Amazon Unveils Improved Fire TV Stick With Alexa Assistant

September 29th, 2016 · 720p HD, Amazon, Connected TVs, Digital Media Receivers, HDMI, News, search and recommendation, Streaming Services

 

Just three days after Roku unveiled the revamp of its set-top box line, Amazon came forward with a new and improved version of its Fire TV Stick.

The latest generation thumb-drive-like adapter is priced at an affordable $40 retail, and adds voice control via the company’s popular Alexa personal digital assistant, which is embedded in the remote.

The remote will take spoken commands to search across more than 90 channels and apps; rewind and fast-forward programming; and execute a long list of “skills”.

Read more on Amazon’s new Fire TV Stick after the jump:

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Review: Hisense 50H8C 4K Ultra HD TV Offers Impressive Entry-Level HDR Performance

September 28th, 2016 · 2160p, 4K Flat Panel, 4K LED LCD, Amazon, Connected TVs, Full Array LED Backlit with Local Dimming, HDMI, HDR, LCD Flat Panel, LED LCD Flat Panels, Streaming Services, UHDTV

When we first saw Hisense’s 50H8c 4K Ultra HDTV at CES 2016 last January we were impressed. The TV presented good natural colors, impressively deep blacks, listed a 10-bit panel and had the ability to read high dynamic range (HDR) content.

If that wasn’t enough, the TV carries full-array LED backlighting with local dimming (Hisense won’t divulge the number of local dimming zones, but the number appears to be small), comes with an industry leading 4-year warranty (after registration), and currently rings in at an astounding $499.99 expected street retail price. The value alone was enough to earn HD Guru’s Best TV Value Award for CES 2016.

Eight months later, we finally got our chance to go over the TV in more detail and evaluate the set properly for picture and sound performance. What we found is that the Hisense 50H8c is a steady performing Rec. 709 4K Ultra HD TV with nicely balanced colors, good lag performance for respectably fast game play, sharp and clear 4K Ultra HD resolution and nice upscaling of lower resolution HD and SD source material to 4K resolution.

Read more of our review of the Hisense 50H8c after the jump:

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Roku Refreshes Line With 5 Players, Brings HDR

September 26th, 2016 · 2160p, 4K Flat Panel, 4K LED LCD, Amazon, Connected TVs, Digital Media Receivers, electronic program guides, HDMI, HDR, LCD Flat Panel, LED LCD Flat Panels, News, search and recommendation, Sling Box, Streaming Services, UHD (4K) Media Players, UHDTV

 

Roku introduced Monday a revamped lineup of Roku set-top streaming adapters, including the company’s first two models offering support for high dynamic range (HDR) along with 4K Ultra HD streaming.

In total, the company is adding five new models, which will be replacing many of the currently available set-top box offerings. Also with the introductions, Roku is changing its model naming practice, moving from numbers to names.

Models include the Roku Express ($29.99 suggested retail), Roku Express+ ($39.99), Roku Premiere ($79.99), Roku Premiere+ ($99.99) and Roku Ultra ($129.99). All will be available for pre-order beginning today with arrivals expected October 9th. The Roku Express+ will be available exclusively through Walmart, while all other models will be available from Roku and leading retailers including: Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon and others.

The five new streaming players will join the Roku Streaming Stick that was introduced in April.

The new models start with the entry Roku Express, which is billed as the company’s tiniest streaming box yet outside of the streaming sticks. The Roku Express offers an HDMI connection to a TV, a fast response time and support for up to Full HD 1080p video streaming. The company also announced a Roku Express+ version, which brings support for legacy television sets with analog composite audio/video (red, white and yellow) RCA jack inputs.

Two new mid-range Roku players include the Roku Premiere and Roku Premiere+, which offer 4K Ultra HD output, fast quad-core processors, upscaling of lower-resolution video to up to 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps; 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless connectivity; and a night listening mode setting that adjusts audio sounds to maintain volume consistency

Roku Premiere+ adds support for HDR; an enhanced point anywhere remote with headphone jack for private listening; MicroSD card slot for additional channel storage and Ethernet port for wired internet connections.

The Roku Ultra offers 4K Ultra HD with upscaling; HDR support; optical digital audio out; USB port for local media playback; point anywhere remote control with game buttons, voice search and headphone jack for private listening. The remote also includes a lost-remote-finder feature and all other features in the Premiere+.

Read more on the new Roku set-top media adapter lineup after the jump:

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StormAudio Brings High-Performance Immersive Audio Systems To U.S. Market

September 22nd, 2016 · Audio, Auro3D, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, HDMI, height channels, News, object-based audio, rear surround channel, Sound Systems, sub woofer, Surround Sound, Surround Sound Systems

                                                                Yves Trélohan, StormAudio senior VP

StormAudio, a consumer electronics hardware company owned by Belgium-based Auro Technologies, made its U.S. debut at CEDIA Expo last week by launching a line of immersive sound processors and power amplifiers equipped to accept and play the leading 3D audio formats including Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D.

The company said its mission is to make and market “the ultimate in high-end immersive audio, pushing the boundaries of home theater to new levels of performance.”

StormAudio products are designed and manufactured in France and are specialized in immersive audio processing, like the Auro-3D channel specific 3D audio format championed for professional cinema applications by the parent company. However, Yves Trélohan, StormAudio senior VP and head of the Home Entertainment and Luxury Audio Product Division, said the StormAudio product line is manufactured and marketed to be audio-format agnostic and does not focus on one format over another.

Read more on the new StormAudio immersive audio product line after the jump:

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NRDC: Government Uses Flawed TV Energy Consumption Tests

September 21st, 2016 · 2160p, 4K Flat Panel, 4K LED LCD, HDR, LCD Flat Panel, LED LCD Flat Panels, LG Electronics, News, OLED, OLED, Test Equipment, UHDTV

 

Your TV might be contributing to global warming. Well, it’s certainly making a lot of people hot under the collar, anyway.

An environmental watchdog group called the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a report on television energy consumption Wednesday calling government testing procedures for energy use by TVs flawed and implied that some manufacturers may be deliberately designing TVs to pass the Department of Engergy (DOE), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tests while actually using more electricity than they should in real-world conditions.

The group said that video clips assembled for the government test material used when measuring TV energy consumption for programs including Energy Star, are an assemblage of fast (on average about 2.5 second) scenes that jump cut throughout the clip. This test material causes some brands of TVs equipped with “motion detection dimmers” to scale down energy consumption and help them meet energy consumption guidelines.

But the NRDC said the test clips are nothing but a random compilation of unrealistically and unwatchably fast video sequences, creating motion that these motion detection dimmers easily pick up and respond to. When playing content edited in a way that is more realistic to the way it is actually presented these dimmers often don’t get triggered, the NRDC claims.

Read more on the NRDC’s TV energy consumption allegations after the jump:

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Sony Pictures To Release Movies With Auro-3D Surround Sound

September 20th, 2016 · Audio, Auro3D, Blu-ray Discs, Blu-ray Players, Blu-ray Titles, center channel, front channels, HDMI, height channels, News, object-based audio, rear surround channel, Sound Systems, Streaming Services, sub woofer, Surround Sound, Surround Sound Systems, Ultra HD Blu-ray Players

 

Auro Technologies, developers of Auro-3D surround sound technology, said it has cut a distribution partnership with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to release 10 Blu-ray Disc movie titles formatted with  Auro-3D sound.

The distribution deal includes consumer-oriented content in both physical and digital formats, including Blu-ray Discs, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs and compatible digital services. Titles can be played back with Auro-3D support using compatible receivers from brands including: Denon, Marantz, Steinway Lyngdorf, Storm Audio and others. Sony receivers do not currently offer Auro-3D support.

Auro-3D is an immersive multi-channel surround sound format that includes height-channels, but unlike Dolby Atmos and DTS:X formats, it is channel-directed and not object-oriented in creating an audio 3D effect.

Read more on the Auro-3D content distribution deal after the jump:

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Denon To Add Alexa Voice Control To HEOS Audio Line

September 20th, 2016 · Audio, News, Sound Bars, Sound Systems, Streaming Services, sub woofer

Denon HEOS products like this HomeCinema sound bar and subwoofer will soon be adding Alexa voice control.

Denon Electronics said it has teamed up with Amazon to integrate Amazon Alexa hands-free voice service in Denon’s HEOS-enabled multi-room audio products.

The companies said they expect the first integrated Denon HEOS products to hit the market in the first quarter of 2017.

Read more about Alexa integration in Denon products after the jump:

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B&O Offers Design-Centric 4K Ultra HD Monitors That Rock And Roll

September 20th, 2016 · 2160p, 4K Flat Panel, 4K LED LCD, HDMI, LCD Flat Panel, LED LCD Flat Panels

B&O’s BeoVision 14 4K entertainment monitor showing optional oak lamella speaker covering.

High-end Danish AV electronics manufacturer Bang & Olufsen used CEDIA Expo to show U.S. custom electronics designers and installers that it’s still in the video display game by presenting two series of 4K Ultra HD including models in its BeoVision 14 and new BeoVision Horizon series.

Both series use 4K- Ultra HD LCD panels with direct-type LED backlighting and global dimming in elegantly crafted cabinets that place heavy emphasis on modern aesthetics and Scandinavian style.

Read more about the new B&O TV series after the jump:

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