indian sub-continent, as well as modest but significant numbers of consultants and top-level integrators coming to us from Asia and North America for the first time."

World's first 3D videowall from Hyundai

Hyundai IT is demonstrating its full line-up of display solutions at ISE, including what the company describes as the world's first 3D videowall. With a diagonal of 138in, it comprises nine (3 x 3) stereoscopic 3D displays (Hyundai's new S468FL) and features almost seamless bezels giving an inter-screen gap of only 7.3mm. The 3D effect is achieved using polarised filters on both the displays as well as on the passive 3D-glasses. The company says that the integrated 3D-Formatter makes it possible to display common 3D video formats without any further accessories.

Netflix Delay on Boxee Box Gets Awkward

Despite earlier promises that Boxee's fledgling web-to-TV hardware device, the Boxee Box, would offer a Netflix app by the end of last year, the startup company has faced another setback. "We're in a bit of an awkward spot at the moment," Boxee wrote on its blog early Tuesday, and went on to explain that Boxee is still not offering a Netflix app on its hardware due to security issues. "The [Netflix] app works. It's been done for awhile now," Andrew Kippen, vice president of marketing for Boxee, told Digits. "What we have not yet met is Netflix's security requirement which requires sweeping changes to the underlying Boxee platform." He added that the company was "working to ensure that third party apps and developers can't tamper with the Boxee Box to gain root access to the system or tamper with other apps." Boxee has touted itself as an open-source system and says the company values the ability for anyone to build an application on Boxee.

Ecotality, Cisco connect Internet-savvy EV charger

Cisco Systems and Ecotality, an electric-vehicle charging station company, are collaborating to make EVs part of a home energy-management system. Ecotality's Blink home EV charging station will connect to Cisco's Home Energy Controller, a touch-screen device for managing home energy, as part of early electric vehicle trials with consumers. The integration will let electric car owners schedule charging to take advantage of preferential rates offered by utilities for electric vehicles, typically after 9 p.m. From the Cisco home energy dashboard, there is an application to monitor and program how an electric car is charged, according to the companies. Charging an electric car can pull as much power as an entire home consumes, utilities executives say, so consumers have an incentive to charge at off-peak times. But the system is sophisticated enough to communicate with utilities to get discounts beyond the EV tariff, Ecotality CEO Jonathan Read said in an interview.

Amulet - Voice recognition and control applications within the Connected Home

The Amulet Voice Remote is another example of the increasing trend of interacting with your TV, Home Theater, and even Home, not just by giving commands…but by receiving answers in return as well. Amulet is creating the sense of absolute control…by using our voices.

Automating Your Home with UPB

A few weeks ago, I was preparing to order a bunch of switches for my house, and was trying to decide the best way to go. I had 8 switches in my last house that were Simply-Automated, so I wanted to stick with those for consistent look/feel. I noticed though, from talking to people and reading posts, that there was misinformation out there. I decided that, now that I'm 2/3rds of the way through a 60+ device install, I'd share what I know and the things I've learned in the process about the Simply-Automated line and different configuration and programming options you may encounter.

CES 2011 - Special News Page

News announcements from the show

CES Trends: Four Promising Trends from the World's Largest Consumer Technology Show

Product Development Technologies (PDT), a global, full-service product development firm, has named their top four trends from the recent 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).  The list is compiled by PDT's team of experienced product developers who have helped create products for some of the world's leading technology companies.

Content Insider # 164 - A World of Plenty

What can be better than equal net access for all and a network privacy police force patrolling, monitoring the pipes to protect you?  Sure equal network access isn't in your country's constitution...but it should be!  And just because you're not sure how to act or what to do on the iNet that's not your fault...it's the government's!! Equal access should be available to anyone/everyone who wants it but that doesn't mean everyone "deserves" a pipd big enough for him/her to watch TV, download Web videos or do video on demand with your "device."  Some cultures remember government police actions and somehow they went astray and the powers were abused.  There are rules, there is commonsense and there is a strong degree of group policing on the Net that is done by the group and the common good. As someone said be careful for what you wish for because you just might get it. " Can't push him too hard; he might break. You gotta' remember who you're dealing with." - Steve McCroskey, Airplane (1980), Paramount

Content Insider #159 - Trends vs. Fads

Trying to figure out what tech trend (necessity) to buy is one of the biggest challenges people face today. Holidays are nerve wracking for you, us, everyone.  You want to buy just the right...thing.  You don't want to spend too much or too little.  You want it to be something the recipient will want, will use, will keep, won't go out of style tomorrow.  With the  speed of change in the industry that's a tough order. Even worse when you're buying something for your business or yourself.   Admit it...look in your store room.  Peek in the garage.  Yesterday's great solutions, great answers are lying around and you wonder how you could have missed the signs.  Our recommendations aren't bulletproof but maybe some of the information will help you think twice and avoid investing in another deadend revolutionary product/solution.  But 20+ years in the industry working with industry leaders will give us a huge edge.

Content Insider #160 - Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality is simply the real world we live in only more.  It's there naturally when you watch a sporting event.  You call it up when you use your smartphone to get a recommendation or learn more about the place you're going to visit.  True it's not real real but it is a lot more helpful, more useful than existing in a virtual world.  Every day more AR work is being done to help you make the right decisions.  It's reality but with a little...augmentation. " I can't afford to have an independent programmer monitoring me. Do you have any idea how many outside systems I've gone into?" - Master Control Program, Tron (1982), Walt Disney

Content Insider #162 - Tablets

With all the tablets and apps being shown at CES it was tough to believe that Apple wasn't at the show.  Oh they were at the show they just weren't at the show! Hard to believe that a year plus ago there wasn't a tablet product category and at CES there were 80+ devices being shown.  So will they take over the world as some forecast? If so who will be the winners, survivors, hangers on? With our cold, steely logic and raw guts/perception we'll give you our outlook right here... "We must get beyond passions, like a great work of art. In such miraculous harmony. We should love each other outside of time... detached." - Steiner, La Dolce Vita (1960), Riama Films

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