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Internet TV on rise in the U.S.

According to the recent survey of Nielson, around three million Americans had cut their cable television subscriptions last year as an increasing number turned to the Internet.

The Nielsen survey released last week found that some of those getting rid of cable moved to packages from telecom provider or satellites, but overall subscriptions fell by 1.5 million, or around 1.5%.

Findings of survey

But still the survey proves that American TV watching is not dead. Approximately 98% of video programs watched are on TV sets, and the number of high definition TVs has grown by eight million. But the TVs are increasingly connected to the Internet or devices such as game consoles, allowing streaming of the content.

“After several years of consistent year-over-year growth, traditional TV viewing declined one half of one percent or roughly 46 minutes per month,” the Nielsen report said.

The usage of video programs on handsets has changed very little in the year, at around four hours per month, the survey found.

Google™ TV for EDU offers education through web and TV

Google is and has always been known as an innovative group of professionals, who even within their organization promote creativity and lay maximum stress on education as a culture. Trust Google to enter the education field with their Google Apps Education Training Center and their 5 billion dollar education project for schools. The websites of Google provide the foundation for sharing and displaying education projects for students and the faculty.

With the technology explosion and convergence of the computer, smartphone, TV and the Internet, education through web and TV is becoming a reality. The Google TV team is trying to partner with various institutions around the world, promoting the Google TV for EDU program through the web and TV.

With the fairly large success of Google Logitech Revue, smartphones, search engines and the Android open source community, this is one area that will see lot of developments and growth in the near future. Bringing Google TV to campuses has brought about a new found interest in smart TV curriculum and innovative educational tools. With Android there to support, it is definitely on the right path. The research in consideration with live applications going on-screen of the Google TV at educational institutions, is a large source of education. The implications on revenue generation through this unique social and technological cause are also mind-boggling. Besides, this is just the tip of the iceberg, since any such far-fetched and exhaustive perspective is going to have implications of use, misuse, security etc., even considering the fact that the far-reaching growth in education is inevitable.

Internet TV devices: A comparison

The CES 2011 demonstrated several products and technologies for gadget geeks, book publishers, entertainment providers, computer manufacturers, smartphone manufacturers, TV manufacturers, gaming manufacturers and more. The one most common product used by billions of people around the world, the TV, is also getting an interesting transformation with the interfacing of the same with the Internet.

According to officials of Google, like Android, the Google TV will be an adventure where the TV meets the web, apps, search and the world’s creativity. Being an open software platform, the Google TV will be able to work with any TV and before long, anyone will be able to build applications for it. Like the computer and the smartphone, the TV will also have a home page and you will also be able to use your phone as a remote control, browse the web, watch TV shows and clips from the Internet on your TV set.

Let us have a small review and compare Google TV (Logitech Revue), Boxee, Roku and Apple TV. As regards resolution of Internet TV devices, the Apple TV has it as 720 in comparison to the other three as 1080. Wi-Fi networking is available on all four and also wired networking. While Google TV, Boxee and Apple TV offer full web browsing, Roku enables high speed streaming. As in the case of Apple you can get it at $40. The other interesting area for a vast population the world over is social networking. As regards video calling, while Google is making it possible using a Logitech TV camera, Boxee and Roku do not have these features and Apple is probably developing the app using FaceTime. Facebook is available on Logitech Revue, Boxee and the Apple TV. An edge that Google TV (Logitech Revue) has over all the three others is the availability of the e-mail, while Boxee, Roku and Apple do not provide it. Picture viewing is available on all four. Apple TV may be providing games shortly, and the Roku has an application available, while the Boxee and Logitech Revue Google TV have it through interesting applications further announcing that gaming could be a major factor in the Android applications and via the browser in the Logitech Revue – Google TV. Streaming content – Amazon VOD, Netflix, YouTube and music – are available on all the four products. iTunes is available on the Apple TV and the Roku while Boxee does not support it.

While individual perceptions can change, one cannot but ignore the fact that, the Logitech Revue – Google TV seems to be having big aims in this specific internet TV device market, Boxee is not very far away and Apple is quite close in competition. The Roku device, of course aims at different segments of the market.

Google TV and Apple TV Faceoff in Fall

Google CEO Eric Schmidt, at the Berlin IFA show, confirmed the company’s plans to launch its new product Google TV in fall this year. He further added the product will be launched internationally in 2011. He said the company will be communicating with content providers to get some entertainment on the device. Though he dismissed any plans of Google getting into content production. Google is working in collaboration with companies like Sony, Logitech and Intel for hardware support in this project.

Google announced its plans to launch a TV based service at Google I/O conference on 20th may 2010 this year. And hoped to combine the TV viewing with web content browsing in a way not done till date. In September Apple CEO Steve Jobs also announced it will launch second generation Apple TV in fall of 2010.

Let us explore some of the features the two products have on offer:

Google TV

Google TV will be working on Android OS for the set top box. Intel Atom based CE4100 consumer electronics system-on-chip (SoC) has been powers all the devices. Google is planning to provide set-top box built by Logitech, TV enabledBlu-ray player from Sony, and a Sony HDTV with built-in Google services. Google TV supports a video output 1080p. It has a built-in chrome browser and Adobe Flash 10.1 plug-in. This will ensure browsing on the Internet just like a PC. Also ThinkFree Office viewer software is provided. Google will create an open source platform to enable developers or third-party providers to create applications for Google TV. Google also plans to upgrade the android OS as it wants to enable developers to create web applications for the device. Some companies like Netflix and Amazon Video on Demand have already created applications for Google TV. Google TV will enable users to search topics on the web, TV programs being broadcasted, and also view You Tube videos. It will have a home page where you could bookmark your favourite videos, photo albums channels or shows.

Apple TV 2nd generation

It will be available for a price of $99. It is quarter size smaller, has no built-in storage and has a full black color. Apple set top box fully integrates with Netflix which will enable live streaming. This means the video or content will not be downloaded on your device but will be streamed directly. It sports HDMI, optical audio, Ethernet and power ports. Also a diagnostic USB port is provided. It has maximum video output of 720p rather than 1080p which is shortcoming. Apple TV will also support “AirPlay” technology which will enable you to synchronize all your Apple devices with Apple TV. You can start a video on your apple iPad pause it and continue watching it on apple TV. Both the products have something different to offer and have unique features. The proper review will only be possible when the products release and get on consumers shelves.

The All New Apple TV: Maximize Your Entertainment

Apple TV is 80 percent smaller than the previous generation but that doesn’t mean that it is smaller in entertainment. The stylish design and sleek looks of Apple TV makes it an adorable product. Some of the specifications of Apple TV can be seen as follows:

Size and weight

  • 0.9 inches X 3.9 inches X 3.9 inches (H X W X D)
  • Weight 0.6 pounds

Processor

  • Apple A4 chip Processor

System requirements

  • AirPort Extreme, Wi-Fi 802.11b, g, or n wireless network (wireless video streaming requires 802.11g or 802.11n) or 10/100BASE-T Ethernet network
  • iTunes Store account for renting movies and TV shows
  • Netflix account for streaming Netflix content
  • For streaming media from a Mac or PC:
  • iTunes 10 or later; iTunes Store account for Home Sharing

Ports and interfaces

  • HDMI2
  • Optical audio
  • 10/100BASE-T Ethernet
  • Built-in IR receiver
  • Micro-USB (for service and support)

Power

  • Built-in 6-watt universal power supply

Wireless

  • 802.11n Wi-Fi (a/b/g compatible)
  • 2.4GHz and 5GHz

Video formats

  • H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
  • MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
  • Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format

Audio formats supported

  • HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV; Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through

TV compatibility

  • Compatible with high-definition TVs with HDMI and capable of 720p 60/50Hz,2including popular models from these manufacturers: Hitachi, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, NEC, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sony, Sharp, Toshiba, Vizio, Westinghouse

Sigma Designs Unveils First Low-Cost Microsoft Mediaroom(TM) Compatible Set Top Box Platform

Microsoft Mediaroom™ is a platform that has achieved great success in the establishment of the premier solution for the IPTV deployments of the variable sizes. Mediaroom is considered to be the world’s most deployed IPTV platform that has got the ability to deliver the services to more than five million subscriber households with the global customer base. Mediaroom is also having great experience of increasing deployments in the new regions which demand very less amount of cost set top boxes together with the best performance needed to supply a great variety of features and a better user experience.

Fulfilling the customers’ demands

The senior manager of business development of Microsoft’s media platform business explained that, an important part of the Mediaroom marketing strategy is to drive down the costs without any discontinuity in out ecosystem keeping in mind that we ensure the delivery of full-featured and high quality experience that view the customers’ demands. As it is an important ecosystem partner the sigma design is being helpful in taking the steps to advance this goal so that it can enable even more cost efficient set top box designs that can be helpful in increasing the availability and access of the well known TV services powered by Mediaroom.

In order to cope with the new demands the sigma designs introduced a new IPTV platform that is lesser in cost and is using the second-generation SMP8652 media processor. The SMP8652’s is designed in such a way that its architecture favors great savings for the set top box designs with the providence of the performance that is required to deliver the good quality Mediaroom user’s experiences. The multiple Mediaroom OEMs are also indulged in designing the new set top boxes that are based on the SMP8652 media processor. The OEMs are going forward with implementing of the SMP8654 that is another Mediaroom platform set by the sigma offering, it will give even better performance and it will belong to the same kind of the devices. Tatung will be sent to the market before any other new technology and it has got the approved SMP8652 based set top boxes.

Is it beneficial?

First Low-Cost Microsoft MediaroomTM Compatible Set Top Box Platform is unveiled by the Sigma Designs. The technology is so designed that it will give high performance at a low cost and it will be widely used once brought to the market. It will be of great benefit to everyone and most of the people are looking forward to it. The architecture is so efficiently designed that it will provide great savings for the set top box designs. The quality is very good and the performance is excellent. The cost saving is the best feature.

With the help of the new 8652 platform by sigma the Tatung technology can get great benefit of the growing market chances for the deliverance of the high performance. Tatung technology has great advantages working with the Sigma for the new generation platform. With this they can also get new and low-power consumption and high performance.

Apple Says New Apple TV to Offer 99-cent Rentals

There had been reports recently insinuating that Apple was keen on securing deals with major TV networks but had neither succeeded nor made any meaningful steps. What began as a rumor that Apple was keen on luring major TV networks into lowering the costs of their shows on Apple’s iTunes from the existing $1.99 per episode to a low of 99 cents per episode might actually be true.  According to reports, Apple is still keen on securing its intended price cuts, only this time, rather than going for downloads for sale, the phone giant has proposed a 99 cents price for shows through streaming rentals.

Apple In Talks With TV networks

Reports are that Apple is talking to major TV networks with sources suggesting that the terms of the rentals will be almost similar to those applied in other program rentals such as movie rentals on its famous iTunes products.  In the agreement with the TV networks, an end user will be given 30 days to watch a show or 24 hours depending on the deals you choose once you have clicked play. The recent revelation of Apple’s move is signal that the company may eventually be venturing into the streaming sector and it is hoped that the TV shows or programs to be rented will be streamed from the cloud through a new iOS-enabled Apple gadget that has flash storage space.

New Adavanced Gadgets from Apple

Such a gadget had even been rumored to be on production. The new speculative reports come in the wake of the long waited Apple TV that has been on the works for three years now, part of the company’s endless games over its planned products. Reports had emerged recently in the New York over a new software update from Apple that is expected to revamp its Apple TV box with a new redone interface with iOS enabled working, crucial and significant in that the update might allow Apple end users to even access Hulu and Netflix on their gadgets. That was not to be the last of the speculations, I line with Apple’s tradition of product play, the company was also rumored to have made a slimmer flash storage Apple TV that was rumored to have the ability to stream TV shows and movies, but never happened.

Best Bargain Deal

What got people talking was its retailing price, at a meager $99, it would have been the best bargain of the year when contrasted with others such as the current 160GB that retails at $229. Apple’s existing Apple TV uses video downloads stored locally and if your connectivity is low, you might as well be bored to hell with buffering downloads that take forever to open. On the other hand, applications such as PlayStation 3 are capable of streaming Netflix videos and come as the first game console capable of streaming Hulu TV shows as well whereas the Xbox 360 struck out on its own as well with the commencement of 1080p streaming of videos.

It remains to be seen what Apple’s move might be but in the meantime, the 99 cents per episode seems like a good idea.

Can iOS Boost Apple TV?

Apple TV Platform

It was announced few years ago, that Apple is designing new STB, mainly for online access to multimedia content. When it was finally done, it was named Applet TV, and it could be integrated in TV, or be purchased separately as STB (set-top box). Chances are you have never seen one – mainly because it never reached the success of iPhone for example. It was not cheap, and the content available was not that much.

Now the winds have changed, iTunes is full of music, there are thousands of freely available streaming services, some paid movie and show streaming services. If that is your goal, you can live totally without cable TV, as some researchers say more than 25% of cable TV shows are now available online, and most of the movies ever produced are too. The not so successful Apple TV may get a revamp, making it a widely available, and not so expensive piece of technology, and with the wide array of content found online, this may be the next iPhone.

iOS on TV?

iOS is the operational system of the iPhone, iPad and iPod brands – this should ring a bell. Apps written  for it are in most cases available for all platforms, and the new iOS 4 is very well optimized for playing multimedia content, including streamed one. This, combined with the stability and good looks of the iOS makes it very good candidate for new Apple TV brand device (or maybe iTV would be more appropriate).

As the TV OS is expected to be fully compatible with mobile versions of it, this also suggests applications available on Apple store will also work on your TV if you use Apple TV set-top box. Cool, right?  Also, multimedia experience is expected to be flawless, as with the new iPhone 4, and if the rise of available online content continues, it may very well replace your cable TV STB in the near future.

There are also rumors that the new STB will only cost 97$, and will be  with the size of iPhone – neat, as you can put it wherever you want, and get connected.

If you have not already reached to another conclusion here it is – gaming will also be possible. iOS  has been gaining huge popularity as a gaming OS, with tens of thousands of games (including 3D ones) available for purchase. And if Apple TV is combined with motion game controller – well, in the future you may be able to ditch that old gaming console sitting next to the TV too. Great possibilities exist, but only time will tell what will happen with this great idea – Apple TV STB with iOS.

A new Apple TV in 2010 to compete with Google TV?

Apple is on the verge of launching a new Apple TV this year to compete with the Google merchandise. For those who believed that Apple would stop innovating with the entertainment industry after the launch of Apple TV box, here is the answer to all, the new Apple TV based on cloud computing to give a run for its money to Google TV also.

Earlier Apple had launched Apple TV which was an unprecedentedly designed box with a hard disk of 160 GB which could record your TV shows, and play live TV when connected to a television screen. Compared to the other TV boxes, the picture quality provided by Apple’s box was very high and could be matched to Blu-Ray, though Apple doesn’t support Blu-Ray. Then came the Google TV which was based on cloud computing and became an instant hit. With no requirement of recording the shows and movies, the problem of providing a higher storage device was solved and the sales of Apple TV dropped in greater number. Google TV was ever growing in numbers and the war between Apple and Google was getting intense, with speculations that Apple could launch a new innovative technology based on cloud computing for its entertainment foray Apple TV.

Everybody thought this was a rumor and called it the marketing bluff of Apple. But Apple replied strongly and announced of launching a new Apple TV in 2010 which would offer direct competition to the Google TV. Apple also announced that they are not following Google TV and their research and launch was much before in line to the Google TV. Apple also announced that their new technology is based more closely on their mobile services.

The design of the product would be no doubt monotonous in aluminum with superior quality work and innovative designs. The product would be fitted with the latest Apple Operating System 4, while it would be running on the super fast A4 CPU, which is also used in the iPad and the son to be launched iPhone 4. While the box would have limited amount of flash storage, 16GB to be precise, with 1080i picture quality capability. Think it’s a bluff, nope its just superior engineering by Apple’s technician. The memory is kept low, as the device would be based on cloud computing. A new beginning for Apple, by foraying into a new dimension of computing, and the real shocker is that it will be priced just 99$, another pricing gimmick by Apple.

Not only television viewings and movies, the box would also be enabled to use Apple’s applications. That’s a new in entertainment industry. But unlike Google TV, the Apple TV wont play Flash based videos or web sites, related to Apples concern for Flash contents. Many have tagged the product as the new iPhone without the screen, where the screen would be the Giant Television.

If any one said that the entertainment and digital television would not be a battle ground, here they are truly proved wrong by Apple and Google.

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