Entries in TV (19)


CES 2013: Toshiba Kicks Off the Ultra HD TV Flood

Toshiba(LAS VEGAS) --The UltraHD TVs are coming by the droves in Las Vegas at this year's International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and the first company to formally announce theirs is Toshiba with its L93000 Series Ultra HD 4K LED TVs.

For those new to this 4K or Ultra HD phenomenon, these new TVs have four times the resolution of the current 1080p TVs. That high resolution makes content look even crisper and brighter than what your eyes are used to now with the current generation of HDTVs on the market.

Toshiba plans to release its 4K TVs in three sizes -- there will be 58-, 65- and 84-inch versions of the L9300.  All of them will have an “ultra-slim” bezel and gun metal trim and stand.  

Powering the ultra-high resolution video is Toshiba’s CEVO 4K quad and dual core processor, which also helps upscale the content.  It also has Toshiba’s ClearScan 240Hz refresh rate for smoother fast motion video.

But with lots more 4K TVs being announced this week, what will set Toshiba’s apart?  Toshiba’s vice president of product marketing and development, Scott Ramirez, says it’s Toshiba’s image quality.

“What Toshiba brings is experience in image processing,” Ramirez said.  “We’re taking a 1080p image, restoring it up to an Ultra HD level as well as upscaling it all the same time using our proprietary CEVO 4K Quad+Dual Core Processor -- a quad core processor with two extra cores.”

Toshiba isn’t commenting on the pricing of the L9300 series, but says it will be on sale this summer.  Its new LED TVs -- the L2300, L7300, L4300 series -- with its Cloud TV services, which includes stream services and other news content, will be available in March.

Toshiba also released a new 14-inch Windows ultrabook, 17.3-inch Qosmio X875 gaming notebook and other mainstream laptops at the show.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Your TV Set-Top Box Never Sleeps, and It Costs You

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Not many of us watch television 24 hours a day — but we might as well.

Even when people’s TVs are turned off, the set-top boxes from our cable company, telephone company or satellite provider keep on running, gobbling energy and jacking up our electric bills. The worst offenders are digital video recorders (DVRs), which are essentially always on.

On Thursday the industry announced a voluntary program to try to rein in those power-hungry devices.

“It’s really an unprecedented agreement,” said Doug Johnson, vice president of Technology for the Consumer Electronics Association. “We estimate that consumers are going to save once this agreement is fully implemented over the next five years $1.5 billion dollars annually, so it’s a significant agreement in terms of its energy savings.”

The move comes as federal regulators debate whether to impose national energy standards on the box-top sets.

Also, last year, the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, released a report citing the boxes for energy waste, estimating they consume $2 billion dollars a year in electricity when they are not in use.

NRDC Senior Scientist Noah Horowitz Thursday told ABC News, “The industry is taking some initial, modest first steps which we support, but they are not going far enough.” He said most consumers have no idea that “new DVRs typically consume as much or more energy than the 42-inch TVs that they might have connected it to.”

The industry insists that Thursday’s announcement is a “significant” move. Big cable providers, including Comcast and Time Warner, will take the first steps. They’ll send software changes to the 10 million cable boxes already in homes, to put them in a “light sleep” mode when they’re not in use. That could cut power use by 20 to 30 percent.

Under the agreement, cable companies will also develop and test “deep sleep” devices to see if they are feasible. The industry also promised that starting next year, at least 90 percent of the new boxes it buys and gives to consumers will meet tougher EPA energy savings standards.

Fifteen companies that have signed onto the agreement: Comcast, DirecTV, DISH Network, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Verizon, Charter, AT&T, Cablevision, Bright House Networks and Century Link; and the manufacturers Cisco, Motorola, EchoStar Technologies and Arris.

According to the CEA, the consumer electronics in your home today account for about 13 percent of your energy bill. The top three offenders: the TV, computer, and those set-top boxes.

The NRDC’s Horowitz said pay-TV providers need to take a page from today’s smartphones, “which sip rather than gulp power when not in use.” He said he sees today’s move as an industry attempt to head off government regulation. He said mandatory energy standards would be “the best way to ensure that these new boxes will be more efficient.”

The CEA’s Johnson disagreed, arguing that “the voluntary agreement really represents the best way to meet the government’s goal of saving energy” by protecting “innovation, competition and consumer choice.”

The industry promises to release regular reports detailing the future energy savings generated by the new agreement, something the NRDC will be keeping a close watch on.

For consumers, there’s little they can do to stop the energy drain on their own. The only way to “reduce the stand-by powers in the middle of the night is to unplug (the boxes),” said Horowitz, “and that’s not an attractive option for most consumers.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘Intense Interest’ in Improving TV

Apple(NEW YORK) -- Steve Jobs said it many times: Apple TV, the company’s small TV add-on, was a hobby. Tim Cook, Apple’s current CEO, has used the same term over the last couple of months.  But despite that, Apple TV has long been rumored to be more than a hobby — an actual HDTV or TV set with deeper features.

Now appears that the “hobby” has turned into an “intense interest” for the company. In an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, Tim Cook has spoken a little bit more about the company’s TV plans — or at least implied that there are plans.

“When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years,” Cook told Williams. “It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that.”

That’s the most we’ve heard yet from Apple about its future plans for the TV space.

Cook didn’t elaborate, but perhaps Steve Jobs’ words give us the best idea of what Apple might be working on.

“The only way this is going to change is if you start from scratch, tear up the box, redesign and get it to the consumer in a way that they want to buy it,” Jobs said in 2008 at the AllThingsD conference.

And then from Walter Issacson’s biography of Jobs: “It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Google Introduces Fiber: Fast Broadband/TV Service

 Google(KANSAS CITY, Kan.) -- Google detailed its fast new Internet and TV service called Fiber on Thursday, and residents of Kansas City can now pre-register to get it.

"Google Fiber starts at a speed 100 times faster than most Americans have today," Milo Medin, vice president of access services at Google, said at the Fiber event today in Kansas City.

According to Google, the connection will run at 1,000Mb per second -- much faster than Verizon's 300Mb-per-second FIOS service, which is also fiber based. Fiber-optic connections provide much faster speeds than DSL and cable.

The faster Internet connection will enable faster web surfing, video streaming, and uploading; downloading a movie will take just a few minutes. Google's Network Box, a box it will provide to customers, will serve as a hub for the service in houses, but it will also require special installation to get the hook-up. The box is also a Wi-Fi router and has four Ethernet ports.

Google's also providing the TV offering to compete against other cable and Internet providers. The company will provide the full TV channel lineup and an HD TV box that is capable of recording up to eight shows at the same time. The box has built-in Netflix and YouTube streaming capabilities. It doesn't come with a traditional remote; instead it uses Google's latest Nexus 7 tablet.

The pricing structure is also unique. For $120 a month Kansas City residents can get the Internet connection and TV; there's no construction or installation fee. For $70 a month, they can just sign up to get Internet connectivity.

On top of that Google is offering Internet with no monthly fee. However, to get it you need to pay a $300 construction or installation fee. There is no data cap on any of the plans, meaning customers will get unlimited Internet access every month. The free option is guaranteed for at least seven years and includes the network box.

Google is planning to accommodate everyone in Kansas City, Mo. and Kansas City, Kans., but it is requiring people there to pay $10 to pre-register now with their neighbors. The areas that have the most registrants will be the first to get the service in their neighborhoods -- or what Google is cleverly calling "Fiberhoods."

"We believe Google Fiber is best when you have a critical mass of users," Medin said at the event.

Technology analysts point out that this is just a project.

"It's all part of a larger experiment which is typical Google. Put something out there as a stake in the ground. Learn from the effort and iterate quickly," Michael Gartenberg, Gartner Research Director, told ABC News. "It certainly looks to be a compelling deal at face value, but when it comes to this level of effort, it's all about the details, levels of service and overall experience that matter."

Google has not discussed plans to expand its Fiber offering beyond Kansas City. If you live in Kansas City, you can pre-register here.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


DirecTV Customers May Lose MTV, Nickelodeon and More

DirecTv/Viacom/PRNewsFoto(NEW YORK) -- Nearly 20 million DirecTV subscribers may be saying goodbye to The Colbert Report, SpongeBob SquarePants and the stars of the Jersey Shore Tuesday night if the satellite TV provider fails to reach an agreement with programmer Viacom.

In its blog, Viacom says its 7-year-old distribution agreement with DirecTV is set to expire at 12 a.m. Wednesday.  The programmer says its been negotiating for months with the satellite TV provider, but DirecTV has turned down all proposals to renew the contract.

Viacom says talks reached an impasse Monday night when "DirecTV provided Viacom with a counter proposal that included a lower rate than Viacom receives from any other distributor in the industry."

DirecTV responded Tuesday morning by saying that it had offered the programmer "increased fees for their networks going forward" but said it "can’t afford the extreme increases they are asking for,” according to The New York Times.  Those increases amount to "more than a billion dollars extra.”

Should talks remain at a standstill, DirecTV users will be barred from seeing a total of 26 Viacom channels (HD feeds included) on Wednesday.  That means no more MTV, VH1, BET, Comedy Central or Nickelodeon, among others.

Viacom is urging DirecTV customers to contact the provider and demand that the company keep the channels.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Why DISH Dropping AMC May Be Good for Consumers

PRNewsFoto/DISH Network L.L.C.(NEW YORK) -- DISH Network customers who are fans of AMC’s popular television shows Mad Men and Breaking Bad may be up in arms about the satellite company’s decision to drop the cable channel, but consumers could use the opportunity to save money.

Jeff Blyskal, a senior editor with Consumer Reports, said potential DISH customers and existing customers should call the company and try to negotiate either a special deal or more add-on channels, such as six months of free HBO or another service.

“It certainly might be a bargaining chip when you’re dealing with a monthly fee,” Blyskal said.

In a Consumer Reports survey, 40 percent of customers who bargained with their cable and Internet providers received savings of up to $50 a month, such as a waiver of installation and activation fees and free premium channels.

Starting this past Saturday, DISH no longer offered AMC Networks to its subscribers after deciding not to renew its contract “due to the  channels’ high costs compared to their relatively low viewership,” according to a company statement.

Bob Toevs, a spokesman for DISH, said the company does not anticipate lowering its price as a result of no longer offering AMC.  DISH will instead provide HDNet Movies, Style and HDNet.

Toevs said DISH was the only paid television provider in 2012 that did not raise prices on base packages.

“It’s something we work very hard to minimize,” Toevs said.

DISH said AMC Networks required it to provide “low-rated channels like IFC and WE to access a few popular AMC shows.”  The satellite provider said AMC also “further devalued” its programming by making its handful of popular shows available to consumers via iTunes, Netflix and

AMC fired back by issuing a statement on Sunday, saying, "DISH claims to put its customers first yet they’ve taken away DISH viewers’ favorite scripted drama series, AMC’s The Walking Dead, which is the highest-rated scripted drama series in basic cable history, according to Nielsen Media Research."

“DISH dropped our networks not because of ratings or rates,” AMC said in the statement.  “In fact, DISH has not discussed rates with us at all.  DISH customers have lost some of their favorite shows because of an unrelated lawsuit which has nothing at all to do with our programming.”

AMC is suing Dish for $2.5 billion in damages after DISH dropped AMC’s Voom HD Networks.  The lawsuit, filed in 2008, is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 18 in New York State Supreme Court.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


World’s Largest Television? Sharp Releases Giant Flat Screen TV

Sharp Electronics Corporation(NEW YORK) -- Don’t you just hate not being able to see your TV from half a mile away?  Don’t worry.  Sharp has your back.

The company has just released what is said to be the world’s largest LED flat screen television. It is four feet tall and 6 feet 8 inches long, with a 90-inch screen measured diagonally.  The television, named the Sharp Aquos LC-90LE745U, is as long as NBA star Lebron James is tall.

Despite its size, the TV weighs in at comparatively light 114 pounds, largely because it is only five inches thick.

Consumer Reports has yet to examine the television in depth, but said, “Sharp has definitely take the lead in larger TV screen sizes.” It said the company’s televisions had traditionally done well in past reviews, despite a history of “relatively narrow viewing angles.”

The television is also loaded with extra features. According to Consumer Reports, “The LC-90LE745U is a full-featured, 3D-capable 1080p LCD set that includes an edge LED backlight, 240Hz anti-blur technology, built-in Wi-Fi, and Sharp’s SmartCentral Internet platform with access to apps, YouTube videos, and CinemaNow, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Vudu streaming movies and TV shows. The LC-90LE745U also has a full Web browser and can make Skype video calls when used with an optional webcam. The TV uses active-3D technology and comes with two sets of active-3D glasses.”

But make sure to check your bank account before lining up to buy this wall-sized set. The Aquos is priced at a whopping $10,999.99.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


CES: Samsung’s OLED TV

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- The biggest buzz so far at the Consumer Electronics Show comes from the new OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) televisions from South Korean manufacturing giant Samsung.

Production costs had previously limited the size of OLED screens, which is why consumers mostly found them in cellular phones, and in the only commercially available OLED television, Sony's XEL-1, an 11-inch model that debuted at the 2007 CES with a price of $2,500.

Samsung’s new televisions feature a 55-inch screen, an absurd 0.6-inch width, and a richness of color never before seen in commercial displays.

There’s a battle going on between the large TV manufacturers to build the thinnest model possible, with LG debuting its own OLED TV this year that’s only 0.3 inches. Of course, without an official release date, or price point, who knows when we’ll see one of these in someone’s living room?

ABC News spoke with Mark Jannot, editor-in-chief of Popular Science magazine, who said, “We’ve seen OLED TVs before, but this one is big.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Criticism After Lowe’s Pulls Ads from TLC's 'All-American Muslim'

Alex Wong/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- A decision by home improvement retailer Lowe’s to pull its advertisements from the reality series All-American Muslim, which airs Sunday nights on TLC, has drawn criticism from some.

The Detroit News reports that Suehaila Amem, a cast member of the show, which centers on the lives of five Muslim families in Dearborn, Mich., called Lowe's actions, “sad.”  Meanwhile, local Muslims referred to the matter as, “a slap in the face of our rich American diversity.”

A Lowe’s spokesman tweeted on behalf of the company: “We did not pull our ads based solely on the complaints or emails of any one group. It is never our intent to alienate anyone.”

The company has not said whether a campaign against the show by the conservative Florida Family Association influenced their decision.

The association posted on its website, “All-American Muslim is propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”

A Lowe's representative reportedly wrote back to the Florida Family Association: “Thank you for contacting Lowe’s. We work hard to listen to our customers and respond to their concerns. Lowe’s has strict guidelines that govern the placement of our advertising. Our company advertises primarily in national, prime-time television programs and on a variety of cable outlets. Lowe’s constantly reviews advertising buys to make certain they are consistent with its policy guidelines.”

Lowe’s also made a statement on its Facebook page, part of which reads: “Lowe’s has received a significant amount of communications on this program, from every perspective possible. Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views. As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.”

Amem said on Sunday, “I’m saddened that any place of business would succumb to such bigots and people trying to perpetuate their negative views on an entire community.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: YouTube Set to Launch TV-Like Channels

Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- YouTube is said to be expanding its business, with the goal of making your television obsolete.

The online video site is closing in on agreements to create the first of more than a dozen channels that will stream regularly scheduled content, according to The Wall Street Journal.  Programming will revolve around sports, fashion and other subjects.  The channels could debut early next year.

Google, which owns YouTube, would earn money from the channels through advertising, just as it does with popular videos it currently hosts.  The Wall Street Journal says Google's hope is to divert viewers' attention away from television programming and to their channels.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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