Vizio Hits CES With A Whole New Product Line

Vizio, one of the most popular HDTV makers in the United States, has come to the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show with a whole new product line that is getting a lot attention.  The lineup includes new HDTV’s, Tablets, Blu-ray players, and media players.

There are brand new Vizio V.I.A. Plus TV’s in 47 inch, 55 inch, and 65 inch versions.  “The V.I.A. Plus experience features an intuitive, app-centric interface on every device, making it easy for consumers to understand and navigate as they move between devices. Users can also access thousands of apps from the Android Market™ for even more entertainment options.”  V.I.A brings a large selection of apps, featuring iHeartRadio, The Wall Street Journal, M-Go, plus a lot more.  Most importantly this provides a gateway to the Android Market, which opens up a world of thousands of apps that will all be available right on your TV.

This technology is also included in other products like the new Vizio VBR430 Blu-ray player, which comes with a touchpad universal remote with a QWERTY keyboard and it can easily connect to any DLNA-compatible computer to let you play and view pictures, videos, and music.

The VAP430 Stream Player has built-in Google TV.  Vizio refers to it as “one of the most advanced Stream Players with built-in HDMI ports that lets users connect existing components like gaming consoles or set-top boxes for unified access to all media sources through the VI.A. Plus touchpad remote. It even supports 3D content and 3D streaming.”

All of these products are either available immediately or coming very soon.  You can learn more by visiting the Vizio CES site.

 

Sony Connects Up At CES

Sony LogoSony‘s CES focus this year is on electronics, content and network services combining to deliver high quality entertainment anytime and anywhere. Supported by a slew of product announcements, new connected devices range from TVs, Blu-ray players and A/V receivers through to tablets, smartphones and PCs and on to camcorders and mobile music players. Sony is combining these with online services for music, video and game delivery, creating a great user experience (as they say). TVs, PCs, smartphones and tablets are key to this experience as the four main devices used for entertainment.

Sony is committed to designing technologies for every aspect of consumer entertainment – in or out of the home, on the go, in the air, at work, at play, or wherever life takes you,” said Kazuo Hirai, Executive Deputy President, Sony Corporation. “When these products are combined with Sony Entertainment Network (SEN), which offers innovative services like Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited, as well as PlayStation Network, the user experience is truly unmatched and only made possible by a company like Sony.”

The Bravia TV line has been expanded in all three areas; entry level BX, step-up EX and flagship HX. Brightness and contrast levels have been increased and picture quality improved with Sony’s X-Reality and Motionflow video technologies. In particular the latter helps to reduce blur caused by rapid camera movements which is often a problem with LCD screens. Sony is sticking with the Google TV platform with a new network player and Blu-ray player featuring Google TV. Certain Bravia models will link seamlessly to these devices to provide Google TV features directly on the TV.

Sony Xperia ion smartphoneSony’s Vaio range of computers will continue to be updated with more entertainment feature and new designs that fit with consumers’ needs and increasing mobility. At CES, Sony will be demonstrating new technologies and prototypes for a range of technologies including glasses-free 3D.

In the smartphone space, the Xperia brand has done reasonably well, but increasing the smartphone share in North America is now one of Sony’s highest priorities. Sony Ericsson will be subsumed into Sony Mobile Communications and all new phones will carry Sony branding. The latest addition to the Xperia line-up is the Xperia ion, Sony’s first LTE smartphone coming with an HD 720p display and aluminium body. Also new is the Xperia S which comes with 3D image capture.

Sony Bloggie LiveOn the imaging front, no less than 13 new Handycam camcorders are being unveiled. A new image stabilisation system called Balanced Optical Steady Shot has been developed that controls the complete optical path from lens to sensor as a single floating unit. This reduces handshake blur by up to 13 times compared to the previous models. There’s a new camcorder model with a built-in video projector that has improved brightness and enhanced audio. The trusty Bloggie range now has a “Live” model which will live stream HD video over a Wi-Fi connection and there’s an unboxing over at sister channel TPN.tv. Of course, Sony has a bunch of new Cybershot digital still cameras.

Z Series Audio MP3 PlayerFinally, it wouldn’t be CES if Sony didn’t announce a Walkman or two. The new Z series of MP3 players comes with an application interface and connectivity to both Sony’s Music Unlimited and the Android Market. Content can be played from Z series devices either wirelessly using DLNA or via HDMI to Bravia TVs. To further improve the audio experience, no less than eleven new Balanced Armature earbud-style headphones are now available as well.

That’s it – a quick overview of the products on show at CES by Sony and they all look like fun.

Samsung Smart TV and TPN: It’s what’s on the TV tonight!

RawVoice, the pioneer in digital media production, hosting and dissemination, is proud to announce the addition of their Samsung Smart TV application for TVs and Blu-ray Players. The TechPodcast Network (TPN) App allows content creators to reach connected audiences that will watch and listen to the networks shows in their offices, dens, living rooms, bedrooms, and anywhere else they watch television.

“We are excited to be on Samsung Smart TV and Blu-ray platform, and have taken care to make our app experience consistent across all media platforms, allowing consumers to easily switch from device to device to access our networks shows,” said Todd Cochrane, CEO of RawVoice. “The Samsung App is just another extension to our arsenal of media distribution channels.”

Audiences can manage their playlists through the apps MyCast service, whether they have a TPN user account or not. Subscribing to a show is as easy as pressing the subscribe button.

The TPN Community App lets you:

  • Navigate the menu system with ease using our MyCast feature to find new content while using TV remote control or while alternately managing your playlist in front of a computer.
  • Check out “Editors Picks” for a new selection of great shows each week on the tech topics you care about, ranging from tech news, gaming, platform news, etc.
  • Find high quality child-safe shows. All shows featured on the Samsung App have qualified their shows through their account manager at TechPodcasts.com.

With the Samsung Smart TV Channel, TPN provides our members the ability to access new markets that reach a worldwide audience of all demographics. RawVoice advertisers now have another channel to reach the exclusive audiences that watch the networks’ content.

Media companies looking to launch their own Samsung Smart TV app should contact RawVoice to develop and deploy their branded Internet-connected TV channel. RawVoice has deployed channel apps on a variety of devices including Roku, Boxee, Google TV, etc.

Tech Podcast Network is a community supported website dedicated to the promotion of technology by using the Internet. These initiatives include streaming, podcasting, and new technology delivery mechanisms. The content producers actively support the broader technology community with a wide variety of content related to technology subjects.

TPN is part of the RawVoice digital media community that also includes Blubrry, Pro Med and TravelCast networks. The RawVoice digital media community has led the way in fulfilling digital media distribution needs since 2004, enabling content creators to publish audio and video or blog content channels and manage users. To find out more call 1.877.729.8642.

GNC-2011-10-20 #715 Seven Year Anniversary!

This show is pretty close to the seven year anniversary of the show. It has been a great run, and I want to thank all of you for being loyal fans.. You will get a chuckle at the beginning of the show as I for some reason have no idea what day it is.. Lot’s of tech and thanks for all of the emailed comments.

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Credits:
Jack Ellis – Executive Producer
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iCloud Becoming a Movie Cloud Service, Compete with Amazon, Google

iCloud

iCloud

24 hours after iCloud officially releases, talks are underway to fill your cloud drive with movies. In reports today, Horrible Bosses and Green Lantern will be the first of many movies you will be able to hold on your iCloud drive.

iCloud is a service available with iOS5 and at www.icloud.com. With iOS5, you can back up your phone to the cloud (what Apple is calling the PC-less setup and sync). So it only makes sense to also turn it into your all-in-one cloud device.

Hopefully, when Apple officially rolls out this service, that they will offer similar cloud options like Amazon. Things like free storage with any item purchased through Apple (so it doesn’t affect your personal storage limit). You get 5 GB free, then pricing starts at $20 for an additional 10 GB (15 GB total).

Is Apple’s Movie Service Too Late?

The real question is: Have you already committed to Amazon cloud service for movies? Would you switch back? Or would you want to skip the service and actually just get the physical DVD or Blu-Ray discs?

With iTunes still being a walled garden, it’s tough to commit to their services. At least with Amazon, one can get content to their iPhone, computer or Android. Apple really needs to look at this stumbling block, because we live in a cross-platform world.

The day of the DVD is numbered. Being able to access content without physical media is becoming reality. It’s just a question of where you get your content.

So will it be iCloud for you?

 

 

DLNA For The iPad And More

Jeffrey stops by the DLNA booth, but before we get to that, if you want to understand what DLNA is, the we recommend you visit their Wikipedia page.  They are showing off some cool devices with that act as DLNA servers, such a home media server, Droid X, laptops, TV’s, Blu-ray players, and an iPad.  Their new iPad app allows user to stream content from a server or upload content to a server.  With over 200 companies manufacturing DLNA-compatibles devices (and more coming) it could become the defacto standard for media content.  For more information you can visit the DLNA website.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast.

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Sony Vaio F Series – 3D Powerhouse Laptop

Sony today unleashed the Vaio F Series 3D notebook – an absolute beast of a machine featuring the latest i7 Intel CPUs, 16″ full HD 3D display, surround sound, Blu-ray drive, 11n and USB3.  In short, everything needed for a full-on 3D experience.

Hyperbole aside, the Vaio F series is a powerful machine.  Under the hood, it’s powered by the new Intel Core i7 processor, coupled with nVidia’s GeForce GT540M which has DirectX 11 support built-in, giving smooth full HD video and games.

The 16″ screen is full HD at 1920 x 1080, delivering up to 240 frames per second.  The screen uses “advanced frame sequential panel technology”, i.e. active rather than passive, giving sharper and brighter images.  Sony has standardised on active shutter glasses so they are the same as used with the Bravia 3D TVs.

Incredibly, not only can you watch 3D games and films in 3D (obviously), the Vaio F Series can up-convert 2D media into simulated 3D.  Now that I have to see.

Rounding out the multimedia experience is surround sound with Dolby Home Theater v3 (through headphones) and S-Force virtual 5.1 surround sound with Inbox bass-reflex speakers to give realistic sound.

Technical features include two USB3 ports, 11n wireless, Bluetooth 3, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, HD webcam, 640 GB HDD and Ms Windows 7 Home Premium.  Available from end of February.

Dear Roku, Best Buy is not Doing any Justice for your Brand.

I decided to update my IPTV at home. A newer TV and Over The Top (OTT) system. I have run Boxee for a while, but wanted to get the Roku Box. I heard that Best Buy had the Roku box, so I made the trek out to the store.

That was a bad idea.

I was on the east side of town, so I stopped into the East side location. I figured the Roku would be somewhere next to the Google TV display. It wasn’t – In fact, I could not find it anywhere.

I did something I try not to do – envoke a Best Buy employee. I never have any luck with these guys, so I avoid them. However, since I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I had to walk up to one. And the following conversation is why:

Hello. I am looking for the Roku box

Yes. They are over here (we walk to where the supposed Roku is). Here you go. It comes with Blu-Ray.

Excuse me? Roku does not have a Blu-Ray Model.

This one is. You can get Netflix.

I am sorry, but that is not a Roku box. Just because it connects to Netflix doesn’t make it a Roku.

Oh… Well, we are out of Roku players (pointing to the other shelf)

When will you get more?

We only got one. I don’t know when the next one is. However, we have a great line of internet connected players (pointing down the row).

This conversation really pissed me off. The guy  was quick to say that a Roku Box was some Blu-Ray from Insignia for $99. At first I didn’t think of it, but a couple days later I was in Best Buy on the West side and the exact same thing happened.

The Best Buy employee tried to tell me that this Blu-Ray player with Netflix was exactly like a Roku. Once again, I was annoyed and told him off. I walked out of the store, putting down what I was planning on purchasing.

Both stores only received 1-2 models of Roku. Both stores sold out in an hour and couldn’t tell me when the next batch was going to be here. Both employees also said that another device was “Just like the Roku”.

Certain Blu-Ray players do have applications. You can get Netflix and Vudu – along with other cool options to the player. However, this is not a Roku.

I started thinking about this: With the news announcement that you can get a Netgear branded Roku at Best Buy, I wonder how many people ventured out to get this. I also wonder how many ended up getting something else?

I have never been felt so misled by an employee in a long time. The last time I was, it was a Radio Shack employee trying to sell me a CD player stating it had MP3 support. Over 10 years later, I walked out of a store feeling just as annoyed.

The worst part about the Roku at Best Buy is it’s overshadowed by Google TV. The humongous display might make people change ideas for IPTV.

I ended up purchasing the box online, although I thought it would be nice to have a Blu-Ray Roku Box. Nonetheless, I think I will be avoiding Best Buy for a while.

Twonky Mobile Server

It’s always fun when technology intersects, and it becomes possible to do something cool that was previously not possible and/or was never thought of.

Such is the case with my Sprint HTC Evo smartphone. Sure, it’s a pocket computer. Sure, it has WiFi. As such, sure, it’s a network device with a potential node on my home network.

Rewind. What was that last bit again? My phone is a network device with a potential node on my home network. Let’s see – what can I do with network devices – share resources, share drives and therefore share files.

Enter the free Twonky Server Mobile for Android. Twonky Server Mobile is a free piece of software available in the Android Marketplace that shares audio, video and photos from the phone to UPnP and DLNA certified receiving devices on a home network. This includes software such as Boxee and UBMC among others.

I had a copied a number of videos to my Evo’s 8 media card so I’d have them available to watch if and when I had time. Hummm – with the Evo’s WiFi turned on and connected to my home network, if I ran the Twonky Server Mobile software, would I be able to see Twonky Mobile Server as an available network share with my Western Digital TV Live Plus boxes? If so, how would it work?

I’m happy to report that the free Twonky Mobile Server for Android works flawlessly. Simply start the app and there’s nothing else to do on the phone. Twonky Mobile Server shows up as an available server on the network, and the audio, videos and photos show up and play with UPnP and DLNA certified receiving devices such as WD TV Live Plus boxes.

Twonky also offers a small array of inexpensive server software products that make it possible to easily share audio, video and photo media from your Windows or Mac computer via UPnP and DLNA to certified devices such as Playstation 3, many digital photo frames, many Blu-ray players, and other devices and softwares.

Buffalo External USB3 Blu-ray Writer Review

Having won the format wars, Blu-ray is the hi-def standard; USB3 ports are appearing more regularly on motherboards and 3D is definitely flavour of the month.  So it’s not entirely unsurprising that Buffalo has brought out an external drive that brings all three together.

The BR3D-12U3 Blu-ray drive was released back in September and brings together all the latest technologies into a good-looking external drive.  With a USB3 connection, it has 3D playback support for 3D movies and 12x write speed for both single and dual layer disks.  The full technical specs are here and the RRP is £199.

Buffalo kindly lent GNC a drive to test for a couple of weeks and, frankly, I liked it, probably because it matched my PC case.  However, let’s be a bit more objective.

The drive comes in the usual red coloured Buffalo-style box.  Inside, you get the external drive itself, a power supply, a USB3 cable, a quick start guide and a software CD.

The external drive is black and I think it looks good as far as computer peripherals go.  The case is a fairly hard plastic and the top surface has a shiny speckled surface which is attractive.  The other surfaces have a different matt finish which is plainer but not unattractive.  The front panel has a blue LED that lights when reading and writing.  There’s a green power LED at the back that perhaps ought to have been blue as well.

The PSU comes with UK and European plugs and connects into the external drive at the back.  There is no power button.

If you haven’t seen a USB3 cable or connector, you might be a little surprised. The A connector (that’s the bit that plugs into the PC) looks fairly normal, but the B connector (that’s the external drive end) is a bit different – it’s kind of like two connectors piggy-backed on top of each other.

The Buffalo drive was tested on an Ubuntu Linux 10.10 PC and an HP laptop with Windows 7 Home.  Neither of these actually had USB3 ports or 3D graphics cards, so some of the advanced features couldn’t be tried out.  Regardless, this was still a pretty capable drive.

Windows 7

Windows 7 instantly recognised the drive when it was plugged in via USB2 and put a new drive into Computer.  At this stage, any attempts to play a Blu-ray disk were met with errors as there was no media player installed that could decode Blu-ray disks.  Buffalo have helpfully included the ubiquitous CyberLink suite of programs to get round this.

The CyberLink installation went smoothly enough but it could have been clearer.  The laptop already had an older version of the CyberLink software and instead of saying that a previous version was installed, it simply says, “Do you want to uninstall CyberLink Product X”. This is a bit counter intuitive when you are trying to install the software.  Once I’d overcome that hurdle, it was plain sailing, though it takes a good twenty minutes to get everything loaded up.

The CyberLink suite is made up about six different components – one for playing movies, one for working with music, one for video editing, etc.  I tried out the movie player (PowerDVD) and the disk burner (Power2Go)

The Blu-ray films all looked deliciously detailed in comparison to DVDs and the playback was smooth – no problems here at all.  There were a few issues with the main menu, though.  In “Toy Story”, the animated background seemed to display over the menu so it wasn’t possible to see the options.  I was able to play the film by pressing Enter, but you’d have no hope accessing any other content.

The software also has two modes, “Classic” and “Cinema”.  The former plays the film within Windows 7, whereas the latter gives it more of a video player feeling.  The Cinema mode felt much more polished than the Classic with more attractive menus and preferences screens.

The data module (Power2Go) worked as advertised, allowing files to be dragged from the filesystem before being burned to the disk.  Helpfully, it has a thermometer style display showing you how much of your 24GB had been used.  If you’ve used any of these type of tools before, you’ll be right at home.

Apart from the issue with the top menu, the CyberLink suite seemed to work well enough, but it does prompt frequently to register and upgrade (at a cost).

Linux

Buffalo doesn’t provide any Linux software but using the drive with CDs and DVDs was trouble-free anyway.  DVD’s played well in VLC and there were no problems burning to DVD-R or DVD-RW.  Blu-ray disks were seen as data devices as there’s currently no Blu-ray players for Linux (AFAIK).  However, Brasero recognised BD-Rs just fine and wrote to a single layer disk without trouble.

Using dd to copy data from a Blu-ray disk gave an average of around 14 MB/s for 43GB disk.  Don’t forget that the drive was connected via USB2, not USB3.

Conclusion

As I mentioned at the beginning, I really liked the hardware.  However, I felt it was a little let down by the CyberLink Suite – if you are paying the best part of £200 for what is a high-spec device, you want the bells and whistles, not nagged into upgrading.

Regardless, movie playback was sweet, with the detail you expect from Blu-ray and I didn’t see any stuttering in the films I watched.

The recording or writing features worked well too, though I wasn’t able to test the high speed writing, partly because of an absence of USB3 ports but also the fastest media I could get my hands on was only 4x.

Overall, I’d say a solid and good-looking device and if you are in the market for an external Blu-ray writer, it’s definitely worth considering.

Thanks to again to Buffalo for providing the review unit.