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Super Hi-Vision: Inside the 8K, Future of Television

If you have had the opportunity to check out the power of 8K televisions that are being showcased at various tech exhibits, then you already know how brilliant and breathtaking the picture quality of these television sets is. The Super Hi-Vision, also known as UHD technology, is something right out of the future. It’s as if somebody went into the future and came back with a television set of the era. The truth is that we honestly feel that it is too early to expect Super Hi-Vision to hit the mainstream market. The reason is that the entertainment industry is yet to completely come to terms with the predecessor technology – 4K. However, there are some strong signs that 8K may soon be accepted by the industry. The biggest sign of them all is the backing 8K is getting from NHK.

NHK, or Nippon Housou Kyoukai, is a Japanese broadcaster who has been at the forefront of technological revolutions in the television industry. In fact, innovations like color television broadcasting, and HD broadcasting owe a significant part of their success to NHK. In 2012, NHK gave us a preview of what 8K picture quality would be like. To say that it blew away everyone’s minds is an understatement.

For comparison, 8K resolution is 7680×4320 pixels, while 4K resolution is 3840×2160 pixels. Looking at these numbers, it might look like 8K is about twice as good as 4K. But, the truth is that 8K is 16 times better than 4K. 4K, or 3840×2160, is about 2 million pixels. 8K, on the other hand, is 33 million pixels. Today’s TV technology is not capable of handling this kind of raw power.

If you thought 4K is superb, 8K is a giant leap from there. The leap here is not to bring the television screen and camera recording as close to reality as possible. Instead, it is to outmatch the reality itself. That’s right. Super Hi-Vision beats human eyes in many ways. Very few human’s eyes are capable of capturing the depth of field that is delivered by an 8K camera. Soon, although not very soon, you will have televisions that features 16 times the resolution of today’s best televisions.

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But, how soon can you enjoy Super Hi-Vision?

If everything goes according to plan, then we may be able to start enjoying Super Hi-Vision as early as 2020, if not before that. In preparation for the Olympics, NHK is already experimenting with the technology to broadcast the games in 8K. Of course, merely broadcasting the games in 8K will be futile, unless there are televisions to actually show programs in such high resolution. The good news is that TV manufacturers are already gearing up for the big challenge. Samsung, LG, Sony, and Panasonic have all announced plans to have 8K TVs ready by 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, hold your horses before you get all your hopes up.

The thing about 8K televisions is that they will be big, and by big I mean really BIG. For human eyes to actually differentiate between 4K and 8K resolutions, 8K televisions have to be at least 70 and 80 inches in size. But, to truly enjoy 8K, the television sets have to be a lot bigger than that. Panasonic has developed a plasma television that is a massive 145 inches. That’s about 12-freaking-feet. That’s about the size of many living room walls. Now, you can imagine what will be the price of such televisions. Not to mention that the technology to record video in 8K is not fully developed yet. Currently, NHK is developing a 120fps 8K sensor in collaboration with Shizuoka University. It already has a working prototype camera as well. So, yes, in all probability, 8K televisions, as well as programs (or program), will be a reality as early as 2020. But, it will be some time before they become affordable for most of us.

But, hey. There is a silver lining here. 8K is expected to become a standard for moviemaking before it becomes a standard technology in your living room. So, if you really want to enjoy 8K, you will be able to do so at the cinemas. Apart from that, you will have to wait until the 2032 Olympics, or at least 2028 Olympics, for 8K televisions to become mainstream.

What is Sky Q?

Sky Q is the next generation premium TV service from Sky. Sky Q is not a single device. It is a platform that makes use of a family of devices to deliver a truly luxurious, and seamless television entertainment experience at your home. Sky Q debuted this March, and has already been quite a success in the United States. So, what is Sky Q exactly, then? Here, we will answer all your questions about Sky Q.

Sky Q Silver

Sky Q is the flagship service from Sky, which will replace Sky + HD as the most premium service from Sky. This service makes use of a variety of devices, depending on the requirement and usage of the consumers. The showrunner is the Sky Q Silver, which is the set-top-box. It is the central nervous system of the Sky Q platform, and sits in the place of your existing Sky + HD box. The Sky Q Silver set-top-box is revolutionary in many aspects, but what makes it phenomenal is UHD support. Yes, this baby ships 4K ready.

Sky Q

Suppose you are on a tight budget, and could go without the UHD functionality, then you can drop Sky Q Silver from your living room set up, and instead, go for its toned down version that is simply known as Sky Q. This device has a smaller hard drive, and lacks some top-of-the-range functionalities of Sky Q Silver, such as UHD support. However, it is also budget-friendly.

Sky Q Mini and Sky Q Hub

With the latest Sky Q service, you can enjoy your television entertainment in different rooms seamlessly. You can use a Sky Q Mini box, which connects to the main set-top-box, Sky Q Silver, via the Sky Q Hub internet router. You can use multiple Sky Q Mini boxes for each television in different rooms in your home. Further, your entire family can enjoy television in their respective rooms without any hindrance, or hiccups. The entire system works like a charm as if each Sky Q Mini box is an independent set-top-box.

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Sky Q Touch Remote

Although television technology has evolved over the decades immensely, the remote control has always been a bland device with buttons. Nothing has changed. That is until Sky Q decided that it’s time to change it. The all-new Sky Q Touch Remote, as the name indicates, features a touch functionality. So bye-bye button-pressing, and welcome smooth swiping. The best part about this remote is that unlike the older versions, it does not run on infrared. Instead, it features Bluetooth technology, which means that you can use the remote without worrying about the line of sight. This makes it possible for you to hide away the Sky Q box or the Sky Q Silver box.

Fluid Viewing

All Sky Q ads, for over a year, have been enthusiastically highlighting the Fluid Viewing aspect of the latest Sky Q offering. What Sky Q refers to as Fluid Viewing is the seamless experience that the new device family offers to the consumers. Thanks to the latest Sky Q devices, you can enjoy whatever you want, wherever you want, and whenever you want.

All your television entertainment at will be centralized via the main Sky Q box. Thus, you can watch a TV program on your living room television, your bedroom television, or even your tablets and phones. In fact, the experience is so smooth that you can watch half a show on a television in one room, pause it, go to another room, and continue where you left off on a completely different television, or a mobile device. The entire thing will be enabled via your home Wi-Fi network.

All of this is not limited to just on demand programs, but also the shows and movies that you recorded and stored on your main box. Yes, you can record the shows to enjoy them later on the go. That’s right. All the content that you downloaded to your main Sky Q box can be transferred to your phone or tablet using the Sky Q app wirelessly. You can enjoy this content later at your convenience.

The entire Sky Q system is robustly designed to meet the needs of a modern family. You can record up to 4 shows simultaneously, so that nobody has to miss a program because of overlapping TV schedules. In addition to this, the entire family can watch up to 5 different programs simultaneously, while downloading 4 shows in the background.

This way, you get a superfluid experience of enjoying your television entertainment, and that’s why the name Fluid Viewing.

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Does the LCD TV Have a Future?

For today’s TV viewer, the big, flat screen LCD TV is the industry standard. Every company makes one, they’re available in just about every size up to 90 inches, and they fit nicely in every room of the home. You see these TV screens just about everywhere you go – in hotel rooms, at supermarket checkout lines and in lobbies of office buildings. There’s just one problem – there are other technologies out there – such as OLED – that promise to make the LCD TV obsolete.

OLED vs. LED

For now, OLED is the big new technology that could revolutionize the way you watch TV. With OLED (which stands for organic light emitting diodes) screens, there’s a significant increase in picture quality because the TV screen can literally control the color of every single pixel on the screen. That’s not the case with the LCD TV, also known as the LED LCD TV, which relies on backlighting for the pixels. In short, with the OLED TV, you can control the brightness of the screen, pixel-by-pixel.

If you walk into a consumer electronic store like Best Buy, the difference between OLED and LED can appear to be very significant – there’s greater color contrast, the bright colors are brighter, the dark colors are darker, and it’s possible to get a true “black” on the screen. Also, OLED screens are slightly curved, and that means you can see more of the picture even if you are not facing directly in front of the TV. For picture quality purists, then, OLED screens are superior.

However, OLED TVs are still too expensive for the average consumer. They’re typically priced at $9,000 or higher. As a result, there are only two major companies – Samsung and LG – that make them. And they are only available in screen size of 55 inches and greater, making them also largely impractical for most people, who are quite comfortable with their 42 inch screens.

The rise of Ultra HD 4K

If picture quality is the primary concern of consumers, then makers of LCD TVs have the solution – Ultra HD 4K televisions. In some regards, “Ultra HD 4K” is more of a marketing innovation than a technological innovation. There’s not really a change in the technology that TV makers are using – they are simply adding more pixels to the screen. The previous HD standard was 1080p (1,080 pixels), and this new 4K standard is approximately 4,000 pixels (actually, 3,840 pixels, but who’s counting?).

At a glance, you can see that 4K offers nearly four times the number of pixels as the old HD screens. More pixels, better quality, right? But 4K is still just a resolution – it tells you nothing about other factors that impact the overall picture image, such as contrast, brightness, or black level.

But, for the average consumer, 4K is a real reason to go out and buy a new TV set. And here’s the thing – the only way to get 4K is with an LCD TV. So you can view 4K as a key way that LCD TV makers are going to hold off the OLED revolution. If everyone is too busy buying 4K TVs, they aren’t going to buy OLED TVs, and that means OLED manufacturers will never be able to create the type of scale needed to compete at a more reasonable price point.

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Whatever happened to the plasma TV?

The battle between OLED and 4K, in some ways, is reminiscent of the battle between LCD and Plasma. Again, plasma TVs represented a fundamentally new way of displaying a clearer, crisper picture. TV enthusiasts raved about the overall picture quality on their plasma TV screens.

But, somehow, plasma TVs never became profitable. One reason is that, at larger sizes, plasma TVs were just physically bigger than LCD TVs, and consumers didn’t want to absorb all the extra costs (e.g. it’s cheaper to ship an LCD TV than a plasma TV.) Panasonic, which was one of the biggest players in the plasma TV market, recently got out of the business. And only two companies – Samsung and LG – even make plasma TVs anymore, and both are phasing out of the business.

In short, the LCD TV met the challenge from plasma TV. It was simply the case that the high-end LCDs could equal or surpass the picture quality of the plasma TV at much lower price points.

Why LCD will continue to dominate

For now, it looks like the LCD TV will continue to dominate the market. Plasma TVs are going extinct and OLED TVs are still way too expensive. One big reason is that the LCD screen is what’s used in nearly every technological gadget, so there’s what economists refer to as “economies of scale” when it comes to creating LCD screens. Companies can literally create a giant glass of pixels and slice it up into smaller screens. They could take one 84-inch block of pixels and use it for one 84-inch screen, or they could create lots of smaller screens.

Take your smartphone and look carefully at the screen. There’s a 99 percent chance that it’s an LCD screen. The only major smartphone that uses an OLED screen is the Samsung Galaxy S7. (However, there are rumors that Apple will include an OLED screen on the next iPhone) So, if OLED is ever going to take off in a serious way, it will be because of Samsung, which also happens to be only one of two major manufacturers of OLED TV sets. But will Apple consumers ever admit that Samsung phones have better screens?

Ultimately, the best technology does not always win – the most profitable and the most marketable technology wins. As long as the high-end LCDs are cheaper than their high-end rivals, they are likely to remain dominant. At a certain point, it’s not just about price, it’s also about the price/value trade-off. If you don’t get a lot more value for each increase in price, consumers will determine that it’s just not worth it.

Moreover, there’s one other factor in favor of the LCD TV – since so many manufacturers make them, there’s continual innovation happening in this space. One new innovation people are talking about are “Quantum Dots” to improve the LCD picture quality. Others are already talking up the promise of 8K (8,000 pixels!) TV screens that will make the 4K TV screens look like dinosaurs. And still others are experimenting with the actual technology that influences picture quality, such as High Dynamic Range (HDR, for brighter brights and darker darks) and new ways for “outdoor televisions” to display a quality picture despite the glare from the sun. There’s even talk of bendable or flexible displays – imagine being able to “unroll” or “unfold” a TV screen.

The future, though, is always uncertain. At some point, technologies from the gaming world – such as virtual reality, holograms or augmented reality – could spill over into the TV space, fundamentally changing the way we think about the TV in the living room. But until that happens, the LCD TV looks like it has a future.

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Transparent TVs: The Good and The Bad

Television technology has gone through quite a ride in the past decades. With manufacturers dishing out the latest technology every few months, the consumer has the luxury to choose from a variety of cutting edge entertainment solutions. CES 2016 saw an interesting technology making its debut. This was the transparent television. Frankly, transparent displays are not really a new thing. But, it has been presented this way for the first time to the mass market. Major TV manufacturers like Panasonic and LG are offering their transparent televisions to the customers. But, is the technology really worth the hype, or is it just a flash in the pan? Here is the good and the bad of transparent technology to enable you to make the right decision.

The Good

The transparent display TVs look really sleek in the living room, and lend it an upscale look. Panasonic displayed its transparent television in a living room set up, where you can see all the show pieces behind the TV as well. You can see the television come to life whenever you watch it. This technology is a combination of TOLED and LCD displays, which makes the screen clear when not in use. But, you can see each and every color on the screen.

This “can” be the future of the television industry if the masses accept the concept wholeheartedly. Anything and everything that could be done with the size of the TVs has already been done. A transparent display that completely blends in with the environment seems like an obvious step. The transparent display also gives a sense of space. There is no bulky television that you have to make space for. You can very well store anything behind the TV and still see it. This is an ideal addition to a house that is small and needs to accommodate more in less space.

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Power savings is another big factor that makes Transparent TVs attractive. Some say that transparent displays can use as less as 10 percent of the energy used by the traditional LCD screens. The technology makes use of the ambient day light during the daytime, while at night, it switches to a black background. Such low power consumption can easily translate to big savings for the TV owner.

Transparent displays have the potential to become the next big thing in the area of displays. The technology looks like it belongs to every smart home. In effect, there is this glass panel that just comes to life at your command. Computers and portable devices too may find this technology an attractive proposition.

The Bad

Transparent TVs deliver splendidly in the aesthetics department. They are stylish and cool in every living room. But, resolution is a big issue with transparent TVs. For instance, Panasonic’s transparent TV maxes out at a resolution of 1080p. If you replace your television with a transparent one, you will see a good reduction in the image quality, even with 1080p resolution. Now, consumers are already used to enjoying high quality pictures on their television. A sudden change may be noticeable and may not be acceptable to many consumers. Manufacturers are working on improving the picture. But, it is still work in progress.

Transparent TVs also need slightly more maintenance than regular television sets, so that is added effort and cost. Moreover, Transparent TVs are not exactly a finished product. The companies are still improving on their current designs to counter the challenges that this technology is throwing their way.

Conclusion

Transparent televisions were one of the most exciting products displayed at CES 2016. They were able to capture the imagination of the attendees, which means that they have the potential to become the next big trend. That being said, one can never be sure; when 3D TVs popped into existence, they were an instant hit, but we have just put that technology behind us. Hopefully, transparent TVs will not suffer the same fate and the manufacturers will be able to offer the consumers something substantial and worth their money. They will also have to make sure that they are able to achieve this in a short time to remain relevant in such a highly competitive space.

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How TV Tech Will Improve Sports Entertainment

2016 has been a landmark year as far as television technology is concerned. HDR had made a comeback in a big way, and is set to mask the successes of 3D and 4K technologies. Quantum Dot technology is promising an experience that is superior to OLED, and it pretty much came out of nowhere. But, the show-stealer in the world of entertainment for the year 2016 was Pokemon Go. This is important because the next revolution in television entertainment might take a leaf out of Pokemon Go.

Virtual Reality will be the defining technology that all future sports will be forced to espouse. Pokemon Go’s success has already shown the world that Virtual Reality is now mature enough to take on the big challenges of the mass entertainment.

People LiveLikeVR showed us exactly how VR will change sports entertainment forever. If they succeed in delivering what they intend to, then watching sports will not be a passive activity anymore. It will be a lot more fun, passionate, and social. For once, sitting on your couch, you will be able to enjoy a sports match from anywhere in the stadium. You can pick and choose which seats you want to occupy, from what angle to watch the game, and what exactly you want to see. Hell, you can enjoy the show from virtual lounges or suites.

That’s not all. You will be able to create your own social event, wherein you and your friends or family will be able to enjoy the matches together virtually, even if they are scattered geographically. Throughout the game, you can enjoy crosstalk, conversations, witty remarks, and other banter as if you are all in the same room. All of this, while you are enjoying the game from your favorite seat in the stadium. There will be an endless number of viewpoints in the virtual stadium, and you can choose which viewpoint you would like to enjoy the game from.

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Clearly, this provides for an enhanced sports experience, unlike anything ever heard of before. VR technology allows the fans to enjoy the game exactly the way they like. Giving this much control to the fans surely leads to a personalized experience for them. This experience is at least as good, if not better, than the one at the stadium, considering that you don’t have to endure the traffic or parking issues, inherent to major sporting events. Naturally, major sports leagues are pursuing advancements in this technology, so that it can be implemented as early as possible. For them, the virtual stadiums and lounges translate to more space for adverts.

VR revolution is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sports entertainment. The next step is enriching the experience.

While VR offers a platform for the sports leagues and the sports channels to provide fans a more satisfying experience, enriching this platform will make it even more interesting. At least, that’s the dream of FirstVision. FirstVision is working on wearable technology that will one day change the way we enjoy sports, even on VR. The wearable technology will allow the fans sitting in front of the television to enjoy the games from the first player’s perspective. In other words, in the future, you will be able to enjoy a sports event from the perspective of your favorite player.

Each of the players will sport wearable technology, all of which will be interconnected to provide a seamless experience to the fans. They would be able to change their vantage points from one player to another to enjoy a highly immersive sporting event. Not only this, the wearable technology on the players will provide the fans with real time information such as each player’s game stats, heart rate, current speed, and so on.

All of these advancements will affect every type of sport out there. This can mean a huge thing for sports lovers. Take for instance, the Formula One races. If the fans are able to get a VR experience of the racing from a participating car’s perspective, then it can translate to a mind-blowing experience. Watching a superstar racer thunder across the tar at hundreds of miles per hour speed, as they overtake rival cars in perilous situations, with breathtaking skill is exactly what the racing fans have been waiting to enjoy for nearly a century.

All of these technologies are not in some distant future. They are happening right now, at this very moment. NextVR has already tested live streaming of VR enhanced NASCAR races, although to a small group of executives. But, the fact that it is possible means that at this very moment, it is being scaled for mass adoption.

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Read This Before You Buy a 4K Television

This holiday shopping season, expect to see a lot of new offers for Ultra HD 4K televisions. For TV viewers in search of even better picture quality, the allure of Ultra HD is certainly enticing. If high-definition (HD) was better than standard definition (SD), then won’t Ultra HD be better than HD?

Ultra HD 4K may sound like a breakthrough in picture technology, but it’s really just a breakthrough in screen resolution. The 4K refers to the resolution size of the screen, which now measures 3,840 pixels by 2,160 pixels. The 4K (4,000) refers to the 3,840 pixels. That’s a lot of pixels, especially if you compare it to Full HD, which is defined as 1,080 pixels. Thus, from a purely mathematical perspective, Ultra HD is nearly four times “better” than Full HD. More pixels, sharper picture, right?

Resolution vs. Picture Quality

The important point to keep in mind, though, is that higher resolution (in the form of greater pixels) does not necessarily imply a better picture. You need to take into account screen size and viewing distance as well. If you are sitting too far away from the screen, you won’t be able to take full advantage of all those extra pixels. And most people still sit about 8-9 feet away from a TV set. If you think about a 10 x 10 room, this makes sense. You have a couch on one side of the room, and you have a flat screen TV on the other side of the room. The distance in the middle is about 8-9 feet.

But sitting so far away from the TV has implications. That’s not a problem with the TV – that’s a problem with the human eye. From a far enough distance, the human eye can only make out a certain type of resolution. The classic experiment that people mention on tech blogs is the sand grain test – if you take a handful of sand, and observe it, you can literally make out every last grain of sand. Everything appears very clear. But now go take a seat in your beach chair and check out the sand castle that your kid is making next to you. Are you still able to make out all the grains of sand? Now look down the beach and see if you can see all the grains of sand where the ocean meets the sand.

That’s why, in consumer electronics stores, you’ll often see people walking around, peering very closely at the 4K TV screens. That’s because, at close distances, it is possible to observe all the pixels, and that’s what makes them so marketable! It’s similar to being able to see all the grains of sand in your hand. Seeing is believing.

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The search for 4K content

There’s one other issue that you should keep in mind when it comes to buying a 4K television, and that’s content. Here’s what it breaks down to: a 4K television should play 4K content. If there’s not enough 4K content out there, you’re essentially investing in a television that will miss out on a lot of its potential.

So what’s available in 4K these days? Well, some smartphones can record 4K video, so you could watch funny little home movies recorded in 4K on your 4K television. And some streaming services – notably Netflix and Amazon Prime – are making more and more of their content available in 4K. Netflix, in fact, is pretty much considered the leader in making films and shows available in 4K.

But where are you watching your Netflix content? Assume that you’re eager to stream a blockbuster Hollywood movie in 4K, are you going to watch it on your TV or on your tablet? That’s open to debate, since one key reason why people love streaming content is that it makes content available for other devices, not just the main TV in the living room.

As for the big broadcasters – the ones who constantly tout their HD channels – how many of them are broadcasting in 4K? Right now, there’s not a single major broadcaster in the U.S. who’s committed to 4K. So, for example, if you wanted to watch the Super Bowl in 4K, you couldn’t.

Broadcast and cable TV networks won’t starting seriously investing in 4K until it’s proven that 4K televisions are really a thing. So it’s really a chicken-or-the-egg problem. People don’t want to buy 4K televisions until there’s enough 4K content for them, and the networks don’t want to create 4K content until there’s enough people watching that content on 4K televisions. As a rule of thumb, these networks won’t commit to 4K content until 4K televisions are in 35-40 percent of all homes. Right now, that figure is about 5 percent, so there’s a long way to go.

4K sticker shock

There’s one final issue to keep in mind, and that’s price. The conventional wisdom has always been that consumers won’t buy a television set that costs more than $1,000. Of course, there are always early adopters who will shell out two times or even three times that amount for a high-quality TV experience – but the average TV that most people buy will cost less than $1,000. Just check out the sales circular from a company like Best Buy and see how many TVs cost more than $1,000.

And that’s where Ultra HD 4K television faces a marketing challenge. These manufacturers have to convince consumers that the picture quality of 4K is so much greater than what’s available with Full HD that it’s worth upgrading at a very high price point. That’s why it’s important that Vizio recently announced that it would offer a 4K television for less than $1,000. And, as consumers confront the fact that the going price for a smartphone is $600-$700 these days, the idea of paying $1,000 for a television doesn’t seem quite so outrageous.

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Conclusions

So, there are several factors to keep in mind before you rush out and buy an Ultra HD 4K television. You need to keep in mind the difference between resolution and picture quality, the amount of 4K content out there for consumption, and the increased costs involved. For TV viewers who have dutifully upgraded from 720p (SD) to 1080p (HD), making the move to 3840p (Ultra HD) certainly seems like a natural move. We’ll find out this holiday shopping season how many TV viewers agree.

The Scoop on Hulu’s Live TV Streaming Service

In 2017, Hulu plans to launch a live TV streaming service that will include live sports, live news and live entertainment events. In total, subscribers to the new Hulu live TV streaming service will receive access to content from 35 different TV networks. While pricing has not yet been solidified, the current price reported by the Wall Street Journal is $40/month.

While that’s a steep increase from what Hulu subscribers currently pay ($7.99 per month for ad-supported video content and $11.99 per month for ad-free video content), it’s still significantly cheaper than what most cable and satellite TV subscribers pay on a monthly basis. As a result, the move by Hulu is viewed as yet another attack on the big cable companies, which have already been hard-hit by defections of the so-called “cord cutters.”

To make the new live TV streaming service as successful as possible, Hulu recently announced an expanded partnership with Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox. Those are two huge names, because both of them control a number of important TV networks. With Disney, for example, Hulu also gets access to content from ABC and from ESPN.

The current TV lineup for the live streaming Hulu includes Fox, ABC, ESPN, FX, National Geographic, the Disney Channel, CNN, TNT and TBS. And that’s not all – Hulu has said that it will continue to add new content partners before a final launch in 2017.

At a glance, it’s possible to see how the Hulu offering would compare with a basic cable lineup. You’d be able to watch news on CNN or Fox, sports on ESPN, and kids’ programming on some of the Disney networks. Plus, if ABC broadcasted an important live event – say, a big sporting event or the Oscars or the Grammys – you’d be able to watch that as well. It would all be live, at no additional cost.

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If you combine this live streaming TV option with what Hulu already offers – a library of TV and hit movies, Hulu originals like “The Path,” “Chance,” and “11.22.63,”  and exclusive series streaming only on Hulu, it’s possible to see how Hulu is covering much of what TV viewers want and demand. The big criticism of Hulu previously was that TV shows were only available the day after they aired on television – with the live streaming TV option, you’d be able to watch the TV episode on the night that it airs.

Hulu has referred to this as a mix of “linear TV” (TV that appears at a scheduled time) and “on-demand TV.” It’s not enough just to offer a library or archive of shows – you also have to offer some mix of live TV to be successful. So there will now be a mix of price points for subscribers to choose from – you can pay one monthly rate only for recorded shows and movies, another monthly rate for live TV content, and yet another monthly rate for a mix of the two.

Taking a bigger picture view, Hulu is not just taking on the traditional cable companies – think Charter or Comcast – it’s also taking on the combined behemoth that includes AT&T and Time Warner. (And, to a certain extent, Hulu is also taking on Google, which has been trying to turn YouTube into a cable competitor with different entertainment channels.)

Going forward, it’s clear that it’s not just content and it’s not just distribution that matters – it’s a mix of the two. Hulu hopes that it’s found the right mix of both to appeal to people consuming linear and on-demand video on all their digital devices.

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What to Expect From CES 2017

Every year, the CES technology show in Las Vegas is one of the highlights of the year for gadget and consumer tech fans eager to see the latest and greatest from the world’s top tech companies. Here are some of the highlights that we can expect from this year’s show, scheduled for the first week of January 2017.

New TVs

It wouldn’t be a CES show without companies highlighting the latest new TVs. In 2016, it was the new Ultra HD 4K televisions that caught everyone’s attention. This year, the biggest manufacturers – Sony, LG, Philips, Samsung and Panasonic – are likely to be back with new 4K televisions.

Moreover, some tech analysts have promised that a new buzzword at CES will be High-Dynamic Range (HDR) tech, which basically means TV screens that have superior color, contrast and brightness. We may see some 8K and OLED displays this year, as well as some TVs that are completely unconventional – such as those with screens that you can bend or roll up.

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Virtual reality

At the 2016 show, VR was one of the big winners, and it’s likely to be the case in 2017 as well. One idea that analysts have been buzzing about recently are new affordable VR headsets from Microsoft. Earlier in the year, the company promised VR headsets around the $299 price point, which would make them far more affordable to consumers than the $600 or $700 they might pay for an Oculus Rift VR headset. Expect to see Microsoft Windows 10 VR headsets from the likes of HP, Dell, Lenovo, ASUS and Acer.

That’s the hardware side of virtual reality. There’s also the prospect that we’ll see examples of new VR content from movie studios, media companies and streaming services. The reason is simple: there’s no point to buying an expensive VR headset if there’s no content for it. As a result, some big-name Hollywood studios may debut some short VR films in an effort to entice more people to try virtual reality.

Wearable tech

Fitness bands are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to wearable technology. In 2016, one of the standouts of the show was the Fitbit Blaze, so expect to see one of the big leaders in wearable fitness bands – such as Fitbit or Garmin – unveil new offerings this year as well. Also, look for wearable tech in the form of shoes and clothing that can do everything from monitor your heartbeat to give you a customized fitness regimen when they sync with your smartphone.

Smart cars

In recent years, CES 2017 has turned into a mini-auto show, as the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Volvo, Chevy, VW and Kia have unveiled aspects of their smart cars. In many ways, cars are transforming into tech-powered mobile entertainment centers.

And, in 2016, NVIDIA unveiled a supercomputer for driverless cars. So that could be one area where we also see some activity: driverless cars. In fact, some analysts have suggested that this year, there may be driverless car demos down the Vegas Strip.

The one car that’s getting a lot of buzz is the new electric car from Faraday Future. On Twitter, the company has promised to “unveil the future” in Las Vegas. The company has also promoted brief teaser videos of its car on YouTube.

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The smart home

Everything about the modern home is getting smarter – smart thermostats, smart refrigerators, and even smart coffee makers. Everything is getting hooked up to the Internet and becoming part of the Internet of Things. And with the growing popularity of Amazon Echo and Google Home, it’s easy to see how this trend is going to continue into 2017.

Robots

With just under two months to go until CES 2017, one category that’s starting to attract attention are new “family companion robots.” These robots can manage all your smart home products, remind you of upcoming events in your schedule and even play music for you or your family members.

Drones

In 2016, the hit of the CES show was the Parrot Disco Drone. In 2017, look for other consumer drones that boost amazing camera features and increased flight time. One major trend to watch for are new compact drones that can be folded up into a backpack and taken anywhere in the world. In many ways, the line between action cameras (e.g. GoPro cameras) and drones is starting to blur, leading to an entirely new category: action drones.

Cameras

Another perennial hit at CES are all the new high-end cameras that are really high-end computers. In 2016, one of the most talked-about cameras was the Intel RealSense R200 camera, which essentially enables users to take 3D pictures. The camera, for example, allows 3D scanning of people and objects. These “photos” can then be printed using a 3D printer. In 2017, we could be seeing an update from the company on its RealSense technology.

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Smartphones

Typically, the world’s best smartphones get unveiled at the Barcelona Mobile World Congress, but there are always some high-end smartphones that launch at CES first. In 2016, for example, Huawei unveiled the Huawei Mate 8. So keep your eyes open for new smartphone entrants, especially from China.

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In addition to these product categories, keep an eye on the keynote addresses from the leading tech companies that take place during the first days of CES. That’s where you’ll get a sense of where many industries are headed. In past years, for example, participants learned how buzzwords like “the Internet of Things” are shaping the strategies of companies going forward.

This year, one of the keynote addresses will be from NVIDIA, which has promised to discuss AI, self-driving cars, VR and gaming. But there’s one innovative company you won’t see at CES – Apple. That’s because Apple never has a presence at the CES trade show.

The real fun of CES, though, is simply walking around and experiencing some of the truly head-scratching and puzzling gadgets and gizmos that make their way to the showroom floor. Often, these products appear to have no real practical value – they’re just a proof-of-concept showing what can be done when emerging technologies are combined in fascinating and innovative ways. That’s part of feeling like you’re experiencing the future at CES.

A Technology to Watch in 2017: OLED TVs

The television industry continues to seek out innovative new technologies in the constant pursuit of providing the best possible TV viewing experience. The latest entrant in the game is the OLED TV, where OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diodes. What the OLED TV promises is much greater color accuracy, a wider viewer angle, and much more vibrant images.

Right now, there are only two major tech companies – LG and Panasonic – that are manufacturing OLED TVs for the consumer market. For a time, Samsung was going to move into OLED TVs, but due to production costs, no longer has any plans to use OLED screens. Instead, the company will focus on using OLED screens for its smartphones and tablets.

How are OLED TVs different from LCD TVs?

The key difference between the OLED TV and the LCD TV has to do with how the pixels on the screen are lit. With an OLED display, the pixels themselves provide the source of light; with a conventional LCD display, the pixels are backlit. That may sound like a minor difference, but it produces an exceptionally different picture experience.

With the OLED display, you are able to get a pixel to turn completely off if it needs to be black. You can’t do that with an LCD display. Instead, with an LCD display, you are only getting a “relative” black, not an “absolute” black. A pixel only looks black because it is darker than all the other pixels on the screen, not because it’s actually black. With an OLED display, it’s essentially possible to control every pixel since every pixel can be turned on or off. The result is a superior image that appears to the eye to be amazingly vibrant.

What are some of the other advantages of OLED televisions?

Another unique feature is the curved shape of many OLED screens. This actually provides a superior viewing experience as well, because it introduces the idea of wide viewing angles. With a conventional LCD television, you need to be viewing the image head-on; otherwise it’s difficult to view. That’s not the case with a curved OLED screen – even if you are not sitting on the living room couch right in front of the TV, you can still get an optimal viewing experience.

Another advantage to OLED televisions is that, compared to a LCD TV, they are much thinner and lighter. This has led some to suggest that OLED TVs are “environmentally friendly” because they don’t require as much power to run them, and because it’s easier to ship them around the country without leaving behind quite as big a carbon footprint. (However, that’s not really a technological advantage – that’s more of a marketing advantage.)

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The pricing of OLED TVs

However, all those advantages don’t come with some high costs. In fact, for someone used to paying just a few hundred bucks for an LCD TV, the act of going into a retail store like Best Buy to check out the new OLED TVs may give you sticker shock.

For example, this holiday season, Best Buy is running a special promotion on its LG OLED televisions, in which you can pick up an LG 55-inch OLED TV for as low as $2,499. There are even some 55-inch models available for $3,499.

Wait, what?

Yes, the cheapest LG OLED TV available this holiday season at Best Buy will set you back close to $2,500. And the base price for an LG 65-inch OLED TV is $3,999, although prices can range all the way up to $7,999. And if you really want to wow your holiday guests this season, you can always pick up a 77-inch OLED set for $19,999.

Those prices may seem incredible, but they’re actually a lot lower than they used to be. The first-ever LG 55-inch OLED TV that went on sale in 2013 cost $10,000. So a price of $2,500 for a 55-inch set these days is a relative bargain.

The problem, quite simply, is that it’s still very expensive to produce these televisions, and companies have to pass on these high costs to the customer. And, as seen above, the minimum size for an OLED TV these days is 55 inches, which is probably well more than the average TV viewer wants or needs.

Moreover, there’s just not enough competition in the industry to help bring down prices. Panasonic only unveiled its first OLED TV in September 2015. And Samsung is out of the business entirely, so that means consumers basically have to pay whatever LG asks them to pay if they want a premium OLED TV.

Alternatives to OLED

It’s not surprising, then, that the OLED TV has not yet supplanted the LCD TV as the de facto industry standard. It may be a superior technology, but it’s still too expensive to make a major splash in the television market.

Moreover, LCD TV manufacturers keep coming up with new innovations that make their LCD TVs comparable to OLED TVs. One of these innovations is new Ultra HD 4K technology, which increases the resolution of the TV screen from 1080p to 4K. Four times the number of pixels means four times higher resolution.

And, in response to criticism that higher resolution doesn’t necessarily imply better picture quality, LCD TV manufacturers have been experimenting with High-Dynamic Range (HDR) technology, which will result in a more vibrant image. Darks will appear darker and brights will appear brighter.

What’s ahead for the OLED TV?

At next year’s CES technology trade show in Las Vegas, scheduled for January 2017, look for the world’s top technology brands to unveil the latest and greatest when it comes to television technology. Most likely, we will see new innovations from LG when it comes to OLED technology. And that could mean more than just a superior picture. At the 2015 CES, for example, LG unveiled the world’s first “bendable” TV!

The real tipping point for OLED TVs might occur if the price point can be brought down to $1,500 or even $1,000. That might just convince the average TV viewer to abandon old LCD technology in favor of the best, most vibrant TV viewing experience possible today: OLED.

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Does IMAX Have A Future?

For years, cinemagoers have been promised a truly refreshing cinema experience that beats the home theater experience they can get on their own couches. Moviemakers thought that 3D would be the one factor that would transform the industry and bring movie watchers in droves to the cinemas. For a moment, it appeared to work: when James Cameron’s Avatar hit the screens in all its 3D glory back in 2009, people swooned all over it, but soon, people realized that the compromise in brightness and those clunky 3D glasses were not worth the improvement in experience brought by the 3D technology. Now, people prefer 2D movies to the 3D lot. However, moviemakers hardly have anything else to pull people to the cinemas, and are left clinging to 3D as their last resort. The couches in people’s living rooms are getting more and more comfortable, their televisions are increasingly featuring higher resolutions, and the HDR is delivering stunning picture quality. Why would anyone “waste” loads of money on cinemas, when they can get much better experience back in their own home?

The answer is IMAX.

While 3D is on the way out, IMAX is on the way in, and in a big way. IMAX does not come with any of the problems associated with 3D, and yet delivers a far superior, stunning, and a more exhilarating experience than 3D ever could. Not all moviemakers make use of IMAX technology at the present, but the few who do deliver a masterpiece unlike anything you have ever seen. If you saw the movie Batman vs Superman on the IMAX screen, then you know exactly what we are talking about. This is the savior for which all moviemakers had been waiting all along. And, the best part is that they have already addressed all the bugs, and perfected this beauty.

IMAX requires massive devices. Earlier, they used to make use of a large qualities of film to capture the videos. Lately, they have gone digital. Even then, they use hard drives to record digital videos. Then, they project the IMAX videos onto screens as big as 8-stories. The end result is simply beyond words. Nothing can capture the blissful experience you get with such technology. So, when someone is jumping off a cliff or an aircraft on the screen, you can literally feel your palms sweat. All these systems are getting cheaper by the day, and therefore, you can expect other moviemakers to start using IMAX too.

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If IMAX was the height of movie experience before, wait till you hear the latest news. IMAX recently tested a groundbreaking technology that makes use of laser projections. These projectors are as big as 6 feet in height and depth, and make use of about 100 lasers. These lasers are shooting at about 800,000 tiny mirrors, and are capable of influencing each pixel. This level of control enables the projectors to deliver pictures that have darker blacks, and brighter whites. This is true for both 3D pictures as well as 2D pictures. So, out with the brightness compromise that is inherent of traditional 3D projectors, and in with a breathtaking 3D experience.

This is not the first time that someone has delivered a masterpiece in IMAX 3D. Christopher Nolan did it with The Dark Knight. Brad Bird flirted with IMAX 3D with the now famous Burj Khalifa scene in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. These were examples of two of the best directors of our time creating an unforgettable experience for their audience.

It will be many years, if not decades, for the televisions to catch up with this technology. If movie producers and directors start making use of this technology in a big way, then the audience will actually have a good reason to visit the cinemas to catch movies, instead of doing so at home.

The good news is that cinemas all around the world have already started showing interest in IMAX Laser Projection technology. At this very moment, this technology is being adopted in hundreds of cinemas across the world. This is a promising sign for moviegoers across the world, especially considering the high costs of this technology.

The IMAX Laser projection technology is a product of 47 years of research and development, and it has been available to the moviemakers for quite some time. However, the moviemakers have been adamant in their adoption of this technology, in favor of traditional 3D. That being said, it is inevitable for IMAX to become a standard movie format eventually, as the costs decrease and become comparable to the traditional 3D technology. Until then, we will have to content ourselves with a limited number of IMAX movies by some celebrated moviemakers.

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