News / Media

What You Need To Know About Google TV, Netflix, HULU and Other Services Before You Buy

November 1, 2010 by HDGuru

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The latest trend in HDTVs, other than 3D, is for Internet connectivity. This started as mundane weather and news items, little more than snippets of the web. Now, with the release of Google TV, full Internet surfing from your TV is possible. In between are numerous content providers, all with different content and quality, and all looking for your entertainment dollar.

The first thing you’ll need, of course, is an Internet connection. For High Definition (HD) content, most providers require at least a 2.5 megabits per second (mbps) connection. For some, like VUDU, their top tier 1080p HD stream requires 4.5 mbps. If your connection isn’t this fast, you may be relegated to only watching Standard Definition (SD) streams, or an overall lower quality feed. Connecting wired or wirelessly from your router doesn’t generally matter, as most Wi-Fi signals can handle even HD streams. If you have difficulties with a service, and you know it’s not your connection, switching to wired from wireless is worth a try.

Video and audio content comes in two basic flavors: subscription and pay per view. Providers are somewhat cagey about how many shows/films they provide, and how many are in HD. For example, VUDU claims the highest number of HD movies with “over 3,000,” while CinemaNow claims over 14,000 total movies, but with no indication of how many are in HD.

Here’s the breakdown of the different services offered. To learn the more about the TV makers that supply each service (Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, Vizio, Sharp, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Philips and LG) check out the graph above, just click on it to enlarge. Please note, not all of the models within a manufacturers line may provide all the listed services. Consult the manufacturer’s website or dealer to confirm the TV you are considering offers the service(s) you desire before purchase.


The near universal adoption of Netflix’s streaming service in TVs (and also Blu-ray players) is a testament to the quality of the content you can get. Not picture quality, mind you, which is predominantly standard definition and only occasionally 720p HD. The content quality, in terms of finding something worth watching, is excellent. Most people will be able to find something to watch any time they chose to. Not everything is available for streaming, and most of the streaming content is usually a year or so old or older. Catching up on TV shows from a few years ago, though, or modern documentaries, and thousands of movies, all make this service well worth the small monthly cost….

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Posted by chantal Tue, 09 Nov 2010 17:12:00 GMT

Logitech wireless solar keyboard K750, No batteries required

Logitech has taken the next step in wireless peripherals, introducing a solar keyboard. The Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 has an ultra-slim 1/3-inch profile and a full slate of laptop-style chiclet keys.

The ambient light solar panels installed on the top of either side should mean you’ll never need to plug it in to recharge. The company says the low-power integrated circuits can theoretically run for three months even if you leave it in a dark desk drawer.

It uses the same 2.4GHz Nano Unifying receiver as several other Logitech wireless products, meaning you will only need a single USB port.

Posted by chantal Mon, 08 Nov 2010 17:19:00 GMT

The (Inter)Faces of Energy Management

Fun, friendly designs depict energy use for instantaneous viewing on TVs, iPads, touchscreens and more.

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October 21, 2010 | by Lisa Montgomery

You’ve been turning off the lights as you leave a room. You’ve waited to start the dishwasher utility rates are low. You’ve even conceded to wearing a sweater so you feel comfortable with the thermostats set back to 67 degrees. So you’ve taken the first steps toward living a greener, more energy-efficient lifestyle, but are these small changes making that big of a difference?

In the past, you had no choice but to wait for your monthly utility bills to see if your efforts were paying off. Or, you could invest in an energy monitoring systems that spewed information on a smallish tabletop display or to a site that required logging in for a look.

Today, energy management has a much friendlier face. Energy monitoring devices and systems can be integrated with home control systems so that data can be viewed on the same touchscreen, remote control, iPad, iPhone or other device that’s used to operate audio/video equipment, lights, surveillance cameras, motorized gates, irrigation systems, and other electronic gear. The information can be sent directly, without any modification, to the various home control displays; or a custom electronics professional (CE pro) can tweak the layout, graphics and labeling to suit your specific needs and to match the style of your home control system’s on-screen interface…

Below are some pictures of the various energy monitoring interfaces:


URC The Energy Detective

Agilewaves - Crestron



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Posted by chantal Fri, 05 Nov 2010 17:13:00 GMT

The Coolest Home Upgrades

By Cindy Perman, Oct 29, 2010

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Fewer people are buying new homes these days, opting instead to do home renovations - you know, just to spice things up a little.Maybe you turn your bathroom into a high-tech spa or get some smart appliances in the kitchen. Maybe you do some green upgrades or maybe you do something purely for luxury.So, what’s the new rain showerhead, the new infinity pool?

We talked to contractors, designers and developers all over the country and here are the 9 Coolest Home Upgrades.

1) Hidden, Wall-mounted TV

It’s go big or go home with televisions these days - but when you bring one of these drive-in movie-sized screens home, it can often wreck the design of the room. When a guest walks in, they won’t say, “Wow, what a nice house,” but rather, “Wow, what a big TV you have!”Well now, you can have it all - a big screen and big style. Designers are increasingly choosing to hide gigantic televisions in the wall and cover them with a mirror or artwork so when they’re not in use, you don’t even know they’re there!

When it’s above the fireplace, it can be a framed mirror or piece of art. In the photo, this Samsung 37-inch LCD is mounted in the closet behind the mirror, hidden by a removable panel in the closet.You probably want a pro to do this - TVs require proper ventilation.

2) Water Feature With Fire

Fountains aren’t new and fire pits aren’t new but put them together - maybe even add some LED lighting - and shazam! Welcome to the future. A water feature with fire shooting out of the middle can instantly remind you of that Hawaiian vacation (maybe pump some hula music into the outdoor speakers) or just ensure that you not only keep up with the Joneses but knock their socks off when they come over for a barbeque. They can be rectangular trough-like structures with broken glass in the middle where the fire shoots out, or circular like this one in the picture. They can be freestanding, attached to a pool or create a big ridge of fire in a stoned wall. Have a seat because you can control it all by remote control! OK, who wants toasted marshmallows?

3) Home Golf Simulator

Golfers have been practicing their swing at home for years but not quite like this - a floor-to-ceiling golf simulator with a massive screen to let you “play” on some of the coolest courses in the world from Hawaii to England. A golf simulator like the one from Trugolf is the ultimate addition to your game room next to the pool table and pinball machine. Not only do you really feel like you’re on the course but it helps you with your game, with sonic ball-tracking sensors and a program that gives you valuable feedback on your swing. They run from $20,000 to $60,000 or more. She winds up the swing, good form and… Four!

4) Glass Rooms on the Patio

Outdoor patios with full kitchens are getting even huger these days, with some nearing 10,000 square feet, said Stephann Cotton, owner of the real-estate sales and marketing firm Cotton & Co. They’ve got the Rolls Royce of grills, outdoor wine fridges, fireplaces, sweeping views – you name it. But guess what else they’ve got? Bugs. Cotton said his high-end clients with penthouses in Boca Raton, Fla., are increasingly asking for these glass structures, out at the end of the patio where the best views are. They’re turning them into everything from outdoor dining areas and zen gardens to man caves and music studios. A four-sided glass structure means there aren’t just northern views or southern views, Cotton says, there are north, south, east and west views!

5) Exotic Landscape Lighting

So you’ve got spotlights and those little solar path lights but this is taking your backyard to the next level and doing exotic landscape lighting. Maybe it’s uplighting on the palm trees, Cotton explained, or in the waterfall that spills over into the pool. The cool thing is, Cotton said, you can even use solar lights - so it won’t cost you an arm and a leg in electricity! Take a solar light, put it in a spotlight and turn it upside down shooting up into your landscaping or water feature like a fountain or koi pond. “Landscape lighting in the water is fairly easy to do,” Cotton said. “You get that constant reflection - It’s very romantic mood light. It produces a romantic and flickering light - just like a fire does.”

6) Outdoor Shower

No, we’re not talking about the kind you put next to the pool so the kids can wash off the sand, dirt or chlorine. These are luxurious showers, usually off of the master bath, made of high-end stone and other natural materials, with lush foliage that create your own personal Eden. You’ll already find this type of outdoor shower in resorts in Bali, Fiji and the Caribbean, but now, homeowners are bringing the resort home. “It’s a very sexy thing,” said Walid Wahab, president of Wahab Construction in south Florida. “It’s your private shower – you can get completely naked and take a shower outside in your private garden.” Wahab said the construction is getting very creative - things like a shower head coming out of a tree.

7) Master Control for Energy Consumption

You know you can control your entire house now from a laptop, iPhone or iPad. Everything from the lights and thermostat to the stereo - and even the pool. Here’s taking it to the next level - a master control for energy consumption. “This is very, very new - people are just experimenting with it,” said Ron Rimawi, who co-owns Digital Interiors in Atlanta. “It helps make you more aware and more conscious of your energy usage, so you don’t waste energy.” Basically, they’re small digital panels that connect with the utilities and track various appliances and systems in your home. They can tell you everything from your usage to the temperature and how much it’s all costing you! “We have long held the belief that the promise of the Smart Grid can only be realized if the consumer is front-and-center in the design of demand-response systems,” said Control4, which makes the master control for energy consumption…

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Posted by chantal Thu, 04 Nov 2010 16:10:00 GMT

Russound Collage System

Powerline Media and Intercom System

Collage Powerline Media and Intercom system distributes networked accessed music and intercom communication over a home’s residential electrical system. The flexible, expandable system provides access to two-way transmission of audio, video, data, and internet media with metadata feedback without the need of running new zone-to-zone wiring.

The Collage system uses Powerline Carrier technology to establish an IP data network over a residential electrical system. This decentralized design allows system components to be installed almost anywhere in a home where electrical wiring is run. The basic system architecture is comprised of a Collage Media Manager and Amplified Keypad.

Why Collage?

Digital music has become a part of our everyday lives. Mp3 players, smart phones, and online music services have made enjoying your favorite song, album, or artist an instant experience. Unfortunately traditional home audio systems haven’t evolved quite as quickly, until now.

The Collage Powerline Media and Intercom system has been designed specifically to improve the digital music experience in your home. No longer do you need to dock your portable player, or fumble with laptops, or listen to music through less then optimal speakers.

The beauty of Collage is the system architecture. System components communicate over your home’s existing electrical wiring, which means that every home is already pre-wired for a multiroom audio and intercom system. Amplified keypads are easily installed near existing electrical outlets or switches. In-wall, in-ceiling, or bookshelf speakers can be selected to suit each room, and the Media Manager provides a connection to your home’s computer network and the Internet.

Posted by chantal Wed, 03 Nov 2010 16:12:00 GMT

Sony to Release FIFA World Cup Blu-ray 3D

Sony has announced plans to release “The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Film in 3D” on Blu-ray 3D. The Blu-ray 3D will hit retail shelves starting November 16, 2010.

Here is the studio’s synopsis: “Experience the journey of the most-watched sporting event in the world as it was meant to be seen: in dynamic and vibrant 3D on Blu-ray. Relive the action and intensity of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa as though you were actually in the stadium witnessing all the drama and athletic skill. The greatest players in the world—supported by the most passionate fans—met up on the biggest stage in sports and made history as the 2010 FIFA World Cup enthralled South Africa and the world. The 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa on Blu-ray 3D - there’s no event quite like it!”

Posted by chantal Tue, 02 Nov 2010 18:08:00 GMT

Stewart Filmscreen Debuts 5D Material

Stewart Filmscreen announced the release of Silver 5D, a new screen fabric that works with both 2D and 3D projection.

Stewart Filmscreen Corporation, industry leader in precision projection screen technologies for the residential and commercial markets, announces Silver 5D (3D + 2D), an innovative fabric that offers industry leading passive 3D polarization while maintaining outstanding performance for 2D sources. It preserves the performance of Stewart’s leading Silver 3D fabric while improving uniformity, reducing hot spotting and offers a significantly wider viewing cone than previously available or competitive fabrics. Available in seamless sizes up to 40” x 90”, Stewart plans to roll out this new hybrid 5D fabric over the next quarter with fixed frame units available the fourth quarter of 2010. MicroPerforated Silver 5D products are planned for the first quarter of 2011. Stewart has applied a huge effort in R&D in developing an improved polarization preserving screen technology with reduced artifacts that allows a single screen material to function more adequately with non-polarized 2D projected source material. Stewart is now bringing the fruits of the effort to market in the Silver 5D.

The Silver 5D material has been designed to be compatible with Stewart’s CineCurve, Directors Choice masking systems and all other premium Stewart fixed mounting systems.

Posted by chantal Mon, 01 Nov 2010 16:43:00 GMT

New SoundFrame in-wall or on-wall speakers by Monitor Audio

Classy new SoundFrame in-wall or on-wall speakers by Monitor Audio are available with “picture” frames in Black Lacquer, White Lacquer, or even paintable versions. The “pictured wall art” itself may be any high-resolution image the client or interior decorator desires.The art is of the customer’s choosing…an unlimited selection!

CE Pro & Electronic House were so impressed their panel of industry integrators and editors selected the SoundFrame SF1 in-wall as CEDIA’s 2010 Best Award in the category of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers. Criteria included creativity, innovation, aesthetics, and lifestyle benefits.

Custom Retailer was so excited that SoundFrame was honored with the prestigious EXCITE Award at this year’s CEDIA.

“Picture Frame” speakers
- Hybrid on-wall/in-wall speaker systems
- 3-way design
- All C-CAM® drivers
- IDC Inverted Dual Concentric tweeter/ 4” midrange with RST® (Rigid Surface Technology)
- 6” Bass driver with RST®
- High frequency attenuator (+3,0,-3dB)
- 3.5” mounting depth, CP style sealed enclosures
- Finishes: high-gloss black, high-gloss white, matte white (paintable!)
- On-grille picture printing option
- Availability: December 2010 / January 2011

Posted by chantal Fri, 29 Oct 2010 16:49:00 GMT

Disc-free Netflix coming to PS3

by Jeremy Hill on Oct 14, 2010

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Netflix on PS3 was a great addition, but it had one inconvenience. The application could only be run if a Netflix disc was in the console. These discs would also mysteriously stop working without warning. Netflix promised the PS3 wouldn’t need a disc by October.

The Netflix application will be a free download that will appear under the video section of the XMB. After it’s installed, you’ll be able to run Netflix straight from the hard drive. Netflix’s design has changed drastically. You’ll be able to see multiple titles in a grid format and get suggestions for movies you may like. You can also hold down the analog sticks to rapidly move through selections…

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Posted by chantal Thu, 28 Oct 2010 16:55:00 GMT

Review: Anthem LTX 300v Projector

This Anthem’s a major hit, as the LTX 300v LCoS projector delivers true colors and easy setup.

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October 18, 2010 by Arlen Schweiger

If you heard rumbling last summer, it may have been the collective applause from loyal fans of sister brands Anthem and Paradigm. In July 2009, the Canadian manufacturer announced its first front projectors, the LTX 300 and LTX 500, under the Anthem logo, thereby creating a one-stop theater shop: Paradigm surround-sound speakers, Anthem amplification and processing, and Anthem projection. Anthem has since added a Blu-ray player and A/V receivers.

The first thing to note from the LTX 300v projector, updated earlier this year, is that the unit will undoubtedly generate comparisons to acclaimed projectors from JVC, from which it has been rebadged. The projectors use Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) light engine technology. (JVC’s is known as D-ILA.) And in this case, such comparison is a good thing, as JVC’s images are among the best, especially for the value bucks.

Second, it takes very little time to install the LTX 300v. I dove right in without leafing through the manual. Using the remote to operate the motorized lens, it took less than five minutes to scale, shift and focus the image on my 92-inch Elite Screens EZ-Frame display. You can do this with or without an image on the screen, as the latter option gives you a green laser-like grid and frame to match to your screen, and you can use the remote’s up/down arrows until the word “focus” comes into clearest view.

Then calibrate till you’re cross-eyed. Working through the menu brings the usual video adjustments such as basic sharpness, contrast and brightness, as well videophile tweaks like gamma correction and individual color management, which can both be saved for up to three presets. The included remote makes life very easy, and even features a button to back-light itself, which comes in handy when the theater lights are down….

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Posted by chantal Wed, 27 Oct 2010 16:26:00 GMT