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.
Samsung feels its latest 70-inch display is too awesome to be called a high definition set, so instead the company is promoting it as an Ultra Definition LCD panel.
The 70-inch TV sports a 240Hz LCD screen with "ground breaking oxide TFT semiconductor" technology enabling 8 million pixels at ultra speed. And yes, this TV set handles 3D content.
According to Samsung, the technology used results in a ginormous picture that's four times sharper than standard 3D sets, while also maintaining a smoother image. 3D glasses, however, are still part of the equation.
Hulu announced on their company blog this morning that the premium Hulu Plus service has officially been opened to all interested viewers. Previously, you needed an invite to sign up for the pay service. As of now, the video streaming site is charging $9.99 per month for access to the expanded catalog of shows. There were rumblings that Hulu would be lowering the Price to $5, but that hasn't happened yet.
Paying users will have access to Hulu Plus on the PC, iPad, PS3, Roku, and some Blu-ray players. Hulu also took to opportunity to showcase the expanding lineup of Plus content including The Event and No Ordinary Family. Hulu Plus has gotten some poor reviews due to limited content. Much of what is available is also on the free version of the service.
Now that any random user can sign up, Hulu may begin hearing complaints about the selection. Perhaps some changes, like the rumored price drop, could happen somewhere down the road. Have you tried Hulu Plus? Was it worth it?
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."
It looks as though video streaming site Hulu is on the verge of dropping the price of their Hulu Plus service dramatically. The pay service, which launched in June for $10 per month, could be cut in half to only $4.95 a month. This may be an indication that Hulu has been unable to lure in enough users during the beta period to make the service viable.
Hulu Plus as designed to bring in a second, and presumably larger, revenue stream. But lacking selection has apparently stifled demand. Many of the shows Hulu offers additional content for on Hulu Plus are from the studios that own stakes in Hulu including Fox, NBC, and ABC. Most cable shows are left out of the Hulu Plus line-up.
We're forced to wonder, is this an indication that Hulu won't be getting a better selection? If they could beef up the catalog, keeping the $10 price point could be a possibility. Since they are lowering the price, that could be a sign that it isn't getting much better than this. Would you subscribe to Hulu Plus for $5 a month?
Microsoft tied up the exclusive rights to disk free Netflix console streaming, but all things must come to an end, and I’m sure most PS3 owners are more than happy to count this odd business deal among them. Starting today US viewers can download the new disk-free Netflix application from the Sony Store, even though the actual service behind it won’t go live until tomorrow.
Early impressions of the new Netflix PS3 interface is overwhelmingly positive with support for 1080p, 5.1 surround sound, and even closed captioning if the title supports it. With the Wii capped at 480p, the Xbox 360 capped at 720p, the PS3 which will support resolutions up to 1080p is starting to look like the superior solution. Very few titles will support the higher resolutions at launch, but this will no doubt chance fairly quickly.
Do you intend to start using your PS3 for Netflix over your previous solution?
It is common knowledge that Google’s wet dreams are almost exclusively comprised of browsers. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the search giant sees a browser in every TV. According to Rishi Chandra, a senior product manager at Google, the time when all TVs will ship with built-in browsers is near. He made these comments while talking to CNN’s Google blogger Seth Weintraub.
Chandra is confident that GoogleTV will escape the miserable fate of similar undertakings before it. He believes they got the timing all wrong, whereas “we are at a tipping point” now. The company expects GoogleTV to be a graduated hit, a la Android, rather than an instant hit.
Owners of the PS3 have been able to watch Netflix streaming content on their consoles for some time now. The only problem is that it required a special streaming disc to be in the machine. But according to Sony, a new disc-free Netflix streaming solution is coming to the PS3 on October 18. The application will be free and it will be installed to the console like other apps.
The interface is completely redesigned, and includes search capability. Users will finally be able to add items to the queue right from the PS3. Netflix on the PS3 will also be serving up 1080p HD video and 5.1 surround sound, when the content supports it. Other Netflix solutions are stuck at 720p for the time being. If that's not enough, the PS3 will also support subtitles.
The UI looks slick in the video, but that might be trickery. We'll reserve judgment until the app rolls out, but it will be nice to get rid of that disc once and for all. Any Netflix subscribers taking another look at the PS3 as a streaming device?
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.