Largely relegated to obscurity decades ago, old-fashioned television broadcasts—over the airwaves and not via cable or satellite—are enjoying an unexpected revival in the digital era. With an increased array of online-video programming now drawing viewers' attention, companies are starting to pitch consumers on complementing online video streamed from the Web with broadcast-TV signals as a way to save money on cable subscriptions. If it gains traction, this trend could undercut part of the rationale for selling off TV spectrum in voluntary auctions, approved by Congress on Friday, aimed at freeing up spectrum for wireless broadband. There are signs that consumers are responding. TV-antenna seller Richard Schneider of St. Louis says sales at his company are soaring. Mr. Schneider's Antennas Direct sold 70,000 antennas in January, and he expects to double last year's sales of about 600,000. That was up from 400,000 antennas in 2010.
If you're looking to buy an Apple TV, you're going to have an exceedingly difficult time doing so. As of this writing, BestBuy.com and Walmart.com don't even list the Apple TV on their sites, and Amazon has stopped selling it. Apple's online store is the only major e-commerce Web site CNET has come across that lists the Apple TV, and actually has the set-top box in stock. AppleInsider, which first reported on the news, says it's a similar story in many brick-and-mortar stores around the country, with one Best Buy sales representative telling the blog that "it doesn't look like we'll be getting [the Apple TV] back." So, what's going on? All signs point to an Apple TV refresh. Full Article from CNet:
Quebec’s Hotel de Glace doesn’t let the cold climate get in the way of showcasing its corporate sponsors. The hotel thanks its sponsors by running at least a half-dozen digital signage systems in the public areas. What’s interesting about this is two things: Snow isn’t exactly “wired” for electricity The innards of technology doesn’t exactly like it when the ambient temperature is 28 degrees Farenheit But the Hotel de Glace technology team found out a way to run electricity throughout the site by scooping out snow and running wires AND by using fur creatively to wrap around the sensitive parts of the displays. So, the managers have been creative about finding a way to showcase the sponsors very publicly. The team also didn’t let a little thing like frigid air get in the way of installing a sophistical point of sale system in the ice bar. Read full article here:
Boxee is considering the launch of a DVR subscription service for users of its new Live TV tuner, according to a user survey the startup sent out over the weekend. A Boxee-powered DVR subscription service could cost anywhere from $5 to $15 per month if the company follows through with the offering. Boxee recently released its Live TV tuner, which allows owners of the Boxee Box to receive over-the-air TV programming through the device. The tuner currently doesn't support any DVR functionality, but there have been numerous requests to add this to the Boxee Box, and the startup has said that it is looking into such a possibility.
Because commercial buildings consume roughly 23% of all electricity globally, the automation systems that ensure efficient performance are a critical part of energy management. Until the mid-1990s, modern building automation consisted of little more than individual systems with simple control panels for switches, timers, and alarms. Today, the market for commercial building automation systems is in the midst of revolutionary change in terms of technology and utility. In the last several years, the focus has shifted from an individual system view to a more holistic view so that the "building system" can be defined to include virtually any device or data source within the building. The amount of data created by automation systems can be overwhelming, but real competitive and economic value exists in using the data to monitor performance and uncover trends. According to a new report from Pike Research, the market for commercial building automation systems will double over the next decade, increasing from $72.5 billion in 2011 to $146.4 billion by 2021.
TV buyers have shifted away from LCD towards backlit LED over the last quarter. 40-42-inch sets are now the preferred size (source: isuppli ). In Q3 2011, over 50% of buyers opted for TV’s based on LCD or cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL). In contrast, in Q4 of 2011 the pendulum shifted dramatically in the direction of LED. Moreover, 81% of buyers who had previously expressed a preference for CCFL purchased LED models. LCD and plasma both hovered around the low 20% in Q4. CCFL is a long tube placed behind the LCD (which does not emit any light itself). The CCFL is illuminated and the liquid crystal turns on or off to allow light to pass through or to block it. Because it’s a tube, the entire unit must be on or off. LED sets overcome this limitation as they are installed in arrays and can be turned on and off selectively to provide what is referred to as “local dimming”. Local dimming improves picture contrast as the LED’s can be turned off in dark areas of a scene, whereas CCFL’s are always on. Budget sets will use edge-lit LED’s while higher end models will arrays of LED’s behind the LCD. LED’s do not have a on 1:1 ratio with pixels, so dimming can only be achieved in “blocks”. Organic LED (OLED) The improved picture quality is an obvious reason for the rapid change. A reduction in price disparity between CCFL and LED has also helped to sway buyers toward LED. The price differential has dropped from over 30% to about 13% over the course of a year. Substantial promotion of LED by retail stores and the media has no doubt had an effect on buying decisions. 32-inch TV’s used to be the most commonly purchased size, but this has now increased to 40-42 inches. Reduced prices mean that larger sets can be purchased for the of a 32-inch set a few years ago. The shift to HD has no doubt driven consumers to larger sizes, as they try to replicate the theater experience at home. Compared to a 4:3 aspect ratio picture, the picture height of a 32-inch 16:9 aspect ratio picture is almost 4-inches smaller (19.2 vs. 15.69-inches). Stepping up to 40-inches results in a 19.6-inch vertical size.
Planar Systems, Inc. announced the introduction of Planar® Mosaic™, the only video wall system providing three flat panel tiles, including a new square LCD, and unique features designed specifically for the global architectural wall coverings market, expected to be $26 billion in 2015, according to the Global Industry Analysts. "Planar is changing the rules, creating a new category of thin architecture video displays." Combining one-of-a-kind video wall expertise with nearly 30 years of display innovation, the Planar Mosaic video wall solution was developed in direct response to a growing trend in the architecture and design industry, and unleashes architectural expression. A large-scale prototype exhibit of the Planar Mosaic video wall system will debut February 16 through March 30 at the Cristin Tierney Gallery in New York, New York, in conjunction with video artist, Yorgo Alexopoulos. Planar Mosaic is the only video wall system that allows designers to integrate three different LCD tile sizes and shapes-including a truly square LCD tile measuring 21.6 inches on the diagonal.
The company behind the Web’s most popular search engine is working on a home entertainment device, according to a filing with the Federal Communications Commission. And reports say that device will stream music wirelessly in people's homes. Google plans to test 252 of the devices in its employees’ homes in Mountain View, Calif., where it has its headquarters; in Los Angeles; in New York; and in Cambridge, Mass. The device uses wireless home networks and “requires testing outside the laboratory environment,” the filing said. The device isn’t ready to ship yet. The company says it’s still in the “prototyping phase.” Google is looking for promising gushers other than its gangbusters search advertising business, which accounts for nearly all its revenue.
Amazon.com Inc is about to announce a Web video deal with Viacom Inc in what sources said was one of the last steps in a plan to launch a standalone subscription service to compete with Netflix Inc. The online retailer will unveil the deal as soon as this week, according to two people familiar with the discussions. Viacom, which owns TV shows and movies from MTV Networks, Nickelodeon and Paramount Studios, would be the latest of several partners Amazon has made deals with for its Prime Instant Video service. So far, major studios such as CBS Corp, Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros, News Corp's Fox, Sony Corp, Comcast Corp's NBC Universal and Walt Disney Co have licensed programming to the retailer.
VERIZON AND COINSTAR'S REDBOX FORM JOINT VENTURE TO CREATE NEW CONSUMER CHOICE FOR VIDEO ENTERTAINMENT
Verizon and Coinstar, Inc. today announced the formation of a joint venture that will create a new choice for quality- and value-conscious consumers seeking a simple and affordable way to access the video entertainment they crave. The venture's services will offer all of the convenience, simplicity and value of Redbox® new release DVD and Blu-ray Disc® rentals combined with a new content-rich video on-demand streaming and download service from Verizon. The joint venture plans to introduce the product portfolio in the second half of 2012. It will offer subscription services and more in an easy-to-use, flexible and affordable service that will allow all consumers across the U.S. to enjoy the new and popular entertainment they want, whenever they choose, using the media and devices they prefer. Additional brand and product information will be revealed in the coming months.
You would be forgiven for thinking that TV manufacturers were doing pretty well. After all, for the last few years we’ve seen abundance of new products flooding the market: 3D, ultra-skinny backlit LED, 70”+ behemoths, 21:9 ratio sets and OLED is being released later this year. Despite this, all is not well in TV-land. Several manufacturers have recently issues losses (or warnings of losses) in their TV divisions: Panasonic warned of $10.2B loss and reduced projected shipments of TV from 19 million to 18 million sets this year. A few days ago, Sharp announced its worst ever annual loss of $3.8b and said it will cut the output at its largest TV panel factory by 50% to reduce inventory. Sony is predicting losses in its TV business for the 8th consecutive year. Hitachi announced that it will stop making TV’s in its Gifu facility by September this year. In 2011, Philips abandoned TV production. According to flat panel industry research company DisplaySearch, annual global sales of liquid crystal TV’s will contract by 8% by 2015 and plasma will shrink by 38%. The latter not being good news for Panasonic, who are the major manufacturer in this sector. Many of the manufacturers’ problems are caused by fluctuations in the Yen, which has appreciated by almost 25-percent in the last 3 years. This makes exports of Japanese products very expensive in relation to other countries’ products (such as South Korea). In an effort to combat this and the effect of exchange rate fluctuations, many are turning to outsourcing and contract manufacturing. South Korean manufacturers Samsung and LG now produce about one third of all TV’s globally and will ship new OLED products later this year. Vizio has leapt to over 25%. As a result, there has been a lot of shake ups in the Japanese companies while they try and recover. With strong rumors that Apple will launch their TV in the near future, the Japanese manufacturers have little to be positive about.
Recent coverage in the media over worker conditions in the Chinese factories which manufacture Apple's products have "exposed" much of what all of us in the technology industry already knew but were unwilling to accept - that China is the most powerful engine of production for the technology industry, and that the blood, sweat and tears of Chinese workers is what fuels that hungry engine, at a tremendous cost to human rights. The bottom line why all of these manufacturers, Apple included, outsource much of their manufacturing to China is that the labor is cheap, in addition to escaping American taxes and regulatory issues which lower the costs of production. It would be nearly impossible for these companies to stay competitive if they produced electronics in the United States because you would have to pay these workers decent salaries and decent benefits, you would have to conform to American labor laws which significantly reduce the number of hours these people could work, and you could never legally employ child workers. So the sad truth is that in order to feed the world's thirst for the latest and greatest in inexpensive smartphones, tablets, computers and other consumer electronics, a vast number of human beings in China need to suffer.
There are reports that Sony is increasing its LCD panel purchases from LG Display. Sony stopped their partnership with Samsung (Samsung bought Sony's stake in the LCD joint venture). An LGD official is quoted saying that future talks will also cover OLED TV panel outsourcing. LG Display is currently gearing up to start producing 55" OLED TV panels. Their 8.5-Gen pilot line will produce around 48,000 monthly panels - which probably won't be enough to outsource to Sony. But LGD already decided to increase their OLED TV panel capacity (by building a new fab or perhaps converting an LCD line). This will take at least a year and half.
Want to run Boxee on your PC or Mac? Then hurry up; Boxee is removing all copies of its PC-based app from its servers by the end of the day Tuesday to fully concentrate on the Boxee Box. The company announced the move late last year, and Boxee VP of Marketing Andrew Kippen confirmed Monday that the company is going through with its plans, despite some criticism from Boxee's early adopters.
Being held in Amsterdam this week ISE 2012 welcomes over 750 exhibitors amd will be the largest professional AV and systems integration trade show ever held in Europe, bringing together manufacturers, distributors, integrators, specifiers and technology managers from over 100 countries worldwide. AVSystemsMag.com will bring you all the breaking industry news and product announcements via our ISE 2012 Newspage. Click here to visit the ISE Webpage Stay tuned for our ISE 2012 show report.
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Automation & Control - Featured Product
The GP565 Smart Home RF chip for remote controls supports voice control, motion sensing and the new ZRC 2.0 protocol. The GP565 is optimized for advanced & low cost ZigBee RF4CE remote controls. • 120k or 248k Flash (8k or 16k RAM) memory • 40-pin footprint to support a keyboard scanner interface or other IO interfaces required for remote controls. • Reduced current consumption and improved receiver sensitivity and output power • Patented Antenna Diversity technology enables superior range and WiFi/Bluetooth interference rejection