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Over the last year or so Netflix has gone from something I would have never considered joining after experienced years ago with never getting the DVDs I wanted to see to something that I am very interested in trying. The change for me is completely due to the streaming offerings that Netflix has today. Netflix has done so well with its streaming offerings that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has stated previously that the company is a streaming firm that also ships DVDs.
Hastings was on hand at the Web 2.0 Summit and offered some insights into the values of mobile apps for Netflix and what affect those mobile apps have had on the bottom line at the company. Hastings said in a nutshell, that mobile apps for the iPhone and iPad have had a minimal effect on the bottom line for Netflix. Hastings went so far as to say people aren't interested in streaming long-form video to mobile devices.
When it comes to the flat panel TV market in the US one of the leading companies is Vizio. The company has been selling HDTVs for a much shorter time than other makers have, but it is one of the most popular brands in the country. This is due to the low prices and nice features the TVs offer consumers. One of the most popular lines of TV that Vizio offers is the XVT brand. Vizio has announced that it has added three new 3D TV models to the XVT series.
The three new models will offer 42", 47", and 55" screen sizes. The will also support Vizio Internet Apps and 1080p resolution. The sets all have multiple HDMI inputs, SRS TruSurround HD audio, and a 480Hz SPS refresh rate. The sets all also feature 802.11n WiFi for web connectivity and have LED backlighting.
I would be willing to be that a DVR or two is not enough for many of you. My kids use the upstairs DVR to record all sorts of cartoons and the wife and I record all sorts of other shows on the DVR in the living room. Several nights each week we miss shows we really want to watch in favor of shows that we like a little better. The good news is that Hulu lets us catch up on some of those shows, but the offerings could be better. Hulu Plus promised to make that line up better and at higher resolution.
The catch was that when Hulu Plus was first announced at $9.99 monthly, many people thought that was just too much to pay for the service. While the service has been in beta that $9.99 price has been reconsidered by Hulu for the official launch. With Hulu Plus now all official for anyone who wants to join the new price is a bit more palatable than the original with a $2 discount making the new price $7.99.
Sony is really reeling in the streaming services for the Playstation 3. With Netflix and Hulu Plus already on board, VUDU is looking to join the PS3 streaming party on November 23rd.
This video service, recently acquired by Walmart, gives you on-demand HD streaming up to 1080p with Dolby 5.1 Digital sound available. The interface will be familiar to VUDU users; at least until December when VUDU is planning on rolling out a complete UI refresh that will be more streamlined and even Playstation Move friendly. If you're looking for another streaming service, keep an eye on for VUDU next week.
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Google TV is cool and when it was first announced I was really looking forward to getting it on my set with the Logitech Revue box so I could watching Hulu and online shows from networks. After the device launched, all of the major networks and Hulu blocked users of Google TV from being able to access any of their online content making the Google TV service much less appealing. At launch, the only TVs to support Google TV were from Sony.
Sometime next year that will change. Samsung will be making an announcement in January that it will support Google TV. The specifics of their plans are unknown, but with January being CES time, we will most likely hear then what will happen with Samsung and Google TV. I would be surprised if there aren't some Samsung TVs supporting the service on hand at CES.
The Boxee Box official launch event has come and gone and the cats behind it have answered a few of the nagging questions many have had. The network blocking of their sites on the device were not specifically addressed, but two big dogs in the streaming industry are reportedly ready to jump on board: Netflix and Hulu Plus.
Netflix is officially on board; all signs are pointing towards the Boxee Box being Netflix capable by the end of the year. Boxee even pictured a remote with a Netflix button at their event. The timetable on Hulu Plus is not as clear; talks are only in their beginning stages but Boxee is confident they will be bringing Hulu on board sometime soon; even if Hulu will be initially blocked from being streamed on launch day. Adding these two big boys to their already impressive codec list should help in the competition against Google TV; now if we could only get the networks on board.
It looks like the line in the sand has officially been drawn between the big network TV companies and Google TV. FOX.com has joined ABC, NBC, CBS, and sites like Hulu.com in blocking their content from being shown on Google TV enabled devices.
These blocks are also expected to happen on the Boxee Box, which is having its official unveiling this evening. Rumors have swirled about Google being in negotiations with the networks about solving this issue but nothing firm has been verified from either camp. It just seems a bit silly to have a setup that is dedicated to streaming TV that, well, can't play TV. Score once more for HTPC users, I suppose; at least until the hacking community finds a workaround.
One of the great things about the Xbox 360 and other gaming consoles is that they are expanding beyond the realm of simple gaming consoles. For a long time once you got tired of gaming or didn't want to watch a DVD you were done with the console. Today we can watch TV shows we like on the consoles and watch streaming movies as well thanks to new entertainment choices. Many of the streaming options that we have in the US are not available in other countries.
If you are an Aussie Xbox 360 owner that likes to watch FOXTEL, you are in for some really good news. FOXTEL has announced that as of today the FOXTEL service is starting to rollout to Xbox 360 users. The new Xbox 360 service was announced in October, but just starting to go live today. Xbox 360 owners will be able to choose from different packages on the console starting at $19.50 monthly.
Home theater fans often need a bunch of different adapters and accessories to get their system working exactly how they want it to work. If you want a home theater with the same image on multiple screens for a video wall, you need some sort of splitter. Gefen has announced a new splitter called the 1:4 Splitter for HDMI with FST and 3D.
The splitter comes in white or black colors and can be wall mounted. It has a single HDMI input and four HDMI outputs. It works with HDCP for protected Blu-ray content and splits the source to four different screens with no loss in resolution or video quality. The splitter supports pass-through of 3D video and lossless audio formats.