Monday, December 27, 2010

3D Blu-ray Players from Pioneer...Finally!

3D technology is definitely beginning to take over many different markets including projectors, TVs, gaming systems, Blu-ray players, and more. Everyone seems to be fascinated by the technology. Well, finally, Pioneer is releasing their very first line of 3D capable Blu-ray players, and it really is about time.

The line of Blu-ray players was first introduced at the 2010 CEDIA Expo. They seem to be designed for more high-end users. Pioneer’s website claims that the line was produced “for those who want to recreate a state-of-the-art theatrical experience in the comfort of their own homes.” The Pioneer BDP-430, Pioneer Elite BDP-41FD, and Pioneer Elite BDP-43FD all support HDMI 1.4a, 1080p/24 video playback and plenty of Internet streaming services that are available through a wired Ethernet connection or over Wi-Fi with a separately sold, optional adaptor. The company said that the Blu-ray players were “built with a focus on high quality audio and video reproduction.” They will also seamlessly stream content from Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, and other online services. The company continued saying that additionally their “36-Bit Deep Color support with compatible content and displays features smooth gradation steps with more accurate color precision and adds to overall high quality color reproduction.”

The company is very proud of the fact that all three of their models feature Pioneer’s Precision Quartz Lock System. Pioneer claims that this system eliminates any jitteriness or inconsistencies that could possibly occur when converting a 24 frames per second film to 60 frames per second for the home. Pioneer’s website says, “For convenient integration of personal devices with a home theater system” the company added a feature that allows all of the Blu-ray players to be controlled by an iPhone or iPod Touch via their free Control AV app. The app is available free of charge at the App Store on either the iPhone or iPod Touch or online at

The two Pioneer Elite models also offer RS-232C connections that allow users to incorporate the players with their own custom-installed home theater system. Users will then be able to control the player through a Control4 or some other home theater control system. The BDP-43FD, the most expensive of the models, features what Pioneer is calling “armored chassis build quality.” What they mean by this is that the player is heavier and sturdier than the other players.

The 3D players also support the very latest high-quality audio formats that include DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD. Certain technology that is exclusive to Pioneer is also supposed to enhance the audio experience, which Pioneer says is “a critical component to complete a fully immersive 3D experience.”

Another great feature that has just been added is the continue mode. This mode allows users to easily resume where they left off when they were previously watching or listening to content. Users can resume playback but only if they do not remove the disc. At first I thought this was a convenient application, but when I found out that you couldn’t take out the disc if you wanted it to work, I was very disappointed. My extremely basic Sony DVD player will pick back up where I left off on a movie when I pop it back into the DVD player even after I have removed it from the player and played other content.

Right now all of the players are available to be shipped out. The Pioneer BDP-430 is available for a suggested retail price of $299, the Pioneer Elite BDP-41FD is available for a suggested retail prices of $399, and the Pioneer Elite BDP-43FD is available for a suggested retail price of $499.

That may seem a little pricey to you, but Pioneer EVP Russ Johnston admittedly said at a Cedia event, “While we are certainly not the least expensive, we are always pursuing our goal to be the best.”

I definitely think that Pioneer is offering some great features on this new line of 3D Blu-ray players, but they do seem a little pricey. The fact that my Sony DVD player has a better continue mode is just slightly disappointing, but maybe to some people features like that don’t matter. There are definitely some appealing features with these Blu-ray players, so I guess it just depends on what you’re looking for in a player and whether or not these Pioneer players offer it.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Google TV Device Update

On Wednesday, December 15 Google said that they have begun updating their Google TV devices so that their Netflix applications are greatly improved and that they have added voice search via a new Android app.

Google said that the updates would begin this week on Google TV devices including the Logitech Revue, the Sony Internet TV Blu-ray player, and the Google-equipped Bravia HDTV line. The update will not only add several new features, but also it will fix a few bugs.

"It's been two months since the first Google TV device went on sale," a Google TV product manager Larry Yang wrote in a blog post. "Since then, we have been hard at work thinking about how we can make the platform even better for our users. In fact, one of the greatest things about Google TV is that it comes with free, automatic 'over-the-air' software updates that give you the newest features and content as we release them. It's as if Google TV goes up in value over time."
Netflix subscribers should be very excited about the update because before the update, subscribers had to utilize a separate device to be able to add movies to their “Watch Instantly” queue. Now they will be able to go to any movie or show that Netflix offers and watch it instantly or even put it in their queue for later. Netflix will also now recommend films for users to add to their queue of DVDs that they receive via mail.

Google has also added a new movie search feature to their Google TV devices which allows users to have much more useful and relevant movie search results than before. Before the update, if you had searched for “The Lord of the Rings,” you would have been peppered with an array of results. Now with the update, Google has said that the results will be more content focused and will list the different places that users can watch the movies, including Netflix and Amazon’s movie-on-demand service. “You can also read a quick summary, see photos, and find the cast list,” said the official Google blog. “Click on the name of a cast member, and we’ll take you to a new search landing page where you can find other movies featuring that actor.”

Google is also doing a much better job now with some of the functions of their TV services. Users now have a dual-view feature that is fantastic. This gives them the ability to quickly and easily move and resize the integrated windows on their TV while using the Chrome browser. Now you can effortlessly see anything that you wish to view on the screen.

Another great addition that goes along with the newest update is Google’s creation of their own Web application, Google TV Remote. Google says that the application is now available at the Android Market. For those who have a Logitech Revue, this isn’t new important information, but for those who are utilizing the Sony version of Google TV, they will now have the same functionality as the Harmony Remote app. They will be given the ability to control their TV through voice commands, channel surf, or push content from their phone to the screen. “You can now interact with your TV in ways you never have before,” said the Google blog.

Users are still waiting for better playback of media from an external source, but it looks like they will continue to wait because Google didn’t address this issue when they formulated the newest update.

These updates are awesome. They will definitely make the Google TV devices much more convenient and useful. According to the Google blog, the company is “excited to bring you more Google TV updates in the future.” offers a full range of iPad Rentals. Get yours today by visiting or by calling 800-736-8772.

Poor Reviews Delay Google TV

Google TVCES 2011, the huge upcoming electronics trade show, was supposed to be the huge unveiling of Google's new software for televisions, which would add a bunch of computer elements to the TV including Web video from sources like YouTube. While Google has an exclusive deal with Sony, other TV makers, like Sharp, Toshiba and LG, were supposed to come out with their own versions as well.

However, Google has requested that these other companies delay their premiers in order for Google to refine their software, software that has received mediocre reception so far. This request from Google was shocking to many of the other developers and it illustrates some of the struggles Google faces as it works on expanding into the field of consumer electronics.

What many people may not realize is that Google has a bit of a history when it comes to putting out new products and revising them at the last minute. On the other hand, companies in the consumer electronics market place big bets in order to attract holiday buyers and back-to-school shoppers.

Computer makers waited for Google's Chrome OS software this year in order to ship new types of Web-based laptops. However, Google once again had to delay, causing manufacturers to miss out on this holiday season.

A big win for Google does, however, come in the form of the company's Android software. But the same story follows here as phone makers and computer manufacturers have been forced, once again, to push back plans on tablet designs that are based on a refined version of the Android software which put Apple's iPad on top for this holiday season.

Now, it seems like similar problems are hitting the Google TV. While pushing to improve the less than stellar software, Google appears to be facing the technical challenges that have kept the idea of Web TV becoming mainstream head on. Industry analysts say that Google's abrupt change of plans shows a weakness in Google's business culture around managing their relationships with partners.

According to James L. McQuivey, analyst for Forrester, Google as a company is not a particularly partner-friendly or partner-focused company. Because of the delay it may might take another year before Google TV has a chance to catch fire."

Executives at the television makers stated that they were not reacting to abrupt changes from Google. On the other hand, according to people familiar with what was going on, these manufacturers were definitely caught with their pants down. Google spokeswoman Gina Weakley declined to discuss "rumors and speculation" about unannounced products.

According to Ms. Weakley, "Our long-term goal is to collaborate with a broad community of consumer electronics manufacturers to help drive the next-generation TV-watching experience, and we look forward to working with other partners to bring more devices to market in the coming years."

The first Google TVs were shipped back in October, according to the deal with Sony, which saw 24" models starting at $600 and up to $1,400 for a 46". Sony, as well as Logitech, sell complimentary appliances which allow people to tap into Google TV software without replacing their TVs.

The only manufacturer that appears to be an entrant to the Google TV market at CES 2011 is Samsung who will present two appliances which are similar to those from Logitech and Sony. Vizio also plans on demonstrating its version of Google TV, however, they will do it with private demonstrations on the show floor.

It is surprising how much the Google TV products are like computers. They run on Intel's Atom chips and can process software typically found on PCs. The biggest thing Internet TV promises is the ability to watch any show or movie at any time streamed over the web. However, this is a far, far away reality for Google TV.

People can now pay to watch all of their favorite shows and movies whenever they want to using Netflix or Amazon on Google TV and can watch regular TV shows as well. Major networks, however, are not providing programming on Google TV. NBC, CBS, ABC and Hulu have all blocked people from accessing full episodes of shows via their websites on Google TV.

There are some other things that people may find useless about Google TV as well, like watching YouTube videos and showing off pictures of your family trip to the Zoo on a bigger screen. Monitoring while simultaneously watching the game and updating your Facebook may also be a bit much for your average user.

The one thing Google is most famous for is their search engine, a feature which the company promises to incorporate into Google TV. In contrast with the traditional cable and DVR menus that you are used to using, Google TV allows you to search for the name of a show and see exactly when it is being broadcasted and where it is available online. In addition, you can view links to websites about the show and the actors in it.

According to consumer technology reviewers and early customers, Google TV is not ready for prime time. 38% of shoppers on Amazon only gave the Logitech Revue box 3 stars or less. 19% gave it the lowest possible rating of a one star. Many complaints consisted of it being slow and that it did not offer any more programming or features than some of the other less expensive set-top boxes.

The software in Google TV is fairly complex and requires a remote control that includes a mouse and keyboard. However there are also smaller problems like when the windows to watch TV and browse the internet simultaneously cover up crucial commands. These limitations aside, the major TV manufacturers were prepared to join the party with Google TV. Specifically, they hoped to cover up any sizable lead by Sony.

According to Vice President of Toshiba's Digital Products Division Jeff Barney, "We will not be announcing a Toshiba TV or Blu-ray player or demonstrating the products at CES. We have an understanding with Google about the future product roadmap and will bring the right product out at the right time."

A blog posted by Google last week announced software updates to its TV platform allowing it to include better tools for watching movies and TV shows via Netflix as well as a remote control app built for smartphones running Android software. However, the main updates are still yet to come.

According to McQuivey, "Google needs to learn some of those abilities [partnership skills] - both in terms of partnerships with broadcasters and working with hardware partners. You can give me the recipe for the absolute best chocolate chip cookies in the world, but until I put the ingredients together and bake them at exactly the right temperature for the right time, they're not cookies, and that is where Google TV is."

Big things could come from Google TV if they can get everything down pat. Once they get everything working like it is supposed to then this could be one of the biggest advancements in consumer electronics to date. We can only hope people have not lost interest when that time comes around.
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Alienware's OptX AW2210 LCD Monitor

Alienware OptX AW2210Alienware has always been a strong competitor in the PC gaming market. They have a reputation for providing some of the most powerful gaming laptops and desktops on the market to date, but one branch of the gaming market they never really got into was gaming monitors, until now. The first monitor Alienware brings to the market is a 21.5-inch widescreen 1080p OptX AW2210. This monitor has a lot of features that are sure to please any gamer including solid image quality, accessible and comprehensive built-in menus and an exterior design that sets it apart from your traditional monitor.

The one downside to this device is the price: $300. That is a lot of money to pay for a 21.5-inch monitor, especially if you take into consideration that Dell offers LCD monitors that rival this one in quality and cost a lot less. The Dell SX2210 has an identical panel to the AW2210 as well as controls for a webcam, face recognition software and a retail price of $220.

When you break it down, it appears that the $80 more for Alienware's AW2210 went into the monitor's aesthetics. This monitor is black and bold and looks good all around. It features a slim profile as well as a large plastic base that sort of resembles a Batarang. The LCD also looks a lot heavier than it actually weighs which could either be viewed as a pro or a con. The light weight makes it easier to carry around but it also makes the stability of the monitor questionable.

The monitor is specifically designed to keep ports out of view, which is great if you are looking at it but a royal pain in the derrière when you are trying to connect cables. It does, however, come with a great deal of ports. The back of this monitor is home to four USB 2.0 ports, two HDMI ports, a DVI-D port and line-in and line-out audio jacks which are all aligned vertically. The only problem is that they are hard to access. The good news is that the tilt, swivel and height of the display are fairly easy to adjust.

The aesthetic appeal of this monitor encompasses everything, including the impressive built-in menu controls. Some people are not a fan of touch sensitive controls and find it difficult to find the right spot to touch. However, the controls on this monitor work well and are really cool looking. The main menu button is even smart enough to detect your hand's proximity and light up before you touch it.

Five preset configurations await you in the menus: Standard, Multimedia, Game, Warm and Cool. These allow you to adjust various display settings. There is an extra added spot for user-defined custom presets as well and even manual options if the presets just are not tickling your fancy.

There have yet to be any reported lag features while playing games whether on PC or a console as well as no ghosting or any other common problems associated with monitor-overdrive functions.

One thing that this monitor does have over the Dell mentioned above is a Premium Panel Guarantee. This guarantee is more stringent than your average 3-year warranty and if you find even a single stuck or bright pixel, you can return the monitor for a brand new one. Your default warranty lasts for 3 years but you do have the option of purchasing a 4-year warranty for $40 extra or even a 5-year warranty for $60.

While $300 for a 21.5-inch monitor may seem steep to many people, Alienware's OptX AW2210 display has plenty of features to justify it. Plus, the extra warranty coverage ensures that you can enjoy your investment to the max.
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Sony's New 22-inch LCD TV with Integrated PlayStation 2

Sony is one of the top producers of technology in the world. This megacompany has produced some of the most amazing laptops, computers and televisions, but what is probably one of the company's biggest achievements is their gaming consoles. The PlayStation 3 is the company's newest console in the gaming world, and while the console is definitely a great piece of machinery, many people still consider the PlayStation 2 to be one of the best consoles ever created.

While video games are a huge craze in today's market, another huge craze is HDTVs. Well, now Sony is bringing you the best of both worlds in one single device. There have been all kinds of different technologies integrated into televisions like iPod docks, DVD players and even Blu-ray players. But now Sony has done something incredible, they have put a PlayStation 2 into a TV. And not just any TV, an HDTV.

The Sony Bravia KDL-22PX300 is a 22-inch LCD TV that has a built-in Sony PlayStation 2. This PS2 allows people to play not only PlayStation 2 games but also regular DVDs. Due to the fact that PS2 games were not originally created in the HD format, they still play in standard definition. However, the TV does present in 720p, and it has four HDMI ports, built-in Freeview tuner and even an Ethernet port for internet use. In addition to all that, the TV has three USB ports, Scart, VGA and Component video connectors.

One of the problems with the PlayStation 3 is that it hasn't really been backwards compatible with old PS2 titles since some of the very first models from Sony. That is why this TV seems like such a good value, especially with the fact that it has all those connections and support for 720p. There aren't really a lot of televisions integrated with gaming consoles. Actually, aside from Fuji's Divers 2000 Series CX-1 integrated with the Sega Dreamcast, there isn't any other device like this.

This is definitely one of the coolest devices that has come out recently and definitely one of the most unique. With many people considering the Sony PlayStation 2 to be one of the best consoles ever, it looks like Sony has made the perfect device. The Sony KDL-22PX300 is available now for around $300 and comes with a single controller.
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Friday, December 3, 2010

1 Million Apps Have Been Downloaded on Samsung HDTVs

samsung apps
Not that long ago, Samsung began offering apps on their HDTVs. This month the company hit a very important milestone concerning their TV’s apps marketplace. According to Samsung, since its launch in March, 1 million applications have been downloaded from the company’s Samsung Apps.

Samsung says that “the most frequently downloaded applications at the apps store include Hulu Plus, ESPN Next Level, CinemaNow, and Texas Holdem. The company also added that Samsung Apps now has more than 200 applications including MLB. TV, Vudu, Netflix, and many more.

As of right now, Samsung offers access to its Samsung Apps marketplace on more than half of their 2010 line of HDTVs. By the end of the year, the company says that they expect that TV vendors will have sold a total of 6.5 million HDTV units that feature applications. It is being predicted that by 2012 that the market will expand to 20 million unit sales.

"Consumers want and expect choice and control. Not just on the go, not just in front of computer, but in the living room," says Eric Anderson, Samsung vice president of content development.

Now Samsung is not the only company to provide apps for their HDTVs. Most major TV manufacturers have certain HDTVs that offer apps on their sets. Vizio is one of those companies that is currently battling with Samsung for domination of the HDTV market.

The research firm iSuppli has been tracking the overall shipments of LCD TVs and found that during the third quarter Vizio shipped out the most LCD TVs of any company. They consumed 19.9 percent of the total LCD market shares. Samsung came in second behind Vizio with 17.7 percent of market share. When it came down to overall television shipments in the United States, Samsung was greatly assisted by their sales of plasma TVs. The company was the top manufacturer when it came to overall TV shipments with 19.3 percent market share, while Vizio came in second with 17 percent of the overall market share.

For more information check out Samsung's website.

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