Toshiba Europe GmbH premiered the new STOR.E TV PRO. The multimedia console turns plain TVs into smart TVs connected to the Web. Featuring full browsing capabilities and a video conferencing mode, it brings the online world to the largest screen in the house. STOR.E TV PRO will be available in the fourth quarter 2011 in Europe.

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“The vast majority of TVs in the home do not provide web access”, said Marco Perino, General Manager, Digital Products Division, Toshiba Europe GmbH. “We’ve been looking for a plug-and-play approach to connect these ‘stand-alone’ TVs to the web and designed the multimedia console STOR.E TV PRO.” According to Display Search’s analysts, nearly 75% of all flat panel TVs shipped in 2011 are expected not to have any form of internet connectivity.

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Bringing internet based entertainment to the living room, ASUS has launched the O!Play Mini Plus. It offers access to a multitude of online services for endless entertainment from both video and social media websites, while featuring Gigabit LAN and Wireless N to ensure that content is fast and smooth. The O!Play Mini Plus is also versatile, able to play content from a connected PC, smartphone or tablet, and even automatically playing files straight from a connected USB drive.

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This set-top box provides limitless online entertainment, including access to Mediafly, Dailymotion, Facebook, YouTube, Picasa, Flickr, thousands of internet TV and radio stations, and much more. It’s also the world's first HD media player that supports Acetrax, the most popular online video on demand service in Europe. The O!Play Mini Plus also allows easy sharing of photos and videos on Facebook by simply pressing a button on the bundled remote control.

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Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) today announced that the PlayStation 3 (PS3) computer entertainment system with 160GB hard disk drive (HDD), currently available at a recommended retail price (RRP) of 29,980 yen (including tax), $299 and euro 299, will be available at a very attractive new RRP of 24,980 yen (including tax) for Japan, $249 for North America and euro 249 for Europe/PAL territories. SCE will also reduce the price of the PS3 system with 320GB HDD, currently available at a RRP of 34,980 yen (including tax), $349 and euro 349, to RRP of 29,980 yen (including tax), $299 and euro 299. The new pricing will be immediately effective for North America and Europe/PAL territories, and starting August 18, 2011 for Japan.

Since its release in 2006, PS3 has gained tremendous support from fans around the world and its cumulative worldwide sales reached a milestone of 50 million units as of March 29, 2011. Equipped with future proof cutting–edge technologies including the sophisticated processors, Cell Broadband Engine™ and RSX, as well as the Blu-ray disc™ (BD) player and HDMI terminal, PS3 has continuously enhanced its value to consumers through system software updates to support new features and services including stereoscopic 3D content playback and support for the PlayStationMove motion controller. With the breadth and depth of services and content available for the PS3 system, including its impressive BD software line-up and the expansive portfolio of more than 60,000 games and video content available on PlayStationNetwork, the new price will make the platform more accessible than ever and will appeal to a wider audience looking to buy the best entertainment system for their home. With strong support from software developers and publishers, as of June 30, 2011, the worldwide cumulative number of BD software titles for the PS3 system exceeds 2,495 titles and downloadable PS3 games available on PlayStationStore exceeds 3,100 titles . Of these titles, more than 120 titles are stereoscopic 3D supported and 200 titles are PlayStation Move dedicated or supported. In addition to this extensive software title line-up, exciting and attractive new titles are expected to be released from software developers and publishers as well as from SCE Worldwide Studios, including Madden NFL 12 and Battlefield 3™ from Electronic Arts, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare3 from Activision, Assassin’s Creed Revelations from Ubisoft, Resistance 3, The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception™ from SCE and more.

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Western Digital, the world's leader in external storage solutions and maker of the popular WD TV media player family, today announced that it is making the Hulu Plus subscription service available to its WD TV Live Plus and WD TV Live Hub family of media players. WD TV customers can now watch hit TV shows, movies and catch up on previous seasons of their favorite shows. The addition of Hulu Plus rounds out the media players' best-in-class content offerings which already include Netflix®, Blockbuster®, Cinema Now®, Pandora®, YouTube®, Facebook® and many others. WD TV Live Hub users will now also be able to listen to thousands of radio stations via SHOUTcast®.

The Hulu Plus subscription service will let WD TV customers in the U.S. watch nearly every episode from dozens of current hit programs all season long from top networks like ABC, Comedy Central, FOX, MTV, NBC, and VH-1. It offers users a wide variety of series from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, South Park, Modern Family and Grey's Anatomy, to Glee and Family Guy, to The Office and 30 Rock, dozens of classic shows like Battlestar Galactica, The X-Files, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Arrested Development, Saturday Night Live, Miami Vice, Ugly Betty, Quantum Leap, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Roswell and Ally McBeal, and hundreds of movies from Miramax and the Criterion Collection.

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Yamaha Electronics Corporation today introduced the AVENTAGE BD-A1010 Blu-ray Disc Player with superior 3D and HD video and audio playback, as well as performance and control features that complement the company’s latest AVENTAGE 3D A/V receivers. Offering a powerful feature set at its price point, this model enables Internet video streaming via Netflix, Blockbuster on Demand and YouTube Leanback compatibility, and provides dual USB (front/rear) inputs for a wide-array of audio and video sources. Advance features include compatibility with a free downloadable iPhone app for component and A/V system control. A similar app for Android devices will be introduced later this year.

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The BD-A1010 offers many Internet-based interactive features, including BD-Live and BonusView, which provide secondary video and audio for enhanced commentary and information, as well as features for existing and future entertainment options via USB memory devices.

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Rovi Corporation today announced a new multi-year agreement to power the Canadian availability of CinemaNow. The digital entertainment service, expected to launch in September through Best Buy Canada and Future Shop, will be available initially online and then expand to offer access through a range of Internet-connected consumer electronics devices. Powered by the RoxioNow™ platform and cloud services from Rovi, CinemaNow will allow Canadian consumers to easily stream an extensive catalog of premium entertainment including new movie releases and next-day TV shows. The RoxioNow platform currently powers the CinemaNow service for Best Buy in the U.S.

“We look forward to helping provide more Canadian consumers with easy access to premium entertainment from their favorite devices and expanding our relationship with Best Buy,” said Corey Ferengul, EVP Products at Rovi Corporation. “With broad promotions at retail locations nationwide, we believe Best Buy Canada and Future Shop will help significantly increase awareness for the benefits of broadband-delivered entertainment.”

The Canadian CinemaNow service is expected to be available on select connected TVs, Blu-ray players, game consoles, set-top boxes, PCs, and mobile devices, and provide access to a broad library of new movies, TV shows, independent titles and older catalog films. The RoxioNow cloud-based locker will allow customers to access the entertainment they purchase from multiple, CinemaNow-enabled devices.

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The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) today announced the release of new Interoperability Guidelines for the playback of high-quality, premium commercial video. Announced at this week’s Connected Home Global Summit 2011 in London, the new standard addresses the increasing demand for simplified access to premium commercial content throughout the home, including movies and network television programming. Developed in conjunction with global cable, satellite and telecommunications service providers, the Interoperability Guidelines leverage DTCP-IP Protected Streaming to make service provider content more easily available for playback across digital televisions, Blu-ray disc players, game consoles and set-top boxes.

“Our service provider member companies have been instrumental in the development of these Interoperability Guidelines for playback of premium commercial video on DLNA Certified® products,” said Nidhish Parikh, chairman and president of DLNA. “Together, we are facilitating advances in the digital delivery of content to the home by building on the Alliance’s rich set of technology to store and play content. The release of these Interoperability Guidelines is the first step in what is a key global strategic objective for DLNA over the next year.”

“The new DLNA Interoperability Guidelines greatly assist Time Warner Cable by defining a common method to deliver our content to various retail consumer electronics devices such as connected televisions, game consoles, Blu-ray disc players, tablets and mobile phones; all securely using DTCP/IP link protection. Throughout our footprint we continue to deploy more set-top boxes that are able to serve content to DLNA products Certified to these Interoperability Guidelines,” said Mike Lajoie, CTO of Time Warner Cable.

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Due in part to a 25 percent reduction in box-office revenue of the home entertainment new release slate for the first quarter of 2011, U.S. home entertainment spending in the period was down 9.8 percent.

Sell-through was down 18 percent for the quarter, as anticipated, since there were four tentpoles accounting for $1 billion of box office released on Blu-ray and DVD in first quarter 2010 but no such equivalent for first quarter 2011. Further, the Easter holiday, a considerable home entertainment buying season, was not part of first quarter this year, accounting for some of the period’s decline. However, the second quarter is off to a strong start, with sell-through up 20 percent in the first few weeks alone.

The industry has proven resilient, with modest gains posted in a number of key areas. According to The NPD Group’s recent “Entertainment Trends in America” report, while digital home video options are gaining in popularity, more than three quarters of U.S. consumers continue to view movies on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

In Blu-ray Disc software sales, consumer spending was up nearly 10 percent over the same period 2010. Blu-ray 3D software is also beginning to show signs of material growth, with anticipated retail sales of more than $100 million for the year.

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According to The NPD Group, a leading market research company, consumers are still using DVDs and Blu-ray Disc (BD) to watch movies more than all digital-video options combined. Over the past three months, 77 percent of consumers reported watching a movie on a DVD or BD, which is unchanged from last year. Those who viewed movies from physical discs reported watching an average of four hours per week, which is also unchanged from the prior year. By comparison 68 percent watched a movie on a TV or cable network channel, 49 percent at a theater, and 21 percent used paid video on demand through their TVs.

According to data from NPD’s “Entertainment Trends in America” report, when asked about their recent spending on home video, consumers reported that 78 percent of their home video budgets went to the purchase and rental of DVD and BD, including online and in-store retail purchases and rentals, while 15 percent was spent on video subscription services like Netflix that offer a mix of physical and streaming rentals. Digital video downloads, paid streaming, paid transactional video on demand (VOD), and pay per view (PPV) comprised the remaining 8 percent. Overall per-capita spending on home video fell by 2 percent.

“With the well publicized struggles of Blockbuster and retail video stores closing around the country, and with media attention increasingly focused on the newest digital home-video offerings, the value and importance of physical formats to the home video industry and to consumers is often overlooked,” said Russ Crupnick, entertainment industry analyst for The NPD Group. “Even though DVD sales and rentals are slowing, there is no evidence that consumers are abandoning physical discs for watching movies, even as the choices for viewing are expanding.”

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ASUS has launched WAVI, the world’s first wireless HDMI kit to feature innovative two-way wireless USB control designed to stream PC content to the big screen TV. WAVI (Wireless Audio Video Interaction) is offered as a pair of devices that bridges the gap between the home office and living room. Watch movies, play the latest PC games, enjoy social networking or even do online shopping, all on the big screen TV from the comfort of a couch.

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The WAVI HDMI streaming kit consists of a transmitter and receiver for two-way input and streaming. Unlike other wireless HDMI kits, the WAVI allows users to control the PC content in the living room with a wireless keyboard and mouse, thanks to wireless USB support. The WAVI operates at the wireless 5GHz band and provides up to 25 meters of coverage. Additionally, under the Extend Mode, users can continue working on the PC screen while streaming multimedia content to the living room TV – maximizing the use of a single home PC while also providing home entertainment experiences.

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