Posts with tag media
An extension of Blu-ray makes it all happen
4K televisions (or Ultra HD, if that’s your thing) are amazing, with picture quality that often goes far beyond anything you can even remotely hope to find on now standard 1080p sets. The big problem, however, is that up until now, there just hasn’t been much to actually watch with these new, expensive, beautiful televisions. Netflix has helped fill the gap with a small library of shows streaming in 4K, but the selection is next to nil and support is limited to only select, Netflix sanctioned smart televisions. That’s all about the change however as The Blu-ray Disc Association has just announced at CES that they’re working on a new version of the existing Blu-ray technology that will bring 4K movies to your next home theater system, in convenient disc format.
The new discs, which will be branded as Ultra HD Blu-ray and will essentially be Blu-rays manufactured with a new process that allows up to 33GB per layer (up from 25GB), meaning that a single disc will allow for as much as 99GB. This is absolutely necessary given that 4K movies require an obscene amount of available space, way more than the average 1080p Blu-ray movie.
Manufacturer Panasonic is proving the concept with a prototype Ultra HD player, seen above. Sure enough, it works as you’d expect – this is just your average Blu-ray player with the added bonus of beautiful 4K video playback. According to Engadget, the new Ultra HD Blu-ray specification – which has yet to be finalized – will likely call for HVEC encoding, a next-generation encoder that allows for incredibly highly compressed file without losing quality.
These new Ultra HD Blu-rays are expected to hit market by the end of 2015, however a delay into early 2016 is still possible. While all this technology is cool and it’s fantastic that 4K will finally have an opportunity to invade the average living room, the real question is whether or not Americans are ready to invest in a next generation optical disc format. It seems like just yesterday that the industry tried to get us to ditch our old and busted DVDs for high definition Blu-rays. Can that same strategy be successful only a couple of years later?
But promises it'll try to find them new jobs
Apple now owns Beats. I mean, I guess it has for a little while now, given that the acquisition was formally announced May, but now Apple has made it officially official by launching a new page on their company website welcoming Beats “to the family.” Saving you a click (which has apparently become quite a thing on the internet), here’s what that page reads:
Today we are excited to officially welcome Beats Music and Beats Electronics to the Apple family. Music has always held a special place in our hearts, and we’re thrilled to join forces with a group of people who love it as much as we do. Beats cofounders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre have created beautiful products that have helped millions of people deepen their connection to music. We’re delighted to be working with the team to elevate that experience even further.
And we can’t wait to hear what’s next.
And with that, Beats as we knew it is dead; long live Beats? Apple has even gone so far as to shut down Beats’ online store, instead redirecting any would be customers to Apple’s own online store, which is now fully stocked with Beats headphones on the Headphones section. Apple seems to have carried over all the products, but I’ll fully admit that I was no Beats headphones aficionado.
So now that the celebration phase is over, it’s time for the dirty work – Apple has officially announced that they will be laying off 200 out of Beats’ just over 700 employees now that the transition is complete. Apple confirmed the layoffs to 9to5Mac, however was quick to point out that they plan on taking good care of these displaced employees:
We’re excited to have the Beats team join Apple, and we have extended job offers to every Beats employee,” the statement read. “Because of some overlap in our operations, some offers are for a limited period and we’ll work hard during this time to find as many of these Beats employees as we can another permanent job within Apple.
Of course, business is business, but given that that’s just about 1/4 of Beats’ workforce, it’s certainly a bitter pill to swallow – especially in an economy like this.
But of course, Apple doesn’t want you to pay attention to that, so instead the company has shared a new 30-second ad spot celebrating the completed acquisition – which, I should warn you, is incredibly strange. If you’re interested in checking out Siri bouncing a couple of anthropomorphic Beats speaker systems, we’ve embedded that video after the break.
Us in America have been enjoying (or not enjoying, for those who don’t use the service, I guess) all the benefits that Google Play Music has to offer for quite some time now, but Google has given little love to America’s brother up North. That changes today as Google has officially announced that Google Play Music has finally arrived to Canada starting today.
The service, which allows you to endlessly stream Google’s vast library of music with no advertisements and no hassles, is available now for $10 CAD a month. That’s roughly on par with alternative services that provide similar benefits, such as Spotify – but Google Play Music integrates seamlessly with your Android phone making this a potentially better deal for those of you who choose to stay within Google’s vast ecosystem.
Sound good? Hit up the source link to get started.
Dark, beautiful, and available now
Spotify, the free music streaming library that we all know and (mostly) love, is now rolling out a huge redesign that effects its entire portfolio of products, including Spotify on the Web, Spotify for Mobile, and the desktop Spotify client. The new design, which is the first major redesign since the service initially launched in 2008, is both familiar and entirely new.
Spotify has really emphasized the imagery of the music industry in this update, removing plenty of white space in order to make album artwork the real star of the show. Artwork is prominently displayed in big, beautiful blocks of icons, while the design uses a new dark underlying design to really put emphasis on the artwork and make it “pop”. Whereas the old version of Spotify relied on columns of text to get context on whatever it was the user was looking for, now the new design really makes that a visual experience, something that should make finding just the right song a whole lot easier.
The new Spotify design also fits right in with Apple’s latest and greatest mobile operating system, iOS 7, making use of transparency, blurring effects, and minimal, white buttons for playback controls and symbolism. The design is arguably most beautiful here, on Apples platform (seen above), because of how well it really fits in – Spotify now feels almost integrated into the inherent design of iOS, rather than an exception to the rule – and the result is quite stunning. Apple could really learn a lesson or two here from Spotify on any potential iTunes redesign.
The new Spotify design should be now available for your Mac, PC, iOS, Android, and on the Web. No word yet on whether or not other platforms, such as Linux, will be seeing an update.
"Was all this legal? Absolutely not!"
Chances are, the biggest deterrent against movie piracy in the mainstream was the general skill required to actually find a working torrent of quality, find a working piece of BitTorrent software, and actually completing the download. If that sounds familiar to you would-be-movie-pirates at heart, take notes: a new application, Popcorn Time, has just surfaced for all three of the major desktop platforms – Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux – that makes streaming pirated movies over BitTorrent as easy as clicking a single play button.
Torrent sources are found and curated by the developers behind Popcorn Time, assuring that movies streamed are not only of extremely high video and audio quality, but also stream fast and without any sort of ridiculous load times typically associated with movie piracy. As you may expect, Popcorn Time is currently streaming some extremely well known and award winning movies, some of which have yet to even be released on Blu-Ray, DVD, or other official sources – including Gravity, The Hunger Games, American Hustle, and much more.
Interested? The developers would like to kindly remind you that movie piracy is “probably” (ie.,almost certainly) illegal wherever it is in your country, so as per usual use this at your own risk and discretion. Download links are at the source below.
Source: Popcorn Time
Gotta watch 'em all
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the size of the state of Texas for the past 25 years, you’re probably already familiar with the Pokémon television show – a Japanese anime by Nintendo that follows the wacky adventures of Ash, a forever-twelve-year-old kid who’s on an epic, seemingly never ending journey to be the best there ever was (whatever that means) and collect all nine million Pokémon while he’s at it. To date, there have been over 800 episodes of the show, and starting on March 1st, you’ll be able to watch some of the best episodes and specials on Netflix.
According to the internet streaming and DVD rental service, Netflix will have available to stream “the classic first season of the television series, Pokémon: Indigo League, the fan-favorite Pokémon: Black & White season, and two feature length Pokémon movies [Pokémon the Movie: Black-Victini and Reshiram and Pokémon the Movie: White-Victini and Zekrom].”
So while that may not be quite enough to appease younger fans of the series, that’s more than enough content to get some of the series’ older fans excited – I mean, the entire first season? Indigo League? Those are gems of the 90s! Sign me up!
Not yet fallen
Deadline has officially confirmed today that Netflix has renewed their top rated episodic drama, “House of Cards”, starring Kevin Spacey as a scheming Washington insider, for a third season in 2015. While Season 2 has yet to even officially launch on the instant streaming site, Netflix is making it no secret that the political drama – which has been nominated for awards a’plenty – will be coming back for more even after you’ve clicked the play button on that last episode this month.
House of Cards Season 2 launches worldwide on Netflix on Valentines Day, February 14th. So if you had no plans, maybe it’s never too early to start preparing for Season 3 by marathoning the heck out of Season 2… in 4K, no less?
Better colors, full backwards compatibility
If there’s one thing that bothers me about home media, it’s the color banding you’ll notice if you look realllyyy close at that favorite movie of yours on your television. The cause of this minor annoyance is that today, many televisions, projectors, and forms of media show content with just 8-bits of color – enough to give a beautiful, clear picture from far away, but little enough to notice some weird banding up close that’s caused by an inadequate supply of colors. While manufacturers have been working to develop screens and pictures with 12 and beyond bits of color, which would solve the issue, there have been little to no talk about improving the specifications of all of our favorite home media format – Blu-Ray – to deal with the issue.
Well, until now. A relatively unknown company called Folded Space has just announced a new encoding specification compatible with Blu-Ray discs that would deliver content with 12-bits of color, all while maintaining compatibility with all existing players and keeping file sizes the same. Of course, this is all fine and dandy, but now the company needs to convince content providers that this is worthwhile in an industry that has been notoriously slow to react; now years following the advent of consumer ready 4K screens, Blu-Rays are still delivered in a relatively puny 1080p image with no solution on the horizon any time soon.
Handy for iOS Chromecast owners
If you’re invested in the iOS ecosystem but wish you could have just a smidge more Google Play on your iPhone, you’re in luck – Google has just released their new Google Play Movies & TV application for iOS today, bringing Google’s wide selection of movies and television to iOS devices. The application is obviously handy for those iOS owners with Chromecasts desperately in need of some content – because the built in iOS video player doesn’t support Chromecasting, applications like these are needed to push content to the device on iOS.
Of course, this has pretty limited utility for the rest of us – Apple’s own selection of Movies and television shows available to rent and purchase on iTunes is, if anything, superior to what Google offers on Google Play. And because it’s built right into iOS, it’s a far more compatible and integrated way to view your content, especially if you’ve also got a Mac or an Apple TV.
You can download Google Play Movies & TV for iOS at the source link below.
Source: App Store
House of 4K
Turns out 2014 might very well truly be the year of the 4K TV, as Netflix today confirmed what we were all already expecting – the company will begin shooting, producing, and streaming all future original, Netflix produced shows in 4K, up from the company’s current standard of 1080p.
Netflix has been testing 4K streaming support for quite some time now, so it’s really no surprise that the fruits of those efforts will begin to show this year. In fact, Netflix’s upcoming second season of House of Cards will be available in 4K streaming on “supported devices” later this Spring.
4K TVs, along with Smart TVs, are definitely a big story at CES 2014 this year. LG has announced a new lineup of webOS-based Smart TVs yesterday while other manufacturers, such as Vizio, will also soon begin offering a lineup of affordable 4K TVs.
At long last!
I’ve been a supporter of Spotify for quite some time now, but one thing that has always caught me a more than a little off guard has been the strange way Spotify has supported mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Essentially, Spotify has long allowed users to stream Pandora-like user generated Radio stations with advertisements from their mobile devices, but for whatever reason they have always stopped short of allowing users to stream their playlists unless they shelled out $10/month for Spotify Premium.
Thankfully, it appears that Spotify has had a change of heart and will soon be allowing users to stream their playlists right from their mobile devices (with advertisements, of course) sans paying for that somewhat pricy Spotify Premium subscription.
All of this comes from a report by the Wall Street Journal, who cites people “familiar with the matter.” Unfortunately there’s no time frame to report on right now regarding a timetable, or even an official word that this is happening at all. However Spotify has been long gone from my iPhone, but if this happens I can honestly say right now that I’ll be one of the first to download it and take advantage of the new program.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
A set top box for Amazon content
Amazon really wants you to consume its digital content, and they’re hoping to get it onto more screens than ever this holiday season. Amazon’s next big target, according to the trustworthy folks over at The Wall Street Journal, just so happens to be a highly contested area as of late – the television.
That’s right, Amazon is said to be working on a set top box to compete against the likes of Apple TV and Roku with a high definition box capable of streaming Amazon movies, music, shows, and more straight from the cloud to your television without the need for a dependent device, such as your phone. Amazon’s been making quite a splash with their digital delivery devices as of late, beefing up and putting an emphasis on the Kindle Fire lineup like never before with the Kindle Fire HDX. Amazon is also rumored to be working on not one, but two smartphones which are due for release in 2014.
Source: The Wall Street Journal