Approximately 27 million U.S. households, more than one in five, have either an Internet-ready TV, game console, standalone Blu-ray player, and/or smart set-top box connected to their home network, according to ABI Research. Gaming consoles are the most popular devices, with a connection rate of over 80%, followed by Internet TVs (27%), standalone Blu-ray players (24%) and smart set-top boxes (13%). The research also indicated that a relatively large number of consumers have not connected some devices to their home network, most notably Internet-ready TVs. ABI predicts that the combined penetration rates of all of the devices will reach 60% by 2017. The firm notes that while not all of these devices will be connected to a network, there is room for growth, however, as only 48.5% of consumers with a home network currently have one of these devices connected to the Internet.
Online movie streaming in the United States is expected to top both DVD and Blu-ray use for the first time ever in 2012, according to a study from IHS Screen Digest. The study suggests that in 2012, Americans will legally stream 3.4 billion movies online — twice the 1.4 billion streamed in 2011 — while DVD and Blu-ray movies watching this year will to 2.4 billion from 2.6 billion in 2011. Last year, the unlimited-streaming services offered by Netflix and Amazon Prime accounted for 94% of all paid online movie viewing in the U.S. Additionally, consumers paid an average of $0.51 for every movie streamed online, compared to $4.72 for DVD and Blu-ray discs. “We are looking at the beginning of the end of the age of movies on physical media like DVD and Blu-ray,” IHS analyst Dan Cryan said. “But the transition is likely to take time: almost nine years after the launch of the iTunes Store, CDs are still a vital part of the music business.” More →
Samsung has partnered with Blockbuster to stream thousands of movies to the company’s smartphones, tablets, ultrabooks, laptops, smart TVs and Blu-ray players, reports Smarthouse. The service will reportedly be rolled out in the United States and Europe in the first half of 2012, with an Australian scheduled to take place by early September. Samsung is also rumored to be developing a new global billing system that will allow users to easily log-in and pay for media content right from their devices. Blockbuster is the largest provider of rental movies in Australia, although in recent years the company has lost ground to both Netflix and Redbox. The deal is considered a win-win “for both Samsung, Blockbuster and Australian movie watchers,” according to Paul Uniacke the CEO of the Franchise Entertainment Group who has the rights to the Blockbuster brand in Australia. More →
Samsung has developed a new universal remote control for its televisions and home theater accessories that ditches dozens of buttons in favor of Siri-like voice command support and a touch pad. As Apple reportedly readies an assault on the TV industry, established vendors such as Sony, LG and Samsung looked to cut the Cupertino-based firm off at the pass during this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. All the big names at this year’s show added voice controls and gesture support to their flagship HDTVs, and now Samsung has taken the wraps off its new voice-controlled universal remote, Nikkei’s Tech-On blog reports. The device allows users to speak commands in many cases rather than typing on a keyboard or pressing buttons, and it uses a combination of Bluetooth and infrared connectivity to improve reliability. While Samsung hasn’t yet stated exactly which devices will be compatible with its new remote, it did say TVs, set-top boxes, Blu-ray players and other accessories will be supported. More →
Following parent company Coinstar’s third-quarter earnings report, Redbox announced that daily DVD rental fees have increased to $1.20 from $1. “The price change is based on an increase in operating costs, including higher debit card fees that went into effect October 1,” Redbox said in a statement on its website. “This is the first time in eight years Redbox has raised our daily DVD rental price.” Redbox will continue to charge $1 for the first day of each DVD rental during a promotional period from October 31st through November 30th, though additional days will be charged at the new rate of $1.20 per night. Rates for Blu-ray ($1.50 per day) rentals and video game rentals ($2 per day) are not affected by this change. More →
Sony and LG have reached an agreement over a patent battle that involved several consumer electronics devices including televisions, the PlayStation 3 and phones, Reuters reported on Thursday. The two companies have agreed to enter a cross-licensing deal. “LG and Sony recently agreed to drop patent infringement lawsuits against each other,” an LG spokeswoman confirmed. Sony originally filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission in an attempt to block the sale of several LG phones, including the Rumor Touch. LG fired back and argued that Sony was using its patented Blu-ray technology inside the PlayStation 3. More →
Following bankruptcy and an ensuing acquisition at auction, Blockbuster is now trying to lure back the hordes of customers it lost to competitors like Redbox and Netflix. A BGR reader sent us a letter that Blockbuster is circulating to recent defectors in an effort to win back their business in a post-Dish Network world. Among the carrots Blockbuster is currently dangling are a free 30-day Total Access trial and a “special rate,” though that special rate is not disclosed in the email. Blockbuster’s Total Access service was created as a direct response to Netflix, offering DVD rentals by mail just as Netflix does, though Blockbuster’s option is now more affordable following Netflix’s price hikes. Of course Total Access used to be a much more attractive option than it is in its current state, but the lower pricing and the quicker availability of new titles could be attractive benefits over rival Netflix. Blockbuster’s letter to former Total Access customers can be found below. More →
As Netflix continues to barrel into living rooms across the country, the thriving company announced new agreements Tuesday that will enable one-click access to its streaming video services on compatible partner devices. The new deal will place a dedicated Netflix button, complete with the Netflix logo, on remote controls that ship with various consumer electronics including Watch Instantly-enabled televisions, Blu-ray players and set top boxes. Manufacturers on board include Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, Dynex (Best Buy’s in-house brand), Haier, Memorex, Boxee, Iomega and Roku. The deal is big news for Netflix, and it stands to substantially increase brand visibility. Netflix claims that there are currently more than 250 devices on the market compatible with its streaming video service. Hit the break for Netflix’s full press release. More →
Sony thinks their Google TV-enabled Internet TV product is the future of home television. We covered the announcement and played with the product a little bit at the press event, but there isn’t anything like getting up close and personal with something in your own environment. Your TV, your sofa, your own install and set up. Read on for our thoughts on Sony’s Internet TV Blu-ray player, and whether or not we think the future is here! More →
We had a chance to get up close and personal with Sony’s latest TV set and sister Blu-ray player. Here are our first thoughts:
- We haven’t seen Logitech’s Revue Google TV device in person, but the Sony experience looks similar to it. Sony told us that the only Sony customization was a recommended channel area, so for you purists out there, it looks like this is a really clean Google offering.
- We caught some lag when hopping menu to menu and typing when using the remote sometimes took a second or two to catch up but all in all, the Intel Atom-powered TV seemed pretty zippy.
- Speaking of the remote, we’re completely torn about it. Andrew loves it, but I couldn’t care much for it. The size is definitely intriguing as it is way smaller in person than we expected it to be. Also, the feel is right — pretty light without feeling inexpensively cheap. However, the myriad of buttons sort of confuses us, especially when a bunch of them don’t serve a purpose 90% of the time in what we’d imagine would be your daily use. I’ll use my Android handset to control my Google TV device as opposed to a manufacturer remote, you can believe that. Last thing about the remote… no backlight! So sad.
- The picture in picture capability is practically the selling point here… if you’re a multitasker, you’re going to love with PIP on. It’s pretty amazing that you can have that picture window of the current TV show or recording you’re watching open on the screen and at the same time browse a website, check something on Google Maps, search for a program to record, and more.
- The range in sizes and price is pretty spectacular. At a cost of $1,399 for the 46″ edge-lit LED model is practically a steal — and the time to market is also delicious as the sets and Blu-ray player will be available this weekend.
All in all, this wasn’t something we didn’t expect, yet we’re incredibly excited for Sony to pioneer this new category of TV entertainment. Let’s see if they can knock it out of the park…
Back on the 13th of September, a mysterious post appeared on site pastebin.com; a post that contained number matrices reported to be the HDCP master keys. HDCP (High Definition Content Protection) is the encryption schema used by hardware manufacturers to encrypt data as it moves through an HDMI or DVI cable to your viewing medium. The encryption is meant to prevent signal eavesdropping by third-party devices that could be placed between, for example, your Blu-ray player and your HDTV, capturing the content in an unencrypted state. Yesterday, Intel — the company who created HDCP — confirmed that the published keys are in fact real. “We have tested this published material that was on the Web,” said Intel representative Tom Waldrop. “It does produce product keys… the net of that means that it is a circumvention of the code.” The nightmare scenario for those that rely on HDCP would be the creation of a third-party chip, with the master keys embedded, that could be used to decode Blu-ray DVDs and other protected materials. From there, said materials could be easily republished and shared, although… thanks to torrent sites like The Pirate Bay, they usually are anyway. No word on what, if anything, Intel plans to do. More →
Plex, for those not familiar, is a software company whose former creed was to: “bridge the gap between your Mac and your home theater, doing so with a visually appealing user interface that provides instant access to your media.” Today, the company has announced that it will be partnering with electronics maker LG to “integrate the Plex platform into their 2011 lineup of Netcast connected TVs and Blu-ray devices.” In the company’s announcement, they quip that when it comes to connecting devices to your television, a Mac Mini is “too large,” a Boxee box is “too pointy,” and the new Apple TV is “too tiny.” The company is betting on this free, integrated software model to be the future of connected televisions. The announcement continues: “Early next year, when you buy an LG Netcast TV or Blu-ray player, you will have Plex functionality built-in. Specifically, it will connect to a cloud version of the Plex platform for online content, and, if you happen to have a Plex Media Server running anywhere in your house (after all, who doesn’t have a computer in their house?), you can access your local and online content, in a rich interface, with full metadata.” The concept of integrating mature, intuitive media software into a TV really does sound like a great idea; especially for LG, as TV manufacturers are always trying to differentiate themselves from the competition.
“There will be more content providers investing in writing Plex plug-ins, so your online content choices will grow. And next year, if you’re upgrading your TV, or or buying an LG Blu-ray player, you’ll have the ability to get Plex, built in, at no additional cost. Fully integrated into killer consumer electronics gear, exactly as it should be.”
Yes, that is the way it should be. Hit the read link for more info on Plex and their recently inked LG deal. More →
Today, Panasonic announced that they will add Twitter to the list of built-in web entertainment technologies on their VIERA CAST enabled HDTVs and Blu-ray disc players. The company already offers Skype, Netflix, Pandora, Fox Sports, Amazon Video-On-Demand, YouTube, Picasa, Bloomberg, and weather services on VIERA televisions with the IPTV functionality built-in. Panasonic’s VP of corporate development had this to say:
Since we introduced Panasonic VIERA CAST IPTVs three years ago we have added more and more of the top entertainment and social networking sites in the world. The addition of Twitter to VIERA CAST further strengthens the interactive options Panasonic VIERA HDTV owners can now use to communicate with family and friends worldwide. Consumers with VIERA CAST-enabled HDTVS can now tweet on Twitter, video chat via Skype, share videos on YouTube and digital photos via Google Picasa right from the comfort of their living rooms.”
Maybe the future of HDTV isn’t in 3D and ridiculous refresh rates… maybe it’s applications? We’ve got the full press release for you after the break. Let us know if functionality like this is something that interests you, or if you think it is just something that will get in the way of your television-viewing enjoyment. More →