Less than 24 hours after announcing the H9080 wireless headphones, Rapoo’s let it be known that its CES 2013 repertoire also includes a little something for the living room (or bedroom, depending on where you prefer to enjoy your downtime). With its Rapoo TV, the company’s touting the ability to turn any HDTV into one with intelligent features — essentially, though, it is a wireless receiver that allows iOS and Android devices to connect to it, allowing them to mirror mostly any content on the bigger screen. Of course, there might be some better options for iOS users (and Android soon, we imagine) in the market already, but the company’s still hoping some folks may have room for yet another set-top-like unit in their home. The company says the Rapoo TV will be available sometime in Q1 of this year, however there’s no word on pricing just yet.
We’ve been waiting to enjoy the promised extra detail and low power consumption of IGZO-based LCD panels for a few years now, and they’re finally starting to appear. The latest on the docket is Sharp’s new PN-K321 monitor, built for professional use with 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160) plus HDMI and DisplayPort inputs, and what Sharp claims is the industry’s thinnest frame at just 35mm thick. With an expected price of 450,000 yen or so (about $5,500 US) when it debuts in February 2013 it’s still too pricey for our desks but if you’re doing CAD work you may be able to design a budget it can fit into. We’re seeing them in phones, tablets and now monitors overseas, here’s hoping we’ll see plenty of these high pixel density yet power-sipping panels with US release dates at CES in January.
Sharp may look like it’s in trouble, but that’s not stopping it bringing new displays to the market, including today’s announcement of the AQUOS Quattron 3D XL TV line. Behind the mouthful of acronyms, these LED-backlit LCD panels are the first to feature Sharp’s Moth-Eye technology, designed to reduce glare and pump out bright colors, as well as a deep black. The company’s ‘four primary color’ tech is partly responsible for the rich output, which squeezes a yellow sub-pixel in with the standard R, G and B. All the panels run at 1,920 x 1,080, as you’d expect, sport a 10 million to 1 contrast ratio and use five speakers to deliver audio. Prices aren’t fixed, but the 46-, 52- and 80-inch models will be released in Japan on December 15th, while the 60- and 70-inch variants will come slightly earlier, on November 30th. You’re going to have to be quick on launch day, though — only 10,000 units are expected to be available in the first month.
LG Electronics has reported its earnings for Q3 2012, notching its third straight quarter of positive income with a net profit of 157 billion won ($138.57 million) and “solid” performances from its home theater and mobile businesses. Revenue is down from the same period last year, but seeing as it’s actually making money this time around it’s probably still reason to celebrate. On the mobile side of the aisle it reports an operating profit of $19.42 million with slightly higher sales than Q2, mostly thanks to those LTE smartphones it’s been rolling out. Its home entertainment biz noted a rise in LCD sales, with 3D TVs and LED-lit models growing from last quarter in most markets. Looking towards the future it’s obviously going all-in on the Optimus G (although our interests run towards the Nexus G that should debut next week), and also looks for its Ultra HD television to raise its standing as a premium brand.
After trying (and failing) to surreptitiously shepherd it through the FCC, then seeing it leak out anyway, Logitech has formally outed the HD WiFi Broadcaster webcam. The 720P shooter (not 1080p as we hoped) allows wireless transmission from 50 feet away to any Mac computer, iPhone or iPad, instant broadcasting on Ustream and the ability to toggle between your device or computer’s built in camera with a button push. The hard plastic carrying case with a magnetic lid doubles as a stand to elevate the cam, which Logitech says will “play nicely” with apps like iMovie, Final Cut Pro and FaceTime. Broadcaster is already up for preorder for $200 in the US and €180 in Europe, so if you want to show that you’re doubly beautiful with a multi-cam Skype call, the PR and video are after the break.
While we’ve seen the Google TV platform spread to additional manufacturers and some new lower-priced form factors, LG Uplus (not the same as LG Electronics) is the first we’ve seen offering a set-top box for its IPTV service based on it. new and existing customers alike can opt for the U+TV G, which will blend live TV streams, video on-demand and Google TV apps. Rapper Psy will be playing a large part in a national campaign to promote the offering, and after making Korea the tenth country Google TV is available in, Google says it will continue to work with providers around the world. Jumping inside the cable box is a notable move for the project, however at home hasn’t significantly improved integration beyond that originally offered by Dish Network, and it’s not even built into the Google Fiber set-top box.
Samsung has provided investors guidance ahead of its full Q3 earnings report that’s due before October 26th, and as has been the custom, the numbers are huge. It’s expecting a fourth straight record quarter with overall operating profit of 8.1 trillion won ($7.28 billion), an amount that would more than double last year’s results for the same period and clear Q2s $5.86 billion, all on sales of 52 trillion won ($46 billion). We’ll have to wait for the full report to see numbers broken down by department, but it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of Galaxy S IIIs (it ticked past 20 million last month) adding up to reach that pinnacle. Reuters and Bloomberg have predictions from various analysts on how many handsets, RAM chips and flat-panel HDTVs were sold, but if its legal battle with Apple ends in the worst-case scenario, at least we figure Samsung will have enough left over to keep the lights on.
Just because your Android hardware hasn’t been upgraded to the most recent (or, next to the most recent) version of the OS doesn’t mean you have to miss new features. Google has shipped a new version of its YouTube app that brings the preloading feature we saw arrive on ICS and above devices back in June to Gingerbread and Froyo. You’ll still have to be online to watch preloaded videos from your subscriptions or watch later list, but they precache while you’re on WiFi and plugged in so you don’t have to wait through buffering to show someone Gangnam Style at the bus stop. Otherwise, the initial Watch page has changed slightly, there are more channels in the Channel Store and you can also queue up videos to play later on any YouTube-enabled TV (Google TV, PS3 etc.) device you’ve paired with your mobile.
Nintendo showed off some of the Wii U’s new television functionality during its New York City press event — first unveiled during E3 2012 — including DVR and TiVO, and search across several content providers (Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant, and cable television, to name a few). It’s unclear whether the DVR functionality is built into the console or not, but we’ll be sure to find out as soon as possible*. Nintendo’s director of strategic partnership Zach Fountain’s calling the service a “personalized program guide” and he showed off how you’ll be able to interact with content — movies and television shows can be searched via text entry, or explored in a general category sense (movies, tv, sports, etc.). If QWERTY text isn’t your kind of thing, a rotary entry in the lower right corner offers another way to seek out content.
The service is only for US and Canadian Wii U owners for now, but Fils-Aime said the company’s exploring an expansion into other parts of the Americas. Nintendo TVii is free with the purchase of a console this November. Click on past the break for the company’s brief video demo.
Here’s yet another 84-inch 4K TV, this time from LG. The company’s 84LM9600 was announced last week and has already started shipping in Korea, but it’s here at IFA and poised to hit the market worldwide. Priced at about $22,105, this display is big in every way. You get a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 — four times the resolution of existing full HD panels — and what LG calls “3D sound” thanks to 2.2 integrated channel speakers. 3D is courtesy of the company’s passive glasses technology. So how does that all look?
We spotted the set during LG’s booth tour today. At first it seemed like “just another” 84-inch 4K TV (the form-factor seems to have exploded within the last week), but this flavor is rigged for three-dimensional viewing as well. You’ll need to view 2D content in order to take advantage of the full resolution, and the picture in this mode seemed to be on par with the competition, based on our quick peek at IFA. And how about 3D? The passive picture was consistent with the company’s other sets, just, well, much much larger. Will you be making room for this massive set in your living room? You might want to take a closer look in our hands-on photos below before pulling out that credit card.
Sony’s just launched a high-end home cinema receiver that’s finally good enough to pair up with its IFA-fresh Bravia KD-84X9005 TV or existing VPL-VW1000ES 4K projector. On top of native 4K for supported displays, the receiver will upscale standard HD movies, promising greater color, contrast and detail. For audiophiles, the system has 9.2 channels of surround sound for so-called Front High and Surround Back speakers, on top of the standard 5.1 speaker setup. A feature called “Movie Height” enables the sound to be virtually adjusted up or down to better match the screen position, and acoustics can be selected to match famous concert halls like those in Vienna or Berlin. Finally, you can take advantage of all that Hi-Fi and display tech by streaming from your laptop, smartphone or tablet through a LAN hub on the receiver. There’s no availability or pricing yet, but if you’re not too concerned about that money stuff, check the PR for the rest of the story.
As ever, Sony’s IFA press conference was a veritable storm of products, but CEO Kaz Hirai was clearly the most excited about the company’s new 84-inch 4K TV, the Bravia KD-84X9005, and after beholding the thing for a bit alongside a scrum of fellow tech journalists in Sony’s booth at IFA, it’s pretty clear why. The thing is beautiful — and yeah, we can confirm, as Kaz suggested, that you really do want to stick out your hand and touch the picture when you’re standing in front of it, particularly, when the video cycles through images of the ocean, with water droplets hitting the screen.
At 84 inches, this thing is a beast, with at least a dozen or so folks standing comfortably around it to catch a glimpse of the display. The Bravia is surprisingly thin for such a beast. There are speaker bars attached to either side of the display, with a control panel along the bottom. The stand consists of two metal bars holding up what’s surely a weighty set. Check out our eyes-on video after the break.
While Sony’s current lineup of HDTVs has so far topped out with the HX929/920 series that’s been kicking around since 2011, in Japan it has just unveiled a new top of the line model: the HX950. Often rumored in the last few months, it’s available in 65- or 55-inch varieties and features Sony’s now-trademark monolithic style as well as “Intelligent Peak LED” backlighting. Although Sony’s brand name for the tech doesn’t exactly reveal how it works, information leaks have suggested it is full array LED backlighting and not edge based, although we don’t know how many zones (individually controlled light sources) are in play. What we do know, however is that it claims to outperform the LED backlighting in the old 929 quite handily, although we’ll let our eyes be the judge of that.
It also includes MotionFlow XR960 (800 in the US) motion processing tech that can create 240fps from 60 frames and a glass panel mounted to the LCD itself with a special type of resin designed specifically to reduce glare. Finally, there’s also the usual add-ins like 3D and Sony Entertainment Network streaming video. We haven’t seen any European or US information for this model yet, although with IFA 2012 under way and CEDIA coming up that may change quickly. Currently pricing in Japan for the 65-inch is expected to be around 650,000 yen or $8,269 when it ships November 10th, but we should mention actual US prices are typically much lower than a direct conversion. Unofficially, one retailer is already listing the 55- and 65-inch models for sale in the US for $3,499 and $5,499, respectively, although we’d take that with a grain of salt until we know for sure.
Just in time to completely blow away that puny flat screen you nabbed for your dorm room, LG has announced its 84-inch ultra high definition LCD TV is ready to ship in South Korea. The company put its first UHDTV up for pre-ordering last month, at a price of 25 million won, which currently converts to about $22,105 US. The 84LM9600 does 3D with LG’s Cinema 3D passive glasses technology, however its ultra high pixel count means you’re still watching in 1080p even with the resolution loss since it starts at 3,840 x 2,160, and also features “3D sound” with integrated 2.2 channel speakers.
The bad news of course is that finding actual 4K res content is practically impossible, despite recent work on standards and even some testing by broadcasters. Still, plug this into a BDP-S790 Blu-ray player, certain PS3 apps or just output the latest video you’ve shot and it should be worth the price of admission, assuming you’re one of the (presumably) well-heeled Korean VIP customers that managed to snag one so far. If you’re not then don’t worry — the press release (included after the break) reveals you’ll have your chance once they start shipping worldwide in September, we plan to get our eyes on a production model at IFA 2012 in Germany.
If your contempt for green swine runs deeper then you can express on a smartphone, maybe its time you took the war to something bigger. How about a Samsung Smart TV? According to the firm’s Flickr page, Rovio’s Angry Birds are once again taking their war to your living room, and will be utilizing the the platform’s motion control features. Sounds like Sammy’s Smart Interaction setup is good for a bit more than changing channels and browsing the web from your couch. Don’t own a Smart TV? Sit tight, your Xbox and its fancy Kinect sensor will have their day on the battlefield soon enough.
When setting up a gadget for review, delicately unboxing and smelling the carcinogenic whiff of freshly molded plastics, we typically feel some amount of excitement and anticipation to see how it stacks up against the competition. It’s either that or a resigned sense of duty as we run yet another iterative evolution of this or that laptop through the same benchmarks to see just how this year’s model stacks up to the older model now being sold on discount. With the Nexus Q, though, we felt something different altogether: genuine curiosity.
Why? Well, it’s a high-end device with a $299 MSRP, a price that’s multiple times higher higher than media streamers like the Apple TV, anything from Roku and, indeed, Google’s own Google TV. And yet, the Q has considerably less functionality than any of them. Largely because of this, many who witnessed its unveiling at Google I/O were quick to write it off. Despite having our own doubts we pledged to give it a fair swing, a week of solid use at home and with friends. How did it do? Does this high-concept device with high-end componentry make up for some decidedly low-end capabilities? There’s only one way to find out.
As Google I/O 2012 rolls along, the YouTube team is updating its Android app to v4.0 with a load of new features, but you’ll need Android 4.0+ to take advantage of them (at least for now, see below). Available in 47 countries, the new app brings a brand new UI with support for channels that reflects the redesign rolled out on the website last year (not the circle-centric look that it is testing with a select few), and it can precache videos from your favorite channels for viewing later. All you have to do is select “preload” in the setting menu and it will pull down videos from your subscriptions and Watch Later queue when plugged in and on WiFi. To actually view them later you will still need to be online, but they’ll load instantly from the device’s storage instead of streaming.
Another new feature is integrated remote functionality to control playback on connected TVs and other devices. This apparently extends to more than just Google TV, as we’re told to “expect more updates later” on how this feature will become broadly available. If you’re not rocking the latest Android software don’t freak out yet, as the team indicates these features will come to more devices later. Developers should be excited too as there’s a slew of new YouTube APIs available, hit the source links below to check them out or download the app yourself.
It’s been a long, long wait for Vizio’s ultrawidescreen LCD TV to show its face: the company was promising such sets starting around this time last year that ultimately missed the October and subsequent March targets. Vizio is one to eventually make good on a promise, though, and has just started shipping the first XVT series CinemaWide set. The lone 58-inch model’s focus remains on that 2560 x 1080p screen, whose stretchy 21:9 aspect ratio fits what you often see at the movie theater without having to crop or adjust like you would with a typical 16:9 set. Whether or not you have a chronic aversion to black bars, the CinemaWide is still a respectable set in its own right, with edge-based LED backlighting, a 120Hz refresh rate, a Bluetooth remote and the common host of Vizio internet apps. The TV maker must be doing a form of penance for taking its time on the 21:9 display: the $2,800 regular price is a lot lower than the originally quoted $3,500, and you can pick up the CinemaWide TV for $2,500 if you act quickly.