Cable and Satellite TV

Samsung, Fox announce expanded 4K content deal

Building on a content deal first announced at CES 2014, Samsung and 20th Century Fox today revealed what the companies are calling a "New UHD Content Ecosystem."

Said to deliver a variety of 4K (aka UHD) content using the Smart Hub platform built into Samsung's 2014 4K TVs, the partnership "will also explore additional collaboration opportunities in multiple areas of innovation."

Specifics beyond those vague buzzwords, for example timing, delivery mechanism, bandwidth requirements and cost, were scarce. We'll try to pry more details about the announcement from Samsung at its press event today in … Read more

Samsung prices 2014 TVs at the high end, adds curved offerings

Today Samsung announced official pricing on its vast array of new 2014 TVs, including numerous curved and 4K/UHD sets first introduced at CES 2014 last January.

They ain't cheap.

Samsung's 4K models start at $2,499 for a 50-inch size. Compare that to Vizio, for example, which is charging $999 for its cheapest 4K 50-incher. On paper, the Vizio even has a picture quality advantage over the Samsung, offering full-array local dimming compared to Samsung's edge-lit variety.

Then there's the company's newfangled curved TVs. The entry price there is $1,999 for a 48-inch … Read more

HDMI vs. optical: Which digital-audio connection to use?

When it comes time to connect your shiny new sound bar or AV receiver, your two main choices are HDMI or optical digital audio.

The simplest advice is to go with HDMI when you can. But if you can't it's not the end of the world.

Here are the pros and cons of each.… Read more

Kaz Hirai on Sony's big 2014 plans: CEO talks online TV service, 4K TV, and wearables

LAS VEGAS -- "We're trying to bring a new experience to TV viewing, trying to combine live TV and access streamed content as well."

Read between the lines if you can, because Sony President and CEO Kaz Hirai wasn't dishing a lot of details on the just-announced streaming TV service he revealed during a CES keynote earlier today. But in a short roundtable discussion with a small group of journalists (including CNET) a few hours later, Hirai was clearly excited about the service that Sony promises will come to the US by the end of the … Read more

Xbox One in the living room: The dazzling, erratic everything box

Walk into your living room, say "Xbox on," and your Xbox One, TV, and sound bar automatically power on. Sit down and say "Xbox Watch ESPN," and the cable box automatically turns to ESPN and fills the TV screen. It feels futuristic, but in a retro way. It's the kind of thing someone in a Disney "Home of the Future" exhibit might do, right after getting out of a flying car.

With the Xbox One, Microsoft wants to bring all your living room entertainment -- cable TV, gaming, and streaming video -- to … Read more

What we learned about Xbox One's living-room future

The Xbox One is ready to be the hub of your living room.

That's been the pitch since Day 1 for Microsoft's next-gen console, but it wasn't until this Wednesday that the CNET crew had a chance to check out many of the Xbox One's home entertainment features in person.

We already knew that the Xbox One would include Blu-ray playback, the TV overlay functionality called OneGuide, and built-in support for voice and motion control through the included Kinect. But many of the specifics have been hard to come by, especially regarding the challenges of integrated TV.… Read more

Samsung $150 smart box packs in streaming apps, cable

Samsung on Thursday made its latest push into the smart TV market with a new "Smart Media Player" that lets users access both apps and live cable content.

The product, model No. GX-SM530CF, includes more than 100 smart TV apps such as Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube. It also allows viewers to access live cable content without having to pay the expensive monthly rental fees associated with a cable box.

The media player will retail for $149.99 and will be available October 23.

Samsung noted that the Smart Media Player supports content from major cable … Read more

HDMI 2.0: What you need to know

The HDMI Forum, the nonprofit body that oversees the HDMI specification, recently announced version 2.0. There were numerous changes, not least support for higher frame rates than are possible with the current 1.4 specification.

Do you need to upgrade? Will your cables still work? What does this mean for the future of TVs? Do you care? Answers for all these questions (except maybe the last one) below...… Read more

TiVo updates coming for Premiere owners, but when?

TiVo's new Roamio DVRs provide a host of new improvements, including faster performance, better software, more tuners, built-in Wi-Fi, built-in/better support for whole-home solutions like TiVo's Stream and TiVo Mini boxes, and out-of-home streaming.

With the new hardware comes the inevitable question from the thousands of people who already own a current TiVo: "What about me?"

That question is even more compelling coming from an owner who sprung for TiVo's famous lifetime service plan, currently $499. Since it's nontransferable to a new box, the plan can make owners want to keep their old … Read more

The half-cut cord: What's bugging me about cable

I cut the cord years ago. My wife sat across from me on the sofa and finally convinced me that paying well over $100 a month for the privilege of a bunch of random cable channels wasn't worth it. We could save money, learn to live lower to the ground, read more, and watch TV shows and movies on demand. Netflix, Hulu Plus, and iTunes. I agreed. With apprehension.

It worked. We relaxed, we used an over-the-air antenna, we caught our TV shows on broadcast networks and just sat through commercials. I even borrowed an old DTV Pal DVRRead more