Sometimes life throws you a curve…or a curved HDTV

Back in December we replaced our aged Sharp Aquos HDTV with a new Vizio model. As is my way, I spent considerable time researching the purchase.

At the time I knew what I wanted to spend, and had some guidance about how large I could go without getting into trouble. We were replacing a 42″ model and Stella did want something too much bigger.

Along the way, I noticed that there appeared to be a passing fashion in curved HDTVs. I say “passing” because in Q4-2016 the curved models were very heavily discounted, where their flat counterparts were not.

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Similarly, I’ve seen curved computer monitors offered at greater discounts than comparable flat models from the same manufacturer. Although the trend is not as pronounced with computer monitors.

I had my doubts about curved displays for general use. My suspicion seems to have been well-founded, since a writer at The Verge today posted a short and rather pointed negative review of their new, curved Samsung HDTV.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the display or the electronics. It’s just that the curved geometry virtually ensures that you’re going to suffer a huge amount of glare in any typical viewing environment.

I settled upon a 50″ Vizio M Series (M50-D1) as being the best choice. It was a newer model and very well reviewed in multiple places, including CNet, Reviews.com, Digital Trends, amongst many others. Everyone liked the product, which gave me some confidence.

I may have something to say about the Vizio TV one day soon. It lacks a tuner and comes with a low-end Android tablet as a remote control. So far we’re pretty happy with it.

Do you have one of the curved TVs or monitors? Do you think the curve is a good thing?

Surround Sound Bars & DIY Video Conference Systems: Vidyo or Vaddio?

Sharp-LCD42D62U-HDTVIt’s come to my attention that in recent times “Surround Sound Bars” have exploded in popularity. That’s “sound bar” as in a form of home-theatre-sound-in-a-box, not a smoky dive where musicians perform strange music. Sound bars are now so popular that they are impacting sales of more traditional HTIB solutions. I’ve come to see some parallels between surround sound bars and DIY video conference room systems, an idea that first came up earlier this year.

As I have mentioned previously, we don’t have a traditional surround-sound system in support of our HDTV. Our 42” Sharp Aquos HDTV was the largest that they offered with built-in speakers…which is all that we felt we required at the time.

In truth, it was the display size and resolution that mattered most when we made the purchase decision. In the middle of the last decade most 40”-ish HDTVs still only resolved 720p. Since my Mrs tended to watch more CBS than the other networks it made sense to get a HDTV capable of resolving 1080i.

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CNET On 4K & OLED TVs

CNET’s “The Next Big Thing” is a brand new show. They recently did an interesting segment on the coming wave of 4K/Ultra-HDTV and OLED display technologies. Even though I don’t entirely agree with some of their conclusions it’s not a bad primer on the subjects. It’s well worth the few minutes that it takes to give it a look.

 

I’ve long held that OLED in particular holds great potential. The picture quality offered by OLED can be outstanding. So much so that Sony has offered a line of professional OLED displays, even winning a Technical EMMY in 2012.

Priced at a whopping $26K, the BVME250A is the 25” model at the top of Sony’s present Trimaster EL lineup. In 2011 it won the Hollywood Post Alliance Engineering Excellence Award.

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Belkin Ships Dyle Mobile HDTV Tuner For iOS

Belkin-Dyle-HDTV-Receiver-372I’m not the biggest fan of watching TV on a tablet or cell phone. I know that people do it, but I still prefer the more traditional experience of a large television or even a decent computer screen. So normally the announcement of the new Belkin Wireless Dyle Mobile TV Receiver would not be all that interesting. However, I live in Houston, at the receiving end of Hurricane Alley. Such a device could be a handy item to have on-hand in a powerless, post-hurricane situation.

This little device mates to the 30-pin connector on suitable Apple devices. That includes the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad, iPad 2, or iPad (3rd generation) allowing you to receive local TV signals without any 3G, 4G or Wifi connection. It retails for $129.

Of course, to be useful the Dyle signals must be available over-the-air in your area. That’s true for most major cities in the US. There is a web site that lets you check your location by zip code.

Looking back a few years to the time after Hurricane Ike, local TV news was a important source of information. When we were without power for tend days we lived on an 8 KW generator shared with our neighbor.

That situation highlighted the need to conserve power, using only the essential things around the house. We initially ran the refrigerator, lights as required, our core network components and a laptop.

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Seiki Digital Offers 4K/Ultra-HDTV LCD Display For Under $1300!

SEIKI-UHDTVNews coming out of last week’s NAB2013 conference is that 3DTV is definitely subsiding. Some might say it’s dying, but I expect that it will hang around in some applications. Certainly the movie studios will keep cranking out 3D movies in order to sustain the logic of the theatre chains ongoing transition to digital projection.

In my mind the big news was the coming wave of UltraHD (aka 4K) which seems to have largely displaced 3D as the major entertainment industry trend. UltraHD is quite interesting to me. Of particular interest was the announcement of a 50” diagonal 4K display for a mere $1299. Filmmaker and entertainment industry blogger Andrew Robinson has a good take on this announcement.

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Measuring The Real Impact Of Smart TVs

Skype-For-TVSince the introduction of “Smart HDTVs” a couple of years ago I’ve been wondering just how much impact the built-in applications have on the purchase process, and the user experience. A new report from NPD Group sheds some much-needed insight into this area.

The headline of the report states very plainly that, “Internet Connected TVs Are Used To Watch TV, And That’s About All.” Beyond the traditional role of TV the leading role of the smart HDTV seems to be for using “Over-the-top” services like Netflix. Fully 60% of smart TV users report taking advantage of this feature.

The next most common use of the Smart TV is for listening to OTT music services, but that’s only reported as used by around 15% of the installed base. All other applications, including “video calling” services like Skype and Google Chat see use by less than 5% of users.

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