SES Begins Ultra HD Linear TV Trials with Small Cable Ops

The transition to Ultra HD is the classic chicken-and-egg scenario: Programmers don’t launch services because pay TV operators can’t distribute them, and consumers don’t buy UHD TV sets because there’s nothing to watch. Fifteen years ago that was the identical conundrum for High Definition, however, and now HDTV is ubiquitous in the U.S. Ultra HD just got one step closer to that with satellite operator SES’s launch of its first trials of Ultra HD 4K linear channels, to be followed by subscriber tests later in 2016. Continue reading SES Begins Ultra HD Linear TV Trials with Small Cable Ops

Sony to Debut TVs Combining Best OLED and LCD Features

This summer, Sony will begin shipping the new Z television set series, redesigned from the ground up to combine the best technical features of both LCD and OLED sets. Whereas OLED TVs can show a true pitch-black, they can’t match the brightness of LED-backlit LCD TVs. With the advent of high dynamic range (HDR), TV sets need both the control of individual pixels provided by OLEDs and the brightness of LCDs. Sony achieves that by adding more LEDs in its backlight and focusing their beams for less light leakage. Continue reading Sony to Debut TVs Combining Best OLED and LCD Features

Halsey Minor Seeks to Disrupt VR Production with Live Planet

Numerous companies are introducing virtual reality cameras, filling a void that existed a year ago when VR productions were limited to the low-resolution Ricoh camera or custom rigs with multiple GoPro cameras. Among those manufacturers now offering 360-degree cameras are Samsung and LG aiming at the consumer marketplace, and Nokia, Jaunt and Lytro positioned towards the professional market. Kickstarter campaigns are also underway for additional cameras. The latest venture comes from CNET founder Halsey Minor, who is building an end-to-end immersive video system. Continue reading Halsey Minor Seeks to Disrupt VR Production with Live Planet

Microsoft Debuts Xbox One S, Project Scorpio to Soon Follow

On August 2, Microsoft’s Xbox One S will be available for $399. The new console is 40 percent smaller than the Xbox One, offers a tidy built-in power supply, and is capable of standing vertically, a throwback to older Xboxes. The Xbox One S is also more powerful, with a faster processor that, for the first time, provides 4K video for streaming Netflix and Amazon Video, and high dynamic range (HDR), as well as the ability to play Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. But only users with 4K TV sets will be able to see the difference. Continue reading Microsoft Debuts Xbox One S, Project Scorpio to Soon Follow

Amazon Upgrades HDR Content with Support for Dolby Vision

Amazon, which has been offering 4K HDR content since last year, now supports the Dolby Vision high dynamic range format. “The second season of Amazon’s original series ‘Bosch’ is now available in Dolby Vision through Amazon Prime Video,” reports The Verge. The company also announced that Sony Pictures films including “Elysium,” “Fury,” “Hancock,” “Men in Black 3,” “Pineapple Express” and “Salt” are available in Dolby Vision for purchase through Amazon Video. Streaming competitor Netflix already supports Dolby Vision and the industry standard HDR 10. Continue reading Amazon Upgrades HDR Content with Support for Dolby Vision

Microsoft Unveils New Xbox, VR Plans, Cross-Platform Games

At E3, Microsoft debuted the 4K video-capable Xbox One S, which is 40 percent smaller and $49 less than the previous $349 Xbox. The new console, also offered as a $400 version for a 2-terabyte hard drive, will unveil as a special edition in August and a standard version by end of year. Microsoft also plans to release a new virtual reality console and cross-platform games. Microsoft is in heated competition with Sony, which has sold an estimated 40 million PlayStation 4 consoles versus Microsoft’s estimated 21 million Xbox Ones. Continue reading Microsoft Unveils New Xbox, VR Plans, Cross-Platform Games

E3 Predictions for Sony, Microsoft: More Hardware, Games, VR

At E3 2016 next week, Sony will come to the show having sold over 40 million PlayStation 4 consoles, outselling Microsoft’s Xbox One, by two-to-one. The company plans to debut a more powerful console, a virtual reality headset, and numerous first-party games. Microsoft, meanwhile, plans to launch a wide range of new Xbox hardware this year, beginning with, rumors have it, a slimmer, smaller version of the current Xbox One. In addition to new consoles, Microsoft will show off HoloLens and debut new games. Continue reading E3 Predictions for Sony, Microsoft: More Hardware, Games, VR

Drone Sales Grow 224 Percent Year-Over-Year to $200 Million

The FAA’s mandatory drone registration does not seem to be impacting UAV sales, which have grown 224 percent from April 2015 to April 2016 for a total of nearly $200 million, according to The NPD Group. Robotics Trends reports the FAA’s database indicates there are now “461,433 registered hobbyist drone owners in 39,471 zip codes.” NPD notes that DJI is the clear U.S. market leader at 49 percent, followed by Parrot (19 percent), Protocol (6.3 percent), Yuneec (5.6 percent) and 3D Robotics (4 percent). Drones with 4K cameras represented more than one-third of sales for the 12 month period, and GPS-outfitted drones accounted for 64 percent of sales. Continue reading Drone Sales Grow 224 Percent Year-Over-Year to $200 Million

Google Partners with Xiaomi and its 4K Mi Box for Android TV

During its I/O conference, Google introduced new hardware partners for Android TV and Google Cast, its solutions for watching Web content on TV screens. One of these is Chinese electronics company Xiaomi, showing a new Mi Box that supports 4K, high dynamic range and, for the first time, will ship to the U.S. The Bluetooth remote-equipped Mi Box offers voice recognition and built-in Google Cast technology, enabling the user to cast content from iOS and Android devices. Google also says new Sony Bravia and RCA TVs and a Sharp Net Player will ship running Android TV. Continue reading Google Partners with Xiaomi and its 4K Mi Box for Android TV

Philips Releases 43-Inch, 4K Ultra HD LCD Computer Monitor

Philips launched a new 43-inch, 16:9 computer monitor in the U.S. this week that features a 4K Ultra HD LCD display touting 3840 x 2160 resolution, 178-degree horizontal and vertical viewing angles, and a 5ms response time. Model BDM4350UC touts 10-bit color support (with color reproduction rated at 1.07 billion colors) and a dynamic contrast ratio of 50,000,000:1. The IPS monitor — which also features MultiView functionality, built-in 7-watt speakers, and a four-port USB 3.0 hub — is currently available on Amazon for $800. Continue reading Philips Releases 43-Inch, 4K Ultra HD LCD Computer Monitor

TiVo Unveils Roamio OTA with More Storage, More Features

In addition to the recent debut of its 4K-ready DVR, TiVo just unveiled the latest version of its Roamio, the OTA 1TB. With a 1TB hard drive, users can record up to 150 hours of HD programming and up to four shows at once, due to multiple tuners. The device can also bring in over-the-air (OTA) or broadcast programs from ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS and Univision via an HD antenna. Roamio OTA 1TB will also allow users to watch streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and YouTube. Continue reading TiVo Unveils Roamio OTA with More Storage, More Features

Netflix Considers Offering Downloads, Unveils its HDR Plans

Downloading content appears to be on the table at Netflix. For some time, the company executives have insisted that downloads would not be “a compelling proposition,” because they add complexity to the system and, due to more widespread speed connectivity, are unnecessary. Now, chief executive Reed Hastings says the company should “keep an open mind” on the topic. This takes place at the same time that Netflix plans to introduce more than 150 hours of HDR content to the roster by end of year. Continue reading Netflix Considers Offering Downloads, Unveils its HDR Plans

TV Globo Brazil Debuts OTT Simulcast, VOD, 4K in the Cloud

At NAB 2016, Globo Play TV program manager Marcos Rayol described that the Brazilian broadcaster’s OTT effort, Globo Play, offers simulcast, VOD and 4K in the cloud. Developing the concept was the most difficult part. “We spent a lot of time developing interfaces,” he said. “Once we began coding it, it was very straightforward.” Brazil has 115 million people with Internet access, 38 percent of whom have broadband connections. Of the 80 million with smartphones, only 34 percent accessed video in 2015. Continue reading TV Globo Brazil Debuts OTT Simulcast, VOD, 4K in the Cloud

NAB 2016: Sphericam and Liquid Cinema Look to Advance VR

Two companies at last week’s NAB Show, Sphericam and Liquid Cinema, are making interesting contributions to the advancement of VR Cinema. Sphericam is preparing to launch a 6-sensor, 4-microphone spherical camera the size of a baseball into the prosumer market. The camera can internally stitch at 30 fps and, with an attached PC, output 60 fps live video. Liquid Cinema has developed a comprehensive yet simple-to-use software package for editing VR footage, adding effects, and, most interestingly, re-establishing the director’s intent for where viewers should look at cut-points within the video. Continue reading NAB 2016: Sphericam and Liquid Cinema Look to Advance VR

ETC’s Virtual Reality Summit Dives Into the Business of VR

In a panel on the business of VR during ETC’s Virtual Reality Summit at NAB 2016, moderator Scott Lenet, president of Touchdown Ventures, asked panelists what will determine critical mass for VR. “All these new industries start with a lot of confusion over the right business model and technology,” said Reality Lab chief executive Halsey Minor, who is also chair/co-founder of Voxelus. “VR is right in the middle of that early confusing stage. But I do believe that this wave will move faster than any before it — by a longshot.” Continue reading ETC’s Virtual Reality Summit Dives Into the Business of VR

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