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Monthly Archives: August 2015

CUTTING THE CORD IS THE FUTURE OF TV

Cablevision seems to understand that cord cutting isn’t a fad.

The company announced on Tuesday that it will begin to offer both Showtime and CBS’s new standalone streaming services to its internet subscribers, allowing them to watch programming from the two networks without subscribing to a traditional TV package and renting a set-top box.

Although people can already subscribe to the services through the apps or through a Roku set top box, Cablevision will become the first cable company to sell them directly to its broadband subscribers.

Both CBS All Access, as well as Showtime’s standalone service (CBS is the parent company of Showtime) are aimed at the growing number of people who pay for internet service but don’t pay for TV service. These so-called cord cutters instead stream video online from services like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Sling TV.

So as you can imagine, TV providers aren’t exactly lining up to sell their customers packages that include standalone streaming services because they’d much rather sell you Showtime as part of a larger and more expensive cable bundle.

Most TV providers, like DirecTV, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Charter, see that their subscribers are already canceling, many choosing to watch programming on streaming services — the top eight providers lost 463,000 subscribers in the last quarter of the year, according to estimates from the investment banking firm Pacific Crest Securities — so they have little reason to make it easier to access these services.

But Cablevision, which sells its consumer TV and broadband services under the name Optimum, seems to take a different approach.

hbo now announced at apple event Richard Plepler, CEO of HBOAPHBO CEO Richard Plepler announcing HBO Now in March.

Cablevision, which is the fifth largest cable operator (its footprint includes the New York metro area), struck a deal with Hulu earlier this year to make the streaming service accessible on its set top box, so subscribers of both Cablevision and Hulu won’t have to switch inputs when switching between the services.

Cablevision was also the first pay TV provider to offer HBO Now, HBO’s standalone streaming service, to its subscribers. (Verizon also offers it now, but Verizon is much more a wireless company than a TV and wired broadband provider.)

Cablevision executives have said in statements in the past that they want to be where the customers are, which is increasingly online.

“We are well-positioned to support HBO NOW and, as technology advances, Cablevision will continue to meet the evolving needs of our customers,” Kristin Dolan, Cablevision’s COO, said in a statement earlier this year.

And since Cablevision already provides broadband internet, which is not only more profitable than TV, but also a requirement if people want to stream, it makes sense for them to make their broadband packages “stickier” and more appealing.

Cable companies know that the more services a subscriber pays for the less likely he or she are to quit. For years, people have been getting discounts from the cable companies for the so-called “triple play” — TV, voice, and broadband.

Maybe Cablevision will offer a “triple play” that includes HBO Now, Showtime, and broadband.

Neither company announced a price or date of availability for the services, but Showtime’s streaming service costs $10.99 per month when you sign up through devices like the Apple TV or Roku, and CBS’s costs $5.99 per month.

Read more: http://www.techinsider.io/cablevision-is-actually-taking-cord-cutters-seriously-2015-8#ixzz3jy25pMl9

HDMI 2.0 report #1 – Field testing Headaches

 

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HDMI 2.0 report #1 – Field testing Headaches

In HDMI 2.0 installations we expected that everything would work as described in manuals. Many of us have done that and got terribly frustrated – it’s like troubleshooting in the dark – divide and conquer – replace potential defective components with known good components…unfortunately at this point in time the cards are stacked against you as an integrator.

We feel we need to share our findings on the state of UHD/4K today from a practical – “what do we do in the field standpoint” – to the technical – what is it, what are the numbers and what do they mean.

Finally, we will discuss how to not make the mistakes that we did that ultimately drove us to write this series of articles. Enjoy!

The Nightmare of 4K UHD – Real World Challenges Series Highlights:

What is 4K – What are the Numbers – What do they mean? HDMI 2.0, HDBaseT 2.0, HDCP 2.2, 18 GBPS, 600 MHz and more.
What Drives the New Higher Bandwidth Requirements
Testing the Hardware and Infrastructure
Solutions for Testing & Hardware that Exceeds the Standard

Part 1 of 4 The Nightmare of 4K UHD – Real World Challenges Today

Part 1 will describe what we did here in our lab to start muddling through all of the “4K” noise. As you will see later, we learned very quickly that this was not just sandy beaches and rose petals, so we buckled up for this journey that will take us an ENTIRE SERIES to cover.

To reiterate – Unfortunately, at this point in time the cards are stacked against you as an integrator. The good news – This is the greatest opportunity in years to be ahead of the curve and become a trusted adviser to your customer! Lets dive in…

The setup/environment:

We have had many 4K UHD TVs and monitors in our lab since the launch of 4K – we are not going down the path of referencing them by name, but 90% of the market is represented in our samples (by brand – we don’t have every model, but we do have mostly the mid to higher end models represented – and that REALLY does make a difference.)

The higher end models tend to have the features we seek – they are mostly all “Smart” – beyond that terminology and “features” vary widely.

For sources we used Quantum Data 780C generators (HDMI 1.4x) and DVDO TPGs (HDMI 2.0) and others as reference sources. We also used players – FMP-X10, Nvidia Shield, Smart TVs, Android equipped USB players, etc. We also have EDID readers, so we can see what the display says via HDMI it wants first and will be able to do.

For cabling we used various lengths (.5 M to 5 M) from various manufacturers – some rated 10.2 GBP/sec, some rated over 20 GBP/sec. We also have extenders that use HDBaseT technology and H.264 (HD over IP) technology (encode/decode).

Note: the next article in this series will drill down on the numbers so don’t get too hung up on that here.

So, in no particular order here is what we found out when we first started “testing” before we actually wrote a process for testing & documentation:

The displays don’t always do what they say they do – what it says in the manual, what they say on the phone when you call the manufacturer, and even in some cases what is actually printed on the HDMI port – often doesn’t work.

We glanced on the Internet to see if there was volumes of activities posted – we searched by model number to determine if others were seeing the same thing, and sure enough there were many reports. We learned that there are more frustrated early adopters working on this than we had imagined.

In some online case studies we found work arounds to “force the TV into a 2.0 mode – or in some cases UHD 2160P60 4:4:4 mode – or renaming the HDMI port type to PC – or selecting the menu option for UHD Expanded Color.

In other cases there was only 1 port that was setup for UHD and the rest limited connections to 1080P. Even in some cases, where we did all the turn-on tricks the displays still didn’t lock on to anything above 30 fps – certainly not a 2.0 input.

HDCP is also an issue that it’s hard to find reliable information on – some ports do HDCP 2.2 and others fail.

We saw HDCP 2.2 work at 2160P60 4:2:0 and not at 2160P60 4:4:4 (in the same port).

Enough headaches for today………

Look for part 2 of 4 The Nightmare of 4K UHD – Real World Challenges Today in a few days.

If you have your own UHD stories or experiences please share!

LG Adds Flat-Screen 4K OLED TV Series With HDR

LGOLED_EF9500Lineup_White

August 25th, 2015 · 1 Comment · 2160p, 4K Curved Screeen, 4K Flat Panel, Connected TVs, HDR, News, OLED, OLED, UHD 4K OLED, UHDTV

LGOLED_EF9500Lineup_WhiteIn advance of the IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin, Germany, LG revealed Tuesday plans to introduce the EF9500 series of flat-screen 4K Ultra HD OLED TVs that will be “fully HDR enabled.”

The series, which is scheduled to hit retail shelves in September, will include 55- and 65-inch screen sizes with flat screens to join the previously announced EG9600 curved-screen 4K Ultra HD TV models that will also be HDR enabled.

With the introductions, LG said its now 6-model OLED TV assortment has tripled from that offered a year ago.

More on LG’s EF9500 HDR-enabled 4K UHD OLED TVs after the jump:

LG’s OLED TV assortment now includes the two new EF9500 flat-screen models, the EG9600 and EG9700 series of curved-screen models and the 55-inch EC9300 Full HD curved OLED TV.

Screen sizes in the assortment include: 55-, 65- and 77-inches. All but one model – the 55-inch 55EC9300, which now carries a $2,499 suggested retail — feature 4K UHD resolution.

The EF9500 series and the curved EG9600 series will be available at the same suggested retail prices of $6,999 for the 65-inch model and $5,499 for the 55-inch model, the company said.

“The introduction of LG’s new flat OLED 4K TVs offers consumers more choices of OLED TVs at more competitive pricing and makes the definitive statement that OLED is here to stay,” William Cho, LG Electronics USA president and CEO, said in a statement.

LG said the EF9500 series TVs will ship with HDMI 2.0a inputs with HDCP 2.2 content protection and built-in firmware to read and display metadata “to display HDR content from both streaming content partners and external source devices.”

2015 4K UHD and HDTVs

Amazon’s Top Rated TVs

Today’s Amazon Deals

Best Selling Soundbars and 5.1 Surround Systems

Best Selling Blu-ray Players

Best Buy’s Hottest Deals

Meanwhile, an LG spokesperson told HD Guru that LG’s EG9600 curved OLED 4K TVs already in the market “will not be HDMI 2.0a upgradeable. A firmware update will be released in the coming weeks for owners of EG9600 series to enjoy the Amazon HDR content options becoming available,” but the sets will not receive HDR metadata from external devices, like forthcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray players. The curved-screen EG9600 models “will receive a firmware update that enables consumers to stream HDR content from current and future streaming content providers,” LG said.

According to LG: “OLED technology is perfectly suited for HDR content because it delivers the perfect black that only OLED TVs can achieve. By starting from perfect black, OLED is able to produce the required light ranges at lower peak brightness, resulting in an exceptional – and more comfortable – HDR viewing experience.”

All 2015 LG OLED TV models include the updated webOS 2.0 smart TV platform, which simplifies content selection and speeds up switching between channels and sources.

LG in recent weeks has also made a series of price reductions on already introduced models, making the technology more competitive with comparably sized, full-featured LED LCD TVs.

2015 LG OLED TVs announced so far include the following retail and suggested retail prices:

EF9500 – OLED 4K TV

65-inch class (64.5 inches diagonal) model 65EF9500, $6,997.99 suggested retail.
55-inch class (54.6 inches diagonal) model 55EF9500: $5,499.99 suggested retail.
EG9600 – OLED 4K TV

65-inch class (64.5 inches diagonal) model 65EG9600: $5,997.99
55-inch class (54.6 inches diagonal) model 55EG9600: $3,997.99
EG9700 – OLED 4K TV

77-inch class (76.7 inches diagonal) model 77EG9700, $24,999 suggested retail
EC9300 Series – Full HD OLED

55-inch class (54.6 inches diagonal) model 55EC9300, $1,997.99
By Greg Tarr

Have a question for HD Guru? Email us.

10 things that iTunes does right

iTunes 12 has its share of problems. But there several tasks that iTunes is good at.

itunes icon color gradient
Kirk McElhearnKirk McElhearn | @mcelhearn
Senior Contributor, Macworld
Aug 25, 2015 3:30 AMe-mailprint
iTunes gets a lot of criticism, including a lot that I dish out, and much of this criticism is justified. iTunes has lots of problems syncing iOS devices, iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library are confusing, and the interface, particularly in iTunes 12, is confusing.

To be fair, though, iTunes does get a lot right. You can condemn it for many problems, but it’s good to sometimes take a step back and give it credit for the features that work so well that you hardly pay attention to them. I’ve picked ten things that iTunes does right.

itunes12 macbook
iTunes 12

1. CD ripping
If you remember back in the days before iTunes, CD ripping software—at least on the Mac—was far less user-friendly than iTunes. You had to manually enter tags for your music, and then move the files into iTunes or whichever app you were using to play your music.

iTunes made big improvements by unifying the process of ripping, tagging, and adding music to your library, and also through the integration of Gracenote to fetch tags for most of the CDs you rip. While iTunes may rip some CDs slowly, this seems to be more because of the CDs than the app itself. I rip a lot of CDs with iTunes, and it acquits itself well.

2. Playlists
The ability to create and manage playlists is one of the revolutions of digital audio. Instead of only being able to listen to the tracks you copied to an MP3 player in a folder, iTunes lets you make as many playlists as you want. They’re easy to set up, and easy to manage, and you can even organize them in folders if you have a lot of them.

3. Smart playlists
Playlists are one thing, but when they got smart in iTunes 3, that changed everything. You can set up playlists to find music by specific artists or genres, music you added recently or years ago, music you’ve played a lot or never listened to. And you can shuffle them too.

4. Video playback
iTunes’ ability to play videos let you watch anything in your iTunes library on your Mac or PC, at home or when traveling. If you use iTunes to manage your video library, it’s a lot easier to play videos from iTunes than from a video-only app. You can watch your favorite movies or TV shows with the app, and it remembers where you stopped if you haven’t finished watching a movie. If you’re watching episodes of a TV series, it shows you which ones you’ve seen.

5. File tagging
iTunes is certainly not the only app that tags digital media files; they all do. But iTunes does it quite well. While you may not like the way the Info window is laid out, or the way you navigate it, it’s still very efficient, and a lot easier to use than many other apps.

tagging
Set tags for your files in iTunes.

6. Content display
While iTunes 12 mixed things up as far as navigating libraries is concerned, iTunes does offer a lot of different ways to view your content. You can view music by album, artist, genre, or by song, and the Column Browser lets you drill down through your library. Other types of content have similar views. You can choose how to view each library—Music, Movies, etc.—and each playlist. It can be hard to grasp, but it’s quite flexible.

7. Home Sharing
iTunes lets you share your library over your home network. Yes, this is fraught with problems, and sharing a large library to an iOS device generally doesn’t work. But it’s easy to share your music library throughout your home, allowing other people in your family to listen to your music easily.

You can also share your library to an Apple TV, which puts all your media at your fingertips in the living room. (I know, this is often glitchy too.) This ability to share your content with your family is very practical. If only Apple could get all the kinks out of it…

8. Remote control
remote
Control music with the Remote app on an iOS device.

Apple’s Remote app for iOS lets you control iTunes playback on a computer. This is great if you’re streaming music via AirPlay to a speaker, say, in your bedroom. Or if you’re just sitting in the living room, streaming music through an Apple TV.

9. The iTunes Store
When Apple went into the music retail business, it wasn’t a big surprise, but it changed the landscape of the music industry. Now, the iTunes Store sells music, movies, apps, books, and more. It’s generally easy to navigate, and the seamless process of buying digital content and having it download to your library is nearly foolproof.

10. AppleScript
search
Search-Replace Tag Text, one of the many useful AppleScripts that make iTunes easier to use.

If you use a Mac, you have the ability to extend iTunes using AppleScript. Thanks to Doug Adams, whose website Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes houses hundreds of scripts, we have the ability to do all sorts of things that iTunes can’t do, such as manage files, change tags, work with playlists, and much more. It’s great that Apple has provided support for AppleScript in iTunes, and I hope they continue to do so.
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Kirk McElhearn
Kirk McElhearn Senior Contributor

Senior contributor Kirk McElhearn (@mcelhearn) writes The Ask the iTunes Guy column and writes about Macs, music and more on his blog Kirkville. He also runs Kirk’s iTunes Forum, where users can discuss iTunes, iOS devices, music, and more. Kirk is the author of Take Control of iTunes 12: The FAQ.
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