Even though CES 2014 is long gone, some of the stuff announced there is just now starting to become available for purchase. Case in point: Sharp’s Quattron+ lineup, a series of 2014 AQUOS televisions featuring the latest and greatest, including a revamped SmartCentral platform. But that’s not what’s interesting here. Instead, it’s the Quattron+ technology, one that Sharp describes as being able to “accept a 4K signal and play it back at near-4K resolution, with an effective resolution of 3,840 x 2,160.”
The company says this is possible thanks to its Revelation Upscaler, which takes HD content and “optimizes it for the higher resolution screen, so that it’s sharper and more vivid.” By building Q+ TVs on 1080p panels, Sharp claims it’s then capable of pricing these lower than some of its would-be competitors. Now, is that enough to get you to buy into it? If so, you’ll have quite a few options to choose from — they’re up for grabs now in 60-, 70- and 80-inch flavors, with prices ranging from $2,500 all the way to a cool $6,000.
If you thought Time Warner Cable was late to the Showtime party, think again. Charter subscribers have been waiting for access since 2011, and now it’s finally here. Starting today, customers can join in with the the rest of the cable crowd and stream live (or past) episodes of their favorite Showtime production on its Showtime Anytime app, which is available on iOS, Android, Roku and the web. As long as you have a Showtime subscription, getting your Homeland fix is as easy as signing into the app with your Charter username and password. Additionally, the same programming from Showtime Anytime will be available from Charter.net and the company’s TV app in the near future.
Dish subscribers are no longer stuck if they want to catch up on TV shows from one of Amazon’s tablets — the satellite provider has released a version of Dish Anywhere for Kindle Fire HDX devices. As with the regular Android app, HDX owners using Sling-equipped Dish DVRs (such as the Hopper with Sling) can watch live, on-demand and recorded TV from any reasonably fast internet connection. There’s no word yet on support for the lower-cost Kindle Fire HD, but those who own Amazon’s latest and greatest hardware can grab Dish Anywhere today.
The BBC TV channel that spawned comedic classics like Little Britain and Gavin & Stacey looks set to be taken off-air as part of a cost-cutting drive. BBC Three won’t be killed off completely, however — if regulators approve, the plan is to make it an online-only channel that would somehow still serve up fresh content aimed at 16-34 year olds, but do so more cheaply. The idea isn’t hugely shocking, perhaps, given the recent pressure on the BBC’s taxpayer-funded budget and the increasing focus on iPlayer as an alternative to terrestrial broadcasts. Nevertheless, many critics have already spoken out, including the star of Little Britain, Matt Lucas, who said it would be “bad for comedy.” There’s a #SaveBBC3 movement gathering steam on Twitter and, if history is anything to go by, it might actually have a chance of succeeding — a move to shut down BBC Radio 6 was reversed following a similar outcry back in 2010.
Filed under: HD
CNN bought the news aggregation service Zite to get a fast track in the mobile space, but it never gained much ground versus Zite’s arch-rival, Flipboard. Accordingly, the TV broadcaster is throwing in the towel — it just sold Zite to Flipboard for $60 million. The deal brings a raft of previously unavailable CNN content to Flipboard’s news curation platform, ranging from articles to video feeds for shows like Anderson Cooper 360 and Inside Politics. The network has also agreed to produce custom magazines (shown here) that go beyond what you’d normally find online. CNN’s content is available today, and it’s launching alongside a big Android app update that lets readers sign in with Google, control article density, curb their data use and attach photos to custom magazines.
There isn’t exactly an abundance of major movie services that will send video to a Chromecast; for the most part, Google Play Movies and Netflix still rule the roost. It’s a good thing, then, that Vudu has announced plans to support the TV media adapter through both updated mobile apps and Chrome on the desktop. The provider won’t say just when Chromecast support is coming other than “soon,” but early adopters can register for a beta test. Either way, it’s clear that Vudu still wants its video platform on every living room device you own.
The new streaming stick is a sequel of sorts to a stick that Roku introduced last year that only worked with select Roku-ready TV’s. The new stick comes with a full-fledged remote control and largely replicates the functionality of the full-sized Roku 3 set-top box, though it lacks an Ethernet jack and support for gaming. Users get access to more than 1,000 Roku channels, including Plex, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, Spotify, Major League Baseball, Showtime, WatchESPN and many more.
“The new Roku Streaming Stick gives consumers more choice for streaming entertainment to the TV than any other device,” said Jim Funk, senior vice president of product management at Roku. “Consumers want a ton of entertainment, an easy way to search for movies and TV shows, and options to control the experience with a remote or mobile device. This new Roku Streaming Stick brings all that and more – and in a tiny form factor.”
The Roku Streaming Stick connects to the Internet via 802.11n Wi-Fi and plugs into the USB port present on most modern flat-screen TVs for power. It is available for pre-order for $50 from Roku’s website or on Amazon.com.
The days of true music television may be long gone, but Microsoft has just introduced the next best thing. Xbox Music on the Xbox One now offers more than 92,000 music videos; if a given song has a matching video, you’ll see that instead of having to settle for plain old audio. You can also browse music videos if you demand visuals for every track. If you’re looking for something to do before the Xbox One’s big update hits — or just want to indulge in some TV nostalgia — you can check out the Xbox Music update today.
Source: Xbox Wire
TV networks have long been embroiled in a legal battle with Dish over ad skipping built into the Hopper DVR, but the two sides are finally starting to lay down their arms — and there may be a few perks for viewers as a result. Disney and Dish have reached a TV distribution deal that gives Dish the rights to stream Disney-owned channels online, both through services like WatchESPN as well as an internet-based TV service from Dish itself. In other words, you may not need a satellite dish to start watching. There is a catch, of course. Both companies have agreed to drop their lawsuits, but Dish will have to prevent Hopper owners from skipping ads on Disney-produced shows until three days after they air. The move should appease Disney advertisers that depend on three-day audience ratings. The agreement should still give Dish subscribers more ways to watch TV, but it could lead to other broadcasters demanding ad skipping limits — and one of the Hopper’s main features could be much less useful.
During Apple’s annual stockholders meeting in Cupertino today, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that Apple sold more than $1 billion worth of its Apple TV set-top box in 2013, putting sales at close to 10 million units for the year.
This is a roughly double the 5 million it sold in fiscal 2012, which was double its Apple TV sales in 2011. Cook has traditionally called the Apple TV a “hobby”, but said today that “it’s a little more difficult to call it a hobby these days”. Horace Dediu created a chart showing the impressive growth of Apple TV sales over the past several years, making it the fastest growing device in Apple’s hardware lineup.
It has been repeatedly rumored that Apple is working on an improved set-top box and also a full-fledged television set. A new set-top box is expected to be introduced in the next couple of months, though it’s unclear when the device itself would go on sale. A recent report said Apple would be introducing an SDK for Apple TV application development with an accompanying App Store launching to the public later in 2014.
Apple also launched a sale on the Apple TV at the company’s online and retail outlets in the U.S., giving out a $25 iTunes Gift Card with purchase of the $99 device — an unusual move for the company which only rarely offers sales on its devices.