Amazon and Google Offering Ad-Supported Music Services

Spotify has new competition. Amazon just introduced an ad-supported version of Amazon Music available in the U.S. via Alexa devices. To jumpstart the service, Amazon has reportedly offered to pay some record labels per stream for music licenses, separate from ad sales. The catalog is limited, but listeners can access some of Amazon Music’s “top playlists.” Google also announced that YouTube Music will be free on Google Home smart speakers and Google Assistant devices in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and parts of Europe. Continue reading Amazon and Google Offering Ad-Supported Music Services

MPAA Report Details Shifts in Home Entertainment Market

According to the MPAA’s annual Theatrical Home Entertainment Market Environment (THEME) Report, data from DEG and IHS Markit points to a significant reduction in the sales of video discs, including DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and Ultra HD Blu-ray. Global sales of video disc formats dropped from $25.2 billion in 2014 to $13.1 billion in 2018. However, global consumer spending on home entertainment increased 16 percent over 2017, thanks in part to the growing adoption of online subscription services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. The combined theatrical and home entertainment market increased 25 percent from five years ago. Continue reading MPAA Report Details Shifts in Home Entertainment Market

HPA Tech Retreat: How Did 8K Media Get Here So Quickly?

That’s what ROAM Consulting president Pete Putman asked in his HPA Tech Retreat discussion of the apparently out-of-nowhere rise of 8K. But the presentation’s title — “8K: Whoa! How’d We Get There So Quickly?” — was actually misdirection, as Putman showed in great detail how the development, research and plans for 8K go as far back as the 1990s. His advice for those considering a 4K television is that they won’t have to wait long to buy an affordable 8K one. (Although many in the audience preferred the purchase of a 4K TV with HDR.) “CES 2019 was full of 8K TV models,” he noted. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: How Did 8K Media Get Here So Quickly?

Netflix’s New Logo Program Will Certify Post Production Tools

Netflix launched its Post Technology Alliance logo program last week, with plans to certify post-production products and systems from manufacturers and vendors that meet the streaming service’s technical and content delivery specs. “The Post Technology Alliance will build a more seamless experience from production through post-production,” said Chris Fetner, Netflix director of post partnerships and integrations, noting that certified vendors are “committed to better interoperability and faster innovation cycles.” Adobe, Avid, Blackmagic Design, Canon, Panasonic, RED Digital Cinema and Sony are among those with products already certified. Continue reading Netflix’s New Logo Program Will Certify Post Production Tools

Blackmagic Design Debuts DaVinci Resolve 15 with VFX Tools

Blackmagic Design’s release of DaVinci Resolve 15 adds Fusion, a visual effects tool often used in Hollywood films, to its professional-level color correction and audio editor. The full studio release of Resolve 15 is $300, but another, stripped down version that still includes the most important features is free. This compares to Adobe Creative Cloud, which costs more than $50 per month. DaVinci Resolve 15 is platform agnostic, running on macOS, Windows 10 and Linux, and offers four modules in one app. Continue reading Blackmagic Design Debuts DaVinci Resolve 15 with VFX Tools

Google Assistant Is Connected to 5,000 Smart Home Devices

Google revealed that its AI-powered Google Assistant is now connected to more than 5,000 smart devices in the home, up from 1,500 such devices in January. Among the devices now controlled by Google Assistant are air conditioners, cameras, security systems, thermostats, vacuum cleaners and washing machines. Google faces stiff competition in the smart home arena, most notably from Amazon Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit and Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Samsung’s SmartThings and Bixby. Now the rivals must convince consumers to buy the devices. Continue reading Google Assistant Is Connected to 5,000 Smart Home Devices

New Optoma 4K Projector Comes With Alexa Voice Assistant

One of the big stories coming out of CES this year is the growing list of products adding Amazon Alexa … from computers, wearables, vehicles, smart refrigerators, appliances — even shower systems and connected bathroom mirrors — to TiVo, Panasonic Blu-ray players and TVs from Hisense, LG and Sony (the only bigger surprise may have been the number of products that will soon feature Google Assistant integration). On the projector front, Alexa is coming to new 4K projectors from Acer and Optoma. Engadget declared the Optoma UHD51A its Best of CES winner in the Home Theater category. Continue reading New Optoma 4K Projector Comes With Alexa Voice Assistant

New TV Tech at CES to Include LG’s 88-Inch 8K OLED Display

At CES 2018, LG Display will show off its new 88-inch 8K OLED display, which now tops the previously largest and highest resolution OLED display, which was 77-inches and 4K. Much of the compelling technology at CES will be TV-related; such technologies as 4K, curved and bendable TVs, OLED, HDR and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players have previously debuted at the consumer electronics confab. At CES 2018, 8K TVs will arrive in earnest, as well as evidence of trends such as voice control and premium HDR for LED TVs. Continue reading New TV Tech at CES to Include LG’s 88-Inch 8K OLED Display

CES 2018: Overview of the Show Floor, Key Themes and Areas

Broad but logical thematic lines distribute exhibits across three main event areas at CES 2018 in Las Vegas: the entire Las Vegas Convention Center (Tech East), the Sands Convention Center (Tech West), and the Aria (Tech South). Tech East will focus on sectors such as e-commerce, security, manufacturing, gaming, VR, AR, AI, automotive, cameras, computing, displays and CE devices. For those interested in health, fitness, wearables, sports tech and the smart home, you’ll want to visit Tech West. And Tech South will feature C Space, which will address disruptive trends and how they are going to change the future of brand marketing and entertainment. Continue reading CES 2018: Overview of the Show Floor, Key Themes and Areas

Samsung and Amazon Join Forces to Stream HDR10+ Video

Amazon and Samsung have partnered to begin streaming videos in the high dynamic range format HDR10+ on the latter’s premium QLED and UHD TVs. Reported by Yonhap News, Samsung said it will be the first time that HDR10+ content will be available via a streaming service. Samsung and Amazon first announced their intent to rely on the HDR10+ open standard in April. Netflix also just announced that it is considering adding support of the HDR10+ standard. Netflix currently supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR standards. Continue reading Samsung and Amazon Join Forces to Stream HDR10+ Video

New Technology Is a Clear Focal Point of 2017 LA Auto Show

Cars are still the obvious centerpiece of the LA Auto Show (December 1-10), but, increasingly, the hackers are starting to outnumber the gearheads. At AutoMobility LA, a four-day preview event for industry insiders and press preceding the consumer-focused show, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence were talked about with the same frequency as horsepower and mpg. Show organizers stressed the importance of bringing together “the entire new mobility ecosystem” and showcased a number of startups with vehicle debuts mixed in. Additionally, the event featured the first ever hackathon at an auto show. Continue reading New Technology Is a Clear Focal Point of 2017 LA Auto Show

Sony, Harman Kardon and JBL Debut New Smart Speakers

At the Berlin trade show IFA this year, manufacturers showed smart speakers that incorporate voice assistants from Amazon and Google. Sony debuted its LF-S50G, one of the first third-party products, including Google Assistant and offering 360-degree sound and a digital clock, due out in December for $200. Another rival is the $250 Harman Kardon Allure, which offers Amazon’s Alexa and features ambient lighting that keeps the music’s beat. In addition, JBL’s new LINK series features three wireless speakers with Google Assistant and Chromecast support. Continue reading Sony, Harman Kardon and JBL Debut New Smart Speakers

Amazon, Microsoft Partner to Connect Their Voice Assistants

In a competitive landscape, Amazon and Microsoft are forming a rare partnership to enable communication between their respective voice assistants, Alexa and Cortana. This will allow users to summon Cortana using Alexa and vice versa, by the end of 2017. Chief executives Jeff Bezos and Satya Nadella made the move because of their concern that keeping digital assistants in a walled garden could hold back their progress, and that, by facilitating communication between them, end users could enjoy each one’s unique strengths. Continue reading Amazon, Microsoft Partner to Connect Their Voice Assistants

20th Century Fox, Panasonic, Samsung Partner on HDR10+

High dynamic range (HDR) is gaining steam in movies and television even as it divides into different versions, each of which has its supporters. Dolby Vision has attracted Sony and TCL, while Samsung, with its HDR10+ open standard, gathered Amazon Video as a streaming partner. Now, partnered with 20th Century Fox and Panasonic, Samsung plans to begin licensing HDR10+ in January of this coming year. The three companies hope that television, Blu-ray and set-top box manufacturers will adopt the HDR10+ format. Continue reading 20th Century Fox, Panasonic, Samsung Partner on HDR10+

Google Play Movies & TV Now Offers High Dynamic Range

For consumers with an HDR-compatible TV and Chromecast Ultra, Google Play Movies & TV has introduced support for high dynamic range video. A number of video services now support HDR in order to provide richer colors and improved contrast, even though the tech has not made its way to many living rooms yet. While top services such as Netflix, Amazon and YouTube offer HDR video, viewers still need an HDR-ready TV from companies including Hisense, LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony, TCL and Vizio. “People don’t upgrade their television as often as they do other technologies, like smartphones,” notes TechCrunch, “which means broad adoption of HDR in the living room could take years.” Continue reading Google Play Movies & TV Now Offers High Dynamic Range

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