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Xbox One with HDMI in/out, overlays for live TV

Today Microsoft revealed the Xbox One, and confirmed rumors that its new game console is ready to take over as the heart of your home theater. The new box features HDMI in and out for passthrough with your cable or satellite box. It’s even able to control connected devices with Kinect 2.0-detected voice and gesture commands thanks to IR blasters and HDMI-CEC. On stage, executives showed off the Xbox OneGuide, demonstrating a way to pull up information including trending programming or fantasy sports stats while watching live TV. There’s also a live TV show for Halo in the works, and Microsoft brought NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on stage to talk about integration with the number one pro sports league. There’s no word on exactly which cable, telco or satellite TV systems this will integrate with, but Microsoft’s PR states it “is committed to bringing live TV through various solutions to all the markets where Xbox One will be available” and mentions HDMI is required for the feature to work. It’s supposed to be available at launch in the US, with “global scale” anticipated over time. Check after the break for a few pics of the guide and the back of the Xbox One showing its IR output.

 

Microsoft unveils Xbox One: the ultimate all-in-one home entertainment system
Blockbuster titles, Steven Spielberg-produced Halo TV series, and exclusive agreements with the NFL transform games, TV and entertainment for the 21st century living room.

REDMOND, Wash. – A new vision for the future comes to life today as Microsoft Corp. unveils Xbox One , the all-in-one gaming and entertainment system created for today and the next generation. At Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., the company showcased how Xbox One puts you at the center of all your games, TV, movies, music, sports and Skype.

“Xbox One is designed to deliver a whole new generation of blockbuster games, television and entertainment in a powerful, all-in-one device,” said Don Mattrick, president, Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “Our unique, modern architecture brings simplicity to the living room and, for the first time ever, the ability to instantly switch across your games and entertainment.”

Introducing Xbox One

With Xbox One, games push the boundaries of realism, and TV obeys your commands. Say “Xbox On” to launch your personalized Xbox One Home screen, discover what is popular on TV or see friends’ latest gaming achievements all using the most natural interface – your voice. The more you interact with Xbox One, the more it gets to know you and learns what you like. Some of the breakthrough Xbox One features that put you at the center of your living room entertainment include the following:

• TV on Xbox One. Navigate and watch live TV from your cable, telco or satellite set-top box through your Xbox One. Microsoft is committed to bringing live TV through various solutions to all the markets where Xbox One will be available.3

• Home. Turn on your entertainment system with two powerful words, “Xbox On,” and a custom-tailored Home dashboard welcomes you with your favorite games, TV and entertainment.

• Snap. Do two things at once on the biggest screen in your home. Use Snap to jump into a multiplayer battle while watching your favorite movie, talk with friends on Skype while watching live TV, or track your fantasy team on TV as you watch the big game and more.

• Skype for Xbox One. Specially designed for Xbox One, talk with friends on your TV in stunning HD, or for the first time ever, hold group Skype calls on your TV.

• Trending.Stay on top of what is hot on TV by discovering the entertainment that is popular among your friends, and see what is trending within the Xbox community.

• OneGuide. Find your favorite entertainment easily, searching by network, name or time, all with the sound of your voice and presented in a tailored program guide.

To create the most advanced Xbox system ever designed for games, TV and entertainment, Microsoft created a state-of-the-art gaming operating system and fused it with an equally amazing entertainment platform, so you will not have to switch inputs to watch TV or play a game. An eight-core, x86 processor and more than 5 billion transistors helps make lag and load times a thing of the past, so you can instantly jump between a game and your entertainment at lightning speed or run a host of apps right alongside your game with no loss in performance.Introducing Xbox One titles and exclusives

Gaming on Xbox One immerses gamers in cinematic worlds that look like real life, with characters that feel more human than ever before. AAA blockbuster titles unveiled for Xbox One include the following:

• “Forza Motorsport 5″ from Turn 10 Studios is the latest edition of the highest-rated racing franchise of the past 10 years.[3] Built from the ground up to take advantage of Xbox One and the infinite power of the cloud, no game better delivers the sensation of being behind the wheel. “Forza Motorsport 5″ sets a new bar for racing games and will be available exclusively for Xbox One at launch.

• “Call of Duty: Ghosts” is the next generation of “Call of Duty” and a stunning leap forward for the franchise. It delivers an all-new world, an all-new cast of characters and an all-new story, built on a new, next-generation engine. The next-generation technical innovations built to support the incredible gameplay advancements make this the most beautiful and immersive “Call of Duty” experience yet. Activision and Microsoft also announced the renewal of their close partnership that will see both the return of the “Call of Duty® Championship,” presented by Xbox, as well as all-new downloadable content debuting first and exclusively on the Xbox platform.

• “FIFA 14,” “Madden NFL 25,” “NBA LIVE 14,” and “EA SPORTS UFC” from EA SPORTS will change the way consumers experience and play sports games. Driven by the new EA SPORTS Ignite engine, these new EA SPORTS games will deliver massive innovations in human intelligence, true player motion and living worlds. Adding to its commitment to Xbox One, EA SPORTS also announced the promise of exclusive content to be revealed in the coming months.

• “Quantum Break” from Remedy Entertainment is a revolutionary entertainment experience from the creators of “Max Payne” and “Alan Wake” that blurs the line between gaming and TV by integrating drama and gameplay into one seamless, uniquely immersive experience. How you play the game impacts the show, and the show informs how you play the game.

In addition to the amazing lineup of games coming to Xbox One, Microsoft unveiled exclusive content partnerships with some of the top names in TV, sports and entertainment.

• “Halo” television series. Award-winning filmmaker, director and producer, Steven Spielberg will executive-produce an original “Halo” live-action television series with exclusive interactive Xbox One content, created in partnership with 343 Industries and Xbox Entertainment Studios.

• National Football League (NFL). A multiyear, landmark partnership will deliver the ultimate interactive NFL television experiences for the next-generation Xbox One and leverage Microsoft devices and services to evolve both in-game and on the sideline. The NFL on Xbox will redefine broadcast experiences through innovations around Skype, Xbox SmartGlass and player-worn technology; add an all-new fantasy football solution for the biggest screen in the house; and create a personalized NFL destination only available on Xbox One.

Introducing a new generation of Xbox Live

Xbox One is built to amplify an all-new generation of Xbox Live that is more powerful, more personal and more intelligent. Unleashing the virtually unlimited power of the cloud makes everything more convenient and accessible, from allowing games to be installed in segments so that gameplay can start quickly to updates downloading in the background. Save and store your personalized profile, games and entertainment in the cloud to access them anytime, from any Xbox One console. In addition, existing Xbox Live Gold Membership for Xbox 360 will seamlessly carry over to Xbox One. Xbox Live takes you deeper into the games you love with all-new features.

• Smart Match. A new Smart Match matchmaking system virtually eliminates waiting in lobbies by estimating wait times and finding people you want to play with while you are enjoying other activities – reputation fundamentally matters and helps find best matches.

• Game DVR. A dedicated Game DVR captures and accesses your magic moments, all saved to the cloud. Along with sharing tools, you will have the most amazing bragging rights with Xbox Live.

• Living Games. Dynamic, living worlds evolve and improve the more you play, and advanced artificial intelligence can learn to play like you, so friends can play against your shadow.

• Expanded achievements. A new and expanded achievements system captures video of your epic moments, continues to grow a game’s achievements over time and rewards you in new ways, and your Gamerscore carries over from Xbox 360.

• Xbox SmartGlass. Xbox SmartGlass is natively part of the Xbox One platform, built in from the beginning with the ability to quickly render content directly onto your device, and now more devices can connect at one time for multiplayer and shared entertainment.

Introducing the Xbox One look and feel

New Xbox One hardware is sleek and modern and complements any décor. The console is shaped in the 16:9 aspect ratio and employs a horizontal orientation optimized for its high-speed Blu-ray™ disc player. It is molded in a deep and rich liquid black color and includes a distinctive beveled edge.

The completely redesigned, revolutionary 1080p Kinect is more precise, more responsive and more intuitive. Its unparalleled vision, motion and voice technology let you reach into games and entertainment like never before by dramatically expanding its field of view and fidelity. It works in nearly any lighting condition, recognizes precise motion control from a slight wrist rotation, and distinguishes your voice even in a noisy room using advanced noise isolation.

The class-leading Xbox controller is refreshed with more than 40 technical and design innovations. Updated directional pad, thumb stick and ergonomic fit immerse all gamers in ways that are uniquely Xbox, and precision and control have been dramatically increased with all new vibrating impulse triggers.6 The Xbox One Wireless Controller is designed to work in concert with the new Kinect, allowing the two to be paired automatically to create seamless player syncing.

Xbox One will launch in markets around the world later this year. Visit the new Xbox Wire blog at http://news.xbox.com for in-depth features on the new system, including photos and videos from the unveiling event and new and rotating content from Xbox. More details about Xbox One and blockbuster games will be explored at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June.

 

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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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Panasonic 65-inch Smart VIERA UHD TV with HDMI 2.0

 

 

Panasonic Unveils Smart VIERA WT600 – World’s First1 Ultra HD TV with 4K2 60p Input Designed Based on HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort™1.2a Specifications

WT600 is the first 4K Ultra HD TV in the world with a 4K 60p input designed based on HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 31.2a specifications offering outstanding picture quality and a wide range of other Smart VIERA innovations

Newark, NJ (September 4, 2013) – Panasonic, a leader in High Definition technology, unveiled today the Smart VIERA TC-L65WT600, the world’s first Ultra HD TV with a 4K 60p input designed based on HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort™1.2a specifications. Offering up to 60 frames per second 4K playback, the WT600 is the ultimate choice for consumers looking to access the next level in home entertainment, or for anyone for who picture quality is imperative.

The 65-inch class (64.5 inches measured diagonally) Panasonic Smart VIERA WT600 Ultra HD TV will be available in mid-October on shop.panasonic.com (http://shop.panasonic.com/pr/tc-l65wt600) and at select retailers.

With its THX™4 4K certification, the Smart VIERA WT600 is perfectly tailored for home cinema enthusiasts. The WT600 panel’s 2,400 Back Light Scanning (BLS) technology provides incredibly high motion sharpness, even in fast action scenes. The TV also features a minimalist design, with a thin metal frame that focuses attention on the stunning 4K images. Even when not in use, the WT600 presents an elegant and stylish addition to the living room.

4K Content at Your Fingertips

The WT600 offers access to a wide range of 4K content to make the most of its screen innovations allowing users to dramatically expand their 4K experience with not only video content, but also groundbreaking games, Internet content, and their photos, all in stunning 4K quality5.

The next generation 4K 60p input, designed based on HDMI 2.0 and Display PortTM1.2a specifications, helps assure compatibility with future 4K-players, set-top boxes and next-generation gaming consoles.

PC gaming enthusiasts can easily connect their PC to the WT600 via the 60p-capable DisplayPortTM, allowing them to enjoy the latest blockbuster games in incredible detail and with high motion clarity. The WT600′s built-in HTML5 web browser can also show Internet pages in crisp 4K quality5.

As an industry leading-edge technology, the WT600 has a built-in 4K H.264 (MPEG4) decoder, which not only enables the playback of 4K video files via USB and SD Memory Card, but – even more importantly – enables the playback of 4K content directly from the Internet5. Photo enthusiasts can access their photography either via an SD card with the 4K Photo Viewer SD6, or use 4K Swipe & Share6 to wirelessly transfer photos from their mobile phone or tablet in Ultra HD resolution.

Superior 4K Image Quality

To ensure the best 4K home cinema viewing experience, the WT600′s THX4K™-certified 4K display demonstrates its ability to reproduce the colors, tones and resolution intended by the Hollywood directors. With 4K Intelligent Frame Creation, the WT600 achieves smooth panning of up to 120 frames per second, even with Ultra HD sources. Panasonic’s 4K Ultra HD TV also analyzes complex scenes – with movement from a variety of directions – and optimizes each object independently.

The Local Dimming Pro enhances overall image by improving control of details in both darker and brighter areas. Meanwhile, the new 4K Fine Remaster Engine maximizes the image quality for content created with resolution lower than 4K. The circuit processing technology produces images with higher definition by interpolating the missing parts of the images and re-producing the non-existent data, bringing them to a level of quality that approaches 4K sources.

The WT600 features ISFccc Calibration Mode10 and is compatible with CalMAN™ calibration software, ensuring precise color neutrality. The Panasonic TV Remote 2 App also offers Smart Calibration, a powerful function which enables the viewer to set detailed correction curves for gamma, white point, and color saturation on the TV via their Android or iOS7 Smartphone or tablet.

Easy Operation

Thanks to the intuitive user interface, the WT600 is designed to ensure your Smart TV experience is as easy as possible. The personalized My Home Screen feature enables every family member to easily access their TV favorites through their own personalized home screen.

Following the success of the Smart VIERA My Home Screen feature, Panasonic has also developed new pre-set Home Screens. The Smart VIERA Home Screen Collection function offers users quick and easy access8 to content from their favorite providers including YouTube.

The WT600′s control and input options are further boosted with the innovative Voice Interaction feature, allowing users to control their TV by speaking into the microphone of the touch pad controller, or into a smartphone or tablet with the installed Panasonic TV Remote 2 App. This allows users to quickly access their internet content or browse their home network for their favorite music, video and photo. In addition, the photo-sharing capabilities of Swipe & Share mean that users can share images in 4K-resolution on the WT600′s large screen with just a swipe of their finger6.

Advanced Networking and Connectivity

As with all Smart VIERA TVs, the WT600 features built-in Wi-Fi as a standard. Users can quickly and easily access multimedia content on their home network via DLNA streaming, as well as the Apps for the Smart VIERA platform with its continuously expanding range of Smart TV applications including popular social networking TV apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype™. With the WT600′s automatic pop-up camera, video calls can be made with just the click of a few buttons.

The WT600 includes a 4K web browser. For easy text and web address input, users can connect a keyboard to the WT600, using a USB adapter or wirelessly via Bluetooth™9. The Bluetooth® module provides users with additional wireless connectivity options, allowing them to connect compact speakers or headphones.

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Microsoft Xbox One Digital TV Tuner

Microsoft pitches the Xbox One not as a run-of-the-mill games console, but as a fully fledged home entertainment hub. For most Americans, making use of the One’s TV integration features is as simple as plugging the HDMI output from their set-top box straight into the console. Europeans don’t have it quite as easy. With old-school coaxial cables still in common use, Microsoft cooked up the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner: a small USB peripheral that turns coaxial outputs into something the console can understand. Today, the TV Tuner has finally gone on sale in the UK for £25, and in France, Germany, Italy and Spain for €30. Once set up, you can start watching TV through your Xbox One, using the console’s OneGuide EPG to browse channel listings with a controller, or with voice commands if you have a Kinect camera. The Xbox also becomes a make-shift DVR, allowing you to pause and rewind live TV. And when you absolutely have to spend time in another room, you can continue to watch live TV on mobile devices by streaming it through the Xbox One SmartGlass app.

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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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