When I was a kid, I used to have a collection of these things:
You might ask, “What on earth is this? What am I supposed to do with this?”
First, congratulations on your youth. Enjoy it, it doesn’t last forever. But to really answer your questions, this is a video home system (VHS) tape. If you wanted to watch your favorite movie in 1997, you had to use one of these. Or if your favorite movie in 1997 was “Titanic,” you actually needed to use *two* of these because the movie was too long to fit on one. And the movie’s length would also be extended by five minutes, as you would you have to rewind it from the last time you watched it.
It’s not often that you find a situation where an individual or an entity is competing with itself. Seems a little masochistic, doesn’t it? Is it any different from punching oneself in the face?
However, such internal competition isn’t that unusual in the business world. Sometimes a corporate entity will alter its product slightly in order to integrate itself into a newer market.
That is essentially what’s going on with Directv at the moment.
There used to be a time when you had to watch a TV show when it was scheduled to be on the network schedule, or you wouldn’t get a chance to watch it all.
True story, and it wasn’t even that long ago. Certainly within my lifetime.
Yes, there were reruns and syndication, but for the most part, if you wanted to watch the new “Seinfeld,” you better be in front of your television set at 9:00 EST on Thursday. I suppose you could have recorded it on a blank VHS, but you would get the surrounding programs as well. Have fun guessing where your show is while wearing down the rewind/fast forward buttons.
When it comes to the amount of seasons, it’s incredibly rare for a television series to make it to double digits. Even some of the most legendary shows didn’t even come close.
Seinfeld? Nine seasons. The Sopranos? Six. Breaking Bad is destined to be a television classic, yet it only ran five seasons.
When a show *does* make it to ten seasons, that really is a special achievement.
Right now, the American economy is relatively healthy. More accurately, it’s consistently growing. Of course, these statements are a little general; economic stability varies from industry-to-industry. For example, it’s a great time to be in the appliances/electronics business.
On the other hand, Hollywood is experiencing a downturn.
That’s not to say the film/TV business is on the verge of collapse or anything. It *is* to say, however, that box office returns are down. Not just a little either; enough that studio executives are reportedly alarmed.
From all reports, it appears the Google Nexus Player has sung its last tune. Having been pulled from most retailer locations a few weeks ago and no longer available from Google directly, for now, it appears Google is content to allow Chromecast to take the lead in their TV/living room-integration efforts.
Too bad, too. The hockey puck-shaped Nexus Player always worked easily and reliably in our tests and, other than the lack of 3rd party developer integration, seemed to be a worthy contender to Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Google’s fourth attempt at capturing your attention in the living room, it featured Android TV, voice search and plenty of app/games to satisfy most (rabid and niche :)) needs. One thing it did do was cement Google’s ability to design a functional and user-friendly TV program/app guide… Android TV was probably our favorite part of the Nexus Player and has recently been successfully integrated into 3rd party TVs, so if you were a fan, expect its market share to grow in the coming months.
But, as far as the Nexus Player goes, if you own one, enjoy but you’re unlikely to be able to upgrade or do much with it once its technology becomes obsolete (in a couple years or so). Its upstart counterpart, the Google Chromecast, is a solid alternative if/when you decide to switch. The little dongle that slides into your TV and lets you cast just about anything (radio, movies, TV programs, etc.) from your mobile device to your TV, has become quite the sleeper hit in cord-cutting circles.
Either way, keep an eye out for Google’s next foray into the living room. If we’ve learned anything over the years, they’re uber resilient in both technological advancement and market timing. In my opinion, the Nexus Player was a stepping stone to the next big (TV) thing from the folks at Google.
This is a price that I’m more used to seeing for a plasma screen than an LCD, but Best Buy is currently offering a 50″ LCD HDTV for $500. Now, I’ll grant you that it is an Insignia model, which is their house brand. And it is not a top-of-the-line set in terms of features; it’s a standard 60Hz set with three HDMI inputs but nothing fancy such as Internet connectivity or 3DTV support.
All the same, at $10 a diagonal inch, this is a pretty impressive price point. I have not tested this specific model, but I have seen some good quality Insignia models on the showroom shelves. If you’re in the market for a new set, this could be a bargain that is hard to pass up. (And keep in mind that you can make it a “Smart TV” by adding a network media player for $100 or less, such as one of the Roku boxes or the new Vizio Google TV box.)
It looks like this summer, as predicted, could be an excellent time to find some bargains on big HDTVs, so keep an eye out for deals.
In a recent letter to the FCC (as reported by TV Technology), head of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Gordon Smith cited new figures about over-the-air television in the U.S. in support of his statement about the FCC auction of part of the TV radio signal spectrum.
According to his statement, the portion of U.S. television households that rely solely on free broadcasts has grown to almost 18%. In a separate blog post, Smith mentions a study by GfK Media, nearly 7 million more viewers dropped their subscription services bringing the total who watch over-the-air exclusively has risen to more than 20 million.
If the subscription services are losing customers, it is probably due to a combination of cost-cutting by consumers and a switch to online-streaming sources over broadband Internet connections. It may be impossible to separate the two, but I expect that tight finances is probably the larger factor.
Whatever the reason, we cannot ignore the need for broadcast television for a significant portion of the population. Any reform of the free over-the-air system and reassignment of spectrum is going to have to preserve these services for those who cannot afford or choose not to pay for access to the information that these broadcasters provide.
Google TV is back. After an abortive first attempt two years ago, the second generation is getting close to shipping. Both Sony and Vizio have announced network media players based on the Google software, and LG has a new LCD HDTV with the feature.
Google TV is intended to bridge the traditional subscription television and over-the-air broadcasts with the growing choices available on the Internet. For example, you should be able to search for a specific movie, and the system will return listings from your broadcast choices as well as options for watching it online with streaming video.
Google also plans to expand the service’s Google Play options later this summer, offering new choices in addition to the 100,000 television episodes and movies that are already available.
With list prices of $100 to $200, the network media players from Vizio and Sony can instantly add next-gen smarts to any television. A simple upgrade like this may be enough for many consumers to decide to stick with their existing television a bit longer.
Blu-ray has taken a long time to catch up with DVD, and as I continue to point out, the disc business appears to be in decline. Is if possible tht Blu-ray could catch up this late in the race?
It could if the premium between it and standard DVD players (which is “good enough” for the majority of consumers) dropped to something approaching “zero.” And apparently now it has.
Sony BDP-BX18 Blu-ray player available on eBay
A seller on eBay is offering refurbished Sony Blu-ray players for $40. I have not tested this model, so I can’t tell you if it’s any good or not, but it appears that the seller has sold many hundreds of them. And it’s no “transportation special” stripped-down model, either. It has Sony Bravia Internet video support and a wired Ethernet connection, a front panel USB port, and an HDMI connector. According to the product description, it was “originally purchased from a major retail store and returned.”
New Blu-ray players still cost more than DVD players, but with deals like this showing up, I’d expect the price differential to soon become meaningless.