Google is deeply entrenched in the Web, and it has its claws in the mobile device market, but are you ready to see it on your TV?

According to The New York Times, Google is teaming up with Intel and Sony to come out with a new product called Google TV.  Planned as either a set top box, or as software and parts built into certain TV sets, Google TV will be an open source platform that uses a version of the Google Android mobile operating system platform and the  Google Chrome browser to allow users to browse various Internet applications directly from their televisions.

While some services such as this already exist, they have been limited in what Web services they deliver; the new Google TV platform will be open to any developer that wishes to work on it which means it would be like an application store for mobile devices.  You could see things such as YouTube or Hulu being delivered to your television, as well as being able to check your Twitter stream and Facebook wall with just a few clicks directly from your couch without needing a laptop or tablet computer.

Logitech has also been tapped to develop a remote control with a miniature keyboard that will allow users to type out messages without clicking some form of online screen.

There is no word when we might see this hitting the market place, but sources familiar with the situation say that the project has been under development for several months now, and this appears to be a high priority project for all the parties involved.  If I was a betting man, I would say this holiday season might see the first releases, and at the latest I would say the technology will debut to the public at the Consumer Electronics Show in Jan. 2011.

Categories: Google, Home Electronics   
 

If you’ve ever wanted thought to yourself, “I wish I could watch high definition television programming on a bright yellow television set …”, your dreams have come true.

Marvel Entertainment, formerly known as Marvel Comics, has teamed up with RTC23 to release a line of LCD and LED high definition television sets.  Each unit is themed around a different famous Marvel character, and will show their name and images of them on the frame, and will also show pictures of the character during the start up process and on menu pages.

The TVs, which can also double as computer monitors, come in sizes of 22, 32, 42 and 55-inch  for the LCDs and 40 and 46-inch versions for the LED.  Some of the characters also come with options for different colored bodies  like the yellow one shown here also comes in blue and black.

Depending on model and size, prices range from $339 to $1989.

While this is cute and kinds funny, call us old sticks in the mud if you must, but isn’t the performance of the television more important than the comic book character slapped on it?  We know nothing about the quality of the RTC23 units, but we just can’t see the point in the garish colors, and won’t you get bored with seeing the same images of the characters over and over again?  Our suggestion would be, as always, look at reviews and shop for quality over some gimmick that seems rather pointless to us.

Categories: Home Electronics, televisions   
 

Are you ready to start seeing your television in 3D all the time?  Ready to start straining your eyes on a regular basis?

Panasonic 3D TVs will be hitting the shelves at Best Buy on Wednesday for around $2500.  The question is if you even need this technology in your life?

Personally I see 3D as a fad.  It has come and gone over the years, and while it may be nifty to go to a 3D movie from time to time, do you really want to have to wear those glasses all the time you’re in your own home?  (and, by the way, your $2500 only gets you one pair of glasses, so be ready to pick up more sets)  You know how some people have gotten headaches from watching Avatar?  Imagine doing that every night while you watch television?  No thanks.

When you add in th fact that people are still in the adoption process of HD TV sets, this was not the time to introduce a whole different set of technology.  Even if you have an HD TV already, you haven’t had it that terribly long in most cases, are you ready to plop down money again so soon for a technology that will be even more limited?

While the home electronics industry seems to think we’re ready for this, and I simply say we aren’t.  I have no desire to sit around with glasses on in my own home on a regular basis just to watch TV.  Thanks, but no thanks to all of the electronics companies that are so excited about this, but it just isn’t for me.  And, honestly, I think the electronics companies are going to find I’m not alone.

Categories: Home Electronics, televisions   
 

TiVo has unveiled its latest home DVR devices, and they’re going to do a lot more than just record your shows for you now.

Known as HD Series 4 and as TiVo Premiere, the new set top DVRs are adding Internet connections to deliver even more content to your TV than the shows you choose to record. Both the TiVo Premiere (320 GB hard drive) and the TiVo Premiere XL (1 TB hard drive) will be able to deliver content from Netflix Watch Instantly, Amazon Video on Demand, Blockbuster on Demand, YouTube, Pandora and more.

Both units will have 1080P outputs and feature expansion slots for additional storage.  The Premiere will for $299 and can record up to 45 hours of content in HD recording, while the Premiere XL will sell for $499, record up to 150 hours of HD content and adds THX certification.

Both devices will include Ethernet ports, but if you want to go for a Wi-Fi connection, you will have to purchase a $90 dongle.  Also, there will be a Bluetooth enabled QWERTY keyboard released later in the year you will need to buy separably.

One of the biggest additions, and one I have wanted for ages, a meter will show you how much hard drive space you have left at any time.  Thank goodness!

Full press release after the break

Read More »

Categories: Gadgets, Home Electronics   
 

Netflix, Netflix, Netflix … if you buy a new Blu-ray player or television this year, odds are it will include the ability to stream content from Netflix.

Netflix has announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that it has new partnerships with Panasonic, Sanyo, Sharp, Toshiba and Funai (the CE maker behind the Philips, Magnavox, Sylvania and Emerson brands in the US) according to NewTeeVee.  It is Netflix’s objective to get its streaming ability into every device possible as the company is spending over $600 million a year on postage, but streaming a film only costs around $.05.

To give you an idea of just how important this is becoming to the company, it has now agreed to a 28 day delay window on offering DVD new releases from Warner Brothers.  This means that for the first 28 days after a film comes out on DVD, it will not be available through Netflix.  In trade for this agreement, which the studios wanted due to sagging DVD sales, Warner Brothers has agreed to add more of its older titles to the streaming service.  So, basically Netflix has just said it can be bought off by the studios on the DVD side so long as the streaming portion gets something out of it.  Very interesting.

Kinda makes you wonder how much longer Netflix will even bother with stocking DVDs at all.

Categories: Home Electronics, Video   
 

apc backups rs 1200We had another one of those “real world” moments today that reminds you why you do certain things.

While at my office today, working away without a cloud in the sky and … the power goes out.  Not your normal power blink, but the hour long variety.  Luckily I have my two main computers on a battery back up and it gave me enough time to save all my work, close my programs and shut my computers down in the proper fashion so that there was no damage.

Considering what a vital part of our lives computers have become, at home and at work, an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) should be a part of anyone’s setup.  You don’t need a huge one as all you need is a few minutes of power to get your work saved and the computer shut down in the proper fashion.  If you’re on a laptop,  this is of course not an issue, but if you are using a desktop, this is a must.

As with any major purchase you need to research your options, check reviews and remember, one of the most important aspects, is remember the more you plug in to the device, the faster the battery will drain when you need it.  Make sure that you have at least five minutes of time, so divide the amount of time the device will provide by the number of items you will plug into it and make sure it comes out to at least that long.

Now, what are you waiting for?  Start looking for one before your next power outage!

 

usb-outletAre you tired of losing electrical outlets to charging your USB devices? What if there was a wall outlet that would just let you plug in the USB cable directly? Well, there soon will be!

There have been people that have come up with ways for you to wise USB ports into a wall outlet, but it looks like someone has finally just decided to manufacture them.

Available from FastMac for delivery in early 2010, pending approval on its safety, the TruePower UCS Power Outlet With Built-in USB Ports will offer you two standard three-pronged outlets along with two USB ports.  These will pop into any existing wall outlet you have with no special wiring required, and you will then be able to charge your iPod by just using the USB cable, and free up another electrical outlet for something else.

The outlets are a bit on the expensive side at $9.95, but how much would it cost you to buy a power strip or hire an electrician to come in and run a whole new outlet?

Here are the technical specifications on the outlet:

Specifications:
Input voltage: AC 100 to 240V 50/60Hz
USB input current: 80mA
Output voltage: USB: DC 5.0V 600mA
Operation temperature: -15 to 45 Degrees Celsius
Relative humidity: < 95%
Air pressure: 86 to 106kPa

The one place I would love to see these take off, but I know it will never happen? Hotels. Imagine no longer having to travel with chargers, just USB cables. Oh the joy that would bring to me.

Categories: Gadgets, Home Electronics, USB   
 

tivoIt seems things are not looking good for TiVo.

According to TV By The Numbers, TiVo has released information that is has suffered its largest ever quarterly loss of subscribers. The total number of lost subscribers for the quarter ending Oct. 31st, the DVR service lost 314,000 subscribers.

This has been a trend for the service since Jan. 2007, but the extreme jump in loss was surprising seeing as they only lost around 46,000 subscribers the quarter previous.  This new loss brings the company down to 2.76 million total subscribers, or only about 8 percent of the estimated total 38 million DVRs in U.S. households.

It seems that the company is now making the majority of its revenue from licensing its technology to other companies, or actually suing companies such as Dish Network for stealing their intellectual property.

It will be interesting to see how long TiVo can survive as a hardware manufacturer with this sort of drop in business, or will they just finally give up and just go the licensing route?

Categories: Gadgets, Home Electronics   
 

rokuThe popular Roku brand players have finally moved past the premium content to add streaming media from free sites.

The Roku Box has gained a reputation as the easiest way to get Netflix Streaming and Amazon Video on your TV, but seeing as both those are premium services it did limit their potential customer base somewhat.  Later on the company added MLB.com for out-of-market games, but again that was a premium service, so what were they going to do to start to lure customers who don’t use those services?

Enter the Channel Store.

Roku Boxes can now stream content from:

  • blip.tv
  • Facebook photos
  • Flickr
  • FrameChannel
  • MediaFly
  • MobileTribe
  • Motionbox
  • Pandora
  • Revision3
  • TWiT.TV

While none of these services will give you the breadth of content something like Netflix Streaming will, there is some solid entertainment in this line up. Pandora alone, one of the leading music discovery sites, could keep you dancing in your living room for hours on end.

While there is no official word on what this might mean for the future, this sure has the feel of being a “first wave” of content.  In other words, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see them adding many more channel partners in the very near future.

Roku is one of the top items for me this coming Christmas, and it may have just jumped to the #1 spot with this news.

Categories: Facebook, Gadgets, Home Electronics, Video   
 

dvd2bluWishing there was an easy way to convert your DVD collection to Blu-ray? Well, if you have Warner Brothers movies in your collection you can do it … for a price.

Following the Red2Blu promotion Warner Brothers ran a few months ago that allowed HD-DVD owners to swap their copies for Blu-ray, the company is now allowing consumers to do the same with their DVDs in the new DVD2Blu promotion.

As the name implies, consumers can go to the DVD2Blu website, choose from a list of over 50 movies that they have on DVD, mark the ones they wish to exchange (up to 25), pay for them and then mail in their DVD discs.  Prices for the Blu-rays range from $7.95 to $9.95, which sounds like a bargain, but is it really?  As the Consumerist points out, when they checked the prices of the movies against buying them off a site like Amazon, you are saving between $2 and $7 per movie, but the selection is rather lackluster.  For instance, where are the Harry Potter movies?  They are on both DVD and Blu-ray, yet they aren’t in this promotion.

There is also the illusion that just because something is on a Blu-ray disc it will have better picture quality, but with the improvements in DVD upconversion on so many players now, unless the source video was shot on HD, you are going to have a hard time telling a difference.

While the Red2Blu promotion made sense for those of us who had chosen HD-DVD, which eventually lost the format war, this offer doesn’t make quite as appealing.  Personally I won’t be partaking in it, but if you are desperate to switch to having everything you own on Blu-ray, go for it.

Categories: Home Electronics   
 
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