Top Five Things to Look for When Buying an HDTV

Since we talked about 4k screens the other day, it occurred to me that some people may not even know where to begin when trying to decide on a regular old HDTV purchase. It seemed like a perfect time to revisit the advice that Matt Smith (no, not Doctor #11, but The Matt Smith!) once shared. While this was written a few years ago and some of the details may be out of date, most of this excellent advice holds true today if you’re not yet committed to going 4k.

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Apple TV Initial Impressions

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I received my Apple TV the other day, and decided to unbox it in front of the live audience. Yes, I know that the television currently in my home office sucks. If you have recommendations for a new one, I’d love to hear them.

I appreciate that the Apple TV is black and silver. It matches my home office perfectly. Poor Wicket wants a Google TV but has to be patient for a while longer. The remote app is nice for both the Apple TV and my iPhone. I will likely use my phone as the remote.

Unboing was pretty simple… pull out the device, the instruction book and the remote and you’re done. If you’re planning to get an Apple TV, how soon will you have one? If you’re not getting one – why not? I’m curious to hear what everyone in the community is planning to do, and why.

Apple TV has been redesigned to be small in size but big on entertainment. Rent from the largest selection of HD movies — many available the same day they come out on DVD. Watch Netflix titles instantly. Rent TV shows, commercial free in HD. And stream photos and music from your computer to your widescreen TV. Best of all, Apple TV is just $99.

The Apple TV is very portable… enough so that I will carry it with me wherever I want to use it in my house. I will likely also bring it along when I travel somewhere. Using iTunes with it to find movies is actually pretty simple and intuitive. The prices are comparable (and often cheaper) than what you’ll find anywhere else.

Have you tried an Apple TV yet? What are your thoughts?

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Are You Ready to Cut the Cable?

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37% of young Netflix subscribers aged 25-34 have cut cable for Netflix only, and almost 30% of users between ages 18-24 are using Netflix only vs. cable or satellite. Are people cutting cable for On Demand services? Are you thinking about it? Lamarr is definitely thinking about it – or at least talking about it.

It’s interesting to see so many people getting rid of standard cable connections in favor of services such as Hulu and Netflix. A recent post on Mashable talks about the ways our living rooms are changing. They discuss every option available these days from Boxee to Netflix to Apple TV.

Lamarr happens to be in this “young age bracket.” He hasn’t cut his cable yet, but he did purchase the Roku Box. He is amazed by it – and the fact that Hulu will be coming to the Roku this fall. He’s replacing his standard TV in his living room with Google TV in the near future, as well.

At the end of October, Lamarr is cutting his cable. Are you doing the same?

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Cable Companies vs the Internet: The Future of Consumption

Not long ago, I published a video discussing the possible future of the Internet. I received a lot of feedback on this post (thank you all!) but one email in particular stood out. Max is a community member over on Geeks, and has an interesting theory I wanted to share with all of you. He feels that once the Internet can “catch up” to the speeds and availability that the cable companies now enjoy, we will no longer need or want cable television service at all.

I just watched your video about the future of the Internet and I thought I’d pass on a little prediction I have. I’ve been watching the advance of Internet bandwidth alongside television providers. At this present moment, to the average technologically connected consumer, Internet bandwidth average (about 3-5mbps in the US, much higher in other countries; hmmm? :/) is nowhere near capable of streaming the now standard 1080i/p video content.

Now, I personally loathe cable companies, as they are oppressive monopolies that control our local Internet infrastructure. Aside from my personal emotions toward cable, the facts show Internet is catching up, and cable is slowing down. Slowly, but surely, Internet bandwidth will increase in speed (I’m hoping for sooner – FIBER!!!). Google Fiber is helping to pioneer our next step into the future where those loading bars will be obsolete.

Now here’s the meat of my theory: My personal belief is the day that you and I can turn on a computer and stream multiple 1080p movies off the Internet, cable companies will die. Think about it. What would we need them for anymore? The only reason cable dominates, is because their bandwidth pipe to our cable boxes is orders of magnitude greater than Internet speed. Once Internet catches up to cable bandwidth, their usefulness will vanish.

Now problems lie in between. The cable companies aren’t going to go down without a fight. There should be FCC regulation in place: You can either own the water or the pipe; the content or the cable, but NOT both. Unfortunately, these regulations are grey areas and are put in fluid terms “special regulations governing content owned by providers” and cable companies are purchasing exclusive rights to HD sports and other content and refusing distribution to other providers.

I think cable companies right now are making deals with content providers to give them exclusive rights and not provide Internet content (yes, I’m touching on conspiracy theory but I may be right). To compensate, the Internet content providers of the present are trying to bring in revenue as well. Hulu is now charging for older episodes of content, Apple iTunes Store of course charges, YouTube even plays 30 second commercials before many of their movie trailers and have their own movie rental service.

This wave of free content on the Internet won’t last very long. It only works because it’s low quality and the providers don’t care because it’s not the same experience. But now HD is available, even if it’s not immediate gratification. I think free HD content online is affecting the bottom line of the cable providers, because it’s OH NO… COMPETITION! and they have to strike that down. Although I enjoyed getting movies and TV shows free online, that transition period is beginning to waiver, and I prefer higher quality anyway.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, cable companies won’t be necessary anymore when the Internet can pipe it through at fast enough rates. Unfortunately, that probably won’t be for another 5-10 years, but let’s keep our fingers crossed. In the end we’ll probably have a very similar box connected to the TV, but instead of a cable hook up, it has an Internet connection: Seen this anywhere?…Google TV :). Google seems to be on the forefront of the future of the internet, and I commend them for it. Let’s just hope the providers can cope with the demand when we get there!

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with Max?

Is a Hulu Plus Subscription Worth Paying For?

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Will you become a Hulu Plus subscriber, or will you stick to the Hulu experience you’ve known to this point? If not, why not – and if so, why so? Some people are upset over the way Hulu decided to support the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad – but the other alternative seems just as expensive (either with media ala-carte spending or time spent on converting illegally-attained videos). It certainly works – no doubt about that. If you don’t like what they’re doing, you can vote with your feet – but complaining about it in a YouTube comment probably won’t get you very far.

There are more than thirty currently popular television shows (from ABC, NBC and FOX) available to watch in their current season via Hulu Plus. In addition, you can catch up with hundreds of your favorite shows’ past seasons and episodes. There are more than 120 seasons and 2,000 episodes of rich library content—that’s thousands of hours of entertainment.

You can use your Hulu Plus subscription on several devices – not just your Apple ones. You can use certain Samsung televisions, your Xbox 360 and more. They’re accessible anywhere you can get to your account, so you can watch these easily on the road.

If you do plan on getting a subscription, know that you’re going to sit through commercials. Commercials on Hulu aren’t intrusive in my opinion. Only you can decide if paying for Hulu is worth it to you. It’s definitely worth my money – and time.

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