Roku Readies 4K HDR Platform, Announces New TVs at CES

Roku is introducing new hardware at CES this week, including a number of 4K TVs featuring Dolby Vision HDR (high dynamic range). The company, whose app platform is now the basis of 13 percent of smart TVs sold in the U.S., has partnered with Element Electronics on Roku TVs expected to hit shelves later this year. TCL, which uses the Roku TV program for all its smart TVs, is also introducing new Roku-based 4K HDR TVs. And Hisense unveiled its H4 series, the company’s first 4K HDR Roku TVs. Dish, Dolby, Element, Hisense, Hitachi and TCL are among the vendors showcasing Roku TVs in Las Vegas. Continue reading Roku Readies 4K HDR Platform, Announces New TVs at CES

Nintendo Rolls Out Switch, its New Hybrid Videogame System

Nintendo just debuted Switch, a console/handheld hybrid that is the company’s next videogame platform. The system, which has been in development since March 2015 and will be available for sale March 2017, can be used for TV gaming or as a portable gaming system, depending on the configuration of its tablet-like device and dock. Minus the tablet, the system becomes portable, with mini joysticks that can be wireless or attached to the sides. Nintendo also says it will soon reveal titles, game demos, and prices. Continue reading Nintendo Rolls Out Switch, its New Hybrid Videogame System

Valeo, Wheego to Test Autonomous Cars on California Roads

The California Department of Motor Vehicles issued permits to French auto company Valeo North America and the privately held Wheego Electric Cars to test a single autonomous vehicle with up to four operators on public roads. Another company receiving a permit was Cruise Automation, which was then acquired by General Motors for $1 billion. So far, Alphabet’s Google has driven 2 million miles in autonomous vehicles on public roads. Permits are a marker of which companies are moving forward in the new field. Continue reading Valeo, Wheego to Test Autonomous Cars on California Roads

Google Chromecast Shipments Top Apple TV for the First Time

According to researcher IHS, Google Chromecast shipments surpassed Apple TV numbers for the first time. During Q1, 3.2 million Chromecast devices shipped, compared to 1.7 million Apple TV units. The $35 Chromecast has become more competitive since launching its new version in September, designed for easier use with televisions than the previous model. Chromecast also supports “thousands” of popular apps such as Google Play Movies, HBO Now, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, Showtime Anytime, Spotify, Twitch, WatchESPN, YouTube, and many others. Continue reading Google Chromecast Shipments Top Apple TV for the First Time

DirecTV Set to Deliver First-Ever 4K UHD MLB Game April 15

Although Super Bowl 50 was broadcast only in HD, now media outlets are beginning to deliver live sports in 4K Ultra HD. AT&T’s DirecTV says it plans to deliver as many as 25 MLB Network games live in the new format this year, although its 4K Ultra HD will not feature high dynamic range (HDR). Sony reports it just accomplished a 4K Ultra HD (with HDR) test broadcast on a February 10 soccer match between Mexico and Senegal, in Miami’s Marlin Park. Last year, about 6.3 million UHD TV sets shipped in North America. Continue reading DirecTV Set to Deliver First-Ever 4K UHD MLB Game April 15

Sony Creates Amped-Up PlayStation for Use with VR Headset

Sony is planning to unveil a new version of PlayStation 4 that will be powerful enough to handle high-end game experiences including virtual reality, say sources. Sony’s move signals a radical change to the typical six-to-seven-year cycle of game console releases; the PlayStation 4 debuted in 2013. At the same time, Sony plans to continue production of the existing PlayStation 4, which has sold more than 36 million units globally. Sources say the two versions will likely share the same software catalog. Continue reading Sony Creates Amped-Up PlayStation for Use with VR Headset

Amazon, Netflix Producing Local Content for European Markets

Amazon and Netflix have both entered a new arena: producing local content in Europe that, they hope, will also have global appeal. Germany, as Europe’s largest and wealthiest country, is of particular interest, but Amazon and Netflix also have competition. In one example, Britain’s Sky – which has 21 million subscribers — and German broadcaster ARD are shooting a 12-episode TV series, “Babylon Berlin,” about the years before Hitler’s rise, at a new $13 million outdoor set constructed at the Babelsberg Film Studio. Continue reading Amazon, Netflix Producing Local Content for European Markets

Media Companies Turn to A La Carte Sales in Foreign Markets

Viacom, 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company are among the numerous entertainment companies offering their content a la carte — in Europe, Latin America and Asia. In the U.S., these networks are still parts of more expensive bundles proffered by Comcast, DirecTV and other pay TV services. That reflects a much lower penetration of homes outside the U.S. that have a cable or satellite subscription, which makes it possible for media companies to make a la carte offers without running afoul of pay TV providers. Continue reading Media Companies Turn to A La Carte Sales in Foreign Markets

CES: Ford/Google Partnership Highlights Autonomous Cars

At CES 2016, a record-breaking 464 automotive electronics companies will exhibit a broad range of new developments, with trends from VR/AR interfaces to modular infotainment systems. Going head-to-head with Tier 1 auto suppliers are Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto, which are targeted for adoption as native interfaces. From automakers, Ford is expected to announce a partnership with Google to create self-driving vehicles, a synergistic pairing that boosts both companies’ fortunes. Continue reading CES: Ford/Google Partnership Highlights Autonomous Cars

Google to Spin Off Autonomous Cars as Alphabet Company

In 2016, Google will spin off its driverless car unit, currently part of Google X, as a standalone business under the Alphabet aegis. With more than 1 million miles clocked on public roads, the company already has a hefty lead on competitors, including Uber Technologies, which has raised more than $10 billion towards its own work creating an autonomous car. Google first plans to launch a service, with fleets of large and small vehicles deployed in closed areas such as college campuses, military bases and corporate complexes. Continue reading Google to Spin Off Autonomous Cars as Alphabet Company

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

CES Conference Session: Wearables as a Market Opportunity

Emerging trends in new wearables represent the next great market opportunity, say a group of consultants and analysts who cover the field. As part of the Sensors and MEMS Technology Conference at CES, panelists took to the stage to discuss “Wearables: A Very Real Market Opportunity.” Although current penetration of wearables is a mere seven percent, that number is expected to grow dramatically. “In the next five years we’ll have a wearable that the majority of the population will want,” said Jim Feldhan, president of Semico Research. Continue reading CES Conference Session: Wearables as a Market Opportunity

Netflix Expands to European Markets, Promises New Content

Netflix is making content announcements and pledges ahead of its push into mainland Europe this month. The service has greenlit “Marseille,” its first original series based and produced in France, which the company expects will become one of its biggest new markets. The series is scheduled to begin shooting early in 2015 and will debut on Netflix later in the year. In addition, CEO Reed Hastings told German news magazine Der Spiegel that Netflix would “certainly” produce something in Germany in the future. Continue reading Netflix Expands to European Markets, Promises New Content

Google Glass Available to All, IHS Breaks Down Materials Cost

Google announced Tuesday evening that its Google Glass product, although still in beta, is now available to anyone in the U.S. while supplies last. IHS released a product breakdown of Glass, and says that the cost of hardware and manufacturing is approximately $152, a small fraction of the product’s $1500 selling price. While IHS did note nonmaterial expenses such as software development, engineering and tooling, Google claims that the IHS cost estimate is “wildly off.” Continue reading Google Glass Available to All, IHS Breaks Down Materials Cost

Report Points to Increase in Internet-Connected TVs in U.S.

Connected TV penetration has exceeded the 60 percent mark for broadband households in the U.S., according to new data from The Diffusion Group, indicating that an increasing number of consumers are interested in receiving entertainment services such as Netflix and Pandora. TDG’s January 2014 study found that 63 percent of broadband households have at least one Internet-connected TV, up from 53 percent the same time last year. The numbers reflect smart TVs in addition to devices like game consoles and Internet sticks. Continue reading Report Points to Increase in Internet-Connected TVs in U.S.

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