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If you are one of the folks that coughed up big money for one of the early models of Sony's 4K TVs, you might be bummed now to realize that streaming services like Netflix are using a format your set doesn't support. Sony is trying to fix that issue with the launch of a new streaming media player for 4K content that adds in support for HEVC.
Netflix is using HEVC H.265 for streaming its shows like House of Cards. Out of the box, Sony 4k sets before the recent 2014 models didn't support that format. The FMP-X5 media player brings support for that format to the older TVs. This is defiantly a product for early adopters since very little content is out there right now.
There are two basic types of TV shoppers. The sort that wants the largest screen they can afford and the sort that will get a smaller screen if the TV looks cool. Sceptre makes a wide range of budget TV offerings and has announced a new line of TVs that will go down well with the crowd wanting a TV that looks cool.
The line is called the X322XV-HDR Color and the big feature is a case bright enough to make the 80's wince. The TVs come in pink, purple, or white cases. They all share the same hardware with 32-inch LED backlit screens.
Apple TV has been a hot topic the last few weeks with word of a new set-top box coming soon, and the addition of several new apps, but none of that was quite as interesting as today's news. During today's call to investors, Apple said that it has sold more than $20 million Apple TV units in the second quarter of 2014.
Apple says that its Apple TV product now represents a billion dollar market and as such, the company no longer views it as a hobby. While I see this as a stretch, Apple TV is becoming a powerhouse in the set-top box market, and with its recent deal to bring HBO-Go to the device, it could be a real contender in the second half of 2014.
For those of you who have been borrowing your friends HBO Go accounts to watch its TV series can now watch them through Amazon Prime if you are a Prime member of course. Today Amazon announced that it has partnered with HBO to bring many of the company's most popular shows to its premium member service. Unfortunately Game of Thrones was not a part of the deal.
HBO says that The Sopranos, Eastbown & Down, Enlightened, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, Rome, The Wire, and Flight of the Conchords will be available. Select seasons of Boardwalk Empire, True Blood, and Treme will also be available on Amazon Prime, but it is not clear how the selection process is handled. Additionally the early seasons of Girls, The Newsroom, and Veep will be included but only once they have passed the three-year anniversary of their first airing. This means that True Detectives will remain a HBO Go exclusive until 2017.
When it comes to set top boxes to bring steaming media to your big screen in the living room, some of the most popular products are the line of devices from Roku. For a long time Roku devices were missing access to one of the most popular streaming video portals online- YouTube.
In December of 2013, that changed when YouTube came to the Roku 3 set top box. That still left a lot of Roku fans unable to stream YouTube videos without slinging them over from a smartphone. Roku has announced this week that all current generation Roku devices now have access to the YouTube app.
Media streaming has been slowly replacing cable subscriptions for people for the last few years, and in the past 12 months, it has exploded with help from set-top boxes and HDMI dongles such as Google's Chromecast. As such, media streaming apps and services have been popping up left and right, and now it appears that AT&T wants its cut of the action as well.
Today AT&T announced that it has partnered up with the Chernin Group to develop the next major media streaming service that would be a direct competitor to the current number one, Netflix. AT&T says that together, the partnership has committed $500 million in funding the new service, and are currently working out how the service would work. Luckily for AT&T, the Chernin Group already owns such a service, called Crunchroll.
"A critical part of The Chernin Group's strategy has been our significant focus on the online video industry, and joining forces with AT&T only further underscores our strategic commitment in this area as operators, investors and programmers," said Peter Chernin, Chairman and CEO, The Chernin Group. "Consumers are increasingly viewing video content on their phones, tablets, computers, game consoles and connected TVs on mobile and broadband networks. AT&T's massive reach on those platforms across mobile and broadband and their commitment to the online video space make them the perfect fit for this venture with us."
Sanyo has pulled the wraps off its new 2014 line of HDTVs. The entire line supports 1080p resolution. Sanyo offers no 720p TVs or 4K TVs this year. All of the TVs in the line are LED backlit making them more power efficient than older CCFL TVs.
The new range includes sets that run from 24-inches up to 65-inches. Sanyo is selling the new line through Walmart and Sam's Club around the country. Features are shared across the entire range with the big difference being screen size. All of the TVs have three HDMI inputs.
Today Apple announced that it has expanded its Apple TV offerings to include several top channels from the A&E network. Apple TV users now have access to the Lifetime, A&E and History Channel apps but there is a catch. To view shows from these channels, Apple TV owners will also have to be active subscribers to a cable package that features them, specifically from DirecTV, Verizon FiOS, and Cablevision Optimum.
Today's additions are part of a larger build up of content that Apple has been pushing for the last few months in an effort to compete with Roku and Google's Chromecast. Unfortunately Apple TV content is still very limited, and with deals being made that force people to subscribe to cable to use features on the set-top box, I think that Apple TV will still remain in the niche market of Apple champions.
Reports are making the rounds that owners of the first generation Apple TV are having problems that are keeping them from connecting to iTunes. Users are reporting on the support forums for the device that performing standard fixes like reboots and restoring aren't fixing the connectivity issue.
The issue started about the same time iPhone users on iOS 6 reported they could no longer access FaceTime. Apple's fix for that issue was to tell people top upgrade to a newer version of iOS. Apple has yet to say officially when or if the first generation Apple TV device will be fixed.
Orange is the New Black is one of my favorite shows, so my personal recommendation is: if you haven't watched it, do it. You will not regret it, but Netflix has just unleashed the full trailer to season two, something you can watch below:
It looks great, continuing off of the massive cliffhanger of the first season. Orange is the New Black's season season debuts on June 6, where Netflix will do what all networks should do: making all of the episodes available at once.