As I mentioned in my post yesterday about Netflix, one of the obstacles video-streaming services are going to have to overcome is the quality of the files they're sending to big HDTVs. Apple has recently introduced 720p HD files on iTunes to download to its Apple TV device, but lesser-known Vudu may have gone one better with its new high-def format for its own streaming devices.
Sean Portnoy covers HDTVs, Blu-ray, home theater equipment, and anything else that turns the living room into your media center.
Sean Portnoy is a former executive editor at Computer Shopper magazine and editor at CNET Networks.
Netflix news: Starz catalog added to online service, streaming to PS3, Xbox 360 through PlayOn beta software
The Netflix ecosystem is expanding as the popular DVD rental company tries to bulk up its online video streaming business in anticipation of the day when fewer and fewer people want to watch movies after waiting to get a disc in the mail. Last week, the company announced a deal with CBS and Disney to stream current-season shows, and now it has partnered with cable movie channel Starz to let Netflix members view online the Starz Play broadband subscription movie service.
Israeli semiconductor company Celeno Communications claims it's developed a new chip that allows you to stream up to four different pieces of HD content over a Wi-Fi network.Considering that even streaming one piece of high-def video over the latest networking technology, Draft N (the draft version of the still-yet-to-be-officially-ratified 802.
Never mind the fact that most people can't tell the difference in sets smaller than 50 inches, never mind that there's not much available content if you don't own a Blu-ray player or a next-gen game console: You have to have 1080p. Or at least that's what you might think if you listen to HD gurus.
Slingbox lovers have been waiting for the day the PRO-HD version would be availableand that time is now. While you could pre-order the device a couple of weeks ago, Sling Media has officially announced that it is now shipping, finally bringing the ability to stream HD recordings to a laptop (or soon a remote HDTV) to the Slingbox.
Figuring that people would rather hide home theater components in the back of their TVs than somewhere else, or, God forbid, actually display them out in the open, Sony built into its recent Bravia LCD HDTVs the ability to accept modules that could bring additional functionality to the sets.
After vacating the consumer electronics space (or letting companies like Thomson use the brand name for their own devices), GE is planning a return to the living room with a new company that will creates HDTVs with the help of display manufacturer Tatung. Blandly called General Displays & Technologies, the firm says it will be introducing sets under the GE name in spring 2009.
Last year saw Dell, Sony, and Gateway racing to bring out all-in-one desktop PCs that were clearly influenced by the success of the Apple iMac. And earlier this year, HP updated its TouchSmart PC with a friendlier iMac-style design and improved touch-screen interface.
If you just aren't satisfied with a 50-inch plasma or 52-inch LCD, a front projector can provide a much larger image (like 100 inches), and increasingly projectors are sporting more home theater-friendly features. You can find a growing number offering full 1080p HD resolutions, for instance, and now LCD-based projectors are beginning to provide the latest must-have feature for LCD HDTVs: 120Hz refresh rates.
The move to mainstream Blu-ray continues with the latest low-cost player announcement. Memorex, best known for its blank media (and its "Is it live or Memorex?