FCC Reverses Decades-Old Media Cross-Ownership Rules

As expected, the Republican-led FCC voted 3-2 along party lines yesterday to reverse the media cross-ownership ban. Now, an individual company will be permitted to own TV and radio stations and a newspaper in the same town. Changes to the rules, which were originally created to prevent individual entities from holding an unwanted amount of power over local news and information, also makes it possible to increase the number of TV stations that a single company can own in a given market. The deregulation was largely supported by broadband, cable and media companies, while opposed by consumer advocates concerned about the future of local news and diversity of expression. Continue reading FCC Reverses Decades-Old Media Cross-Ownership Rules

Elgato 4K60 Pro Unlocks 4K Playback for Prosumer Creators

On November 21, Elgato will launch a new PCIe component that allows a user’s PC to record video at 4K UHD (2160p), 60 frames per second. Priced at $400, this product is aimed at those making gaming-related video who don’t have access to a professional studio. Games with 4K-resolution imagery are becoming more prevalent, especially with Microsoft’s debut of its Xbox One X console. But it currently costs a minimum of $800 for the hardware to capture video at 4K 60 fps, and the hardware that does exist isn’t built for gaming uses. Continue reading Elgato 4K60 Pro Unlocks 4K Playback for Prosumer Creators

Microsoft Releases its Powerful Xbox One X Gaming Console

At the global debut of its Xbox One X, Microsoft described it as the world’s most powerful game console, with 4K resolution, high-dynamic range (HDR) games and 40 percent more performance than other consoles. The new console already has 50+ Xbox One X titles that have been remastered to 4K, a number that will jump to 70 by end of the first week. The company says 160 games are being readied for 4K HDR, among them “Forza Motorsport 7,” “Super Lucky’s Tale,” “Assassin’s Creed Origins,” “Middle-earth: Shadow of War” and “FIFA 18.” Continue reading Microsoft Releases its Powerful Xbox One X Gaming Console

Amazon, Facebook, SoftBank Ally for New Transpacific Cable

Amazon, Facebook, Japan’s SoftBank and other technology companies are partnering to build the Jupiter cable system, a new 8,700-mile (14,000 km) transpacific subsea cable that will connect North America with Asia. The Jupiter system will have so-called landing points in two locations in Japan (Maruyama in Chiba prefecture and Shima in Mie prefecture), Daet in the Philippines and another in Los Angeles. Other partners include NTT (SoftBank’s rival), Hong Kong’s PCCW Global, and the Philippines’ PLDT. Continue reading Amazon, Facebook, SoftBank Ally for New Transpacific Cable

MIT and Netflix Testing AI-Based Algorithms to Curb Buffering

Waiting for a video to buffer may become an annoyance of the past. Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) are working on streaming algorithms that use AI to improve load rates and, thus, reduce buffering. Dubbed Pensieve, the new technology relies on machine learning to navigate the often-chaotic and ever-changing conditions of networks in real-time, based on a system of rewards (when the video loads smoothly) and penalties (when it’s interrupted). Meanwhile, Netflix is working on its own AI solution to address buffering. Continue reading MIT and Netflix Testing AI-Based Algorithms to Curb Buffering

AT&T to Roll Out New Android TV-Based Set-Top Box for OTT

AT&T’s DirecTV is preparing to launch a new TV set-top box based on Google’s Android TV platform. A new FCC filing reveals that the satellite TV company is trying its hand at over-the-top streaming, with the model  number C71KW-400 set-top box, described as the “AT&T/DirecTV Wireless 4K OTT Client.” The accompanying user manual, which defines OTT as delivering video via the Internet to user-connected devices, notes that the device will not be able to interact with DirecTV’s current Genie hardware. Continue reading AT&T to Roll Out New Android TV-Based Set-Top Box for OTT

Ericsson Predicts Half of TV Viewing Will Be Mobile by 2020

Ericsson’s eighth annual ConsumerLab TV and Media study finds that massive television growth and a shift in platforms will bring linear and VOD viewing to nearly equal levels in three years, while 50 percent of viewing will occur via mobile screens (smartphones, tablets and laptops). About half of the mobile viewing is expected to take place via smartphones. The jump in mobile viewing marks an 85 percent increase since 2010. Ericsson ConsumerLab forecasts continued growth of on-demand viewing through 2020, at which point 1 in 3 consumers will also be VR users. Continue reading Ericsson Predicts Half of TV Viewing Will Be Mobile by 2020

Samsung’s 360 Round: 4K Camera Live-Streams 3D for VR

At the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco this week, the company showcased its 360 Round video camera, which captures 360-degree 4K video that can be live-streamed or recorded. The camera, with 17 lenses, is slated for release in Q4. Samsung Electronics vice president Taeyoung Kim says the company is also developing a new version of mobile VR technology with a controller that offers six degrees of freedom (6DOF) and inside-out tracking. Samsung released its Gear VR headset in 2014, which offers three degrees of freedom. Continue reading Samsung’s 360 Round: 4K Camera Live-Streams 3D for VR

CTA: 170 Million to Purchase Tech Gifts This Holiday Season

According to the Consumer Technology Association, 170 million people (68 percent of U.S. adults) plan to purchase tech gifts this holiday shopping season. While the CTA’s annual report indicates tech spending is expected to only increase 1 percent to $96.8 billion during Q4, it still represents a new record following a strong 2016. “On the surface, it sounds pretty weak, but we saw 3.8 percent holiday growth in 2016,” said Steve Koenig, CTA’s senior director of market research. “That’s a tough act to follow. It’s hard to post 3 percent to 4 percent growth rates year after year.” Headphones, drones, VR headsets, 4K TVs, laptops and smartphones are among the products predicted to be top-sellers. Continue reading CTA: 170 Million to Purchase Tech Gifts This Holiday Season

Chinese Startup Intros 8K VR Headset With 200-Degree FOV

For those yearning for a VR headset with higher resolution and a wider field of view, Chinese startup Pimax may have the solution. The company’s latest headset is marketed as 8K with laser tracking that works with HTC Vive’s base station and offers a 200-degree field of view, which is nearly double what other headsets offer. The resolution, in fact, is only 7,680 x 2,160 (not true 8K, which would be 7,680 x 4,320), but the company explains that a much higher horizontal resolution is most important — and it is an industry first. Continue reading Chinese Startup Intros 8K VR Headset With 200-Degree FOV

Amazon Intends to Rule the Smart Home With Alexa Devices

Amazon is making a big push to be everywhere in the smart home, which is why its devices are relatively inexpensive: the new Amazon Echo is $99.99, Echo Plus is $149.99, Echo Spot is $129.99 and the new Fire TV stick is $69.99. The company is betting on being ubiquitous enough in homes to become the de facto standard for smart home devices — in essence, a new operating system. Proof that Amazon is playing a long game is the Echo Plus, which with a single command could turn off the lights, lock the door and turn off the TV. Continue reading Amazon Intends to Rule the Smart Home With Alexa Devices

Roku Refreshes Product Line to Compete With Apple, Amazon

Following its recent Nasdaq debut, Roku is updating its product line with new specs and pricing in addition to a number of software enhancements. Roku’s entire line — from its streaming stick to home entertainment hub — is being upgraded. The $30 Roku Express gets a new processor, while the $50 Roku Streaming Stick now features a remote with voice control. The $40 Roku Express+ is the next step up from the Roku Express, offering analog component connections for those with older TVs. And the high-end 4K Roku Ultra will remain $100 for the holiday season (it recently had a $30 reduction), and gets a refresh for its remote and a wider selection of streaming options.  Continue reading Roku Refreshes Product Line to Compete With Apple, Amazon

GoPro Debuts Hero6 Black and 360-Degree Fusion Cameras

GoPro has unveiled two new action cameras, the Hero6 Black, an updated version of its flagship camera targeting adventurous photographers, and the Fusion, a 360-degree spherical camera that will ship in November. The Hero6 Black includes a first-ever custom processor built for GoPro, and includes a digital zoom, better voice control, more user-friendly editing software and the ability to transport footage three-times faster than the previous version. It is priced at $499, about $100 more than its predecessor. Continue reading GoPro Debuts Hero6 Black and 360-Degree Fusion Cameras

Roku Goes Public Today, Sets its IPO Price at $14 per Share

Video streaming device maker Roku begins trading today on Nasdaq, setting its IPO price at $14 per share, which would give it a $1.3 billion stock market value. The 15-year-old company is competing with the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google that all offer streaming video boxes featuring popular apps such as Netflix and Hulu. Roku’s devices provide access to Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and dozens of online channels, but competition is a major consideration with today’s tech investors. Snap Inc., for example, the year’s biggest tech IPO, has watched its shares plummet in value as Facebook’s Instagram rolled out Snapchat-like functionality. Continue reading Roku Goes Public Today, Sets its IPO Price at $14 per Share

Vimeo to Acquire Livestream Platform and Launch Vimeo Live

IAC-owned Vimeo is purchasing the Livestream platform and rolling out its own live-streaming service called Vimeo Live. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Earlier this year, Vimeo abandoned its plans to release a SVOD business. Rather than compete in the SVOD space with Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, “Vimeo’s core business is focused around selling tools and services to professional and semi-professional video creators,” reports TechCrunch. Integrating Livestream tech into Vimeo Live “will allow video creators to capture, edit, stream and archive their live events … in addition to hosting, distributing, and generating revenue from their videos.”  Continue reading Vimeo to Acquire Livestream Platform and Launch Vimeo Live

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