TV & Home Cinema
Amazon have given their Fire TV set-top box an overhaul, led by one feature missing from the recently added to a new Apple device: 4K. The new Fire TV adds support for 4K Ultra HD videos, letting you watch movies and TV shows at four times the resolution of 1080p video. And Fire TV owners will have plenty of 4K content to watch: All of Amazon’s original programming is offered in 4K and the Fire TV interface highlights movies available in 4K for your viewing pleasure. Amazon says it’s working on adding support for 4K streaming with Netflix content to Fire TV. Whilst the Fire TV looks the same on the outside, it’s entirely different on the inside. It features a quad-core 2.0 Ghz MediaTek CPU, a dedicated PowerVR GX6250 GPU, and 2GB of RAM under the hood. It connects to the internet through either an ethernet port or 802.11ac wireless. Unfortunately the unit retains the 8GB of internal storage however the annoyance is diluted a little by a the new microSD card slot or via a USB drive connected to its USB port. It has an HDMI port and still includes an optical audio port. The new Fire TV will retain the £79.99 price tag and can be pre-ordered now.
The new Fire TV comes with a new revised voice remote that no longer uses Bluetooth, but instead connects via WiFi direct which reduces latency and greatly improves battery life. There is also a new, much improved Fire TV Game Controller available separately for £39.99 which also uses WiFi direct for improved latency and battery life. The new game controller now features a microphone for voice commands and a headphone jack for private listening. Stateside there was an announcement of a Fire TV Gaming Bundle for $139.99 however this does not seem to be available on the UK site, perhaps an oversight. Amazon added voice-powered search in the first generation, this time around it is been expanded to app launching, navigation, and searches relating to a particular context like “New movies.”
Advanced features, not including the 4K, will roll out to the older model in due time.
For the last number of years televisions have been getting smarter and more technology has been added in to make a more attractive option for the consumer. Seen as something of a giant smartphone we have seen 3D displays, cameras and Skype integration, planners, social media taking a central position of the specifications list. Panasonic have been trying to keep up with the competition but developing a user friendly front end with an app system for their Viera range. This year it’s all change.
In a commendable effort Panasonic are focusing their expertise on picture quality and leaving other bells and whistles to 3rd parties. Announcing two Viera televisions at IFA 2015 in Berlin this year Panasonic are pushing to be second to none when it comes to image quality. A position they are easily going to achieve.
Roving around the competitions at IFA it seems a lot of the other companies are interesting in two things, 98” behemoths or degrading the quality of the previous model to make their new line look all the more impressive, some companies more obviously than others. Panasonic opted to hang their latest panel beside a top end master screen used by Hollywood professionals for precise colour representation. A … move however an impressive one as the screen holds up to the superior picture of the master screen and help illustrate just how close you can get to an uber expensive professional master screen for the living room.
Leaving the smart end of the TV’s front end to Mozilla and their delicious Firefox OS Panasonic have put all of their efforts into the screen technology and getting the most out of the panel. The result is a mesmerizing curved OLED 4K Pro display dubbed CZ950. This is a real step forward for Panasonic having moved away from the Plasma and into the OLED field. Working with veteran Hollywood colourist Mike Sowa Panasonic are confident they have gotten their palette as close to the director original intention as a display can.
hiding inside the beautiful panel chassis is the magic processor that makes it all possible, the 4K Studio Master Pro processor. This is the mastermind behind the picture representation on the panel. Combined with the tuning from Hollywood experts the panel to creates the best picture quality and colour palette.
OLED creates an amazing black level due to the lack of a back light. Each Organic pixel LED light up on it’s own allowing the processor to control each and every pixel leading to unparalleled colour reproduction. This is the first 4K television to have the THX 4K certification, meaing the boffin’s at George Lucas’s THX labs have applied over 600 tests for colour accuracy and the panel has passed.
To compliment the panel’s success Panasonic have gone the extra mile and designed a television that is beautiful when turned off. The rear of the panel is draped in a luxurious suede-like material called Alcantara. Additionally the screen is a mere few millimeters thick.
Panasonic Viera TX-65CZ950V is a sight to behold, combining amazing picture quality, stylish looks and a massive picture in a small footprint this is the high end TV people have been looking for an certainly deserves a place at the top of the league. We will see this in store on October in the UK with RRP of £7,999.
This year at the giant tech show IFA in Berlin Panasonic are going to be announcing something a little special. Having spent some time restructuring their approach to televisions and making it all about picture quality Panasonic are going to be upping the ante and pushing to achieve that which we all desire from a television, best picture quality.
Rather than fussing with developing new software for the panels, Panasonic are bringing in a couple of specialised solutions to enhance the television experience. The software side is going to become a great deal more interesting.
The first major addition is the inclusion of Freeview Play. This updated viewing platform is taking Freeview to the next level. Making TV content available after live play in the electronic programme guide. Providing a catchup service without having to access separate applications, Freeview Play collates content on the channels you want in the same place. There will be a big role out of Freeview Play in the near future and Panasonic will be ahead of the rest as the first manufacturer to incorporate the service into a television.
The second exciting development is the move to Mozilla for the interface of the television. Gone are the clunky app selections and possible incompatibilities. In comes the fresh, new Firefox OS, designed specifically to simplify experience and become personalised to your exact needs with minimal fuss of knowledge.
We will be covering the announcements live from Berlin so check back for news of Panasonic’s new screen they will be debuting along with a couple of other surprises. We will have hands on with Firefox OS on the TV alongside release dates and pricing.
When considering buying a TV, most people only think of two factors; size and cost. To get a TV that is worth your money, you must look at other important aspects. The level of complexity that is compounded by the ever changing technology makes it hard to differentiate a great TV from a poor one; to the eye, they all look the same.
Here are some of the important aspects you should consider before buying a TV.
When it comes to buying the TV you may have to consider a tv on finance option. Many online stores now allow you to buy now and pay later or spread the cost over several months. Some even allow you up to 12 months interest free credit.
The different display types available include LCD, LED, OLED, and plasma. Plasma display is ideal for relatively big TVs as they tend to have higher contrast ratio and excellent color quality. The problem with plasma TVs is low brightness which makes them prone to ambient light. LCD TVs are cheap and are more energy efficient than plasmas however, they have limited viewing angles. LED TVs are just LCD TVs that uses LEDs as a backlight and are more energy efficient compared to LCD TVs. OLED TVs feature one of the latest technologies to offer a more superior picture quality though they still get affected with glare.
This is the ability of the TV to reproduce more realistic images that are satisfying to the human eye. For a real bargain-priced TV, the bit depth should be “8 bits per channel’’ or more. TVs with a low colour depth give images that look exaggerated.
Most TVs comes with most essential inputs such as the coaxial F connector. But if you are planning on watching HD content, you should always choose one with a HDMI input. The higher the number of inputs, the better as you get many options to choose from. You can even enjoy old school movies from your old video recorder. HDCP input technology allows you to watch content from Blu-ray players.
A TV can range in price massively depending solely on the brand name. Checking out customer reviews of the model you’re looking to buy is a great way of determining if you’re money is best spent elsewhere. There are a lot of new brands on the market offering TV’s for very cheap prices, however, the TV itself may only last a few months!
NVIDIA are entering your living room based on the idea of the NVIDIA Shield mobile gaming device. A full on centrepiece for your living room called NVIDIA Shield Android TV. It’s the world’s first dedicated Android TV console. Using “Grid,” a technology platform NVIDIA developed to access a big computer in the cloud to stream games, NVIDIA are pushing this as the “Netflix for gaming”. This isn’t entirely revolutionary, Onlive had a go some years ago and Playstation is testing a similar, is expensive, subscription platform for the PlayStation 4.
NVIDIA Shield Android TV console will go on sale in the States in May for $199. A bundle will include the console, one controller, and access to all of your Google Play Store content with optional accessories for purchase including gaming controllers, remote control for the TV, and a stand to make the NVIDIA Shield stand vertically.
Specs wise, the is a bit of a best, and for the money it looks a lot more capable then the Xbox One or PS4. 4K output is going to be a real head turner and built on the latest Tegra X1 processor will provide the juice. It is important to note that this is a streaming device, so no local rendering will happen on the console, this all takes place on the Grid.
NVIDIA Shield Specs:
NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor
256-core Maxwell GPU
4K Ultra-HD Ready with 4K playback and capture up to 60 fps
7.1 and 5.1 surround sound pass through over HDMI
Two USB 3.0 ports
Weight – 23oz / 654g
Height: 5.1in / 130mm
Width: 8.3in / 210mm
Depth: 1.0in / 25mm
Press release follows:
NVIDIA Launches Its First Living-Room Entertainment Device
New SHIELD Android TV Console Brings 4K Entertainment to Every Home –
Harnessing Tegra X1, Android TV OS and GRID Game-Streaming Service
SAN FRANCISCO—Game Developers Conference—March 3, 2015—NVIDIA today introduced NVIDIA® SHIELD™, the world’s first Android™ TV console, which delivers video, music, apps and amazing games to the home.
Built on Android TV, SHIELD can play top-quality 4K video content, includes one-click access to Google Voice Search and provides the richness of Android’s app ecosystem.
SHIELD is a sleek device that comes loaded with cutting-edge NVIDIA technologies, including the recently launched NVIDIA® Tegra® X1 processor.
SHIELD is also the gateway to the NVIDIA GRID™ game-streaming service. Powered by GeForce® GTX™ supercomputers in the cloud, GRID delivers an on-demand “Netflix for games” experience at up to 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second.
“SHIELD will change the way we enjoy digital entertainment at home,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of NVIDIA. “It’s an incredibly powerful, efficient and advanced living room entertainment device. It’s the best Android TV experience. And it can transform into a serious gaming machine. It’s made to game.”
Made to Game
SHIELD – sold with the SHIELD controller made for serious gaming – is a single platform with access to a wealth of great games.
First, 50+ Android titles optimized for SHIELD will be available for download, including AAA titles like Crysis 3, Doom 3®: BFG Edition™ and Borderlands: TPS. These can be played at blistering speed, thanks to SHIELD’s Tegra X1 processor, with its 256-core Maxwell™ architecture GPU and 64-bit CPU.
Second, favorite AAA titles, including console games, can be streamed using the GRID on-demand game-streaming service. GRID will include with its subscription price access to 50 titles, such as Batman: Arkham Origins, GRID 2 and Metro: Last Light Redux, with additional titles added each week.
Third, the GRID service can be used to purchase and stream new release AAA titles – including Batman: Arkham Knight and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt coming later this year.
Broad Developer Support
Some of the world’s leading game developers and publishers have embraced SHIELD and the GRID service.
“The incredible processing power of Tegra X1 enables us to bring Doom 3: BFG to Android and we’re excited by the possibilities that GRID is bringing to gaming.”
– Tim Willits, studio director, id Software
“Tegra X1’s enormous processing capabilities running on Android TV gives us access to a much broader audience, and we’re delighted to partner with NVIDIA to explore a variety of exciting possibilities for SHIELD, including the remastering of the survival horror classic, Resident Evil 5.”
– Jun Takeuchi, managing corporate officer, CAPCOM
“SHIELD is definitely made to game and thanks to Tegra X1 we have The Witcher: Battle Arena playing natively on SHIELD. With GRID, we’ll be able to bring new hit games to fans immediately.”
– Benjamin Lee, The Witcher: Battle Arena lead producer, CDPROJEKT
Pricing and Availability
SHIELD will be available in May, starting at $199 with a controller. Optional accessories include additional controllers, a remote control and a stand enabling the device to stand vertically.
SHIELD is the central member of the SHIELD family of devices, complementing the SHIELD tablet, the ultimate tablet for gamers; and the SHIELD portable, the ultimate portable gaming device. More information is available at http://shield.nvidia.com.
Panasonic have taken some time out to film a couple of little videos for readers here at Tracyandmatt.co.uk. The first features Michael Price, an expert from Panasonic on the Viera range. Michael gives us a quick look at how simple the new Firefox OS is to use on the new Viera range, alongside the latest 4K picture quality advances with the CX800.
Secondly, Andreas Gal, CTO of Mozilla gives an exclusive interview and in-depth look at the Firefox OS at Panasonic Convention 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany, for the Viera VIP Club.
For more information check http://viera.panasonic.co.uk/
Panasonic today announced the introduction of ‘4K Pro’: an enhanced 4K experience that combines the professional-level processing power of Panasonic’s new 4K Studio Master Processor with super-bright Wide Colour Phosphor panels that cover a maximum of 98% of the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) colour range.
Because of the limitations of traditional TV technology, viewers have long had to accept that it is difficult to experience at home what film directors truly intended when they put together their masterpieces.
However, Panasonic’s guiding principle with regards to TV picture quality has always been to strive to faithfully reproduce the director’s vision. 4K Pro represents a considerable step towards casting aside past screen limitations and is made possible by a cross-fertilisation of Panasonic’s professional AV business technology with the ‘reference’ picture quality knowhow built up while developing its renowned plasma TVs.
What is 4K Pro?
For Panasonic, 4K resolution is just one part of an immersive and accurate picture experience. So while the new 4K Pro picture engine certainly maximises the impact of 4K’s 3840×2160 pixel count, it also deploys a whole raft of technologies – including both panel design and processing systems – to address all the other key aspects of TV picture quality too.
The 4K Studio Master Processor
Panasonic’s proprietary 4K Studio Master Processor has been designed from the ground up to produce pictures that are totally faithful to a director’s vision. It draws on the huge resource of picture knowledge accumulated by Panasonic’s internationally respected professional AV business, the Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory, and its plasma TV division to deliver unprecedentedly accurate colour, uniquely satisfying contrast, and phenomenal brightness and dynamism.
Accurate Colour Drive: Through its Accurate Colour Drive, Panasonic has introduced to consumer TVs advanced colour management technologies, such as 3D Lookup Tables, which have previously only found in professional monitors.
3D Lookup Tables provide a volumetric approach to colour space control whereby a change in any one input colour causes cross-colour changes in all of the table’s output colours. The result is a much more accurate rendition of colour tones at different brightness levels than you get with normal TVs, which conventionally employ either very crude or no lookup table technology.
Even screens that do offer 3D Lookup Table usually only offer red, green and blue control, whereas on the Panasonic CR850 and CX800 TVs the table also references the cyan, magenta and yellow colours across a total of 8000 registry points (versus a typical 100). This enables the Panasonic TVs to provide the sort of professional-grade colour accuracy used by directors when they’re editing their films.
Black Gradation Drive: Normally LCD TVs control their backlights and gain settings separately, using 8-bit processing to deliver 256 steps of gradation. With its 4K Studio Master Processor though, Panasonic has brought the backlight control and gain adjustment picture controls together under the same processing umbrella for the first time, so that they can work in tandem to deliver more accurate local light levels. What’s more, it uses 10-bit driving to produce 1024 steps of gradation. What this means in picture terms is that you see vastly more shadow detail and subtler, more accurate colour toning in dark parts of the picture, avoiding that hollow, flat, washed-out look commonly seen with dark scenes on normal LCD TVs.
Native HDR Content playback: the 4K Studio Master Processor is enabled to support the playback of native High Dynamic Range (HDR) content when the appropriate standards have been finalized. HDR uses a combination of specially created content and super-bright, colour-rich screens to deliver images containing a much wider luminance range than any traditional TV. This means you can enjoy pictures with more contrast, richer colours, and greatly enhanced shadow and colour detail.
Wide Colour Phosphor Panels
The second key 4K Pro element in the Panasonic CR850 and CX800 TVs is their use of LED panels which include new Wide Colour Phosphor technology and have been custom built to complement the work of the Panasonic 4K Studio Master Processor. Thanks to the Wide Colour Phosphor technology, these panels can reproduce a remarkable 98% of the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) colour space.
Coupling these spectacular new panels with the 4K Studio Master Processor translates into you being able to see a range of colours on your TV much closer in tone and subtlety – especially in areas of red and green – to those you would see if you went to see a film at your local cinema. In other words, once again Panasonic TVs are uniquely well qualified to let you enjoy pictures at home that look almost exactly the way directors wanted them to look when they shot them.
Bright and Eco-conscious: As well as helping colours achieve a more cinematic range, Wide Colour Phosphor technology has considerable brightness and eco benefits. For instance, it uses approximately only half the energy of a conventional Quantum Dot panel to produce the same level of brightness, making it extremely cost effective to run. This makes Wide Colour Phosphor technology ideally suited to the playback of High Dynamic Range content.
Panasonic has collaborated with Mozilla to introduce a new, intuitive user interface for its 2015 TV line-up, powered by Firefox OS. Panasonic’s 2015 4K UHD (Ultra HD) LED VIERA TV line-up is equipped with a range of new functions and features, including my Home Screen 2.0 and Info Frame, designed to ensure you can enjoy your favourite channels, apps and devices faster and more efficiently than ever.
New, intuitive, customisable user interface
To provide a graphically rich, intuitive interface that makes it quick and easy for you to track down your favourite content with ease, Panasonic has introduced Firefox OS in the 2015 4K UHD VIERA TV line-up.
The platform, incorporating the new my Home Screen 2.0, is specifically designed to allow you to access preferred content quickly and easily. The home screen can be completely personalised to suit your preferences and is divided into easy to navigate ‘decks’. Three decks come as default with the platform:
The Live TV Deck
You can watch live broadcasts and build up a personalised ‘home screen’ of your most-watched channels.
The Apps Deck
Use Firefox OS’s graphically rich interface to access all the TV apps available on VIERA. These apps will include everything from the most popular video on demand partners to games.
The Devices Deck
Any devices connected to your TV, either by cables or WiFi, will appear in this deck, providing rapid access to external sources such as: tablets, smartphones, computers, Blu-ray players, SD cards, and USB storage drives.
A new search tool is also available via my Home Screen 2.0 that allows you to find and access content from all available source options, including internet video services, websites and any external devices you may have connected to your TV.
When you’ve found the content you’re looking for, the new user interface also lets you bookmark your favourite channels, apps, web pages and connected devices by using the Pin function for quick access at a later date.
The new user interface also incorporates Info Frame, which combines everything from local weather reports to recommended TV shows, TV listings and your favourite website, all on a single screen.
Connectivity across all your devices
Firefox OS is built on open standards, allowing you to send photos, videos or other content to your Firefox OS-powered TV from any smartphone, tablet, or computer with a Firefox browser or other compatible application.
This means that you do not need to be constrained into one ecosystem or brand.Sending content to the Firefox OS TV requires no additional hardware – you simply need to make sure that your Panasonic Firefox OS-powered TV is on the same WiFi network.
Greater flexibility for app developers
Firefox OS provides superior flexibility to developers to create brand new applications and services through WebAPIs that unlock the power of the Web and enable connected experiences across platforms. In addition, for the first time, Firefox OS will allow TV on-screen notifications from applications, and, in the future, from compatible connected appliances.
Firefox OS and my Home Screen 2.0 are available on the CR850, CR730, CX800, CX750, CX700 and CX680 series in the 2015 line-up.