I’ve been excited for the wide release of 4K UHD television sets that specifically integrate HDR (high dynamic range) to create an amazing picture. HDR 4K sets have been around for a couple of years, but have been very price prohibitive. Now, Vizio has released its new SmartCast P-Series Ultra HD HDR Home Theater Display, and has changed the game in the process.
4K television sets have been available for sale for a couple of years now, but there hasn't been a lot of content available in the native 2160p resolution for owners of the pixel-dense displays. That's about to change, as 4K UHD discs are set to debut in late February. To view the discs, you'll need an updated disc player, and Panasonic has announced the UB900 Ultra HD Blu-ray player which will be available soon in both Europe and the US. It'll support 1,000-10,000 nits output, BT.2020 color gamut, 60fps high frame-rate support, and will even sport twin HDMI output, allowing you to separate where you send the video signal from where you send the audio. Studios like Sony, Warner Bros., and Fox are readying the releases of their UHD Blu-ray discs, many of which also support HDR. 2016 is setting up to be a big year for 4K technology.
TiVo has been around for a long time, and in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience, it’s released the TiVo Bolt - going from just DVR to Unified Entertainment System--and it's good enough to be included in our 2015 Holiday Gift Guide. The standout feature is SkipMode, which allows you to skip commercials when watching your favorite shows with the press of a single button. QuickMode is also cool, playing shows at 1.3x speed with pitch correction, so you can get through those binge-watching sessions even quicker. It’s 4K-compatible, and supports a bunch of streaming video services (although Amazon Prime Instant Video seems to be absent for some odd reason.) TiVo still sports the best DVR interface in the business, and the Bolt includes one year of TiVo service with purchase.
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iOS devices like the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch will be big holiday gifts this year, make no mistake about it. The Apple TV is actually a fantastic complement to Apple's handhelds, worthy of being featured in our 2015 Holiday Gift Guide. Having recently been completely revamped for the release of the fourth generation model, the new Apple TV is a nice little device in its own right. At the center of it all is the App Store, which now lets you download TV-optimized apps and games, all playable using the new Siri Remote, as well as favorites like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, sports networks, and plenty of other entertainment options. The best part, though, is AirPlay. You can beam audio and video content right to the Apple TV with ease from your iOS device, or your Mac. You can also mirror the display of these devices as well, all wireless over your home network.
Honorable Mention: Amazon Fire TV
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When Jurassic Park was originally released back when I was a kid, I thought it was one of the best movies I had ever seen (in fact, it probably was, given my young age!) Seeing dinosaurs look so realistic was something you had to see, and the only way to truly experience the scope of the movie and the details in the CGI was to see it in a movie theater.
Now, here we are some 22 years later, and fourth movie in the series, Jurassic World, is set to be released in a week-and-a-half. Television technology has evolved to the point where the home viewing of today rivals the cinema experience of yesteryear. Last night I took a trip over to Best Buy so that I could check out the exclusive Jurassic World clip being shown on Samsung SUHD Ultra 4K television sets.
Television manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio are betting big on 2015 being a breakout year for Ultra HD 4K televisions. If you’re unfamiliar, 4K TVs deliver video content at 2160p. That’s 3840×2160 pixels, which means it’s hitting you with 4x the resolution of the 1080p (1920x1080 pixels) set you’re likely already used to. Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and YouTube are already pumping out 4K content, with more to come. It all may sound great, but it’s really something you need to see for yourself to believe—luckily, Best Buy is ready to give you that up-close and personal look.
iOS devices like the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch will be big holiday gifts this year, make no mistake about it. The Apple TV is actually a fantastic complement to Apple's handhelds, worthy of being featured in our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide. A nice little device in its own right, the Apple TV gives you access to Apple's iTunes Store entertainment content right on your television. In addition, you get Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, sports networks, and plenty of other entertainment options. Connect it to your iTunes Home Share, and you can use your iOS devices as remote controls for the Apple TV. The best part, though, is AirPlay. You can beam audio and video content right to the Apple TV with ease from your iOS device, or your Mac. You can also mirror the display of these devices as well, all wireless over your home network.
Honorable Mention: Roku 3 Streaming Player
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GoPro has announced the new GoPro Hero4 Black Edition camera, which takes its top-of-the-line model and adds in 4K recording at 30 frames per second, what many video enthusiasts consider to be the holy grail for a pocket camcorder. That’s not all, as it can also do 1080p at 120 frames per second (great for slow motions video recording,) and takes 12 megapixel images, up to 30 per second. On the inside you’ll find a processor that is twice a fast as what was in the GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition, as well as a redesigned microphone with double the dynamic range as the previous model. Built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi allow you to use a smartphone or tablet as a live remote viewfinder for the Hero4 Black Edition as well, which is just awesome. You can pick up the GoPro Hero4 Black edition for $500 starting October 5th.
Dell has announced a new 5K display, clocking in at 27-inches with a 5120x2880 resolution. That's a staggering 14.7 million pixels, 70% more pixels than you'd find on a 4K monitor. The Dell UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5k display also impresses with 218 pixels per inch (ppi), matching the pixel density found on the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. A media card reader is also built-in, as are six USB 3.0 ports to up your connectivity game. Now that it's proven that larger format Retina displays are possible, surely Retina iMacs and Thunderbolt 2 displays can't be far behind, right? OS X Yosemite has code references to 5120 x 2880 resolution, so Apple may already be readying its desktop machines for Retina resolutions.
No solid release date for the panel was given, but it should be available for purchase by the end of the year for $2499.99.
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What's exciting about the new TiVo Roamio DVR line is that it's been a while since TiVo last released some new hardware. Three and a half years, in fact. That's when the TiVo Premiere debuted, promising an HD interface and dual-core chip that was supposed to bring about speed and efficiency. Well, the Premiere failed to live up to the hype, and TiVo went back to the drawing board and spent a few years building Roamio.
TiVo Roamio is actually a line of three DVRs that range in price from $199 to $599, with four tuners built-in to the standard Roamio, and six tuners in the Roamio Plus and Pro models. The Plus and Pro also have integrated TiVo Stream functionality, too, allowing you to watch TiVo content on your iOS devices wherever you have Wi-Fi. Has TiVo done enough to earn your attention and hard-earned dollar with the Roamio DVR? Join us for our full TiVo Roamio Pro review as we answer just that.