Vizio Unveils L.A.'s First 3D Sports Bar

Vizio Thursday night unveiled L.A.'s First 3D Sports Bar at South, in Santa Monica, Calif. The star-studded event featured 33 Vizio Theater D LED HDTVs covering the bar, ranging in size from 42 to 65 inches, as well as numerous Vizio 3D Blu-ray players, soundbars and tablets. "We want to bring the social setting with 3D into the bars and into the homes," John Schindler, Vizio's vice president of products, said. "We are going to use bars like South to highlight our technology. You can experience 3D with lightweight glasses, no flicker, and no headaches. Also, we can give it to consumers in the home at a great price. You can get the entire 3D experience bundled for less than $700 [with a] 42-inch TV, Blu-ray player, and $25 of product (glasses). We believe it's time for 3D to take over the home."

Hulu's Owners End Efforts to Sell Streaming-TV Website

Owners of online-video site Hulu LLC ended efforts to sell the joint venture, after an auction process exposed rifts between them and potential buyers on the value of future rights to stream television shows over the Internet. The decision, which came in a joint announcement late Thursday, draws to a close an auction process that began in June, after Hulu received an unsolicited offer to buy the venture.

Verizon Home Monitoring and Control service is now available

Sigma Designs and manufacturer of Z-Wave wireless technology, announced today that  Verizon Home Monitoring and Control service is now available.The system will enable customers to lock doors remotely; see what's going on at home via networked cameras; and set, adjust and control lights, smart thermostats and appliances -- all by using a smartphone or a computer or through their FiOS TV. The solution is controlled by a gateway device that will eventually enable Internet-based connections from Android or iOS tablets. This service is available to all Verizon broadband customers.

LG develops world's most energy efficient LCD TV panel

LG Display has developed what it claims is the world's most energy efficient LCD TV panel. The new 47-inch 1080p LCD panel uses a new vertical single side LED backlight technology that helps to consume less electricity while still delivering high levels of brightness. LG claims that although 47-inches in size, its panel uses less electricity than typical panels LCD TV panels 40-inches in size and even normal PC monitors over 20-inches in size. LG explains further that its panel uses only 28W of power. A typical 20-inch PC monitor uses between 30W and 50W. The LCD panel also delivers 400 Nits of brightness suitable for HD TVs through a three-film structure, which helps focus and diffuse light, together with local dimming technology and energy efficient LED bulbs.

Netflix abandons plan for Qwikster DVD service

Netflix is going back to the future. The digital video delivery company said Monday that it is reversing a plan announced only weeks ago to spin off its DVD-by-mail business from its streaming video service. CEO Reed Hastings announced on Sept. 18 that the company's movies-by-mail service would be rebranded as Qwikster and would add video games to its catalog, while the Netflix brand would be dedicated to streaming video. Now Netflix is abandoning that plan. "Instead, U.S. members will continue to use one website, one account and one password for their movie and TV watching enjoyment under the Netflix brand," the company said in a statement. Netflix issued its second mea culpa in as many months, acknowledging the consumer outrage about its Qwikster announcement.

How Steve Jobs changed everything

Jobs didn’t make microchips go faster, he didn’t increase the capacity of hard drives, he didn’t invent optical storage drives, bitmapped graphics, cellular radios, Ethernet, or even the mouse. If Jobs wasn’t around, we’d have had all of these advances anyway—and people like Bill Gates, Andy Grove, Michael Dell, and Larry Page would have turned these technologies into computers, phones, and music players.  If Steve Jobs hadn’t been around, what might that stuff have looked like? To appreciate how Jobs changed what you do every day, you’ve only got to look at how entire industries shifted after Jobs pushed Apple into them. Think of the BlackBerry, the Palm Pilot, the Creative Nomad music player, or MS-DOS. These are all perfectly serviceable technologies, things that got the job done. But none of them was transcendent. None was a dream to use, and most were a pain.

Xbox 360 Rolling Out TV Streaming Platform

Microsoft Oct. 5 said it is launching a repurposed TV streaming platform via Xbox Live that will offer content from more than 50 media companies globally beginning during the fourth quarter. Content holders include Bravo, Comcast, HBO GO, Verizon FiOS and Syfy in the United States; BBC in the United Kingdom, Telefónica in Spain; Rogers On Demand in Canada; Televisa in Mexico; ZDF in Germany; and MediaSet in Italy. Xbox Live has more than 35 million registered users globally, including millions who pay an annual membership fee. Usuers spend a combined 2.1 billion hours a month on Xbox Live, according to Microsoft.

Kindle Fire Teardown Shows Tablet A Loss Leader

A breakdown of the components used in Kindle Fire shows Amazon is losing about $10 per tablet sold, lending credence to the view that the e-merchant sees the device not as a profit center but as a conduit for selling subscription media services and physical goods. Analysts at market watcher iSuppli tore down the Kindle Fire and estimated that the total cost of its components is $209.63. Amazon is selling the tablet for $199. The analysts said Amazon will make up for the loss through the additional sales generated by Kindle, particularly sales of physical, high-margin consumer goods. "The real benefit of the Kindle Fire to Amazon will not be in selling hardware or digital content," said iSuppli. "Rather the Kindle Fire, and the content demand it stimulates, will serve to promote sales of the kinds of physical goods that comprise the majority of Amazon's business."

Verizon Expands Home-Monitoring Service Plans

VFTTH Council Conference 2011 - Verizon Communications Inc. is showing off a new home monitoring and control service it will launch on Oct. 11 as part of the FTTH demo home here this week. For $9.95 per month, plus the cost of the equipment, Verizon's broadband subscribers will be able to remotely monitor their homes via video, secure windows and doors, track energy usage, and remotely control lights, temperature, appliances and door locks. The service is initially available to Verizon's FiOS and DSL customers, but it will ultimately be sold on its own and could be a linchpin service in Verizon's larger connected home strategy, launched at CES in January. By rolling out a service that undercuts pricing by major home security firms like ADT, Verizon is staking out new turf -- albeit turf the Comcast Corp. and other cable firms also are exploring.

The number of U.S. consumers planning to purchase a smart TV has nearly doubled in less than a year

Aaccording to new consumer research from Parks Associates reports more than 10% of broadband households plan to purchase a smart TV in the second half of 2011, up from 6% in the first half. These households, representing 50% of the nearly one-fourth of U.S. broadband households planning to purchase a flat-panel TV, anticipate an average cost of $1,000 for the smart TV, defined as an HDTV with built-in Internet access capability. Consumers show strong preferences for entertainment and social networking options on connected CE devices such as Blu-ray players, game consoles, and smart TVs. Preferred features include the ability to stream and download movies and TV shows as well as access to Facebook and online music.

Amazon unveils $199 Kindle Fire tablet and $79 e-ink Kindle

After months of speculation, it's here: Amazon's tablet, the $199 Kindle Fire, was unveiled Wednesday. Smaller and cheaper than Apple's dominant iPad, the Kindle Fire has a 7-inch display and runs on a heavily customized version of Google's Android operating system. The tablet offers Wi-Fi connectivity, but no 3G or other cellular connection. It also lacks a camera and microphone, two features found in most rival tablets. But the Kindle Fire isn't trying to be an all-in-one computing device. Amazon's focus is on media consumption, like reading books and magazines as well as watching video and streaming music. The tablet includes a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime, the company's $79-a-year service that includes two-day shipping and some free streaming video access.

Best Buy Preps For 'Hassle-Free' Holiday

 Best Buy will launch new initiatives and enhance its return and price-match policies to help provide a "hassle-free" shopping experience this holiday season.  Initiatives include the introduction this fall of specially trained "connection specialists," a product of the chain's Connected Store pilot, who will help shoppers navigate Best Buy's wide assortment of mobile products and services. Other holiday enhancements include an extended return period of Nov. 13 through Jan. 24, and a promise to match the price of any brick-and-mortar competitor on any identical product between Nov. 13 and Dec. 24, excluding Black Friday and Cyber Monday.


Blockbuster offers streaming for Dish customers

Blockbuster unveiled a video streaming service limited to Dish Network satellite subscribers, a move to better compete with movie rental giant Netflix and rival cable and satellite TV providers. For non-Dish subscribers, the company plans to unveil an online streaming plan later this year, Blockbuster president Michael Kelly told Reuters in an interview. Called Blockbuster Movie Pass, the new subscription service will start at an additional $10 a month for streaming plus movie and video game DVD rentals by mail and at the company's more than 1,500 stores.

Forecast: Expect Holiday Ho-Hos To Be Only So-So

'Tis the season to read holiday tea leaves, and three just-released forecasts predict that consumer spending will be lukewarm, at best. At the low end, the International Council of Shopping Centers is looking for a 2.2% rise. And while the trade group points out that there are many components to such a forecast, the overall trend is tepid. "No matter which metric of performance is used, ICSC projects 2011 U.S. holiday sales are likely to advance at a slower pace than in 2010 as strong economic headwinds continue to persist," says Michael P. Niemira, ICSC's chief economist, in its release. "The 2011 holiday season forecast also envisions a pace of sales considerably slower than during the first half of 2011 since retail sales generally advanced at a faster pace in early 2011 than during the 2010 holiday season." It predicts a gain of 2.7% in apparel and 1.2% in electronics; overall, it anticipates higher-end stores to fare better than moderate or lower-priced stores.

The global home automation and control systems market is estimated to grow

The global home automation and control systems market is estimated to grow from $16,888.27 million in 2011 to $35,627.83 million in 2016 at a CAGR of 16.1%. Starting off with pneumatic phase, the home automation and control systems market has reached the world of standards, protocols, and data distribution systems; which allows the home automation control structures such as security systems, and lighting systems to interact and integrate with each other. The home automation and control systems that started with wired technology have now entered the era of wireless technology with technologies such as Zigbee, Z-wave, EnOcean, and others coming up. The wide adoption of Internet across the globe has resulted in the growth and advancement of home automation and control market. The flexibility to control and monitor home automation and control systems from any point even out and far from homes is possible through Internet. These systems are also accessed and monitored via smartphone through message alerts.

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