Battle of the Thin TV rages on: 4 examples

via DVICE by Charlie White on 8/28/08

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There’s a battle of TV thinness going on right now at the world’s largest consumer electronics show, across the pond at IFA in Berlin, where manufacturers continue the war started last January at CES. The idea is, these are called “flat panels” for a reason, and the company whose TV is the flattest wins.

Never mind that nobody in his right mind spends any time walking around the side of a TV to look at how thin it is, at least not after the first few days after purchase. Never mind that this is just a trade show game between testosterone-addled tech engineers. These things are beautiful. They could cut you like a knife. They’re skinnier than an iPhone. Check out the top four in this round:

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Here’s Sharp with the opening volley, its Aquos XS1 that started its life as a vaporous design concept last year at this time, but now it’s a real LCD TV in 52-inch and 65-inch sizes. To be first rolled out in Europe in October, this beauty is a mere 23mm thin.

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Next, Panasonic weighs in with a trio of plasma screens, but these are prototypes for bragging rights and had no sale date attached. Shown in 50, 58 and 65-inch sizes, that 50-incher is 24.7mm thick. Panasonic has wireless HD hooked up to them, too, adding to the neato factor.

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Sony tops that with its Bravia Edge LED ZX1, (KDL-40ZX1), an 40-inch LED-backlit LCD HDTV that’s 9.9mm thick. Too bad about that 40-inch size, small in today’s TV land. It keeps its svelte form by relegating most of its electronics to an outboard box into which you plug your sources. The ZX-1 ships November 10, and Sony actually quoted a price — $4714 — way too steep for a 40-incher.

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Sony thought it had snagged the crown of world’s thinnest, but then along came Phillips. It rolled out its LCD display with an even thinner 8mm screen, using some tricky and super-skinny LumiLED backlights inside the top and bottom of the display to light this baby up. Too bad the prototype on display was only 32 inches, but Philips engineers say there’s at least a 42-incher in the cards. Way to go, Philips, you win. Next bout: CES in January, 2009, where even-thinner OLED displays will make these beauties look like bloated clunkers.

Via Engadget and Gizmodo

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Xbox 360 Blu-ray console shipping by September?

via Engadget by Thomas Ricker on 5/2/08

For all of Microsoft’s denial, the Xbox 360 Blu-ray console rumors just will not die. In fact, they are getting more and more specific. The Chinese language Economic Daily News is reporting that Pegatron, an OEM subsidiary of ASUS, has won the order from Microsoft to assemble the Xbox 360 with Blu-ray Disc ROM drive — shipments are expected to being in Q3 of this year. Now come on Microsoft, just come clean on the matter, we won’t tell anyone.

Comcast stomping HDTV signals to fit three channels into the space of two

via DVICE by Charlie White on 3/31/08

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No sooner had Comcast relented on its BitTorrent spoofing scandal than we see the company cutting corners elsewhere, now compressing HDTV shows so much that blocky noise is plainly visible on most of its HDTV channels. The company’s doing this to fit three HD channels into a space occupied by two just a few weeks ago.

The eagle eyes at AV Science Forum compared Comcast HDTV images with the same frames received over competing video service Verizon FiOS, and demonstrated a readily apparent drop in quality of the Comcast signal over the past few weeks. Apparently Comcast hopes none of its viewers will notice the reduced picture quality, and will be more impressed with the increased quantity of HD channels.

We’re wondering if Time Warner isn’t compressing its signals a bit more, too, because when watching the CBS coverage of March Madness basketball this weekend, we noticed a lot of suspiciously grainy-looking HDTV. So is HDTV picture quality going the way of cell phone sound — with companies stomping on the quality as much as they can get away with? Anyone else notice this? Follow the link below for more damning evidence.

via AV Science Forum

Vudu price slashed to keep up with Apple TV

via Engadget by Paul Miller on 1/24/08

Competition is a good thing, and now that the Apple TV is actually turning into a solid offering in its space, Vudu is cutting the price on its box to stay relevant. Originally launched at $399, you can now snag a Vudu to rent your movies and TV shows straight into your living room for $295. The best news is that if paid the full price for one of these things in the past 30 days, you can call up Vudu and get a $100 movie credit. Who knows if it’ll be enough to mitigate the aggressively-priced and now competitively-featured $229 Apple TV, but it looks like consumers are winning already.

Did you apply for your TV converter box coupons yet?

via Engadget by Evan Blass on 1/1/08

If you’re anything like us, your only New Year’s resolution for this particular ride around the sun is to sign up for a converter box coupon in preparation for the 2009 digital TV transition — even if, also like us, your only remaining analog set is gathering dust next to your laserdisc player in the basement. Still, a bargain is a bargain, so $40 off a product or products that we don’t really need was more than enough motivation to race over to the official sign-up page only minutes after it went live. You, of course, still have a good 13 months to pick up one of these digital-to-analog converters from LG or friends, but since you’re probably not in very good shape to do much else today, why not make the most of your incapacitation and hit the Read link to fill out your application.

Rumor: Xbox IPTV may not be so grand

Doug, from the Peoples Republic Of, visited Microsoft’s IPTV booth at CES yesterday and got some more dirt on how the Xbox 360 IPTV will work. According to him, he found out that the IPTV service will be available over AT&T’s 35Mbps lightspeed service which would allow for 2HD and 2SD channels to run simultaneously. Though the big problem here is that you’d have to replace your current ISP and cable provider to AT&T. And if you don’t have access to the lightspeed service, then no IPTV for you! Secondly, you’ll need a separate set top box that would work by itself or connected to a 360. So, the 360 still needs a separate set top box to use IPTV. Finally, if you have a home router it will need to be replaced by a special QOS (quality of service) router. Feeling sad yet?

Again, this isn’t official information from Microsoft, but is information Doug received from Microsoft’s IPTV booth at CES. Hopefully things will change before the roll-out, because the whole Xbox 360 IPTV service isn’t sounding very good. A separate box? A specific cable and ISP provider? Do you meet the supposed requirements for the Xbox IPTV roll-out and would you be willing to make the necessary changes to get it?

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Replacement Wii straps arrive

And not a minute too soon! After all that “excited” gameplay we’ve been doing over the holiday weekend, we were starting to think we might assassinate our damn HDTV with a tennis smash in Wii Sports. We ordered our straps on the 15th, the day the replacement program was announced — meaning they came a good 6 days later than expected. Still, it was Christmas and all that, so we’ll spot ’em. Check out the pics of the new thicker strap!