LeEco Announces Massive U.S. Layoff

May 23rd, 2017 · 2160p, 4K Flat Panel, 4K LED LCD, Connected TVs, Full HD 1080p, HDMI, HDR, LCD Flat Panel, LED LCD Flat Panels, News, OTT services, Streaming Services, UHDTV

 

UPDATE! The future of Chinese tech giant LeEco’s ambitious plan to conquer the United States and the rest of the world through a consumer electronics/streaming services ecosystem play got a lot more complicated Tuesday.

LeEco officially announced that it had laid off 325 U.S. employees, after failing to raise needed capital funding.

“The breadth of our business model is capital intensive, and our leadership has been working to secure the appropriate level of funding for the U.S.,” LeEco said in a company statement Tuesday afternoon. “While we’ve made progress in growing our distribution channels, the challenges with raising new capital have made it difficult in the past few months to support all of our business’ priorities. As a result, the capital we do have will have to be highly focused resulting in a significant restructuring and streamlining of our business, operations and workforce. This will impact approximately 325 people in the U.S.

“We believe that our vision to remove the barriers between screens for consumers is right, and analysts have acknowledged this. Because we can’t access the capital needed at this time, we will need to take a phased approach to the U.S. market.”

“We will continue to operate in the U.S. with our existing product portfolio that puts content at the heart of the experience, and we believe that our products can compete,” the company said.

LeEco said it remains committed to the U.S. and will continue supporting consumers. The company said that last week it finalized a plan on-shoring up a customer care call center in order to enhance the customer experience for U.S. consumers.

“Our goal is to continue to gain momentum,” the company continued. “In the past few months, we have gained a large foothold in Chinese-speaking households in the U.S. by offering tailor-made products and content for this community. We believe this provides us an opportunity to build on our strengths and grow from there.”

According to Bloomberg  the company is left with just 50 workers here.

Read more about LeEco’s layoff after the jump:

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EPA Considering More Stringent Brightness Controls On Energy Star TVs

May 22nd, 2017 · 2160p, 4K Flat Panel, 4K LED LCD, Calibration, Full HD 1080p, HDR, LCD Flat Panel, LED LCD Flat Panels, News, OLED, UHD 4K OLED, UHDTV

 

Those concerned with how the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) work on the Energy Star 8.0 standard for television energy consumption will impact next-generation 4K Ultra HDTVs and HDTVs have until Wednesday to submit comments before the measure moves to the final draft process.

Among considerations under review are putting non-defeatable automatic brightness controls (ABCs) in all or all-but-one picture mode in a television set, which could have ramifications for the flexibility TV purchasers will have in calibrating picture settings for optimal picture quality under specific room lighting conditions.

The EPA is also looking at the next set of energy consumption criteria for 4K Ultra HDTVs and high dynamic range (HDR), after receiving feedback from environmental watch dog groups who want the current level of energy use by such systems scaled back. The issue puts environmentalists at odds with some set manufacturers striving to achieve brighter and brighter HDR TV sets as the technology evolves.

One good note for picture quality fans is that it appears that the EPA is prepared to wait a bit longer on any requirements for 4K Ultra HDTVs and HDR as they study the market to get a better idea of what the actual impact is.

Jeff Joseph, senior vice president of communications and strategic relationships for the Consumer Technology Association, said Monday that “requiring that all energy savings features, including Automatic Brightness Control, persist across all preset picture modes puts the EPA squarely in the business of designing TVs. Only TV manufacturers have the experience, expertise, and user input to make such decisions related to the performance of their preset picture modes and all functionality of their products. If ABC is enabled by default in all preset picture modes, these modes will likely look very similar, if not identical. More, the requirement is completely unnecessary since consumers already receive a message that the TV is not in its best energy savings mode when ABC is disabled.”

Read more on the EPA’s next criteria for Energy Star for televisions after the jump:

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Sony Adds Pair Of Wide Angle Full-Format Lenses

May 18th, 2017 · 2160p, Digital Camera/Camcorder, Digital Cameras, Full HD 1080p, HDMI, HDR, Lenses, News, UHDTV

 

Sony continued to expand its arsenal of full-format E-mount lenses this week, with the addition of a pair of new wide-angle zooms that will fit nicely on the just introduced Sony A9 pro-level mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, among others in the Sony line.

The new lenses include the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM ($2,198 retail), pictured at top, and the Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G ($1,698). The new wide zooms are positioned as pro lenses for professional photographers, photo journalists and sophisticated advanced amateurs looking to take very high-quality stills and up to 4K Ultra HD video images.

The new lenses can be pre-ordered starting Friday – May 19th. The 12-24mm lens is expected to hit retailers in July, while the 16-35mm lens will be available in August.

Read more about Sony’s new wide-angle, full-format lenses after the jump:

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Marantz, Integra Add Advanced AV Receivers With Multi-room Audio

May 17th, 2017 · 2160p, 4K Flat Panel, 4K LED LCD, Amazon, Audio, center channel, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, front channels, HDMI, HDR, height channels, Home Automation, Live OTT services, News, object-based audio, OTT services, rear surround channel, Sound Systems, Streaming Services, sub woofer, Surround Sound, Surround Sound Systems, UHDTV, voice command, Wireless Audio

 

The AV receiver market continued to expand this week, with new introductions from high-end component brands Marantz and Integra.

Marantz unveiled a pair of slimmed down receivers hitting retail shelves this month in its NR1608 ($749 suggested retail) and NR1508 ($549) models, each of which combines advanced home theater surround sound support with multi-room music distribution.

Rival Integra, meanwhile, introduced a pair of 7.2-channel network AV receivers targeting the custom installation market in the DRX-3.1 ($1,000 suggested retail) and the DRX-2.1 ($800). Both models also support advanced home theater surround sound, and multi-room audio distribution.

The receivers from both brands include support for some of the latest 4K Ultra HDTV technologies, including, (either out-of-the-box or via a future firmware update), Dolby Vision and hybrid log-gamma (HLG) high dynamic range (HDR), in addition to the generic HDR10 system.

Read more about the new Marantz and Integra audio video receivers after the jump:

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Element, Amazon Unveil First `Fire TV Edition’ 4K Ultra HDTVs

May 16th, 2017 · 2160p, 4K Flat Panel, 4K LED LCD, Amazon, Connected TVs, electronic program guides, HDMI, LCD Flat Panel, LED LCD Flat Panels, News, OTT services, Streaming Services, UHDTV

Element’s Sung Choi and Amazon’s Sandeep Gupta present an Element 4K UHDTV – Fire TV Edition.

TongFang Global, manufacturer of televisions sold in the United States under the Element and Westinghouse brands, formally introduced Tuesday the first 4K Ultra HD televisions to incorporate the Fire TV operating system without the need to add on a separate set-top box or HDMI-connected media adapter.

Called the “Element 4K Ultra HDTVs – Fire TV Edition,” the televisions will fully implement the Fire TV OS giving users faster and snappier access to a host of streaming apps, including Netflix, which is prominently featured, and of course Amazon Instant Videos.

The TVs will have the same advanced content search and recommendations system used in its latest popular Fire TV set-top box and Fire TV Stick, with programs culled from user search and viewing data prominently featured in scrolling ribbons of program thumbnails on the set’s home page.

Like other Fire TV devices, the new TVs will also feature Alexa-assisted voice search and control commands via a mic built into the special Fire TV remote that ships with the TVs. The remote is virtually identical to those offered with the advanced Fire TV outboard adapters, sporting a diminutive, minimalistic button design that features the Netflix fast-access button prominently. All of the Element 4K Ultra HDTVs – Fire TV Edition will be Netflix certified models, assuring Netflix is prominently positioned and ready for fast loading and content playback.

Element will offer four models in the 43- ($449 suggested retail), 50- ($549) , 55- ($649) and 65-inch ($899) screen sizes. Pre-orders will begin today through Amazon.

TongFang will also have four 4K Ultra HD – Fire TV Edition televisions available in the same screen sizes and offered at similar price points and feature packages under the Westinghouse brand later this year, company executives said.

Read more on the Element 4K Ultra HDTVs – Fire TV Edition sets after the jump:

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Polk Unveils MagniFi MAX SR 5.1-Ch. Sound Bar With Wireless Surrounds

May 16th, 2017 · Audio, center channel, front channels, HDMI, News, rear surround channel, Sound Bars, Sound Systems, sub woofer, Surround Sound, Surround Sound Systems

Polk Audio introduced Tuesday its MagniFi MAX SR 5.1-channel sound bar, one of the company’s most advanced to date.

The MagniFi MAX SR incorporates Polk Audio’s Stereo Dimensional Array (SDA) digital surround technology that is said to expand the sound stage, while adding detail and immersive surround sound.

The MagniFi MAX SR package includes a pair of SR1 wireless surround speakers that automatically connect and pair with the sound bar to provide rear channels. The sound then can be easily fine tuned via volume and left/right balance controls through the MagniFi MAX bar.

The MagniFi MAX SR system will be available through authorized Polk retailers at a $599 suggested retail, starting in August. Polk will also make the sound bar ($499 suggested retail price) and Polk SR1 ($149) wireless surrounds available separately.

Read more about the Polk MagniFi MAX SR sound bar after the jump:

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Roku Kicks Off National Streaming Day Promotion

May 15th, 2017 · 2160p, 720p HD, Connected TVs, Digital Media Receivers, Full HD 1080p, HD 3D Content, HDMI, HDR, Live OTT services, News, object-based audio, OTT services, Skinny TV services, Streaming Services, UHD (4K) Media Players, UHDTV

 

Roku, the maker of some of the most popular add-on media streamers for accessing more than 5,000 streaming channels, is offering free content and a $10 discount on its popular Roku players in celebration of National Streaming Day on May 20th.

Kicking off the week leading up to the special day, anyone interested in adding so-called “smart TV” functionality to an unconnected television or a smart TV that might lack some popular services, can purchase one of several Roku set-tops or a USB streaming stick for a special savings as well as get access to free content available to Roku customers.

In celebration of the event, Roku released the findings of a recent study of streaming viewer uses and preferences, including data from Nielsen showing the average American spends 30.55 hours a week watching television, and that streaming continues to soar as Roku users streamed more than 3 billion hours of video and music in the first quarter of 2017 alone, up from more than 9 billion throughout 2016.

Read more on Roku’s promotion and streaming video user data after the jump:

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Review: LeEco uMax85 4K Ultra HDTV Is A Solid HDR, 3D Performer

May 12th, 2017 · 2160p, 3D HDTV, 4K Flat Panel, 4K LED LCD, Amazon, Calibration, electronic program guides, Full Array LED Backlit with Local Dimming, HDMI, HDR, LCD Flat Panel, LED LCD Flat Panels, News, screen mirroring, Streaming Services, UHDTV

 

For some, one of the primary benefits of getting a 4K Ultra HDTV is to enjoy sharp, clear high resolution images on the largest screen sizes they can afford.

LeEco has attempted to answer that desire by offering its 85-inch uMax85 4K Ultra HD LED-LCD TV at a surprisingly low $5,499 suggested retail price, with periodic sales dropping that under the $5,000 threshold at select times.

The huge set features a full-array back lighting system with 448 zones of local dimming. This affords greater local control of each of the zones across the LCD back plane, enabling the back light to be almost completely turned off when generating dark blacks, or boosted to generate bright whites and yellows when watching specular highlights in high dynamic range (HDR) content, without bleeding over into neighboring LED zones.

The result is a huge picture with inky black levels that don’t crush low-light details but still keep colors bright, natural and accurate. However, the peak highlights were only moderately bright for a 4K/HDR set of this size and price, and the lack of a color management system makes it difficult to fine tune color points, perfectly.

The uMax85 does not employ quantum dot technology, although LeEco has shown its next-generation uMaxQ85  model that is to expected to bring that capability in the future.

What you do get is a big moderately bright picture that we tested at surpassing 90 percent of the DCI/P3 color gamut, as advertised. With a picture this big, the eye can easily pick up the resolution benefits that the 4K 3840x2160p pixels (four times that of Full HD 1080) provide when viewing native 4K content.

Colors illuminated by spectral and specular highlights in HDR10 content are bright, vibrant and lifelike. The set automatically recognizes an incoming signal from an Ultra HD Blu-ray player or a streaming movie and switches the set into “HDR Mode”. Where available in streaming content, the uMax85 will play the alternative Dolby Vision HDR profile, and eventually that will be available via certain Ultra HD Blu-ray discs as well.

Read more of our review of the LeEco uMax85 after the jump:

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