As Amazon continues to expand its business into new areas, the company reportedly plans to follow Netflix’s lead and introduce original TV content in the future. Rumors suggesting the Seattle-based retail giant was planning an entrance into the original programming game first surfaced last month, and now Forbes reports that a recent hire at Amazon reinforces earlier reports. Joe Lewis, formerly with Comedy Central and 20th Century Fox, briefly listed his new job title as “Vice-President of Original TV at Amazon” until Fortune contacted him for comment on Tuesday. The executive then promptly changed his title to “Vice-President, Production at Amazon Studios.” No other information about Lewis’s role at Amazon or Amazon’s possible original programming efforts were made available. Streaming video rival Netflix released season 1 of its first original series “Lilyhammer” last month, and it has at least two other series — new original seasons of “Arrested Development” and ”House of Cards,” starring Kevin Spacey — in the works. More →
A patent filed by Google showcases a new technology that could enable users to control Google TV-equipped devices using their voices, reports Patently Apple. Using a specific smartphone app, users could be able to speak commands or queries that are then acted upon by a television, a set-top box, a DVD player or another device equipped with Google TV, according to the patent filing. The patent documentation also mentions an interesting feature where “the provision of the query to the television may occur when the user is within a set distance of his home also (e.g., by determining with GPS functionality on the smartphone that he is within 1/4 mile of the home), and the television may be turned on automatically as he approaches the home, with the television tuned to a channel that is determined to be most relevant to the query.” Google’s technology can also be applied to music, allowing users to remotely set up a playlist to be streamed on a TV or other device. Whether or not we can expect Google TV products to launch with the functionality described in this patent is unknown. More →
The growth of global LCD TV shipments is expected to fall in 2012, according to market research firm GfK. The company believes that in 2012, growth will come from emerging markets as demand from the U.S. and Europe will subside. Global TV shipments grew 12% in 2011, and that rate is expected to slow to an estimated 7% growth rate this year. In total, GfK expects vendors to ship 225 million LCD TVs worldwide in 2012, Digitimes reports. Samsung, the world’s largest TV vendor by shipment volume, has vowed to sell more than 50 million units into global channels this year. 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 →
Prototypes of Apple’s upcoming HDTV are already being tested by multiple potential carrier partners Apple is trying to woo, The Globe and Mail reports. The Canadian paper calls the iTV “a product that has the potential to revolutionize TV viewing by turning conventional televisions into gigantic iPads,” and claims at least two Canadian carriers are currently testing the Apple television in their labs. Apple’s forthcoming iTV can be controlled using voice commands or by making gestures in the air, and it supports Web browsing as well according to the report. Apple is said to be in talks with Canadian carriers Rogers and BCE regarding potential broadcast partnerships in Canada, though the content and terms Apple is seeking are unclear. Apple is expected to launch an iOS-powered HDTV later this year that will replace the conventional remote control with voice commands interpreted by Siri. The iTV may also offer a customized channel subscription model and iOS app support according to earlier rumors. More →
The debut season of Netflix’s first original series “Lilyhammer” is now available on demand to all Netflix “Watch Instantly” subscribers. All eight episodes of the series’ first season can be streamed beginning Tuesday, and the show is available in high definition. Lilyhammer is the first in a string of original content Netflix is working on in an effort to create an all-inclusive online-only network that will truly pose a real threat to traditional pay TV networks. The show features Steven Van Zandt of “The Sopranos” fame, who stars as a relocated New York City gangster trying to make a new life for himself in a small town in Norway. Netflix is working on more original content that will launch this year, including a new season of “Arrested Development” and “House of Cards,” starring Kevin Spacey. More →
Samsung and Corning — best known for its Gorilla Glass products — announced a new joint venture this week that will manufacture specialty glass substrates for OLED displays. The joint venture will be based in South Korea and will combine Samsung’s OLED display technology with Corning’s ultra tough Lotus Glass substrate. The new displays will be utilized in mobile devices as well as larger products, such as televisions, and will be used in Samsung products and sold to other South Korean manufacturers. ”Corning and Samsung have a long and successful partnership in the display industry, dating back nearly 40 years to the early days of television,” Corning chairman, President and CEO Wendell P. Weeks said. “The strength of our business relationship is built on Corning’s ability to develop and make high-technology glass with the key attributes that enable Samsung’s next-generation displays.” Samsung’s full press release follows after the break. More →
LG Electronics on Wednesday posted its second consecutive quarterly loss despite record flat-panel TV shipments and solid performance from its mobile handset division. The South Korea-based electronics vendor recorded revenue of KRW 13.81 trillion, or approximately $12.05 billion USD, in the fourth quarter of 2011 along with an operating profit of KRW 23 billion, or about $20 million USD. Including one-time charges however, LG posted a net loss of KRW 112 billion, or approximately $97.7 million USD. The firm’s mobile arm posted a profit of KRW 12 billion ($10 million USD) on revenue totaling KRW 2.78 trillion ($2.42 billion USD) and its home entertainment division shipped 8.8 million HDTVs in the quarter. LG warned that first-quarter HDTV sales and mobile handset sales will slow due to seasonal decreases in demand. The company’s full press release follows below. More →
Samsung’s new run of television commercials is the start of a wider effort to make the company’s products the apple of the U.S. consumer’s eye. The ads, which mock iPhone users for their obsession with Apple products, attempt to present Samsung as the smarter, cooler alternative. On a larger scale however, Samsung is hoping to create a fundamental shift in the way its products are viewed by consumers. ”Especially in U.S., people are obsessed with Apple,” head of Samsung marketing Younghee Lee told AllThingsD in a recent interview. “It’s time to change people’s attention.” Lee is looking to shift consumers’ obsession to the East, and to figure out ”how I can engage with consumers from the bottom of their heart, and not just be a big and functional and rational and reasonable brand.” While mocking consumers’ unhealthy love of one brand in an effort to create an obsession with another is a curious strategy, Samsung’s attempt to reinvent itself as a global smartphone leader is having a clear impact — the company reported a record holiday quarter during which it shipped an estimated 36.5 million smartphones worldwide. Three of Samsung’s recent commercials can be viewed after the break. More →
Sling Media has been the go-to provider for video placeshifting solutions for nearly seven years now. The California-based company launched its first Slingbox in 2005, enabling users to watch live television exactly as it was being broadcast to their homes on any Internet-connected PC. The company rolled out its first SlingPlayer Mobile application the following year and it hasn’t looked back, continuing to expand its mobile offering to support a wide range of popular platforms and devices. Sling Media will launch the latest addition to its mobile app lineup on Tuesday when it releases SlingPlayer Mobile for Amazon’s popular tablet, and we spent much of our weekend enjoying placeshifted live television on our Kindle Fire to test the new app. Check out a small gallery of screenshots below and hit the break for our early impressions of SlingPlayer Mobile for the Amazon Kindle Fire.
Toshiba had a ton of products on display this year at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. The booth was chocked full of stunning new technology and we were blown away by several of the 3D products on display. Toshiba had its new line of Qosmio laptops with glasses-free 3D screens, glasses-free 3D TVs that were more impressive than the models we saw last year, and its Thrive and Excite X10 tablets were on display as well. We even had a chance to play a 3D game on a huge HDTV that was hooked up to a Qosmio laptop, which was a ton of fun. Check out all the highlights from Toshiba’s booth in our gallery below.
The Consumer Electronics show is always a massive event for the home entertainment industry, and 2012 is shaping up to be the biggest year yet. Hundreds of companies will showcase thousands of products, but among the companies that managed to generate some real buzz ahead of the show, LG really looks like it has some gems on its hands this year. The company previewed its new nearly borderless 55-inch OLED HDTV last week and it has a few Cinema Screen 3D models with just a 1-millimeter bezel surrounding its gorgeous display panels. LG surely has plenty more gear in store for us — including at least one smartphone and next-generation Google TV devices — so hit the break to watch all the action unfold in our live coverage. More →
Apple recently filed for a patent called “Dynamic Backlight Adaptation for Black Bars with Subtitles” that may be used to provide improved picture quality in its rumored HDTV. Apple explained in the patent application that the black bars above and below video on widescreen televisions can make it tough for a television panel to display blacks properly. ”These non-picture portions complicate the analysis of the brightness of the video images, and therefore can create problems when determining the trade-off between the brightness of the video signals and the intensity setting of the light source,” Apple said in the patent. “Moreover, these non-picture portions can also produce visual artifacts, which can degrade the overall user experience.” Apple’s solution would be to dynamically change the backlighting. Read on for more. More →