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Sony sticks to 4K, scales up its premium TV line-up with A9G, A8G OLEDs

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Sony’s top-of-the-line visual entertainers of 2019 are not 8K. The Indian market it not ready for them, believe the Japanese. The Koreans have a conflicting point of view. Samsung launched their beautiful, mammoth and exorbitantly priced 8K TVs in June, while LG refreshed its AI ThinQ range of TVs last month with resolutions maxing out at 4K. It’s all very confusing. Do we need 8K, or not?


To cut the long story short. Most of us don’t. In the absence of any real 8K content out there, Samsung TVs can scale up regular content to mimic 8K quality using AI. It’s not the real picture, but a very compelling upgrade for the early adopters who wouldn’t mind spending upwards of Rs 10 lakhs (for 75-inches and above). The rest of us who can settle for a slightly less immersive TV viewing experience for half the price, there are 4K QLEDs from Samsung and 4K OLEDs from Sony and LG, two premium technologies that produce deep blacks with great contrast and colours.



“There’s even time before 4K is completely adopted,” says Sunil Nayyar, the managing director of Sony India. Even Netflix and YouTube have very limited content originally produced in 4K.


It’s clear that 8K is not the buzzword for TVs this season. The focus is on smart, aesthetically pleasing large screens that seamlessly blend with modern interiors. And Sony has launched two series with these attributes, along with a few aces up its sleeve.


Their flagship Master Series, modelled A9G Bravia OLED, has bezel-less 55- and 65-inch screens priced at Rs 2,69,990 and Rs 3,69,000, respectively. They run on the X1 Ultimate, the company’s best picture processor yet. The chip controls its 8 million self-illuminating pixels, which can be dimmed and brightened individually to make blacks deeper and colours more vibrant. The TVs, much like premium TVs from Samsung and LG, can also scale up standard and high definition content to 4K-like picture through AI.


Audio is where the differentiation begins. The A9G series comes with what Sony says is a 2.2 channel Acoustic Surface Audio+. It essentially means that the screen vibrates to produce sound, which then appears to be coming directly from the screen. You can just use the TV’s combined audio output of 20W+20W speakers and 10W+10W subwoofers (hence the nomenclature 2.2) or pair it with additional speakers with the screen acting as the centre speaker. We are yet to review the TV, but I believe the sound output will suffice for a medium-sized living room. The A9G series also comes with Dolby Atmos, which creates a good, surround sound experience, but you will need a 5.1- or, better yet, a 7.1-channel home theatre system for anything better than that. The TVs support eARC HDMI input to connect to the latest audio devices.


The new line-up also has a never-heard-before Netflix Calibrated Mode specially designed for Netlfix Originals, which claims to reproduces the picture quality “as creators intended”. More on that when we test the mode out for ourselves.


The Android TVs support Google Assistant, Alexa, AirPlay 2 and HomeKit (also Apple). All external devices connected through its HDMI ports can be controlled using a universal remote that comes along with the TVs.


The A9G series also improves on aesthetics by introducing TVs that have a slimmer profile. But what makes them better is the Flush Wall Mount. It makes the TV stick to a wall like a painting but also allows it to be extended and moved sideways to adjust the viewing angles. It’s a really simple but exceptionally cool value addition that I hope is replicated across all TVs of the future.


Sony has also introduced a more affordable collection of TVs in its A8G Bravia OLED 4K range, priced at Rs 3,19,990 and Rs 2,19,990 for the 65-inch and 55-inch TVs, respectively. It’s powered by the X1 Extreme processor, which is one below the X1 Ultimate and, therefore, deliver a slightly inferior video and audio quality. These Android TVs just support Google Assistant.


While the A8G is already selling at Sony retail stores and its online and offline partners, the premium A9G will be made available from August 1, 2019. Sony says TVs bigger larger than 65 inches are also slated to be launched soon.




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What does Facebook’s plan to hire scribes mean for media industry?

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Facebook’s plan to hire professional journalists instead of relying solely on algorithms to deliver news is a positive step but is unlikely to shake up an embattled media industry, analysts say.


The social media giant said Tuesday it would build a small team of journalists to select the top national news of the day “to ensure we’re highlighting the right stories.”

It comes as the US media landscape is plagued by job losses and newspaper closures, with organizations trying to figure out how to record profits in the age of free news.



Stories will appear in a section called the “news tab,” which will be separate from the traditional news feed that displays updates and content from users’ friends and relatives.


“In theory I see this as a really positive development. It is something quite promising,” Danna Young, a communications professor at the University of Delaware, told AFP.


Facebook’s journalists will be curating stories from news sites and won’t be editing headlines or writing content.


The California-based company has consistently said it does not want to be considered a media organization that makes major editorial decisions, and this announcement does little to change that, experts add.


“It’s not transformative because it’s not going to change necessarily the behavior of individuals who are referencing stories on their feeds,” said Young.


“That’s where the power comes from — individuals you know and trust putting their tacit stamp of approval on stories by sharing them,” she added.


The tab will be the site’s first news feature using human moderators since it shut down its ill-fated “trending topics” section last year after a scandal over allegations workers had suppressed stories about conservative issues.


Articles not deemed top news stories will still be collated using algorithms based on the user’s history, such as pages they follow, publications they subscribe to and news they have already interacted with.


“Our goal with the news tab is to provide a personalized, highly relevant experience for people,” Facebook head of news partnerships Campbell Brown told AFP in San Francisco Tuesday.


The news tab feature comes as Facebook embarks on a series of initiatives to boost journalism, with traditional media organizations accusing it of benefitting financially from their hard work.


Internet platforms are dominating the internet advertising space making it difficult for established news organizations to transition what were very profitable print advertisements online.


Facebook announced in January that it will invest USD 300 million over three years to support journalism, particularly local news organisations.


It has also funded fact-checking projects around the world, including one in partnership with AFP.


Facebook will reportedly pay some publishers to license news content for the tab but Mathew Ingram, who writes about digital media for the Columbia Journalism Review, doesn’t expect that to trickle down to hard-up organizations that need it the most.


“The companies they are going to choose are ones already doing well I assume. It might give them a little extra cash but I don’t see it driving a huge amount of traffic,” he told AFP.


Print journalism in the US is in free-fall as social media overtakes newspapers as the main news source for Americans.


Around 2,000 American newspapers closed in the past 15 years, according to the University of North Carolina, leaving millions of residents without reporters keeping track of what their local authorities are up to.


“The death of local news has such destructive effects for democracy. It’s a complex issue that Facebook alone cannot fix,” said Young.


The number of journalists working at US newspapers slumped by 47 per cent from 2008 to 2018, according to a Pew Research Center survey released last year.


The total number of journalists in newsrooms fell by 25 per cent, the group found, while consultancy firm Challenger Gray & Christmas says this is going to be the worst year for layoffs since 2009.


It’s a difficult time for Stephen Groves, who recently earned a master’s in journalism at New York University, to be looking for work. When he heard about Facebook’s plans, he was skeptical.


“Facebook is not a journalism company and so before working for Facebook I would want to see their commitment to ethical, robust journalism,” the 30-year-old told AFP.


The digital sector is also in trouble.


When Buzzfeed cut 200 jobs in January, 29-year-old Emily Tamkin was let go from a position she had held for just a few months.


“I’m personally not cheered by the fact that Facebook is swooping in and hiring journalists. If that’s the silver lining then we have a very big cloud here,” she told AFP.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)




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Google ditches its desserts! Android Q’s official name is Android 10

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Breaking the 10-year history of naming Android releases after desserts, Google on Thursday announced it had officially named the next version as just Android 10.


“First, we’re changing the way we name our releases. Our engineering team has always used internal code names for each version, based of tasty treats, or desserts, in alphabetical order,” said Sameer Samat, VP of Product Management, Android, in a statement.



The naming tradition has become a fun part of the release each year externally too, like Android Lollipop or Marshmallows.


“As a global operating system, it’s important that these names are clear and relatable for everyone in the world. So, this next release of Android will simply use the version number and be called Android 10,” Samat explained.


“While there were many tempting ‘Q’ desserts out there, we think that at version 10 and 2.5 billion active devices, it was time to make this change,” he added.


Now, this year is Android 10 and next year will be Android 11, and so on.


Google also changed the logo from green to black.


It’s a small change but Google found the green was hard to read, especially for people with visual impairments.


Google will officially start using the updated logo in the coming weeks with the final release of Android 10.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)




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Bose adds Google Assistant, Apple AirPlay 2 to its smart speakers

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Google on Thursday announced an automatic software update that would bring the Google Assistant to all existing Bose smart speakers and soundbars.


The Google Assistant joins Amazon Alexa for voice control of smart home devices, and instant access to millions of songs and podcasts, help, information, and more.



Bose smart speaker owners can now also use Apple AirPlay 2 for simple streaming from Apple devices.


In addition, there is a small Bose smart speaker on the way. The Bose Home Speaker 300 can be pre-ordered on Amazon.in starting Thursday and would available from August 29.


Weighing a mere two pounds and measuring just over six-inch, the Bose Home Speaker 300’s acoustic package delivers powerful bass along with 360-degree sound – unlike conventional smart speakers that deliver a narrow beam of audio, the company said in a statement.


It would be sold directly from Bose stores, wholesale trade partners and online through Amazon.in for Rs 26,900.


 

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)




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