Microsoft Joins OIN, Open Sources its Entire Patent Portfolio

Microsoft has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), the North Carolina-based open-source patent community that launched in 2005 with a mission to protect Linux and Linux-related software. In joining OIN, Microsoft is essentially granting an unrestricted, royalty-free license for its patents to the community’s 2,650 members. Microsoft’s corporate VP and chief IP counsel Erich Andersen said the company is pledging its “entire patent portfolio to the Linux system. That’s not just the Linux kernel, but other packages built on it.” Continue reading Microsoft Joins OIN, Open Sources its Entire Patent Portfolio

CES: Qobuz High-Res Music Service to Launch in U.S. in 2018

In mid-2018, Qobuz, a European online music streaming and downloading service, will be available in the U.S. The company, which claims it is “the highest resolution music streaming service in the world,” offers 40-million music tracks, among them one million high-resolution tracks. The service is compatible with Mac, iOS, Android and Windows operating systems. Qobuz also produces original editorial content including album reviews, bios, introductions to discographies and exclusive photos, art and videos. The company will showcase its service at CES in Las Vegas next week. Continue reading CES: Qobuz High-Res Music Service to Launch in U.S. in 2018

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

Razer Reveals 4K Projector for Gamers Who Want to Go Big

While CES saw an array of gaming laptops, mice, monitors and streaming services this past week, Razer debuted a compelling alternative for gamers looking to seriously ramp up their home setups. An extension of Razer’s Chroma full-spectrum lighting system — which brightens keyboards, headphones, mice and more — the new concept 4K projector, dubbed Project Ariana for now, lets gamers compete beyond their monitor by essentially taking over an entire room. Razer also announced that other manufacturers, including Antec, Lenovo, Lian Li, NZXT, Philips, Nanoleaf and Wicked Lasers would be using the 16.8-million-color platform. Continue reading Razer Reveals 4K Projector for Gamers Who Want to Go Big

Connected Health, Medically Validated Wearables On the Way

Digital health, including wearables, is coming, but not everyone is pleased. Qualcomm Life vice president/chief medical officer Dr. James Mault reports attending a June 2016 AMA conference where the keynote, by AMA chief executive Dr. James Madara, was titled “Digital Health: The Snake Oil of the 21st Century.” Although some doctors are stonewalling digital tools, they are still making a valid point: using wearables to make crucial, sometimes life-or-death decisions requires a higher bar than fitness trackers. Continue reading Connected Health, Medically Validated Wearables On the Way

Comparing Newly Released Google Home with Amazon Echo

Google just released Home, a smart speaker that competes directly with the recently introduced Amazon Echo, powered by the virtual assistant Alexa. Since its release, Amazon’s Echo has been a hit, as users have relied on it for everything from a home automation tool to kitchen companion and shopping assistant. Now, the two products, from two technology behemoths, will face off in the marketplace. These devices are still early in their development, and the virtual assistants powering them offer limited abilities. Continue reading Comparing Newly Released Google Home with Amazon Echo

With Xbox One S, Microsoft Is the Latest Supporter of HDR10

The new version of Xbox One S launched with the ability to output high dynamic range to compatible TV sets. The move highlights the current competition between two different HDR standards: HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Xbox One S adopted the open standard HDR10 promoted by Samsung, Sony, Sharp, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate and Paramount. Many content creators (Netflix and Amazon are two) and TV set manufacturers (Vizio, LG and Philips) are hedging their bets by offering content or hardware in both HDR standards. Continue reading With Xbox One S, Microsoft Is the Latest Supporter of HDR10

EU Telcos Join Forces for 5G Networks, Weaker Net Neutrality

BT, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Hutchison, Nokia, Orange, Telefonica, Telenor and Vodafone are part of a group of 20 telcos that released a “5G Manifesto,” detailing what governments need to do to ensure 5G coverage across Europe. The companies say they will begin conducting large-scale tests of 5G by 2018, with a 2020 commercial launch in at least one city in each EU country. But the telcos also warn that net neutrality stands in the way of innovation and ask governments to lessen strictures enforcing it. Continue reading EU Telcos Join Forces for 5G Networks, Weaker Net Neutrality

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

Super Bowl 50: Live Streaming Way Up, But Social Media Down

CBS now has the numbers to back up its assertion that live streaming of Super Bowl 50 broke records: 3.96 million unique viewers via computers, tablets, OTT devices and mobile phones, consuming more than 402 million minutes of coverage, for an average of 101 minutes each; an average per minute audience of 1.4 million consumed more than 315 million minutes. Last year, says NBC, Adobe Analytics counted more than 1.3 million people streaming the game, with an average 800,000 viewers per minute and 213 million total minutes. Continue reading Super Bowl 50: Live Streaming Way Up, But Social Media Down

New TV Technology: More Pixels, Faster Pixels, Better Pixels

In a conversation on new TV technology, Dolby Laboratories executive Pat Griffis described the three major ways that new technologies are improving the television image. “The more pixels we have, we get to the point where our eyes can’t see anymore — and we’re almost there,” he said. “Once we have motion, you get motion blur. We fix that by creating faster pixels with higher temporal resolution. The last and most important is how about making every pixel better?” The answer — no surprise to any CES 2016 attendee — is HDR. Continue reading New TV Technology: More Pixels, Faster Pixels, Better Pixels

CES: Philips is Third Manufacturer to Unveil 4K Blu-ray Player

Philips has joined Panasonic and Samsung in announcing a 4K UHD Blu-ray player with support for high dynamic range. The BDP7501 offers upscaling for non-4K content and includes HDMI, Wi-Fi and Ethernet for connectivity. It also includes built-in support for HEVC and VP9 codecs, which should make it ideal for streaming 4K content from services such as Netflix and YouTube. What may set it apart from early competition, however, is its unique compact design, more akin to a set-top box than a standard disc player. The BDP7501 is expected to ship this spring for under $400. Continue reading CES: Philips is Third Manufacturer to Unveil 4K Blu-ray Player

Apple Plans to Leverage Hi-Res Audio Format for Streaming

Apple Music subscribers are poised to enjoy the results of recent Apple development of the new Hi-Res Audio format with an expanded 96kHz, 24-bit sampling rate. The Hi-Res Audio format leverages the high fidelity audio output capability of Apple’s new Lightning ports, which were introduced last year and utilized by Philips, JBL and others for Lightning-equipped headphones. Japanese site Macotakara, with input from inside sources, says Apple Music will debut Hi-Res music streaming next year. Continue reading Apple Plans to Leverage Hi-Res Audio Format for Streaming

CES 2016: 4K Displays Tout More Features and Lower Prices

CES 2016 will reflect a year of evolution, not revolution, for TV displays. UHD 4K sets aren’t new at CES, says Paul Gagnon, director of TV research for IHS, but 2016 is “the first breakout year.” What is still on the cutting edge are technologies for improved picture quality and improved dynamic range, with a variety of largely proprietary high dynamic range (HDR) offerings. And lest anyone think that 4K is the end destination, CES 2016 will highlight the 8K offerings of manufacturers doubling down on even higher resolution. Continue reading CES 2016: 4K Displays Tout More Features and Lower Prices

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