Google is reportedly looking to sell the set-top box business it will inherit from Motorola Mobility before its acquisition of the company closes, The New York Post reported on Wednesday. CEO Larry Page previously claimed the manufacturer’s set-top division would help Google revolutionize the living room. Many people, however, view the clunky cable box as an obstacle to newer and more advanced technology that integrate TV and the Internet. According to Infonetics, a company that tracks the set-top box market, last year was the sector’s peak and sales will see a sharp decline this year and in the future. Motorola attempted to sell the business for $4.5 billion in 2009, however the sale was unsuccessful. The Post claims that Google is looking to sell the business for between $2.5 billion and $4 billion. More →
Vizio announced the company’s support for Google TV with two new set-top boxes at the Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday. The Vizio VAP430 Stream Player picks right up where the Logitech Revue left off, and will turn any TV into a smart TV. Vizio’s second set-top box adds a Blu-ray player to the mix and looks to compete with Sony’s new Blu-ray Google TV device. The Vizio VBR430 is labeled as “one of the most advanced 3D Blu-ray players on the market,” with access to the web, apps, and the ability to play the latest Blu-ray 3D movies. Both devices include a touchpad universal remote with a QWERTY keyboard, giving consumers an easy way to navigate everything Google TV has to offer. As with Vizio’s other CES products, shipping dates and pricing will be announced at a later date. More details are available after the break. More →
Amazon and Best Buy are both offering the Apple TV for $89.99, $10 lower than Apple’s standard retail price, which suggests that the Cupertino-based company could be brewing up a refresh for the popular home entertainment box. In addition, Amazon has added a “2010” label next to the gadget, indicating that a 2011 model is on the way (or that it is simply distinguishing it from the earlier version). In May, a rumor surfaced that suggested Apple was building a new Apple TV that will support full 1080p video output, iCloud, 16GB of storage and a new A5 processor. It is unclear when Apple might unveil the new unit, but it would certainly make sense for it to hit store shelves in time for the holidays. In any case, this rumor should not be confused with other speculation that Apple is hard at work developing a Siri-enabled television set. More →
There’s nothing like free gear to help greet one of the biggest consumer electronics shows of the year, and Logitech has just what the doctor ordered this year at CES 2011. The company is giving away 360 Logitech Revue units this week. The Revue is Logitech’s new set top box featuring Google TV, and it definitely is not in the midst of a production halt. It’s a great little box and for the low, low price of free-fifty, it can’t be beat. The first 50 units will be given away on January 5th, and another 100 will be given away each day from January 6th through the 8th. Winners will have to watch Logitech’s Twitter account for instructions on how to hunt down a chance to win at the show. The winners of the boxes mentioned above will be CES attendees but 10 more boxes will be given away on January 9th, and can be had by anyone in the United States. To find out how you can enter to win, just follow Logitech on Twitter at the link below. More →
According to an unconfirmed report in The Seattle Times, Microsoft is preparing to demonstrate a new home entertainment product set to combat Apple TV and Google TV. The rumored service will supposedly be demonstrated this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Said to be powered by a “stripped-down version of Windows tailored for set-top boxes and connected TVs,” a customized version of Windows Embedded is the likely candidate for this type of product. The devices are also said to feature a UI similar to the Windows Media Center interface, and will include a “polished and familiar TV-program guide that makes it easy to blend and navigate both online and broadcast content.” While no manufacturing partners were revealed in the report, an initial round of Windows TV boxes will apparently go on sale later this year for around $200. More →
Following Netgear’s announcement Tuesday that it would offer a $90 set top box powered by Roku’s software, it looks as though Roku is playing with alternative models in an effort to stay competitive. Roku gained notoriety in 2008 by providing an easy solution for streaming Netflix Watch Instantly video content to television sets. The company has since expended its product through partnerships that brought additional content from the likes of Amazon Video On Demand, MLB.TV and Hulu. With a growing content library and three new hardware products starting at just $59.99, Roku still finds in the precarious position of having to compete with the likes of Google, which recently launched Google TV, and Apple, which refreshed its Apple TV offering last month.
In an effort to combat the aforementioned giants, Roku is licensing out its software. The first taker, Netgear, announced the Netgear Roku Player NTV250 earlier this week, which is already available at Best Buy, Radio Shack, Fry’s, Amazon.com and Buy.com. Roku hopes that by letting larger hardware partners do the heavy lifting, it can spread its net as wide as possible and let the simplicity of its software carry partner offerings. There’s no question Roku has a great product, but Google has shown that it plans to be very aggressive with Google TV and Apple sold a quarter-million Apple TVs in just six weeks. Roku tells BGR that its business couldn’t be better right now but with competition like Apple and Google, Roku has its work cut out for it. More →
The New York Times is reporting that Apple, Inc. is “working on an update to its television software” that runs on its Apple TV hardware, an update that “will offer a completely redesigned interface for it.” The Times’ source asked not to be identified, and Apple — unsurprisingly — declined to comment on the matter. The Times cited several additional anonymous sources that claimed the new Apple TV could: be a completely new hardware product, be a software update to the current hardware offering, and/or run Apple’s expanding iOS. Apple TV was first launch in 2006 and since has been described by Apple’s CEO as “a hobby.” One thing we’re looking forward to seeing: how Apple, Google, Roku, Tivo, and others compete for space in your living room. More →
One of our favorite set-top boxes, Roku, has just announced that it is launching the Roku Channel Store. The good news for you couch potatoes is that the first 10 channels are free. The open platform for sharing content on TV will allow you to share pictures and video, and listen to Internet radio and podcasts. New channels available to add right now are Pandora, Facebook Photos, Flickr and TWiT (This Week In Tech). Plus, since this is an open platform, developers can jump on the Roku bandwagon to add in getting more channels out.
But here’s the best part: Anthony Wood, CEO and co-founder of Roku, says, “Now content producers and distributors – from single person shops to billion dollar corporations – can deliver their content directly to consumers without having to go exclusively through cable operators, satellite networks or TV affiliates.” Less restriction could mean more of the content you want without paying premiums. When is it available? Existing customers will get a free and automatic upgrade and new Roku customers will get the upgrade as soon as they get their box going. If you own a Roku box and are currently subscribed, let us know what you think of the new channels.
Official word that VUDU jazzed up its service offering with the addition of Pandora came through this morning but now some less-than-official news is creeping out that may be even more interesting. As you can see in the leaked screen shot above, VUDU is currently working on a new feature called Home Movies. According to Zatz Not Funny!, Home Movies will provide a Slingcatcher-like PC to TV streaming experience. It will reportedly allow users to stream H.264 video from a PC to the VUDU box, plugging yet another hole hole as the team continues to add value beyond HD movie rentals and purchases. It looks like the advent of the RIA platform was indeed a pretty effective catalyst for VUDU — let’s hope it can continue to add new features and services as the company makes its best effort to weather the storm.
Since the announcement of VUDU’s Rich Internet Application (RIA) platform, we’ve been waiting for some new big news to come down from the Santa Clara-based set top box-based movie distributor and this morning it looks like we’ve got it. Pandora, perhaps the most popular among a new wave of intelligent internet radio services, is now available via VUDU hardware. Pandora represents the first music application to hit the VUDU box and owners will have full access to just about all of Pandora’s great functionality. VUDU’s implementation also allows for multiple log-ins, allowing each member of a household to easily access his/her custom stations. The Pandora application is integrated seamlessly into VUDU’s sexy UI, as seen above, likely making it the most attractive Pandora-streaming option currently available. The addition of Pandora is awesome of course, but we’re still waiting for a monthly subscription option in addition to a la carte movie rentals/purchases before we get too excited about the service in general.
As is always the case, we can all expect plenty of home entertainment-related news to come this week as CES kicks off. New TVs, new Blu-ray players, new set top boxes and plenty of new technology will be showcased later this week and among the first to press release a big announcement is Intel. Alongside Adobe, Intel has announced plans to bring its new Media Processor CE 3100 to market along with a new optimized version of Adobe Flash. These efforts, according to Intel, will “provide consumers with richer and more seamless Web-based and video viewing experiences through advanced Intel-based cable set-top boxes, Blu-ray Disc players, digital TVs and retail connected AV devices.” Coincidentally, we want more seamless Web-based and video viewing experiences, so this new allegiance should work out perfectly. 2009 is looking to be the year of the multi-source set top box which is plenty interesting to say the least. Set top technology has hardly gone mainstream but manufacturers of all shapes and sizes are incredibly eager to make it happen. Of course they are, as set top boxes and video-on-demand services make spending money about as easy as buying insurance from Geico – even easier, perhaps.
How low can you go is the question on the minds of potential VUDU owners as the company today announced a new price point for its set top box offering. Regularly $299, VUDU had announced a special deal earlier this year that threw in $200 of free movie credits with a purchase. It is now halving the cost of admission however, as the new price on VUDU’s site was lowered today to $150 including $50 worth of movie credits. VUDU is calling it a Christmas special but we wouldn’t be surprised if we see $99 become a regular occurrence in the near future as the struggling start up continues its attempts to boost sales. The shame of it is that VUDU has an awesome product, as just about any user will tell you, but the competition with cable provider services and other set top box solutions may prove to be too much for the company to handle. Stay strong, VUDU!
VUDU swings for the fences and connects! Big news from California-based set top box provider VUDU this morning, as the company announces a huge new addition to its arsenal — the VUDU RIA (Rich Internet Application) platform. Last time we covered VUDU, it was beefing up its 1080p offering and doling out generous $200 download credits for new customers (which is still available until the end of the year, by the way). This time around however, VUDU has something entirely new and different up its sleeve. Its freshly announced RIA platform is a tremendous step for set top boxes and a sharp deviation from the norm. In a nutshell, it is an open platform that paves a direct path to your television for an endless amount of internet-based content. To start things off, VUDU has a few new services that showcase the potential of its RIA platform: over 120 completely free on-demand TV channels with standard and high definition content, access to the entire YouTube video library, a handful of casual games and a portal into picture services such as Flickr and Picasa. Yeah, big time. VUDU will continue to add new content throughout 2009 and will open its platform to third party developers sometime in the first half of 2008. From the looks of things, 2009 is the year of VUDU. Hit the jump for two more screen shots.