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Android on Plair 2 HDMI wireless streaming dongle

Plair beat Google to the punch with its wireless streaming HDMI dongle that was announced at last year’s CES, but had the wind sucked from it sails with the arrival of Chromecast. So, the company went back to the lab and today, it’s ready to reveal Plair 2, a dongle that looks the same as the original, but comes running a customized version of Android. That means instead of simply being a conduit for streaming video from the cloud, it runs most any app found on Google Play on your TV. It works via an Android companion app (for devices running version 4.3 or iOS 5 and up) that lets you connect the dongle to your home WiFi network and acts as a remote control for the device after setup’s complete. Oh, and with the added functionality comes a sizable drop in price — while the original Plair cost $99, this new version costs just $49.

Setting up Plair 2 is a simple affair. Just like the Chromecast, you simply stick the dongle into an HDMI port on your TV, plug in the microUSB power cord, then load up the companion app. The app prompts you to log the dongle into your home network, then switches to remote mode once your done — it takes no more than a minute or two. After that, your TV will load up Plair’s home screen, which displays a row of apps onscreen in a cover flow fashion. Navigation via the companion app’s accomplished via swipes and taps or a virtualized touchpad and cursor. Once you’ve chosen your content portal, the tablet version of that app is displayed onscreen, and you make your selections with the cursor.

While the remote app is a good idea in theory, we found using it to be a bit difficult. Swipes failed to register regularly, and scrolling up and down was often a dicey affair — scrolling down usually worked, but we often had to lift our finger off the screen and try multiple times to get it to scroll up. Additionally, while video quality is largely comparable to what you’ll see via Chromecast, buffering takes a bit longer, and we had playback issues during our brief testing with Plair 2. Hulu Plus and Netflix froze on us several times when trying to load content, and playback on Comcast’s Xfinity app froze a couple times as well. We also played a bit of Angry Birds on the device, and found the experience enjoyable. Control via the companion app worked well, and we experienced none of the issues we had when streaming video.

In short, while the Plair 2 costs $14 more than Chromecast, it also offers a lot more functionality. The ability to run any Android app or game is really handy, and well worth the additional cash outlay. In general, the fact of the matter is that Chromecast is less expensive, currently streams video better than Plair does and its native app control paradigm is superior to Plair’s proprietary remote. However, the ability to play games and run Android apps on the TV is valuable, and the company tells us that it’s working on improving the user experience. That’s good, because improvement’s needed if it hopes to carve out some market space alongside Google’s offering.

 

 

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Mirroring your computer onto any HDMI display with Airtame wireless dongle

Here’s yet another option for wirelessly mirroring your computer screen to another display, but don’t worry: This one is rather impressive. Airtame, the creation of a group of Danish folks, is an HDMI dongle that links your PC — be it running Windows, OS X or Linux — to whatever display it’s plugged into over WiFi. Installation is a breeze: All you need on the PC side is just the software, and from there you can choose which dongles to beam your screen to. Yes, dongles, because you really can beam one PC to multiple screens, thus beating Miracast. We also played a game on one of the laptops, and the response time on the remote display was surprisingly good.

 

 

 

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Matchstick’s Firefox OS adapter – Media to your TV for $25

Looking for a streaming media stick that’s more accessible than Google’s Chromecast? You might have found it. After a few teasers, Matchstick has revealed the first Firefox OS-based media sharing adapter. The self-titled gadget lets you “fling” video, websites and other content from Firefox (naturally), Chrome and supporting apps to your TV. While the hardware should be a bit more powerful than Chromecast, the real allure is a completely open platform — you can tinker with the software and even build your own hardware if you’re the entreprenurial sort. A low price will help, too. Matchstick hopes to sell its stick for $25 this February, and that’s assuming you don’t back the upcoming Kickstarter project — get in early and it will cost $18. Even if Matchstick doesn’t get as much app support as Google’s device, it may be worth a look.

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Top 4K TVs Compared

Both Netflix and Amazon stream in 4K. Cameras like the Sony a7S and the Panasonic Lumix GH4 can shoot in 4K. Even smartphones have been getting in on the act, with handsets like the LG G Pro 2 and Sony Xperia Z2 capable of recording 4K video. So with the amount of 4K content available increasing every day, you may have been thinking about buying a 4K set so you too can bask in the glow of 3,840 x 2,160 resolution. But 4K sets don’t come cheap, and you’re going to want to do a bit of research before dropping that much cash. While we don’t really review televisions here at Engadget, we’ve done the next best thing, compiling the opinions of trusted critics from across the web. Which set offers you the most bang for your buck? Do bells and whistles like a curved screen make a difference? Check out a few members of the 4K Class of 2014 below.

Panasonic Life+Screen AX800

At first blush, the Panasonic AX800 series has a lot going for it. It’s a nice-looking set that PC Mag says is “minimalist and unique,” suited for both TV stands and entertainment centers. Turn it on, and the picture is equally impressive, delivering what AVForums calls “rich textures and nuanced lighting,” while Reviewed.com thinks this LCD could stand toe to toe with a good plasma set, due to its “good black levels, accurate colors and reliable screen uniformity.” But if you’re looking to sit down and enjoy some House of Cards in beautiful 4K, you’ll be disappointed — Netflix on the AX800 is limited to 1080p (and lower). Given the relative scarcity of commercial 4K content, the inability to watch a major provider like Netflix is a big ding on an otherwise stellar UHD set.

Price: $2,300 and up

Samsung U9000

Walk into a room and the first thing you’ll notice about the Samsung U9000 is its curved screen, which CNET says adds a “unique, futuristic look” to a set that is overall “drop-dead gorgeous.” It says the picture is equally stunning, offering “deep black levels, accurate color and great bright-room viewing qualities.” But what about that curve? Though it’s meant to create a feeling of depth and immersion, CNET found it “didn’t have any major effect on the picture aside from reducing reflections somewhat,” and Reviewed.com found it actually made some reflections worse, such that “lamps and lights are occasionally stretched across the entire arc of the screen.” It’s worth noting that the U9000 also includes an improved Smart Hub experience, but you can also find other Samsung sets that are a lot cheaper (and less curvy).

Price: $3,297 and up

Samsung U8550

The Samsung U8550 is a set that eschews the curved screen of its high-end sibling U9000 in favor of “trim bezels and a very narrow panel” that Reviewed.com says “lend this television a modern air.” The picture also does it credit, with LCD TV Buying Guide complimenting its “brilliant images in 4K,” while Sound+Vision was impressed with the “crisp detail and the clean, smooth clarity” of its upconversions. As on the U9000, the Smart Hub has been upgraded with “subtle improvements” that “hit the mark” according to LCD TV Buying Guide, and Reviewed.com says it provides “all of the streaming content and web-browsing functions you’d expect for the price.” And that’s a price that undercuts the competition by $1,000, leaving you some extra cash for an awesome sound or gaming system on the side.

Price: $1,597 and up

Sony X900B

At first glance, it’s clear that the Sony X900B is very different from other UHD sets, and even many regular ol’ HDTVs, due to its huge set of front-facing speakers. The sacrifice of a slim bezel is well worth it, though, as What Hi-Fi compliments its “rich, open and detailed sound quality,” while CNET calls it the “best sound of any TV we’ve heard, bar none.” The picture is also up to the challenge, offering quality that HDTVTest calls “spectacular” and CNET says is the “best picture quality of any 4K TV we’ve tested so far.” Sure, the X900B isn’t as cheap as some other sets, but unlike the AX800, it supports Netflix and, with those massive speakers flanking the screen, you won’t need to fork out the extra dough for a quality sound system.

Price: $2,998 and up

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Samsung 105-inch Curved UHD 4K TV

Today Samsung announced the availability of its biggest curved screen TV ever. First shown at the 2014 CES, the 105-inch UN105S9W UHD 4K TV sells for $119,999.99 . Unlike Samsung’s other curved models which incorporate the HDTV and UHDTV standard 1.78:1 aspect ratio, this one uses an ultra wide panel with 2.37:1 aspect ratio. More details after the break.

The UN105S9W can be ordered this week at Samsung.com. It joins the other S9 flat UHD 4K models which are available in 85- and 110-Inch screens. The UN105S9W is a full array LED backlit LCD with local dimming using Samsung’s propriety UHD dimming and Precision Black technology.

Due to its wider aspect ratio the native screen resolution is 5120 x 2160 making the UN105S9W the highest resolution TV (with over 11 million pixels) available.

The UN105S9W comes with the floor stand, however the LCD panel can be detached and mounted to a specialty wall mount (price and model number TBA).

Each 105inch TV will be made to order.

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Cablesson EQ HDMI Extender can be used with high specification HDMI (V.1.3 with Deep Colour) devices/cables

Cablesson EQ HDMI Extender  can be used with high specification HDMI (V.1.3 with Deep Colour) devices/cables with no risk of reduced performance. The superior build-quality of this adapter makes it perfect for both professional and home installations. The 24K gold input and output connector plug contacts ensures maximum signal transfer and corrosion resistance for perfect performance and lifetime reliability.HDCP (high bandwidth digital content protection) is a standard encoded into the video signal to prevent it from being pirated. If a source device is HDCP coded and is connected to a HDMI display or projector without the correct HDCP decoding process, the picture is appear “sparkle” or in some cases, down-scaling to lower (480P) resolutions of the images.This is a very high quality, great value for EQ HDMI Extender. It is made of the highest quality materials and has gold plated connectors, thus ensuring you receive the very best possible signal between devices.To create effective hdmi cable lengths it will require a Cablesson® EQ HDMI Extender (HDMI Booster sometimes called a HDMI Repeater or Extender) to maintain signal strength and integrity. HDMI boosters have active amplifier circuitry to boost your HDMI signal and ensure that the integrity is preserved Just add the Cablesson EQ HDMI Extender (HDMI Booster).

Specifications

  • HDCP pass-through.
  • Easy to set up & install.
  • Tested using well known brands, including Panasonic, Sony, Pioneer and Denon
  • Mounting holes included for fixed or semi fixed installations
  • No Power Supply required
  • 24K gold plated contacts
  • Extends HDMI Cable reach to projectors or monitors using DVI and HDMI interface

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Bikes, Cars and now AV Yahama goes full force

Yamaha has announced a new line of AV receivers, Aventage, designed to put a greater focus on performance, with Yamaha claiming that the new models have been redesigned from the ground up. For those of you counting, Aventage is now the fourth separate line of Yamaha AV receivers, in addition to the existing RX-V, HTR, and NeoHD lines. Aventage consists of five new models–RX-A700 ($650 list), RX-A800 ($800), RX-A1000 ($1,100), RX-A2000 ($1,500), and the RX-A3000 ($1,900)–which will be released throughout August and September.

 
Yamaha’s low-end Aventage model, the RX-A700.

(Credit: Yamaha) In terms of features, the low-end RX-A700 doesn’t offer much that’s different from a standard midrange AV receiver, although its 27.56 pound weight hints at its beefier sonic capabilities. At the high-end, the RX-A3000 is loaded with features, including two HDMI outputs, eight HDMI inputs, built-in HD radio, networking capabilities, and HQV video processing. Yahama is fighting back to Onkyo domance in the market the units come with hdmi 1.4 technology allowing more punch for less.

Though there’s certainly a market for AV receivers with superior sound quality, we can’t help but be a little skeptical of some of the claims, such as, “the addition of a specially designed fifth foot to improve structural rigidity, reduce vibration, and improve sound.” On the other hand, the inclusion of the new HQV “Vida” video-processing chip in higher-end models is a good sign given our experience with HQV’s previous offerings, although with nearly all video sources using HDMI, video processing is less important than it used to be.

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3D HDMI Cable

Certain products herald the arrival of The Future. Think about the first time you saw someone using a laptop on an airplane. The first time youbought a song over the Internet. And the first flat-screen TV you saw: after decades of promises, a TV you could hang on a wall. It was like having a World’s Fair in your living room.

The flat-screen TV was a stunning change from its predecessors. And once it had been shrunken to mere inches thick, what else was there to do to it? Plenty, as it turns out.

Now if you are shopping for a television, you have new features to consider, like 3-D and LED-lit liquid-crystal displays.
Many television manufacturers – including LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and Vizio – are already delivering 3-D-capable models. Cablesson have released a 3d hdmi cable to go with sony led tv. Three-dimensional imaging has come a long way since the films of the 1950s – think “Avatar” rather than “Creature From the Black Lagoon” – but you still need glasses to enjoy the technology.

Shoppers should expect to pay around $250 more for 3-D than for a comparably equipped 2-D television. Most sets come with one or two pairs of goggles; additional ones may cost more than $100 each.

Is this a cool gift for someone? Yes, it will probably be the first 3-D TV on the block. But bear in mind that 3-D programming is extremely limited, for now. (Sky and Virgin have announced a 3-D channel for the World Cup, which opens Friday, but check if your cable or satellite provider will be carrying it.) This year, the Discovery Channel hopes to introduce a 3-D channel in collaboration with IMAX and Sony, and Panasonic and DirecTV plan 3-D satellite channels.

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Panasonic’s Big Daddy Plasma TH-103PF10EK

TH-103PF10EK

Professional Plasma

  • Resolution (1920 x 1080 Pixel)
  • 103 inch
  • 16:9 Format
  • Versatile input connections
  • Contrast Ratio (5.000:1)
  • The flagship model of the plasma series automatically attracts attention.
TH-103PF10EK
TH-103PF10EK 
 

103″ Full HD Plasma Display (1,920 x 1,080)

With the Full HD resolutions, a picture quality is achieved which previously simply inconceivable. Exquisite resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, allows the viewer to literally dive into a fascinating world of images. Inside, a 1080p processor works together with the new system LSI with HD optimiser. This detects the MPEG artefacts upon the receipt of digital HD signals, reduces them ensuring clean and clear pictures. In order to further increase the panel performance, the 1080p driver supports 16-bit image processing, guaranteeing super-crisp motion sequences.

4,096 brightness steps create pictures that are so vivid and realistic that they directly address the viewers emotions. In darker environments, the ‘Super Cinema Mode’ can achieve a particularly rich shade of black and an amazing contrast ratio of 5,000:1. Unique connection capabilities through the use of plug-in boards allow high-performance and flexible solutions for professional applications.

The display is rotatable by ninety degrees allowing full portrait mode

Panasonic demonstrates the degree of quality that can really be implemented with ‘HD-ready’ in conjunction with the applicable slot-in terminal boards…

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Viera TVs with built-in Blu-ray and integrated HDDs

Panasonic has unveiled some new HDTVs in Japan that include models with integrated Blu-ray players and versions that sport integrated HDDs as will. The Blu-ray sets are the most interesting and included the 37-inch TH-L37R2B and the 32-inch TH-L32R2B. The 37-inch version will sell for about 240,000 yen.

Both sport full 1080p resolution and have integrated HDDs that can record programs. The Japanese translation leaves a lot to be desired, but it appears the sets can write recorded programs to optical media. Panasonic also pulled the wraps off new LCD and plasma sets with screens of 42-inches, 46-inches, and 50-inches in the plasma line and 37-inches, 32-inches, and 19-inches in the LCD line.

The sets have 1080p resolution except for the 32-inch and 19-inch LCD sets, which only have 720p resolution. The line has internal storage of 500GB with the exception of the 19-inch set with a 250GB HDD. Pricing runs from 100,000 to 390,000 yen in Japan. For best results use Cablesson HDMI cables

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