Curved TVs? The Resolution Revolution Will Not Be Televised At Less Than 100 Inches Wide

If you have read my previous articles on TVs, you know I’ve been researching and shopping for a new TV for over a year now. Last weekend, my wife, who rarely, if ever, tells me to buy something, much less agrees to my requests to do so, remarked, “Just a buy a new TV already, okay?”  She’s tired of the 20-inch “temporary” TV we now use.

Curved TVs are one of the latest “innovations” in TVs and were on full display last week at CES in Las Vegas. (For a fantastic account of what happened at CES, see my colleague Josh Seidemann’s dispatches from the land of sand and nickel slots).

So, why curved TVs? Samsung says a curved TV is “a comfortable experience for the human eye, as the curved panel allows the distance between the user and TV screen to be the same from almost any angle.” Another selling point is that a 100-inch curved TV takes advantage of gamers’ peripheral vision and enhances the gaming experience. I know a gamer who likes to set up a three-monitor display in his living room for gaming, and curved TV would replicate this.

So, why not curved TVs? It comes down to the fact that the purported benefits will not be apparent to most viewers. Specifically, the benefits only show up on very large (100-inch or larger) TVs. Also, reviewers have noted that unless you are sitting dead center of the screen, it looks distorted.  Here’s a link to a great, albeit in-the-weeds discussion of curved TVs, and another article that discusses why curved TVs don’t make sense for most people which also includes a very funny discussion about how one manufacturer’s roll out of a new curved TV model went bad. Read more

Samsung Acquires OTT Provider Boxee, ‘Cloud DVR’ Feature Discontinued

Over-the-top (OTT) video provider Boxee recently announced that it is becoming part of consumer electronics giant Samsung. However, Boxee’s “Cloud DVR” service, which let users store programs online, is being discontinued. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, although online reports indicated that Samsung spent $30 million on the deal.

Boxee made several attempts to distinguish itself in the OTT field. In addition to the unlimited cloud storage it made available for an extra $10 per month, it also produced an attachment that incorporated an antenna to pick up over-the-air broadcasts. These features were intended to make Boxee more attractive to cord-cutters or cord-shavers.

Samsung, like many other television manufacturers, has tried to interest consumers in “smart” or “connected” TVs that integrate applications more often found on OTT devices. The user interfaces of smart TVs have often been criticized for being cumbersome. Presumably, the Boxee acquisition is part of Samsung’s attempt to revitalize its smart TV efforts and engage consumers’ interest in the product.

What They’re Watching

Online blogs and trade news sources began reporting on April 10 that Sony would layoff roughly 6% of its global workforce as part of its reorganization. Sony reported a $6.4 billion loss for fiscal 2012 precipitating the cuts along with several product changes yet to come. Among those, Sony will focus its television manufacturing to high-end organic light emitting diode (OLED) sets and “Crystal LED” displays. Read more

Google TV Slowly Adding More Partners

LG Electronics joins Samsung, Sony and Vizio as a partner in the development of Google TV. This past October Google released the long awaited 2.0 version of the middleware to less than stellar reviews.

While the Google TV idea holds promise for combining content from the Web and from conventional television distribution, it remains to be seen if the addition of another electronics manufacturer and new chip sets can help propel Google to a wider and deeper market penetration. Logitech announced this past year that it was dropping out of Google TV development after developing the “Revue” box which reportedly created a $100 million loss for Logitech.

Google notes in blog postings that there are more than 150 individual apps built specifically for the Google TV platform with additional Android apps available to enhance the television experience.

It will be interesting to see what the Google TV partner companies demonstrate at CES 2012.

Windows Phone 7 on October 11

According to the Wall Street Journal, Windows Phone 7, originally announced as a new platform in February will debut on October 11. The WSJ article reports that AT&T will serve as Microsoft’s exclusive “operator partner” for Windows Phone 7. Three WP7 phones will be introduced to the public on November 8 from HTC, Samsung and LG Electronics.

Windows has promised a more user-friendly design. Windows Phone 7 is distinguished by a series of “hubs” that integrate content from the Web, applications and services. Games from Microsoft XBox platform are brought to the mobile platform in addition to music and video. The new phones will also include a built-in FM radio.

Productivity features, including Office, OneNote and SharPoint, also will be integrated along with Pictures and a simplified photo and video handling tool.

24 Carriers Form Global App Alliance

Twenty-four of the world’s largest telecom operators are teaming up to create an “open international applications platform” — in other words an app market. The initiative is obviously modeled after Apple’s successful Applications Store.

The announcement was made this morning at Mobile World Congress. The GSMA and three device manufacturers—LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson— also support the initiative. Together, these telecom companies reach more than 3 billion subscribers worldwide, making this a noteworthy undertaking. (And begging the question, might the app model be the telecom storefront of the future?) Read more