Cutting the Cord: A look at TV without cable or satellite
We've done two looks at web-enabled TV, but today we put them head-to-head and consider the broader question of "cutting the cord" - using only broadcast and internet sources for entertainment. Check out the new video and please leave questions in the comments. Thanks!
Video Review of the Vizio M261VP Internet-enabled TV
Internet connected TVs and devices are steadily increasing in popularity and affordability, and today we have a review of the Vizio M261VP. For the features this comes with (1080p, LED backlight, ambient light sensor, built-in internet apps, built-in 802.11n), the price is great - I got it refurbished for $250 shipped. The quality is excellent, and the software design is in many ways better than others such as Sony - the Netflix interface is definitely superior, allowing for both search and preview on seeking. One of the best tech toys I've gotten - check out the video for more.
Video Review of the Sony BDP-S570 Internet Blu-Ray Player
We've seen a lot of reviews of the Sony BDP-S570 Blu-Ray player, but hardly any coverage of its streaming capabilities or ability to stand-in as an alternative to a separate media player, such as Apple TV, Boxee, WD TV Live or Roku. This review focuses explicitly on all that this player can do by itself, including reading video files from a connected USB drive.
Google has rolled out free telephone calls through Gmail within the United States and Canada. We've seen a lot of people trying to use this service to make simple outgoing calls, and getting a lot of complicated answers about SIP, SIPSorcery, SIP Gate accounts, and so on. The truth is, for basic calling, it is incredibly simple to use Gmail for phone calls. Here's how.
1) If you don't already have a Google Voice number, sign up for one. It's a great service to have on hand and Gmail will integrate with your number. Google Voice 2) Install the necessary plugin by clicking "Call Phone" in Gmail Chat. 3) You need a speaker device and a microphone device to use the service. This can be as simple as a wired headset or handset for your PC, but we use a Bluetooth headset and highly recommend the same. Untether from your PC! Bluetooth will reach about 30 feet or more, so you can walk around in adjacent areas. Many laptops have this built in already, while most PCs will need to use a Bluetooth USB adapter. 4) Gmail is initially set to use whatever your default speaker and mic devices are, so it's a good idea to change these to avoid the sound playing back through your laptop speakers, for instance. Sign into Gmail and go to Settings - Chat. Under Voice and Video Chat, use the drop-down menus next to Microphone and Speakers to choose your Bluetooth device. 5) Place a call by hitting "Call Phone" in Gmail. Your callers will see your Google Voice number on their caller ID. When they pick up, you'll be using your Bluetooth device just like you would on a cellphone call. That's it!
A great move by the European Union. A new regulation requires a cap (set to a default of 50 Euros) on roaming data charges. Any usage past this will give the user an access error message and prevent huge roaming charges that the user is unaware are accruing.
Apple held a press conference today regarding the iPhone 4 and the reported signal strength/antenna issues. They posted some videos of other phones like the Bold experiencing the same issues when held firmly. They have offered to give every iPhone 4 user a free case. Rock on!
Boxee's schedule proved to be too aggressive - in a recent blog post, the team has announced that the Boxee Box by D-Link will not be available until the November time frame. For those with home theater PCs, they are happily running Boxee now, but one of the big advantages will be the QWERTY remote shown in our CES coverage. We've got our fingers crossed on the new date.
There is a brief but interesting (negative) review of the Psyko headphones that we covered from CES over at The Tech Report. They complain the most about the lack of fidelity, and essentially endorse them only for hardcore gamers with lots of money to burn. Amongst the generally positive press this was the first negative feedback I've seen, but TR does great work and their review is worth consideration. It was impossible for us to assess sound quality at a tradeshow, especially playing Call of Duty.
"It's tempting to write off Psyko's 5.1-channel headphones as an epic failure due to their dismal fidelity. ... Discounting the Psykos completely would sell short a notable achievement, though. The sounds produced may be of questionable quality, but they're coming from the right directions. Psyko's novel approach to surround sound really does deliver the most convincing positional audio I've experienced with a set of headphones."
The NY Times and WSJ report that Nintendo is coming out with a 3D version of the DS, debuting at E3 in June. The 3D display will not require glasses. Is anyone else reminded of Virtual Boy?? (I had to search for 15 minutes before I could remember the name and find a reference or picture, it's been quietly left out in the historical console timeline.)
Funny story on Engadget today about iBUYPOWER's Battalion Touch laptop (which we covered briefly in our CES story) cutting a Laptop Magazine reviewer. The aluminum logo came up and the sharp edge of the 'W' got him or her. Ouch!