Roku Refreshes Product Line to Compete With Apple, Amazon

Following its recent Nasdaq debut, Roku is updating its product line with new specs and pricing in addition to a number of software enhancements. Roku’s entire line — from its streaming stick to home entertainment hub — is being upgraded. The $30 Roku Express gets a new processor, while the $50 Roku Streaming Stick now features a remote with voice control. The $40 Roku Express+ is the next step up from the Roku Express, offering analog component connections for those with older TVs. And the high-end 4K Roku Ultra will remain $100 for the holiday season (it recently had a $30 reduction), and gets a refresh for its remote and a wider selection of streaming options.  Continue reading Roku Refreshes Product Line to Compete With Apple, Amazon

Growing Number of Viewers Are Using Antennas for Free TV

The Consumer Technology Association projects that antenna sales in the U.S. will jump 7 percent to about 8 million units, driven largely by consumers who are accessing HBO, Hulu, Netflix and other services online. While today’s antennas “can be hidden behind a flat TV or hung like a picture frame,” notes The Wall Street Journal, a June survey by the National Association of Broadcasters found that 29 percent of Americans are not aware that television content is available for free. The confusion may linger from the 2009 HD transition, despite the FCC’s efforts to educate the public. While today’s consumer may not think of the older tech as a practical means of saving money, WSJ cites examples of viewers using antennas to watch free local programming. Continue reading Growing Number of Viewers Are Using Antennas for Free TV

Microsoft Xbox One X Console Offers 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos

Microsoft’s next videogame console, the Xbox One X, is its smallest gaming console ever, with advanced capabilities in power, speed and resolution, offering true 4K. The new console will be compatible with games made for the Xbox One and Xbox 360, which will benefit from the Xbox One X’s increased speed and improved resolution and graphics. The new console, which also features HDR (high dynamic range) playback and Dolby Atmos sound, will go on sale November 7th for $499. Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro debuted in November for $399. Continue reading Microsoft Xbox One X Console Offers 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos

TV Holds Top Spot, While Smartphone Adoption On the Rise

According to new research figures, TV still holds the top spot in tech devices. The Consumer Technology Association reports that 96 percent of U.S. homes have at least one television, while 80 percent have a smartphone. However, the total number of TV sets — 308 million — was down 3 percent, while the number of homes with smartphones jumped six percent over the previous year. DVD/Blu-ray players dropped 7 percentage points and relinquished the No. 2 spot to smartphones. Not surprisingly, the majority of most popular tech devices are products that feature screens. Meanwhile, ABI Research predicts that HDR TV shipments will reach 245 million units in 2022. Continue reading TV Holds Top Spot, While Smartphone Adoption On the Rise

Media Player Software Company Plex Debuts Online Service

Online service Plex Cloud, which has been in private beta since September, is now open to all paying Plex users. The new service “eliminates the need for an always-on PC or other network-attached piece of hardware in order to use the Plex media player software for watching your saved TV shows and movies, viewing photos or streaming from your music collection,” explains TechCrunch. Plex Cloud, which initially used Amazon Cloud Drive to host files, experienced a number of technical challenges that Plex says have been resolved. Plex supports Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox. Plex Cloud is now “an option for anyone who subscribes to Plex Pass, the company’s $5 per month, subscription-based service offering a variety of premium features.” Continue reading Media Player Software Company Plex Debuts Online Service

Cord Cutters Have Recording Options with TiVo Roamio OTA

Consumers interested in recording over-the-air TV shows without the need for a cable or satellite subscription can turn to recorders compatible with HDTV antennas such as TiVo’s Roamio OTA 1TB DVR. The $400 recorder (currently $370 on Amazon for a limited time) receives channels over an antenna rather than using a CableCARD. The device provides “access to streaming services and the TiVo interface,” notes Digital Trends, and “allows you to record four shows at once and up to 150 hours of HD programming.” You can beef up recording capacity with a TiVo-ready Netgear ReadyNAS or external hard drive. SkipMode allows for bypassing commercials, while QuickMode speeds through slow-moving recorded and buffered shows without audio distortion. Continue reading Cord Cutters Have Recording Options with TiVo Roamio OTA

DEG Reports Increase in U.S. Home Entertainment Spending

Consumer spending on home entertainment was up 3.8 percent to $4.2 billion in Q3, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. “Leading the charge was subscription streaming, with sales up 23.9 percent,” reports TWICE. “Electronic sell-through followed with a 9.8 percent gain, while VOD trailed in third place among digital formats with a 4.8 percent increase.” Packaged media took a hit, with combined Blu-ray and DVD sales dropping 8.7 percent, while storefront, kiosk and subscription rentals declined 17.8 percent. DEG notes that 85 percent of U.S. homes now have a 1080p TV, and sales of 4K TVs are approaching 10 million units. Continue reading DEG Reports Increase in U.S. Home Entertainment Spending

Startup Layer3 Streams 200 HD Channels on Private Network

For the high-end customer, startup Layer3 TV is offering a high-end solution: a wide selection of HDTV networks, delivered over the Internet, and installed by technicians driving all-electric BMW i3s. Unlike other streaming services, such as Hulu and Netflix, which use the public Internet, Layer3 has contracted the use of privately managed networks, a more costly option that provides better, more robust results. Layer3 debuted in Chicago in early September and plans to expand to major markets in the next 18 months. Continue reading Startup Layer3 Streams 200 HD Channels on Private Network

Panasonic, Sony Partner for 8K Broadcasts at Tokyo Olympics

At the Rio Olympics, Japanese broadcaster NHK conducted tests of 8K video, broadcasting footage from the games and a variety of other 8K content, including a J-pop concert by star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. These tests were just the latest step in NHK’s methodical plan to unveil 8K video at the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020. To achieve this goal, Panasonic and Sony are partnering with NHK and others for an all-Japanese alliance to create the required technology. Producing 8K is no small feat, with a resolution four times that of 4K among its other features. Continue reading Panasonic, Sony Partner for 8K Broadcasts at Tokyo Olympics

Expect Thinner 4K TVs Next Year Thanks to Corning Iris Glass

As we approach the end of summer, premium 4K Ultra HDTVs with HDR continue to hit the market and garner attention. But as the industry starts to think about CES 2017, recent announcements suggest we may see thinner and brighter 4K Ultra LED LCD TV models next year. One factor impacting new design comes from Corning, which says that more 4K Ultra HDTVs will feature its Iris Glass with light guide plate (LGP) technology in 2017. Iris Glass allows manufacturers to build edge-lit LED LCD TVs that are less than 10 millimeters thick and require nearly no bezel border. Continue reading Expect Thinner 4K TVs Next Year Thanks to Corning Iris Glass

Apple Redesigns Retail Stores, Opens San Francisco Flagship

On the 15th anniversary of the first Apple retail store, the company unveiled a new design for its 477 physical outlets. In the face of a slump in sales, the redesigned stores are one more way to bring in customers, existing and new, to buy products and bask in the Apple lifestyle. The first to open is in San Francisco’s Union Square. The two-story building features 42-foot-tall glass doors that expose the interior to the street, special displays on photography, music and more room to wander and play with Apple products. Continue reading Apple Redesigns Retail Stores, Opens San Francisco Flagship

Roku 4 Media Player Delivers 4K Streaming, Discovery Updates

Roku officially revealed the Roku 4, priced at $129.99, which supports 4K/Ultra HD and HDTVs, and features a new operating system, faster processor, improved Wi-Fi and more memory. Roku OS 7 improves users’ ability to discover specific content among its 3,000+ apps and channels. The company also unveiled an updated mobile app, which offers a streamlined design for Search, the Roku Feed and remote control from the smartphone. The Roku 4 joins several upgraded connected players from Amazon, Apple, Google and TiVo. Continue reading Roku 4 Media Player Delivers 4K Streaming, Discovery Updates

Instant Access to NBC Shows and Highlights with Roku App

NBCUniversal has launched a free Roku app that offers television viewers access to day-after-air full high definition episodes and highlights of their favorite NBC shows, including new fall series such as “Blindspot,” “Heroes Reborn” and “The Player.” While no provider login is required for select new series, authentication will be needed for access to returning NBC shows and older content. The network also plans to make late night programming — including “Saturday Night Live” and “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” — available as full episodes and as clips. Continue reading Instant Access to NBC Shows and Highlights with Roku App

Tech Leaders Envision a Globally Connected Future with VR

Oculus chief executive Palmer Luckey and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg are “ground zero” for the 3D immersive technology, but the big-name fan base is growing, including SpaceX/Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and Facebook board member Mark Andreessen, who not long ago was skeptical about funding a virtual reality company. What they all believe is that VR will be a truly paradigm-shifting technology that will connect everyone in the world, for a growing range of activities from video games to business meetings. Continue reading Tech Leaders Envision a Globally Connected Future with VR

Watch TV on Any Device with AT&T’s First Nationwide Bundle

Less then two weeks following FCC approval of its $48.5 billion takeover of DirecTV, AT&T is already rolling out plans to lure new customers. In a first-of-its kind nationwide offer to be made available August 10, AT&T is packaging wireless phone service and television for $200 per month for the first year. The “All in One” promotional plan places an emphasis on TV anywhere, featuring HDTV and DVR services across four receivers through DirecTV or U-verse, four smartphone connections including unlimited talk and text, in addition to 10GB of shared data. Continue reading Watch TV on Any Device with AT&T’s First Nationwide Bundle

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