Tuesday Sharp revealed plans to launch an 80-inch AQUOS LED LCD TV here in the States next month. Listed as the LC-80LE632U, Sharp claims that it will be the “world’s largest” commercially available LED-lit LCD TV on the market to date, and will be backed by an equally large pricetag: a credit-haunting $5,500 USD.
“Our 80-inch AQUOS TV delivers more than double the screen area of a 55-inch TV, for an amazing viewing experience,” said John Herrington, president, Sharp Electronics Marketing Company of America. “It’s truly like nothing else on the market. Consumers want bigger flat panel TVs for deeper, more immersive viewing experiences and that’s exactly what Sharp’s delivering here.”
Sharp said the upcoming 80-inch AQUOS TV will actually be a Full HD 1080p (1920 x 1080) Smart TV, and will come equipped with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity and access to apps like Netflix, CinemaNow and VUDU. It will also include Sharp’s exclusive AQUOS Advantage LIVE online support which allows tech support to remotely connect to the TV through the Internet to assist with TV setup, troubleshoot and optimize the picture quality. Creepy.
Tuesday’s announcement also revealed that the 80-inch monster will sport an X-Gen LCD panel with 10-bit processing which was designed with advanced pixel control to minimize light leakage, and a wider aperture to let more light through. Other features will include a dynamic contrast ratio of 6,000,000:1, 120Hz Fine Motion Enhanced support for improved fast motion picture quality, two USB ports, and a game mode (Vyper Drive) that supposedly eliminates perceptible lag between video game consoles and the TV display.
ZoomAs reported earlier, the AQUOS line features Sharp’s “innovative” Quattron quad-pixel technology which essentially adds a fourth color to the typical red-blue-green lineup: yellow. “When combined with Sharp’s 1080p X-Gen LCD panel, the displays offer dramatic reduction in energy consumption compared with conventional CCFL LCD TVs,” Sharp said. “These technologies work in tandem to optimize picture quality and contrast ratios while reducing energy use.”
It’s magnormous. It’s viewmongous. It’s spectacularge. It’s Sharp’s 80-inch AQUOS LED LCD TV for a spooky $5,500 USD, coming to a store near you in early October, just in time to watch HD splatter movies on Halloween.
Rogers Communications Inc. has expanded its next-generation high-speed wireless network to Canada’s three largest cities.
Customers in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal can now get access to speeds “similar to broadband connections” by tapping into the network based on long-term evolution technology (LTE), Rogers said in a news release Wednesday.
That will make it “easier for people to use their devices to download apps, stream HD videos and music or play online games, with virtually no delays or buffering,” said John Boynton, the company’s executive vice-president and chief marketing officer, in a statement.
Rogers also announced the first tablet in Canada that will support LTE, the HTC Jetstream, which will go on sale Oct. 18. Two LTE smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy S II and an HTC model that was not named, will also hit stores in coming weeks, Rogers said, and can already be reserved online.
Up until now, the only LTE devices available from Canadian wireless carriers have been USB turbo sticks.
Rogers first launched its LTE network in Ottawa in July. Bell launched its Ontario LTE network in areas of Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph on Wednesday.
Both companies expect to expand LTE to other parts of Canada over the next year.
Both Rogers and Bell say typical download speeds on their LTE networks are between 12 and 25 megabits per second. That is significantly faster than their existing HSPA+ networks, which are advertised as offering typical speeds of up to 14 megabits per second.
Rogers has been encouraging people to get updates on when LTE is coming to their area by signing up online. However, the company has come under fire for using the same website to encourage customers to lobby their politicians to support Rogers’ bid to participate in an upcoming auction of wireless airwaves.
Retailers in Canada and the United States have begun slashing the price of Research In Motion Ltd.’s first touchscreen tablet and at least one of RIM’s major telecom partners, Rogers Communications Inc., has begun offering its employees hefty discounts on the PlayBook.
When RIM launched the PlayBook in April, a 16-gigabyte version of the device sold for $499. However, several retailers have started offering 16GB PlayBooks for as low as $249, while at the same time offering customers gift cards and rebates as added incentives for purchasing the seveninch touchscreen tablet.
In Canada, Best Buy and Future Shop have reduced the price of all three versions by $100, selling the 16GB for $399, the 32GB for $499 and the 64GB for $599.
Best Buy is giving a $100 gift card to in-store purchasers; at Future Shop, in-store and online buyers both get a $100 gift card, which they are then allowed to apply to their PlayBook purchase - essentially a $200 discount.
Wal-Mart Canada is offering the 16GB version of the PlayBook for just $249, a 50% decrease in price.
Rogers Communications is offering its employees a discount of $150 on each PlayBook model, which means Rogers employees can pick up a 16GB PlayBook for $249.
In a statement, RIM said that the official retail price of the BlackBerry PlayBook has not changed.
“However, as mentioned on the Q2 earnings call on Sept. 15th, we have a number of promotional plans in place for the fall with our retail partners that are intended to drive sellthrough and increased adoption of the BlackBerry PlayBook,” RIM said in a statement emailed to the Financial Post.
RIM’S decision to reduce retail prices raises fresh questions about the BlackBerry maker’s first foray into the tablet market and the longterm viability of its answer to Apple Inc.’s iPad.
The PlayBook sold a respectable 500,000 units within six weeks of its April 19 launch, but that compares with Apple’s sales of 300,000 iPads the first day, and more than a million tablets sold in less than a month.
Waterloo, Ont.-based RIM sold only 200,000 PlayBooks in the most recent quarter, falling well short of Wall Street analyst expectations - who were anticipating sales of about 560,000 units - which helped push shares of RIM into a nosedive that saw the BlackBerry-maker’s stock plummet more than 20%.
While the price drop is likely to give a much-needed shot in the arm to PlayBook sales, as electronics retailers gear up for Black Friday and the ensuing holiday shopping season, margins in the consumer electronics business are razor thin, and falling prices put a squeeze on potential profit.
In the most recent quarter, RIM’s gross margin fell to 38.7% with net income of US$329-million, down substantially from a gross margin of 43.9% and net income of $695-million in the prior quarter. What sort of impact the price cut will have on RIM’s balance sheet will be seen in December, when the company next reorts quarterly earnings.
Estimates vary, but several analyst firms believe it costs RIM anywhere between US$190 and US$270 in components to build a 16 GB PlayBook (RIM has not publicly disclosed its costs). That doesn’t include the R&D dollars associated with the device, or marketing, transport, distribution and other associated costs.
In the long term, it may be more beneficial for RIM to get as many PlayBooks as possible into the market regardless of the cost, as it would help give the device scale and could help RIM draw more developers to the QNX platform. To that end, the day could come when RIM offers the PlayBook as a free device when users purchase a new BlackBerry smartphone.
In the eyes of RIM’s executives, it may be the case that simply building the PlayBook brand - and by extension, bolstering the BlackBerry ecosystem - and growing the scale and reach of RIM devices is better for the long-term health of the company, despite the shortterm financial hardships such a strategy may produce.
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Have the time of your life’ with the Dirty Dancing online game. Film studio Lionsgate and Facebook are teaming up to create an online game based on the 1987 romantic film Dirty Dancing, reported The Wrap on September 13.
The film studio is working with Toronto-based Social Game Universe to create an experience set in a virtual getaway spot in the Catskill Mountains, where Baby learned to dance when on vacation with her parents.
Players will join the film’s characters, sample music from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack and host dance shows for guests. Dances can generate ‘romance waves’ to spruce up the resort with tennis courts, hedges and jukeboxes. The game’s watermelon currency will allow the purchase of these and more virtual items.
The partnership capitalizes on the phenomenal success of the Dirty Dancing Facebook page which has grown in two years from 700,000 to more than 10.9 million fans currently. It ranks as the ninth most popular film fan page.
A surge in popularity happened after the death of the film’s star Patrick Swayze in 2009 and then again when co-star Jennifer Grey’s competed in the reality television show Dancing With the Stars.
The film studio will consider making online games for its other titles with strong Facebook pages, including Rambo and Terminator 2.
OTTAWA — Canada’s telecommunications regulator on Friday told Rogers Communications Inc. to come up with plan before the end of the month to stop slowing down the speed of online games.
In a letter to the telecom giant, the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission said the company’s own traffic management policy states online games, such as World of Warcraft, should not be throttled or slowed down, and would only be impacted if Rogers misclassifies the games or if other peer-to-peer applications were running at the same time.
The issue of traffic shaping has heated up in recent years as more consumers flock to the web to play games and watch shows and movies, which require more bandwidth. Internet Service Providers say they need to manage online traffic to deal with network congestion, so the CRTC has instituted a policy stipulating that the noticeable degradation of time-sensitive Internet traffic would require prior commission approval of the under Canada’s Telecommunications Act.
Citing this policy in its correspondence to Rogers, the commission requested that the company file a plan for resolving the possibility of misclassification of other interactive game traffic by 27 September 2011.
“Commission staff considers that Rogers should address and resolves this misclassification problem,” the correspondence, dated Sept. 16, states.
The plan, due in 11 days, should include specific steps and timelines for each step, the CRTC says.
“Commission staff also requests that Rogers provide a detailed report to the commission once the problem is resolved, demonstrating that the problem has been fixed.”
The Canadian Gamers Organization filed a complaint against Rogers last month, alleging the speed of Internet connections was being unfairly affected by the company’s traffic-throttling measures.
On Friday, the head of the group said he’s pleased with the commission’s response to the complaint.
However, Jason Koblovsky suspects the problem goes beyond Rogers, so he will ask the CRTC to broaden its probe.
“The Canadian Gamers Organization is pleased that the CRTC is now taking steps to actively address this issue with Rogers, however we suspect that other ISPs who use ITMP have the same issues. We are currently getting reports from our members that Shaw customers are also affected by misclassification. The CRTC has also been aware for quite some time that Bell Sympatico members have also experienced similar problems,” Koblovsky said Friday.
“We will be asking for the CRTC to broaden its investigation to ensure that solutions presented by Rogers in this case are implemented on those ISPs as well.”
The commissioner’s traffic-management framework requires companies to be transparent with their customers about their practices.
The CRTC’s framework also says traffic shaping should only be used as a last resort to deal with network congestion and encourages companies to use “economic measures,” such as data caps, to manage demand.
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