Netflix Tech Partner Accuses Comcast of Putting Up 'Toll Booth'

Level 3 Communications, a technology service provider whose clients include Netflix, is accusing broadband and cable company Comcast of threatening the open Internet by demanding a recurring fee for transmitting movies and other content to consumers. Thomas Stortz, chief legal officer for Level 3, said Comcast notified Level 3 Nov. 19 that its demand for payment was “take it or leave it.” Level 3 agreed to the terms, under protest. “By taking this action, Comcast is effectively putting up a toll booth at the borders of its broadband Internet access network, enabling it to unilaterally decide how much to charge for content which competes with its own cable TV and Xfinity delivered content,” Stortz said. “This action by Comcast threatens the open Internet and is a clear abuse of the dominant control that Comcast exerts in broadband access markets as the nation’s largest cable provider.” A request for comment was not immediately returned by Comcast. Level 3 operates a broadband backbone network that independent online content providers use to transmit movies, games and sporting events to consumers. When Comcast customers order content, Level 3 transmits it to Comcast for delivery.

Cyber Monday Sales Soar

The Cyber Monday online shopping holiday saw a nearly 20 percent gain in sales from last year, making it the biggest shopping day of the year so far.  That's according to an estimate released Tuesday by IBM's Coremetrics unit. The firm, which did not release exact sales figures, reported a 19.4 percent increase over 2009's Cyber Monday, with the average order value of $194.89 representing an 8.3 rise over last year's figure. Online sales on Cyber Monday also jumped 31.1 percent over e-commerce sales on Black Friday last week.  Shop.org, the National Retail Federation arm that launched Cyber Monday in 2005, had not released official sales figures as of Tuesday morning.

Would you like to wash down your Thanksgiving feast with some lists?

Our Friends at www.CocoonTech.com have been spending a lot of time over the last few months working on a new feature for their website.  The feature is called 'Lists' and will collect information for various categories in a list, making it easy for people to find what they are looking for, by allowing users to filter for various criteria in order to find their product.  Here are some of the lists online now (updated on a daily basis), more are coming soon.
·  The ultimate list of Apple iPad mounts (50+ Products)
·  iOS, iPhone, iPod, iPad home automation and home security apps (240+ Products)
·  Android phone & tablet home automation and home security apps (60+ Products)
·  BlackBerry home automation and home security apps (40+ Products)

Consumer Reports: 10 Best Black Friday Electronics Deals

The folks at Consumer reports have been obsessively poring over early Black Friday ads for several weeks now. While they've found many deals to share with you, their electronics team thought these particular bargains might just make it worthwhile to wake up far too early and brave the consumer crowds on the day after Thanksgiving.

Laptops: In a doorbuster deal, Best Buy is selling a Sony laptop with a Blu-ray drive for $500. It includes a Blu-ray video, a subscription to a security software package, and a laptop bag. To take advantage of this early-bird deal, you need to pick up a ticket at Best Buy (they'll be doled out starting at 3 a.m. Friday morning), and quantities are limited to 10 per store.

Desktops: Best Buy will also have the HP Pavilion p6624y with a quad-core AMD processor, 8GB of memory, and a 1TB hard drive. It comes with a 23-inch monitor and a wireless printer. The Black Friday price will be $600; it's currently on the Best Buy site for $700, without the monitor and printer.

E-book readers: The best deal will demand an early morning. Early-birds at Best Buy can save about $50 on the Nook Wi-Fi, which is selling at $99.99 rather than its usual price of $150.

32-inch LCD TVs: There are a number of deals on 32-inch LCDs. So far, the cheapest we’ve seen is the Emerson 720p set at Walmart (model LC320EM1) priced at $198.

50-inch or larger TVs: Walmart will be also breaking the $500 barrier for a 50-inch plasma with a $498 price on a Sanyo 720p set (DP50740); its regular retail price is $650.

Tivo Announces Companion App For Ipad

Tivo Inc. announced a powerful new TiVo app for the iPad. The app will be available for free from the Apple iTunes App store in the coming weeks. The TiVo® Premiere App enables you to search, browse, explore and share your favorite entertainment all without interrupting whatever is playing on your TV. Since the app works in tandem with what you are watching, iPad is now the ultimate remote control and companion device for TiVo Premiere users. By bringing its best in class high-definition user interface to iPad, TiVo has created a true two-screen TV experience. TiVo Premiere users will get access to a full set of TiVo capabilities on iPad, providing a richer TV viewing experience for both live TV and Internet video while kicking back on the sofa. Plus, users will also be able to schedule and manage their DVR recordings while on-the-go.

Pop-up MicroLite Turns Your Janky Remote Into A Well-lit, Even Jankier Remote

"I think everyone in the known world will want them!" That's a potent, soul-stirring quite from Honolulu's own Becky Gray, and her emotions tend to mimic our own. We mean, who wouldn't want a pop-up MicroLite dongle affixed to the bottom of their remote? For a limited time of indefinite nature, free-spending consumers can actually get not one, not two, but three of these miracle workers for the tidy sum of just $19.99*, enabling them to light up a full trio of cut-rate remotes. Better still, you can use two of 'em to illuminate the keyboard of your shiny new 13-inch MacBook Air -- you know, because Apple decided this solution was better than its own integrated one. There's an unrealistic video demonstration embedded just past the break, and it's just a Billy Mays (rest his soul) short of awesomeness. Order now!

Netflix Raises Unlimited Plan Prices And Offers Stream-only Service

Netflix Inc said it will offer its first unlimited streaming-only subscription plan in the United States for $7.99 a month, and raise prices of its popular unlimited streaming and unlimited DVD plans by a dollar -- eventually shifting away from its mail business. Netflix shares rose 7 percent to $184.71 in morning trading following the announcement. The move is part of Netflix's push to phase out its DVD-by- mail business, said Gabelli & Company analyst Brett Harriss. "For a while, the goal of the company was to change its business model from DVDs to streaming because it recognizes the DVD has a limited shelf life at this time and streaming has higher margins," Harriss said. The company said on Monday the plan will take effect immediately for new subscribers and in January for current members. Netflix, which gained success as a DVD rent-by-mail service, ended the third quarter with 16.9 million members in the United States and Canada. It debuted its first streaming-only service in Canada in September. Its streaming video library is still tiny compared with its DVD by-mail selection and Harriss said the company would have to continue spending on expensive content deals to boost its digital offerings.

Vizio Captures Top Ranking In LCD TV Market Share

Vizio has recaptured the top ranking in LCD TV market share, while Samsung remains #1 in the overall domestic LCD rankings, according to the latest iSuppli Corp. rankings. The research firm found that Vizio has captured a 19.9 percent market share of the LCD market in the U.S., compared with 17.7 percent for Samsung, after Vizio posted a 14.9 percent gain in sales during the third quarter. Sony followed with 9.9, while LG posted 9.2 percent. "Consumer demand is rising rapidly for LED-backlit LCD TVs because of their thinner form factors, improved picture quality, better color saturation, lower power consumption and other green attributes—along their with declining prices," Riddhi Patel, iSuppli's principal analyst, said as part of the announcement. "This allowed Vizio to increase its LCD TV sales by 208,000 units in the third quarter compared to the second.” Samsung retained the top spot in overall flat-panel sales, followed by Vizio, LG, Panasonic and Sony. Overall LCD shipments were reported at 8.04 million units, up 8.1 percent from the previous quarter, but a slight decline from the same period in 2009.

Connections™ Summit At CES To Analyze Market Trends And Strategies For Connected CE

International research firm Parks Associates today announced the sessions and preliminary list of speakers for its upcoming CONNECTIONS™ Summit at CES, January 6 at 2011 International CES in Las Vegas. This event provides consumer data and analysis of business and marketing strategies for operators, CE manufacturers, utilities, and communications companies delivering connected devices and advanced services and applications to consumers. “Parks Associates forecasts U.S. sales of nearly 60 million smartphones and more than 13 million Internet tablets, including Apple iPads, in 2011,” said Kurt Scherf, VP, principal analyst, Parks Associates. “These products will grab attention, especially tablets as Lenovo, BlackBerry, and Motorola are launching new models, but it is equally important to focus on the services and content attached to these devices. At CONNECTIONS™ Summit at CES, we will look beyond the headlines and announcements to see what consumers will be doing with these devices and how they will change their video, entertainment, and communication habits.”

Prism Sound Group Acquires Imerge Ltd

Linear LLC has sold the assets of media server pioneer Imerge Ltd. to Prism Sound, the UK-based manufacturer of professional digital audio equipment for the International broadcast, film, music production, manufacturing and telecommunications industries. According to Prism, the Imerge brands will continue with current production as well as new product development under the new ownership. Customer support will be maintained for all former customers of Imerge Ltd, including OEM partners ELAN, SpeakerCraft, Xantech, and Revox. Prism Sound has retained key members of the former Imerge team in research and development, production, customer support and sales, while finance and marketing will be resourced from the Prism Sound team. Prism Sound’s chief technical officer Ian Dennis stated that Imerge is a “fine example” of technical innovation in the UK and that his company is proud to take over the baton. “We will be concentrating on maintaining the impressive record Imerge has built with innovation in the fast-changing home entertainment market,” he said. Graham Boswell, director of sales and marketing at Prism Sound, added, “Imerge is one of the world's premier brands of movie and music-focused entertainment servers, making it simple for users to acquire, store, and replay their content with maximum fidelity and minimum fuss. Our challenge is to tell the story to a global audience and to make the product accessible to new markets. We will be extending the former distribution structure into new and untapped markets in the coming months.”

Borg's Introduces The New Muse™ Flexcontroller

Borg Displays, Inc introduces a new Muse FlexController tablet leveraging a bright 7” 16:9 format and using the newest in multi-touch technology. The Muse, like the suite of Protégé in-wall platforms, leverage Microsoft Windows CE embedded OS or Google Android OS on a fast Texas Instruments processor for optimum performance and flexibility. The Muse is ideal for OEM’s seeking a fast-to-market advantage with factory-direct affordable pricing. The new Muse dramatically enhances the user experience leveraging the new 16:9 widescreen format AND new multi-touch projective capacitive interactivity like that of Apple’s iPad. Muse is part of a suite of Borg’s interactive embedded appliance-like controllers optimized with select hardware button features and software applets for a wide variety of vertical applications. “Borg now offers a Pro4, Pro6, Pro8, Pro8a, Pro8ac, Pro8gl, Pro10a, Pro15a, NEO8 and now Muse to professional integrators around the globe.” states Borg president, Craig Slawson. “Muse is an always-on appliance and generally located in high traffic areas where net-connected services get used more often then when accessed by PC”.

Samsung plans to offer Google TV sets

Sony won't be the only company offering Google TV in its televisions. Samsung plans to run Google's software, which allows users to surf the Web and manage their DVR, among many other features, in a set of HDTVs that it expects to announce in January. The company's intentions were revealed by Samsung TV business head Yoon Boo Keun to the Bloomberg news agency. He didn't provide any further details. With that January announcement, Samsung is lining itself up to become the second company to offer Google TV in its array of televisions. Sony released its Google TV-equipped HDTVs last month. Sony's Google TV devices range in size from a 24-inch display to a 46-inch model. Prices on those sets are between $600 and $1,400. Google TV can also work on devices aside from televisions. The platform is currently available on the Logitech Revue set-top box. It's also running on a Sony Blu-ray disc player.

Atlona Technologies has won HomeToys.com's Innovative products from CEDIA 2010 with its entry of the 7" HD Testing Monitor as voted on by HomeToys.com readers.

Atlona Technologies has won HomeToys.com’s Innovative products from CEDIA 2010 with its entry of the 7” HD Testing Monitor as voted on by HomeToys.com readers. The contest had 24 entrants and garnered well over 2000 reader votes with 811 of those going to Atlona. As the winner Atlona will be awarded a 1 year marketing partnership campaign with an enhanced listing in HomeToys.com’s company directory; a value of $676.00. The theme for HomeToys.com’ s next contest will be Ultimate CE Holiday Gifts with the 1 year Marketing Partnership from HomeToys.com up for grabs again. Product entry will be open from November 16th – December 15th while voting will end December 31st. Please view the guidelines and restrictions for contest rules.

TiVo Unveils Holiday Price Cuts

TiVo kicked off Monday a limited-time holiday promotion, slashing up to $200 off the price of certain set-top DVR boxes. Pricing for TiVo Premiere and TiVo Premiere XL boxes have been reduced to $99.99 with a one-year DVR service commitment of $19.99 per month, which TiVo said amounts to an upfront instant savings of $200 on each device. The price for the large recording capacity TiVo Premiere XL was cut to $299 from $499, and also requires a one-year service commitment at $19.99 per month. TiVo said the "holiday prices" will enable cable viewers to better what they get in a typical cable system DVR by integrating broadband content and other features in one box and with one remote. A broadband connection is required to access Internet content. "TiVo delivers the best entertainment experience money can buy for your HDTV. And in keeping with the holiday spirit, we've listened to our customers and reduced the upfront cost making it even easier to give the gift of TiVo to yourself or others," stated Joe Miller, senior vice president of retail sales and marketing for TiVo. "TiVo is the easiest and only complete way to get both television and broadband content in one simple experience. Whether you want traditional TV or movies, web videos, or music you have access to an amazing array of Internet content from Amazon Video On Demand, Netflix, Hulu Plus (coming soon), YouTube and more -- plus your live and recorded cable television programming all packaged in one sleek device." The boxes are available through the TiVo website and Best Buy stores.

Universal Remote Arrives Within A Pillow, Makes Channel Surfing Hip Again

It's a pillow. And a remote. And if your powers of observation are anywhere near "strong," you've probably deduced by now that you're looking at a universal remote control... albeit one that's wrapped within a pillow. We've seen similar creations come around in concept form, but leave it to the folks at Brookstone to turn this thing into a reality. Purportedly, this unit can be programmed to work with over 500 devices, and there's a power-saving auto shutoff feature that'll definitely be overrode by your incessant squeezing. We wouldn't count on this thing actually working well, but for $29.95 (in addition to the cost of two AAA batteries, of course), we highly doubt you'll find a more fashionable, lovable cube of cotton.

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Automation & Control - Featured Product

Advanced UPB Lighting Packages from Simply Automated

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Custom scenes (connecting up to 250 switches) in your living, family or great room, kitchen, study, master bedroom/bathroom, and office. Turn off all lights in your home at the touch of a button. Automatically (Timer Scheduler) turn on/off outdoor security lights, heating and AC, or provide night light convenience anywhere in your home. From creating a virtual 3 way switch anywhere in your home, to turning a group of lights when your garage door is opened, door bell or phone rings.