Yamaha sound system soundbar, sub-infused receiver


We’re always leery of “world’s first” claims, but we’ve definitely never seen an AV receiver with a ginormous port on the front. The unorthodox device you’re inevitably peering at above is one part of the two-piece YHT-S400, which looks to provide cinema-like sound in areas where space is hard to come by. The 31.5-inch long soundbar measures just 2-inches high and is designed to fit in front of most 32- to 50-inch HDTVs without blocking the screen, while the accompanying “first-of-its-kind subwoofer-integrated receiver” provides the power, the bass and the connectivity. A trio of HDMI inputs are included, and HD audio signals from Blu-ray Discs are accepted via linear PCM transmission. It’s up for grabs now at $599.95, and if you’re hoping to add iPod or Bluetooth support, Yamaha’s YDS-11 and YBA-10 adapters are fully compatible.


Low cost Oppo on the way


One of the most well respected Blu-ray player manufacturers out there mentioned on its Twitter feed that it plans to announce a lower cost option in early January 2010. We interpret this to mean that during CES, in a few weeks, that all the details will be revealed. This is certainly good news for Oppo fans, although we really wonder what sacrifices we’ll have to make to take advantage of the lower price. After all, it isn’t like it’s as simple as dropping a few streaming features.

The new oppo will come with 1.4 hdmi cable chipset.


“world’s thinnest” 42-inch LCD panel


LG Display Unveils World’s Thinnest LCD TV Panel Measuring 2.6mm

Breaking the 3mm barrier in large LCD TV panels

A leading innovator of thin-film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) technology, announced today that it has developed the world’s thinnest LCD TV panel measuring 2.6mm.

The development of extremely slim LCD panel was possible by applying the company’s accumulated “slimming” technologies including the use of an ultra-slim, edge-lit LED backlight system and proprietary optical film technology.

The 42-inch panel weighs less than 4 kilograms – making it ideal for wall mounted TVs. Moreover, the new product offers 120Hz refresh rate technology with full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution for clear and sharp image.

In May, LG Display broke the record by unveiling 42- and 47 inch LCD TV panels measuring 5.9mm – the world’s thinnest panels at the time. By nearly halving its record in just seven months, the company maintains its position as the technology leader in ultra-slim LCD panels.

Dr. In Jae Chung, LG Display’s CTO and Executive Vice President noted, “With the development of the world’s thinnest LED LCD TV panel that is only 2.6mm thick, LG Display has once again demonstrated its technical prowess to satisfy customer demand for high resolution and slim design products. We will continue to spur R&D activities in order to provide our customers and the market with the differentiated products that they desire.”

LG Display will showcase the product and its newest cutting-edge display technologies in a private room at the Bellagio Hotel during the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2010 in Las Vegas.


HDBaseT tech carries HD video, audio and internet over Ethernet


Valens’ HDBaseTTM extends current digital connectivity technologies with first ever full HD multimedia content and Ethernet via a single 100m/328ft LAN cable

Valens Semiconductor, a fabless semiconductor company, announced today that it will demonstrate the first ever convergence and high quality transmission of uncompressed high-definition (HD) video, audio and Internet via a single LAN cable, creating a seamless end-to-end entertainment and networking experience in the home environment.

At the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), taking place January 8 – 11 in Las Vegas, Valens will introduce its HDBaseT™ technology in South Hall 2, Booth 27006. Valens is working towards creating HDBaseT as the new digital connectivity standard for HD multimedia distribution by overcoming the limitations of current wired and wireless technologies, while ensuring content rights for Hollywood studios and other content providers.

Valens’ VS100SK (receiver) and VS100SR (transmitter) ICs, the first to implement HDBaseT, will be commercially available during the second half of 2009. A source side implementation, VS100SR is designed for use inside Blu-ray DVD players, set-top boxes (STBs) and other HD source equipment. A sink side implementation, VS100SK is designed for use inside HDTVs, projectors and other display equipment.

With the growth of the HD market, consumers are looking for a way to connect TVs and other display equipment with entertainment devices, such as a Blu-ray DVD player, for in-home converged distribution of HD multimedia content. This demand to access and easily distribute HD content to any device at any time has caused consumer electronics manufacturers and content providers to push the limits of existing wired connectivity technologies, such as HDMI, MOCA and HomePlug, and emerging wireless technologies, including 802.11n, WHDI and WirelessHD.

While some existing technologies are limited in terms of bandwidth and cannot support uncompressed video, others are limited in terms of distance, reliability, flexibility, overall system cost and cost of installation – all pressure points for the end user. The demand for in-home converged distribution of HD multimedia content and the lack of adequate existing technologies are driving the industry towards a HD digital connectivity standard that increases distance of data transfer, expands distribution, extends the range, simplifies installations and lowers overall system cost.

Valens’ HDBaseT technology is optimized for video application and can connect all the entertainment devices at home by providing the 5PlayTM convergence of 8Gbps of uncompressed full HD digital video, audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, power over cable and various control signals. HDBaseT overcomes the limitations of HDMI and other current technologies as the first technology to enable long-reach wired connectivity of uncompressed HD multimedia content via up to 100m/328ft low-cost single standard Cat-5e/6 cable. This enables both point-to-point connectivity and full multimedia distribution with higher reliability, longer distance and lower cost cable, while supporting all existing and future content protection schemes.

“The market for HD content continues to grow and evolve as the end user increases content consumption. But today, connectivity and distribution of video, audio and Internet in the home entertainment environment are inconsistent,” said Dror Jerushalmi, CEO, Valens Semiconductor. “HDBaseT is revolutionizing the multimedia distribution of uncompressed HD multimedia content via a single LAN cable. There is no technology on the market today that is better positioned to be the future HD digital connectivity standard than HDBaseT.”

In addition, Valens’ HDBaseT technology offers a combination of media distribution and content protection that provides studios and CE manufacturers with a high level of content security and high quality transmission of uncompressed HD video, audio and data in a home environment.


Firewire : Keep Our Ports On HD Set-Tops


Opposes Intel’s Waiver Request to FCC Rule Mandating IEEE 1394 on Cable Boxes

The 1394 Trade Association opposes Intel’s request for a waiver to the Federal Communications Commission’s rules requiring an IEEE 1394 interface — also known as FireWire — on cable operators’ HD set-top boxes.

Intel in October requested a waiver to the FCC rule, which is intended to allow consumers to connect HDTVs and other devices to leased cable boxes, arguing that since it was adopted in 2005 “the marketplace has shifted away from little-used and very expensive 1394 technology to the widely-deployed IP technologies.” The chip giant called the regulation requiring 1394 “a technological ‘bridge to nowhere’” and suggested that HD cable boxes include an IP-based interface like Ethernet.

Without a waiver to the 1394 requirement, according to Intel, it would be “cost-prohibitive” to produce system-on-a-chip products for operator-sourced set-tops. According to Intel, a chip that supports IEEE 1394 costs more than $5 compared with “a few cents per device” for a chip that supports IP networks.

In a Dec. 9 filing, the 1394 trade group insisted that FireWire is “widely deployed and accepted by consumers.” It pointed out that, contrary to Intel’s implication, FireWire actually does support IP-based services and claimed Ethernet doesn’t offer any advantages over FireWire on that score. In April 2008, for example, the 1394 Trade Association announced its 1 billionth shipment of FireWire ports, of which 25 million are in set-top boxes.

However, the trade group did not in its opposition filing dispute Intel’s assertion that chips that support FireWire cost an order of magnitude more than Ethernet-based components.

Members of the 1394 Trade Association include Apple, Texas Instruments, Funai Electric, Hitachi, LSI, Microsoft, Panasonic, Sony and Toshiba.

The trade group also said Intel’s waiver request is too broad. Intel had cited the waiver the FCC granted to Cable One in May allowing the operator to deploy one-way, low-cost HD set-tops with integrated security in its Dyersburg, Tenn., system, under which the agency also waived the 1394 output requirement because the costs would “outweigh the potential benefits” to consumers. The 1394 Trade Association said the FCC’s decision in that case was much more narrow in scope than the latitude Intel’s waiver petition seeks.

Separately, TiVo also is seeking a waiver to the FireWire regulation from the FCC as it pertains to RCN’s plans to offer TiVo HD DVRs to its subscribers in early 2010.

“The 1394 interface is not widely used today,” TiVo said. “Adding a 1394 port to TiVo DVRs would add to their cost without significant consumer benefit.”

On another tangent, the FCC, as part of its national broadband plan, last Thursday issued a request for information on “video device innovation,” focused on how set-top boxes could help spur the viewing of video over the Internet.


SKY plans to show 3D Football games by 2010

skybox3dSky has kept pushing the 3D broadcasts to the home envelope and one of the benefits of its extensive testing programs should be 3D soccer broadcasts coming home around the middle of next year. The best news of all is instead of the anaglyph technology seen so far, this should be compatible with the 3D HDTVs on the way from Sony, Panasonic and others capable of delivering high quality imagery to viewers polarized glasses. Just like earlier tests this can all come home through standard boxes and satellite dishes, the only question is whether subscribers will be in a hurry to purchase the necessary display hardware –pending price announcements, we still think sports action is the best bet for 3D to gain a foothold at home.

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HDTVs energy efficiency improvements by 2011

That new HDTV of yours? It may be thin and light and lovely, but it ain’t saving you any money. The state of California knows this and has created new energy efficiency standards applying to any sets sold after January of 2011. The initial regs state a maximum of 1 watt of consumption when “off” and, when on, a maximum of .2 watts per inch of screen area plus an arbitrary 32 watts. Two years later, in 2013, things get even tougher, that formula dropping to .12 per inch with a 25 watt base modifier. There are plenty of TVs that already meet the 2013 criteria, most of them smallish LCDs, so it’s not an impossible dream. The bad news? An inability to sell non-compliant sets in CA could result in lost tax revenue. The good news? Reduced energy bills and a smaller hit to our fragile environment. The really good news? Any set greater than 58-inches is exempt, so go big, broheim.


HDMI logos updated


A response to cable sellers marking hardware v1.4 compliant before a test was even available or just another way for Monster Cable to ratchet up prices, we’re not sure, but HDMI Licensing, LLC has reworked the packaging requirements for all new cables and products. Cable packaging must lose version numbers starting today, while HDMI-equipped components can only use version numbers in conjunction with listing specific features supported, and lose version numbers entirely starting January 1, 2012. The picture above features logos you’ll find on certified hardware going forward, while we can appreciate being tied to supported features and not just version numbers that may or may not fully apply (*cough cough* remember the “HDMI 1.3″ PS3Fat?) there’s no way things get any less confusing when hooking up the new 4K or 3D capable HDTVs.


New mobile connectivity standard to connect mobile phones to HDTVs


Nokia Corporation (NYSE: NOK), Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (KSE: 005930, LSE-GDR: SMSN), Silicon Image™, Inc. (NASDAQ: SIMG), Sony Corporation (NYSE: SNE) and Toshiba Corporation (TSE:6502) today announced the formation of a Mobile High-Definition Interface Working Group that intends to create an industry standard for an audio/video interface to connect mobile phones or portable consumer electronics (CE) devices directly to high-definition televisions (HDTVs) and displays.  This new mobile connectivity standard, based on Silicon Image’s Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL™) technology, will be defined, promoted and marketed by the Working Group as an industry standard open to anyone desiring to be an adopter and enable the development of mobile products that adhere to this new standard across a broad connectivity ecosystem.

The Working Group’s vision for the next generation of mobile connectivity is to provide an easy and cost-effective implementation for manufacturers while offering consumers a simple and reliable mobile connectivity experience.  A single-cable with a low pin count interface will be able to support up to 1080p high-definition (HD) digital video and HD audio in addition to delivering power to a portable device.

The Working Group is expected to organize a Consortium of founding members who will develop a mobile connectivity technology standard specification that governs transmission and reception of high-definition content between portable devices and display devices, to support connectivity in accordance with the new specification.