Among nine new models of LCD TVs on display at Sharp's press conference, the company introduced the world's first models with an integrated Blu-ray player, including the LC-46BD80U pictured here. In addition to the side-mounted, slot-loading player, members of the BD80 line offer Pure Mode, which senses the content format and automatically sets the TV's aspect ratio and other parameters. Three screen sizes will be available in February: 52" ($2600), 46" ($2300), and 42" ($1900). LCD/DVD combos have been around for quite a while, so I've been wondering who would be first to market with an LCD/BD combo; now I—and you—know.
Which would you rather have, more content options streamed from the Internet or wireless speaker connectivity? LG Electronics thinks you should have both and has introduced three Network Blu-ray Disc Home Theater Systems featuring content-on-demand options through alliances with CinemaNow, YouTube and HD titles from Netflix as well as wireless speaker connectivity. The speakers are designed by Mark Levinson, well known in the arena of high-end audio. This introduction follows on the heels of the LG BD300 Network Blu-ray player shown at CEDIA 2008. The LHB979 system is shown in the photo above and is scheduled to be available in the second quarter of 2009. A price was not available at the time of the announcement.
Sitting next to an IPhone, you can see that Netgear's new Internet TV Player is pretty small. Hook it up to any TV (and yes there is HDMI) and you can browse the Internet right from your TV using your existing home network. You can stream TV shows and videos from a wide selection of channels in full screen HD. There are icons you can click for key sites such as CBS, ABC, YouTube and more. Its possible to search via pre- programmed interests, too. Moreover, you are not restricted to just US sites, you can check out sites originating in Europe and Asia. The Internet TV Player will hit the stores sometime this summer for $199.
When the press conference for CISCO filled to capacity they announced it could be watched from the Press Room. Several of us headed over to find them still trying to get the feed linked in. However, once they did there was no audio, only the Power Point slide show. But wait, you can view it online. Everyone pulls out their laptops, heads to the URL, only to find a screen that says you must register first. OK! Logging in now...uh but you don't have the most current version of Real Player. Honestly, I didn't know that people were still using that. I haven't come across that in so long that obviously I didn't have the most current version. A quick download, but the site didn't recognize the plug-in. NEVERMIND
Seeking to expand its presence in the broadcast, satellite radio, automotive and gaming markets, DTS announced the acquisition of Neural Audio of Kirkland, Washington. The acquisition also brought aboard several executives from Neural who were instrumental in the development of the AAC and MP3 digital formats. It's encouraging to see aggressive business strategies like this in difficult economic times.
In what seems like a blizzard of interesting product announcements, LG Display—the company that manufactures the glass for LG's and other companies' LCD TVs—has announced it will unveil several hot items at CES. First among them is an LCD panel with a refresh rate of 480Hz, four times that of 120Hz panels. What's the point, you ask? Isn't that just meaningless marketing numerology? Perhaps, but perhaps not. I intend to find out for myself, so stay tuned.
One of the coolest parts of the drive from Southern California to Las Vegas is the Cajon Pass, especially if you're a rail fan like me. The Cajon Pass connects the So Cal basin with the High Desert where multiple rail lines weave through spectacular geography rising from sea level to over 4000 feet elevation. These mile-long container trains carry goods shipped from Asian ports to the Ports of Los Angeles or Long Beach and then to destinations in the Midwest or East Coast. Perhaps your next flat-screen television, home theater system or disc player is in one the containers on this train.
After the Cajon Pass, my next favorite stop is Bob's Big Boy Restaurant in Victorville, California for a combination lunch featuring the world's best burger (in my opinion), fries and a salad. Bob's Big Boy was my favorite restaurant until they closed in the 1960s, but recently re-opened to my delight. Bob's Big Boy is known as Shoney's or JB's in other parts of the US but it's the same great food!
The Consumer Electronics Show may not start until Thursday (Wednesday for us press folks), but LG has decided to get a head start on product announcements. In a move clearly designed to complement its Netflix-streaming <A href="http://www.ultimateavmag.com/hddiscplayers/lg_bd300_network_blu-ray_play... Blu-ray player</A>, LG announced today a new line of LCD and plasma TVs with broadband connections and embedded software that will allow them to display streaming Netflix content directly. Currently, there are 12,000 titles to choose from, 300 in high definition—clearly an underwhelming number, but one that is certainly going to increase as quickly as Netflix can encode them.