beovision-11.pngBang & Olufsen get connected with their newly-revealed BeoVision 11 Smart TV set.

The 1080p screens come in 40, 46 and 55-inch sizes, offering connected telly smarts such as a full web browser (navigated via the remote, iPad or Android tablet), apps like Facebook and Twitter and streamed video content from sources such as YouTube. DLNA media streaming also lets you get music, photos or videos stored on a remote PC to the TV wirelessly, while the premium brand scratches Apple's equally-premium back by offering a slot to slide an Apple TV inside on the screen's rear.

Connections include two USB ports, a generous six HDMI ports and an Ethernet connection.Calling it their "most ambitious TV to date", the BeoVision 11 has an unusual square-shaped design, which allows it to house six separate speakers in a row across its bottom edge. It should deliver an audio experience above and beyond the usual tinny flatscreen offerings.

Being a Bang & Olufsen product, it of course comes with a hefty premium price tag attached. Prices start at £4,995 for the BeoVision 11 sets (around $8,000).

In stores now, those with deep pockets can take one home today.

FIRST LOOK: LG 55-inch 55EM9600 OLED TV

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LG-55-inch-oled-monaco.jpgWe've been big fans of OLED TV tech at Tech Digest and HDTV UK for many a year since first setting eyes upon a prototype Sony screen at CES a few shows ago. Incremental updates to the tech have wowed us at subsequent trade shows, but high prices for screens no bigger than 15 inches have made OLED televisions a ludicrous luxury for only the most demanding of AV enthusiasts.

That's all set to change this year however as LG and Samsung go head-to-head with stonking 55-inch OLED models, due in stores later this year. Tech Digest and HDTV UK were invited this week to LG's glitzy Monaco launch event for their 55-inch OLED TV offering. Make no mistakes; if you're in the market for a new TV, this is what your cash should be splashed on.

OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) televisions offer some key advantages over LCD or LED screens. Faster refresh rates and wider viewing angles can be paired with deep contrast ratios and lavish colours. As OLED sets don't use backlights, this can all be achieved with far lower power consumption levels, in bezels almost invisibly thin.

LG's 55EM9600 OLED TV made its first appearance at the start of the year in January's CES 2012 show, and while little has changed with the set in the subsequent months, it's still massively exciting to see.

The latest headlining feature of LG's OLED TV detailed at this week's launch is its use of WRGB technology. Adding a white sub-pixel to the standard red, green and blue set-up, LG claim WRGB panels will "perfect" colour output and make the image displayed feel "natural and colourful to the human eye". It's a similar technique as was used by Sharp in their Quattron televisions, which added a yellow sub-pixel with impressive results.

Even without the WRGB technology, the screen would attract attention purely based upon how thin it is. At a ridiculous 4mm thin, it's half the thickness of your average smartphone, weighing just 10kgs thanks to its being built from carbon fibre reinforced plastics. Those who like to wall-mount their displays will instantly fall in love, with the LG5EM9600 sitting almost flush against the wall.

It's a real treat for the eyes, with the display delivering vibrant, bold colours. Close-up footage of rain-soaked plant petals felt crisp enough to reach into the TV and touch. If anything, LG's rainbow-like showreel ran the risk of making the screen seem overly saturated, but as with all showroom settings you'll likely be able to tone the colours down a bit for a more natural, accurate calibration.

Superb viewing angles afforded by OLED technology mean that there will be no duff seat in a home cinema that has this screen as its centrepiece. We experienced no noticeable dropout in contrast or colours no matter where we placed ourselves, whether at a wide horizontal angle or a low vertical position.
LG-55-inch-oled-monaco-2.jpgThe inky blacks of the display and strong brightness levels deserve extra credit. LG's launch event was held in the Salle des Etoiles, famous for its mechanical opening roof. Halfway through the event the roof opened, bathing what had been a dimly lit hall with Mediterranean sunlight. Even with the dramatic change in ambient lighting colours remained vivid, and shadow detail bold and legible.

Though we've yet to see the display handling 3D video for ourselves, all reports so far have been incredibly positive. Indeed, our own prior experience with smaller 3D OLED displays has seen the technology deliver smooth, ghost-free 3D images of the highest quality. With 3D always working better on a larger screen, the results with the 55EM9600 would presumably be remarkable. A 0.02s response time will lead to super-smooth 3D visuals, as well as being a boon for gamers looking for a display as quick as their trigger fingers.

Pre-orders for the LG OLED sets will kick off in July, ready for a "Q4 2012" release.

So how many pennies will you have to drop in order to get one of these beauties in your home? Around the 9000 EURO mark, or roughly £7,300 if the UK pricing reflects direct exchange rates.

That is of course an astronomically priced set, but LG's OLED giant is poised to represent the very best that money can currently buy for home cinema fans. While the false promise of 3D TV left many frustrated, OLED TV sets offer genuinely luxurious 2D viewing while still delivering the very best in 3D visuals should you still be looking for eye-popping entertainment.

Local pricing is likely to be the big deciding factor as LG's flagship battles it out with Samsung's in stores. Regardless as to which proves the victor, the stage is set for one of the most exciting years for home cinema fanatics for a while, and LG are well placed to dominate.

_MG_9619.jpgLG have officially launched their long-awaited 55-inch OLED TV screens at a glitzy launch event in Monaco this evening.

After teasing us for years with pint-sized 15 inch displays, the South Korean home cinema giants are finally ready to offer up their wall-filling OLED sets to consumers. Just 4mm thick, the vibrant, super-slim 3D screens are LG's next big home cinema venture, offering a stunningly detailed and rich image through use of new WRGB technology, which adds a white sub-pixel to the usual red, green and blue combination found in televisions.
_MG_9596.jpgIt was a star-studded launch event for the set, seeing Grand Prix ace Sebastian Vettel, racing legend David Coulthard, film director Jean-Jacques Annaud and model Gemma Sanderson take to the stage with Monaco the fittingly luxurious backdrop ahead of this weekend's F1 race.

Though little more than a "Q4" release date has been pencilled in for the new svelte screens, along with a rough 9000 Euro price tag (around the £7,300 mark), pre-order sales for LG's OLED tech should open by July of this summer for UK enthusiasts.

First shown off back at CES 2012, the 55EM960V set represents the first step in a massive investment for LG's AV future, with Samsung similarly throwing their hand into the potential market for OLED TVs, while struggling Sony look set to push Crystal LED televisions.
We'll be offering up our first eyes-on impressions of the set in the coming days on Tech Digest and HDTV UK, as well as a video sneak peek, so stay tuned for more info on LG's flagship display.

As a teaser, note this; they're looking pretty bloody gorgeous.

sony-thumb.jpgSony have confirmed rumours of major restructuring plans that will see 10,000 jobs lost and TV production slow 40%.

The news of job cuts was leaked last week, and now Sony CEO Kaz Hirai has confirmed that downsizing plans are in place, vowing that "Sony will change".

It's been a rough time for Sony of late, with a strong yen putting pressure on their exports, especially when compared to the growing Korean market. It's lead to a forecast from Sony of losses of around $4 billion for 2011, meaning that the 6% cut in their global work force was somewhat inevitable.

Sony will now shift focus onto gaming, mobile and digital imaging sectors. In terms of gaming, more emphasis will be put on downloadable titles through the Sony Entertainment Network, while in the mobile sector Sony will "launch new mobile products and establish new business models". Though they were less precise on their plans for digital imaging, it appear Sony may be looking to expand their reach into the medical sector.

Sony will still look to innovate in the TV market though, with the intention to advance the development and commercialization of next-generation display technologies such as OLED and Crystal LED Display", as well as looking to expand its 4K offerings.

Philips-7000-series.jpgPhilips Lifestyle will no longer make televisions, an announcement from the Dutch electronics giant has today revealed. After 87 years of dipping in and out of the TV market, the company are finally calling it a day, handing over duties to Hong Kong-based-company TPV Technology.

A joint venture between the two companies (which sees Philips retain 30% of its TV business) they have formed TP Vision. Though the sets made under the TP Vision banner will be manufactured by TPV Technology, they will in fact retain Philips branding.

"TP Vision will continue to bring the high level of innovation consumers expect from a Philips TV," said new CEO of TP Vision, Maarten de Vries.

"Our recently launched 2012 series have everything to enjoy the world of digital content delivered via broadcasting and the Web. We believe in creating products that touch the human senses and are within reach of all consumers in the markets we operate in."

Proprietary Philips technologies including Ambilight and their impressive 21:9 offerings will also make the jump over to TP Vision, as well as Philips TV staff.

The deal however does not cover the design, manufacturing, distribution, marketing or sales of Philips' televisions in China, United States, Canada, Mexico, India and select South American territories.

LG's fancy 55-inch OLED sets are lining themselves up for a red carpet launch at the Cannes film festival in May, according to new reports.

LG's 55-inch 55EM9600, first revealed at CES 2012 back in January was first expected to launch in July to coincide with the London 2012 Olympics. However, with LG eager to get their display out into stores before rivals, the decision was made to push for an earlier release date and to bump the speed of production up significantly.

A beauty of a screen, the 55EM9600 is only 4mm thick and weighs just 7.5kg thanks to a WOLED-CF design on an Oxide-TFT backplane.

Expected to retail at around 9 million Won - or about £4,950 - LG will gauge interest in their first OLED offering until July before deciding whether or not to make further investment in OLED technology.

Via: OLED Info/ The OLED Association

Sony are looking to expand their 3DTV offering in 2013 by shipping Passive 3D TVs as well as the Active 3D sets they've championed since the dawn of the 3DTV push, according to a new report from The Register.

Expected to make their debut at September's IFA technology show in Berlin, Sony's Deputy President of home entertainment products, Noriaki Negishi, stated that:

"Our engineers don't really like [passive] because it has half the resolution of active shutter 3D, but consumers appreciate the convenience of passive."

With that in mind, Sony are now thought to be preparing an aggressive Passive 3D push over the next year, with 3D tech overall still not reaching the sales heights AV companies had hoped for.

With Sony entering the Passive 3D fray, it leaves Samsung as the only manufacturer still exclusively pushing Active 3D TV sets.

The Passive 3D sets will also be accompanied by Sony's next generation of OLED TVs, with Negishi stating that "2013 will be the year when we will really fight back with new technologies."

Via: The Register

Philips-7000-series.jpgPhilips have revealed their 2012 Smart TV line-up, pushing web connected online content into screens as small as 19 inches.

Top of the range is the 7000 Series, available in 40, 46 and 55-inch sizes. The screens use active shutter 3D tech, have five HDMI ports, smart TV functionality, three USB ports, both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity and come complete with 20W speakers and two-sided Ambilight for a room-filling light show glow.

Next down the range is the 6000 Series, available in 32, 37, 42, 47 and 55 inch sizes. The 6000 Series uses passive 3D tech, has four HDMI ports, smart TV functionality, again three USB ports and 12W speakers.

Hitting the mid-range is the 4000 range. It drops the 3D tech, but keeps four HDMIs, three USBs, and Wi-Fi smart connectivity. Sizes range from 32, 37, 42 and 47 inches.

Lower again is the 3500 Series, the cheapest of the batch to house Smart TV functionality. Sizes range from 19 inches to 42 inches. 720p and 1080p variants are available, but you'll need an optional Wi-Fi adapter for wire-free web access on the telly.

If web connectivity and 3D tech aren't important to you, then check out the 3000 Series. Sizes go from 19 to 42 inches, with three HDMI ports and one USB.

All due in Q2 2012, pricing has yet to be announced.

apple-tv-rumor.jpgThe long-awaited Apple TV seemed a dead-cert to make an appearance at some point in 2012, rumoured to be putting iOS and it's famous App Store front and centre in the living room. However, a new report from USA Today puts a substantial hurdle in the way of the project, as they claim the Cupertino tech firm are struggling to secure valuable TV rights.

Calling it a "major roadblock", US Today believe it puts the whole device in jeopardy, with consumers potentially seeing no reason to stump up the cash for TV apps were they not easily able to access the shows they wanted to.

Though Apple are still thought to be sourcing panels for the eventual displays, head designer Jonathan Ive is said to already have a working prototype in his office.

"Apple is said to be looking at a 42-inch or larger LCD TV with built-in Wi-Fi. Inside the locked-down studio of Jonathan Ive, senior vice president of industrial design at Apple, there's a slick 50-inch TV, according to the source who worked at Apple," reads the report.

So far we've only heard word of Apple TVs up to about the 37 inch size, meaning the company could be hoping to go really high-end with a 50 inch set.

Yesterday we brought you news that Apple, alongside Google, were looking to secure the rights for Premier League Football coverage for their Apple TV sets.

OLED screens have seemed the TV technology of the future for all too long now, but expensive production costs and diminutive screen sizes have kept the displays out of the mainstream. This may all change come CES 2012 next January however.

Both Samsung and LG are said to be lining up massive 55 inch OLED TVs for the show, with the plan to ship the screens by July 2012, just in time for the Olympic games.

We'd be lying if we were to say we weren't excited. Back at IFA 2009 LG showed off their 31 inch OLED prototype (as seen in the video above). It remains one of the best screens we've seen to date, and we cant wait to see what a year-and-a-bits worth of refinement and a fair few extra inches of display real estate brings to the table.

LG's screens will use a white-OLED with colour filter design, whereas Samsung will opt for hte more effecient true RGB OLED panel. As LG's are easier to produce, the cost should be driven down considerably however.

The Apple OLED TV rumours rear their heads again too, though you have to question their validity considering OLED panel production worldwide is very low. LG say they can squeeze out 30,000 a month for instance, which would hadly sate the appetite of the Apple hordes.

Via: OLED Info/ ETNews

Name: Griffin Beacon

Type: Universal remote control with iOS app

Specs: Click here for full specs

Price: £57 from Amazon

review-line.JPGOne device to rule them all? That's the idea behind the Griffin Beacon, a universal remote control kit that works in tandem with your iOS device to control all the gadgets in your house that use a remote control. But is the Beacon a shining light in a murky sea of universal remotes, or is your best bet to dig under the sofa for that dusty lost zapper? Read on to find out.

The Griffin Beacon is quite the looker. Best described as a similar size to a black Apple TV box with a shiny black pebble placed on top, it'll sit comfortably and stylishly alongside most AV set-ups. Powered by four AA batteries, it syncs with your iOS device via a Bluetooth connection and, when used alongside the Dijit controller app, lets you control as many as 200,000 home entertainment devices from your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch straight out of the box.

Set up was incredibly simple. Once the batteries are placed in the bottom of the Beacon, you push down on its curved top till you hear a "Frustration" style click, which sends out a Bluetooth signal. It's then just a case of syncing the device with your iOS gadget through the Bluetooth device menu of your Apple phone, mp3 player or tablet. Rather than an actual remote control, the Beacon actually works to convert Bluetooth signals from your iOS device into infra-red ones that your entertainment devices can understand. Therefore line of sight thankfully isn't needed to control the Beacon's many functions (though you'll still have to carry it around if you want to use it in multiple rooms). There are no control buttons on the Beacon; this is left up to the free Dijit app, which is very good indeed.

Upon firing up the Dijit app (which syncs and recognises the Beacon very simply) you'll be presented with a quick set-up screen which lets you select all manner of AV gear, from TVs to home cinema receivers, games consoles to stereos. Everyone from the big name brands like Samsung and Sony right down to the sort of budget brands you'd find in a supermarket bargain bin are supported, which is a great achievement. There are inevitably gaps in the device list (Roberts DAB radios weren't supported for instance) but the majority of gear is there. App software updates will continually update the device list, so it's worth checking back later, and the Beacon can also be "taught" other unsupported devices too, though that's not worth the complicated set-up it needs.

The Dijit app is simple to navigate and select different units to control, but perhaps its best feature is the level of customisation it offers. You can add tens of buttons for each device you want to control through the app, resizing buttons to fit what's comfortable for you, add custom buttons to run controls not found on your regular remote, or even remove buttons that you find no use for. The days of squinting at remote controls for a hard to find tiny button are long gone, and you can even use it to invent touchscreen gesture controls, like a two-finger swipe to adjust TV volume for instance.
Another great touch is the Activities feature. This lets you program the Beacon to perform numerous buttons at the press of a single button. For instance, you might set up an activity that turns on your TV, Digital TV box and home cinema speaker system all at once. It's a great time saver, and one that once set up would suit to a tee a technophobe who finds multiple controllers confusing.

As you can probably guess, we were very impressed by the Beacon. But it's not without its faults.

Firstly, the decision to run off of regular batteries rather than a rechargeable built-in one seems an archaic one. Two months worth of battery life is considerably less than I squeeze out of my remote controls. Though the wire-free set up is handy, it would have been nice to have had the option of using an AC adapter for those not planning on moving the Beacon about.

The lack of Android support is understandable for a device that's launching as "Made for Apple", and though there is an app in the works, it's disappointing not to see it ready at launch. Even more disappointing is the lack of native iPad app support; using that big screen to house multiple remotes at once would have been a superb addition over a blown up, stretched iPhone one.

Lastly, the Beacon lacks some functionality in the UK that its US versions have. In the US, users can check TV listings and share them via social networking sites with their pals; in the UK you cant. Likewise Netflix accounts can be browsed and managed in the US with the Beacon and Dijit app, and while Netflix may not be available in the UK, no suitable alternative (like Lovefilm) has been added to fill the gap.



Despite some quibbles, the Beacon remains a superb solution to having tens of chunky remote controls laying around your living room. iPad support and a rechargeable battery are the main issues holding it back from top marks, but the amount of customisation easily lets us see past the Beacon's few faults.



The old style Teletext Holiday pages were a mean old thing. With the rain lashing down outside and you at your lowest ebb, Teletext Holidays was the perfect (and at the time, practically only) place to browse cheap holiday packages and imagine yourself in distant, exotic climes. The irony was, in stormy weather your analogue TV reception would usually go up the wall, and the rainbow coloured blocky text of Teletext would become a garbled mess.

It's a completely different story with the Teletext Holidays App for Samsung's range of Smart TVs. Slick and web connected, they're hoping arm-chair day dreamers will once again turn to their TVs for travel inspiration.

The TV app will help users pick a cut-price trip by offering video guides, destination photos and a booking portal in what its makers are describing as "a glimpse of what the future of choosing holidays will look like".

"Searching for holidays on the television is what our brand is famous for so the partnership with Samsung Smart TV is an exciting new direction for us," said Victoria Sanders, Teletext Holidays managing director.

"This is a first for the travel industry and I believe it has the potential to transform the holiday search process. We've invested in creating an App which is simple, inspiring and practical to use."

The app is live now on Samsung Smart TVs and Samsung's range of connected home theatre products.

Thanks to the popularity of Apple's App Store and the now-ubiquitous nature of apps on smartphones and tablet PCs, apps are weaving their way into every aspect of modern life. From doing your grocery shopping to finding a parking spot, there are apps to help you out with almost everything.

Though many manufacturers have attempted to put apps into their HD and 3D TVs, most have been met with, at best, middling success. Between clunky interfaces and a dearth of content, they feel tacked on additions to otherwise strong hardware.

Samsung however have taken the whole area very seriously, refreshing their connected TV line in 2010 with the Smart TV platform. Mixing together social networks, video on demand content, games, news and even video calling through a Skype app, its use of an app store and familiar grid-like app icon layout made it far easier to navigate than most rival offerings.

"Due to the popularity of smartphones and tablets, we know people are comfortable with smart devices. Smart TV is the next step in the evolution of smart devices and Samsung Smart TVs do everything that other smart devices do and more," said Guy Kinnell Samsung's UK Marketing Director for TV.

"The Samsung Smart TV hub is one of the most user friendly interfaces on the market and viewers are quickly mastering how to make the most of their Smart TV. For instance, Apps such as LOVEFiLM, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are all common place in people's lives and are also all available on Samsung Smart TVs".

Where Samsung look most likely succeed where other rival's connected TV platforms have failed however is in the attention to synergy between the hardware of Smart TVs, Samsung's wider product catalogue and the app software. For instance, text entry in the past for TV apps has been a real chore using traditional remote controls, but the company's Touch Remote with (you guessed it) touchscreen controls makes it far easier to send Tweets or Facebook updates from the sofa. The "AllShare" feature, allowing you to control elements of the Smart TV platform with a Samsung mobile again makes navigation far more intuitive.

Most notably however is the introduction of the new free-to-view 3D Video On Demand app, the first of its kind on any 3D TV from any manufacturer. One of the biggest points slowing the growth of 3D TV sales is the relative lack of 3D video content to go with them, especially for free. With Samsung's 3D Smart TV range you now have access to 3D content straight out of the box, free of charge, with many of the offerings previously having been IMAX 3D cinema exclusives.


"The demand for 3D is growing rapidly, but only a handful of channels are providing content. Samsung has led the 3D LED TV market since it launched last year, and the roll-out of our 3D video-on-demand service demonstrates our commitment to accelerating its growth," said Andy Griffiths Samsung's UK Vice President for Consumer Electronics.

"We believe that in the near future every viewer will have access to 3D content in the comfort of their own living room through a Smart TV. We will therefore continue to develop our Smart TV offering in order to provide consumers with the best viewing experience possible."

So will we ever see apps on TVs as commonly used as those now seen on mobile platforms?

"Connected TV apps I think will grow incredibly but will be a different experience entirely to mobile apps; the TV doesn't move, it is a shared experience and you don't want to be inputting too much text on your TV as the handset makes this difficult," said Craig Chuter Head of Business Development at app developers Capablue, winners of the Samsung App Developer Challenge.

"I think the TV apps will become an integral part of our TV viewing experience especially for TV catch-up and film services. "

Samsung's relationship with app developers, as highlighted by their partnership with Capablue, also bodes well for the future. Compared to other connected TV platforms, you get the sense that Samsung are in for the long haul with the Smart TV's, with a constantly updated stream of apps from a variety of developers and content that looks set to be as well served and relevant in five years time as it is now.

"Samsung will be continually building on the current Samsung Apps store to ensure viewers have the widest range of content to enjoy on their TV" said Kinnell.

"Gaming, 3D videos and social networking; whether they still have a 2011 model in two years or five years time, these Apps will still provide as an important viewer experience as ever before."

toshiba-battery-hdtv.jpgPicture the scene; it's a glorious summer's day, birds are chirping in the trees, kids are playing in the parks and hot guys and gals are stripping down to shorts and bikinis everywhere. It's THE time to get outside. But, to pull a line from The Lemonheads' The Outdoor Type tune, "What if something's on TV and it's never shown again?". Are you destined for a summer indoors, pasty skinned watching Cash in The Attic re-runs?

Not any more! Say hello to Toshiba's REGZA 19P2 TV. HD-ready with a resolution of 1366x768, the 19 inch TV comes equipped with a removable rechargeable battery that allows for 5 hours of continuous TV viewing. Packing in a 1Seg Digital TV Tuner, the TV frees you from the tyranny of power sockets, letting you take your shows on the go in crisp HD-ready quality.

You can of course use the TV from the mains too, with a "Peak Shift" option intelligently switching from battery to the mains once the power pack is charged. Additional battery packs are also available, while other specs for the LED-backlit panel include a 1000:1 contrast ratio and a single HDMI port.

Looks to be a Japanese exclusive at the moment however, with a price tag of 50,000 Yen.

loewe-napster.jpgLoewe's collection of web-connected HD TVs are getting a software update today that sees Napster added to the growing selection of services through the televisions' online portal.

Napster will now feature in Loewe's MediaNet on all Individual LED, Connect LED and Art LED screens. The service allows users to download and stream some 15 million songs to their sets, and will be available for free for the first 14 days of use, after which a subscription charge will be required.

MediaNet allows websites and online services like Napster to be navigated with just a remote control, optimising websites for viewing on a HD TV.

Philips 21X9  Platinum Angle.JPGName: 58PFL9955H Cinema 21:9 Platinum 3D TV (Philips)

Type: True cinema ratio 3D TV

Specs: Click here for full specs

Price: £3,674.99 from Amazon

For the true movie-nut there's nothing quite like a trip to the cinema; the smell of the popcorn machine, the sticky carpeting underfoot, the awkward teenage fumblings on the back seats, and, most importantly, the gigantic widescreen vision of your favourite directors in all their epic Hollywood glory. It's an effect that, even with a decent projector, has been one difficult to replicate at home, but Philips have come closest to realising it in the living room through their Cinema 21:9 range. This latest model, the Platinum 58PFL9955H, attempts to improve upon the superb work of the previous versions by throwing in built-in active-shutter 3D tech.

The 58PFL9955H is terrifically wide. Whereas traditional widescreen TVs come in a 16:9 ratio, this Philips set sports a 21:9 ratio at a 58-inch diagonal size instead. In effect, this means you get a match for the super-wide cinema style format, minus the distracting black bars at the top and bottom of a DVD or Blu-ray movie. It comes in at around 2.39:1 in terms of width, as close as any TV has come before to 2.35:1 cinema film transfers. While purists will bemoan the fact that no Blu-rays truly take advantage of the size (due to the black bars being added at the mastering stage to fit more traditionally sized screens), the Philips set masterfully processes the source signal, cleverly adapting it to the 21:9 screen. It is truly cinematic and a joy to watch movies on.

Likewise, the screen cleverly handles 4:3 and 16:9 signals. You can force the screen to keep each source signal to scale within the confines of the 58-inch display, putting the black bars left and right of 16:9 or 4:3 sources, distort the images to fill the entire screen, or choose completely unscaled images from the original source. The wealth of options is both necessary and pleasing, though it can become a little fiddly if you're quickly jumping from movies to something shot in anything other than the 21:9 format. The screen can also be set to automatically recognise the screen size, and adjust it appropriately, though we found it sometimes erratically changed scale mid-film, which could be jarring.

Philips 21X9 Platinum - Lifestyle 3.jpg

All of this would be for naught were the picture quality poor, but the 58PFL9955H truly shines in this department. Complete with 1,500 LEDs behind the display panel, the screen manages breathtaking contrast levels. We watched The Wolfman on Blu-ray with the set, and marvelled at the maintained level of detail surrounding light sources during the film's many dark scenes. Colour reproduction is also superbly vibrant, with superb definition between shades. Of course, the screen fares significantly less well with SD broadcasts as opposed to 1080p Full HD signals, but no worse than other large HDTVs. The lack of a Freeview HD tuner is a significant omission however at this price range.

Like most top-end TV screens, the 58PFL9955H is packed to the rafters with motion-processing and screen smoothing features in the shape of the Perfect Pixel HD engine. 400Hz processing does well to remove the blur of fast moving imagery, though we were less keen on the the Natural Motion feature. Designed primarily to even out the 24fps setting of Blu-rays (less than half the speed of regular TV broadcasts), we found it made playback look unnatural if anything, doing too much to remove the actually-kind-of-enjoyable film "grain" look. It is, of course, an optional effect, and everything looks much better with it set to a "minimum" strength level. And though the viewing angle is a claimed 176 degrees, we found colours to wash-out and lose their strength considerably at tight angles. Regardless, give the set a reasonable amount of tweaking and 2D movies look an absolute dream.

The main jump for the 58PFL9955H over previous Philips 21:9 models is the inclusion of 3D technology. This is built-in rather than an optional add-on, favouring the active rather than passive standard. On the whole, it does a good job; removing the black bars from 3D Blu-ray playback of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs instantly made the effect feel more involving. All 3D sources however, be they PS3 gaming, Blu-ray or Sky 3D, suffered from echoes and ghosting. Rarely was it bad enough to be a deal-breaker, but in terms of 3D performance, we've viewed better sets. Two sets of 3D glasses are thrown in though, which softens that glancing blow a tad.

Philips 21X9 Platinum - Lifestyle 4 med.jpg

On the other hand, sound quality from the 30W speakers in the set was far, far better than any other flatscreen we've tried. Two rear-housed woofers gave a strong bass response, whilst a pair of forward-firing drivers offered clear voices and middle ranges with a pseudo-surround effect. It's no match for a dedicated 5.1 system, but other manufacturers should take note of the flatscreen-sound improvements made here by Philips.

In terms of build, the Philips set isn't the most svelte screen we've reviewed, measuring in at 71mm, but it's hardly chubby either. The superb Ambilight function likely adds somewhat to this extra bulk, but it's worth it; three bars of LED-lights sit on the top, left and right edges of the TV, which colourfully glow to match whatever is happening on-screen. It's another immersive feature, making movie action seem to seep into your surroundings. Other than that it's a solid build, with a thick grey bezel around the screens edge, accented by a small silver lip in the bezel's lower-centre.

Connection options are generous with 4 x HDMI, 2 x USB, 2 x SCART, 1 x Ethernet and integrated Wi-Fi among others. DLNA networking was a breeze to set up, while we found USB video playback handled a satisfying amount of codecs (including H264/MPEG-4 AVC, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV9/VC1). Those looking to take their set online will be pleased by the Net TV service too. Not only does it include widgets for YouTube and Cartoon Network among others, but also access to a fully-blown Opera browser, releasing you from the Philips walled-garden of platform content.

If you're a movie-buff, owning the Philips 21:9 is a no-brainer. It's a luscious set that, while having specialist leanings due to its screen ratio, will blow away absolutely anyone who gives it a try. Detailed 2D images, admirable connectivity and strong sound make for a superbly cinematic experience. A few niggling processing problems and middling 3D performance prevent us from awarding a perfect score, but for regular Blu-ray viewers you just wont find a better set.


quantum-dot.jpgIt's a technology still in its infancy, and at least three years away from making it to a commercial product, but Samsung have revealed that their next generation of displays are to be powered by quantum dot technology.

Brighter and more energy efficient than either LCD of OLED, quantom dot tech is half the cost of AMOLED and have a longer life span too.

Quantum dot technology is made up of semiconducting nanoncrystals, illumintaed by a current or light. Controlled by an active matrix, each quantum dot-pixel switches on and off through a thin-film transistor.

Protoypes are in the works using both glass and flexible plastics, with Samsung planning to feature the technology in their TVs, mobile phones, tablets and media players over the coming years. LG have also displayed an interest, partnering with quantum-dot experts QD Vision.

So a little way in the future then, but it's looking brighter, and cheaper too, with quantum-dot displays in the mix.

Via: Technology Review / Electric Pig

Panasonic are updating their mini VIERA range with three new models, with features designed to help out cooks with sticky fingers.

The Panasonic VIERA DMP-BV300, DMP-HV200 and DMP-HV150 all come with a 10.1 inch 1024 x 600 displays, with built in digital TV tuners, ethernet connections for DLNA and YouTube widgets and memory card playback from SD/SCHC/SDXC formats.

Motion controls in the DMP-HV200 make it perfect for use in the kitchen, when mucky hands may make it difficult to control otherwise, allowing for waves of the wand to change channels and volume. It's also splashproof, so won't be too bothered if it's sat next to a sink. The DMP-HV150 is also splash proof, but doesn't feature motion controls.

The DMP-BV300 gets an integrated Blu-ray player, with HDMI output to an external 1080p display should you so desire.

All three pair with Panasonic's TY-CC10W Skype camera, with the BV300 also portable for a few hours thanks to a rechargeable batttery pack.

Due out in March in Japan, the BV300 will set you back around £590, the HV200 £390 and the HV150 £320, though no word on a UK release has yet been made.

pioneer-elite.jpegAfter nearly a year left out to sea, Pioneer's Elite TVs are set to make a return this year as part of a new partnership with Sharp that will see the Elite brand become a standalone arm of their Quattron TV range.

The AV world shed a fair few tears when Pioneer announced it would be discontinuing their much-praised Elite and Kuro ranges. Perhaps this Elite ressurection also spells out a little hope for a re-vamped Kuro line?

However, Elite fans of old may turn their noses up at the new sets, as they will no longer feature the plasma goodness they're were praised for.

"As a leader in large-screen LCD TVs, we are excited to collaborate with Pioneer to bring a high-end LCD TV to the Elite consumer," explained John Herrington, Sharp's president of marketing in the US.

"The Elite brand is highly respected in the high-end market, and Sharp can deliver the quality and innovation that Elite customers demand."

Sharp and Pioneer are hoping the Elite brand will become instrumental in their expansion of the lucrative custom install market.

Via: CrunchGear

Hannspree HDTV range gets two LED updates

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hannspree-led.jpgHannspree, better known for their kooky novelty TVs in the shape of animals and oversized fruit are taking a more sensible route for their latest sets. They're updating their range of HDTVs by throwing LED technology into their latest sets.

The two new sets in question are the SV32 and SV42 models, measuring up at 32 and 42 inches respectively.

Budget friendly at £419.99 and £549.99, both feature generous specifications. While you're not getting web capabilities, you will find the proprietary Vivid Motion 100Hz technology, a Full HD 1080p resolution, a 450cd/m2 brightness, a contrast ratio of 4,750,000:1 (known as X-Contrast), a response time of 6.5ms and 178º/178º  viewing angles.

Connectivity comes from three HDMI 1.3 ports, alongside composite, component and VGA connections. Hook up a USB drive to view JPEG images and various video formats.

Available now, you can pick up the new Hanspree sets online from Ebuyer or the Hannspree store in the Westfield shopping centre.

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