Pretty soon, we’re going to be flooded with lots of news on all the new gear products coming out later this year and beyond. It’s because the annual Consumer Electronics Show opens up this week in Las Vegas. The show runs January 6-9, and features a messload of exhibits showcasing the latest in everything from BlueTooth technology to home theatre to WiFi. Some of the major products that debuted in past CES shows include plasma TV’s, HDTV, CD’s and DVD’s. It’s just huge, with some 129,000 attendees. Special events to look out for this year include a pre-show keynote speech by Bill Gates, and a show-floor gaming competition. Speaking of games, PSXExtreme reports that details on the Sony PSP’s US launch, pricing, and titles will all be revealed at the show.
SBC announced today their plans to provide digital set-top boxes for consumers that would provide DVR-like capabilities. In conjunction with Dish Network, Cingular, Yahoo, SBC broadband DSL, and other SBC owned companies, the devices would allow customers to record TV, listen to internet radio, view pictures from their computers, and program their DVR remotely from the internet. Also planned is the ability to program the DVR from your Cingular wireless phone.
Perhaps the most appealing part of their plan is the waiving of a monthly fee for usage; consumers will pay a one time fee for the device, and only continue to pay the standard subscription fees to Dish Network and SBC Yahoo DSL, all of which can currently be rolled into a single bill from SBC. This convenience is a contrast to the monthly fees charged by TiVo.
Read More | Forbes
This should excite all of you Tivo users, because now you can take your recorded video on the road with you. In case you have been living under a rock for the past few years, Tivo is a pioneer in the Digital Video Recorder industry. DVR technology allows you to record live video from your TV directly to a hard drive, effectively eliminating the need for a VCR. TivoToGo allows recorded shows to be transferred to Windows XP or 2000 based PCs or laptops via a home computer network. Users would have to download free desktop software from the TiVo Web site onto their computers. TiVoToGo will be part of a free TiVo update, which you may have already received. Unfortunately, if you use a DirecTiVo, you don’t get to play with the rest of us. One other nice feature is that users will be able to burn DVD’s of their favorite shows; however, this feature will not be available till shortly after launch.
Edit: If you have a Humax, Pioneer, or Toshiba TiVo/DVD
Recorder, it looks like you will have to wait until later this year to receive the TiVoToGo update. Damn.
Read More | Silicon Valley
Most of you are probably aware of the Blu-Ray (BD-ROM) / HD-DVD technology war that is brewing, but might not know the exact details of each format. I think this article paints a nice picture of what will be coming in the future of DVD. BD-ROM offers 25GB per layer where HD-DVD only offers 20GB per layer. Most backers of HD-DVD are touting that there will be an easier transition using HD-DVD because that technology uses existing pressing technology and does not need entirely new production lines. What does that mean? Lower cost for the consumer.
Read More | EE Times
If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that universal remotes are never truly universal. You can go through hours and hours of setup, and there will be that one little detail that makes it remain undone. Then I heard about the Logitech Harmony 688 remote. Thre is barely any configuration here, as the remote connects via USB through your PC to an online remote code database. After just 48 hours, I have seen the light. Simply put, the Harmony 688 is the absolute best remote control I have had the pleasure to use. Ever. Find out why after the jump.
We could go two ways with this one. Hopefully manufacturers will make things easier on the consumer by including both DVD and HDTV content on one of these dual-layered discs. But they might also ignore the technology and still make you purchase both formats, in a scheme that we can also foresee. The Register article appears to focus on the former of the two scenarios, describing how the discs can help smoothen the transition to the new HDTV standard, by assuring customers that they have both versions of a movie (Blu Ray and DVD) on one disc, for when they decide to upgrade their TV’s.
Read More | The Register
If doing away with late fees wasn’t enough for you, Blockbuster has reduced the fee of it’s Blockbuster Online subscription service. For those keeping score, this is the second time they have dropped the price of Blockbuster Online in just a matter of a couple of months. Just two months ago, Blockbuster Online dropped from $19.99 per month to $17.49. The latest decrease brings the price down to a cool $14.99 per month. With Blockbuster Online you get to have 3 DVD’s out at any time, plus you get two free in-store movie or game rentals per month. The new price point is guaranteed through January 2006.
Read More | Internet Week
It looks like Toshiba plans to jump out of the plasma display panel television market head first, and with good reason. They developed surface conduction electron emitter display (or, SED) panels in conjuction with Canon Japan, and plan to produce all flat panel televisions with screens that measure 40 inches or larger with SED display panels. I have always seen plasma as a love-it-or-hate-it thing, and personally haven’t been that impressed with the technology. SED is expected to bring with it higher contrast ratios, faster response times, and consume less power than plasma and LCD televisions. The plan is to have these for sale in Japan by mid-2005.
Read More | MacNewsWorld
Read More | VNUnet
Most readers already know how fond I am of my PVR device, and to so to hear this kind of news this morning, I'm just left completely disgusted. According to a report on USA Today, TiVo is planning on introducing static ad images on their players, when users skip through commercials. It's a valid concern for advertisers, without whom we would not have TV programs in the first place. But as one user already points out: "I'm already paying $12.95 a month (to avoid commercials)." Half the fun of a PVR is not putting up with ads. I simply don't watch them anymore these days, allowing me to catch a 1-hour show in about 40 minutes. First we have to put up with annoying Fanta videos before our $10.50 movies, and now this.
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