Unlike Panasonic and Samsung, LG didn't offer any home theater systems with built-in Blu-ray players in 2008. No problem: the company gets to hit the ground running in 2009 with fully loaded Blu-ray models like its flagship home theater system, the LHB979. The 5.1-channel system takes its design cues from last year's DVD-only LHT888, with champagne-glass front-tower speakers and smaller rears that can be connected wirelessly (obviating the need for front-to-back speaker wires in the room). LG boasts that the LHB979 is "tuned by renowned audio expert Mr. Mark Levinson," but we'll have to … Read more
When Logitech released the Harmony 1000 in 2007, we were disappointed that the tablet-style remote wasn't easily customizable and that the response time of its 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen wasn't quite as zippy as we would've liked. Two years on, it looks like Logitech has finally taken those criticisms to heart. The new Harmony 1100 includes the ability to customize the on-screen buttons, and its new Flash-based OS (and faster processor) should make for a smoother user experience. Those improvements--plus the black color scheme--look to be the only major changes from the 1000, so the new model … Read more
Cisco Systems, which builds the gear that powers the Internet, is making a big push this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with new products that will help consumers move digital media around their homes.
The company plans to hold a press conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday to reveal the new products and its refined strategy for providing consumers with "communication and entertainment experiences that are more visual, more social and more personal," the company said in a press release.
To get a sneak peek at Cisco's strategy, I talked by phone with Ned Hooper, senior vice president of corporate development for Cisco's Consumer Business Group. While details of the soon-to-be-announced products are still under wraps, Hooper shed some light on why Cisco thinks there is a big opportunity in helping consumers get their homes connected and where the company plans to go with its strategy from next.
Q: Cisco isn't the first company to build products for the digital home. Dell, Gateway, and Hewlett-Packard have all tried to develop products to help consumers play their music and video throughout the home. So far, none of these companies have been very successful. Even Apple's Apple TV is a considered a niche product. Why do you think Cisco will have more success? Hooper: I think it's important to look at how media and entertainment is being delivered to the home. The presence of the Internet and digital media is transforming all these industries and how people access entertainment and how they communicate with each other.
Over 100 million households have set top boxes with their cable or digital satellite service. So the digital set top box market is doing well. Services such as video on demand and DVRs are in high demand. But building expensive devices for a single function hasn't proven to be a viable market.
Cisco has been positioned very well in terms of being able to offer infrastructure for these network services. And we're already in the consumer electronics business with Linksys and Scientific Atlanta. It might surprise you to know that Cisco has shipped over 160 million consumer devices. This includes set-top boxes and home routers.… Read more
Monday, LG announced the first TVs with built-in Netflix streaming, due to arrive in the U.S. this spring. The models will go by the generic name "Broadband HDTVs," but we have a feeling they'll be known as "Netflix TVs" soon enough. The plasmas and LCDs are equipped with Ethernet jacks that allow them to stream movies and TV shows from Netflix, including HD content when available.
Netflix currently offers online streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows, dubbed "Watch Instantly," to its customers who pay $8.99 per month and up. But you need to connect an external device, like the Roku Netflix player, an Xbox 360, a TiVo DVR, a specially equipped Blu-ray player like the Samsung BD-P2550 or LG BD300, or even a PC, to enjoy it on your TV.
The LG TVs eliminate the need for an external device. They will cost around $300 more than similar LG models that lack the streaming capability--a pretty steep premium considering that you can get a Roku for $99 or an Xbox 360 for $199, but a premium typical of any technology "first."
"It's hugely symbolic," said Netflix's chief executive, Reed Hastings. "The holy grail has always been to give the TV an Internet jack in addition to the cable jack. It's an early glimpse of the long-term future."… Read more
LG Electronics will add video streaming features from CinemaNow and YouTube to its 2009 lineup of networked Blu-ray players, the company said Tuesday.
The company will be showing off the new functionality at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) next week in Las Vegas. (Click here for CNET's complete coverage of CES 2009.)
LG launched its first network-connected Blu-ray player in July with partner Netflix. As part of the deal, viewers get access to more than 12,000 movies and TV shows from Netflix.
With Tuesday's announcement, LG Blu-ray customers will also get access to 14,000 movies and … Read more
The Philips universal remote line has a new top dog. The Prestigo SRT9320 combines a 2.8-inch color touch screen on the top half with hard buttons on the lower portion. The screen handles both channel favorites (replete with familiar icon logos) and customized commands. The SRT9320 can control up to 20 devices, and it's completely programmable as-is--including learning modes and multidevice macros--without the need to connect it to a PC. (A USB port is included only for future software updates--presumably things like additional channel icons.)
While the Prestigo SRT9320 has a premium $249 price tag, it's missing … Read more
For the last few years, the format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray monopolized home video coverage at CES. Now that HD DVD is dead, we can finally get back to focusing on new technology, rather than which studios are backing which format. Blu-ray should have a big presence, along with its new competitors, Internet-powered video-on-demand boxes.
Blu-ray goes mainstream
It's hard to believe, but just one year ago, HD DVD was selling tons of $99 players, Blu-ray players cost an unreasonable $400 or more, and we were advising buyers to hold off going Blu because the format wasn'… Read more
Remember Digeo's Moxi? After spending years in development, the DVR start-up was aiming to go head-to-head with TiVo by offering a DVR system optimized for sharing home recordings between multiple rooms in the home. We even got to see a demo and thought it looked pretty good. But it's a tall order to sell consumers on paying for a DVR--even one with some compelling value-added features--when they're used to leasing one that's "good enough" from their cable company with no up-front cost. The last we heard was that Digeo hit a rough patch (even … Read more
What was arguably the biggest story of CES 2008 occurred three days before the show actually opened for business: Warner Home Video went Blu-ray exclusive, leaving just Paramount and Universal (and smaller DreamWorks) as exclusive HD DVD content partners. Indeed, in the days since, the issue of those studios following Warner's lead seems to be one of when, not if. Blu-ray seems on the verge of a complete victory in the HD disc format war to become the high-def successor to DVD. As a result, combo players--including a newly announced model from Samsung--were greeted more by yawns than … Read more
There are many devices that aim to let you share the multimedia content stuck on your PC with that large HDTV in your living room. Zyxel's DMA1100P digital media adapter is the only such device, however, that uses HomePlug AV Powerline technology to do so. (Netgear's Powerline HD Ethernet Adapter isn't certified as a HomePlug AV device, but it promises the same 200Mbps theoretical throughput as the Zyxel DMA1100.)
Still, for those looking to stream HD video and music and can't do it wirelessly--perhaps your TV and your home theater are too far apart or you … Read more