More Manufacturers To Center Business Around Apps

Mobile applications are the new remote controls. The trend is rippling across the technology industry, changing the way products are conceived, as manufacturers of everything from televisions to automobiles look for ways to integrate their wares with handheld devices, like smartphones. according to analysts at the Consumer Electronics Association. "Manufacturers started by letting you control their hardware," CEA analyst Shawn DuBravac said on Tuesday to a crowded room of reporters, bloggers and industry watchers at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Now, they're blurring the lines between products and apps even further. DuBravac said many industry heavyweights have cut research on devices like remote controls, choosing instead to create specialized mobile apps that can be used to change channels and lock cars. The apps run on smartphones, including Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhone, Research In Motion Ltd.'s (RIMM) BlackBerry and handsets running Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android operating system. For example, DEI Holdings Inc. (DEIXD) makes an app called Viper SmartStart that allows users to remotely lock and unlock their vehicles via an iPhone, BlackBerry or Android device.

What will be the Trends of CES 2011? The HomeToys team heads to Vegas to find out.

Before the Sun comes up Thursday January 6th the HomeToys team will be on the road to Las Vegas and the International Consumer Electronics Show 2011. The team of reporters will be researching and trying to gauge what the top trends of 2011 will be: Tablets, connected TV and of course 3D TV are all obvious trends, but what else will set the show floor buzzing. We will keep you up to date with our Special CES Newspage and via Twitter @HomeToys. Upon our return we will have our “Best of CES contest” entries and plenty more news and information to pass along, so stay tuned.

Special thanks to our CES Sponsors: Somfy, Mitsubishi, HAI, Richard Gray’s Power Company, VidaBox & Calrad

Netflix Partnering With Major TV Makers To Add A Netflix Button To TV Remotes

Beginning this Spring, buttons that specify "Netflix" - including some featuring the iconic red Netflix logo - are planned to be situated prominently on remote controls that operate certain new Blu-ray disc players from a variety of companies including Best Buy's in-house Dynex brand, Haier, Memorex, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba. Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba also will place the Netflix one-click button on remote controls for select new Internet-connected TVs. Remote controls for the Boxee, Iomega and Roku set-top boxes also will feature the Netflix one-click remote.

LG to Show TV Upgrader at CES 2011

LG will soon unveil a unique product that can help users upgrade their TVs with apps, connectivity and other special features. The ST600 Smart TV Upgrader will be shown at International CES this week. It will arrive in the second quarter of 2011. "The market for Smart TVs is set to take off this year, and the ST600 offers a perfect entry point," Havis Kwon, President and CEO of LG Home Entertainment Company, said in a statement. "With the LG Smart TV Upgrader, we're taking the excitement and convenience of Smart TV and adding in LG's trademark ease-of-use because we see a significant audience who are interested but not interested enough to buy a whole new TV."

Colorado vNet to Cease Operations

Russound tried to save Colorado vNet when it purchased its assets back in 2009. Apparently the turnaround of the company, combined with the struggling economy, were too much, and now Colorado vNet is officially "winding down" operations to focus on R&D and reallocating intellectual property elsewhere. The announcement was made by the CEO of Colorado vNet Corp., Charlie Porritt. "Colorado vNet has a great reputation in the marketplace, but as the needs of the market shift in tandem with a challenging economy, we need to take a long, hard look at the profit potential of the current product line in relation to the income it generates," Porritt said in the company's official statement. In October 2009, Colorado vNet Corp. purchased the assets of L & B LLC (previously known as Colorado vNet LLC) after the company had effectively ceased operations. Colorado vNet Corp. will honor all warranties on products that were purchased on or since October 15, 2009 for a limited period of time. Technical support for Colorado vNet will be available by telephone through April 30, 2011. Products purchased prior the acquisition from L & B LLC are not covered. Earlier this year, Colorado vNet Corp. announced to dealers that a newly updated RF lighting system would be made available to those who need to replace a faulty system that dates back to 2008, nearly two years prior to the acquisition. Colorado vNet Corp. will honor its commitment to the dealers to replace these products . All exchanges are expected to be completed by March 31, 2011. According to VP of sales and marketing Petro Shimonishi, "the majority" of Colorado vNet employees will be affected by this decision though she would not offer specifics. The move, she said, will, however, have no "direct or indirect" effect on Russound, which is Colorado vNet's parent company. Shimonishi estimated that approximately 450 dealers would be affected by the decision.

Google calls Google TV delay a rumor

Media reports that U.S. Internet giant Google has halted production of set-top boxes for Google TV are rumors, a company spokeswoman said. Google spokeswoman Gina Weakley said it was "rumors and speculation," that Google had asked manufacturer Logitech to stop production of the Revue set-top box, PC Magazine reported Monday. TG Daily also reported on the apparent order to delay production, which Logitech also would not confirm. Google, TG Daily reported, is not happy with the software, which forces Toshiba, LG and other TV makers into limbo concerning the January's Consumer Electronics Show, which starts in nine days in Las Vegas.

2014 Screen Futures - 40 percent of TVs Will Have Net Connections

In five years, almost 40% of television produced for the U.S. market will have at least one TV set in the home with Internet connections and services. Media research publisher Futurescape says this will amount to 43 million U.S. television homes out of 115.9 million overall U.S. TV homes. Other research suggests that 57 million U.S. TV homes will be viewing -- at some time -- regular full-length TV programs from online sources on their TV sets. U.S. numbers register at a slower pace than global TV trends, where it is expected that 54% of all flat-panel TV sets that will be shipped in 2014 -- 148.3 million -- will have Internet-connected TV services. Aggressive TV maker Samsung says 70% of all its TV sets will be Internet-connected in 2014. Right now, the TV set maker says 17% of its production is Internet-connected TVs.

Logitech freezing production of Revue over Google TV?

Rumors are surfacing that Logitech has ordered a production freeze on its Revue set-top box until Google finishes upgrades to Google TV. Blog says Logitech ordered Gigabyte Technology, which makes components for the device, to suspend production of the Revue until sometime in January. Nancy Morrison, a Logitech spokeswoman, told CNET she couldn't comment on the report about the production suspension but said Logitech continues to ship the device to consumers. Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that Google had asked several TV manufacturers, including Toshiba and LG Electronics, to postpone plans to unveil their Internet-connected sets at next month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas because Google wants to overhaul the Google TV software platform. The platform lets users access the Web on a TV. The system has met with mixed reviews because of its complexity and its inability to access content from the largest broadcast networks. The access issue isn't a technology problem. The networks have chosen to block the software from presenting their shows.

LG bringing world's largest LED-backlit 3D LCD HDTV to CES.

LG swore up and down that it would be bumping its smart TV investment to kick-start 2011, and lo and behold, it looks as if this is one New Year's resolution that'll be kept. The aforesaid company has just revealed that it'll be bringing the planet's largest LED-backlit 3D LCD HDTV to CES 2011 next week, with the LZ9700 handling both 2D and 3D content and offering TruMotion 400Hz to smooth out Cam Newton's faster-than-fast evasion techniques. As you'd expect, this set is also outfitted with the company's Smart TV functions, giving owners access to TV apps, games, language classes, etc. The company's also talking up its Magic Motion Remote Control -- a diddy we'll definitely be anxious to put to the test once we land in Vegas. There's no mention of an expected price, but it'll be available starting in "early 2011" for those who passed on HDI's 100-incher.

New Apple TV, Roku media streamers race to break one million in sales

Curious timing, no? This morning, Cupertino's PR department has blasted out a blurb stating that the newfangled Apple TV -- which only started shipping three months ago -- is expected to cross the one million mark in sales prior to Christmas Day. The obvious remark is hard to ignore: "That's a lot for a hobby." And yeah, it is. But it probably has more to do with trends in consumer purchasing and a delightfully low $99 price point than anything else, and if you doubt that logic, you should probably have a sit-down with Roku CEO Anthony Wood. The folks at Business Insider did, and Wood confessed that Roku media streamer sales have actually doubled since the introduction of the second-gen Apple TV. As the story goes, Jobs did the whole sector a solid by refocusing consumer attention on the set-top box realm, and with the most basic Roku retailing for just $59, it's pretty clear that the outfit drives a tough bargain. Roku's also expecting to sell its one millionth box by the close of this year, but of course it's had a lot longer than three months to do so. Still, for an up and comer, selling one million of anything (let alone looking at $50 million or more in annual sales) is quite the achievement.

Toshiba Glasses-Free 3D TV Debuts in Japan

Toshiba's groundbreaking glasses-free 3D TV will go on the market in Japan this week, with the product set to go global in the next year, the Wall Street Journal reported. The devices arriving in Japan are 12- and 20 inches, although the version coming available worldwide will be 40 inches. For the 3D effect to work, users must sit within a 40-degree area in front of the TV. The no-glasses 3D TV will be shown at CES, according to IDG News Service.

The 10 Apps Every Smart TV Should Have

The popularity of app stores is bleeding over from the smartphone and tablet market and into the living room. Many new TVs come pre-loaded with popular apps to deliver on-demand streaming video, music, and news.There are even a few app stores with free and cheap add ons to download directly to your TV. If you're looking for an upgrade, check out our picks for the apps your TV should have. Click here to see the 10 apps every smart TV should have →

Mobile App Returning to CES

The official International CES mobile app, which was downloaded over 26,000 times during the 2010 event, will return in 2011. Core-apps, LLC will once again appear at the 2011 event. The app, which reached as high as 4th in Apple's App Store download rankings, will be available for Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices as well as on the web. Exhibitors at CES are invited to purchase sponsorships of the app. For a $25,000 Silver Sponsorship, exhibitors can purchase a video, a booth specially colored on the app map, a free banner and landing page and more; only two such sponsorships are still available. Exhibitor banner advertisements are also available for $2,000, while multimedia packages go for $3,000.

Google TV Faces Delays Amid Poor Reviews

Google TV has just enacted its first programming cancellation. The Consumer Electronics Show next month in Las Vegas was meant to be the great coming-out party for Google's new software for televisions, which adds Web video and other computer smarts to TV sets. Although Google already has a deal with Sony for its Internet TVs, other television makers - Toshiba, LG Electronics and Sharp - were prepared to flaunt their versions of the systems. But Google has asked the TV makers to delay their introductions, according to people familiar with the company's plans, so that it can refine the software, which has received a lukewarm reception. The late request caught some of the manufacturers off guard. And it illustrates the struggles Google faces as it tries to expand into the tricky, unfamiliar realm of consumer electronics, and drum up broad interest in a Web-based TV product that consumers want. Google has a long history of putting out new products and then revising them on the fly. But in the consumer electronics market, companies place big, well-timed bets - to attract holiday buyers, say, or back-to-school shoppers.

GE study: ZigBee is better than WiFi for smart grid home communications

A recent GE study on energy efficiency and wireless communication options for smart grid devices found that ZigBee is at least two times more cost-effective and efficient than Wi-Fi. "To realize the benefits of the smart grid, it is critical that the underlying communications technology consume as little power as possible," said David Najewicz, manager, external technology programs, GE Appliances, and one of the paper's authors. "Because of the widespread use of these communication technologies at the residential level in home area networks and in smart devices, the choice of technologies is critical." GE found the two technologies that best meet the overall performance and cost requirements for home-area network communications are Wi-Fi (802.11/n) and ZigBee (802.15.4). These were evaluated under typical HAN, smart-device conditions and in a configuration representative of future mass-production implementation. On average, the ZigBee system consumed 0.39 watts over a 24-hour period, while the Wi-Fi solution consumed more than twice (2.2 times) as much, a total of 0.87 watts over the same period.

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