The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit confirmed a lower court’s ruling that Dish Network’s Hopper, a DVR that automatically skips commercials when playing back recorded content, does not violate copyright law. Whether or not the decision is appealed, this case will produce a landmark ruling.
Archive for the 'Television' Category
This year’s crop of Superbowl commercials was definitely lacking. But Hulu has all of them available online. Here are my favorites:
Note: if your Internet browser has an ad-blocking extension, you will need to disable it to view the videos.
The linked article gives a breakdown on tech gear that may seem like a good deal but which should probably be avoided. In many cases it’s possible to get a much better item for just a little more money.
Here’s the short version of what not to buy:
- Budget Android gadgets
- 17-inch laptops
- Bridge cameras
- Entry-level e-readers
- Budget LCD TVs
In case you missed them, Hulu has online videos of this year’s Superbowl commercials (it also has previous years back to 2008). Here are my three favorites:
And then there’s the one where Priceline (finally!) kills off William Shatner.
Note that it may be necessary to disable your browser’s ad-blocking software in order to view the site.
Television manufacturers and the motion picture industry are pushing 3D technology, even though many consumers don’t want it. For me, it’s the glasses and the eye strain that are the kiss of death. I already wear glasses, so putting another pair on over top of them is awkward and uncomfortable. The linked article also lists reduced picture quality as a reason to abandon 3D.
IBM’s “Watson” computer wiped out the human competition in the first match of Jeopardy (aired on Tuesday, Feb. 14th). Watson scored $35,734 compared to Ken Jennings at $4,800 and Brad Rutter at $10,400. Keep in mind that Jennings won the most consecutive games, staying in for 74 matches, and Rutter is the all-time money winner at more than $3 million. Long the stuff of science fiction, Watson is a significant step on the road to computers that can respond to natural speech.
Netflix is known for sending movies through the mail, but now more and more of its business is done via online streaming. From the linked article: “Three years ago we [Netflix] were a DVD-by-mail company that offered some streaming. We are very proud to announce that by every measure we are now a streaming company, which also offers DVD-by-mail.” To get a grasp on just how big this is, a recent study by Sandvine found that Netflix is responsible for 20% of downstream internet traffic during certain peak periods. And the folks at Netflix, being no dummies and seeing the future for what it is, have made it easier to access content from game consoles.
3D televisions were all the rage at last January’s Consumer Electronics Show, but the reality is that (1) they require inconvenient 3D glasses, and (2) the glasses are expensive. So demand is not very high. Fortunately there are alternatives on the horizon. Toshiba, for example, will be releasing some glasses-free screens next month. They’re small and very expensive, and you have to to sit in specific locations relative to the screen, but I expect it won’t be too long before the size goes up and the price goes down.
Ever wondered just how much television actors make? The linked article shows the top earners. Oprah Winfrey wins by a landslide ($315 million per year), and Charlie Sheen comes in second with $1.25 million per episode. As astronomical as these may seem, average salaries are lower than they used to be. For example, the final season of Friends had all six cast members making $1 million per episode.
Thanks to Mike P. for this link.
Television manufacturers know that people don’t like 3D glasses, so they’re trying very hard to find an alternative. Glasses-free 3D systems are currently available, but you have to view the TV from a specific location. I’m not sure how effective that would be in a family living room. The linked article has a short blurb on Sony’s efforts in this area.
Back in 1962, researchers at Corning developed a very strong glass that’s hard to break, scratch, or dent. The product didn’t gain acceptance, and Corning gave up trying to sell it—until recently, that is. “Gorilla Glass” is now being used for consumer electronics such as smartphones and netbooks, and is poised to enter the television market. Corning is making some serious money from this invention that couldn’t find a buyer 50 years ago.
In the older, analog world of video, any degradation in the signal due to cheap cabling would cause a corresponding degradation in the picture. So super-high-quality, gold plated, and hideously expensive cables made a certain amount of sense. But in the digital world, you can have a severe amount of signal degradation without any loss in picture quality. The $6.00 cable really is just as good as the $250.00 cable. In fact, you may see more degradation from your cable or satellite provider than you’ll ever get from cabling.