Tag: TV

Telly catches Fire

old-school-tvA separate Fire TV device might become a thing of the past as telly makers are starting to integrate the streaming technology.

Seiki, Westinghouse and Element Electronics are launching a series of 4K sets with Fire TV technology built-in. They all include Amazon’s current interface, including a wide range of Alexa voice commands thanks to a microphone-equipped remote. If you use an over-the-air TV antenna, you’ll have access to both a channel guide and favourite individual channels on the home screen.

The first lot are appearing at CES and so far, none of the companies are saying when.  There will be 43-, 50-, 55- and 65-inch models. These are budget telly makers so adding Fire into your telly will not cost much more.  It is also likely that other cheaper manufactures will follow suit.

Samsung, LG and Sony already have highly developed smart TV platforms (whether in-house or Android TV), and it’s doubtful they will bother.

Cue the stupidity

screen-shot-2012-08-05-at-1.15.14-pm-1344143971Apple’s Eddy Cue stuffed up Apple’s TV negotiations by trying to be Steve Jobs and telling big content what to do.

Apple’s senior VP of internet software and services, supposedly angered TV industry execs more than any other Apple employee during the negotiations with companies such as Disney and Time Warner.

The Wall Street Journal has found more evidence from multiple cable-industry executives about Cue’s antics. Apple wanted to expand into TV, confirming many rumours over the past five years that have claimed the company explored everything from making its own TV, to trying get TV-channel owners to sign-on for a video streaming service that would have cost $30.

The Journal said that during a meeting between Cue, former Time Warner CEO Glenn Britt, new CEO Jeff Bewkes and other executives Cue arrived 10 minutes late and was wearing jeans, tennis shoes with no socks, and a Hawaiian shirt.

“Apple wanted full on-demand seasons of hit shows and rights to a vast, cloud-based digital video recorder that would automatically store top programs and allow ad-skipping in newly aired shows.”

Execs supposedly “kept looking at the Apple guys like: ‘Do you have any idea how this industry works?’”

Talks with Disney and CBS didn’t go any better, even though Disney CEO Bob Iger sits on Apple’s board and CBS CEO Les Moonves said he would probably sign a deal. Cue however stuffed it up by making demands that would have completely changed the way TV channels fuel profit growth.

Apple demanded that Disney freeze the monthly rate per viewer it would pay to license its channels which usually get rate increases annually.   It appears that the easy negotiation ended with the Fark Cue from the studios.

So where did Cue’s belief he could mimic the dumb arrogance of his late boss lead?  Apple had to give up on the idea of launching a TV streaming service. Instead it added apps to the Apple TV last year, giving studios the ability to create their own channels on Apple TV with their own subscription rates.

It is also coming up with the worst content on TV including its new Planet of the Apps reality TV show and god awful “CarPool Karaoke”.

 

MIT boffins create 3D without need for glasses

Tigre-3DMIT boffins, fed up with having to watch movies with glasses over the top of their glasses have invented a 3-D experience that does not need them.

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science have demonstrated a display that lets audiences watch 3-D films in a movie theatre without extra eyewear.

Dubbed “Cinema 3D,” the prototype uses a special array of lenses and mirrors to enable viewers to watch a 3-D movie from any seat in a theater.

While the researchers warn that the system isn’t market-ready, they are optimistic that future versions could push the technology to a place where theatres would be able to offer glasses-free alternatives for 3-D movies.

Glasses-free 3-D already exists, but not in a way that scales to movie theatres. Traditional methods for TV sets use a series of slits in front of the screen (a “parallax barrier”) that allows each eye to see a different set of pixels, creating a simulated sense of depth.

But parallax barriers have to be at a consistent distance from the viewer and this does not work for big theatres.

Cinema 3D encodes multiple parallax barriers into one display, such that each viewer sees a parallax barrier tailored to their position. That range of views is then replicated across the theater by a series of mirrors and lenses within Cinema 3D’s special optics system.

Cinema 3D’s prototype requires 50 sets of mirrors and lenses, and yet is just barely larger than a pad of paper. But, in theory, the technology could work in any context in which 3-D visuals would be shown to multiple people at the same time, such as billboards or storefront advertisements.

 

Smart TVs are a dumb idea

59cbc5d3dbfa46a01d5469bd0fbdd1e7Samsung is proving to the world why smart TVs are really a dumb idea.

Not only are they slower than an asthmatic ant with a heavy load of shopping, Samsung is experimenting with hijacking them so you can have adverts injected into your video stream.

According to the StackSamsung wants to install hardware-baked advertising tiles in its newer models and might use software updates to make “the functionality” possible for older TVs.

Samsung already managed to include advertisements in its range of internet-connected televisions and Executive Vice President Lee Won-jin is at the helm of the initiative to squeeze extra cash out of the current thin margins.

However monetising a failing hardware business via network-driven ad distribution is pretty dumb when you still need to attract users to your product. Why on earth would you choose a product that hits you with adverts in the middle of some interesting telly you are watching?

Meanwhile the old advertising model is grinding to a halt as people wake up to the wonders of adblockers.  The more intrusive the advertising the more people want to keep them off their screens.  Investing several thousand dollars in a TV only to find it fills your screen with advertising is taking the Nintendo.

Adobe reports digital deflation

adobeBeancounters working for Adobe have worked out that the digital economy is suffering a period of deflation across nearly every category it tracks.

Adobe’s Digital Price Index (DPI) looks at inflation rates across consumer goods categories that the the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures.

However Adobe analyses actual transactions in real time and can account for changes in consumer behaviours, whereas the government relies on surveys to approximate sales of each product category.

Adobe spotted deflation across nearly all categories Adobe tracks including groceries, TVs, toys, electronics, furniture, appliances and flights.

In sporting goods, the DPI shows three times more deflation than the CPI for the last year. In computers, the DPI saw twice as much deflation year on year versus the CPI.  The DPI explains the decrease in demand and pricing for sporting goods and PCs that led to the recent bankruptcy announcements and Intel pulling out of the PC market.

Prices for TVs and Tablets dropped the most year on year. TV prices fell 19.7 per cent and tablets fell by 20.9 per cent.

The DPI analyses billions of digital transactions involving 15 billion website visits and 2.2 million products sold online, tracking digital transactions more accurately than any other current source.

Economists, Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for President Obama, and Pete Klenow, professor, department of economics at Stanford University, are the brains behind the DPI.

Whispering grass! Don’t tell the telly because the telly don’t need to know

hqdefaultSamsung has warned customers not to discuss personal information in front of smart TVs because they are listening to customers’ every word.

The company revealed that the voice activation feature on its smart TVs will capture all nearby conversations. The TV sets can share the information, including sensitive data, with Samsung as well as third-party services.

It all became public when someone actually reading Samsung’s privacy policy discovered the line:

“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.”

Samsung has now issued a new statement clarifying how the voice activation feature works. “If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature, voice data is provided to a third party during a requested voice command search. At that time, the voice data is sent to a server, which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV.”

The company added that it does not retain or sell the voice data, but Nuance Communications who is its partner in the technology might do. Nuance was unavailable for comment at press time. We asked our TV but our TV doesn’t listen.

Apple mothballs TV plan, blames big content greed

old-school-tvFruity cargo cult Apple is giving up on its over hyped television plans – at least for now

The Tame Apple Press claimed that Jobs’ Mob was expected to take on September 9, boldly going where Intel and Microsoft had failed.  It even claimed that Apple’s latest television hardware had spaces which would be filled by an internet television streaming service.

However the hardware launched on time but without the matching TV service, making it a chocolate teapot of streamers.

According to Bloomberg, Apple has mothballed plans to offer a live internet based television service and is instead focusing on being a platform for media companies to sell directly to customers through its App Store.

Jobs’ Mob’s original plan was to sell 14 channels for $30 to $40 a month and it is blaming the media companies for making the plan fail because they were “too greedy”. Yeah irony thy name is Apple.

Broadcasters such as CBS and Twenty-First Century Fox had licensed programing. But a lack of content led Apple to scrap plans to announce the service at the September 9 event.

Bloomberg said Apple had not given up entirely on releasing an internet TV service, which has slowly been pulling viewers away from traditional television service providers.

Most of broadband is streaming video

old-school-tvA report from broadband services company Sandvine shows that 70 percent of the Web traffic is streaming video and audio.

The report shows that most internet use is during peak evening hours and indicates that the world wide wibble is no longer the thing that brings you websites and email and is now bringing video.

If you think this is obvious, Sandvine says that five years ago, video/audio represented 35 percent of prime-time usage. Now it has doubled, to 70 percent.

Most of the increase comes from YouTube and Netflix, which sucks up half of broadband usage a couple of years ago and continues to grow. These services are joined by relatively new entrants, like Amazon and Hulu, which barely registered a couple of years ago and now account for nearly six percent of usage.

Amazon’s PR agency pointed out that Amazon now represents one of the top three sources of video traffic in North America, up from number eight on Sandvine’s 2014 report.

Video and audio, primarily YouTube, dominate mobile usage, too. But Facebook and Snapchat are also big. Video and audio accounts for 41 percent of mobile traffic, and social media eats up 22 percent.

 

LG to invest $8.71 billion in OLED

lg-55-inch-oled-tvLG Display said it will invest more than $8.71 billion to build a large plant to make panels using organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels.

It is not clear where it is getting the dosh from, LG has not exactly been rolling in it of late so it is pretty much betting the farm on the ultra-clear display technology.

The company said it has begun building the plant, called P10, in Paju, South Korea, to make panels across all product segments including large screens for TVs and flexible OLED panels for devices such as smartwatches and auto displays.

Production is expected to begin in the first half of 2018.

Japan’s Nikkei Asian Review claimed that LG Display was building a new plant in anticipation of Apple adopting OLED technology for its iPhone in 2018. A spokeswoman for LG Display declined to comment.

Even without the fruity cargo cult’s involvement, LG Electronics Inc and its affiliate LG Display are investing heavily on OLED for TVs, and LG Electronics recently slashed the prices of TV sets in the United States using OLED in a push to popularise the technology.

LG to slash OLED prices to push tech

lg-55-inch-oled-tvLG Electronics is going to slash the price of OLED TVs almost in half before Christmas in a bid to make the TV technology mainstream.

OLED is considered good technology but not made in enough quantities to bring the price down enough to interest the great unwashed.

LG has invested billions in OLED displays to rebuild profit decimated by Chinese competition in the liquid crystal display (LCD) TV market.

OLED screens deliver better picture quality, consume less electricity and promise wider profit margins than LCDs.

LG Electronics said production improvements allowed it to cut prices of six models in the world’s biggest TV market by as much as 45 percent from last month, without crimping margins. Two are now below $2,000, a fraction of the $14,999 of LG’s first OLED TV in 2013.

LG wants OLED to raise profitability in a saturated TV market plagued by sluggish demand and shrinking margins for LCD sets.

OLED is used mainly in smartphones and wearable devices, as production becomes complex as sizes increase. LG Display has spent $8.64 billion through 2018 mainly to develop OLED and is considering building a third manufacturing line for TV-sized OLED screens.

Japan’s Panasonic launched its first OLED TV, in Europe, for $10,791.00. Wall Street believes that decent sales volumes remain years away as LG is the only one committing significant resources to the technology.

LG said US sales are already growing after price cuts and promotions for OLED TVs that began on October 8.