Roku Internet TVs from Best Buy, Sharp ready to roll

7 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Coming Soon: Sharp TVs With a Roku Box Baked Right In.

Roku TV is becoming the standard interface on budget smart TVs, with Sharp’s entry-level models and Best Buy’s Insignia house brand joining Chinese manufacturers Haier, Hisense and TCL in offering the software.

You plug in a cheap box or dongle, adding thousands of streaming channels to an old set—in a way that’s generally better than most smart TVs out there. Roku has won a lot of love over the years for the intuitive interface on its streaming-video set-top boxes that make any TV a smart model (with more than 10 million sold, vs. about 20 million for the Apple TV box). Both feature 1080p full HD resolution, a 60Hz native refresh rate, and the Netflix Recommended TV designation, indicating that they offer easy access to Internet TV services. Users can personalize the Roku TV screen with icons for their favorite streaming channels, and devices such as game consoles, cable boxes, and Blu-ray players. Chinese TV giants TCL and Hisense were the first two companies to offer “Roku TVs” last year, aiming at making an introductory splash in the U.S. market.

This means you can watch live TV, stream movies, and listen to music all from the home screen, without having to navigate through multiple inputs and menus, Roku said. They also feature the Roku Feed, which will tell you when movies you’re interested in are available to stream. “We are pleased to offer Sharp smart TVs that run the Roku OS and provide customers with an easy and elegant way to enjoy their entertainment,” Vishnu Rao, director of technology planning for Sharp Electronics, said in a statement. “We believe the benefits of the Roku platform combined with the superiority of the Sharp brand makes an appealing combination for consumers looking for a great smart TV experience.” Besides its new collaboration with Sharp, Roku also today announced that two new Insignia Roku TV models first unveiled back at CES will be available this month at Best Buy. But the search giant can also take over your TV with the Google Chromecast , a streaming dongle that tops Amazon’s own Fire TV Stick on the company’s list of best-selling electronic devices. Sharp is the first top-tier brand to adopt Roku TV, but it’s a minimal commitment of just two low-end models, a 43-inch set for $380 and a 50-inch for $500.

Part of its appeal lies in its pure portability, but there’s also the price: just $35 to wirelessly stream Netflix, Spotify, HBO GO, Hulu Plus, and more from your mobile device or PC to the TV. Roku’s Smith says there are no plans for Roku’s ecosystem to become Sharp’s smart platform across the board; for now, it’ll only be available on those two affordable sets. Google announced a few updates for Chromecast at Google I/O last year—from Android mirroring to options that will make your Chromecast screen more aesthetically pleasing. On the low end, great deals on 1080p TVs abound; manufacturers are shifting their R&D focus to 4K, high dynamic range (HDR) video, and color-enhancing technology such as quantum dot. Sets with those features now comprise the mid- to high-end of each major company’s lineups, meaning you can get a solid large-screen HDTV for less than $1,000.

Ironically, given Roku’s concentration on 1080p resolution and the bargain side of the market, what Ultra HD really needs is a cheap-and-easy, smart-platform-independent 4K box like the Roku to help speed adoption.

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Sharp’s Pricey 8K Display Coming Oct. 30

17 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Sharp has announced it will begin limited sales of its 8K television at the end of next month.

The Japanese manufacturer first demoed its 85-inch 8K display during CES 2013, and it will finally arrive on Oct. 30. Boasting a screen resolution of 7680 pixels by 4320 pixels, 8K is so detailed it surpasses the quality of most cinema screens and can also make images appear 3D. Despite being commercially available from October 30, it is unlikely the general public will be racing out purchase the 85-inch devices as they will retail for $AU186,000. Falling under the catchy name ‘Full Ultra-HD’ the monitor was originally proposed at the Consumers Electronics Show 2012, and will be available for businesses to buy on October 31st in Japan. Tech consultant Chris Green said he believed the televisions would be limited to professionals looking to test the broadcast capabilities of the format. “8K screens could offer a very interesting video alternative to today’s shop window and billboard displays — which show static advertising — because their extreme clarity means they can show lots of text and would be as readable as a poster.” As it currently stands, broadcast networks, cable networks and streaming services are only just managing to offer small amounts of 4K content, so it would seem as if 8K is a while off yet.

It might not be time to ditch the 4K quite yet though, the only footage available to display in 8K is test footage shot on cameras that are yet to go on sale. The 85-inch LV-85001, as its called, boasts a crazy 7,680 x 4,320 pixel resolution, which — let’s be frank here — won’t mean much to anyone as 8K content is impossible (well, nearly) to find right now.

And even if there was content available in 8K, viewers would need to have four HDMI inputs coming from the media server just to use its full capabilities. Don’t expect to buy one anytime soon, though—the first sets (model LV-85001) will be offered to TV broadcasters and video production companies beginning October 30. According to Japanese newspaper Nikkei, local television network NHK has already received orders for dozens of monitors from Sharp so they can prepare for broadcasting to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the format.

Well, besides bragging rights, you’ll be prepared for the future; Japanese broadcaster NHK will start testing 8K streams in 2016, and commercial availability is expected in 2018. And if you want to check out Sharp’s new TV in person without coughing up all that cash, there is a way: it will be displayed at Sharp’s booth at CEATEC, a trade show at the Makuhari Messe in Japan, which starts on Oct. 7.

Amazon and Netflix are also offering limited 4K streams for those with UHD TV sets, but if you’d rather go the DVD route, the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) started licensing the new Ultra HD Blu-ray format on Aug. 24, so DVD players that support it should be ready by year’s end. To realize 8K video, the entire pipeline behind it must also upgrade: the cameras that film the content, the computers that process and store the video, the transmission systems that bring it to businesses and homes. Sharp, Samsung, and LG each showed prototype 8K displays at CES in Las Vegas in January; Sharp also plans to show an 8K model at Ceatec Japan 2015, a major electronics expo, in early October.

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