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Monthly Archives: November 2014

THE LAST PLASMA, EVER

This is the last plasma. The last new plasma you’ll ever read about. Last. The technology that ushered in the era of the flat panel TV. Became, in many minds, actually synonymous with “flat TV.”

Panasonic left the plasma business a year ago, Samsung and LG left this year. All that’s left is LCD, and a pittance of OLED.

Being a budget model, it’s no swan song (that’s the ZT60, or arguably the F8500). It only comes in one size (64-inches), but by the nature of what it represents, it’s worth a review. And here it is.

The 64H5000 is gloriously free of nonsense, like Smart TV features and 3D. Most people don’t care about 3D anymore, and any media streamer is going to be better than any Smart TV.

That H5000 isn’t lacking for picture quality adjustments, however. In addition to the normal “picture enhancers” we always turn off (and are mostly off in Movie mode), there’s 2- and 10-step grayscale adjustments and a color management system that generally works (more on this later). Even so, for the most part the H5000 is pretty accurate out of the box. So calibration isn’t strictly necessary.

The remote is a basic affair, lacking the motion/sound/mindreading nonsense of most high-end TV remotes in 2014. It’s backlit and has decent-sized buttons. A good, simple remote.

Inputs are all on the back, and mostly face the left side (as viewed from the front). There are two HDMI inputs, one USB, and a component/composite shared input.

The EPA says the H5000 will cost roughly $22 a year to run, which is lower than other 64-inch TVs.

Pentile

The main reason the H5000 is so inexpensive (for its size), is it uses a “pentile” pixel arrangement. Put simply, this means it has fewer red and blue sub-pixels than a “regular” 1080p TV.

Sitting about 8 feet away, the only time I noticed any hint of this was certain thin solid colors on a black background. They had a bit more… let’s call it crennelation, than I’d expect with a non-pentile display. I noticed a similar artifact with one of the Sharp Quattron TVs I reviewed.

Is PenTile a big deal? Nope. The overall image (as we’ll discuss) is so good, I think this is a non-issue. Is it likely the F8500, with it’s traditional sub-pixel layout (and full chroma resolution) seem a little more detailed? Maybe, but it’s going to be pretty slight.

Picture Performance

Overall, the picture quality of the H5000 is excellent. A rich, contrasty, accurate, detailed image. Why did this technology disappear again? It’s not quite as excellent as the much more expensive F8500, but why would it be, since it’s a fraction of the price.

Color is quite accurate out of the box as well. The color management system isn’t quite as simple to use as some, but it does a reasonable job of letting a calibrator dial in the colors a bit more. Once I got the levels under the visible threshold, I stopped tweaking. There’s a fair amount of interaction in the controls, so adjusting luminance also moves hue and/or color. If you want to spend a few hours dialing them in by increments, you might be able to get them a little closer.

Conclusion

The $1,300.00 64H5000 is a great TV, the last of its breed. It puts out a fantastic image, and is a great price too. We are sad to see plasma go, but at least it leaves with its head held high, a classy exit of low price and high performance, its strengths for years.

We award the Samsung PN64H5000 four stars.

CBS Going on the Offensive in DISH Fight

With the current carrier contract ending on November 20th, CBS has decided to go on the offensive in their negotiations with DISH Network to renew the deal between these two media giants.

CBS started airing commercials in the regions that are set for black out on the 20th, warning their viewers that they run the risk of losing access to their content. According to CBS the blackouts would be due to DISH’s unwillingness to come to mutually fair terms in the new contract.

DISH fired back stating that “only CBS can force a blackout of its channels…We are unsure why CBS decided to involve customers in the contract negotiation process at a point where there is time for the two parties to reach a mutually beneficial deal.”

This new method of contract negotiations seems to becoming more commonplace with AMC using the same tactic earlier in the year. This content provider ran commercials claiming viewers could be losing the channel and its shows during episodes of “The Walking Dead”, which also happens to be one of cables highest ranked shows currently. AMC encouraged viewers to contact DISH to express their dislike for the possible loss.

So  far AMC’s tactic has not worked, as their contract with DISH is set to expire by years end. The two have still been unable to reach a new agreement which would allow DISH to continue offering AMC on their lineup.

Whether the tactic will work for CBS is yet to be seen. The fact that DISH is entrenched with Turner Networks (which have been removed from the sat providers line up since October 20th) in a similar fight might actually work to CBS’s advantage. Dish can hardly afford to lose even more content and expect to keep customers from jumping ship to other Sat Providers.

Still No End in Sight With the Turner vs. DISH Fight

Last week a nasty war of words was exchanged between Turner Networks and DISH over carrier contract negotiations. This public confrontation between the two monster companies has many analysts wondering if they will ever be able to come to terms again at all.

 

Dish Chairman of the Board Charlie Ergen went as far as  mocking the Turner Network owned CNN, claiming the news network is no longer a ‘must-have’ channel. Statistics have shown a sharp decline in viewer interest in CNN unless a major news worthy event is taking place. When this happens, more viewers do tune in, but they drop off drastically once the event has come to a close or is resolved.

DISH lost the carrier rights to broadcast 8 of the Turner Networks channels, which include CNN, CNN Espanol, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Headline News and TruTV. DISH also is headed towards losing two more of the Turner Network Channels by years end if a new agreement can not be reached. These two channels are TBS and TNT, and DISH claims that the carrier agreements for these two channels need to be negotiated separately from the other channels that have been blacked out.

Ergen has added fuel to the fire by claiming there have been very few complaints about these channels being blacked out, hinting that most people could care less about keeping these channels in the DISH lineup. This is not only a slap in the face to what Turner Networks has to offer, but it shows that DISH might not even worry about bringing these channels back to their lineup.

Comcast Losing Customers Left and Right

Losing an average of 500,000 customers a year for 6 years straight should be an alarming wake up call to any business, but apparently it is nothing to worry about for Comcast Cable.

The cable giant has lost nearly 3 million net subscribers since 2008, bringing their total monthly subs  down to 22.4 million from a high of 25.1 million in 2008. With most of these customers jumping ship to sing up with other services such as DISH, DIRECTV, AT&T, one has to wonder why this is happening and can it be stopped?

TheBigLead.com recently ran a story that they feel explains the situation fairly well.They feel it has to do in part with their Leaguepass offering, which is the NBA version of the Sunday Ticket, which they charge $200.00 for. The cable operator only offers 1-3 League Pass game channels in HD at a time with this package which has alot of customers unhappy with their purchase.

Their reasoning is that offering channels in HD means pay higher fees to the NBA, something they want to avoid. Their competitors are offering the same games, but with many more channels in HD for the same price. Common sense would make a customer not be happy with what they are receiving and to start looking elsewhere for their NBA entertain needs. Thus Comcast continues to bleed off a loss of 500,000 customers a year, because they have no interest or intention of changing things and offering their customers more of these channels in HD.

 

Samsung Leaves the OLED TV Battlefield to LG

Samsung Leaves the OLED TV Battlefield to LG

 

Samsung’s head of TV Kim Hyun-seok made a statement in Seoul about his company’s strategy concerning OLED tv’s that has their competitors cheering and market analysts scratching their heads in confusion.

Samsung’s strategy for this burgeoning TV market is to remain the same in 2015 as it was in 2014. What does this mean exactly? Well since Samsung has not released a new OLED TV since the KN55S9C they released in 2013, most people are viewing this statement as a declaration from the company that they are stepping back and away from this particular market of Televisions.

LG on the other hand has plans in the coming weeks to release several new models of televisions in the 4K/UHD OLED market. At the same time these new models are being released, LG is dropping the price of existing models, as well as lowering the starting price for their newer models when compared to past releases.

The 2014 prices on LG’s OLED tvs are considerably lower than any analyst predicted a year ago this time. These massive price drops could very well be a contributing factor to competitors reluctance to step into this ring with LG. The fact that LG has such a massive head start on the competition has many of them stepping back and not even wanting to risk dumping money into these ventures for fear that they will not be able to ever recoup their investments.

While Samsung has no announced plans for mass producing OLED TVs in the near future, do not count them out of the game completely. It is entirely possible that they have a trick or two up their sleeves for 2016 that has yet to be announced. Until then, Samsung Fanboys can only hope, dream, and pray that their favorite electronics manufacturer gives them what they have been hoping for.

DISH Receives More and More Bad News

It would seem that customers are leaving DISH Network left and right these days. The release of the company’s third quarter report paints a bleak picture, one that has many people unhappy with the Sat provider and losing confidence in their company’s leadership.

The recently released report shows a net lose of 12,000 subscribers down from last years net gain of 35,000 subscribers during the same time frame. Profits for the third quarter were down to $145 million compared to $314 million for the company a year ago. The fact that DISH released a statement blaming customer loss and declining profits on poor customer service and equipment problems does not help their case with customers or investors. This was made worse by their statement that they fully expect to continue to lose customers in the coming months, as well as profits, because of these issues.

This news is just further bad news, and foreshadows even more problems for the Sat provider as they are having issues retaining content providers. Turner Networks has pulled 8 channels, and DISH is close to losing another 16 channels of content if they can not come to terms very quickly with CBS in their current bid to renew the contract that ends at the end of the month between the two companies.

If DISH is not able to turn around these recent trends, and fix the problems they are having internally, customers can expect to see more and more content lost, and investors can look forward to an even bleaker 4th quarter report.

CBS To Leave DISH?

Later this month DISH Network customers could end up losing 16 channels of CBS content due to failing negotiations.

CBS is fighting for more money and not happy about DISH’s commercial skipping HD DVR receiver, which has resulted in a major lawsuit. All four of the major networks have sued DISH for this new piece of receiving hardware, claiming that it violates their copyright protection rights by allowing people to skip over ads their channels carry. This has lead to an alleged loss of revenue for the network giants. The networks claim that the new receivers automatically skip the commercials when recording, while DISH claims that customers have to manually set the receivers to utilize this feature.

The issues DISH is having with CBS comes at the worst possible time, considering that Turner Networks just pulled 8 channels of their content from DISH as of October 20th because they could not reach a new agreement with the Sat provider. These channels include CNN, and the Cartoon Network, both extremely popular channels with subscribers.

If DISH ends up losing 16 more channels of content because of their disagreements with CBS, it could very well trigger a flood of unhappy customers to pack up and jump ship to another entertainment provider. Adding even more chaos to this situation is that two more Turner Network channel contracts as set to expire soon as well, which means customers may very well be losing TNT and TBS as well.

The 16 channels of content will affect major markets such as NY, LA, Chicago, etc. What is unknown at this time is how this situation will affect DISH’s ability to continue to provide channels such as SHOWTIME, the Smithsonian Channel, and even some CW channels. Most customers are unaware that these are all owned by CBS and their contracts are coming due for renewal as well in the near future. Will CBS play hardball using these major channels of content to their advantage, or will they be able to come to fair terms with the SAT provider before these channels all go black.

DIRECTV To Lose The Walking Dead?!?!?!

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Fans of the AMC channel show The Walking Dead were sent into a frenzy Sunday night when they settled in to watch their weekly dose of Zombie apocalyptic entertainment. DIRECTV  customers were exposed to commercials from AMC stating that they could lose the channel as well as sister channels such as the BBC, IFC, and the Sundance channel.

The AMC ads stated that DIRECTV has refused to engage in meaningful negotiations to ensure that the contract that expires at the end of this does not leave viewers out in the dark. Viewers were prompted to visit WWW.KEEPAMC.COM for more information on this situation.

DIRECTV fired back stating that viewers had nothing to worry about. On DIRECTVpromise.com they explain that the first half of the season runs until Nov 30th, and the second half does not start until mid February of 2015. Since the current contract between the two companies does not expire until the end of December, DIRECTV claims there is plenty of time to reach a fair agreement that allows viewers to keep the channel and not miss any of their favorite show.

As has been stated in previous articles, this strange war of words is not something that is uncommon between these two companies. Shots over the bow, intended to worry and excite customers, seems to be a common tactic the two rely on when in negotiation time rolls around.

Considering the huge following that The Walking Dead has, I honestly think there is nothing to worry about it terms of missing any episodes. The backlash that DIRECTV would receive from customers is motivation enough to ensure they finalize a new contract with AMC before the second half of this season is ready to air.

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