Universal, Warner Bros. Plan DVD Distribution Joint Venture

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment inked a deal to form a joint DVD distribution venture in North America, for library titles, TV content and new releases. The pact, slated to be operational by Q1 2021, will last through 2031. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment president Eddie Cunningham will lead the venture, which will include executives from both studios. The two studios also signed license agreements for DVD distribution in countries outside of North America. Continue reading Universal, Warner Bros. Plan DVD Distribution Joint Venture

Bipartisan Law Regulating Facial Recognition Being Planned

The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform held its third hearing in less than a year on facial recognition, planning to introduce legislation to regulate its use by the federal government, law enforcement and the private sector. Committee chair Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) stated the draft legislation will appear in the “very near future” and noted the need to “explore” the privacy protections already in place. Facial recognition is already in use with smartphones, job interviews and in airports. Continue reading Bipartisan Law Regulating Facial Recognition Being Planned

CES: Daimler, Cameron Unveil Avatar-Inspired Concept Car

At Daimler’s keynote address at CES 2020, filmmaker James Cameron unveiled concept art, including Pandora’s future world, for his upcoming feature “Avatar 2,” sequel to his 2009 sci-fi blockbuster. On stage, he joined Daimler AG chair Ola Källenius, who introduced a Mercedes-Benz, dubbed Vision AVTR, inspired by “Avatar” and designed in collaboration with Cameron. The two described their design work, which includes many sustainability features. Disney is slated to release “Avatar 2” on December 17, 2021, with three more “Avatar” films in 2023, 2025 and 2027. Continue reading CES: Daimler, Cameron Unveil Avatar-Inspired Concept Car

Disney+ Service Has Strong Start With 41 Million Downloads

Since its debut two months ago, the Disney+ mobile app has been downloaded from the Apple Store and Google Play 41 million times — four times as many as HBO Now — earning nearly $100 million, reports Sensor Tower. That news sent Disney shares up two percent to $146.72. In Q4 2019, Disney+ was downloaded 30 million times, more than twice that of TikTok. According to a YouGov survey, 76 percent of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with Disney+ compared to 48 percent for Apple TV+. Continue reading Disney+ Service Has Strong Start With 41 Million Downloads

CES: Bluetooth SIG’s Low Energy Audio Slows Battery Drain

At CES 2020, the non-profit standards organization Bluetooth Special Interest Group announced that LE (Low Energy) Audio would be incorporated into its technology, improving a standard signal’s ability to manage and share wireless audio streams between devices — without stressing the batteries. In fact, since 2012, Bluetooth has incorporated LE features, dubbed Bluetooth Smart and BLE, to allow wearables and sensors to stay connected and minimize battery drain. But it has had no impact on wireless audio devices, which LE Audio hopes to remedy. Continue reading CES: Bluetooth SIG’s Low Energy Audio Slows Battery Drain

Variety of Real-Time Translation Devices Showcased at CES

Several translation gadgets made a showing at CES 2020, among them the Ambassador, released last November from Brooklyn-based Waverly Labs, an over-the-ear gadget aimed at travelers. Pocketalk is a translation device that’s popular in Japan and will soon arrive in the U.S. TranslateLive’s ILA Pro adds a subscription-based service for real-time translation. Langogo Minutes is a device that records up to seven hours of audio and provides written transcripts of what it hears. And the WT2 Plus from Timekettle is a multi-language translator in the form of earbuds. Continue reading Variety of Real-Time Translation Devices Showcased at CES

CES 2020 Showcased 8K TVs But Critics Remain Skeptical

At CES 2020, 8K was much in evidence with flagship TV sets from LG, Samsung, Sony and TCL. The only content these manufacturers were able to show, however, was from YouTube’s 8K demo reels, featuring animal and nature scenes. The question for some attendees was if it’s worth buying a very expensive 8K TV to watch HD or 4K content. Many of these TVs — such as Samsung’s 8K Q950 QLED model — showed another trend: nearly bezel-less frames, something consumers seem to appreciate, and even want in a 4K version. Continue reading CES 2020 Showcased 8K TVs But Critics Remain Skeptical

Mobile Games, Home Entertainment Strong Earners in 2019

Mobile games and home entertainment were big in 2019. Sensor Tower reported that Android and iOS mobile game players spent about $61.7 billion in 2019, up 12.8 percent from 2018’s $54.7 billion total. Mobile gaming also represented 74 percent of mobile spending for 2019. That year, home entertainment grew 8.4 percent to $25.2 billion, a record-breaking number. According to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, the greatest areas of growth were digital, subscription streaming, and digital movie sales and rentals. Continue reading Mobile Games, Home Entertainment Strong Earners in 2019

Terrorist Act Revives Clash Between Government and Apple

In the aftermath of a deadly shooting at a Naval air station in Pensacola, Florida that was later declared an act of terrorism, Attorney General William Barr requested that Apple provide access to the two iPhones used by the killer. He later complained that Apple has thus far provided no “substantive assistance.” The Saudi Arabian assassin, Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, was training with the U.S. military but had earlier posted anti-American, anti-Israeli and jihadist screeds on social media. Continue reading Terrorist Act Revives Clash Between Government and Apple

Laptop Manufacturers Debut Foldable Tablets at CES 2020

During CES in Las Vegas last week, companies unveiled prototypes of foldable tablets. Among them, Lenovo launched its ready-to-ship ThinkPad X1 Fold, with pricing, specifications and accessories. Dell, Intel and TCL showed prototypes of a foldable screen, the first two of which run Windows 10 as a stand-in for Microsoft’s dual-screen Windows 10X; TCL’s prototype was shown as an Android device. Lenovo’s laptop will ship before this software launches. Software that takes the best advantage of two screens is the challenge for these device makers. Continue reading Laptop Manufacturers Debut Foldable Tablets at CES 2020

Wi-Fi 6-Enabled Routers, Phones and Laptops Come to CES

At CES 2020, Wi-Fi 6 — which promises more efficient and speedy data delivery — finally made an appearance in affordable routers and devices. Last year’s CES showed such routers for sale, but were too expensive to create widespread adoption. Further, the routers shown this year are significantly better than less expensive ones they replace. Netgear unveiled the Nighthawk Mesh, the first mesh router from any trusted manufacturer, at $230 for a two-pack and built to work well with Internet connections up to 400 Mbps. Continue reading Wi-Fi 6-Enabled Routers, Phones and Laptops Come to CES

Verizon to Drop Cable Bundles in Favor of Customer Choice

To prevent further cord-cutting, Verizon Communications is abandoning traditional cable bundles. Fios customers will be able to select Internet speeds and TV packets separately, at preset rates, and can change their services on a monthly basis. Verizon senior vice president Frank Boulben stated that customers can then avoid promotional pricing that expires — and then skyrockets. Altice USA, Comcast and Charter Communications are offering lower cost wireless plans for Internet/TV customers. Continue reading Verizon to Drop Cable Bundles in Favor of Customer Choice

CES: Quibi Pitches Streaming Short Video for Small Screens

During CES in Las Vegas last week, Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and chief executive Meg Whitman revealed more details about their streaming content venture fueled by $1.4 billion in venture capital funding. A portmanteau for “quick bites,” Quibi plans to offer short content — under 10-minutes — for mobile phones. In other words, the enterprise is entering the streaming wars, looking for a sweet spot between the heavy-hitter long-form providers like Netflix and HBO and the free, varied content of YouTube and TikTok. Continue reading CES: Quibi Pitches Streaming Short Video for Small Screens

CES: Dolby Ramps Up HDR Home Viewing With Vision IQ

At CES 2020, Dolby took its Dolby Vision HDR system up a notch with Dolby Vision IQ, which ensures its HDR settings work for a variety of content, including action sports, feature films and documentaries, and different viewing environments. TV shows and films in 4K HDR are often calibrated for a darkened theater (or living room). But viewers watching video at home in brighter settings found the images were too dark. With Dolby Vision IQ, the Dolby Vision HDR system is automatically adjusted to the room’s brightness. Continue reading CES: Dolby Ramps Up HDR Home Viewing With Vision IQ

CES: Developer Finally Launches the Pimax 8K X Headset

Chinese developer Pimax first announced an 8K VR headset in 2017, but missed its initial 2018 release date. At CES 2020, the company made good with the launch of the Pimax 8K X, tapped by Digital Trends as its AR/VR top trends winner. The Pimax 8K X headset offers 8K resolution and a 200-degree field of view, beyond the specifications of Oculus Quest and the Valve Index. Reviewers have noted that the 8K resolution makes a “noticeable different in image sharpness,” including “crystal clear” fine text and other details. Continue reading CES: Developer Finally Launches the Pimax 8K X Headset

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