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Has 3D TV Given Up?

2010 brought about a change in television that was heavily pushed by manufacturers and service providers – 3D television technology. However, it did not excite the critics and received a lukewarm response at best from buyers. 3D mostly thrived in the film industry, and there is a very little chance 3D television will thrive in the future.

3D TV was never really at the top of TV entertainment, and its downfall began fairly soon after its inception. The larger TV audience was never impressed with the technology, and a variety of reasons such as silly glasses and bad visibility resulted in a negative experience for them. After the initial rush to buy the latest television slowed down, users really didn’t find any inherent value in owning the technology due to the lack of content. Watching one movie every few months that looks better in 3D wasn’t enough for customers to be hooked on it. The manufacturers also slowly lost interest in promoting this offering. A 3D TV, which was initially accompanied by 4 pairs of glasses, eventually came with only two, and later, only one pair of 3D glasses, which isn’t enough if you want to enjoy the 3D entertainment with your family.

Perhaps, the biggest blow to 3D TV yet came from the top television manufacturer, Samsung. The company made a conscious decision to not offer 3D functionality with any of its new models. The first cue to the development was the news that Samsung did not place any fresh orders for more 3D glasses. Then, at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2016, no 3D supported televisions were up on display. By now, it is clear that Samsung will not be channeling its resources to 3D functionality, which is a welcome change. The company’s arm in Europe and Korea have already made it clear that the market will not see any new 3D TV from the manufacturer, and the company is sticking to this strategy in the US markets as well.

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The story with other manufacturers is similar as well. LG has not completely abandoned 3D TV, unlike Samsung, but the future of 3D TV is not bright at LG either. About one-third of all the LG television sets released in the US in 2016 will support the feature. However, LG’s flat 4K OLED series for 2016 will not follow suit, which is really bad news for 3D fans. EF9500 series was really the best 3D product that the market had seen so far. Even Sony is only going to offer 3D with only the X930D and X940D series TV sets in 2016.

Vizio is not a global brand like Samsung and LG, but it is a big name in the US market. This TV manufacturer hasn’t released a 3D TV since 2013, even in its higher end model, which is again not encouraging.

This is not to say that 3D content is just going to disappear from the planet; gamers in particular love 3D television sets, because they offer a much better gaming experience. Moreover, 3D movies will be released and streaming services like Netflix and Amazon also offer select 3D titles. So, you will find the 3D functionality in your TV useful in the coming months and years — you can finally use the funky 3D glasses more frequently now. However, 3D will definitely not be in the game for the long haul. The VR headsets that are coming into the market now are basically an upgrade to 3D in every way. With the emergence of Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR and other VR devices, 3D has taken another big blow.

So, has 3D given up? It has failed to create a loyal fan following for itself for obvious reasons. The consumers have given up on it for the lack of content, and the manufacturers have given up on it because they do not see any real demand for it. The advent of new technology has only dug the grave deeper for the 3D television.

If you are one of the few that like 3D television, then you will have to choose from a very limited spread of TVs in the market. Not only this, but whatever option you do end up choosing will probably cost you more. So, it might be a better decision on your part to give up on 3D now since it most certainly will not be a part of the next generation of entertainment that will rule the market.

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What VR Means for Music Videos

Immersive is the one word that can sum up Virtual Reality (VR) pretty aptly. Gaming is one of the first industries that experimented with VR and the consumers fell head over heels in love with the technology. Some analysts hypothesize that VR will be a $30 billion industry by 2020. Also, it is predicted that there will be well over 100 million VR headsets in use by 2025, so everyone wants a piece of this quickly expanding pie. Considering the recent developments, it is not hard to predict that music will be the next industry to benefit greatly from VR.

The fact that VR is seen as the future of entertainment can be established from the news that major media companies like Universal Music Group and iHeartMedia are putting aside resources to explore opportunities in this field. Hip hop duo Run the Jewels have already experimented with VR technology in music videos, and other popular music icons will probably start utilizing the technology soon enough. The veterans see potential in VR and they are interested in bringing more such experiences to audiences. How is this development going to change your experience of watching music videos?

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A new generation of cameras and software allow users to have an interactive and lifelike experience that trumps the conventional way of watching music videos. You will be able to watch not only the artist playing for you, but also catch a complete 360o view of the music video you are watching. You’ll feel like you are there with the artist and you have the freedom to move around as you like. Music itself is already pretty immersive. Just imagine the possibilities and pure joy you will feel by being inside the music video with the artist.

Imagine the possibilities. You are in a Rihanna video, and the next time she offers for you to come under her umbrella, you actually can. It is not just a video then; it is like an exciting journey with a companion right out of your bucket list. This is a world where you can see snow fall, see that tear-intense emotion on the face of your pop star, be a part of their entourage, and whatever you can imagine. Simply put, very soon, you will not be just watching a music video: you will be in it! Your favorite star is not just singing in front of you; you are in there with them living through the video. Apart from the sensations that the music itself can bring out in you, there will be the added intrigue of what will happen next. So, if your beloved music star is fighting in the video, then you can witness it firsthand and even pretend to fight with them if you wish. If they are yearning a loved one, you can sit beside them. You will be on the tallest building or in the darkest cave, if they decide to sing there. This is huge for all the music fans out there, and artists who choose to delve into the VR world will easily please their fans who use the technology.

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Next time you watch your favorite artist on stage, you might actually be present on the stage, watch all the madness from there, take in the moment or enjoy the concert from the first row. Moreover, you never have to worry about missing a live concert anymore. With VR, you can live the moments again whenever you want, and of course, from the best of seats.

So, for music videos, VR can offer a whole body experience like nothing else can. The future of music looks really bright with VR. For the audience members, they will be able to understand the story in more depth and connect more with the artist than they would in a 2D video. The music video industry is all set for a revolution of sorts;  VR technology will make the whole experience of listening to music an ethereal one. It’s only a matter of time before more artists and labels embrace this change and start producing more content for VR.

HDR Technology: A Simple Guide to the Next Revolution in Television

It’s late 2016 already, and 4K continues to gain popularity like wildfire. So, what is the next big thing in television then? 8K? Augmented Reality? Well, actually the answer is HDR or High Dynamic Range.

If you have been shopping for a television lately, or have been following tech news related to the television industry, then it’s impossible that you’ve missed HDR. Frankly, HDR has been the talk of the town for all of 2016.

You might have heard from TV manufacturers that there are many kinds of HDR: advertisers will always be advertisers, and in their hunger to differentiate their products, they will mislead the consumers. Take their words with a grain of salt. There actually aren’t that many HDR technologies floating around the electronics industry. In fact, there are only two approaches to HDR as far as televisions are concerned. But before we get into all the nitty-gritty details, let us first understand what HDR is.

What is High Dynamic Range?

If you own any of the fairly recent smartphones, then you’ve probably come across the HDR option in the camera. When you click a picture in HDR mode, a camera will take a range of photos at multiple exposures simultaneously, and then combine them together to produce a final picture that is more dynamic. This way, the bright regions are brighter, and the dark regions are darker than a regular picture. However, this is only HDR with respect to photography.

When it comes to television, the High Dynamic Range works slightly differently. HDR video recordings retain a much larger brightness range. They contain a much wider breadth of the visible light spectrum, which makes television picture quality much sharper and crisp. It’s the closest to what your naked eye sees in the real world. You may have noticed that many of the low-end to mid-price segment cameras tend to miss out on the small details in low light conditions. Cameras equipped with HDR can capture images just like our eyes see in low light conditions.

The great thing about HDR is that you don’t have to invest in a TV the size of your wall to actually notice it. Even small and medium size televisions can come equipped with this technology. And the result? The quality of pictures on your HDR TV will be as brilliant as those on high-end cinema screens, which is why HDR will revolutionize the television industry.

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So, when can I start watching HDR content?

Well, there is a catch. The catch is what it typically is in the industry – format war. Remember HD DVD vs Blu-Ray, DVD vs DIVX, etc? Now similar battles are happening in HDR, but this time, the format war is between the two approaches to HDR itself.

One approach to HDR is developed by the manufacturing giants Sony and Samsung: HDR10. This format has already gained widespread traction in the entertainment industry. A number of movie studios, industry associations, and content providers are already backing this technology.

The other format is developed by one of the biggest names in audio technology – Dolby. Dolby’s homegrown HDR format – Dolby Vision – is at least easy to remember.

HDR10 is topping the Google Trends charts, in comparison to Dolby Vision, but that doesn’t mean Dolby Vision is taking a nose-dive. It’s gaining popularity, but not as much as HDR10. In fact, those who matter in the industry have been happy to accommodate both the formats. Television manufacturers, especially LG and Vizio, have developed their TVs to support both HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Likewise, content producers and providers like Netflix and Amazon have already backed both the technologies.

At present, it appears that the industry will continue to support both the standards, and this is good news for TV viewers. Now that most of the wrinkles have been straightened out, customers will soon be able to enjoy HDR-compatible content on their televisions.

How do I check whether my TV supports HDR?

It’s quite simple. Manufacturers are happy to announce to the customers that the television they are buying is HDR compatible. So, you can see the same mentioned in the list of specifications on the box in which the TV ships, as well in the manuals that are shipped with it. If you want to buy television sets that support both formats of HDR, then great. Alternatively, if you want an inexpensive TV, then you can buy one that supports at least one of the HDR formats. As the content will be produced to support both formats, you will still be able to enjoy content in HDR.

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Which HDR format is the future?

The main reason why HDR10 is more popular than Dolby Vision is that HDR10 technology is a standard developed by a group of industry members. Hence, the technology is open for adoption by everyone. On the other hand, anyone who wants their hardware to support Dolby Vision has to buy a license from Dolby. Plus they need dedicated Dolby Vision decoder chip in their hardware. There are other differences between the two technologies, but the license fee is the most important one. This is the primary reason why Dolby Vision-compatible TVs are only handful in number.

Most HDR TVs support HDR10, irrespective of whether they support Dolby Vision or not. but it’s too early to say which one will triumph over the other in the future. As far as the consumer is concerned, there is no need to worry about this war. Most TVs are indeed compatible with both formats, making their televisions future-proof.

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What do I need to enjoy HDR-compatible programs, and how can I do it now?

The first thing you have to understand about HDR is that it’s an end-to-end technology. To enjoy HDR content, it has to be supported all the way through. What this means is that the content must first be produced in HDR quality; it must be broadcasted on HDR-compatible systems; then, it has to be viewed on HDR compatible televisions.

As you can see, you might have an HDR compatible TV in your living room., but unless you have a source that brings HDR compatible content to you, you cannot enjoy content in HDR on your television. As of now, very few services offer HDR-compatible content, the likes of which include Amazon, Netflix, VUDU, FandangoNow, and some others. These services are pioneering the adoption of HDR. As they manage to get more HDR content into the mainstream, cable channels and other streaming services will be under pressure to match them as well. Considering the way things are going now, you can expect to enjoy a lot of HDR compatible content by early 2017.

For now though, you can stick with the ones mentioned above that support HDR content.

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Do all HDR TVs produce the same type of images?

It is perfectly logical to think that two TVs manufactured by two manufacturers that use same technology (in this case, HDR), should produce similar quality images. But in reality, there can be significant differences. Apart from the HDR technology, there are a lot of other technologies that a particular TV can support, and each manufacturer uses a lot of different technologies in their televisions: so, the combined effect of these technologies is a unique final image for different televisions.

Each TV comes with its own range of brightness, contrast, resolution, color gradient, and other specifications that have their own effect on the HDR picture quality.

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What televisions are the best for enjoying HDR programs?

There is no universally accepted “best HDR TV,” or specifications. To their credit, the Ultra HD Alliance has come up with a set of specifications for color, brightness, and resolution for HDR compatible TVs. The televisions that qualify for these factors are awarded the badge of Ultra HD Premium by the Alliance. However, not all TV manufactures are enamored by this badge, so they ignore it completely and simply promote their products as HDR compatible.

Despite this, there are ways in which you can differentiate between different HDR compatible televisions. LCD TVs use external light sources, which can cause light-related issues like brightness problems. The answer to this is OLED TVs: in OLED TVs, each pixel produces its own light, eliminating the light-induced problems of LCD TVs. However, OLED TVs are not capable of achieving the same peak brightness levels as that of LCD TVs. Nevertheless, the picture quality on OLED TVs is significantly better than LCD TVs due to the improved contrast, but consequently, OLED TVs are much more expensive than LCD TVs. So, even two HDR-compatible TVs that work on different technology can produce different image qualities.

It’s ultimately up to you to decide what type of TV you like. More peak brightness or better contrast?

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Conclusion

Since this is actually a point of concern, you can soon expect there to be another war on these aspects of HDR as well. There could be competition between HDR TV manufacturers to produce higher peak brightness, better contrasts, and so on.

HDR is the technology that is going to drive the next big wave in the television market, and it will be interesting to see where it will take the industry. All Aboard!

What to expect from Hulu + Yahoo

Netflix is currently the biggest streaming service in the market with around 83 million subscribers. That is an intimidating number and its competitors are gearing up to give Netflix a fight for its top slot: the recent partnership between Yahoo and Hulu is a step in this direction. It is clear that both Yahoo and Hulu have decided to take on Netflix together, as both of them have media behemoths backing them. While Verizon has acquired Yahoo’s core business for $4.83 billion, Hulu was started by media barons, and Time Warner has also bought a 10% stake in Hulu for $583 million recently. Now, in light of these recent events, what can a streaming service subscriber like you expect from this new team?

Yahoo and Hulu have recently floated their own free streaming service called Yahoo View. All the content that is currently available with the free Hulu subscription will now be available on Yahoo View. Yahoo View will predominantly focus on offering TV show episodes to its subscribers, but they will also be able to watch a variety of videos and content from Tumblr on this streaming service. In fact, Yahoo View is the only service at the moment that offers access to both movies as well as television shows available on Hulu.

This leads to the next obvious question – if all the content from Hulu is available on Yahoo Live, will that not make Hulu redundant? The simple answer is – Yes. And this is the reason why Hulu is pulling the plug on its free streaming service. Subscribers will soon be left with only the premium Hulu Plus services — they can either go for the $7.99 monthly plan with limited commercials or the no commercial plan of $11.99 per month. The management at Hulu thinks that the company has always tried to offer richer and more personalized content to their subscribers, and over the years, the free service has become very limited, which is not something Hulu believes in offering to its customers.

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So, how will this move impact the current lot of subscribers? The ardent Hulu fans, who watch TV shows regularly on the free Hulu plan, may understandably not welcome this move for obvious reasons. But, for a casual viewer, this change of plans will not really make much of a difference. Hulu does not really offer a great variety with its free subscription. There are only a limited number of television shows like South Park, America’s Got Talent, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and a few more, available with the free version. The five latest episodes of these shows are what you can enjoy on Hulu now. These are also only available for a week after they are aired on live television. So, it’s quite apparent that taking the free Hulu service will not really have any big impact on most of the subscribers, because they weren’t enjoying any kind of exclusive programming anyway. The die-hard fans of the service should also not feel abandoned, because Yahoo View will be offering all the content that was previously available on Hulu for free as well.

Yahoo and Hulu are pushing to make Yahoo View a sort of ultimate destination for cord-cutters to come to get their TV fix. Apart from the free Hulu shows, it will also feature a lot of ad-supported popular television shows. Both the companies are trying to create a brand in the market and they want people to identify Yahoo View as the television of the internet.

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It appears that Tumblr will help them get the word out. The social media platform boasts of 550 million users a month and over 280 million blogs, and it was acquired by Yahoo for a whopping $1.1 billion in 2013. Yahoo is definitely going to encourage people to share their favorite shows and other offerings on their blogs. Netflix, on the other hand, does not have such a huge social media tool in its arsenal.

So, as a cord-cutter, you should be happy that another streaming service is entering the market. The big investors behind the service will ensure that you get a lot of great content to watch, mostly for free. As for Hulu, it will now focus more on the 12 million paid subscribers that it has. You can expect it to put all of its energies on increasing that number by way of more original programming and a bigger content library. As a consumer, you will certainly be a winner.

How Watching the Olympics Changed this Summer

The Olympic events are a celebration of sports and sportsmanship, but this Summer Olympics in Rio will be remembered for a little something other than sports. Entertainment technology took a huge leap at the Rio Olympics this year. Whether it was the Opening Ceremony at the Maracana Stadium or the beach volleyball matches on the Copacabana Beach, NBC made sure that each and every viewer got the front row seats to the biggest sporting event in the world. Yes, Virtual Reality (VR) came to the Olympics and completely changed the way fans got to enjoy their most favorite sports.

The Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) captured the Olympic events and the matches were broadcasted by the NBC Network. OBS already tried the VR technology at the Winter Youth Olympic games this year in Norway, but at a much smaller scale. Hence, the Rio Olympics 2016 have been rightly touted by the NBC as the ‘most live Olympics ever.’

NBC announced well in advance that it would provide selective VR coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics, and that Samsung would act as its technology partner. Users with compatible Samsung Galaxy smartphones were the only ones who were able to access the entire Olympics broadcast via the NBC Sports app. These Samsung smartphones included Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6, and Galaxy Note5 — they could be connected to the Samsung Gear VR Headset to get the VR Olympic experience.

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As for the programming, NBC offered a total of 85 hours of 360o coverage of the selective Olympic programming to its users; of course, the VR broadcast included the opening and closing ceremony from Rio. Some of the sporting events that could be enjoyed via VR were gymnastics, basketball, beach volleyball, boxing, diving, fencing, field events, etc. The highlights of most of these events were also available for VR viewing. However, all the VR programming was not broadcasted live, as there was a delay between the live and the VR broadcasts.

This was the first time ever that the Olympic events could be viewed in virtual reality. The idea of watching the greatest celebration of sports is an exhilarating one. The technology enabled millions of fans to experience what it would be like to be in the Olympic stands themselves and watch world-class athletes perform. The VR actually brought the viewers too close to the action, as if they could almost reach out for the medal. This made the people not only more engaged in the events, but allowed them to get close to their beloved sports stars. As the President of the NBC Olympics, Gary Zenkel summed it up, “The world’s greatest sporting event is always a showcase for cutting edge technology, and we’re thrilled to partner with Samsung and Olympic Broadcasting Service to bring our viewers even closer to compelling Olympic action with virtual reality.”

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In fact, covering a high profile event like the Olympics is a milestone for the rather new and upcoming field of VR technology as well. An event like this will give the VR technology much-needed exposure. So, the sports fans who would otherwise not indulge in this nascent technology will give it a try. VR is a completely immersive and interactive experience, and it is a great way to enjoy sports, and sports fans are going to notice that. This will allow VR to take further strides into the huge market of sports entertainment, which is now easier for it to tap into.

If you saw the Summer Olympics this year in virtual reality, then you know that it has the potential to change the way people watch sports. For all practical purposes, you were in Rio cheering for your favorite athletes; in fact, it is entirely possible that you had a better view of the event than the people who were actually present in Brazil. This is the power of virtual reality: it can transport you to any place in the world in an instant. With big events like the Olympics in its pocket and major networks like NBC supporting the technology, there is no doubt that we will see a lot more content in the world of VR. Get ready for the future!

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9 Best Smart TV Apps

Smart TVs have become quite a phenomenon. They are not prohibitively expensive, and promise to offer a much better experience. Naturally, new TV buyers are opting for them. But, only a few of the households bother to enjoy the many additional benefits offered by smart TVs. The true potential of these television sets can only be realized when you connect them to the internet, download the apps, and enjoy a deluge of content available on them. Here are some of the best apps for your smart TVs, which may end up making your cable connection pretty much redundant.

Netflix

In the world of streaming services, Netflix is an unchallenged leader of entertainment. Its library of TV shows, movies, documentaries, and other interesting content, is simply unparalleled. Unlike cable television, you don’t have to wait for new episodes to be released each week. Netflix offers entire seasons for binge watching. It even has its own award-winning original shows that you will fall in love with.

Skype

Skype gives you the purest form of ultra-futuristic experience that you can get with current technology. You can download the app on your TV, and use it to speak face-to-face with your buddies, and family. The entire experience feels like something that is right out of a sci-fi movie. You will love it.

HBO Go or HBO Now

HBO Go and HBO Now are two apps from HBO, which allow you to enjoy all of HBO’s content on the internet. If you already subscribe to HBO on your cable or satellite TV connection, then you can use your credentials to access HBO Go. If you don’t have the pay TV subscription to HBO, then you can download HBO Now, which allows anyone to access it as long as you purchase the subscription for HBO Now.

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YouTube

The thing about YouTube is that it won’t bring you latest movies or TV shows like cable TV, at least not for free. But, it does offer a lot of excellent content in the form of viral videos, funny videos, latest music, special interest videos, educational videos, and what not. You get unlimited entertainment on YouTube, all for free when you download this app.

Amazon Instant Video

Amazon offers the app with two options – you can either pay for each video you watch, or buy a monthly or yearly blanket subscription. If you do subscribe, you get a Prime subscription, which comes with Amazon’s two-day delivery guarantee, multiple free Kindle books, and other freebies. Amazon does offer a huge library of content, which is worth the subscription. It even brings to you a lot of exclusive content to you too.

Pandora

If you are wondering why anyone would bother to play music tracks on big TV, well, it depends on the person. Perhaps, you like to keep the music playing in the background while you go about your routine, or maybe you wish to enjoy the music while you and your friends are playing games. Whatever your reasons, you can’t deny that the big speakers connected to your TV give you a great experience.

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Hulu Plus

The USP of Hulu Plus is that it not only offers you older seasons of a TV show, but also the latest episodes. In fact, it updates the episodes the very same day or the day after they have been aired on cable television. It comes with two premium packages, out of which the lower package features ads, while the higher package is mostly ad-free. If you love TV shows, it is difficult to find a replacement for Hulu Plus.

AccuWeather

AccuWeather is your personal weather channel. You don’t have to wait for the weatherman to appear on TV. Any time you want to check the weather condition, forecasts, and other relevant information in your home city or in a city you are planning to go, you can just check this app. The app provides you a mine of weather related info that your weatherman would never bother to.

MLB.TV

If you are a baseball fan, then MLB.TV is a must have for you. The app gives you access to everything baseball in America. You can stream and enjoy the latest matches and other games of the current season in HD. You can also enjoy games from the previous seasons. In addition to all of this, you get news updates, real time scores, and other information from around the league in real time. The subscription fee depends on whether it is the on-season or the off-season.

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6 Best TV remote apps for Android

Imagine an alternate universe where there were not remote controls. Every time you had to change a channel, you had to get up from your couch and press the buttons on the TV. For a majority of us TV buffs, that is worse than a Zombie apocalypse. Sure, we don’t have to suffer that because in our universe we have remote controls. But, not all the time. Sometimes, it can be a pain to locate those remote controls. Checking under pillow covers, cushions, and below sofas does not always work. That is why a lot of smartphones today come equipped with an IR blaster, which allows you to transform your smartphone into a universal remote for operating all your remote controlled devices at home. The biggest advantage of using phone for this purpose is that it is always with you. Even when it is not with you, you can just give it a call to find its location in the home. Quite handy, isn’t it! Here we bring you top universal remote apps, which you can use to control your TV right from your smartphone.

Smart IR Remote – AnyMote

Without a doubt, this is one of the best remote control apps on Android. Its interface is simple, and it is super easy to configure the remote for your devices. It supports a wide variety of devices, and it is unlikely that your TV isn’t supported. In the event that your device is not supported, you can configure the remote specifically for your device too. Also, the app provides a lot of automated functions like reducing the TV volume when you get calls, and so on. It is a premium app, but people love it.

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Peel Smart Remote

Peel Smart Remote does two jobs perfectly – replace your TV remote, and provide you a complete TV guide. The app requires you to mention a few details such as your cable provider, and/or zip code. With that info, it extracts your live cable programming schedule. It even allows you to create personalized lists of which programs you like and which you don’t. Later, it reminds you of upcoming screen times of the programs.

ASmart Remote IR

ASmart Remote IR is possibly the most user-friendly TV remote app out there. It is a universal remote that can control a host of devices, including TVs, cameras, and ACs. The best thing about this app is that you can create multiple rooms in the app to reflect the rooms in your home with sets of remotes for each room’s devices. The rooms are displayed as tabs at the top, and whenever you enter a room, you can click on it, and access the remotes configured for that room.

SURE Universal Remote

If you do not have an IR blaster on your phone, then SURE Universal Remote can easily be the best TV remote app for you. The app features for IR and Wi-Fi compatibility. So, even if you do not have an IR blaster, you can control your TV from this phone via Wi-Fi. Further, the app is compatible with the Wi-Fi to IR transmitters available in the market, which enable you to use the remote via IR, even if your phone does not have a built-in IR capability. The interface is fluid, and very intuitive to use.

Easy Universal TV Remote

The Easy Universal TV Remote app stays true to its name – it is easy, and it is a universal remote. The app can be configured for using with pretty much every device. It supports all popular brand TVs, and can be easily connected to them. If your phone has an IR blaster, then you will love your experience with using this app. If you don’t have an IR enabled phone, then the remote app works with a Wi-Fi connection to control your TV. Moreover, you can also attach an external IR blaster to your phone as well to use this app.

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Twinone TV Remote

If you are not tech savvy or have family members who find it hard to use technology, then Twinone TV Remote is the best remote app for you. The app has an amazingly simple interface that is easy to use for anybody. The app comes with all the basic functions like changing channels, changing volumes, and so on. This is a complete no-frills app, which brings essential functions, without confusing the users with too many options and buttons.

10 Things That You should Know Before Buying a Television

You will find televisions of every size and specifications in the market today. LEDs, OLEDs, UHD, 4K and now even 8K, the technologies backing the television sets are getting more sophisticated by the day. There is a dizzying array of choices in terms of price, and models. The only downside to such an excellent number of options is the confusion that they cause. Do not worry; this guide has got you covered. Here are 10 useful tips that will help you zero down on the television of your choice.

Pick a screen that everyone can see

Size always has and always will be one of the most important factors. Television size makes a huge difference to the viewing experience. So, first ascertain the number of people who will be watching the television. The television should be big enough to provide a decent viewing angle to all the people in the living room. Other than that, the buyer should also take into account the space in which the television is going to be placed. If you have a large living room, screen sizes between 55” to 65” work best.

Consider your sitting habits

The dimensions of the screen that you choose should also depend on how close you sit to the TV. You should measure the height of the television and sit at a distance that is three times that height. This is the ideal distance to watch television without any pixels. This is true even for high definition television. On the other hand, if you are planning to buy a 4K powered television, you can easily reduce that distance to 1.5 times the height.

Do not go for less than 1080p

There is a race out there among TV manufacturers to produce TV models with the highest resolutions. For the uninitiated, resolution is essentially the sharpness that a television is able to produce. Now, here is what you should know before buying a television set. The lowest resolution available in the market is 720p. These are almost a dying breed. Now, moving on to the next level, let’s focus on 1080p. This is where you will find most HD televisions today. This is the format in which you will be able to find most cable programming too.

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Buy higher resolution to be future ready

In the resolution race, the next in line is the 4K UHD. There are latest 4K TV models available from all major manufacturers. The 4K television has four times better resolution than regular HDTVs. The benefits of the extra pixels show in the form of a richer and more lifelike picture that appears on the television. This is not the end of the line as far as pixels are concerned. Many manufacturers have come up with 8K versions as well, but they are prohibitively expensive. However, the 4K programming will slowly catch on. This is the future of television and it is only a matter of time before older TVs will become obsolete.

There is a downside to 4K. Currently, there are limited options available on cable or otherwise for 4K broadcasting. So, even if your television has the capability to display such a high resolution video, there is not a lot of content in the market to enjoy it. There is absolutely no content available for 8K television as of now.

Know the Refresh Rate

This is the rate at which pictures are refreshed on the television screen every second. The Refresh Rate is expressed in Hertz (or Hz). The most commonly available refresh rate in the market is 60 Hz. However, many a time, when fast moving objects appear on the screen, the pictures can get blurred. Many of the TV manufacturers now offer higher refresh rates of the order of 120 Hz and sometimes even 240 Hz. The faster the refresh rate, the better the picture quality of fast paced scenes, but the prices will also increase correspondingly.

HDR compatibility for premium TVs

Now, before you go into the details, this is an upgrade for UHD televisions. High Dynamic Range or HDR essentially refers to the wide variety of colors that the television can showcase. In simpler words, it makes blacks blacker and whites even whiter. So, if you want your picture quality to be more lifelike, choose TVs that have UHD with HDR.

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Look for more ports

Now, this may not look like the most important factor when picking a television, but it should be one of the criteria. The reason is simple. In the future, you may need to connect the television set to a speaker, a gaming console, a plug-in like Roku, or something else. You already need 3 ports and these are just the basic add-ons. Many times, manufacturers try to save costs by providing fewer ports. So, you should pay higher attention to the number of USB and HDMI ports the television offers. Also, makes sure that if you are opting for a 4K television, then your television has HDCP 2.2 (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection).

Contrast Ratio Is What You See

The specifications for the contrast ratio are always available on the television. But, take this tip and completely ignore them. You should believe how the contrast is working in front of your own eyes. Most of the times, numbers can be misleading. Believe your eyes.

Go For Substance Over Style

Curved televisions may look grand, but the fact of the matter is that they really do not make much of a difference to the picture quality. You should understand that they add more of a pull factor than any functional feature to a television.

Smart TV Is No Big Deal

Smart TVs are everywhere and they are not a great feature for any television. So, if you are buying a television by getting wowed by only this factor, you are barking up the wrong tree. Ask the salesman for all the other features of the television and then make your decision.

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Always Buy A Sound Bar

As the TVs have transformed from old boxes to size-zero, this development has affected the quality of speakers on them. Keeping this in mind, it would be a good idea to buy a sound bar while purchasing a television. It will serve you well.

App Review: Associated Press

Many of us prefer to get our daily dose of news on our mobile phones these days. We just do not have the time to sit and enjoy the morning paper. And whenever we are in front of a laptop or a desktop, we are either working or enjoying something entertaining. News falls into none of those categories, and hence gets relegated to just those things that we do on-the-move, like on trains, in buses, or on the back seat of a car. Sure, not everybody is the same, but we all tend to check for news on our mobile phone more than we check on television or a computer. Naturally, it has become absolutely crucial for new agencies to have their own apps. Associated Press certainly wasn’t going to be left behind. Associated Press has an excellent reputation as a source of news, and is usually among the first ones to break major news. So, its app is a very useful tool for those hungry for the latest news. Here’s a thorough review of the app.

Layout

The layout of the app is remarkably simple and easy to navigate. The home page of the app features Top News by default. Each piece of news is displayed in the form of strips. Each strip features a long headline, which is usually accompanied by a photo. Clicking on the strip opens up the respective news item, which the user can then read. At the top of the page is a search button, which can be used to find and browse through any specific news.

On the left, there is an Options button. You can click on it to quickly access the left-hand sliding menu. The menu features different categories of news, such as business, sports, technology, entertainment, politics, lifestyle, health and science, and so on. In addition to news categories, there are options for choosing your region, so that the app can display news specific to your region. In the same menu, you can add another category, and also check for latest press releases. When you select a menu option, the rest of the options appear as tabs at the top, which you can click and access quickly. When the menu is open, a Settings button is provided at the top, which can be accessed to make any changes to the app.

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Personalization

The app provides a good number of customizations. Many of these are designed to be utilitarian, rather than fancy. For instance, you can change the font size to suit your preference. However, instead of providing multiple choices for font, the app only allows the users three font options. The smallest is too small, and the largest is uncomfortably large. In effect, only the mid-size font can be used. That being said, the app allows you to choose whether you wish to receive only American news, or international news as well. If you choose international news, you will get options in the Left-Hand Sliding menu to access news from different continents.

If you are running on network data, and do not wish to waste your data on downloading photos, then you can disable the Photos option in the settings. Now, you will be receiving only text news, without any photographs. When you are back on Wi-Fi, you can always enable the photos again. Further, you can turn off the notifications of latest news from the app, or enable it. If you do enable it, you can activate ‘Quiet Time’ during which you will not be getting any notifications, such as during your normal sleeping hours. Although there are not many customization options, the simple approach makes it easy to use.

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Experience

The app is very light to use. Even a below mid-range smartphone can run the app smoothly. The interface is fluid, and the app exhibits no lags on most smartphones. Each news article comes with a Share button and a Bookmark. The bookmark allows you to tag the new article to the home page. Clicking on the Share button throws up all the sharing options available to you depending on which apps you have. If you have the common sharing apps like Whatsapp, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, and so on. Some of these sharing options appear even when you have not downloaded those apps.

Verdict

The Associated Press app is a very robust app, and works with amazing speed. It is very easy to use, and is not loaded with unnecessary features that slow the app, and make for a bad experience. Instead, only necessary features are retained, which makes it a pleasurable experience to use the app. Also, the app does manage to bring breaking news most of the time, almost at the same time as other networks. Overall, it is quite a handy app.

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Rovi, TiVo, and The Battle of TV Guides

2015 marked a milestone in a relatively less known war that has been plaguing the tech and entertainment industry. This is the patent war. This is a war between what are called as patent trolls and the average organizations. Patent trolls, as they are known, are some obscure companies that buy relatively unknown patents and start bullying organizations by threatening them with lawsuits for intellectual property infringements. Whether the patents they actually own do cover the products or services offered by the other organization is highly debatable. But, fearing lawsuits, most companies simply settle for a sum. Some companies are not intimidated, and they fight their battles in the court. In some cases, they win, while in others, they fail.

If this sounds all too familiar, that is because many analysts feel that, more often than not, Apple vs. Samsung lawsuits fall in this category. Whether Apple does possess a valid justification or is simply trying to weed out the competition the dirty way is something that is for the judiciary to decide. But industry experts agree that a desperate change is needed in how patents are issued and how patent licensing should work, so that companies with genuine cases are not strong-armed by the patent trolls.

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If you are wondering what Rovi and TiVo have to do anything with all this, well, the answer is quite complicated. As you must know, Rovi provides TV programming guides. Roughly about 18 million American households use Rovi TV guides through various apps and devices. But, have you ever wondered what is so special about Rovi guides? Why doesn’t everyone else build their own TV guide? It’s not like Rovi is the only company which has a copyright on making TV guides, right? Well, the simple answer is that Rovi has about more than 1,500 issued and pending patents in the US alone. Because of its patents, it has intellectual property rights on many features and functions of TV guides in general. That’s why most other companies simply go with Rovi when they offer TV programming guides. Even the giants like Google, Facebook, Samsung, Sony, Apple, and Comcast simply prefer to sign licensing deals with Rovi rather than build their own TV guides and antagonize Rovi. However, not everybody is comfortable with this idea.

Some companies like Amazon, Netflix, Sharp, Hulu, Toshiba and others stood up against Rovi. Amazon took on Rovi head on in court, and won the case in 2014. Amazon had attracted the case from Rovi, just because it bought IMDB. The patents which Rovi claimed that Amazon’s IMDB was infringing, that they were just describing TV guides, but on the internet. With Rovi losing the case, these “but-on-the-internet” cases are slowly losing their steam. It was Netflix’s court battle against Rovi in 2015 that deserves special attention. The US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton invalidated 5 of the patents Rovi was holding, essentially making it impossible for the company to cause trouble toward other companies based on those patents. Hamilton noted that these patents were not given for new technology or revolutionary concept. Instead, those patents were awarded for generic ideas. Ideas such as combining two categories into one set of suggestions such as crime dramas, sci-fi fantasies, and so on. Hamilton noted that patents cannot be given away for abstract ideas.

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With these two lawsuits, Rovi’s death grip on the TV guide industry has taken a serious hit. It may not be too farfetched to presume that Rovi might find its customers abandoning it and developing their own TV guides instead. Perhaps, it is this reason which has pushed it to acquire another player in the industry to ensure that it continues to maintain its market share in the industry and stays relevant. A few months ago Rovi announced that it is acquiring TiVo, a DVR and TV guide company, for $1.1 billion.

This deal gives Rovi all of the 10 million customers of TiVo. Also, as TiVo brand is more popular and customer-friendly, the company, post-merger, will take the name of TiVo. This deal is expected to give Rovi the foothold it wants in the industry. Also, the company will threaten new competitors with lawsuits, as it still has a lot of patents in its bag, which it can use. Even though it is impossible to guess how many of those lawsuits it will actually win in the future, if at all it is challenged. A lot of companies might simply choose to avoid the confrontation and sign a licensing deal with Rovi. Coupled with its newfound bump in the market share after it buys off TiVo, it is safe to say that Rovi will continue to be the leader in this industry.

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New TV Technology

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1. Samsung 65" 4K SUHD Smart TV Exceptional color. Authentic images. Dynamic brightness reveals hidden details. Remaster your non-SUHD content. See small details come to life. Designed to excite the senses. Looks great from any angle. Easily connect, share and play your favorite content. UHD Dimming optimizes color, contrast, and image detail by processing the image characteristics prior to them being displayed on the screen $2,297.99
2. Samsung 55" 1080p LED Smart HDTV Full HD 1080p. Wide Color Enhancer. Smart TV, Smart Apps. Screen Mirroring. Motion Rate 120. DTS Premium Sound | 5.1™ decoding with DNSe+. Eco Sensor. $598.00
3. LG 43” 4K Ultra HD webOS 3.0 Smart TV 8.3M Pixels for 4x the Resolution of Full HD TVs. HDR Pro Supporting High Dynamic Range Content. Any seat becomes the best in the house with IPS. True Black Panel. ENERGY STAR® Qualified. 43" Class 4K Ultra HD Smart TV. UHD. TruMotion 120Hz. $597.95
4. LG 55" 1080p LED Smart HDTV Full HD 1080p Resolution. Triple XD Engine. Smart TV. ENERGY STAR® Qualified. LED with Full HD 1080p Resolution. Audio: Mono/Stereo/Dual (MTS/SAP). $599.99
5. Panasonic TH-98LQ70U Digital Signage Display In-plane Switching (IPS) Technology. Portrait Capable. Screen Saver. High resolution of approximately 8,290,000 pixels. It can safely be used in public spaces where a lot of people pass by, such as commercial facilities, train/bus stations and airports. $ 30360 .99 / each
6. Planar UR9850 Professional 4K 98" Display 98" Ultra HD resolution (3840 x 2160) professional LCD displays. With a native 4K resolution, Planar UltraRes Series displays have four times the resolution and pixel density of comparably-sized Full HD displays. produce resolution and picture quality not before seen in large format LCD displays. $ 33258 .99 / each
7. Samsung UN65KS9800 64.5" screen (measured diagonally) Ultra High Definition TV with 4K screen resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels). HDR 1000 (High Dynamic Range) for extended picture contrast and brightness with streamed and external HDR sources. full array multi-zone LED backlight with Supreme UHD Dimming and Precision Black Pro local dimming for exceptional contrast and black levels. Peak Illuminator Pro for enhanced brightness. Quantum Dot Color nanocrystal backlight technology for increased color range and brightness. 10-bit panel can display over one billion colors. Supreme Motion Rate 240 blur reduction (120Hz refresh rate plus backlight scanning). UHD Upscaling upconverts high-definition and standard-definition video content. HEVC/VP9 decoding for watching streamed 4K video sources like Netflix®, Amazon Instant Video, and YouTube (requires Internet speed of at least 20Mbps). DIRECTV 4K Ready — DIRECTV subscribers with the Genie Whole-Home HD DVR can enjoy 4K service and full DVR features without an additional receiver. tuner receives over-the-air HDTV broadcasts (antenna required). QAM cable TV tuner (subscription required to receive cable channels — contact your local service provider for details). built-in down-firing speaker system (20 watts x 2, plus 10 watts x 2 for woofers). Bluetooth® wireless audio streaming to a compatible speaker or set of headphones. Smart Touch remote with built-in microphone for voice control. detachable stand. wall-mountable (bracket not included). 56-13/16"W x 32-13/16"H x 4-5/8"D (36"H x 14-1/2"D on stand). weight: 69 lbs. with stand; 62.2 lbs. without stand. warranty: 1 year parts & labor — in-home service or pick-up for service. $4,499.99

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