Google TV was supposed to forever change the way we consume content in our living rooms and revolutionize television. At this point, Google would be happy just to get a single major network on board.
Fox Broadcasting, which is owned by News Corp., just became the latest broadcast network to shun Google TV And block full episodes of its shows from beaming to GTV devices, CNet reports. That makes it a clean sweep, with NBC, CBS, and ABC all having already slammed the door on Google TV.
Fox was slower than the rest in making its decision as it was evaluating the platform, but according to one of CNet's sources, Google's "footprint was too small," at least for the time being.
The real reason Google is having such a tough time getting broadcasters to jump on board, however, is the general feeling that streaming Web content to television sets will cut into ad revenue.
Market research firm Nielsen put together some interesting, if not slightly disparaging, figures on the state of high definition programming. Here's the deal. The majority of U.S. households -- 56 percent -- own an HD television, which is "one of the most quickly adopted consumer entertainment technologies of the past 20 years." But even though the hardware is in place, standard definition programming still rules.
"Only 13 percent of total day viewing on cable and 19 percent of viewing on broadcast television is 'true HD' viewing, which requires an HD television and HD tuner that are tuned to an HD channel," Nielsen said. "In other words, despite the billions of dollars that Americans have spent buying high definition TVs, more than 80 percent of television viewing is still a standard definition experience."
Nielsen identifies a few different reasons for the disparity. First, some 44 percent of homes either don't own an HD set or subscribe to HD service. Secondly, most homes have at least one non-HD TV, of which about one-third of programming is viewed. And finally, that swank HD set in your living room still views non-HD programming about 20 percent of the time.
Peering into its crystal ball, Nielsen says HD viewing will continue to increase as kids and teens get HD sets in their rooms and as cable and satellite providers switch HD channels for SD where available.
With all the ballyhooing over 3D, Consumer Reports set out to find which displays do the technology justice. What they found in their sampling of 14 3D TVs is that plasma does a better job at beaming 3D images than LCD sets, mostly because the plasma sets exhibited far less ghosting.
"It remains to be seen whether 3D TV is just a novelty or a new product category in the consumer electronics space," said Paul Reynolds, electronics editor fo Consumer Reports. "But, our tests show that there are some fine 3D TV sets out there for those consumers eager for a new experience."
To conduct its tests, Consumer Reports used both exclusive 3D test patterns developed in-house and a collection of 3D blu-ray movies and recorded 3D sports broadcasts.
The Panasonic-brand plasma sets showed the least amount of ghosting, which "plays a big part in 3D quality."
The Google TV platform is facing its first major challenge as ABC, CBS, and NBC are all blocking TV programming on their websites from playing back on Google's Web-TV service, the Wall Street Journal reports. That means Google TV owners are unable to watch full-length episodes of popular shows like "The Office" and "Survivor."
"Google TV enables access to all the Web content you already get today on your phone and PC, but it is ultimately the content owners' choice to restrict their fans from accessing their content on a platform," a Google spokeswoman said in a statement.
This latest move underscores the divide between Google and major media companies, the latter of which aren't convinced Google's business model can fairly compensate them. What should be concerning for Google is that other networks might follow suit. Fox Broadcasting and Viacom's MTV both support the platform, but a Fox spokeswoman warned that "a firm decision has not yet been reached."
For whatever reason, TV makers are apparently confuzzled about the general lack of interest among consumers in paying a premium for 3D television sets, only to unbox them and be disappointed by a lack of 3D content. And that's on top of the nuisance of wearing a pair of 3D glasses. Yet according to market research firm DisplaySearch, the 3D TV segment isn't growing as fast as TV makers expected. Gee, imagine that!
It's not all bad news on the manufacturing front, however. DisplaySearch also says 3D TVs are on pace to reach mainstream status by 2014, at which point the 3D TV market will grow from 3.2 million units shipped (2010) to over 90 million.
"While TV manufacturers have bold plans and a lot of new products, consumers remain cautious," said Paul Gray, Director of TV Electronics Research. "Consumers have been told that 3D TV is the future, but there still remains a huge price jump and little 3D content to watch."
North America remains a particularly tough market to crack, as those in the good ol' U.S. of A. are more than willing to wait for price drops.
"North American consumers in particular appear to be playing a waiting game," noted Paul Gagnon, Director of North America TV Research. "Set makers have trained consumers to expect rapid price falls for new technology, and consumers seem happy to wait a little."
This, DisplaySearch says, is the reason why 3D shipments in the U.S. won't even breach 1.6 million units this year.
While 3D-enabled displays struggle to gain a foothold in mainstream living rooms, Internet-connected televisions are barging through the front door. According to market research firm WitsView, TVs with integrated NICs will balloon to 40 million units in 2010, or roughly 20 percent of the global LCD TV market.
And that's just the beginning. By 2015, Internet-connected TVs will account for more than 65 percent of the market with 200 million units in the wild, WitsView predicts.
Both Apple TV and Google TV will help drive this explosive demand, as well as the increased attention being paid to streaming downloads.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday approved a set of new rules for using the unused broadcast spectrum between television, otherwise known as "white space."
"As compared to the airwaves we released for unlicensed use in 1985, this 'white spaces' spectrum is far more robust -- traveling longer distances and through walls, making the potential for unlicensed spectrum much greater," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement.
"We know what the first major application will be: super Wi-Fi. Super Wi-Fi is what it sounds like: Wi-Fi, but with longer range, faster speeds, and more reliable connections. We can also expect, as we've seen now with Wi-Fi, enhanced performance from the mobile devices using licensed spectrum that we've come to rely on so heavily."
Microsoft applauded the FCC's decision, saying that their action will lead to greater broadband connectivity to consumers, while contributing to a new generation of wireless broadband technologies.
"With this vote, the commission is taking a forward-looking view of how to optimize spectrum allocation by capitalizing on evolving technologies," Craig Mundie, Microsoft's Chief Research and Strategy Officer, said in a blog post. "As a result, technology companies will be able to develop new applications that tap into the potential of white spaces networks.
Microsoft's own campus in Redmond already makes use of a prototype "White-Fi" systems, which Mundie says 'delivers more economical broadband Internet access employees traveling between buildings."
For this week’s installment of Old School Monday (but actually a Tuesday because of Labor Day) we’ve got a little HTPC Before-and-After. The After, of course, is our recent feature on how to build the ultimate 3D home theater PC. You should check out the article, but the long and the short of it is that we set up a beast of a system, able to play video in 3D, play and record up to 4 TV channels at once, and stream pretty much everything under the sun from the internet.
So what’s the Before? It’s this beauty, from The October 1996 issue of Boot (our predecessor):
If you want to know what the state of the HTPC union was 14 years ago, read on.
There's too much at stake in the emerging 3D market to let one company steal the spotlight, and so Sony joins Toshiba in trying to be the first (and best) to deliver 3D television sets that don't require donning a pair of special glasses.
"Seeing 3D without glasses is more convenient," Sony Senior Vice President Yoshihisa Ishida said Thursday at Tokyo headquarters. "We must take account of pricing before we can think about when to start offering them."
And therein lies the biggest hurdle. 3D technology is expensive enough as it is -- Sony just launched a line of 3D Bravia HDTVs that starts out at $3,000 (46 inches) -- and when you throw glasses-free technology into the mix, well, be prepared to get kicked in the wallet.
There's also the question of how effective this first-gen technology will be. Both Sony and Toshiba are likely to implement some kind of parallax barrier technology similar to the one being used on Nintendo's upcoming 3DS console, but they'll have to figure out how to widen the viewing angle to accommodate more than one viewer who plops himself in the sweet spot.
Vizio has begun shipping its new lineup of "leading edge" XVT (Xtreme Vizio Technology) Series HDTVs with Full Array TruLED LCD HDTV technology, a fancy term that Vizio promises is all that and a bag of the most delicious chips on the planet.
"VIZIO is solidifying its position as a technology and performance leader with the introduction of the new generation of XVT HDTVs," said John Schindler, VIZIO VP New Products. "Our dedication to high performance drives us to use the best commercially available technology. Each of our XVT TruLED sets uses a Full Array with local dimming that produces an unquestioned superior picture. Many competitive manufacturers have decided to use only Edge Lit technology in their flagship products, but edge lighting results in an inevitable compromise in performance."
The way Vizio pitches its new lineup, the company's TruLED HDTVs trump even the competition's most expensive models with uniform brightness across the entire screen, a much better off angle viewing area, and "vastly superior black reproduction."
Other features include 10,000,000:1 contrast ratios (dynamic, of course), dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, and up to 240Hz refresh rate (55-inch XVT553SV, 47-inch XVT473SV, and 42-inch XVT423SV models).
Prices range from $700 for the 32-inch XVT323SV on up to $2,200 for the 55-inch set.