Dish Closing 300 More Blockbuster Stores

Dish Network is closing another 300 Blockbuster video stores in the next few weeks, bringing its total number of locations to about 500, the company announced Monday.

The move comes after Blockbuster closings last year that included the shutdown of 500 locations last February. The company said Monday, as it did last year, that it would close unprofitable stores.

No locations for the closings have been announced. Some of the stores are reaching the end of their building leases, while others will close because of their performance, Dish spokesman John W. Hall told TheWrap.

The closures come as little surprise as more consumers watch streaming videos or buy them on-demand through their cable company rather than trekking to the brick-and-mortar stores that were so packed with customers in the 1990s.

Dish, which purchased the video chain for $320 million in 2011, is increasingly using Blockbuster's remaining physical locations to hawk its Dish services.

Report: Remote Control Boosts Willingness to Buy Home Security

More than half of broadband households without professionally monitored interactive security services are willing to pay for them if they’re combined with remote monitoring and control capabilities, according to “Smart Home Systems: Consumer Adoption and Attitudes,” a report currently featured on Strategy Analytics’ Smart Home Strategies (SHS) advisory service.

Strategy Analytics surveyed broadband households in France, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S. and found that those households were more interested in and willing to pay for a variety of connected home services than expected.

Survey respondents also indicated a significant willingness to pay for remote healthcare and energy management services for the connected home—if they were priced right.

Potential adoption of smart home services is highest in the U.S., U.K. Germany and Italy, and less in France, “with the exception of retail DIY monitoring and control,” said the Boston-based market research and advisory firm. The highest level of potential interest in remote healthcare services was found to be in Italy, if recurring fees were kept under $10 per month.

2013 International CES Wrap Up

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® announced today that the 2013 International CES® is the largest in the show's 45+ year history, with 1.92 million net square feet of exhibit space. The previous record was 1.86 million net square feet of space at the 2012 International CES. More than 3,250 exhibitors unveiled some 20,000 new products at the 2013 CES, drawing more than 150,000 attendees, including more than 35,000 from more than 170 countries outside the United States. Owned and produced by CEA, the 2013 International CES is the world's largest annual innovation event and concluded today.

"Innovation abounded at the 2013 CES and executives from every major industry that touches technology were here this week," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association. "From amazing new products, to CEA's new book Ninja Innovation, to our new publication - It Is Innovation (i3), innovation prevailed across 37 football fields of technology at the 2013 International CES. Our event is the biggest mobile show to kick-off the year and showcase our new mobile future."

Major product launches occurred across all 15 product categories at the 2013 CES. In wireless/smartphones, highlights include the launch of Sony's Xperia Z, the Huawei Ascend Mate and ZTE Grand S. In video displays, LG featured its touchscreen Ultra HD, Sony launched the first Ultra HD OLED display, Samsung featured its bendable OLED and Hisense launched its transparent 3DTV. Digital Health and fitness launches included new products from Fitbit, Withings and BodyMedia. Audi and Lexus featured driverless vehicle technologies. For gamers, the 2013 CES saw the launch of Nvidia's Project Shield, the Oculus Rift, the Sifteo and Razer Edge. Other noteworthy products launched at the 2013 CES included: the Valve SteamBox, Tobii eye recognition technology, the Kickstarter-funded Pebble smart watch, Qualcomm's Vuforia augmented reality, multi-device connectivity from Ultraviolet, NFC technology from LG and Sony, tabletop applications from Lenovo, MakerBot's Replicator 2x and Samsung's Smart TVs with voice recognition.

Click here for the Full Press Release here.

Click here for the HomeToys CES Newspage.

Click here for the HomeToys CES Tradeshow Report.

Top 10 New Trends You Will See at DSE 2013

You can count on DSE to show you the most innovative digital signage technologies from suppliers around the world. In a recent poll of current exhibitors about what attendees can expect to see this year, here's what they had to say: LCD EXPANSION INTO OUTDOOR MARKETS, 4K DIGITAL SIGNAGE, ANALYTICS-DRIVEN DIGITAL SIGNAGE, AUGMENTED REALITY TECHNOLOGY, HTML5 FOR CONTENT DEVELOPMENT, LIVE VIDEO FEEDS, TABLET TECH, CONNECTED CONSUMER, INTERACTIVE DIGITAL SIGNAGE & AUTOMATED RETAILING/INTELLIGENT VENDING.

The world according to CES 2013

The gadgetry world gathered in Las Vegas this week to show off their best ideas for how technology can solve problems, improve daily life and basically make the world more efficient.

There’s always a deluge of products coming out of the International CES show, so it can be hard to see how adopting all of this tech could actually change your daily life. But that’s exactly the vision of CES, at a high level. Tech could transform nearly every part of your life.

Take a normal Saturday routine. With, for example, a phone toting a screen that wraps around the edge of your device, you could read at least part of your e-mail without even lifting your head.

As for breakfast, you could pick something to eat by checking the fridge inventory without opening it and find out which food may be ready to spoil — since your fridge let you scan your receipts from the store. Once you’ve decided on a meal, you could even send a recipe to your oven to get things pre-heated.

CES 2013 underway in Las Vegas

The International Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas's largest convention--with more than 150,000 attendees expected this week--gives manufacturers from across the world a chance to show off their latest gadgets to potential customers in the U.S.--the world's biggest electronics market. Last year Microsoft decided to end its long run of exhibiting and keynote address at the show, but its space was gladly filled with new companies with new innovations.

Microsoft Corporation Beats the Competition, Purchases R2 Studios

A couple weeks ago, we brought you news that Microsoft Corporation was interested in purchasing the home entertainment startup company id8 Group R2 Studios Inc. At the time, both Apple Inc. and Google Inc were both expressing some serious interest.

According to multiple reports, including this one from The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft Corporation  has come out on top.

While the price of the deal has yet to be shared with the public, most believe that Microsoft made this move to improve the standing of its Xbox unit in the home entertainment industry.

Here is a brief excerpt explaining what R2 Studios brings to the table:

The company, known as R2 Studios, has been working on technology related to distributing and displaying digital media on TVs, a big new battleground for technology giants.

Most people are familiar with the fact that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has been looking for a way to expand on its base Xbox platform. While they have had some success doing so, such as by allowing the device to connect television with web video, there is plenty of additional room for growth.

LG finally selling first large-screen OLED HDTV - for $10,000

Missing a 2012 delivery date, LG announced on Tuesday that it will release the first 55-Inch OLED HDTVs in Korea in early February 2013, after a year of delays due to reported production problems, at a price of just over $10,000. LG will discuss the TV's U.S. availability and retail price in the next few weeks.

Over 1,400 Korean store fronts will begin taking orders Jan. 3 for February delivery on the 55EM9700. LG said it is going to ramp-up production to take the lead in a big-screen OLED TV market that, according to research firm DisplaySearch, will likely reach 7.2 million units by 2016.

Today's current LCD and LED LCD TVs rely on light bulbs (whether fluorescent or a few dozen white LED lamps) to illuminate the image. The light from these lamps or bulbs must pass through the LCD panel before reaching the surface of the TV, causing most of the light to be beamed toward viewers sitting closest to the center of the screen. As one moves off-center, the LCD image dims, contrast decreases and colors tend to shift and desaturate.

OLEDs emits light directly from the surface, extending the viewing angle to 180 degrees and providing superb, highly saturated colors without the dimming, color shift or loss of contrast seen on LCDs and LED LCDs

LG showing off digital signage, massive 3D video wall at CES 2013

LG Electronics will showcase its digital signage lineup at the upcoming International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 8-11, 2013. The LG selection will include the company's flagship 55-inch 3D video wall, the 84-inch Ultra HD multitouch signage, the EZ Sign TV, Smart Gate Media Pole, Smart Mirror and other commercial display solutions, according to a company announcement.

"LG sees a bright future in the digital signage segment," said Il-geun Kwon, senior vice president and head of the IT business unit of the LG Home Entertainment Company. "We are proud to offer a superb range of products, capable of operating in diverse environments to meet a wide range of client needs. Our combination of IPS panels and Smart Energy Saving Technology offers the dual benefit of providing eye-catching images and significant energy savings."

LG will be featuring at its CES booth its "larger-than-life" 3D Video Wall, an immense display consisting of 122 LG 55-inch WV70MD screens, the company said. And LG's large-scale digital signage solution employs the company's proprietary Smart Energy Saving Technology, allowing it to use approximately 30 percent less electricity than other commercial LED displays, the company said.

Samsung releases CES Smart TV teaser video, announces updated Smart Hub

Samsung is ready to introduce its updated version of the Smart Hub interface for its Smart TVs at CES 2013 scheduled for January 8th in Las vegas.

Smart Hub is a content platform for Samsung Smart TVs that allows users to navigate through their television's features. The company claims that the new Smart Hub will offer a more intuitive experience to its users.

With a new updated version of the Smart Hub, users can now browse through live broadcasts, the internet and other content such as movies, apps and photos and videos.

The initial screen is divided into five categories - 'On TV' for live TV, 'Movies & TV Shows' based on VOD contents, 'Apps' for various applications, 'Social' for SNS contents sharing function, ' Photos, Videos & Music' for more personal content.

Another noteworthy feature will be a unique 'flipping' function that will let users browse through the five categories with motion control, whereby you can use gestures to flip through menus.

Google unloads Motorola's set-top box business for $2.35 billion

Google (GOOG) took a significant step toward selling off Motorola for parts on Wednesday when it sold Motorola’s Home division to broadband media technology company ARRIS for $2.35 billion. In a press release, ARRIS said that “Google will receive $2.05 billion in cash and approximately $300 million in newly issued ARRIS shares” that would give Google a 15.7% ownership stake in the company. Motorola Home, which is primarily responsible for manufacturing and selling the company’s television set-top boxes, has been rumored to be on the selling block for a while now. Google has shown little interest in incorporating Motorola into its own business for the long haul and has admitted that it purchased the company mostly to acquire its patents.

Uh Oh! Is OLED in Trouble?

Via The Register comes some disturbing news for those of us who’ve been championing OLED TVs. Apparently, LG and Samsung are losing confidence in the technology for several reasons: firstly, most of the prototypes we’ve seen of working OLED tech have been 55-inch models set to hit the market for around $10,000, which kinda flies in the face of market trends toward ultra-large, ultra-cheap sets. Secondly, manufacturing has been tricky, with apparently as little as ten percent of manufactured OLED panels being workable, and with the glass soldering process used to make the displays resulting in some fragility.

Apparently, timing is also bad, with 4K “Ultra HD” TVs set to be the big thing on the market next year.

LG Unveils Redesigned Magic Remote with Advanced Voice Control Technology

LG Electronics (LG) today announced an all-new Magic Re-mote for its CINEMA 3D Smart TV lineup prior to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The redesigned device adopts enhanced language recognition ca-pabilities that make executing commands simple, natural, interactive and conversational. The new design will continue to employ four control options – voice, gesture, point, and wheel – making it the most complete universal remote.

"LG is committed to providing innovative home entertainment solutions and the Magic Remote is a key pillar of the CINEMA 3D Smart TV user experience," said Havis Kwon, President and CEO of the LG Electronics Home Entertainment Company. "Building on an already impressive feature set, the latest version boasts accurate lan-guage recognition and its gesture, wheel and point control options makes the Magic Remote stand out amongst its competition as a truly intuitive device."

The LG Magic Remote's sophisticated voice control technology makes issuing a verbal command to the TV both simple and effective. New Natural Language Recognition software makes giving voice commands as easy as regular speech and allows the user to talk in a more conversational manner. No longer is there a need for an awkward pause between the command and the title to be viewed, users can simply say "Show me Gang-nam Style video" and the new Magic Remote will understand.

Belden buys privately held PPC for $515.7 million

Cable maker Belden Inc said it bought privately held PPC, which makes connectors used in broadband and wireless services, for $515.7 million to strengthen its position in the broadcast industry.

Belden, which makes networking products for the broadcast and consumer electronics industries, has been buying connector companies that complement its cable offerings in these markets as it moves away from selling stand-alone cables.

The company bought Canadian Miranda Technologies Inc, a maker of cable-TV and networking products, for about $362 million in July.

Belden's shares have gained more than a quarter since it offered to buy smaller rival RuggedCom Inc in December 2011 to beef up its networking business. They closed at $39.70 on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.

Redbox Instant Is Official, For $8 a Month

Redbox, the Coinstar-owned operator of movie rental kiosks, has already disrupted the home video model one way. Now, it’s gunning for Netflix.

Confirming months of rumors, Redbox Wednesday announced the arrival of Redbox Instant, along with partner Verizon. The $8-per-month service- $9 for Blu-ray discs- also includes four one-night credits per month for rentals from Redbox kiosks. The service will also offer a la carte rentals for non-subscribers.

Warner Bros. is on board for streaming, as is cable channel Epix, while many other studios will offer sales and rentals.

The service will be offered through the web, as well as on mobile devices and through smart TVs and Blu-ray players from such partners as LG and Samsung.

Redbox Instant is available in public beta later this month.

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