Every now and again, the rules for how to build a personal computer change. One of those moments may arrive next year with a high-speed wireless technology that could let people link tablets with big-screen TVs or dock laptops when arriving in the office. The technology, which uses the 60GHz band of radio spectrum and is designed to transfer as much as 7 gigabits of data per second, matches what many wired connections provide, either inside a computer chassis or through the profusion of ports that perforate laptop sides. A group called the WiGig Alliance is developing it, and the group announced today new specifications that could help replace the current tangle of cables.
For a medium heavily ridiculed for its zombie-making capabilities, television is certainly taking on more of an active role courtesy of Yahoo! Connected TV. Coming later this year to select Sony and Toshiba models, the interactive software that's already in eight million homes gains two new features destined to either creep you out, or snag you a twofer on those wings -- broadcast interactivity, and device control. While the latter enhancement merely transforms your smartphone or tablet into an extended remote, it's the former that'll turn your TV choices into a game of peeping Tom, delivering ads custom-fit for you. But the old, yodeling tech giant's not stopping there -- the company also plans to trot out an app store by the years' end, which is currently in pilot testing with Ford and HSN (among others). If widget-based ads are your thing, you might want to hold off until the big manufacturer roll-out next year, or you could always consider that Google option. Brain-rot, please meet the tech loop.
Samsung Electronics America said Friday that the Explore 3D app on Samsung's SmartHub connected TV interface is now offering a mix of free streaming 3D HD content. The Explore 3D app, which is accessible with a single click from Samsung's SmartHub interface, is offering streaming 3D movie trailers from DreamWorks Animation and other studios, music videos, educational content and full-length TV shows from Wealth TV. Later this year, Explore 3D will also offer access to paid 3D content, including feature films and shorts, plus full-length 3D documentaries. The service is available now on all 2010 and 2011 LED smart 3DTVs and plasma smart 3DTVs. Users simply sign up for a new account via any PC.
We'd heard that the most recent software update for the TiVo Premiere set the stage for TiVo-to-TiVo streaming, and now multiple posters on the TiVo Community forum report it's already working. If you only have one Premiere in the house you may want to wait for the Premiere Q (or the Preview, if you don't need any additional tuners) but those already living the multiple box lifestyle can select shows as though they were going to be transferred and simply press play instead. Check the threads for details and let us know how if it works for you, if this is intentionally enabled an official announcement can't be too far off.
Six million U.S. broadband households are changing their 2011 CE purchase plans to get a tablet, which is cannibalizing sales in other device categories and inspiring an additional four million households who had no previous intentions to purchase a computing device this year. Parks Associates' report Media Tablets: Analysis and Forecasts shows the products at greatest risk of losing sales are other mobile Internet devices, including netbooks, notebooks, and e-readers. Tablets will also have significant impact on content publishing, including newspapers. "One year after the launch of the Apple iPad, tablet adoption reached 13% of U.S. broadband households (approximately 10.5 million households), slightly below current netbook and e-reader adoption rates," said Jennifer Kent, a Parks Associates' mobile research analyst. "Mass adoption of tablets depends on consumers' ability to differentiate them from similar CE, and devices that overlap with the tablet will struggle to remain relevant."
Online video service Hulu is exploring putting itself up for sale after receiving an unsolicited takeover offer, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday. The offer was large enough to make Hulu's board review the deal and consider seeking other potential buyers, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions are confidential. The person would not disclose the amount of the offer nor the bidder. Hulu has become one of the biggest purveyors of television shows and movies on the Internet through its free site and via an $8-per-month subscription plan that gives users a deeper library of shows from ABC, Fox and NBC. The free site is available on computers, but the subscription plan allows for viewing over a wide array of Internet-connected game consoles and mobile devices.
With consumer electronics changing so quickly, it's hard to know when is the best time to buy. Should you wait for that new TV you've been wanting, since a new model is about to be released? A new website, Decide.com, will tell you to "Wait" or "Buy" based on when a new model is expected to be released. Decide bases the recommendation on past model releases, news reports, and the like. Decide was founded by two executives from Farecast, Oren Etzioni and Mike Fridgen, who are bringing that price prediction idea to a new area: gadgets. Farecast, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2008, was a popular website that predicted when airline flight prices would be at their cheapest. Seattle-based Decide provides price predictions for laptops, televisions and cameras to start, and plans to expand to other types of products such as cell phones soon.
SageTV in a notice to its users said on Saturday that it had been bought out by Google. The open-source home theater software developer said it signed onboard because of a "shared vision for open technology" that would move their Internet-focused experience. They hoped to reach an "even larger audience" on different products, platforms, and services, hinting it wouldn't necessarily be limited to Android. The takeover has angered some users since it has already pulled its store and most other links aside from the company forums, making it difficult to get a copy of SageTV itself. Google hasn't commented on what its intentions would be, although most already suspect the company is being bought to improve the struggling Google TV platform. A revival of the platform is already planned with an Android 3.1 upgrade that will give it heavily requested third-party app support along with new hardware from Samsung and Vizio. SageTV's experience in the field, particularly with DVR-like recording, may signal an intent to add recording to Google TV and work it into cable and satellite set-top boxes, not just stand-alone hardware that needs a separate set-top to integrate with regular TV.
The company claims that its polarizers can help reduce the power requirement of LCD screens and, as such, we've now reached a point in time where the traditional power socket is no longer needed to drive our screens around the home. It's not as simple as just plugging something into an Ethernet port and expecting it to draw power. It has to be a powered Ethernet port, which requires PoE or Power over Ethernet - a defined standard, but not a commonly found feature on home routers. But, the company also claims that Ethernet power ports are more affordable to install, and you don't need an electrician around to house to do it for you, so maybe it'll catch on. Plus, you'd have a wired network reaching every room of your house, and in a world where so many competing signals are playing havoc with many homes' wireless networks, that's of enormous benefit. The big real benefit we can see from this is that if this idea takes off, you'll only need a single cable for the TV of the future for both power and internet access, which might very well be the only two things TVs will be needing in due time.
At the NCTA Cable Show, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts showed off the next generation of the company's TV user interface. More important than the UI update, however, is how it has been built and delivered. Behind Xcalibur is a cloud-based platform that moves the intelligence out of the set-top box and into the network. For consumers, the move to a cloud-based system will largely be seamless. But for Comcast, moving to the cloud means it will be able to build new features, improve the user interface and iterate on its product more quickly and easily than if was building for individual set-top boxes. "What the cloud allows you to do is to have faster innovation," Roberts said. "Boxes have different generations, they become outdated…. That doesn't happen in the cloud."
Netflix's recent decision to increase the number of devices by which an individual subscriber can access streaming content underscores the service's ubiquitous reach in consumer electronics. Netflix recently upped the number of devices a subscriber can use to stream to 50 from five. And with Netflix streaming now directly accessible on more than 250 CE devices - the latest being Android smartphones - analyst Dan Rayburn believes the average U.S. family has 10 Netflix-enabled devices. If Netflix hadn't allowed individual subscribers more access points, a not-untypical member with an iPad, iPhone, iPod, video game console and connected Blu-ray player or connected HDTV would have risked a streaming cap. That said, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings in recent presentations has said the percentage of subs accessing rental streams on mobile phones is minute, compared with those accessing streaming on tablet computers and connected TVs.
Lighting control manufacturer Lutron Electronics Co. Inc. has filed actions before the International Trade Commission and the United States District Court for the Central District of California against several manufacturers, importers and distributors of knock-off dimming controls made in China. The complaints allege willful infringement of Lutron's U.S. Patent No. 5,637,930, titled "Wall-Mountable Switch & Dimmer," covering proprietary Lutron lighting control technology, and seek treble damages. Pass & Seymour and the other defendants manufacture and sell products that Lutron alleges are made to look like Lutron's popular Diva dimmers. The Pass & Seymour lighting control products accused of infringement include certain Harmony dimmers.
Legrand, North America has completed its acquisition of Middle Atlantic Products, which now becomes the company's new commercial AV division focused on AV products and solutions for commercial, residential, security and broadcast applications. The acquisition enables a more comprehensive offering of AV infrastructure products and solutions, according to Legrand. "The Middle Atlantic brand, operations, and services are continuing as they always have, so our customers can continue to expect the exceptional experience we work hard to deliver every day," said Mike Baker, Middle Atlantic president and now also president of Legrand's Commercial AV division. "Now that we have the backing and support of a global company, we will be able to consider new products and services that will only increase our ability to serve our customers and the installation community going forward."
Roku said Monday that Walmart has officially joined the list of retailers carrying the Roku XD player, since distribution of the device was opened up last March. The nationwide discount chain recently started carrying the $78 box across the country, offering 250 entertainment channels, so far, including video from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Crackle and Revision3; live and on-demand sports from NBA Game Time, NHL GameCenter Live and Ultimate Fighting Championship; music from Pandora, MOG, Rdio, and TuneIn Radio; photo and video sharing from Flickr and Facebook; and, soon, casual video games, including Angry Birds.
Shipments of over-the-top set top boxes — also known as streaming media players and digital media adapters — have seen sizable growth over the past two years and will finish 2011 with more than 3.6 million units shipped, according to In-Stat. Future growth, however, will be a little more difficult as other Internet-connected devices, such as Blu-ray players and video game consoles, become even more common and compete for their share of consumers interested in streaming entertainment online. A new In-Stat report, “Streaming Media Players: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?,” finds that streaming IP video is quickly becoming a common feature in consumer electronics rather than a core function. As a result, some suppliers of streaming media players are de-emphasizing their stand-alone OTT set-top boxes in favor of concentrating development on streaming media software platforms.
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