Microsoft has filed a U.S. trade complaint that, if approved, would ban TiVo from importing set-top boxes into the U.S., Bloomberg reports. However, the legal scuffle isn't likely to result in that.
"We have filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission and the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington against TiVo Inc. for infringement on four Microsoft patents," Microsoft said. "We have a strong and robust patent portfolio that we will vigorously defend against infringement. It is our responsibility to protect our customers and partners and to safeguard the investments we make to bring innovative products and services to market. However, we remain open to resolving this situation through an intellectual property licensing agreement, and we look forward to continued negotiations with TiVo."
In other words, Microsoft is performing a bit of legal posturing here and it's more likely that the two sides will come to some sort of an agreement as opposed to banning TiVo imports outright.
According to Bloomberg, the four patents in question involve program schedules and selection, controlling the interface, and a way to restrict use of the DVR based on the program's rating.
LCD TV makers know where it's at, but do you? If you said "3D," deduct 200 geek points for jumping the gun (guess again when glasses-free 3D displays become commonplace). For those of you who said "Internet connected TVs," you're getting closer. The real answer? Smart TVs.
According to DigiTimes, LCD TV makers will focus on smart TV technology in 2011, adding built-in processors and software with advanced user interfaces, fast content search, and connections with other mobile devices. DNLA interfaces will also become commonplace.
Samsung expects to sell 45 million TVs in 2011, a 12 percent increase from 2010, with 10 million of those equipped with smart technology. LG, meanwhile, is adding a new Media Link function to its LCD TV line. This will allow viewers to tap into content onto their home network.
Our parents told us if we sat too close to the television, we'd go blind. Some researchers say cell phone radiation could cause brain damage or cancer. Videogames apparently turn us into blood thirst miscreants hellbent on hurting people, or so we've heard. Here's another one to add to the list: heart disease.
According to a report in the U.K.'s Telegraph, spending more than four hours a day watching TV, surfing the Web, or playing videogames doubles the risk of heart disease and premature death, and even just two hours a day could be asking for trouble.
"People who spend excessive amounts of time in front of a screen - primarily watching TV - are more likely to die of any cause and suffer heart-related problems. Our analysis suggests that two ore more hours of screen time each day may place someone at greater risk for a cardiac event," said Dr. Emmanuel Stamatakis of University College London's Department of Epidemiology and Public Health.
It's the first study to examine screen time in relation to fatal and non-fatal heart attacks. According to the study, there's an increased risk regardless of other factors, such as smoking, hypertension, BMI, social class, and exercise.
"According to what we know so far, these health risks may not be mitigated by exercise, a finding that underscores the urgent need for public health recommendations to include guidelines for limiting recreational sitting and other sedentary behaviors, in addition to improving physical activity.," Dr. Stamatakis added.
Hulu Plus has become a holy grail of sorts in terms of app integration, and just as Indiana Jones was able to get his hands on the mystical cup in The Last Crusade, Vizio says it's managed to track down Hulu Plus and add it to its VIA (Vizio Internet Apps) platform.
Vizio also added Blockbuster On Demand, both of which you'll find embedded into several CE connected devices, including LCD HDTVs and Blu-ray players.
"Our Vizio Internet Apps platform continues to be the most innovative and compelling connected experience for consumer electronics," said Matthew McRae, Chief Technology Officer at Vizio. "Service and application partners focus on Vizio because of the seamless user experience, class leading features, and award winning devices. The result is a product that gives consumers unprecedented choice and access to the best of what the web has to offer."
Both of these additions are subscription services. For Hulu Plus, you'll have to fork over $7.99/month, while Blockbuster On Demand offers rentals ranging in price from $2.99 to $3.99, and purchases priced $5.99 to $19.99.
A company called Warpia on Tuesday unveiled a device intended to let you watch media from your laptop on your living room HDTV in full 1080p glory. It's called the StreamHD and it wirelessly transmits pretty much anything you want, including movies, pictures, Facebook, Hulu, and so forth.
"Our improved technology gives customers the all-access viewing they've come to expect from Warpia, along with stunning HD quality," says Marc Levaggi, VP of Marketing for Warpia. "StreamHD makes wireless home entertainment seem effortless."
All a user has to do is hook up the receiver base to their television using the included HDMI cable, and then plug the USB dongle into their notebook. Warpia says the device has a line-of-site wireless range of 30 feet, and if you have optical inputs, you can shuttle 5.1 channel surround sound as well.
You have to really put a lot of effort into setting up a home theater without some form of Netflix integration, even if you're not an account holder. Netflix, now primarily a streaming service, has muscled its way onto a plethora of home entertainment devices, including gaming consoles, set-top boxes, televisions, Blu-ray players, and more. The only thing missing at this point is a dedicated button on your remote control.
That won't be the case for long. Announced at CES, Netflix said it's working with hardware manufacturers to implement a red button sporting the iconic logo on remote controls for "certain new Blu-ray disc players from a vareity of companies including Best Buy's in-house Dynex brand, Haier, Memorex, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba."
In addition, Netflix says Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba will also place a Netflix button on select Internet-connected TVs. The button will offer one-click access to Netflix and underscores just how big the company has grown in the streaming media sector.
Here's something a little different - a new HDTV that isn't 3D capable. We'll let you decide whether that's a good or bad thing, but what Westinghouse's new 46-inch LD-4655 LED HDTV does have going for it is a thin profile.
"Our new LD-4655 hits a perfect sweet spot for home theater lovers," says Rey Roque, Westinghouse's VP of Marketing. "Its low profile lets it stand or mount seamlessly in any sized room, but at the same time, its generous 46-inch screen gives consumers the big picture feel that's so vital to a true home theater experience. It's very exciting for us be to able to offer this kind of styling and performance at such an accessible price point."
Roque says the LD-4655 will go on sale later this month for $900. That buys you a 46-inch panel in a super thin form factor measuring 1.7 inches for the screen and just over 2 inches for its high-gloss black bezel. Other features include edge-lit LED technology, 120Hz refresh rate, 6.5ms response time, audio chip and tuning by Yamaha, and low energy consumption (80W normal, 1W in standby).
Every year, Spike TV hosts the Video Game Awards (VGA) show, an all-out affair with much ballyhooing. With so many awesome titles to choose from, surely this type of event would draw fan interest, right?
Wrong, and we're sorry for calling you Shirley (we had to squeeze a Leslie Nielsen reference in eventually - RIP). According to Variety's figures, Spike TV's audience diminished for the fourth straight year, this time notching a 3 percent drop in viewership from last year and only pulling in 627,000 viewers. In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, what's the deal with that?
Take your pick. Maybe the numbers are down because the show is hosted on a Saturday when even die-hard gamers have other things to do. Perhaps Neil Patrick Harris can't draw in the kind of crowd Spike TV thought he would (have we broken the record for most celebrity references in a single tech blog, yet?). Or could it be that Spike TV's the one hosing the event?
No matter what the reason, there were a few consolation prizes. Adult viewers 18-49 were up 12 percent this year, while those ages 18-34 were up 5 percent overall, and 15 percent among men.
Did you tune in to watch? Hit the jump and let us know.
Have you found a good deal on an LCD monitor or large screen television? Perhaps you should pounce. According to market research firm iSuppli, global pricing for LCD panels used in televisions and computers is rising in 2010.
Keeping things in perspective, iSuppli is only quoting a 0.9 percent price hike for desktop PC monitors, notebooks, and televisions, but what troubles the research firm is that this is the first increase in pricing since the end of the first quarter. Ever since March of this year, panel pricing has been falling every month.
"With buyers preparing for this year's holiday season, the introduction of new models in early 2011 and for the Lunar New Year in February, brands and manufacturers alike are starting to buy panels again after maintaining strict inventory control for several months," said Sweta Dash, senior director for LCD research at iSuppli. "This, combined with lower level of panel inventories, is causing pricing to rise after several months of decline."
Looking ahead, iSuppli says LCD manufacturers plan to ramp up production, but it's still uncertain what effect that will have in December and the months to follow.
While major content providers continue to shun the Google TV platform, at least getting hardware vendors lined up doesn't seem to be a problem. According to a Bloomberg report, both Toshiba and Vizio plan to unveil Google TV products at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, 2011.
"We are very happy with the launch of Google TV with our initial partners Sony, Logitech, and Intel," Google said. "Our long-term goal is to collaborate with a broad community of consumer electronics manufacturers to help drive the next generation, TV-watching experience."
There's also talk of Samsung joining the fray, thought that's still up in the air. And technically, so are the plans of Toshiba and Vizio -- Bloomberg's information comes courtesy of "people familiar with the matter" rather than talking heads from each respective company.
No other company shipped more LCD TVs in the U.S. in the third quarter than Vizio, while Toshiba was the sixth most active, according to iSuppli.