The HDBaseT cable combines audio and video signals, USB, network and even power into one single cable and is set to replace HDMI when it starts hitting shop shelves later this year.
The cable was designed by the HDBaseT alliance which represents a culmination of efforts from Sony, Samsung, LG and Valens. By combining all of the normal connections found in the home the companies hope to make the new industry standard. Most current generation displays will probably be incompatable due to their lack of an ethernet port which supports the cable. The HDBaseT alliance insists that new cables won’t need to be purchased due to the technology working with current network wiring, ethernet cables and an RJ-45 connector.
In an interview with ThinQ.co.uk a spokesman for the HDBaseT alliance explained that the cable allows “a network of sources – such as digital video recorders (DVR), Blu-ray disc players, game consoles, PCs and mobile devices – to be connected directly to displays in multiple locations”.
Current HDMI 1.4 cables allow sterescopic 3D signals to be sent to a TV as well as normal and high definition content. The HDBaseT is capable of doing the same but also adds the ability to use a 100Mb/sec ethernet connection and up to 100W of charging power.
The chairman of the HDBaseT Alliance, Ariel Sobelman hopes the cable will take over as the next generation TV standard.
“HDBaseT technology is poised to become the unrivaled next-generation home networking transport”
At a recent London shindig to promote its3D television sets, Samsung revealed that the active shutter glasses used to view its glorious, mighty , breathtaking 3D content are based on the same technology as Panasonic’s, only they’re reversed. That is to say, using your Sammy 3D specs to view Panasonic’s 3DTVs won’t work — unless you flip them upside down. You read that right, the two companies have opted for different implementations of the same technology, resulting in the farcical outcome that glasses will be interchangeable between their sets only if you’re happy to wear them upside down. How that’s gonna help the 3D takeup effort, we don’t know, but Samsung R&D chief Simon Lee does see a light at the end of this dim, poorly focused tunnel, stating that manufacturers are likely to agree a common active shutter glasses standard “as early as next year.” You might wanna look XpanD’s way if you want universal compatibility before then, or away in disgust if you’re already tired of all the absurdity surrounding 3D.
Not sure why we’ve been putting this off, but we’ll just come right out and say it: there’s no doubt that this was the year for 3D at CES. We walked the show floor for countless hours and can tell you that just about everyone was showing something related to 3D at their booths. Most of these demos required a bit of a wait to experience them (thanks, hype), and everywhere you went people were talking about 3D. Granted, not all of that talk was positive, but it was talk nonetheless. Whether or not the technology will be seen in history as a success in the market place is obviously still up in the air, and much like a finely crafted episode of Lost, 3D at CES this year was littered with more questions than answers.
Who will be the first, the best?
Someone has to be the first to market, and someone the best — though not necessarily the same company — but based on CES demos and announcements, that someone appears to be Panasonic. This isn’t much of a surprise since Panasonic has been doing lots of 3D demos since CES last year, and it even drove a truck around the country showing it off. But while Panasonic had the best 3D demo this year, it might not be first to market, as DLP fans will tell you they were first (and by years). That said, this new 3D technology isn’t exactly the same as what Mitsubishi and Samsung have been doing, but the new formats will be backwards compatible. Mitsubishi announced a new converter box that will allow the newer sequential 3D to checkerboard 3D that its DLP sets support, and it is assumed this same box will work on Samsung DLPs and plasmas. These aren’t the only front runners, ‘course. In fact Sony, Samsung, LG, Toshiba and Vizio were all talking 3D in press releases and showing live action demos. Like the rest of the HD market, most of the new 3DTVs were LCDs, and although LG did announce new plasmas, none were of the 3D variety like Samsung and Panny. Only Vizio dared to put a price on 3D, and some manufacturers wouldn’t even give model numbers, so it’s hard to tell exactly when this technology is going to come home (and how badly it’ll dent the wallet when it does). Still, we’d be shocked to see ship dates slip beyond 2010, and if we were the betting type, we’d guess that the first wave will land in the summer.
3D Blu-ray players will obviously play an important role as in-home 3D attempts to blossom, and Broadcom was on hand showing off its new chip for these very decks. We’re guessing said chip will find a home in the new players announced by Samsung, Toshiba, Panasonic and Sony, though no one has yet to come clean and make that clarification. Interestingly, the maker of one of our favorite Blu-ray players didn’t announce a 3D version, and while we’re not sure what LG is waiting for (market acceptance, perhaps?), we’d be shocked if we didn’t see one at some point this year.
RealD is a winner, again
Just like in the theater, RealD seemed to have the most traction at home. What’s different is that while the RealD glasses you’ve worn at the theater were less than $1 and of the circular polarized variety, the RealD glasses that Samsung, Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba are using are active shutter glasses — only JVC is using circular polarized. There were other glasses on display though — Gunnar Optiks was showing some more stylish ones, and XpanD was showing active shutter with Bluetooth instead of IR, which is the same tactic that Vizio is using. XpanD also told us that its IR active shutter glasses would work with other 3DTVs, which makes some sense since the main 3D demo at Panasonic’s booth was using XpanD glasses, not RealDs.
What about content?
Just ask Samsung or Mitsubishi and they’ll tell you that 3DTV is nothing without content. We learned all about the 3D Blu-ray spec and that the PS3 would do 3D before CES, but during the show we were able to dig in deeper and reveal that the Blu-ray spec isn’t what it could be. Even before DirecTV had a chance to make an announcement at CES, someone let slip that the carrier would have 3D programming this year — and it brought a 3D demo (which looked great) to CES. Couple this with announcements from ESPN as well as Sony, IMAX and Discovery, and you’ve got the promise of some compelling 3D content at home very soon. ESPN has promised World Cup Soccer this year and the BCS National Championship game in 2011 with other events scattered in between, but while we expect a few IMAX movies from Sony and Discovery, so far the exact programming picture is still very cloudy. The only thing we do know is that three animated features will be out on Blu-ray starting with either Monsters vs Aliens or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs this summer, and Disney’s A Christmas Carol in December. The one title we don’t know about is Avatar, which we just have to believe will be out on 3D Blu-ray this year. We’re sure there will be even more 3D content to scope out as the bandwagon grows, and we’ve already seen streaming services get the 3D itch.
And video games?
Besides movies and sports, games may be the biggest beneficiary of 3D displays. The video game edition of Avatar is already available (and 3D-enabled) on both Sony and Microsoft’s boxes, so the PS3 version we played is just like what’s available at home right now. While the extra dimension couldn’t raise a very average adventure game to the heights of an Assassin’s Creed II, the effect did its job of bringing us further into the world and making it seem even more realistic. While a demo run of Gran Turismo 5 was slightly less impressive (varying greatly depending on camera angle), making things blow up in our faces playing Super Stardust HD clearly showed there will be compelling reasons to upgrade with the technology in the right game maker’s hands. On the PC side, NVIDIA has been pushing 3D capabilities for quite some time, and while most of our demos consisted of Blu-ray 3D showings from Cyberlink and WinDVD, we got enough gaming in to figure out that shutter glasses will soon be as common as headsets, precision mice and customized keyboards on the desks of shooter fans — if WoW ever goes 3D, there could be serious problems.
The new “upconverting?”
Even with major content providers on board, native 3D content will be scarce for some time, just like the rollout of HDTV. That’s a gap several manufacturers are looking to fill by providing technology for converting 2D to 3D. If that sounds a lot like the scaling buzz applied to DVDs and other standard-definition video, that’s because it is, as shown by Toshiba’s decision to expand its Resolution+ branding to Cell TV hardware that upscales and can convert from 2D to 3D in realtime. It showed off a demo that did an effective job separating different planes on simulated home video footage to make it 3D. Unfortunately, that didn’t make watching someone else’s vacation tapes any less boring, and popping elements out like cardboard cutouts seemed like the cheap gimmickry we were hoping to avoid. Samsung had the most effective conversion demo, plugging a standard Xbox 360 into one of its new displays and letting us play Gears of War 2 converted to 3D. While there wasn’t any extra detail to be found, it showed a subtle amount of additional depth that brought us even further into the game, especially when launching mortar shells at far off opponents. Sony announced plans to convert significant amounts of Jimi Hendrix footage to 3D for an upcoming Blu-ray release and even demoed some concert video in its CES theater — in this case the added depth did help the “you are there” feeling of a concert experience, but it still couldn’t compare with anything created natively for the new format.
While we’re sure someone will attempt to be the “Fox Widescreen” of 3D with converted footage on their broadcasts — JVC was showing off a rack mounted unit aimed at broadcasters for just this purpose — it will probably suffer the same fate and eventually go away altogether. The good news? Nothing we saw conjured up memories of the Cowboys Stadium 2D-to-3D disaster, and in some cases it could even be a very useful feature while we wait for content to catch up with displays. But just like DVD upscaling, even if it’s a high priced feature now, it will likely spread out across all displays in the future if customers enjoy it. We’ll be keeping a careful eye to see who has the best processing technology in real world situations later this year.
The glasses-free option
Ah yes, the nirvana of glasses-free 3D. While it was on display at more than one location this year, there’s still a number of factors keeping it from coming into play in our home viewing. Consistent on all three displays was a focus on CGI animations, not any kind of live video or other TV-style content. Though advances in standard HDTVs have increased the resolution behind the lenticular film that enables this technology, most of the progress displayed by Intel and Magnetic3D was on their ability to process and render images so they’ll pop out even when viewed from multiple angles. That’s useful for their intended use in POS advertisements, slot machines and the like — and it will surely impress digital signage nuts in the crowd — but it still suffers lost resolution and requires extra processing power for each viewing angle. With most viewers unwilling to assume a Sheldon Cooper-esque couch position, it’s unlikely any content or displays based around this will be breaking into the consumer space anytime soon.
By all indications, 2010 is set to be a flagship year for 3D. There should be plenty of new displays, set-top boxes, glasses and content. Many will be striving to be the first to market, while others will be happy to sit on the sidelines and watch it all develop. We see many parallels between 3D and the development of HD and that combined with the fact that we find the technology very compelling, should make it clear to you that there’s going to be more 3D coverage than you could want here on Engadget HD. So regardless of how this turns out, we want to be here to watch it flourish or perish. Now, of course we aren’t going to rename the site or anything like that — some of you might think we did. Now this doesn’t mean we’re going to let up hitting the HD news, no not at all. We’re confident we are up to the challenge of covering both very comprehensively.
With LG predicting a 3D television market in excess of 30 million units by 2012 and Samsung busily promoting its related world’s firsts, you’d better believe that these powerful South Korean “chaebols” have their government’s full support when it comes to delivering 3D content. Just today the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) announced its drive to start beaming 3D broadcasts in Full HD quality sometime in 2010 — licensing begins in January with first broadcasts expected mid-year. Unlike those 3D satellite broadcasts tested in Japan and the UK, Korea will deliver its 3D content through its terrestrial networks. Of course, Korea’s pay-TV providers want in on the action too, with CJ HelloVision set to offer 3D content through its video-on-demand offerings in the next “week or two.” CJ HelloVision will initially target about 300 households with plans to extend the service to 1,000 homes by 2012. Viewers will need yet another set-top box to view 3D content likely limited to “cartoons” at first. Pricing has not been set and it’s entirely possible that 3D VoD titles will be free at first in order to build momentum and to ensure viewer lock-in of the all important child demographic.
Samsung Electronics America Incorporated, one of the subsidiaries of Samsung Electronics Corporation, proudly announced the introduction of its latest color laser multifunction printer (MFP), the multiXpress CLX-8540ND. This comes as the company’s premier color laser multifunction printer, and is available now at Samsung’s network of Service Dealers and OA Distributors.
The CLX-8540ND is our flagship hybrid printer designed as a printer-copier solution for workgroups in large corporate environments and for copy-intensive small-to-mid size businesses,” said Doug Albregts, vice president, Information Technology Division, Samsung Electronics America Inc. “Along with being one of the fastest digital color printers on the market, the CLX-8540ND also bridges the gap between Letter/Legal verses Ledger printers by including advanced printer and copier features usually only found on larger machines. What we’ve done is simplify the selection process for IT managers who are looking for a truly multifunctional printer.”
One of the fastest color MFPs on the market, the CLX-8540ND is capable of complementing or even replacing bulkier Ledger MFPs. Easily meeting the high volume of printing and copying required by large workgroups, like government offices or university centers, the CLX-8540ND has a quick startup time, and can speed out up to 40 pages per minute, while the monthly duty cycle is rated at up to 100,000 sheets.
Hardware specifications include an 800 MHz processor, 1GB of RAM and a 150GB hard drive, so it will provide processing for multiple jobs at the same time, ensuring a smooth workflow in the office that results in print jobs and high resolution scans that are processed, stored and handled quickly and easily. As for backing up large print jobs without interruption, the optional paper tray capacity can be expanded to 2,720 sheets. The CLX-8540ND has an MSRP of $8,249.
Ever since we witnessed the slew of accusations and bad reviews plaguing Microsoft’s latest mobile operating system, Windows Mobile 6.5, we’ve been dying to get a chance to try it out for ourselves and see whether there was any truth to those reports or not. So, when the opportunity presented itself at a local Samsung-related event, we quickly took the smartphone the respective OS was running on, the Omnia II, for a brief spin, in order to see what the device and its integration with the Microsoft OS is all about.
First of all, we’ll have to tell you that we can’t help but analyze this device from two different points of view, namely that of the hardware itself and the user interface (TouchWiz 2.0 UI) added by Samsung, and a second one, related directly to the underlying operating system, Windows Mobile 6.5.
From the first point of view, we can say that the Omnia II has left us with a very good impression. I mean, the device has a very large AMOLED touchscreen display (3.7 inches), which is able to both render colors at a very good quality and resolution (480 x 800 pixels) and respond very fast and accurately to any commands. Plus, its external design is elegant, despite the fact that the black rear-side can be described as way too fingerprint-friendly.
Remember the Samsung P2370HD monitor? Well, this is it at 27 inches. How’s that for concision? Oh, you want more — well, Samsung must’ve expected you to, because it’s also added a TV tuner and a HDMI input to its latest Full HD display, to go along with a 5ms response time and a 50,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. There’s also a pair of 3 watt stereo speakers that can simulate 5.1 channel sound — good for emergencies or if you just can’t stand speakers cluttering up your desktop. Filling out the goodie bag are Picture In Picture and Picture By Picture modes, which should make good use of the extra real estate on the screen by combining, for example, your desktop with a TV source. The price is set at 549,000 Won (or about $473) for Korea, though global availability looks imminent so don’t rush to import it just yet.
Now wait one second before you start on the whole “I’m not wearing any stupid looking glasses,” because no matter what you say, there are more people paying extra to go 3D movies than ever and the reason is simple; it’s because this isn’t like the crappy 3D you saw during the Super Bowl last year — or that our parents grew up with. No, the 3D that Sony, Panasonic, and others are promising next year is like nothing you’ve seen. We’ve come a long way since the old anaglyph red and blue glasses that come in cereal boxes, so before you knock the new technology before it’s even out, click through and read about the technologies that might bring us a real 3D revolution.
We have two eyes for a reason and while we’ve enjoyed stereo sound since-like-forever, stereoscopic images haven’t quite arrived. At its core, 3D is as simple as using two cameras to capture the data that our eyes would, but it’s the display part that’s proven tricky. Ultimately, the technology has to find a way to present each eye with a different variation of an image, at that point our eyes and brain do the rest.
Circular polarized or active LCD shutter glasses
The one thing that hasn’t changed about 3D is the need for glasses — if you’re holding out for 3D on a big screen without glasses, you’re going to let this generation of 3D pass you by. The technology in the glasses varies by a lot and the main two types these days are circular polarized and active LCD shutter. Both serve the same purpose, to ensure each eye sees a different image, but in much different ways.
LCD shutter glasses
So in comes the LCD shutter glasses — the technology itself has actually been around for some time, in fact there were eight Sega Master Systems games that worked with shutter glasses dating back to the 80’s. But the technology was limited by the display technology of that era which could only show 480i at 30 frames per second, which worked out to about 15 FPS per eye in 3D — so yeah, the flickering could make you sick.
It’s not all good though, besides the cost of the glasses and the added emitter in the TV, some say that there is added flickering, and with the shutters closing in front of your eyes, the image is dimmed a bit. Both Sony and Panasonic claim these are no longer issues in thanks to the super fast refresh rates and brightness available on the latest HDTVs.
Yes, you read that right, all four of these tech giants are pushing the same home 3D display technology. While Samsung and Mitsubishi have been demoing its DLP HDTVs with shutter glasses for-like-ever, both Sony and Panasonic have been showing LCD and Plasma (respectively) HDTVs that can display 3D HD at CES, CEDIA and other shows. In fact Sony and Panasonic promise to release the first consumer 3D capable displays next year. That last part is an important one, so listen up: both will offer HDTVs next year that will work just like any other HDTV today, but will also work with 3D. So not only are the HDTVs going to be fully backwards compatible, but supposedly the new sets won’t cost much more than a normal HDTV. In fact Panasonic believes that in the next few years most of its HDTVs will be 3D ready.
We know what you’re thinking, you just bought a new HDTV and you want to know why it can’t handle 3D. Even if it was possible to add an IR emitter to keep the shutter glasses in sync, the experience at 30 FPS per eye wouldn’t be as enjoyable. And just like when the first 1080p HDTVs hit the shelves without the ability to actually accept 1080p input, the current crop of 120hz HDTVs can’t actually display 120 frames per second — only show each frame of a 60 fps signal, twice.
Of course, 3D-capable displays don’t do much without 3D content, and the good news is that most of the infrastructure needed for 3D in the home is already here thanks to HD. With the new 1.4 spec, HDMI has been updated to accomdate 3D and the first source is almost guaranteed to be Blu-ray. In fact as we speak the BDA is working on standardizing the storage of 3D movies on a Blu-ray Disc. It actually isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds, because what is essentially needed is to up the spec from 1080p at 30 FPS to 1080p at 120 FPS. In fact a 50GB Blu-ray Disc has more than ample capacity to handle a 3D HD movie thanks to the wonders of video compression where only the difference of each frame is stored. So 3D movies only require about 50 percent more space, and the one thing about the new 3D Blu-ray standard that has been determined, is that every 3D Blu-ray Disc will include a 2D version of the movie.
But not everyone can see 3D
When we say that 3D isn’t for everyone, we mean it. In fact it is estimated that 4 percent of us are actually physically incapable of seeing 3D no matter what the display technology. And even worse, according to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, “Research has shown that up to 56 percent of those 18 to 38 years of age have one or more problems with binocular vision and therefore could have difficulty seeing 3D.” So if you are one of these affected, it might be time to see an opthamologist and get screened for amblyopia. And if you happen to be blind in one eye you can still watch 3D, but it’ll just look normal to you — assuming of course you have the glasses on.
Where we go from here
One thing we weren’t able to learn in our quest for 3D knowledge was how compatible these different technologies are. Essentially we assume that the functional compatibility between the two main 3D display technologies described above are like the differences between LCD and Plasma — in other words, they both connect to the same HD set-top-box and Blu-ray player — but until the BDA announces the final details of the 3D specification there isn’t really any way to know for sure. But it seems that if Blu-ray was compatible with both circular polarized and LCD shutter glasses, then certainly whatever broadcast standard or game console announced down the road would also work with both.
Like it or not, 3D is coming and just like HD before it, there will be plenty of technology pundits predicting its demise. The problem right now is very few have had the chance to check out the technology and if you have been lucky enough to see it, it is hard to convey how cool it is to others. On top of this, 3D has a long road ahead because most people think they have seen it because they’ve tried the anaglyph glasses during a Super Bowl Commercial. The other big hurdle is the whole stupid looking glasses argument — which doesn’t make that much sense since you’ll be wearing them in the privacy of your own home. Now we know that the same technology lovers who read Engadget would never hate on any new technology without experiencing it first hand, but tell your friends and family that something new is coming, and no it isn’t like anything else they’ve seen.
I just love how competition works these days. Just look at Samsung and Toshiba. Very, very soon after Toshiba let the public know it was preparing an external portable hard drive with a storage space of 640GB, here comes Samsung shouting that it too is developing such storage. Funny, innit?
Samsung’s 640GB portable hard drive will be part of the S2 Portable series and, of course, will be 2.5 inches in size. To overcome the competition, Samsung is offering some new features (also known as marketing fireworks). There is a Power Saving Mode, auto backup and a SecretZone – cute little feature that will act as a virtual drive where you can store your precious information or just files that you don’t want everyone to see – that provides secure AES-128bit or AES-256bit encryption.
“As consumer demands continue to escalate for storing personal data, music and video files, Samsung has expanded its extensive family of external hard drives to support the growing personal storage market,” said Cheol-hee Lee, vice president of marketing, Storage Systems Division, Samsung Electronics. “The new drives provide users with a sleek design and high-density choices in both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch form factors.”
To spice up the competition even more, besides the 640GB portable drive that should ship somewhat later this month, Samsung also announced the future release of a 2TB S3 Station external HDD. The latter, 3.5-inch in size, should ship by the beginning of next year.
So that’s how competition works, my friends, say what you feel like saying, but I say that it’s to our best. The faster they upgrade their offerings, the faster they’ll have to reduce prices on the older ones. How was it? Where two fight, third one wins. It is us who win. No pricing provided for the upcoming S2 and S3 drives.
In a Samsung-esque introduction, Samsung has unveiled a crazy stack of tech for mobile devices, most of it aimed at improving performance in high-end devices while reducing power consumption — an initiative we can always get behind. Among the introductions are a pair of 1GHz ARM CORTEX A8 processors, one for phones and one for larger mobile devices, the former of which can be paired with Samsung’s new 1Gb OneDRAM solution, and both of which can churn through 3D graphics while keeping power usage to a minimum. Other highlights include a 5 megapixel CMOS system on a chip camera, which can process 1080p at 30 fps, a 512Mb PRAM chip newly in production, and a mobile display driver with integrated capacitive touchscreen support. With samples of the processors out in December, and the camera trickling into the market Q1 of next year, we probably have a ways to wait for devices based on all this tech — but boy are we prepped for it.