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Video Hardware & Software

Movie Rentals? Try a DVD Kiosk Near You

September 11, 2008

DVD-rental kiosks are popping up everywhere, from grocery stores to gas stations and at just about every McDonald's in between.

The trend is expected to be a lucrative one, too: Adams Media Research predicts that there will be about 24,000 DVD-rental kiosks by 2010 and that they'll bring in approximately $760 million in revenue.

Now you know why Blockbuster stores across the country are shrinking and Netflix is feeling the heat, too.

When you say "I want my DVD," what do you do?

Do you check out your cable system for an on-demand DVD treat -- personally, I'm always amazed at how many movies I've never even heard of ...

Digital TV Transition Already Has Hiccups

September 11, 2008

Earlier this week, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin flipped an oversize, symbolic switch in Wilmington, NC, to celebrate the city's early transition to all-digital TV signals.

The first! 

And guess what, by later that day, the FCC had already fielded several hundred calls from local residents who weren't able to watch TV.

All of which did not seem to surprise Martin: "I'm sure we're still going to hear from people who weren't prepared," he said early in the day. "But the bigger question is: What did we learn here that we can replicate around the country?"


Will shall see ...

Sling Media SlingCatcher and Slingbox PRO-HD Available

September 10, 2008

The new Sling Media SlingCatcher and Slingbox PRO-HD (Sling Media Slingbox PRO-HD SB100-100) are now available for pre-order from Amazon and at $299.99 each. Just in time for the Christmas holiday season! Woot! Ok, Christmas is still 3 months away, so I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

Samsung's Green Gadget Returns Mean Free for All

September 5, 2008

Samsung has announced free recycling for all Samsung-branded consumer electronics in all 50 states, beginning October 1.

Samsung has just announced its Recycling Direct, a program that will enable consumers in all 50 states to recycle Samsung-branded consumer electronics devices like televisions, monitors, DVD players, home theater systems, cameras, camcorders, printers, peripherals -- essentially, all Samsung-branded consumer electronics.

(Look for the one in the photo above at a recycling center sometime this century ...0

The exception will be home appliances (too bad about my washer and dryer when that day comes), which can't be accepted at the drop-off points, although a growing number will be accepting them.

Recycling for Samsung-branded electronics will be free; consumers can also drop off non-Samsung electronics for recycling and safe disposal for a nominal fee. The program will include a number of collection sites, including permanent drop-off centers in all 50 U.S. states.

Samsung is working directly with recycling companies rather than intermediaries and claims it is only working with operations that meet Samsung's criteria and are a good match with its environmental philosophy: Samsung says it is utilizing recyclers that do not incinerate, landfill or export toxic waste to developing economies, and that it will be tracking and monitoring all the recycled electronics to ensure they're disposed of properly.

Qik Live Streaming Mobile Video Now on HTC Phones

September 4, 2008

Qik, the popular live streaming mobile phone video app, is now available on a variety of new Windows Mobile enabled phones including select HTC devices.

New support includes:
• HTC Touch Dual
• HTC Touch Diamond
• AT&T Tilt
• Sony Ericsson Xperia X1

Qik added mobile video blogging to the Apple iPhone just last week. I was actually going to use Qik on my Verizon XV6700 HTC Apache Windows Mobile 6.1 device to live video blog Internet Telephony Expo in 2 weeks - but it isn't supported. While the HTC Apache isn't specifically listed, I'm going to try again in a few minutes to see if it works.

Economy Down, HDTV Sales To Pick Up?

September 3, 2008

Economy down, oil prices up ... Hey, time to buy a new HDTV!

With the February 2009 digital TV transition looming, HDTV suppliers are expecting a good fourth quarter and hoping for a minimum of price cuts along the way.

That is what executives with LG Electronics, Sharp, Toshiba, Mitsubishi and JVC had to say at a recent meeting reported in TWICE.

Scott Ramirez, Toshiba's TV marketing VP, indicated that his company will be rolling out a major introduction of HDTVs with increased features.

While that will be good for Toshiba, he said that overall demand of HDTVs will be strong in the fourth quarter. And he does not see much in the way of traumatic price cuts. 

Steve McNally, consumer electronics sales VP, LG Electronics, reported that HDTV sales "have been good for us" recently and that LG "is meeting [its] sales goals, which means we are outpacing some with our growth." 

(But I bet he would see a lot more!) 

Read more about it here.

Digital TV Transition about To Begin; Fish Tanks on Tap

September 2, 2008

Next Monday, a group of public officials and broadcasters will gather in Wilmington, N.C., with little more to do than wait for the phones to ring.

At noon that day, Wilmington stations will shut off their old television signals and broadcast only in digital, potentially leaving thousands of older televisions unusable.

Wilmington is the first U.S. city to switch to digital-only television broadcasts and is doing it five months early as a test of the strategy the government and broadcasters have adopted for helping people who still rely on over-the-air, analog television move to the digital TV future.

Read more about it at the Wall Street Journal.

And while we are on it: How to Convert an Old TV Into a Fish Tank

Have you discovered a dinosaur of a TV set in your attic or now in your living room?

It sure can't compete with today's flat-panel units, but it doesn't have to head straight for the junk pile -- if you're creative. Here's how to make it do something those plasmas will never pull off: turn it into a fish tank!

DYI here.


How about a Blu-ray/VHS Combi?

August 27, 2008

Everything in the World's Going Wireless

August 27, 2008

In Singapore, the Dutch consumer electronics maker Philips is designing a multimedia server to stream audio and video through the air, from the Internet to any device in the home.

In Munich, a former unit of Siemens envisions a cordless phone that would double as a music player, wirelessly drawing music from home computers.

In Japan, members of Sony's global "digital home team" are redesigning 90% of the company's home electronics components to connect wirelessly to the Internet by 2011.

Across the consumer electronics industry, the leading players are revamping their audio and video equipment for a future centered around the Internet, a world in which televisions, stereos, computers -- even kitchen appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators -- can communicate with each other over a wireless home network.

Some industry executives say the new focus on Internet content and wireless networks reflects a fundamental shift in home entertainment. 

Expanded lines of "networked entertainment equipment" took center stage this week at the Internationale Funkausstellung in Berlin, the largest consumer electronics convention in Europe, with 1,200 exhibitors and 200,000 visitors.

Sony is introducing plug-in adapters to enable some of its Bravia television sets to connect to the Internet wirelessly. Philips is demonstrating a line of hard-disc stereo systems that can wirelessly read and play music stored on personal computers or laptops in other rooms, streaming music selectively through the house.

Pioneer, Samsung and Sharp are presenting flat-panel TVs that hook up to the Internet, some with wires, some without. Hewlett Packard's MediaSmart LCD TV will wirelessly stream high-definition video. 

More at the International Herald Tribune.

What Economy? TV Sales Surge Anyway

August 18, 2008

TV shipments for North America hit record growth levels in the second quarter, despite a weaker U.S. economy.

According to research firm DisplaySearch, TV shipments rose 28% compared to the same quarter last year to more than 9.3 million units, marking the strongest quarterly results since the research firm began tracking TV shipments in 2004.  

(No money to go out, so let's spend more time on the couch ...)

Samsung was the leading brand for the quarter, with a record share of approximately 19% of all TV unit shipments in North America, and Sony took the No. 2 spot. Vizio also saw strong gains in PDP market share, ranking it the No. 3 supplier in total TV shipments.

LCD and plasma TV technologies both had strong sequential gains over the first quarter this year of 30% and 35%, respectively, with PDP growth influenced by strong initial shipments of Vizio's 32-inch HD PDPs and LCD growth also very strong at 32 inches (that's one of them above).

LCD TV shipments rose a stronger-than-expected 52% over the second quarter last year, to nearly 7.5 million units.

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