Archives For HDTV

panasonic-dmp-bdt220

Right on schedule, members of Panasonic’s 2012 Blu-ray player lineup have begun arriving at Best Buy. Last year, we regularly recommended the Panasonic DMP-BDT210 to folks seeking a reasonably priced deck with well rounded features, including a healthy online ecosystem and fast boot times. And now in 2012, the DMP-BDT220 (MSRP $150) looks to be solid successor.

In fact, Tech of the Hub has already run their Panasonic DMP-BDT220 review and concludes the Blu-ray player is “fairly impressive” and a “good value.” I’d say folks considering an Apple TV or high-end Roku might even step up for just $30 additional bucks (via Amazon). While Panasonic’s UI may not be as polished or quick, in addition to Blu-ray playback it offers Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Vudu, Amazon, Pandora, and DLNA streaming. Unfortunately, the optional Android and iPhone smartphone remote control apps for this generation have yet to be released. Also, as a fan the prior generation BDT210, I’m somewhat bummed to see Panasonic drop the touch-free sensor that allowed you to wave your hand above the deck to eject the disc tray.

At a slightly higher end, the Panasonic DMP-BDT320 (MSRP $200) features a sleeker enclosure with slot loading disc drive… and a touchpad remote of questionable value. In fact, I’d probably steer folks away from this model given the unconventional remote that lacks even standard transport buttons.

samsung-repair2

Samsung recently settled a lawsuit related to faulty capacitors within HDTVs produced between 2006 – 2008:

The class action lawsuit alleges a defect that may cause the television to experience symptoms such as not turning on, experiencing a delay in turning on, making a clicking sound, cycling on and off, or other similar problems. Samsung denies the allegations in the lawsuit, but has agreed to settle the lawsuit to avoid the costs and uncertainty of continued litigation.

Of the millions of sets Samsung has moved, they estimate only 1% of their LCD, DLP, and plasma HDTVs are affected. Members of the class may be entitled to reimbursement for prior repair, a $300 debit card, or actual repair. As it turns out, a friend’s 3 year old 40″ Samsung LCD had started flaking out in recent months – requiring several minutes to display a picture at full brightness after powering on. So, of course, I directed him to Samsung’s site to determine if his out-of-warranty model and serial number are covered. And, once it was clear he’s eligible, instead of completing the claim form (PDF), he simply called 1-888-899-7602 to see about getting assistance. Continue Reading…

appletv5

Touched on briefly as an undercard leading up to the iPad 3 HD main event, a slightly refreshed Apple TV was introduced earlier today. And the primary differentiator between this diminutive streamer and its predecessor is an upgraded single core A5 processor that enables 1080p video playback. Related, select iTunes and Netflix video content will now be offered at those higher resolutions. Should your broadband throughput and data cap cooperate. The incoming aTV, expected on store shelves next weeks, sports the same $99 price tag of the outgoing unit. And that’s pretty much all there is to say.

Along with the new hardware, Apple TV 5.0 software has been unveiled… and is also being made available to prior generation Apple TV as you can see from these photos. Replacing text-based lists, is the more familiar presentation of icons as seen on other iOS devices, like the iPhone. But still no app store. Yet. Although it was our second most predicted (requested?) feature in the poll we recently ran, behind the obvious bump in resolution. Lastly, our iTunes video purchases will be permanently accessibile from various devices, on demand via iCloud. Continue Reading…

Boxee, makers of software powering digital media streaming boxes and computers, recently launched a campaign that seemingly encourages folks to “cut the cord” (and find fulfillment via their new Live TV USB dongle):

Yes, there are hundreds of cable channels, but make a list of the stuff you actually watch. You will probably find that most are on broadcast and the rest are available on Vudu/Netflix/Network sites. What is left on your list? Is it really worth $85 a month? We believe the combination of Netflix/Vudu/Vimeo/TED/etc. with over-the-air channels delivers a much better experience for less money.

Let’s skip for a moment the fact that most modern televisions tune over-the-air HD broadcasts and so Boxee’s cost “savings” pitch fails to incorporate their hardware fees. Instead, we’d rather focus on Boxee’s spat with the cable industry. And the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) takes issue with Boxee’s possible hypocrisy:

Instead of telling regulators that its service is a replacement for pay TV service, they now seem to be saying that their service is dependent on subscription TV and that regulators must… wait for it… dictate how cable service is delivered to its customers. Yes, that is correct. This cord-cutting, end-of-cable-as-we-know-it dynamo is demanding that the FCC not allow cable systems to scramble its basic service tier

Continue Reading…

How Much Is HBO Worth?

Dave Zatz —  February 3, 2012 — 36 Comments

Ben Drawbaugh, of Engadget HD, has decided HBO just isn’t worth $17/month. Ben’s something of a HD snob, which I characterize in the nicest way possible, and finds HBO “unwatchable” — preferring instead to rent or purchase higher quality Blu-ray discs. And has therefore cancelled his subscription.

By comparison, I’m much more tolerant of perhaps somewhat inferior audio/visual presentation… given sufficiently compelling content along with viewing flexibility. So I find HBO to be one of the best values in home entertainment, primarily due to HBO GO - which provides access to all of HBO’s original programming, think Sopranos or Boardwalk Empire, along with a small rotating selection of mainstream movies. HBO GO was originally streamed to mobile devices like the iPad or iPhone, but has branched out Continue Reading…