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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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How Drones Could Shake Up the Entertainment Industry

Drones have the potential to radically reshape the entertainment industry, especially when it comes to the types of films and TV shows that could be created. Drones are able to shoot footage from angles and heights that were previously impossible, and that’s leading to new storytelling formats, new special effects, new genres and the blurring of the line between professional and amateur filmmakers.

New storytelling formats

We’re used to thinking in terms of the same old genres when it comes to film and TV: comedies, dramas, and action flicks. But all that changes when you introduce drones into the creative equation. That’s because some of the best videography drones enable filmmakers to re-imagine storytelling by seeing things through a new dramatic point of view. You can introduce new energy into a shot by having a drone follow the character.

If you think about it, filmmaking today takes place from the vantage point of the director. The camera is essentially an extension of the director’s eyes. The camera shows the audience what the director sees, and how he sees it. But now, with drones, you’re able to explore the world in entirely new ways. Without any problem at all, you can shoot footage from high up in the mountains, or along a stunning coastal shoreline. Some directors have referred to this as “having a Steadicam at 200 feet up in the air.”

Consider an example from an ancillary but related industry – wedding videography. If you’ve ever seen any drone wedding footage, you can understand immediately how this new omniscient presence (the drone) changes the storytelling narrative. You get a much better idea of the scale and scope of a wedding – the tents out on the lawn, the guests walking along the path leading to the altar or the exterior of a building. And you get a new way of capturing the “I Do” moment – from above, not from the side or front. That’s why so many married couples are now exploring drone videography.

And it’s also a reason why filmmakers are embracing drones. It helps them push their creative boundaries, as well as get more intimate shots that were impossible with old filmmaking techniques.

New special effects

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If you love special effects in the movies, you’re going to love what drones are going to do for the future of entertainment. We’ve already seen a preview of what’s possible, in the form of 360-degree panoramic shots and amazing flight scenes over beautiful landscapes.

When you’re filming from 200 feet up in the air, almost anything becomes possible. In the same way that amateur videographers love to strap on their GoPro cameras and capture the sensations that are possible when skiing down a mountain or surfing a big wave, drones also make it possible to get a true “birds-eye view” of the action.

Imagine massive battle scenes, all filmed from the perspective of a bird flying overhead. Or, better yet, imagine a battle between the ancient Greeks and Spartans unfolding across a massive landscape, all filmed from the perspective of a winged god who is flying overhead.

But just about any type or genre of film would benefit from drone videography. There’s a common phrase – “I wish I could be a fly on the wall to hear that conversation.” Well, now you can. A stationary drone poised just a few feet above two actors is the technological equivalent of the fly on the wall. So imagine romantic dramas with amazing 360-degree panoramic shots, told in locations where traditional film crews can’t reach. This is enough to elevate any film, turning what might be just a 90-minute film into a probing look at human relationships.

A new generation of filmmakers

Where drones really have the potential to shake up the world of entertainment is by radically changing the cost structure of the industry. In short, drones are relatively cheap and cost-effective. Analysts who have done the math have calculated that the average day rate for a drone and crew in Hollywood is typically in the range of $9,000 – $15,000. That may sound absurdly expensive, but consider how much the day rate of a crew and helicopter is: $20,000 to $40,000 per day. Just like that, drones make filmmaking half as expensive.

This could be key for independent filmmakers trying to stay on a limited budget. Consider most of the genres that indie filmmakers typically choose – documentaries or low-budget dramas with just a few actors. That’s because it’s just too expensive to shoot car chase scenes or anything else that can’t be filmed within a very basic studio. But hook up a camera to a drone, and you can film scenes that were never before possible for low-budget filmmakers.

New genres

The really exciting work in the entertainment industry is being done with virtual reality. The first VR films were shot with a massive number of GoPro cameras all stitched together on one rig. But the next generation of VR films will take advantage of drones to offer amazing VR experiences capturing the sensation of flight. Imagine drones zipping through the air, capturing 360-degree panoramic footage around them.

That footage can then be used for VR experiences that blur the line between gaming and reality. Imagine being part of the natural wonder of massive formations of geese flying south for the winter. Or being a jet pilot, fighting a combat mission over the Pacific, feeling the gravitational forces as your plane dips and swirls to avoid incoming anti-aircraft fire.

For the near-term future, that might mean donning a special VR helmet before watching a Hollywood blockbuster. Instead of 3D effects of, say, a dragon flying through the air (and through the screen), you’d get the unique sensation of actually riding that dragon as it flies over a mythical science fiction landscape.

It’s clear that drones could really disrupt the field of entertainment. They will make the camera a ubiquitous presence in film, capable of capturing any angle at any height from any location. They will shake up Hollywood conventions and encourage a new generation of filmmakers to try their hand at making movies with special effects and 360-degree panoramic footage.

Drones will make it possible to capture amazing sensations, whether it’s flying through the air, or hovering overhead a major dramatic scene. Any filmmaker will now have an additional set of eyes, capable of going where he or she cannot. For movie audiences everywhere, that is going to be a very exciting development.

QLED vs OLED

Television technology is so dynamic that America witnesses an E3 event every 12 months to keep up with the changes in the industry. This expo features all kinds of new TV models flaunting the latest technology for the mass market, as well as for the early adopters. OLED is one such television technology that has been around for quite some time now, but QLED is relatively recent. Both of them are hugely popular in the world of television today. You must have seen a lot of TVs flaunting these two technologies. A lot has been said about both and here is a comprehensive comparison of the two technologies to help you understand them, if you have not been following the buzz.

How do they work?

OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. This technology uses an organic material that luminesces when electric current passes through it. Each dot on the screen produces its own light, and a whole bunch of them work together in tandem to produce a crisp and clear picture. LG is one company that has really taken the cake when it comes to OLED technology.

QLED stands for Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diodes. In the simplest words, QLED combines two incredible display technologies – OLED and Quantum Dot. Just like OLED, QLED too consists of dots that produce their own light. However, in case of QLED TVs, the dots are made of semiconductor crystals, known as quantum dots or QDs. Samsung and TCL are leading the introduction of this technology to the market.

Quick Comparison Between OLED and QLED

When OLED hit the market, it was the absolute, most perfect TV technology ever. The type of picture quality that it produced was simply not seen with any previous technology. It can produce a wide range of colors, deep blacks, and superb contrasts that render brilliant pictures.

QLED, as an improvement over OLED, significantly improves the picture quality. QLED can produce an even wider range of colors than OLED, which says something about this new tech. QLED is also known to produce up to 40% higher luminance efficiency than OLED technology. Further, many tests conclude that QLED is far more efficient in terms of power consumption than its predecessor, OLED.

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What Makes QLED Such a Game-changer?

Well, there are usually only two reasons why a new technology dethrones an old one – better quality, or the cost. In the OLED vs QLED war, both of these factors play their roles.

Before QLED, OLED was the technology that produced the best picture quality. Its competition was LED, which is a far inferior technology. LED uses a secondary light source, which is then maniolpulated to produce desired picture. In contrast, OLED, and later QLED, uses its own light source. Because of this difference, LED technology could never match the contrast ratio of OLED TVs. Even local dimming of the backlights could offer only so much contrast. On the other hand, OLED technology (and QLED too) gives a molecular level control over the picture quality. This is insanely wonderful. So, when it comes to contrast and overall picture quality, OLEDs were the clear winner.

However, OLEDs were and are extremely expensive to make. LED TVs cost just a fraction of what OLED TVs cost. That is why they are so popular even now, despite OLEDs clearly being superior technology. OLED technology took 10 years in the making. Imagine the immense development costs attached to it. Further, the manufacturing of OLED TV is expensive too. The manufacturers try to cut the production cost by using color filters, which negatively affect the quality of pictures. So, there really wasn’t anywhere the OLED TV manufacturers could go, to reduce the prices of OLED TVs. Enter QLED.

QLEDs have already established themselves as a superior technology to OLED. They produce life-like pictures better than anything seen so far. But, what really tips the scale in their favor is their cost of development. Unlike OLED technology, QLED did not take a long time in development. In fact, the architecture of flat QLED TVs is pretty much similar to that of OLED TVs. So, all you need to do now is take OLED technology, use all its knowledge, and use it to start producing QLED TVs. This is an overly simplistic explanation of the situation, but pretty much covers the gist of it. As an end result, QLED TVs will be cheaper to produce than OLED TVs.

Verdict

At present, Nanosys and QDVision are the major players developing the QLED technology, and are in direct competition for the market share. Naturally, they have not released a lot many details regarding their approach, or vision for the future. But, it may not be wrong to speculate that both their visions will be focused on kicking OLED out of the market, and pushing QLED to replace the gap it leaves behind.

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Netflix Content Has Dropped 50% Since 2012

Netflix is one of the most popular streaming services in the country and around the globe. When the service started, it used to offer a library full of licensed content to its subscribers. But, for almost four years now, the service has steadily added a number of original titles as well. However, another interesting development has also taken place during this time. In 2012, Netflix was hosting the highest number of titles ever, around 11,000. However, at this very moment, Netflix is not even hosting half the number of titles. As the streaming blog Exstreamist recently reported in September, the number of titles in Netflix library had reached 5302.

So, why is Netflix cutting down on its library size?

There are two reasons for this move. The predominant reason for the decline in the title count is the increased focus of the company on creating original content. So, Netflix is not interested in simply ballooning its library now, and wants to offer more of exclusive and high quality content to its subscribers. It all started with House of Cards. This political drama initiated Netflix into producing original content and the huge success of the show encouraged Netflix to produce more original content. Since then, the streaming service has been on a roll producing popular shows like Orange is the New Black, Bloodline, Stranger Things, and many more. All these shows have been appreciated by the critics and widely loved by the viewers.

The Chief Financial Officer of the company, David Wells himself said that the company is aiming towards an equal distribution of original and licensed content. Evidently, the company wants to offer more original content and is not really interested in keeping a lot of third party content. Consequently, Netflix is not renewing many of its content licenses. It is shedding weight so that it can make place for more and more of original content. Also, since the company has to invest some big bucks on creating its own content, it has to cut the spending on licensing deals and that is exactly what it is doing. In fact, the company claims that by the end of 2016, it will have already delivered over 600 hours of original content. This content will last a binge watcher’s 25-days marathon, without eating or sleeping. That’s a lot of high quality content to enjoy.

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Netflix has taken a conscious decision to invest its money and resources towards producing more and more original content. If you look harder, you will see the direction in which the company is steering. It has made multi-million dollar investments on its upcoming shows. While Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down is rumored to have a whopping $120 million budget, the Will Smith feature Bright will take a good $90 million to be made. These investments clearly indicate towards the future of the company. Netflix wants to keep itself relevant in the highly competitive streaming market by offering content that other providers cannot. It is now creating a library of content that is not available anywhere else and it is offering all of this to its users starting at just $9.99 per month.

So, the trend of dropping licensed content is a well-executed strategy that the company intends to follow in the future as well. So, Netflix subscribers can expect to see quite a lot of titles missing from their Netflix accounts. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the user – whether or not they are ready to make the tradeoff. For that to happen Netflix’s original content should be superior to the wide variety of third-party content that is absent from its library. If the subscribers do find it to be the case, then the company will keep fueling its plans. However, if the content drop negatively affects the subscriber base of Netflix, then it will be forced to rethink its strategy.

The content drop is a well-thought out plan by the company and one that is going to shape the company’s future in the streaming industry. It might become a pioneer once again in steering the industry towards a new future or it may be committing a huge blunder that will dethrone it from the leadership position it currently enjoys in the streaming industry. Either way, only time or viewers hold the key to the company’s future. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of this radical move will be.

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Will VR Make Traditional Forms of Visual Entertainment Obsolete?

Yes, it is possible. Well, maybe not completely. But in the defining way, VR may make traditional entertainment options a lot less popular. The question – how can the VR devices completely replace traditional forms of visual entertainment like television obsolete – might seem ridiculous. So, for starters, just think back some 25 years ago. Would anybody have thought that video rental stores would not be required, because people will be able to download content on-demand from the internet? Could anybody have predicted that fixed line phones would no longer be a necessity, because mobile phones would completely take over? These and many other such questions would have a straight up ‘No’ for an answer. But, they all did happen with the advent of streaming services, mobile phones, and what not. This is how technology works and 25 years is a long time in technology.

The trends are all in the favor of VR. In a report that came out recently, Goldman Sachs has estimated that the VR market will generate more revenues than the television industry within a decade. It has predicted that while the television industry will do a total business of $99 billion in the next ten years, VR will be generating an income of $72 billion in software and $110 billion in hardware, coming to a total of $182 billion. This is almost double of what television manufacturers are going to earn. This is mind-blowing!

Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus, the creator of Oculus Rift, has always been open about his vision for the VR technology. He has gone on record to say that he has no doubt that VR is going to be the future of entertainment. His argument is logical too. Palmer says that as the demand for the technology increases, the price for the VR goggles is only going to go down. So, more and more people are going to own them. In such a world, the user can have an interactive and completely immersive experience for the price of a low end smartphone. Now, Palmer’s argument is that when people can get such an experience with VR, there will be no need to buy a television set, even at lower prices, while paying the cost of shipping for a 40” screen.

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Now, a counter to that argument can be that television might not be an immersive experience, but a communal one. When you watch television, you are sitting with your family, having conversations while eating a meal, and so on. Of course, you can eat and be with your family while wearing VR goggles as well. But, it is not the experience that you can share. Also, you can be with your favorite actor in the video, but not with your friends. This is the kind of entertainment experience television delivers.

Moreover, VR goggles completely block the real world view. So, you are oblivious to what is happening in your immediate environment. This makes you very vulnerable to accidents. You may have heard about the Pokemon Go incidents that are happening, because people are completely involved in the augmented reality that has been presented to them. Virtual reality is completely immersive, which can become a major safety concern. If you are wondering what accident you could be prone to when you are on your ultra-comfortable couch in a peaceful suburb, then here’s is the answer – you might not hear your crying baby. You may not see the vibrating phone beside you or will be able to realize that someone needs your help. Sure, the companies will be working towards mitigating the security concerns for its users. But, in its current form, there is no real solution. So, a consumer grade product that can be used as extensively as a television is far from reality.

People will surely own a VR goggle to enjoy the experience, and may soon become a novelty product in most living rooms. But, it is hard to say that they will completely forego that unique experience that the traditional modes of entertainment bring to the table. So, the VR market is undoubtedly going to be big. But, these factors put a big question mark on the idea that it will be a mass market.

At best, VR can become another way to consume entertainment in the future, but it has a long way to go and a lot of its issues need to be addressed before it can become a mainstream product of choice. Today, we are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were two or three decades ago. So, it is possible that we find a solution to all the caveats that VR presents. For now, VR is no match for a television. Then again, it is almost impossible to predict what trajectory technology will take in the future.

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What is TVSquared?

TVSquared is quite a hot topic among the marketing professionals across all business circles. It has gained immense popularity, especially in the recent months. But, if you have not heard about it, then don’t worry. It is a service that is generally used by businesses with sizeable pockets. The reason is that TVSquared is a powerful TV advertising attribution platform that helps advertisers calculate the ROI of various television campaigns designed by the marketers.

TVSquared is a powerful technological solution that considers a variety of factors, various media options, and other contact points between the businesses and their audience, to understand the impact caused by various marketing activities on a business’ audience. There are many services in the market that can provide reliable information on when to schedule your marketing campaigns on television, and also help you understand their impact on your audience. But, TVSquared goes a step ahead from the rest of them.

The company features two solutions for the businesses – ADvantage and Predict. Both of the solutions are interrelated, and provide the best results when used together. The ADvantage platform allows the businesses to track the performance of their television advertisement campaigns in real time. If you are wondering what is so special about them, think about it. It is not so easy to track the performance of television ads. Suppose, you watch a camera ad on television, and happen to visit the website. But, you do not purchase the camera right away. However, a week or so later, you click on a link on Facebook, and come to the same website again. But, this time you make the purchase. So, what would factor would you attribute for your purchase – the TV ad or Facebook link? The ADvantage platform recognizes the contribution made by both the platforms. In your case, it attributes the conversion success to both TV ad and Facebook. However, the contribution from both TV and Facebook are calculated depending on how much time you spent on the website, each time. If you spent more time the first time you visited the website, then ADvantage assigns the television a larger share of the success in your conversion, and vice versa.

This is what makes the service unique. It considers multiple factors that affect audience’s conversion into buying customers. Thus, it provides a far more accurate and insightful look into the behavior of the television audience.

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Predict, on the other hand, is a powerful solution to “predict” the response to your TV ads even before you embarked on an ad campaign. This particular product makes use of the historical data from ADvantage, and employs machine learning techniques to predict the performance of ads that will be aired during a particular airtime. This has tremendous implications. Just imagine. Instead of just guessing when to schedule your ads, wouldn’t it be amazing if you could schedule your ads at the airtime when you are guaranteed to get desirable results? Predict makes that possible.

So far, TVSquared’s both products have been immensely popular, and rightly so. It is estimated that the two products result in a 25% decrease in cost to the advertisers on their ad campaigns, and a 30% increase in their conversions, which can be purchases, signups, or something else.

The impressive potential of the service has naturally attracted the advertisers from all across the world. The company already serves more than 300 clients from over 40 countries.

The applications of the two products are not limited to just minimizing costs. They provide a wealth of analytics information that is invaluable to businesses. TVSquared has successfully managed to bring the mainstream television advertisement to the internet age. With the power of ADvantage and Predict, markets can plan and schedule the TV ads just the way they do with digital ads. They allow the marketers to explain the performance and predicted performances of TV campaigns in terms of site visits, CPM, conversions, sales, CPC, and so on, thus enabling them to strategize a seamless media campaign encompassing both digital as well as TV ads.

It takes does a genius to see that TVSquared is all set to bring a paradigm shift in how TV ad buyers conduct their business. They will now be held accountable as per the same metrics that online ad buyers are. So, they will have to adapt, and rethink their TV ad buying strategies. The results they deliver will be watched closely, and continuously compared with those of the online ad buyers. After all, every business wishes to pursue media options that bring about the highest ROI, which can be achieved either by reducing costs, or by increasing revenues.

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Are Holographic Television Sets a Possibility?

The Holographic TV sounds like something out of a science-fiction movie, but it may actually be coming to an electronics retailer near you sooner than you might think.

In fact, in September 2016, the BBC demonstrated that a basic holographic television set could be constructed out of low-tech, low-cost materials. What the team from the BBC did was ask a local plastics company to create a simple acrylic pyramid shape that could rest on top of the viewing screen of a 46-inch flat screen TV. The team from the BBC then slightly adapted old archival footage – both from a London New Year’s Eve fireworks display and a dinosaur history documentary – so that these archived clips would display properly on the TV.

When the footage played – presto! – a holographic image would appear within the acrylic pyramid shape, appearing to float and move in the middle of the air. You can actually watch YouTube videos of this BBC demo to get an idea of how easily holographic images can be generated that fool the human eye.

However, here’s the catch – the BBC technology was really just a 21st century adaptation of an old 1860s Victorian era parlor trick and optical illusion known as “Pepper’s Ghost.” What John Henry Peppers discovered back in 1862 was that similar types of holographic images could be created if images are displayed at a certain angle, against a piece of reflective material held at an angle. (In fact, this is the same technology used by modern Teleprompters.) Imagine the surprise and dismay of audiences almost 150 years ago, when they saw a ghostly image appear to float in mid-air in the room next to them!

The holographic video is a parlor trick that anybody can create today using just a smartphone that plays YouTube videos and a few basic materials – a sharp knife, some graph paper, a clear CD case, tape and scissors. By using the graph paper to create a trapezoid with exact proportions (1” x 3.5” x 6”), and then cutting and taping pieces of the clear CD case to match those dimensions, it’s possible to re-create the type of acrylic pyramid that the BBC team created. When you place this pyramid on top of your smartphone and play a video on your phone, a ghostly holographic image appears to float in mid-air over your smartphone.

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Of course, when people talk about a holographic TV, they are really talking about more than just a visual illusion – they are talking about a real 3D image that appears to move in front of you. One area where these holographic images are already being used is within the entertainment industry, where holographic images of deceased stage performers can be projected onto a stage and seemingly interact with other members on stage. The most famous example of this is perhaps the Tupac Shakur hologram from 2012, in which the murdered rapper appeared on stage for one last time with fellow rappers Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog at the Coachella music festival.

In New York State, in fact, they are actually building a holographic museum, in which visitors will be able to view holograms of their favorite historical figures, in much the same way that people once attended wax history museums to see life-size versions of real historical figures. Using that same technology, Michael Jackson was able to “appear” on stage at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards.

The next stage in the development of a real holographic TV will involve the use of what experts refer to as “mixed reality” – a combination of “augmented reality” and “virtual reality” in which users strap on headsets and view holographic images in front of them that appear to be real. In fact, the line between the real world and the virtual world could become so blurred, that it’s actually preferable to remain in the virtual world for as long as possible. That’s actually the premise of a bestselling book about virtual reality called “Ready Player One” – it’s already being adapted by legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg and could hit movie screens by 2018.

To understand the future of holographic TVs, it’s important to understand the important work that Microsoft is doing with its most innovative creation yet – the HoloLens, which the Seattle company is billing as the “first fully self-contained holographic computer enabling you to interact with high-definition holograms in the world.” This is perhaps the closest yet that we have come to the blurring of the digital world with the real world.

And it’s not just a science fiction dream – at the end of March 2016, Microsoft actually started shipping $300 developer kits. Known as “Project Baraboo” within Microsoft, this holographic initiative is based around the innovative work that was done to create the Kinect for the Xbox in 2010. With the Kinect, you are able use your voice and gestures to simulate a movement in the virtual world, such as playing tennis or evading alien intruders. It is truly a natural user interface, and one that immerses the user in the gaming experience.

There are plenty of innovative uses for such holographic technology within a true holographic TV. It’s easy to see how this could become a core part of any gaming experience played on the TV. And, as Microsoft explains in the trailer video for the HoloLens, it could be used for rapid prototyping (in which you change a prototype by simply interacting with a 3D holographic image in front of you), for sharing ideas with colleagues (in which holographic representations of your colleagues follow you around wherever you go), and in new ways to educate and learn (in which holographic images – like those BBC dinosaurs – appear in front of you to illustrate certain concepts).

Putting all this together – the BBC holographic TV, the work with entertainment industry holograms and the exciting new developments in mixed reality such as the Microsoft HoloLens – it’s possible to get a glimpse of the future. Most likely, it will involve a large television screen, some type of “performance space” between the TV and the couch, and a special headset that you wear while watching the TV. Theoretically, you would be able to watch the action that’s happening on the screen – as well as action taking place off-screen, which might appear as holographic images to the left or right of the performance area. And, of course, with extras such as special haptic gloves or other user interfaces, you might be able to interact, touch and play with the holographic images right in front of you. Your brain would literally “trick” you into thinking that these marvelous holographic images on the TV were actually real!

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