Tag Archives: the4kmediagroep

Philips Launches its First 2020 OLED TVs With Android 9.0, DTS And Play-Fi.

Date: 14 Aug 2020 –
Written by: Rasmus Larsen –


The first 2020 OLED TVs from Philips are rolling out now in Europe. The OLED805 and OLED855 feature 4K, Ambilight, Android 9.0 and for the first time DTS and Play-Fi. Additional OLED models for 2020 will be unveiled soon.

PHILIPS 2020 OLED TVS:
Like last year, OLED805 and OLED855 and in some regions OLED865 feature 4K Resolution, support for multi-HDR HDR10, HDR10+, HLG and Dolby Vision, Android TV version 9.0, and of course Ambilight.

New major features this year are DTS Play-Fi and an upgraded P5 AI video processor that has been optimised through machine learning to enhance the picture in five areas, the company explained; source, color, contrast, motion and sharpness. We will take a closer look in our upcoming review.

The First 2020 OLED TVs From Philips Are Rolling olOut Now in Europe.
The first 2020 OLED TVs from Philips are rolling out now in Europe.

As for DTS Play-Fi integration, the company says that it is the “first step towards building a complete wireless connectivity platform“. In addition to multiroom music support, DTS Play-Fi lets users connect speakers wirelessly to the TV in up to 5.1 surround sound.

OLED805, OLED855 and OLED865 are technical identical. The difference lies in design and the table top stand. Another new development worth highlighting is the revamped remote control in leather with backlit buttons.

The New OLED TVs From Philips Will Compete Head to Head With OLED TVs From LG, Sony, Panasonic And Other TV Brands in Europe.
The new OLED TVs from Philips will compete head to head with OLED TVs from LG, Sony, Panasonic and other TV brands in Europe.

GOOGLE, DOLBY & B&W PARTNERSHIPS:
The new OLED TVs from Philips will compete head to head with OLED TVs from LG, Sony, Panasonic and other TV brands in Europe.

Sony and Philips have both embraced Google’s Android TV platform that offers access to apps via the Play Store whereas LG is positioning its OLED TVs as console friendly by including HDMI 2.1 ports, and Panasonic has a customized, high brightness OLED panel in its flagship model.

Besides its partnerships with Google and Dolby, Philips has partnered with Bowers & Wilkins. These 8 Series OLED TVs will not come equipped with B&W speakers but the company has teased that it will soon unveil additional 2020 models with B&W speakers.

We expect to hear more in early September during IFA 2020. Philips OLED 8×5 models are rolling out now in Europe and will be more widely available in a few weeks.

Date: 14 Aug 2020 –
Written by: Rasmus Larsen –
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

Sony’s First 48″ OLED TV Will Cost €1900 / £1800

Date: 24 Jul 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen

Sony’s first 48-inch OLED TV will be available in Europe starting from August for €1900 and £1800. It is a new high-end A9 model.

48″ HIGH-END TV FROM SONY:
Over the last decade, we have seen TV makers push their best picture quality and most advanced features up into larger screen sizes. First 46 inches, then 55 inches, and now even 65 inches for some TV brands.

That changes in 2020 with the launch of the first 48-inch OLED TVs. The smaller panel is, besides higher pixel density, identical to the larger 55 to 77 inch panels, so you will get the same great picture quality. This includes 4K resolution, 100Hz, pixel-level luminance and color control for HDR as well as accurate colors in up to DCI-P3.

LG was the first manufacturer to launch a 48 inch OLED model and starting next month, August, Sony will also offer a 48 inch OLED TV in Europe, with availability in other regions including North America to follow later. It is a new high-end A9 model with Android TV, Acoustic Surface sound, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, AirPlay 2, and more.

Sony’s First 48-inch OLED TV Will Be Available in Europe.

Sony UK and Sony Germany have today announced that the 48-inch model will cost £1800 and €1900 at launch. It will start shipping in Europe in late August. This puts it approximately 200 to 300 Euro or pounds higher than LG’s 48 inch model, which unlike Sony’s model features HDMI 2.1 ports and features.

Sony has confirmed only a 48-inch A9 model for 2020 but it may have more to share in early September during IFA. We expect to see 48 inch OLED TVs from other TV makers announced at the same time.

At launch, a 48 inch OLED TV will be significantly more expensive than a 46 to 50 inch LCD TV but in terms of picture quality it is night and day.

Date: 24 Jul 2020 –
Written by: Rasmus Larsen –
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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Peacock Launches Without 4K, HDR and Dolby Atmos.

Date: 15 Jul 2020 –
Written by: Rasmus Larsen –

NBCUniversal’s Peacock launches today in the US, with free and premium tiers. The new streaming service will not offer 4K HDR or Dolby Atmos at launch. It will not be on Roku or FireTV either.

PEACOCK UNFOLDS ITS FEATHERS:
Peacock will have a free, ad-supported tier with limited access to 13,000 hours of content, a $5/month tier with 20,000 hours of content and ads, and a $10/month tier with full, ad-free access. That is the good news.

The bad news is that, like WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, Peacock is not offering 4K HDR video or Dolby Atmos audio at launch. Movies and TV series are available in up to HD resolution. There is no word on when to expect it either. Up to 3 simultaneous streams are allowed.

It is not because NBCUniversal lacks movies in 4K HDR. Universal Studios is one of the most prolific studios when it comes to releasing UHD Blu-ray discs and 4K HDR movies through video-on-demand services such as iTunes and Vudu.

Peacock Launches Without 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos

Peacock will roll out today on Apple TV including the Apple TV app, Android TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, Vizio SmartCast TVs version 2.0 or later, and LG webOS TVs version 3.5 or later. It effectively means that many owners of recent Vizio and LG TVs will not be able to download the app.

Again like HBO Max, Peacock will not be available on Roku and Amazon FireTV at launch. These TV platforms are, according to most estimates, the biggest two in the US. Negotiations have reported stalled over terms for revenue sharing from ads.

With Peacock, you will have access to new originals from NBCUniversal as well as popular catalog titles from Universal, Focus Features, DreamWorks, and Illumination such as Jurassic Park, E.T., Meet the Parents, Shrek, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live, King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, Two and a Half Men, and Frasier. Coming soon are titles like Trolls World Tour, The Office, and new original TV shows.

NBCUniversal is the latest to enter the streaming wars after Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, and Quibi. Peacock will launch in the US today and later internationally. You can check it out on peacocktv.com.

Date: 15 Jul 2020 –
Written by: Rasmus Larsen –
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

Marantz Unveils its First Receivers with HDMI 2.1.

Date: 14 Jul 2020 –
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


Marantz has unveiled its first line of 8K ready receivers with HDMI 2.1 for 4K 120 fps and 8K 60 fps passthrough. However, only a single input port is HDMI 2.1 compatible.

MARANTZ HDMI 2.1 RECEIVERS:
Marantz new SR series of AV receivers SR5015, SR6015, SR7015, and SR8015 are its first 8K ready models, or more specifically its first with an HDMI 2.1 port.

HDMI 2.1 enables the receiver to pass through 4K 120fps and 8K 60fps signals from a next-generation game console or video player. The company added that the receivers also support pass-through for optional HDMI 2.1 features such as Dynamic HDR, QMS Quick Media Switching, VRR Variable Refresh Rate, ALLM Auto Low Latency Mode and QFT Quick Frame Transport.

Like Denon’s first HDMI 2.1 receivers, the new Marantz receivers are equipped only with a single HDMI 2.1 input 40 Gbps. Additional HDMI 2.1 players or consoles should be connected directly to the TV that can feed lossless audio back to the receiver via HDMI eARC.

Marantz Has Unveiled its first line of 8K Ready Receivers.

The new 2020 SR-Series AV receivers represent the next major step forward in home theater, not just for Marantz, but the entire home entertainment industry, said Jake Mendel, global brand manager, Marantz. Marantz fans will be some of the first to experience new levels of incredibly sharp image quality, remarkably fast gaming and immersive surround sound. But more importantly, superior Marantz HDAM-SA3 amplification based on decades of extensive tuning transports the listener ever closer to their music.

TVs with HDMI 2.1 are already available in the market and the first players and consoles are expected to launch later this year. With HDMI 2.1 capable receivers starting to emerge the pieces for next generation of video and audio are starting to fall into place.

The receivers support Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Auro 3D, and IMAX Enhanced along with many other features that are listed in the table below. Marantz’s new receivers will be available in the US and Europe starting from August to September.

Date: 14 Jul 2020 –
Written by: Rasmus Larsen –
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

LG Releases FreeSync Premium Update for its CX, GX OLED TVs.

Date: 13 Jul 2020 –
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


LG has released the promised firmware update to add support for FreeSync Premium (with HDR) on its 2020 CX and GX OLED TVs. The same update enables ATSC 3.0.

FREESYNC PREMIUM WITH HDR:
LG has released firmware version 03.10.20 in the US and Europe. The new firmware includes support for AMD FreeSync Premium, which LG had promised to add to select 2020 OLED TVs as reported first by FlatpanelsHD at CES 2020.

While PC monitors require the FreeSync Premium Pro tier to support HDR together with FreeSync, TVs only need to support the FreeSync Premium tier for HDR. AMD and owners confirm that HDR is working correctly together with FreeSync on LG’s CX and GX OLED TVs.

LG 2020 TVs already offered support for HDMI VRR and Nvidia’s G-Sync Compatible. With AMD FreeSync the TVs now support three VRR flavors – the widest support found in any TV. Samsung has been offering FreeSync in its TVs for a few years now but only recently added HDMI VRR. Sony just launched its first TV with HDMI VRR although it will require a future firmware update.

VRR provides smoother gameplay with a compatible PC or game console such as Xbox One S/X. VRR also reduces input lag and tearing.

AMD FreeSync Premium in LG 2020 TVs

The supported frequency range for AMD FreeSync Premium in LG 2020 TVs is 40-120Hz. Below that range, LFC (Low Framerate Compensation) kicks in. LG’s 2020 TVs support up to 4K at 120fps with maximum 4:2:0 and 8-bit over HDMI 2.0. Exact VRR support over HDMI 2.1 remains unclear as there are no HDMI 2.1 players/consoles available. LG has only said that 40-120Hz will be supported for 4K over HDMI 2.1.

LG’s 4K BX OLED and 8K ZX OLED TVs ranges will also gain support for FreeSync. Firmware updates for these sets are still pending.

A couple of caveats here. Users are reporting that if you enable FreeSync detection on a specific HDMI port, this HDMI port will no longer accept Dolby Vision signals; even if FreeSync is not engaged. It has also been reported that LG’s FreeSync implementation suffers from the same black level fluctuations as its HDMI VRR implementation.

Firmware version 3.10.20 also includes Apple AirPlay improvements, Sport Alert improvements, and support for ATSC 3.0 WX/GX only, meaning the new nextgen TV standard in the US. The firmware is available now in the US and Europe.

Date: 13 Jul 2020 –
Written by: Rasmus Larsen –
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

Sony Launches X900H and XH90, its first 4K TVs with HDMI 2.1.

Date: 03 Jul 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen

Sony X900H in the US and XH90 in Europe is now available in 55 to 85-inch sizes. It is Sony’s first 4K TVs with HDMI 2.1 ports and VRR, although it will require a firmware update.

THE PLAYSTATION 5 TV?
In 2011, Sony launched the PlayStation 3D monitor for PlayStation 3. Fast-forward to 2020 and the company has announced PlayStation 5. For users who want to pair up PS5 with a Sony TV, X900H (XH90) could prove to be the PlayStation 5 TV.

X900H (XH90) is Sony’s first 4K model with HDMI 2.1 ports, and its first TVs with VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) period. Previously, Sony offered HDMI 2.1 ports only in 8K TVs.

Why is that important? Well, the company has confirmed that PlayStation 5 will support gaming in up to 4K120 as well as VRR for much smoother gameplay with lower lag. This will require an HDMI 2.1 connection between PS5 and the TV.

Sony is not the first manufacturer to offer HDMI 2.1 ports in its 4K TVs. LG has been offering it since 2019 in its high-end LCD and OLED TVs. Samsung recently launched its first 4K TVs with HDMI 2.1 as part of its 2020 line-up. Sony is specifying a 48-120Hz frequency range for VRR in X900H, which is in line with Samsung’s implementation but less than LG’s 40-120Hz VRR in its OLED TVs.

The Sony X900H HDMI 2.1 TV.

HDMI 2.1 REQUIRES FIRMWARE UPDATE:
Besides HDMI 2.1, X900H features a full array local dimming (FALD) system behind the LCD panel, HDR support, Android TV, Dolby Atmos, AirPlay 2, and HomeKit. It is also equipped with the company’s new Acoustic Multi-Audio speaker system from 65″ and up.

We will not know how well Sony X900H performs as next-generation gaming TV before we get a chance to hook it up to PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, and we are not even sure that the firmware update required to enable HDMI 2.1 input and VRR will make it in time, but we sure hope so.

The company has yet to announce 4K OLED TVs with HDMI 2.1 but we suspect that it has more planned for the second half of 2020.

Sony XH900 in the US and XH90 in Europe is available now in 55 to 85 inches.

Date: 03 Jul 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

tvOS 14 Enables YouTube 4K – iOS 14 Enables YouTube 4K HDR via VP9

Date: 25 Jun 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen

Apple confirms that tvOS 14 will enable YouTube in 4K on Apple TV 4K. YouTube in 4K HDR is also enabled in iOS 14 on some iOS devices, via Google’s VP9 codec that Apple has resisted for years.

YOUTUBE 4K HDR ON APPLE DEVICES:
Three years after the launch of Apple TV 4K, the box will finally stream YouTube in 4K resolution starting this fall with the release of tvOS 14. Although not highlighted on stage at WWDC20, the company confirmed the news on its website.

Watch the latest YouTube videos in their full 4K glory. Your favorite music, slo‑mo, outdoor, and vlog footage never looked better,” announced Apple.

Another surprising twist is that iOS 14 also enables YouTube in 4K, 60fps, and HDR on recent iPhone and iPad devices, according to users on reddit and social media. The twist is that iOS 14 is delivering YouTube’s 4K HDR via Google’s VP9 video codec that Apple has resisted for years.

YOUTUBE 4K 60FPS HDR ON IPHONE WITH IOS 14 BETA. PHOTO: REDDIT USER SQUID04


APPLE CAVES IN:
It is a strange turn of events and ultimately Apple has caved in. To be clear, Apple could have enabled Google’s VP9 on iOS / tvOS and macOS several years ago. That is why the news of YouTube 4K support led to speculation that Apple had instead started its transition to the newer AV1 codec, developed by the Alliance for Open Media of which both Apple and Google are founding members. But that does not seem to be the case – at least not yet.

A quick summary: There are, roughly speaking, two ways to bring 4K streaming to your devices. Via the industry standard HEVC format or via Google’s royalty-free VP9 format. Google has resisted using HEVC on YouTube, causing pains for some partners and users.

Apple had resisted using VP9 in any form on any device, affecting video quality on YouTube. The third option is to use the next-generation AV1 format that Apple, Google and many others are backing. YouTube has already started transitioning to AV1 for 4K streaming as well as 8K streaming to 8K TVs.

VP9 was already supported on Android, recent Smart TVs, and in some PC browsers.

There are a couple of questions that remain unanswered. While some iPhone/iPad devices with iOS 14 support 4K HDR via VP9-2 (VP9 profile 2), it is not yet clear if Apple TV 4K will too. As you can see from its statement above, Apple mentions 4K for YouTube but makes no mention of HDR for YouTube on Apple TV 4K.

The functionality is not yet enabled in the tvOS 14 beta either so we cannot check. Perhaps it will show up in a later tvOS 14 beta or perhaps it will require an update for the YouTube App.

Date: 25 Jun 2020 –
Written by: Rasmus Larsen –
Source: reddit, twitter –
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

LG Installs its First LED Cinema Screen

Date: 16 Jun 2020 –
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


Following in the footsteps of Samsung, LG is getting into the cinema market. Not with projectors, but rather gigantic modular LED screens.

LED CINEMA SCREENS:
Samsung installed the “world’s first” LED cinema screen in July 2017 and Sony has been exploring the concept for years. LG has now installed its first LED cinema screen. It was installed in Taiwan in partnership with Taiwan’s Showtime Cinemas and Dolby. The installation includes a full Dolby Atmos system.

LG LED Cinema Screen

By replacing the conventional projector with huge, modular LED screens, LG says that the projector room can be repurposed as seating space. The company claims that its LED cinema screens have 100,000 hours of lifetime (LED brightness half-time).



We are excited about our collaboration with LG Electronics to bring our combined expertise to movie goers in Taiwan,” said Jed Harmsen, CPof Cinema & Content Solutions at Dolby Labs. “With the lifelike images created by LG’s LED Cinema Display and the immersive audio delivered by Dolby Atmos, moviegoers will be able to enjoy an elevated and thoroughly captivating cinematic experience.

LED cinema screens can get much brighter than projectors and have far superior contrast to let cinemagoers experience HDR for the first time in cinema. Like OLED, LEDs are self-emitting meaning that each pixel emits its own light for pixel-level luminance and color control. The price of the system was not disclosed.

Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com
Written by: Rasmus Larsen –
Date: 16 Jun 2020

Panasonic HZ980 OLED TVs Join 2020 Line-Up

Date: 15 Jun 2020 –
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


Panasonic has taken the wraps of yet another range of 4K OLED TVs that will be part of its 2020 line-up for Europe. HZ980 features HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and Atmos.

FOUR OLED TV RANGES:
In addition to the flagship HZ2000 and the more affordable HZ1500 and HZ1000 ranges, Panasonic will this year offer HZ980 OLED TVs in 55 and 65 inches. HZ980 will be Panasonic’s most affordable OLED TVs in 2020 but the TVs still come with 4K resolution, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, HDMI eARC, and Dolby Atmos support. New features for 2020 such as Filmmaker Mode and Dolby Vision IQ are also included.

Panasonic HZ980 4K OLED TVs that will be part of its 2020 line-up for Europe.

In the other hand you are not getting the swivel stand of HZ1000 and the ‘Smooth Motion Drive Pro’ system gets a downgrade to non-Pro. Further specifications are available by following the link below.

Like LG and Philips, Panasonic now has a wide line-up of OLED TVs. Sony, Toshiba, Grundig, Bang & Olufsen and other brands are also selling OLED TVs in Europe. Panasonic HZ980 will be available in Europe from July starting at €1800 / £1700 for a 55-inch model.

Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com
Written by: Rasmus Larsen –
Date: 15 Jun 2020

Denon announces first HDMI 2.1 Receivers for 8K60, 4K120 Pass-Through.

Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Date: 05 Jun 2020

Denon has announced its new range of 8K ready receivers, which are the first to support HDMI 2.1 for pass-through of 8K60 and 4K120 signals from next-generation consoles and players.

HDMI 2.1 RECEIVERS:
We do not usually cover receivers but in the transition to HDMI 2.1 in 8K and 4K TVs there are some important factors to take into account. With HDMI 2.1 players and TVs you must either take advantage of the TV’s eARC port or buy a HDMI 2.1-capable receiver, if you want the best video and audio. Earlier this year, Yamaha’s plans to launch new receivers with HDMI 2.1 leaked. However, Denon is the first company to officially announce “8K ready” HDMI 2.1 receivers. Denon’s AVR-X6700H ($2,499), AVR-X4700H ($1,699), AVR-X3700H ($1,199) and AVR-X2700H ($849) will be available from later this month.

Denon 2020 AVR-X6700H AV Receiver

Besides HDMI 2.1 ports for 8K60 and 4K120 pass-through from example from PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X you are getting support for optional HDMI 2.1 features such as VRR, QMS, and ALLM. However, it is worth noting that only a single HDMI input is HDMI 2.1.

“It also supports the latest video technologies such as 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz pass-through, Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+, Dynamic HDR, HLG,” Said Denon.

The receivers support Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro 3D along with a bunch of other features. We refer to the specifications table below. More details can also be found on denon.com. TVs with HDMI 2.1 are already available in the market and the first players/consoles are expected to launch later this year. With HDMI 2.1-capable receivers starting to emerge we are not starting to see a more solid foundation forum under the next generation of video/audio experiences.

DENON 2020 AVR-X6700H – SPECIFICATIONS:

PREMIUM-PERFORMANCE DISCRETE 11-CHANNEL AMPLIFIER IN A MONOLITHIC DESIGN:
Delivers a precise and powerful 140W per channel 8 ohms, 20Hz-20kHz, THD: 0.05%, 2 ch. drive, to provide trusted, precise and powerful Denon sound.

FULL 8K/60HZ AND 4K/120HZ SUPPORT AND UPSCALING:
With the latest technology in HDMI support, you can enjoy 8K quality video from your 8K source devices with the highest quality available, with 1 supported 8K input and 2 outputs allowing for 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz pass-through. 8K upscaling is available on all 8 HDMI inputs.

THE LATEST IN HDMI SUPPORT:
With 8 advanced HDMI inputs with full HDCP 2.3 support and 3 HDMI outputs connect to all your favorite media devices and output up to 3 monitor displays so you can enjoy from any room.

ENJOY YOUR FAVORITE IMMERSIVE 3D AUDIO: Enjoy immersive, 3D audio from sources like Dolby Atmos, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization, DTS:X, DTS Virtual:X™, DTS:X Pro and Auro-3D.

DTS:X PRO SUPPORT:
With the latest in DTS technology, enjoy DTS:X Pro that can process up to 13 channels via future firmware update.

IMAX ENHANCED TECHNOLOGY:
Delivers a true IMAX theater experience at home. Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) HDMI support: Through the main HDMI output, connect your TV with eARC HDMI support to allow uncompressed and object-based audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X directly from your smart TV app to your AV receiver.

THE LATEST IN VIDEO COMPATIBILITY:
The latest HDR format support including HDR10, HDR10+ (New in 2020), HLG, Dolby Vision, as well as Dynamic HDR (New in 2020), to provide the greatest picture quality for brightness, clarity and contrast.

THE NEXT GENERATION IN MOVIE IMMERSION: With 8K/60Hz pass-through and upscaling, Dynamic HDR and Quick Media Switching (QMS), enjoy crystal clear and smoothest picture in the highest quality available.

THE LATEST IN GAMING EXPERIENCES:
With 8K/60Hz pass-through and upscaling, Dynamic HDR and Quick Media Switching (QMS), enjoy crystal clear and smoothest picture in the highest quality availableWith 4K/120Hz pass-through, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Quick Frame Transport (QFT), enjoy your gaming experience with amazing imaging, as well as reduced lag and latency.

NEW DSP FOR MORE PROCESSING POWER:
With 13.2 ch. max audio processing, connect external power amplifier to the AVR-X6700H to power two additional channels to enjoy a 13.2 ch. home theater setup.

Works with your favorite voice assistants: Use your voice to control the AVR-X6700H and wireless music services hands-free, works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri and Josh.ai.

WIRELESS STREAMING FROM THE MOST POPULAR MUSIC SERVICES:
Enjoy all your favorite music services like Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music HD, TIDAL, SiriusXM, Deezer and more to have limitless music listening enjoyment. The AVR-X6700H also lets you enjoy your music via AirPlay 2, letting you stream your favorite tracks from Apple Music.

ROON TESTED CERTIFIED:
Get more out of your digital music library with searchable, surfable information about your favorite artists and songs. Find lyrics, concert dates, photos, bios, reviews and more.

FRONT WIDE SPEAKERS SUPPORTED FOR DOLBY ATMOS AND DTS:X PRO UP TO 13 CHANNEL SETUPS:
Supports front wide speakers for a more seamless front surround stage reproduction either in 9.1.2 or 9.1.4 speaker setup.

PHONO INPUT:
With its included phono input, the AVR-X6700H lets you connect your turntable and play vinyl records. Enjoy your collection with exceptional quality and sound.

DUAL SUBWOOFER OUTPUTS:
Smooths out low frequencies for better bass dispersion.

HEOS BUILT-IN WIRELESS MULTI-ROOM MUSIC STREAMING TECHNOLOGY:
Listen from any room for a connected, whole-home audio experience. The AVR-X6700H also works with the newly introduced Denon Home speakers to let you enjoy a whole-home audio experience. High-resolution audio streaming for Hi-Fi enthusiasts: Enjoy your favorite Hi-Res quality file playback with FLAC, ALAC, and WAV support, as well as DSD 2.8/5.6MHz.

ALL ZONE TV AUDIO:


Play the audio from your TV to another zone for your favorite shows without losing fully discrete surround sound in the main zone.

BUILT-IN BLUETOOTH AND WI-FI WITH 2.4GHZ AND 5GHZ DUAL BAND SUPPORT:


Solid wireless network connectivity even in congested environments.

BLUETOOTH AUDIO TRANSMITTER:


Enjoy your favorite audio through your Bluetooth headphones late at night or with your family member who is hearing impaired. This feature supports Bluetooth-only playback as well as simultaneous playback with connected speakers.

AWARD-WINNING DENON GUIDED SETUP ASSISTANT AND GRAPHICAL USER INTERFACE:

Easy and intuitive out-of-box and setup experience.

SMART TV CONNECTIVITY:


Control the Denon AVR-X6700H with your TV remote via HDMI CEC.

AUDYSSEY MULTEQ XT32, DYNAMIC VOLUME, DYNAMIC EQ, LFC AND SUB EQ HT:

Delivers the ultimate equalization for your individual room including subwoofer EQ.

OVRC AND DOMOTZ PRO REMOTE SYSTEM MONITORING AND MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY AND RS232 CONTROL:

Lets custom integrators monitor and troubleshoot remotely, drastically reducing downtime.

CUSTOM INSTALL READY:

The Denon AVR-X6700H features external control and IP control capabilities for easy customization and compatibility with third-party integration solutions.

EQUIPPED WITH TWO 12V TRIGGER OUTPUTS:

Connect up to two other devices such as a cooling fan or projector and operate on standby power.

AMAZING AUDIO BUILT ON 110-YEARS OF INNOVATION:

Denon is the defining audio company of Japan. Founded in 1910, we enable the moments that matter through the relentless pursuit of quality, innovation and audio performance.

Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Date: 05 Jun 2020

First Dolby Vision Titles Appear in Google Play Movies

Date: 19 May 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


Joker and A Simple Favor are the first two movies available in Dolby Vision HDR through Google Play Movies. The company is also planning to add support for HDR10+.

DOLBY VISION AND GOOGLE:
Earlier this year, Google announced that it would start offering movies in HDR10+ format later in 2020. The company made no mention of the other dynamic HDR format Dolby Vision so it is surprising to see Dolby Vision titles arrive first.

Joker and A Simple Favor are the first movies available in Dolby Vision through Google Play Movies. FlatpanelsHD first spotted them yesterday on the Nvidia Shield 2019 device. Joker is available in Dolby Vision in the US and Europe.

If you search for ‘Dolby’ in the app you also see ‘Top Dolby Vision movies’, which suggests that Google is in the process of rolling out support.

Joker is Available in Dolby Vision in Google Play Movies.

The company is rumored to be planning a new Android TV device in a stick form factor similar to Chromecast Ultra. Support for Dolby Vision (and Dolby Atmos?) could be announced officially at the same time.

Google Play Movies is not the first online storefront to offer movies in Dolby Vision. Apple TV (iTunes) and Vudu have been offering movies in the premium HDR format for some time, and Apple currently offers a total of 616 Dolby Vision titles so Google has some catching up to do.

A Simple Favor is Available in Dolby Vision in Google Play Movies.
Joker and A Simple Favor are Available in Dolby Vision in Google Play Movies.

Date: 19 May 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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Panasonic 2020 LCD TVs Now Available

Date: 02 Jun 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


Panasonic has launched its 2020 HX models in Europe. The new LCD TVs in 40 to 75 inch sizes feature 4K resolution and the latest version of My Home Screen.

PANASONIC 2020 LCD TVS:
Panasonic’s new LCD TVs for 2020, unveiled in February, are now rolling out in Europe. The company will also launch new OLED TVs soon.

HX940, HX900 and HX800 are edge-lit LCD TV ranges with 4K resolution. The TVs are powered by the company’s HCX video processor (HCX Pro in HX940) and feature HDR support. However, due to the TVs’ edge-lit LCD panels you should step up to the OLED models if you seek the HDR picture experience.

The TVs are also capable of decoding and outputting Dolby Atmos to an external soundbar or receiver system. Apps such as Netflix are accessible via Panasonic’s My Home Screen platform that has reached version 5.0 in the 2020 models.

Panasonic 2020 TV Line-Up HX900 and HX940

HX900 and HX940 feature a switch stand that can be adjusted between wide and narrow position. Panasonic says that the narrow configuration lets users buy a larger TV without having to also replace furniture at home.

Panasonic’s TVs will compete with mid-range LCD TVs from brands such LG and Samsung. Unlike its competitors, Panasonic has no LCD TVs with zone dimming capabilities this year.

Panasonic HX800, HX900 and HX940 are rolling out now in Europe.

Date: 02 Jun 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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Netflix Has Started Reverting Streaming Quality Back To Normal



Date: 13 May 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


Many users in Europe are reporting that Netflix has reverted streaming quality back to normal with 4K HDR up to 15 Mb/s bitrate. The company says that it is working with ISPs to increase capacity.

NETFLIX STREAMING QUALITY:
In mid-March Netflix lowered its streaming quality in Europe in response to a request from the EU to help ease strain on the internet infrastructure in these times of nationwide lockdowns.

Netflix subscribers in Denmark, Norway, Germany and other European countries have contacted FlatpanelsHD or taken to forums to report that streaming quality has been restored, meaning 4K HDR streaming at up to 15 Mb/s bitrate. HD bitrates are also reverting back to normal.

However, the changes do not apply universally yet. On 2020 TVs that we are currently testing, Netflix’s 4K HDR streaming quality is still capped to maximum 7.62 Mb/s.

In a statement to FlatpanelsHD, Netflix says that it is working with internet service providers to increase capacity. Netflix said that it added four times the normal capacity in April. So depending on your device, ISP, and perhaps other factors, you may not be seeing Netflix’s normal streaming quality just yet. But the process has started. –

Please note, we are working with ISPs to help increase capacity. In the last month alone we have added four times the normal capacity. As conditions improve we will lift these limitations,” Netflix said in a statement to FlatpanelsHD.

Date: 13 May 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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Samsung Upgrades 2020 TVs with Unmatched Video App Offerings

Written by: Editor –
Date: 31 May 2020


Aiming to allow its products to feature what it calls the most competitive content app offerings, Samsung Electronics UK has announced that all TVs in the 2020 line-up now feature app offerings such as Netflix and NOW TV.

The new upgrade is now live across all models for 2020 which includes the Q950TS QLED 8K and also Samsung’s 2020 Full HD range. Samsung says that ‘unique’ to the company, its 2020 Smart TV owners will now have ‘unrivalled’ access to the best collection of app platforms available in the UK, ensuring endless entertainment options.

Users will have access to over 50 app offerings from streaming firms including the likes of Netflix, Prime Video, Rakuten TV and Disney+, in addition to local players BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, NOW TV and BT Sport.

This is a proud moment for us at Samsung. Not only do our 2020 TVs guarantee access to the UK’s leading app platforms, an offer that is currently unique to Samsung, but we’re pleased to also be in a position to offer this upgrade across our full range. ,” said Guy Kinnell, Vice President, TV and AV, Samsung Electronics UK. “Traditionally, upgrades like this happen in phases for the various TV models, but new for 2020 is that this upgrade reaches every Smart TV in our range from the get go – meaning that the very best entertainment offerings are accessible for all.

Written by: Editor
Date: 31 May 2020
Source: https://www.rapidtvnews.com

LG Gallery and Wallpaper 2020 OLED TVs Now Available

Date: 29 May 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen

LG is rolling out its new Gallery TV and a refreshed version of the Wallpaper model. The OLED TVs are available in 55 to 77 inches with HDMI 2.1, webOS, Apple features, and more.

GALLERY AND WALLPAPER OLED TVs:
LG has phased out its E series of picture-in-glass OLED TVs and introduced GX, a new line of TVs designed to hang flush on the wall. The company has also refreshed the design of its Wallpaper OLED TV WX.

The Gallery GX screen not as slim as the Wallpaper WX screen, which has a separate electronics speaker box that has been redesigned for the 2020 version. On the other hand all ports, speakers, and electronics are built-in. GX comes bundled with a slim wall bracket solution. An optional soundbar SNX7 for GX will also be available, said LG.

LG GALLERY GX OLED

With self-emitting OLED technology, LG is promising excellent picture quality including pixel-level control for HDR. GX and WX support three HDR formats (HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision). The TVs also feature 4K resolution, HDMI 2.1 ports, Filmmaker Mode, and the Alpha 9-3 video processor.

LG GALLERY GX OLED

Both new TV models feature HDMI 2.1 ports with support for up to 4K120 inputs from next-generation game consoles and video players. In addition, GX supports three variable refresh rate systems: HDMI VRR, AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync.

The company’s webOS platform offers access to streaming apps, including the Apple TV app and Disney+, but not HBO Max that launched earlier this week. New streaming services are increasingly prioritizing platforms like Apple’s tvOS over Smart TV platforms.

LG WALLPAPER WX OLED

Like Samsung with its Serif TV and ‘The Frame’, LG has aspired to create unique TVs that can set it apart from the competition. GX is a step up from CX, while WX is a unique TV that no other manufacturer can offer at this time. Later this year, the South Korean company will introduce the world’s first rollable TV (RX).

LG GX and WX are available now in the US and Europe, with broader availability expected next month. Further details about pricing and availability can be found in the table below.

Date: 29 May 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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HBO Max is Live – Without 4K HDR

Date: 27 May 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen

WarnerMedia has today launched HBO Max, its new stand-alone streaming service that will compete with Netflix, Hulu and others. 4K HDR is not supported at launch but it is “part of the roadmap”.

HBO Max is Live:

HBO Max has arrived in the US. For $15 per month you get access to 10,000 hours of content, including Warner Bros and New Line movies, HBO series, and more. Movies include The Matrix, Gremlins, The Lord of the Rings, Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, and DC titles.

WarnerMedia is the latest player to enter the ‘streaming wars’ after Apple and Disney entered the arena in late 2019 and NBCUniversal soft-launched its new streaming service Peacock in mid-April, with a full launch in the US planned for mid-July 2020.

HBO Max is – or will soon be – available on Apple TV, Android TV, select Samsung TVs, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Chromecast, and AirPlay. For more details see the table below.

The service is launching in the US first, with international availability to follow at some point in the future.

HBO MAX IS LIVE WITHOUT 4K HDR

4K HDR is “part of the roadmap”

At launch, HBO Max delivers HD resolution and 5.1 surround sound. We have yet to gain access (update: we’re in!) but the existing HBO Now and HBO Go services have often been under fire for offering low-bitrate HD streaming. It is not clear if HBO Max will offer increased bitrate. With so many great movies and TV shows, many of which already mastered in 4K HDR, it is disappointing to see HBO Max launch without support for 4K resolution and HDR of any flavor. The company’s official statement on the matter is that 4K HDR is part of the product roadmap. It has not commented on its plans for Dolby Atmos.

“4K HDR is a part of the HBO Max product roadmap but we don’t have any additional information to share at this time,” said WarnerMedia. You can check out HBO Max on hbomax.com where you can sign in with your existing HBO account or create a new. It costs $15 per month after a free 7-day trial.

HBO Max – Supported TV Platforms:

Android TV:
Android TV (with Android OS 5 or later) This includes most Sony Android TVs (2016 models and later) as well as the AT&T Streaming TV box.

Apple TV:
Apple TV (4th gen or later) with the latest tvOS software. If you have an Apple TV (2nd or 3rd gen), see Other ways to stream on your TV.

Samsung TV 2016 Models and Later:
Download the HBOMax app on your Samsung TV and sign in. Or, if you need to sign up, see How do I sign up?

Not all Samsung TV models are supported. For a list of compatible TV models, go to HBO Max on Samsung TV and choose Compatible devices. If your TV model is not listed, see Other ways to stream on your TV.

PlayStation 4:
Xbox One:

Other Ways to Stream on your TV:

Chromecast:
Cast HBO Max from your phone or tablet to your TV.

Airplay:
Share HBO Max with your Apple TV (2nd or 3rd generation).

HDMI cable:
Connect your computer, phone, or tablet to your TV.

HBO Max Launching on May 27

Philips Hue Box Gains Support For Dolby Vision and HDR10+

Date: 29 May 2020

Written by: Rasmus Larsen

The Philips Hue Sync box that lets you sync Philips Hue lights to the action on-screen now works with Dolby Vision and HDR10+ content. The update also adds support for voice assistants.

Philips Hue Sync Box updated

The ‘Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box’ was launched in February 2019 but at the time it lacked support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+, meaning that it could not produce any light effects from a HDMI signal with Dolby Vision or HDR10+ passed through it.

The latest update adds just that.

From now onwards you can enjoy synchronized surround lighting effects from your Philips Hue lights when watching Dolby Vision or HDR10+ content with compatible TVs, the company announced.

Not all devices are compatible:

However, be aware that not all TVs and playback devices are supported, seemingly due to variances in Dolby Vision profiles. A list of compatible devices is included in the table at the bottom. The software update also adds support for popular voice assistants, including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Siri. This lets you power on/off, start or stop light sync, switch HDMI, and switch between sync modes via voice commands to an external compatible device. Lastly, the box can now be configured to work with infrared commands from your TV remote control or Harmony universal remote. The software update is free and can be installed via the Hue Sync mobile app. The Philips Hue HDMI Sync is available for 230 dollars in the US and 250 Euro in Europe from meethue.com.

Philips Hue Sync – Compatible Dolby Vision devices:

TV models that support Dolby Vision from these brands have been tested:

TVs:
LG – Only 2017 and later
Sony – All
Vizio – All
TCL – 2018 and later
Panasonic – All
Philips – All

The following HDMI Sources that support Dolby Vision have been tested:

Sources:
Apple TV 4K – Yes
FireTV 4K – Yes
Chromecast Ultra – Yes
Nvidia Shield (2019 models) – Yes
Xbox One S/X (only apps) – Yes
Blu-ray players – No

Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

Written by: Rasmus Larsen

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Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light – Live Stream

Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light – Live Stream

Following the cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020, the EBU and its Dutch Members NPO, NOS and AVROTROS have produced a new show, ‘Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light’, to air in place of the Grand Final on Saturday 16 May at 21:00 CEST.

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Nvidia Shield TV gets Prime Video update to fix ongoing 4K issues.

Written by: Ben Schoon
Date: Apr. 22 2020

nvidia shield tv pro

The best Android TV set-top box for a while now has been Nvidia’s Shield TV. The box is typically great at displaying 4K HDR content, but lately, some users have been trouble with that. Specifically, Amazon Prime Video hasn’t been playing 4K on the Shield TV, but a fix is now rolling out.

Confirmed by Nvidia staff on the company’s forums, Amazon is rolling out an update to fix 4K issues. For a few weeks, users have been experiencing issues with 4K playback, especially on the 2019 Shield TV Pro. Content that would normally be 4K HDR — such as Amazon’s Originals — would instead be played in 1080p SDR.

While the exact cause of this isn’t clear, it does seem that Amazon has figured out a solution through an app update. It’s important to note that this is not a system update.

Rolling out over the past couple of days, an update to Prime Video is designed to fix the 4K issues Shield TV owners have been experiencing. Based on some users who have already updated the app on their TVs, it seems to do the trick. This update will be available to all users within the next 3 days.

Source: https://9to5google.com

HFR The One UHD Technology You Rarely Hear About

Date: 08 Apr 2020
Written by: Yoeri Geutskens

If you’ve been keeping up with Ultra HD TV technology, you may recall that there are essentially six pillars to it:

UHD or Ultra HD spatial resolution 4K or 8K.
HDR or High Dynamic Range.
WCG or Wide Color Gamut.
Deep color resolution.
HFR or High-Frame Rate.
NGA or Next-Generation Audio.

Most of these we’ve got by now. You can go to an electronics store and buy a 4K TV with HDR, WCG, 10-bit color and a Dolby Atmos sound bar or AVR, and they’re not even expensive anymore. The one piece that’s missing? HFR, or High Frame Rate. It’s probably the least understood in terms of benefits and how it works – by consumers but likely also by the creative industry. Even science is still lacking. It’s probably the most controversial of all UHD technologies. Many misconceptions abound, so here’s an attempt to shed some light on what we know and what we don’t know. Many misconceptions abound, so here’s an attempt to shed some light on what we know and what we don’t know.

HFR FOR MOVIES:
What do we mean by HFR? That depends what we are talking about. When it’s about film, anything above 24fps (frames per second) will be called HFR. It’s not very common. The number of high-profile movies with HFR you can count on one or two hands. First we had Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, shot in 3D at the double frame rate of 48fps. Since then, we’ve had director Ang Lee taking things further with Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk shot at 120fps and Gemini Man starring Will Smith, both shot at 120fps and in 3D. Latter movie was screened in different ways: 2D theaters showed it in 24fps; 3D theaters showed it at 60 or 120fps, depending on their capabilities. And with good reason: Ang Lee pursued high frame rate in order to overcome issues inherent to projection of 3D images at 24fps – strobing and flicker, just like Peter Jackson did. James Cameron has a slightly different approach but prefers to use 120fps in certain parts of 3D movies to avoid judder in shots that pan or have lateral movement across the frame. But HFR for movies is a very divisive technique. Some people love it, a majority of people seem (I don’t have any hard numbers here) to hate it. 24fps is sacred.

DIRECTOR ANG LEE FILMING ‘GEMINI MAN’. PICTURE CREDIT: PARAMOUNT

But why? Well, part of the reason is that’s what we’re used to. This video does a good job explaining why we’ve got 24fps, and why we’ve kept it. But if more pixels and more colors and more bits per color and more audio channels are good, why would more frames per second be bad? Doesn’t it add more realism? Yes, it does, and that’s exactly why it’s bad for movies. Realism is not the point – quite the contrary. It’s very similar to the discussion around analog, chemical film grain: Some people dislike it, but like 24fps frame rate it’s something our brains have been conditioned for since almost 100 years. Although most of us will not consciously notice it, our brains register it subconsciously and know we’re watching a proper film, a possibly epic story. It helps with our suspension of disbelief and puts our brains into ‘movie watching mode’ and immerses us, pulls is into the story. Some refer to 24fps as a ‘dream-like cadence’. Heightened realism takes away from that. It breaks the magic spell. As one moviegoer succinctly put it: “I didn’t see Gandalf et al – instead I saw a load of actors dressed up in some odd costumes.” Billy Lynn and Gemini Man triggered many of the same type reactions, as you can see on social media. Some compare it to a home video shot on a GoPro or a smartphone, looking “hyper-real” or “like a videogame”; others refer to the “Soap Opera Effect” as it’s called (a bit of a misnomer), and the dreaded motion interpolation that their in-laws have enabled on their TV.

Ian Mckellen As Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies. Picture Credit: Warner Brothers

Much however is unknown about how our brains process frame rates and motion perception. More scientific research into this area would probably be justified.

How come we (most of us at least) subconsciously perceive 24fps frame rate without being bothered by judder?

Are our brains really conditioned into seeing 24fps as ‘epic’ yet when we see 60i or 60p this mechanism shuts down and we go into ‘soap opera’ mode?

And yet for videogames, which nowadays are also a lot about storytelling, High Frame Rate has evident benefits that gamers appreciate apparently. So do people who play videogames at high frame rates (120fps and above) perceive movie frame rates differently?

Also, provided the Soap Opera Effect is real, there must be an Inverse Soap Opera Effect whereby TV content converted from 60fps to 24fps suddenly starts to look epic? What points to this is a common technique in sports news shows, where they cut the frame rate to 24, 25 or 30fps, crop the picture to get a wider aspect ratio (adding black bars at the top and bottom) and add dramatic music when they want to make a game summary look epic.

Does frame rate matter for traditional cel animation movies, and if so, how?

At what frame rate above 24fps does the magic stop working? 25? 30? 48? 60? Anecdotal evidence (the three Hobbit movies) suggests 48fps is already guaranteed to blow it, but where is the border?

Although soap operas are never in 3D, 3D does not seem to help with suspension of disbelief or make something more epic. Perhaps even contrary. Is this because 3D adds realism which, like HFR and absence of grain, breaks the spell rather than sustaining it?

Is this behavior learned? Would someone from another culture who’s never been to the cinema experience frame rates the same way?

So many questions, so few answers. With the advent of Filmmaker Mode and this insistence of accurately reproducing 24fps frame rate, it’s easy to forget that before Ultra HD Blu-ray, the original Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD were the first home media ever able to handle this frame rate. Broadcast TV, all consumer videotape formats, LaserDisc and even DVD used interlaced video. Yes, DVD was the first format to offer Progressive Scan, but not at 24fps. An important lesson from the history of Hollywood that’s perhaps easy to forget because most of it happened so long ago is that every major technology transition also led to new movie genres and significantly shifted the balance between existing movie genres. HFR is a powerful new tool for movie making in a larger toolbox, so exploration is required. The old ways will not work with HFR, simply because they are built on different assumptions about movie making. Maybe HFR will give rise to entirely new genres, maybe it will take computer animation to heights that we can’t yet imagine. Combined with computer animation HFR may give rise to CGI actors that are more convincing than live actors. We just don’t know yet. What we do know based on past experience though is that every time a major innovation presents itself this discussion flares up: “Who wants to hear actors talk”, “No one wants color film”, and so on. This line of thinking is usually a losing argument over time. It’s not a given that 24fps is going to last forever. So what’s going to happen next? These transitions take many years, sometimes even decades when you have a firmly established structure such as the Hollywood studio system with its worldwide cinema distribution system but innovation never stops, also in the film industry. New secondary tools for movie making are implemented into current workflows and embraced by the industry. Helicopters? Awesome, let’s do flyover shots. Drones? Cool. Large LED screens? Using giant LED screens showing rendered virtual environments instead of green chromakey walls, like they used for shooting The Mandalorian? Absolutely. Anyway, it’s too early to draw conclusions. We’ve had fewer than ten HFR movies, from only a handful of directors. All of these have been conceived as a way to do 3D better. Meanwhile 3D itself has taken decades for Hollywood to get it right, become mainstream and get accepted as more than a novelty feature. For now, the best advice is to go see HFR with your own eyes (and an open mind) to form your own opinion and not accept any dogmas as absolute truth.

CONVERGING TECHNOLOGIES:
It’s important to bear in mind that Hollywood movies are still made and optimized for cinema. The technical capabilities of cinema guide movie production and as such many of the ‘truths’ in Hollywood are based on this system. Things could change if suddenly home entertainment becomes a much bigger market for Hollywood, which was actually already happening in 2018 and 2019, and perhaps much more dramatically so in 2020. Movie production optimized for TVs would most likely look different from film production optimized for cinema. After all, what works well at the cinema doesn’t necessarily work well on a TV set. Research by Dolby Labs found that higher brightness makes judder more apparent, as does higher contrast. What looks good in SDR judders too much in HDR, so colorists end up grading HDR darker to avoid this, which defeats the whole purpose. The study also showed that at 50 nits – the typical brightness with traditional theatrical projection – 24fps is the ideal frame rate whereas at 1000 nits – achieved on now fairly common and not too expensive HDR TVs – 32fps would be preferred. Although television came several decades later than cinema, the two technologies have been on parallel paths, going through many of the same innovations. Film went from silent movies to sound, from black & white to color, from mono to stereo to digital surround sound Dolby Digital, DTS, SDDS, initially all on optical film with an ever-growing number of channels. These changes have been noticeable but followed an evolutionary approach. But more recently the cinema business has seen some innovations that are major technical changes but entirely behind the scenes and very subtle if at all noticeable to the viewer: from chemical film to digital projection, with movies distributed on HDDs in cartridges and soon possibly online. The next major step in cinema is probably going to be the most drastic one in a century: from projection on a silver screen to ‘direct view’ displays. Of course, no CRT, no plasma, no LCD, no OLED but real LEDs. These bring far greater brightness, contrast and dynamic range, and will bring cinema screens back on par with home cinema – where they are now essentially running behind on spatial resolution, dynamic range and brightness – only way bigger. It will also add the flexibility to use higher frame rates though whether this will be used is doubtful, given the above considerations and the generally conservative nature of the movie business. This switch will also bring new entrants to the market. Samsung, which has never been in the cinema projection business, has launched its ‘Onyx Cinema LED Technology’ – 34-feet (10-meter) diameter screens with true 4K 4096 x 2160 resolution. The first cinemas rolling this out since 2017 were Lotte Cinema World Tower in Seoul, Paragon Cineplex Theatre in Bangkok, Pacific Theatres Winnetka in Chatsworth, California, just north of Los Angeles, Pathé Beaugrenelle in Paris, Sambil Leganés in Madrid, and the Shoudu Cinema in Beijing.

Samsung’s Onyx Cinema Led Direct View Display.

This transition is going to take years. This stuff isn’t cheap, and the technology it’s replacing isn’t cheap either. It’s a capital investment. But cinema and TV technology are converging further than ever. In the future, a cinema screen will basically be a very large TV set – typically with a far superior Dolby Atmos system. Expect this transfer of TV technology to the cinema to feed back into the home. The first signs are already here. If you’ve got deep enough pockets, you can buy Samsung’s ‘The Wall’ micro-LED display. It’s a modular system, which means you can construct various screen sizes and resolutions. One module measures 16×18 inch and counts 360×360 pixels. An HDTV will use 18 modules, a 4K display 76 and an 8K one 288. There’s no limit, really. 16K displays are also possible. The only constraint is basically money. A single module will set you back about $10,000 so you can do the math.

Size Options for Samsung’s The Wall Micro-Led TVs.

The specs and sizes for Sony’s Canvas or Cledis Crystal LED Integrated Structure or Display System are very similar. This technology is of course aimed mainly at professional applications but Sony explicitly says it’s also available for living rooms. Now for this to become something for the mass market, we need a price reduction of about 99%. That sounds very steep, but we’ve witnessed exactly that in the 4K TV market over the past seven years. Great news: like the cinema product, the home product offers strong HDR (perfect blacks and 1000 nits peak brightness), wide viewing angles, great 3D, and 120fps HFR.

HFR FOR OTHER TV CONTENT:
So if it is only for scripted, acted content that low frame rate matters, are higher frame rates better where realism matters i.e. nature documentaries and live sports? Evidence suggests so. HFR adds to the sense of ‘being there’ in a good way. But before we go into that, back to the definition of HFR. Broadcast TV comes in a range of resolutions now. The trend is upward but very slow. A related trend is that slowly but surely we seem to be getting rid of interlaced video, where ‘fields’ (half frames with only the odd picture lines or the even ones) are displayed successively. Sure, at 1080 HD resolution there’s still a lot of 50i and 60i content but at Ultra HD resolutions only Progressive Scan with full frames is permitted. Various frame rates are allowed (including fractional ones), but 50p and 60p are not considered HFR – they’re Standard Frame Rate. When organizations like the Ultra HD Forum speak of High Frame Rate they mean at least double that – 100 or 120fps and beyond. What drives the (very slow) move to higher frame rates? Is it a silly numbers race, like some would argue the move to higher spatial resolution (4K, 8K) became? Not quite. Even if we don’t need or want it for movies, there are definite upsides. First, why are we moving to higher screen resolutions? Just because TV makers can, and they see TVs with higher resolutions having higher margins? No, there’s more behind it than technology push. Since many decades, TVs are getting bigger and bigger. It’s a pretty constant trend, and the average diameter grows by about 1 inch per year across all territories, even if these averages vary from region to region. In the meantime, our viewing distance does not change much. Living rooms (also varying in average size geographically) did not get significantly bigger. That’s why we need more pixels. Now with higher resolutions, the risk of motion blur increases. With 8K, this is particularly visible. 8K sports content, like the Olympic Games, you probably do not want to watch at frame rates lower than 100fps. Although Japanese public broadcaster NHK has announced quite some time ago they’ll shoot and transmit many parts of the Olympics in 8K, they have not yet said at what frame rate.

THE DIFFICULTIES WITH HFR:
While shooting, recording and transmitting HFR may be relatively straightforward (arguably more so than HDR), there is a complication: How to achieve backward compatibility with Standard Frame Rate TV sets and transmission systems? At the moment there are two approaches to this, and DVB and ATSC solve this in different ways. Here it’s going to get a little more technical. What the two have in common: Both use a technique called temporal sublayering for backward compatibility of HFR with SFR. ATSC includes optional temporal filtering for enhancing the standard frame rate picture when temporal sublayering is used,

HFR: DVB and ATSC – temporal sublayering:
How does this work? In ATSC and DVB both, PID (program ID) = 0 is the SFR version, and PID = 1 is the HFR enhancement element, to be used along with PID 0 to reproduce the HFR version. In DVB, it actually wouldn’t matter which PID you viewed, they are just the odd and even frames, so each represents a half-frame rate feed, with just a slight timing offset. In ATSC, the frames are a bit different. The frames in PID 0 are a weighted sum of the odd and even frames of the HFR signal. The result is that the PID 0 content has an artificial motion blur. The HFR camera needs a 360 degree shutter (i.e., photons are being captured essentially 100% of the time; the camera doesn’t blink). The contents of the PID 1 frames are the weighted difference between the two signals. The trick here occurs in the receiver: As in DVB, if you don’t know better, show PID 0, you’ll get a usable SFR signal with full motion blur (depending on the weightings). If you do know better, you recover consecutive HFR frames by summing and differencing the two PIDs frames to reconstitute the original odd & even frames of the HFR.

In HFR demos the Ultra HD Forum has given over the last few years, they showed the DVB technique and sometimes, in earlier demos, done it poorly: The camera didn’t have a 360-degree shutter, it was more like 180, so the camera was capturing 100fps, but the exposure was 1/200th second in duration. Odd frames went to PID 0, even to PID 1, and when viewing only one of those, the play-out was 50fps, but the shutter was effectively 90 degrees (still a 1/200th of a second exposure), giving a very staccato, strobe-like presentation which was hard to watch. Eventually, they got a HFR camera with a 360-degree shutter, so the SFR playout appeared as if having a 180 degree shutter, which looks acceptable.

High Frame Rate is Especially Beneficial for Sports Content. Picture Credit: Ultra HD Forum.

To be sure, these two flavors are not competing in the same market, can coexist in software or silicon in the same TV set, probably do not involve any license fee and are not a matter for a future format war, just in case anyone gets worried. The ATSC and DVB solutions can be used for terrestrial TV, DTH satellite TV, cable TV and (multicast) IPTV. So what about (unicast) OTT streaming? There this compatibility is not an issue at all. The VoD provider just plays out the version that matches the capabilities of the viewer’s system. That can be 60 or perhaps 120fps (in the future, that is – current products such as Apple TV, Roku, ChromeCast and Amazon Fire TV don’t go beyond 60fps) but different frame rates will simply be different versions of the same asset, in the same way that a HD and 4K resolution are different version of the same asset.

HFR IN PRACTICE:
So can you go to a store and buy a HFR TV or monitor? One area where this will come in handy is gaming. Current gaming PCs as well as the upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, the ninth generation of consoles, are (going to be) capable of HFR output. PC/gaming monitors already cater to that. High Frame Rate is one of the few feature areas where monitors are ahead of TVs. Most don’t do a too impressive job in terms of high dynamic range, contrast, peak brightness, wide color gamut, resolution, etc. But while TVs currently don’t exceed 60fps (claims about 120Hz, 240Hz, etc. are often marketing overstatement), gaming monitors can now routinely handle 144fps, 165fps and even 240fps. They’re locked in a numbers race, trying to keep up with graphics cards output capabilities. To what extent the human eye can appreciate the difference between 144fps and 240fps remains a question. Mark Rejhon, founder of Blurbusters, argues in favor of a “retina refresh rate” of over 1000fps based on quite extensive research that he’s been doing.

HFR demo with HLG HDR BY LG / EBU / 4 EVER PROJECT AT IFA 2016.

LG has given HFR TV demonstrations as far back as 2016, and more recently in 2018, when they announced sets for 2019. On 2018 models HFR support is still limited: They can play HFR files from USB, as proven in this LG OLED C8 test. Since 2019 LG high-end TVs have had HDMI 2.1 ports with 4K at 120fps via FRL (Frame Rate Link – HDMI 2.1’s new signalling system for 48Gb/s bandwidth), LG says. 2020 LG high-end TVs have the same HDMI 2.1 support with 4k120p via FRL. Here’s how they promote that on their website:

4K HFR GAMEPLAY ON A 2020 LG OLED TV.

It’s a feature that few reviewers pay attention to, probably because there’s so little HFR content out there, but it’s one of the things that makes LG’s current high-end UHD TVs intriguing. They are ready for 4K HFR from PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X (even if they may require a firmware update to fully enable HDMI 2.1 after certification). Very few other TVs are. LG is also specifying VRR with 4K 40-120Hz frequency range. Actually it’s also possible to do 4K120 (limited to 8-bit SDR and 4:2:0 chroma) over HDMI 2.0 bandwidth, but it is out of spec. Samsung has been doing it however since 2019 (in high-end TVs) and LG since 2020 (at least in OLED TVs). Several generations of TVs have 1080p120 support, even sometimes 1440p120. This is well within the HDMI 2.0 bandwidth. Test site Rtings has been certifying 1080p120 and 1440p120 in their reviews for some time now, as in this 2017 Sony A1E OLED TV review (check ‘supported resolutions’). There may even be older TVs out there. It could be going to take some time before we start seeing HFR content available, especially live content. There’s a good chance with HFR that, like with 4K resolution, streaming platforms will take the lead over broadcasters. So maybe look to DAZN rather than ESPN. But the chicken and egg situation that so often exists when the hardware makers or content providers need to innovate first you don’t need to worry about. The TV manufacturers have already done their part. Once 120fps TVs become common, broadcasters may begin shooting sports matches in HFR. This does not necessarily have to be in 4K. A program in 1080p at 100 or 120fps with HDR will look quite stunning. Until they’re ready for that, you can use motion interpolation to do the job.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Picture Credit: 20th Century Fox.

If you want to experience HFR for yourself, at home, you can buy the 4K HDR Ultra HD Blu-ray of Billy Lynn or Gemini Man. Both are authored at 60fps HFR, as the UHD BD standard doesn’t handle 120fps. In fact it also doesn’t handle 48fps, so you’re out of luck if you wanted to watch The Hobbit Trilogy at the proper frame rate. The regular 1080p HD SDR 2D Blu-rays and 3D Blu-rays contain the movie at 24fps. There is no Ultra HD Blu-ray of this yet but when it does arrive it’s surely going to be 24fps, too. A 3D Blu-ray of Billy Lynn comes bundled with the 4K disc, if you buy the right edition (linked above). Gemini Man was not released on 3D BD in most markets, but it was in Germany. The 3D discs are also 24fps. Unfortunately, the HFR format doesn’t support 3D and the 3D format doesn’t support HFR. VoD/streaming services do not offer any 3D or HFR content at the moment.

RECOMMENDED READING:
You can read more facts about and impressions of The Hobbit here on FlatpanelsHD, or read about the aftermath. There is plenty of coverage for Ang Lee’s movies but long before the days of internet, Douglas Trumbull – Visual Effects Supervisor for classic movies including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek and Blade Runner – did many experiments with HFR. This article about his movie Brainstorm offers a great summary of that. Trumbull and Cameron were speakers at a 2012 Siggraph panel session on HFR cinema, a report of which you can read here.

STANDARDS REFERENCED:
DVB UHD-1 Phase 2 (ETSI TS 101 154 v2.3.1)

ATSC 3.0 (A/341) Many thanks to Bill Redmann, Director of Standards, Immersive Media Technologies at InterDigital, for his explanation of the DVB and ATSC approaches to HFR/SFR compatibility and his contribution to this article.

Date: 08 Apr 2020
Written by: Yoeri Geutskens

Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

Make Your Business More Accessible With New Blocks.

From booking and scheduling to events and embeds, these six new blocks for your blog or business website help you to grow your audience, connect with more clients, and reach more customers.

Date: April 2, 2020

Written by: Cheri Lucas Rowlands

From our support sessions with customers each month, we know that growing your brand or business is a top website goal. And in this unprecedented time in which more people around the world are staying at home, it’s important to promote your products and services online to reach a wider audience and connect with more people.

Our team has been hard at work improving the block editor experience. We’ve launched six new blocks that integrate WordPress.com and Jetpack-enabled sites with popular services — Eventbrite, Calendly, Pinterest, Mapbox, Google Calendar, and OpenTable — enabling you to embed rich content and provide booking and scheduling options right on your blog or website.

Whether you’re an online boutique, a pilates studio, an independent consultant, or a local restaurant, these blocks offer you more ways to promote your brand or business. Take a look at each block — or simply jump to a specific one below.


Promote online events with the Eventbrite block

Looking for a way to promote an online event (like your museum’s virtual curator talk or your company’s webinar on remote work), or even an at-home livestream performance for your fans and followers? Offering key features of the popular event registration platform, the Eventbrite block embeds events on posts and pages so your visitors can register and purchase tickets right from your site.

Quick-start guide:

  • To use this block, you need an Eventbrite account. If you don’t have one, sign up at Eventbrite for free.
  • In the block editor, click the Add Block (+) button and search for and select the Eventbrite Checkout block.
  • Enter the URL of your Eventbrite event. Read these steps from Eventbrite if you need help.
  • Select from two options: an In-page Embed shows the event details and registration options directly on your site. The Button & Modal option shows just a button; when clicked, the event details will pop up so your visitor can register.

Learn more on the Eventbrite block support page.


Schedule sessions with the Calendly block

Want to make it easier for people to book private meditation sessions or language lessons with you? The Calendly block, featured recently in our guide on moving your classes online, is a handy way for your clients and students to book a session directly on your site — eliminating the time spent coordinating schedules. You can also use the Calendly block to schedule team meetings or group events.

Quick-start guide:

  • To use this block, you need a Calendly account. Create one for free at Calendly.
  • In the block editor, click the Add Block (+) button and search for and select the Calendly block.
  • Enter your Calendly web address or embed code. Follow these steps from Calendly if you need help.
  • Select from two styles: the Inline style embeds a calendar directly onto your site; the Link style inserts a button that a visitor can click to open a pop-up calendar.
  • This block is currently available to sites on the WordPress.com Premium, Business, or eCommerce plans. It’s free on Jetpack sites.

Learn more on the Calendly block support page.


Up your visual game with the Pinterest block

Strong visuals help to provide inspiration, tell your stories, and sell your products and services. Pinterest is an engaging way for bloggers, influencers, and small business owners to enhance their site content and expand their following. With the Pinterest block, you can embed and share pins, boards, and profiles on your site.

Quick-start guide:

  • In the block editor, click the Add Block (+) button and search for and select the Pinterest block.
  • Paste the URL of a pin, board, or profile you’d like to display and click Embed. Note that you can only embed public boards.
  • Pro tip: in the block editor, go to Layout Elements and select Layout Grid to create a visually striking layout with pins, boards, and profiles, as shown above.

Display locations with the Map block

A map on your site is a quick visual way to display a location, like your restaurant’s takeout window or the drop-off spot for donations to a local food bank. Powered by mapping platform Mapbox, the Map block embeds a customized map on your site. Show the location of your business, a chain of boutique hotels, the meeting spots for your nonprofit’s volunteers, and more.

Quick-start guide:

  • In the block editor, click the Add Block (+) button and search for and select the Map block.
  • In the text field, type the location you want to display and select the correct location from among the results that appear.
  • Click on the red marker to edit the title and caption of the marker.
  • Explore the toolbar for block-specific settings. Add more markers, for example, by clicking the Add a marker button.
  • In the sidebar, customize your map’s appearance (including colors, height, and zoom level).

Explore more settings on the Map block support page.


Share your calendar with the Google Calendar block

Are you an author planning a book tour (or a series of online readings)? A digital marketing consultant hosting social media workshops? A neighborhood pop-up bakery? With the Google Calendar block, you can display a calendar of upcoming events or your hours of operation.

Quick-start guide:

  • In Google Calendar, click the three dots next to your calendar name and select Settings and sharing.
  • Under Access Permissions, ensure Make available to public is checked.
  • Click on Integrate calendar on the left and copy the code under Embed code.
  • In the block editor, click the Add Block (+) button, search for and select the Custom HTML block, and paste the code you copied in Google Calendar.
  • Publish your post or page. The next time you edit this post or page, you’ll see the code has been converted to shortcode.

Explore more settings on the Google Calendar block support page.


Streamline reservations with the OpenTable block

If you’re a restaurant or cafe owner, a primary goal of your site is to increase the number of bookings. Sure, people aren’t dining out right now, but you can be ready to take reservations in the future. With the OpenTable block, people can reserve a table directly from a post or page instead of calling or booking through a different reservation service.

Quick-start guide:

  • To use this block, your restaurant must be listed on OpenTable. Create an OpenTable listing now.
  • In the block editor, click the Add Block (+) button and search for and select the OpenTable block.
  • Enter your OpenTable Reservation Widget embed code. Check this OpenTable guide if you need help.
  • Explore the block’s toolbar and sidebar settings. For example, choose from four different embed styles: StandardTallWide, and Button.
  • This block is currently available to sites on the WordPress.com Premium, Business, or eCommerce plans. It’s free on Jetpack sites.
Learn more on the OpenTable block support page.

Which blocks are you most excited about? Stay tuned for more new blocks soon!

Sony 4K Demo – Sushi in Dolby Digital

CLICK HERE TO WATCH NOW ON YOUTUBE:
Sony 4K Demo – Sushi in Dolby Digital

Sony 4K Video – Sushi in Dolby Digital is a promotional 4k demo video made by Sony for the Sony 4K UHD TV.

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No need to Reduce Video Streaming Quality, Say Experts and ISPs

Date: 23 Mar 2020

Written by: Rasmus Larsen

There is no need to reduce video streaming quality, experts and internet service providers say after Amazon, Disney+, Netflix and YouTube have responded to a request from EU.

Amazon, Disney+, Netflix & YouTube:

Netflix was the first streaming service to reduce its bitrate for 4K HDR, HD and SD video streams while YouTube has made SD the default option (the user can still manually select higher quality) after European Commissioner Thierry Breton urged streaming services in Europe to “switch to standard definition when HD is not necessary” due to the coronavirus situation. Over the weekend, Amazon confirmed that it too will reduce its bitrate. Disney+ will deliver reduced bitrates in Europe for 30 days after launching in parts of Europe tomorrow. There are reports that Apple TV+ has also drastically reduced its streaming quality but the company has yet to comment on the matter. At this time, FlatpanelsHD is not seeing any impact to Apple TV+ streaming quality in Europe.

More than enough capacity:

Is it really necessary? Not at all, a leading internet expert told Decrypt after EU urged streaming services to act. – “That just tells me they don’t understand how the Internet works,” David Clark, senior research scientist at MIT, told Decrypt. Clark has been leading the development of the internet since the mid-1970s, according to his biography. He argues that it is a myth that the internet can reach a peak. For example, a corner of the internet in a local area may be experiencing congestion but “it is not a systemic failure”. Netflix and others are already automatically scaling down video quality in case of any congestion. – “It already does that automatically. You don’t have to tell them to. It just does it,” Clark added. His sentiment is being echoed by ISPs (internet service providers) in the UK, Nordics, and elsewhere. – “We have more than enough capacity in our UK broadband network to handle mass-scale homeworking,” Howard Watson, CTO of BT in the UK, told BBC. “Even if the same heavy data traffic that we see each evening were to run throughout the daytime, there is still enough capacity for work applications to run simultaneously.” – “We will NOT run out of bandwidth. Our broadband network is built for many times the data consumption that is being seen now,” Thomas Woldiderich, Branch Manager for telecommunications policy at the Danish Energy Association, wrote in response to the news. “Netflix’s action is most of all symbolism. The EU already has rules in place to deal with any potential pressure on networks.”

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Create With Confidence and Better Blocks.

The evolution of the block editor is packed full of features and UI improvements.

Date: March 26, 2020

Written by: Ramon

In the last few years, the teams working on the block editor have learned a lot about how people build sites now and how they want to build sites in the future.

The latest version represents the culmination of these discoveries, and the next stage in the editor’s evolution.

With better visuals and more advanced features, it’ll keep designers, developers, writers, and editors productive and happy, and — tension-building drumroll — it’s in your editor right now!

WHAT’S NEW:

With a comprehensive visual refresh, a plethora of new features, and dozens of bug fixes, the new block editor comes with a lot to unpack.

What follows is just a small (but delectable) sample of the many ways we’ve upgraded your editing experience. (You can get the full list of goodies in the release notes.) We hope you enjoy.

A REVAMPED EDITOR UI:

The first thing you’ll notice is the slick UI. Buttons, icons, text, and dropdowns are all sporting a contrast boost, with bolder colors and more whitespace between buttons, text labels, and menu items.

The world is made of blocks
The new block editor’s UI

As you navigate through the editor’s menus, individual items are clearly highlighted, allowing you to quickly identify what you’ve selected.

Active menu items have distinct highlights

The block toolbars are now simpler, displaying the most commonly-used features. For example, paragraph blocks show only bolditalic, and link formatting buttons. You’ll find all the extra options in the dropdown menu.

The block toolbar options are simpler and uncluttered

What’s more, instead of listing blocks within a fixed-height container, the block inserter now spans the height of the window. You’ll now see more blocks and block categories at once with less scrolling.

Block inserter spanning the full height of the window
The block inserter spans the full height of your screen

INTRODUCING BLOCK PATTERNS:

With the block editor as your canvas you can design almost any layout you can imagine – but building intricate page structures should never get in the way of your creative process.

Here’s where the blocks really shine: along with individual blocks, the editor now includes block patterns, a library of predefined and reusable block layouts, that you use on any page or post.

To check out the list of available patterns, click on the block pattern icon (on the top right) to reveal a collection of pre-built layouts:

Block patterns are groups of individual blocks combined to create elegant layouts

Pick the pattern you want to use, and it will appear in your editor ready for you to customize with your own content.

Right now, you’ll find a few introductory patterns – Two Columns of TextTwo Buttons, Cover, and Two Images Side by Side – but we’ll be adding more and more patterns as they’re available. When the block patterns API opens up to third-party authors, you’ll also be able to develop and share your own.

(Have an idea for a great pattern? The block editor developer community is actively seeking ideas. The more ideas they receive, the better your editor will be!)

COLORS, COLORS EVERYWHERE:

When it comes to words and columns, websites aren’t newspapers: things don’t have to be black and white.

Use the new Text Color selector tool to change the color of sentences, and even individual words and letters. Highlight the text you’d like to change, then click on the arrow dropdown and select “Text Color.”

Select “Text Color” from the options
Pick the color of your word or character

To change the background colors of your columns, select the column and head to the sidebar, to Color settings.

Columns get background colors too!

THE ROAD AHEAD IS PAVED WITH BLOCKS:

There’s still a long way to go, and the editor’s community of contributors hasn’t given its collective keyboards a moment’s rest. Work on polishing UI elements like the sidebar and dropdowns continues along with advancements to block patterns and other exciting features.

Are there ways we could improve the site editing experience even more? Please let us know! We’re always keen to hear how we can make the web a better place for everyone.

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5 Times More Coronavirus-themed Malware Reports during March

Date: March 20, 2020

Written by: Bitdefender Labs Teams

5 Times More Coronavirus-themed Malware Reports during March

Government, Hospitality, Healthcare, Education & Research, and Retail are among the verticals most targeted on the Coronavirus heatmap.

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues, cybercriminals have started piggybacking news of the crisis to deliver malware, conduct phishing, and even perform online fraud by preying on the panic caused by a dearth of medical supplies and reliable information about the pandemic.

The most recent Bitdefender telemetry shows unusual activity regarding Coronavirus-related threats: the number of malicious reports related to Coronavirus has increased by more than 475% in March, compared to February. And we still have about two more weeks to go until April.

These campaigns were likely mostly targeted at countries that have started suffering an increase in Coronavirus infections, leveraging the fear on everyone’s mind.

With officials struggling to come up with plans and quarantine procedures, threat actors seem to have mobilized quickly and started luring victims with the promise of new and exclusive information on protection procedures.

Malicious Reports Soar in March:

From 1,448 malicious reports in February to 8,319 reports until March 16th, the number has sharply increased, as the real COVID-19 virus spreads aggressively around the world.

Some of the most-targeted verticals seem to be government, retail, hospitality, transportation and education & research. While it may seem odd, it does make sense that these verticals are targeted as they actively interact with large groups of individuals and are most interested in learning more about measures to be taken to prevent a Coronavirus infection.

Consequently, one reason why cybercriminals have been actively targeting these verticals with phishing emails impersonating the WHO (World Health Organization), NATO, and even UNICEF is that employees likely expect official information from known, global organizations.

A breakdown into which Government institutions seem targeted most reveals that education ministries, health ministries and departments, and fire services have been attacked most.

In healthcare, hospitals & clinics, pharmaceutical institutions, and distributors of medical equipment, were mostly targeted, potentially with messages of procedures that need to be taken, drugs that could work on preventing or treating infection, and even medical supplies that were allegedly still in stock.

For example, the email above seems to target Healthcare services in Thailand judging from the title, which is translated from Thai (“Fwd: Re: CoronaVirus Express Information”), and the name of the attached file (“Ministry of Public Health Corona Virus Information Urgent 2020.gz”). It promises new and exclusive information to medical staff. To make the email seem more legitimate, it uses the official logos of the Thailand Establishment of National Institute of Health.

In rough translation, the email (seen above) urges citizens, schools, commissioners and business owners to follow the instructions in the attached document to stay “safe and free from the viruses.” It also claims the file contains a list of pharmacies that distribute “a qualified protective drug.” Needless to say, anyone opening the tainted attachment will be infected with a Trojan, specifically the NanoBot Trojan.

Education & Research verticals, where messages reached universities, schools, and technical institute, are all crowded places eagerly awaiting instructions on how to prepare for the Coronavirus outbreak. They too have been selectively targeted with spearphishing emails.

A look at some of the tainted documents received by government institutions shows all filenames, naturally, share the same “coronavirus” string and promise to offer new and exclusive information regarding the outbreak.

For example, popular document booby traps range from claiming the email attachments are PDF documents when in fact they’re everything from “.exe” to “.bat” files. That means that, unless users have the “File name extensions” option ticked in the View menu of File Explorer; they’ll likely fall for this double extension scam. Of course, the files are laced with malware and, as soon as they’re executed, they start deploying threats ranging from LokiBot and HawkEye to Kodiac and NanoBot (see the table below).

Most of these Trojans, including NanoBot, are designed to steal information, such as usernames and passwords, potentially for use by threat actors either for financial profit or to gain remote access to accounts, services, and even endpoints.

Below, you can see a table with examples of names for each malicious documents received by each vertical, along with each email subject (where applicable).

Going After Countries Aggressively Affected by COVID-19:

In terms of the geographical distribution for all malicious reports involving the Coronavirus, things escalated quickly between January and March. In January, reports were coming in only from some countries such as the United States, China, and Germany. By March, malicious reports came in from all around the world, and no European country was spared.

In fact, during March, the largest number of malicious reports was registered from countries such as Italy, the United States, Turkey, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Canada, Romania, and Thailand. All these countries that have been seriously afflicted by the COVID-19 outbreak, which is why it’s likely these malware campaigns have been focusing specifically on these regions.

As if having to deal with the Coronavirus in real life wasn’t enough, threat actors have been exploiting panic, misinformation, and confusion in an attempt to maximize their efforts in spreading scams and infections or generally profiting off of everyone’s fears.

Here’s what you should know:

With countries straining to find ways to contain and even stop the spread of COVID-19 infections, the average user/citizen is undoubtedly seeking help and information from any online source on how to stay safe. However, that information may not always come from a reputable source.

Malware is a dime a dozen and cybercriminals will stop at nothing to trick users into installing it. It may already be difficult to cope with the real-life virus, and dealing with cyber “viruses” is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind.

However, just like in real life, good (security) hygiene means you’re not only keeping yourself safe but you’re also helping those around you. So carefully read through emails to make sure they’re legitimate, don’t open attachments unless you’re absolutely sure they’re safe, and try using a security solution that can keep you safe from a wide range of threats, so you can focus on what matters: keeping your family safe!

Note: This article is based on technical information provided courtesy of the Bitdefender Labs teams.

Written by: Bitdefender Labs

Source: https://labs.bitdefender.com

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YouTube and Amazon Prime Video join Netflix in cutting your Streaming Quality

Date: Fri, Mar 20, 2020 –
Written by: David Snelling

YouTube and Amazon have both now confirmed that they will join Netflix by reducing the quality of streams. This change is being put in place in a bid to help networks cope with the increased demand as millions stay home during the coronavirus outbreak.

YouTube and Amazon Prime Video subscribers could see the quality of their boxsets and movies plummet as firms attempt to help networks cope with the millions of people staying at home to avoid the spread of the coronavirus crisis. Both streaming platforms have confirmed plans to join Netflix, which has announced plans to restrict the amount of bandwidth that will be available to those who pay for Ultra HD quality until things return to some form of normality.

This radical change is thought to offer a significant saving, which would reduce data consumption by around 25 percent allowing more people to stream at once during these unprecedented times. To put this into some perspective, an hour of standard definition video uses around 1 GB of data, while HD can use up to 3 GB an hour.

Now YouTube and Amazon have both agreed to follow Netflix with users about to getting lower quality streams sent to their devices. Explaining more about the decision, a spokesperson for YouTube said: “We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default.”

We are in ongoing conversations with the regulators including Ofcom, governments and network operators all over Europe. We will continue our work to minimise stress on the system, while also delivering a good user experience.

Amazon prime video netflix
YouTube Has Now Joined Netflix in Dropping Video Quality (Image: GETTY)

And a spokesperson for Amazon confirmed: “Prime Video is working with local authorities and Internet Service Providers where needed to help mitigate any network congestion, including in Europe where we’ve already begun the effort to reduce streaming bitrates whilst maintaining a quality streaming experience for our customers.”

Despite this news of networks coming under increased pressure, it seems the UK’s broadband firms are confident they can cope. BT says its networks are built to support “evening peak” network capacity, which generally equates to at least ten times daytime demand. As a result, the broadband company is confident it can handle mass-scale home-working in response to COVID-19.

Speaking about the challenges ahead, Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division: “Even with a massive increase of people working from home, broadband traffic won’t reach the levels of peak times where millions of people stream HD video at the same time. That’s the kind of traffic we’ve built our networks to support. We’re making sure there’s plenty of capacity in the network and that critical services are supported, and our network has more than ten times the amount of capacity needed for normal everyday use.

Working from home won’t generate significantly more traffic across our network than working in the office, even with more video calling and conferencing. So if more people need to work from home, our network will keep up with demand.”

Date: Fri, Mar 20, 2020 –
Written by: David Snelling
Source: https://www.express.co.uk

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It’s a Terrible Time to Own a 4K TV as Netflix, Sky and YouTube make Radical Changes

4K TV Sky, Netflix Amazon
Why 4K TV Won’t Get as Much Content on its Screen (Image: GETTY)

Date: Sat, Mar 21, 2020 –
Written by: David Snelling

4K TV owners are being hit by some drastic changes with services such as Netflix downgrading the quality of its content and Sky not broadcasting any live 4K sport. These updates have been implemented in a bid to help networks cope with the increased demand as people are told to stay at home.

4K TV owners are being hit by some drastic changes with services such as Netflix, Amazon and YouTube downgrading the quality of their content and Sky not broadcasting any live 4K sport. If you own a pin-sharp 4K TV then now is a disappointing time to be sat in front of it.

With the coronavirus forcing millions to stay at home, many of the world’s biggest broadcasters are currently reducing the quality of their content to help broadband networks cope under the increased strain.

Earlier this week, Netflix confirmed that it would now start lowering the standard of its streams in a bid to help reduce data consumption by 25 percent.

Speaking about the changes the streaming company said: “Following the discussions between Commissioner Thierry Breton and [Netflix chief executive] Reed Hastings, and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus, Netflix has decided to begin reducing bitrates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days.”

Netflix has now been joined by YouTube and Amazon Prime Video who also say they are temporarily stopping consumers watching in HD and 4K.

In a statement, YouTube confirmed: “We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default.

And Amazon added: “Prime Video is working with local authorities and internet service providers where needed to help mitigate any network congestion.

As a quick guide, an hour of standard definition video uses around 1GB of data meanwhile, HD can use a staggeringly higher 3GB an hour.

BT recently announced that its networks could cope under the increased pressure with the firm saying, its networks are built to support “evening peak” network capacity, which generally equates to at least ten times daytime demand.

However, it seems streaming services are now trying to help soften the load especially for areas with ageing copper cables.

Along with these streaming services, Sky Sports fans are also seeing a huge drop in the content they can view in 4K.

Sky broadcast a large number of events in this pin-sharp quality including some of its Premier League games and all of the F1 action from every race around the world. With all top-flight sports on hold, there’s less for people to watch in ultra HD.

The satellite TV firm is clearly aware that its offerings are currently much less attractive with the company now allowing subscribers to cancel their Sky Sports packages without facing any extra charges.

Of course, dropping the quality of streams makes perfect sense during these difficult times but your 4K TV certainly won’t offer the same stunning experience until things get back to normal.

Date: Sat, Mar 21, 2020 –
Written by: David Snelling
Source: https://www.express.co.uk

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On Working Remotely: An Automattic Reader

New to remote work? We’ve compiled some of the best resources Automatticians have created on the topic.

Date: March 20, 2020

Written by: Jeff Rozic

How does a distributed company — a group of people with shared business goals but spread out around the world, representing different cultures, family settings, and local health considerations — stick together during a major health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic?

We don’t intend to make it sound easy. And we are aware — from our families, our communities, the businesses we support, and our customers — that many, if not most companies cannot actually work 100 percent remotely because of the nature of their business.

For those who can transition to distributed work in the wake of this evolving crisis, we wanted to suggest ideas that might help colleagues work well together even when you’re no longer all sharing the same physical space.

We’re lucky that many Automatticians have shared advice and best practices based on their many years of working from home — and we’ve compiled some of these resources below to empower others to listen to and support their coworkers during a difficult and disruptive time.

Of course, from his first post on remote work to his most recent one reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic, to his Distributed podcast and beyond, founder and CEO Matt Mullenweg is a prominent voice on remote work and distributed culture. To send you off on a lighter note, Matt published his first “What’s In My Bag” post in 2014 and has done it again several times since.

We hope these resources are helpful to you during these trying times, and that you and everyone in your communities stay safe.

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YouTube Reduce Streaming Quality to SD Resolution in Europe.

Date: 20 Mar 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen

YouTube will also lower its streaming quality in response to EU’s request to help reduce strain on internet bandwidth, according to Reuters.

YouTube in SD Earlier this week, European Commissioner Thierry Breton urged Netflix and other major streaming services to switch to standard definition when HD is not necessary. Netflix has said that it will reduce bitrates across all streams in Europe.

Google’s YouTube says that it will also reduce its streaming quality in Europe by making SD resolution the default.

We are making a commitment to temporarily switch all traffic in the EU to standard definition by default,” the company said in a statement to Reuters.

However, it is not clear if users will be able to manually adjust streaming quality on YouTube. At this time, the YouTube player in our browser still automatically jumps to 1080p.

The report from Reuters said that the decision was made after European Commissioner Thierry Breton spoke to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.

Source: Reuters

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4K VS 8K: Study Finds That Few Viewers Can See The Difference.

Date: 04 Mar 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen


A double-blind study carried out by Pixar, Amazon, LG, ASC and Warner Bros found that few viewers can tell see the difference between 8K and 4K content on an 88-inch 8K OLED TVs, according to a report by Techhive.

4K TV VS 8K TV:

Multiple TV makers have started selling 8K TVs but there has not been much research into the benefits of 8K TVs. FlatpanelsHD has also found that some of the early 8K TVs are not capable of reproducing 8K resolution and last year we advised our readers not to buy an 8K TV of any type.

A comprehensive, double-blind study carried out by Pixar, Amazon, LG, American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), and Warner Bros – and described in impressive detail by Techhive – has now examined the subject, with the goal of finding out if viewers can see a difference between 4K and 8K.

A comprehensive, double-blind study

For the double-blind study seven different native 8K HDR10 video clips (see box above) were shown on an 88-inch 8K OLED TV (LG 88Z9) to 139 participants over three days. Participants were seated in two rows at about five and nine feet from the screen, respectively. The 4K clips were downscaled from the 8K clips and then upscaled again to 8K on a PC using four-pixel duplication (cubic).

In each session, the 4K and 8K versions of each clip were played in three sequences, though the sequences for each clip were not presented one immediately after another. In two of the sequences, the 4K and 8K versions were randomly assigned the labels “A” and “B” and played twice in an alternating manner—that is, A-B-A-B—after which the participants indicated which one looked better on a scoring form see Fig. 3. In the third sequence, the 4K version was played four times, though the participants still saw the labels “A” and “B” alternate and scored them as before. This provided a control group to assure more robust statistics, Techhive explained and added that each participant was evaluated for their visual acuity.

THE RESULTS:

Since it was a comprehensive study that also took into account the viewers’ visual acuity, for example 20/20 vision or 20/10 vision, results were presented in several different ways. In the average of all results, the 8K clips were rated marginally Slightly Better than the 4K clips, said Techhive.

When evaluating only results from viewers with better 20/10 vision, two 8K clips A Bug’s Life and The Nature Footage were rated “Slightly Better” than the 4K Clips.

Lastly, all “slightly better“, “better” and “much better” responses were combined into a single “better” score to account for the nuance that people may have different perspectives on what is, for example, “slightly better” as opposed to “better“. The outcome was these two graphs.

Left: Distribution of Scores – Right: 3 Grades of “Better” Combined into Single Score.

As you can see, many viewers rated the 4K Version Higher than the 8K Version, which obviously should not happen. Believe the reason you see a large number of People Rating 4K better than 8K is that they really can’t see a difference and are simply guessing.

The more interesting point is the fact that for all clips except Clip 7, most people scored 4K the same as 8K. And 8K better than 4K is second most scored option. For Clip 7, it’s different, and most people scored 8K better than 4K, which was an interesting take-away, said Michael Zink, VP of Technology, Warner Bros. We recommend that you read the full article on Techhive.

Date: 04 Mar 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen
Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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Netflix Lowers Streaming Quality in Europe in Response to EU Request.

Date: 20 Mar 2020
Written by: Rasmus Larsen

In response to EU’s request to help reduce strain on internet bandwidth, Netflix will reduce its streaming quality in Europe by lowering the bitrate for 30 days.

REDUCED STREAMING QUALITY:

Earlier this week, European Commissioner Thierry Breton urged Netflix and other major streaming services to switch to standard definition when HD is not necessary and said that he had already discussed the initiative with Netflix CEO Reed Hasting.

To beat #COVID19, we stay at home. Teleworking and streaming help a lot but infrastructures might be in strain. To secure Internet access for all, let’s switch to standard definition when HD is not necessary,” Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for internal market, wrote on twitter on March 18.

Netflix has now responded to EU’s request – partially. It says that it will begin reducing bitrates across all streams in Europe for 30 days. Netflix estimates that it will reduce traffic in Europe by approximately 25%.

“Following the discussions between Commissioner Thierry Breton and Reed Hastings – and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus – Netflix has decided to begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days,” a spokesperson from Netflix said. “We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25% while also ensuring a good quality service for our members.”

NOT SD RESOLUTION:

FlatpanelsHD has found that Netflix still offers streaming in HD resolution as well as 4K HDR10 and 4K Dolby Vision for now. The company has not capped its streaming quality to SD resolution.

It appears that Netflix’s approach is rather to cut off the higher bitrate levels. This is possible because Netflix uses adaptive bitrate meaning that all content is encoded and stored at multiple quality levels (bitrate, resolutions etc.). The viewer will automatically get the highest quality level available based on broadband speeds and hardware.

At the time of writing, FlatpanelsHD is seeing a 35-50% reduction in bitrate for some 4K streams while other 4K streams appear to be unaffected. We are seeing a more modest reduction in bitrate for HD streams but there are fluctuations here, too. As Netflix is still rolling out the changes, it is too early to draw conclusions. We refer to the comments section below for more information on how to check streaming quality on your Netflix streams at home.

This means that Netflix streaming in Europe will look more compressed than usual higher levels of artefacts, softer details etc. but still relatively good compared to many other streaming services. Apple, Amazon, Disney, Google and YouTube have not announced plans to reduce their streaming bitrate at his time.

Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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8K Is Making Progress Bit by Bit

Date: November 12, 2019

Written by: Thierry Fautier

It happened first at IFA 2019, Europe’s largest consumer tech conference in Berlin. 8K was everywhere. At IBC2019, expectations for 8K technology demonstrations were high. Since almost every TV maker around the world has announced 8K TV production. Many have even replaced their 4K TV offer with 8K.

As 2019 comes to a close, 8K continues to show strong interest, but what are the potential hurdles to overcome before mainstream adoption? We still don’t have enough information on next-generation MPEG codec or on Versatile Video Coding (VVC) licensing. And are we certain that VVC is the right option?

Phase 1: the demonstrations for future tech in today’s world

There is real-world proof that encoding for 8K is possible today. Here’s a rundown on some demos that showcase the possibility of 8K video:

  • The live BT sports demo: This was a collaborative effort. From Amsterdam, multiple partners came together to deliver one hour of live broadcast in 8K showcasing the Gallagher Premiership Rugby 7s tournament. It proved that 8K can be produced and transmitted live from the stadium to the studios.
  • Harmonic’s IBC2019 8K TV demo: This showed the next step from stadium to screen. With VVC, we can reach 8K resolution with close to 50% bit rate reduction over the popular High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), but that’s not all. Harmonic was also live streaming using content-aware encoding (CAE) technology to provide different bit rates and resolutions from a KPN data center to the IBC Future Zone over a private line. We used updated firmware on a Samsung TV to decode the stream based on the DASH.JS player. The content of an equestrian show jumping contest that leads to an average of 14 m/s using CAE. This represented a world first.  We can now measure the true potential of CAE and see how TV sets convert up to 8K. Today, NHK is transmitting live at 85 Mbps via satellite and using the compression techniques developed three years ago and it provides a less than optimal result. The Harmonic demo validates that CAE efficiency depends on content complexity. Even at 39 Mbps, we are still more than 50% lower than HEVC in production at NHK. This matches what VVC promises in 2022, proving that we can use today’s technology to deliver tomorrow’s content, and without burning the budget.

Phase 2: 8K adoption is starting, and it’s exciting

8K is now being delivered with technology that was developed almost three years ago, which explains the 85 Mbps figures. We are now entering the second phase. Operators want more affordable bit rates, with a goal to come close to what is currently used for 4K OTT streaming a 25 Mbps connection is required for Netflix in HDR. We have demonstrated that it is now possible with a range of 14 Mbps to 39 Mbps, without any optimization done for 8K, using cloud-powered encoding and CAE technology.

2019 was the 8K pre-game. There are more 8K TVs being made, and sales are predicted to pick up in 2020. This is especially the case in countries where 8K will be available. Tomorrow’s 8K streaming experience on connected TVs is in the starting block and waiting for the go-ahead to launch at full speed. 2020 is just around the corner and the games are about to begin. And we mean the actual games. The 2020 Tokyo games are expected to be the first large-scale 8K content ever produced. Will you be watching?

Source: https://www.harmonicinc.com

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A Free Online Event Focused on the Block Editor

Join the WordPress community on April 2 for talks on the block editor, block development, and design in a world of blocks.

Date: March 18, 2020

Written by: Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Ready to explore the possibilities with the block editor? WPBlockTalk is a free and live virtual event that will bring together designers, developers, and other WordPress enthusiasts from across the WordPress community.

Topics to expect:

  • Building the block editor: what it takes to develop the block editor, what features are on the roadmap, and how you can contribute.
  • Developing blocks: inspiration and ideas for developing your own custom blocks.
  • Designing with blocks: learn more about using blocks to make powerful and versatile layouts and templates.

If you’re passionate and curious about the future of WordPress, then this April 2 event is for you!

If you’re busy that day, don’t worry — all the talks will also be published on WordPress.tv for you to watch (and re-watch) whenever you like.

In the meantime, join the WPBlockTalk email list for registration details, speaker and schedule updates, and more. We look forward to seeing you online!

Announcing a New Scholarship for LGBTQ+ WordPress Community Members

Automattic announces a scholarship for the LGBTQ+ WordPress Community to provide financial support in attending a WordCamp flagship event.

Date: March 11, 2020

Written by: Niesha Sweet

The Queeromattic Employee Resource Group, Automattic’s LGBTQ+ internal organization, is proud to announce a scholarship for LGBTQ+ WordPress Community members who need financial support to attend a WordCamp flagship event for the first time. 

For those unfamiliar with WordCamps, they are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users like you. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other. There are currently four flagship events each year: WordCamp Europe, WordCamp Asia, WordCamp US, and WordCamp Latin America. We’re going to sponsor one member of the LGBTQ+ community to attend each of these events!

Our hope in sponsoring folks to attend an initial WordCamp flagship event is that it will provide a career-enhancing opportunity for folks to connect more deeply with members of the WordPress community and level up their own WordPress skills to take back into their everyday life. Many of us at Automattic found our way here through the wider WordPress community and we’re really excited to share that chance with folks from the LGBTQ+ community who might not have the opportunity otherwise. 

Right now, we’re accepting applications to WordCamp US 2020. If you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a WordPress user, we encourage you to apply: https://automattic.com/scholarships/queeromattic/  To be considered, please apply no later than Sunday, May 31, 2020 at 12 a.m. Pacific Time.

If you know someone who would be perfect for an opportunity like this, please share it with them! We want folks from all over the world to have the chance to benefit from this new scholarship.

Important note: Due to COVID-19, we will be working closely with the WordCamp event staff to ensure the health and safety of all attendees. This means that scholarships are not guaranteed for 2020 events. Please keep this in mind when applying and sharing this opportunity with others.

Turning a Page with Page Layouts

Date: March 9, 2020

Written by: Ian Stewart

Need to add a new page to your site but don’t know where to start? Making a brand new site on WordPress.com and want to design a homepage quickly? There’s a new addition to the WordPress experience that’ll help with exactly that.

Let’s take a look at Page Layouts! They’re pre-designed pages you can drop content into, without needing to decide what to put where.

To add a Page Layout to your site, head to My Sites > Site > Pages and click the “Add New Page” button — it’s the pink one:

Next, we’ll show you a selection of layouts you can choose from — there are layouts available for

  • About pages
  • Contact pages
  • Services pages
  • Portfolio pages
  • Restaurant Menu, Team, and Blog pages
  • and even starting points for Home pages

Here’s one of the available Portfolio Page Layouts, for example.

These layouts are all made using blocks in our block editor, which means you can edit the images, content, and layout all in one place. Start by replacing the default images and text, and you’ll be on your way!

You can use Page Layouts to make great-looking pages with only a few clicks. For inspiration, here are a selection of layouts using a variety of WordPress.com themes.

What other types of pages and designs would be useful for your site? Let us know what you’d like to see — we’d love to hear from you!

A Crash Course in Remote Management

Curious about managing teams while working remotely? Watch this free webinar for best practices.

Date: March 6, 2020

Written by: Cate Huston

Remote work is a prominent topic lately, as people around the world are doing their best to live their lives and keep themselves and their families safe and prepared during the COVID-19 outbreak. The impact of this outbreak is felt across societies and cultures as well as in the workplace.  

Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, is a primarily distributed company with more than 1,000 employees across 76 countries. I’m an engineering lead, currently working on the Developer Experience team. As Automattic has grown, we’ve learned a lot about working remotely and across time zones, and have shared insights on what we see as the future of work on the Distributed podcast, hosted by our CEO, Matt Mullenweg. 

This week, Nicole Sanchez, the founder of Vaya Consulting and an expert on workplace culture, and I had an opportunity to co-present a Crash Course in Remote Management, a free one-hour webinar hosted on Zoom. Nicole has previously held social impact and leadership roles at GitHub and the Kapor Center for Social Impact.

Nicole and I walked an engaged audience through proven practices and what they’ve learned about leading, communicating with, and measuring the success of remote teams. Participants offered insightful questions, leading to lively discussions around:

  • Collaboration and relationship-building.
  • The cost, benefit, and ideal frequency of bringing teams together for face-to-face interaction (in general, if not as commonly right now).
  • Communicating and prioritizing messages across a variety of channels. 
  • Encouraging people to go outside, exercise, spend time with family, or otherwise step away from the computer (also known as being “AFK,” or “Away From Keyboard”) without the fear of being judged or anxiety over being less productive.

Some companies are encouraging employees to experiment with working from home, which can feel very different from in-person and office work. If you’re interested in learning more, please check out the full video recording of the course:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH NOW ON YOUTUBE:
A Crash Course in Remote Management

Matt’s latest blog post, “Coronavirus and the Remote Work Experiment No One Asked For,” is also worth a read. For more information and advice on COVID-19, please visit resources from the CDCWorld Health Organization, and other health authorities.

The HDTV is Officially Dead

Date: 27 Feb 2020
Written by: Yoeri Geutskens

In barely seven years, 4K TV has evolved from high-end niche product to not just mainstream proposition but in fact to the low end of the TV market. On its way it’s pushed HDTV out of the market, meanwhile it’s been put under pressure already by the advent of 8K TV. The Resolution Gap was already big; now the chasm is gaping. The overlap has reduced to almost zero. How so? There are several resolutions used in broadcast television: 480p (SD), 720p, 1080i (HD) and 1080p (Full HD). Yes, 4K Ultra HD broadcasts exist but they cover well under 1% of all programs available. Meanwhile in TV hardware, we’ve got two resolutions you can choose from in 2020: 4K and 8K. Most major TV brands have phased out HDTVs, which until last year covered the low end of the market, where margins are low.

ONE OF THE FIRST 4K TVS – THE $24.999 2012 SONY BRAVIA XBR-84X900

4K TV now fulfills that role. That may sound surprising, because 4K ijs relatively new. The first 4K model, the Sony XBR-84X900, was introduced about seven years ago, at the end of 2012, at a price level of $24.999. Now you can buy one at $249.99! That’s a price erosion of 99% over a 7-year stretch, or close to 50% annually. That’s how steep the price erosion is in this business. No wonder even major electronics firms have difficulty competing and remaining profitable, and quite a few have divested their TV operations to license their brand name to leaner manufacturers. Granted, that entry-level $249 TV is a just 43-inch in size – a substantially smaller model than the 84-inch model Sony debuted back then. It’s also a second-tier brand – Insignia. But it uses the same display panel technology (edge-lit LCD), it’s got the exact same number of pixels, and in some ways it’s more advanced. It’s got HDMI 2.0 instead of v1.4 (which could not handle HDCP 2.2 copy protection that most source devices demand, or 4K input at frame rates higher than 30 fps); it can handle HDR signals, even if its peak brightness is not great. It’s got built-in streaming functionality and comes with a range of apps for all sorts of video services. And if size does matter, you can now get a 75-inch 4K TV for well under one grand – one twenty-fifth or just 4% of what you had to pay at introduction.

2019 $249 UHD TV

FAST EVOLUTION FOR HARDWARE:
It may also come as a shock that in this short period of time, 4K has evolved from the very high end of TV to the mainstream and low end of the market. Low end you say? Yes, for a number of brands, such as Sony, the most basic models are now 4K and HD has been dropped from the range. Samsung has confirmed only a single HDTV in its 2020 range – a 32” version of The Frame, their high design models, which by definition are not low end and likely have some margin left in them. LG confirmed they will not have any new Full HD or HD-Ready TV models in 2020. Panasonic would not confirm their plans for this year but so far it seems they have no new HDTV models on offer. At the same time, 4K is moving away from the high end: This year, one year after 8K TVs commercially debuted on the market with models you could actually buy – as opposed to the prototypes we’ve been shown at CES and IFA for years – Samsung has announced it will no longer offer its most premium display features on 4K models; it reserves those for its 8K QLED TV range. 8K now represents the high end, 4K the mainstream and low end. Meanwhile, TV broadcasting has a hard time catching up, because there’s no business model that offers them any incentive to upgrade. They’ll need to replace their entire production workflow, which is expensive and something they normally do once every seven to ten years. However, even when they start producing in 4K, it’s likely too costly to distribute it in that resolution. That’s because bandwidth is scarce, especially with terrestrial broadcast, but even with DTH (direct-to-home) satellite and cable/IPTV spectrum is limited, and a 4K channel simply takes the same capacity as four HD channels, unless you overly compress it, but that would defy the whole point of Ultra HD. Meanwhile 4K doesn’t bring any additional revenues. Advertisers aren’t paying more money to advertise on 4K TV channels, and the extent to which operators can charge more for these channels is limited. As a result, for 4K content we’re dependent on streaming platforms, for which bandwidth is not an issue, at least not their issue. It’s ironic perhaps that while the overall amount of bandwidth available to us increases year over year, the bandwidth for traditional broadcasting does not, and in many cases even shrinks, where airwaves are reallocated from radio and TV to mobile data. Of course, the relevance of broadcasters does not depend mainly on the resolution they’re transmitting their content in, but this widening gap does add to the worries many of them have about staying relevant in a time where we are witnessing a shift from linear TV watching to on-demand viewing, happening right under our eyes.

WHERE BROADCAST TV IS NOW:
It’s 2020, and America’s biggest sporting event, the Super Bowl, only just now got broadcast in 4K for the first time, on selected distribution channels and, significantly, streaming platforms. It may be telling that while the production mostly was shot with HDR cameras, the base resolution was 1080p (with some 720p thrown in for good measure), and upscaled to 4K for distribution. The 2018 World Championship soccer games were shot and offered in 4K/HDR by broadcasters in some 25 countries on one-off pop-up channels, removed again as soon as the event was over. 2019 had no such major sports event, and this year we’ll have the European Championships, likely following the same patterns as the world cup two years earlier. The other main sports event this year is going to be the Olympic Games and again the prospects for 4K TV owners aren’t great, since the transmission rights in most countries are held by public broadcasters, who have even more difficulty ponying up the money needed to facilitate UHD programs than commercial ones. In another ironic twist, the 2020 Olympics take place in Tokyo, Japan – the country that’s the farthest advanced with 8K production. The 8K feed is expected to be available only domestically, but in Japan the market penetration of 8K TVs is going to be lower yet than in North America and even Europe. That’s because Japanese living rooms are typically much smaller than American ones, and TV sizes are proportionally smaller (and resolutions accordingly lower).

WILL BROADCAST TV EVER CATCH UP:
Will broadcasters ever catch up with the resolutions consumer TVs have arrived at, or should we accept that there will forever be a discrepancy between the capabilities of the displays we’re watching and the content we’re viewing on it? Given the economic realities of the TV business, probably the latter. This is not a new phenomenon however. Even as HDTV hardware had attained dominance over SDTV in the market, most channels were still in HD. It’s just that the gap is getting wider. Someone watching the local news on a high-end TV in 2020 may very well be looking at an SD signal upscaled for an 8K display. That will not look great. Whether it’s acceptable depends on how critical the consumer is, and on how compelling the content.

BBC REGIONAL NEWS BREAK IS STILL BROADCAST ONLY IN SD. (SOURCE: INFORMITV)


THE HDR ALTERNATIVE:
One way for broadcasters to catch up with the TV hardware evolution is to start transmitting programs in HDR. According to the Ultra HD Forum, 1080p HD with HDR also qualifies as Ultra HD and frankly, improved dynamic range contributes more to picture quality than increased spatial resolution. It takes only a modest amount of extra bandwidth – between 0% and about 25% over an SDR channel, depending on the HDR format used. This changes the economics drastically. To what extent broadcasters will need to overhaul their production workflow again depends a lot on what HDR format they choose. More about that in a future article. We seem to have reached an inflection point. What it means for TV hardware and broadcast business only time will tell.

Source: https://www.flatpanelshd.com

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Improved Offline Publishing.

The path to a better offline experience in our mobile apps.

Date: January 30, 2020

Written by: diegoreymendez

The best technology is invisible and reliable. You almost forget it’s there, because things just work. Bad technology never disappears into the background — it’s always visible, and worse, it gets in your way. We rarely stop to think “My, what good Wifi!” But we sure notice when the Wifi is iffy.

Good technology in an app requires solid offline support. A WordPress app should give you a seamless, reliable posting experience, and you shouldn’t have to worry whether you’re online or offline while using WordPress Mobile. And if we’ve done our jobs right, you won’t have to! 

We all need fewer worries in life, so if you haven’t already head to https://apps.wordpress.com/get/ to download the apps.

Offline Publishing:

On the go and without a connection?  No worries! The apps will now remember your choices and once you’re back online,your content will be saved and published as requested.  But if you changed your mind about publishing a post while you’re still offline, you can still safely cancel it.

The New Offline Publishing Flow.

This improved publishing flow comes together with a revamped UI for yourf post status.  You’ll be able to clearly see which posts are pending, saving or publishing.

Smoother Messaging:

We removed several alerts that were being presented while you were offline.  These blocking alerts required you to take action but often provided no insights on either what the problem was, or how to resolve it.

They have been replaced with contextual non-blocking messages both within the UI, and in notices appearingright above the toolbar.

As a result, you’ll see less disruptive and uninformative alerts, and more inline and informative messages, such as the one shown above.

Safeguards:

We also added some safeguards to ensure there are no surprises!

You Can Cancel Offline Publishing.

Modifying posts that are scheduled for publishing will cancel the publishing action. Don’t worry, though – you can always reschedule the post for publishing.

All queued save and publishing operations will be canceled if your device stays offline for more than 48 hours.  We want you to be in complete control of what gets published and when.

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WordPress 5.3.1 Security and Maintenance Release

Date: December 13, 2019

Written by: Jb Audras

WordPress 5.3.1 is now available!

This security and maintenance release features 46 fixes and enhancements. Plus, it adds a number of security fixes—see the list below.

WordPress 5.3.1 is a short-cycle maintenance release. The next major release will be version 5.4.

You can download WordPress 5.3.1 by clicking the button at the top of this page, or visit your Dashboard → Updates and click Update Now.

If you have sites that support automatic background updates, they’ve already started the update process.

Security updates:

Four security issues affect WordPress versions 5.3 and earlier; version 5.3.1 fixes them, so you’ll want to upgrade. If you haven’t yet updated to 5.3, there are also updated versions of 5.2 and earlier that fix the security issues.

  • Props to Daniel Bachhuber for finding an issue where an unprivileged user could make a post sticky via the REST API.
  • Props to Simon Scannell of RIPS Technologies for finding and disclosing an issue where cross-site scripting (XSS) could be stored in well-crafted links.
  • Props to the WordPress.org Security Team for hardening wp_kses_bad_protocol() to ensure that it is aware of the named colon attribute.
  • Props to Nguyen The Duc for discovering a stored XSS vulnerability using block editor content.

Maintenance updates:

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Administration: improvements to admin form controls height and alignment standardization (see related dev note), dashboard widget links accessibility and alternate color scheme readability issues (see related dev note).
  • Block editor: fix Edge scrolling issues and intermittent JavaScript issues.
  • Bundled themes: add customizer option to show/hide author bio, replace JS based smooth scroll with CSS (see related dev note) and fix Instagram embed CSS.
  • Date/time: improve non-GMT dates calculation, fix date format output in specific languages and make get_permalink() more resilient against PHP timezone changes.
  • Embeds: remove CollegeHumor oEmbed provider as the service doesn’t exist anymore.
  • External libraries: update sodium_compat.
  • Site health: allow the remind interval for the admin email verification to be filtered.
  • Uploads: avoid thumbnails overwriting other uploads when filename matches, and exclude PNG images from scaling after upload.
  • Users: ensure administration email verification uses the user’s locale instead of the site locale.

For more information, browse the full list of changes on Trac or check out the version 5.3.1 HelpHub documentation page.

Thanks!

In addition to the security researchers mentioned above, thank you to everyone who contributed to WordPress 5.3.1:

123hostacosminAdam SilversteinAlbert Juhé LluverasAlex ConchaAlex MillsAnantajit JGAnders NorénandraganescuAndrea FerciaAndrew DuthieAndrew OzzAndrey “Rarst” Savchenkoaravindajitharchon810Ate Up With MotorAyesh KarunaratneBirgir Erlendsson (birgire)Boga86Boone GorgesCarolina NymarkChetan PrajapatiCsaba (LittleBigThings)DademaruDaniel BachhuberDaniele ScasciafratteDaniel RichardsDavid BaumwaldDavid HerreraDion hulseehtisElla van DurpeepiquerasFabianFelix ArntzflaviozavanGarrett HyderGlennGrzegorz (Greg) ZiółkowskiGrzegorz.JanoszkaHareesh PillaiIan BelangerispreviewJake SpurlockJames HuffJames KosterJarretJasper van der MeerJb AudrasjeichornJer ClarkeJeremy FeltJip MoorsJoe HoyleJohn James JacobyJonathan DesrosiersJonny HarrisJoost de ValkJorge CostaJoyJuliette Reinders FolmerjustdaivKelly DwanKharis SulistiyonoKitekyliesabralisotalukaswaudentioMaciej Mackowiakmarcelo2605Marius L. J.Mat LipemayanksonawatMel Choyce-DwanMichael Arestadmiette49Miguel FonsecamihdanMike AuteriMikko SaariMilan PetrovicMukesh PanchalNextScriptsNick DaughertyNiels LangenoyleOv3rflyParagon Initiative EnterprisesPaul BironPeter WilsonRachel PeterRiad BenguellaRicard TorresRoland MurgRyan McCueRyan WelcherSamuelFernandezsathyapulseScott TaylorscvleonSergey BiryukovsergiomdgomesSGr33nsimonjaninsmerrimansteevithakStephen BernhardtStephen EdgarSteve DufresneSubrata MalSultan Nasir UddinSybre WaaijerTammie ListerTanvirul HaqueTellyworthtimon33Timothy JacobsTimothée BrosilletmatsuurTung DuVeminomvortfuwaleedt93williampattonwpgurudev, and Zack Tollman.

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New Theme: Twenty Twenty

Meet Twenty Twenty, the brand new WordPress default theme.

Date: December 10, 2019

Written by: Danny Dudzic

We’re pleased to announce that Twenty Twenty — the new WordPress default theme designed by Anders Norén— is available to all WordPress.com sites.

Twenty Twenty was designed with the flexibility of the new WordPress Editor at its core. If you want to use it for an organization or a business, you can combine columns, groups, and media to create dynamic layouts that show off your services or products. If you want to use it for a traditional blog, the centered content column and considered typography makes it perfect for that as well.

It also has been designed and developed to take maximum advantage of the creative freedom enabled by the block editor. Extra care has been given to the Columns and Group blocks, which can be combined into impressive landing pages with intricate blocks layouts. Twenty Twenty includes full editor styles for the block editor, so what you see in the editor will almost exactly match the end result.

Learn more about WordPress’s latest default theme here, or check out the demo site.

Source: https://en.blog.wordpress.com/2019/12/10/twenty-twenty

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The Month in WordPress: November 2019

Date: December 2, 2019

Written by: Hugh Lashbrooke

November has been a big month in the WordPress community. New releases, big events, and a push for more contributors have characterized the work being done across the project — read on to find out more!

The Release of WordPress 5.3 Kirk:

WordPress 5.3 was released on November 12, and is available for download or update in your dashboard! Named “Kirk,” after jazz multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, 5.3 enhances the block editor with new APIs and theme-related features, adds more intuitive interactions, and improves accessibility in a number of areas — including CSS in the dashboard, the media managercore widgets, and dozens of other areas.

You can read the full details of all the included enhancements in the 5.3 Field Guide.

Along with 5.3 came the new Twenty Twenty theme, which gives users more design flexibility and integrates with the block editor. For more information about the improvements to the block editor, expanded design flexibility, the Twenty Twenty theme, and to see the huge list of amazing contributors who made this release possible, read the full announcement.

Want to get involved in building WordPress Core? Follow the Core team blog and join the #core channel in the Making WordPress Slack group. You can also provide feedback on the 5.3 release process.

At Last bbPress 2.6:

bbPress 2.6 was released on November 12 after a little over six years in development. This new release includes per-forum moderation, new platforms to import from, and an extensible engagements API. You can read more about all of this in the bbPress codex.

Version 2.6.1 and 2.6.2 quickly followed, both of which fixed a number of bugs that required immediate attention.

Want to get involved in building bbPress? Follow the bbPress blog and join the #bbpress channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

State of the Word:

WordCamp US 2019 was held in St. Louis, MO this year on November 1-3. At the event, @matt gave his annual State of the Word address, during which he shared what had been accomplished in the past year, announced what is coming next, and shared several ways to get involved.

You can watch the State of the Word as well as the Q&A session at the end, and read Matt’s recap of the address. If you didn’t make it to St. Louis, you can still watch all the sessions at your leisure.

Five for the Future:

During the State of the Word, Matt announced that there is now a dedicated landing page for Five for the Future, which features the people and organizations that commit at least it 5% of their resources to the WordPress open source project. There are many ways to contribute to WordPress, such as core development, marketing, translation, training, and community organizing, among many other important paths to contribution.

Five for the Future welcomes individuals and organizations, and highlights all the incredible ways we build WordPress together. For more information, visit the Five for the Future page.

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People of WordPress: Jill Binder

Written by: Josepha

Date: December 6, 2019

You’ve probably heard that WordPress is open-source software, and may know that it’s created and run by volunteers. WordPress enthusiasts share many examples of how WordPress changed people’s lives for the better. This monthly series shares some of those lesser-known, amazing stories.

Meet Jill Binder:

Jill Binder never meant to become an activist. She insists it was an accident.

Despite that, Jill has led the Diversity Outreach Speaker Training working group in the WordPress Community team since 2017. This group is dedicated to increasing the number of women and other underrepresented groups who are stepping up to become speakers at WordPress Meetups, WordCamps, and events. 

Jill’s back story:

Internship:

Jill’s WordPress story begins in 2011, in Vancouver, Canada. Jill secured an internship for her college program, working on a higher education website that was built in WordPress. As a thank you, her practicum advisor bought Jill a ticket to WordCamp Vancouver 2011: Developer’s Edition. After that Jill began freelancing  with WordPress as a Solopreneur. 

First steps in the WordPress community:

The following year her internship advisor, who had become a client, was creating the first ever BuddyCamp for BuddyPress. He asked Jill to be on his organizing team. At that event she also moderated a panel with Matt Mullenweg. Then, Jill was invited to be on the core organizing team for WordCamp Vancouver.

Part of this role meant reviewing and selecting speakers. From 40 speaker applications the team had to pick only 14 to speak.

The diversity challenge when selecting speakers.

For anyone who has organized a conference, you know that speaker selection is hard. Of the 40 applications, 7 were from women, and the lead organizer selected 6 of those to be included in the speaker line up.

At this point Jill wasn’t aware that very few women apply to speak at tech conferences and suggested selection should be made on the best fit for the conference. The team shared that not only did they feel the pitches were good and fit the conference, but they also needed to be accepted or the Organizers would be criticized for a lack of diversity.

Selecting women for fear of criticism is embarrassing to admit, but that’s how people felt in 2013.

By the time the event happened, though, the number of women speakers dropped to 4. And with an additional track being added, the number of speakers overall was up to 28. Only 1 speaker in 7 was a woman (or 14%) and attendees did ask questions and even blogged about the lack of representation.

What keeps women from applying?

Later that year at  WordCamp San Francisco—the biggest WordCamp at the time (before there was a WordCamp US)—Jill took the opportunity to chat with other organizers about her experience. She found out that many organizers had trouble getting enough women to present.

Surprisingly Vancouver had a high number of women applicants in comparison to others, and the consensus was more would be accepted  if only more would apply.

Jill decided that she  needed to know why this was happening? Why weren’t there more women applying? She started researching, reading, and talking to people.

Though this issue is complex, two things came up over and over:

  • “What would I talk about?”
  • “I’m not an expert on anything. I don’t know enough about anything to give a talk on it.”

A first workshop with encouraging results.

Then Jill had an idea. She brought up the issue at an event and someone suggested that they should get women together in a room and brainstorm speaker topics.

So Jill became the lead of a small group creating a workshop in Vancouver. In one of the exercises, participants were invited to brainstorm ideas—this proved that they had literally a hundred topic ideas and the biggest problem then became picking just one!

In the first discussion, Jill focussed on:

  • Why it matters that women (added later: diverse groups) are in the front of the room
  • The myths of what it takes to be the speaker at the front of the room (aka beating impostor syndrome)
  • Different presentation formats, especially story-telling
  • Finding and refining a topic
  • Tips to become a better speaker
  • Leveling up by speaking in front of the group throughout the afternoon
women gathering to discussion presentation topics
Vancouver Workshop 2014

Leading to workshops across North America and then the world.

Other cities across North America heard about the workshop and started hosting them, adding their own material.

Many women who initially joined her workshop wanted help getting even better at public speaking. So Jill’s team (Vanessa Chu, Kate Moore Hermes, and Mandi Wise) added in some material created from the other cities and a bit more of their own. Such as:

  • Coming up with a great title
  • Writing a pitch that is more likely to get accepted
  • Writing a bio
  • Creating an outline

At WordCamp Vancouver 2014—only one year since Jill started—there were 50% women speakers and 3 times the number of women applicants! Not only that, but this WordCamp was a Developer’s Edition, where it’s more challenging to find women developers in general, let alone those who will step up to speak.

More work is needed!

Impressive as those results were, the reason Jill is so passionate about this work is because of what happened next:

  • Some of the women who attended the workshop stepped up to be leaders in the community and created new content for other women.
  • A handful of others became WordCamp organizers. One year Vancouver had an almost all-female organizing team – 5 out of 6!
  • It also influenced local businesses. One local business owner loved what one of the women speakers said so much that he hired her immediately. She was the first woman developer on the team, and soon after she became the Senior Developer.

Diversity touches on many levels.

Jill has seen time and again what happens when different people speak at the front of the room. More people feel welcome in the community. The speakers and the new community members bring new ideas and new passions that help to make the technology we are creating more inclusive. And together we generate new ideas that benefit everyone.

This workshop was so successful, with typical results of 40-60% women speakers at WordCamps, that the WordPress Global Community Team asked Jill to promote it and train it for women and all diverse groups around the world. In late 2017, Jill started leading the Diverse Speaker Training group (#wpdiversity).

Dozens of community members across the world have now been trained to lead the workshop. With now dozens of workshops worldwide, for WordPress and other open source software projects as well, there is an increase in speaker diversity. 

Diverse Speaker Training group
WordCamp US 2019

As a result of the success, Jill is now sponsored to continue the program. She’s proud of how the diversity represented on the stage adds value not only to the brand but also in the long-term will lead to the creation of a better product. She’s inspired by seeing the communities change as a result of the new voices and new ideas at the WordPress events.

Written by: Josepha

Source: https://wordpress.org/news

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What are The Best TV Brands?

It May Be Time to Reevaluate Your Brand Loyalty

Credit:

Written by: Lee Neikirk

Date: December 3, 2019

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The history of dominant brands in the TV marketplace is a long and fascinating one. After World War II, Japan ramped up nationwide efforts to secure dominance in many consumer electronics markets, the end result being that by the latter half of the 1990s, Japanese brands like Sony, Panasonic, and Toshiba were dominant in the marketplace.

If you’re a little older, you may remember a time when fledgling TV brands Samsung and Lucky Goldstar—er, LG—were first crowding onto the shelves, and the consensus was that the LED TVs coming out of South Korea were of lesser quality than their Japanese counterparts.

However, those days are way behind us: Samsung and LG are beloved TV brands in the states, Panasonic has exited the US market entirely, and Chinese brands are gaining footing, especially in value brackets. If you’re still laboring under the idea that it’s Sony or nothing, it might be time to update your notions about TV brands, especially if you want to get your hands on the very best TVs.

We should note the list below is not in order of quality—we let our reviews and roundups do the talking there.

TV-brands-SAMSUNG
Samsung Incredibly Popular Still, With Beautiful High Quality TVs

Samsung has been the leader in the TV market for a long time now, owning the top market position year after year. Samsung may not always offer the best TV on the market—our reviews typically favor OLED models, which Samsung does not make anymore—but across the board its thin, sleek TVs have proven incredibly popular with consumers.

As it stands, Samsung’s premium UHD LED TVs—now dubbed ‘QLED’ by Samsung—have struggled to beat out competing OLED models for several years, but overall the company’s TVs are still some of the best on the market. Samsung TVs are typically well-designed, with a slew of high-end features and excellent build quality.

You are definitely paying (a little) more for the Samsung name–especially early in the year before prices drop—but you can also expect to get a high-quality TV even if you’re not spending a ton.

Sony: Name recognition and phenomenal picture quality.

TV-brands-SONY
Sony Name Recognition and Phenomenal Picture Quality

Sony is not quite the dominant player in the US market that it once was. The company even spun off its TV division (“BRAVIA,” which stands for Best Resolution Audio Video Integrated Architecture), something it also did for its struggling VAIO laptop business.

However, in 2019, Sony seems poised for a comeback, hitting the US market with a long list of 4K and HDR TVs, including a couple of ultra-premium OLED models. While Sony TVs tend to be a little pricier than certain competitors, they also tend to be high quality TVs that look great right out of the box.

Of course, no matter the brand, not every TV is going to be a winner even if the brand’s output is usually reliable—that’s what TV reviews are for. But generally, Sony’s high-end 4K and OLED TVs are beautiful to behold.

LG: OLED TVs are superior, but prices are still fairly high.

TV-brands-LG
LG OLED TVs are Superior, But Prices Are Still Fairly High

LG’s OLED TVs have widely been considered to be the best TVs in the market for around five years now. OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology operates in a fundamentally different way than traditional LED/LCD tech, and at this point we can all agree that it’s better—especially in a dark room.

However, LG’s top 2019 OLED TVs—from the “affordable” C9 OLED TV up through the extravagant W9 “wallpaper” OLED—don’t come cheap. Even the cheapest, on sale, refurb’d 55-inch OLED TVs still retail around $1,300. They look great, but that’s a ton of money for most people.

Outside of LG’s OLEDs, we typically aren’t overly impressed with the company’s IPS panel-equipped LED TVs. They aren’t bad at all, but they don’t sweep the top spot in brackets and categories the way that the company’s OLEDs do. Even still, LG continues to be one of the best brands for its OLED TVs alone.

Vizio: Still makes some of the best TVs for the money.

TV-brands-VIZIO
Vizio Still Makes Some of The Best TVs For The Money

It used to be Vizio TVs were known for giving you the best picture quality at the lowest price possible. You’d get one at Walmart or Costco, and it looked like every corner had been cut except maybe the raw picture quality. But if you wanted a massive 70-inch TV for thousands less than the competition, Vizio was the way to go.

Nowadays, not only does Vizio still produce TVs that punch well above their weight, but Vizio competes pretty handily in the premium sphere, too. Take last year’s P-Series Quantum: a 65-inch 4K/HDR smart TV with quantum dots that started at just $2,200 and is now available for around $1,500. It was up there in quality with some of the best Samsung “QLED” TVs and even LG’s OLED TVs.

This year, we’re expecting a lot of great 2019 TVs from Vizio, including a new “V” Series which ostensibly serves as Vizio’s entry-level series. While some Vizio TVs aim a little too low for our tastes, the middle- and upper-tier models (M-Series, P Series) are quality picks year after year.

TCL: A newer player with some fantastic sub $1,000 TVs.

TV-brands-TCL
TCL A Newer Player With Some Fantastic Sub $1,000 TVs

If you haven’t heard of TCL, you’re in for a surprise. There’s a lot of “I’ve never heard of that brand” brands in the TV market you should usually avoid. Players like Element, SuperSonic, and even better known brands like Westinghouse, Insignia, and Dynex may be on your radar, but in our experience they’re generally unreliable in everyday circumstances.

China’s TCL is the exception. For the last couple of years, the brand has swept the “high value” categories of most sites, releasing consistently
excellent 4K/HDR Roku TVs that even AV geeks and cinephiles have been very excited about.

We haven’t seen the 2019 version yet, but the 2018 TCL 6 Series TVs were some of our favorites for good reason: you could get a 55-inch 4K/HDR smart TV for $600, and it was really darn good. That’s the dream, folks, and it’s something TCL has been making a reality.

If value is your game, take a look at the TCL TVs next time you’re thinking of upgrading.

Hisense: A massive worldwide force just cracking the US market.

TV-brands-HISENSE
Hisense A Massive Worldwide Force Just Cracking the US Market

Last but definitely not least, Hisense TVs have come a long way in the last few years, with the company owning significant marketshare worldwide and in markets like Australia. While the company has struggled to get a clean foothold in the US market, generally Hisense TVs (which include Sharp-branded sets in the states) are good, quality TVs.

The main issue with Hisense has been availability. We’ve tested some excellent high-end Hisense TVs only for them to be stuck “backordered” for months on end. That does seem to be getting better, but it pays to do your research to make sure the Hisense model you’re about to buy is actually worth it.

On the lower end of things, Hisense TVs tend to be more readily available and frequently compete with the best TVs around $500. The company’s Roku TVs (and especially its 8 Series from the last couple years) have been strong value picks, and are definitely worth considering.

Written by: Lee Neikirk

Source: https://www.techradar.com

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It Looks Like Nokia is About to Launch a Smart TV.

Written by: Maggie Tillman

Date: 6 December 2019

It looks like Nokia is about to launch a smart TV
It’s 4K and runs an Android-based OS

Nokia is no stranger to licensing its name to third parties, and the latest example comes in the form of a smart TV – a first for the Nokia brand.

Gadgets 360 recently noticed Flipkart, a massive e-commerce retailer in India, is using the Nokia brand on a TV. Described as a “global first for the brand in the TV category” by Flipkart, the new “Nokia Ultra HD 4K LED Smart Android TV” is a 55-inch set with two 24-watt speakers and a sound system from JBL by Harman. To be clear, the TV runs an Android-based operating system, but it might not be Android TV, specifically.

Other features include a 16:9 display with a 60Hz refresh rate, support for Dolby Vision and HDR10, three HDMI ports, two USB ports, a quad-core processor, 2.25GB of RAM, 16GB of ROM, and support for Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi. So, it’s decently specc’d for a budget television.

Flipkart image 2
Nokia Ultra HD 4K LED Smart Android TV

Flipkart is quoted saying it wants to help make Nokia-branded smart TVs accessible and affordable. As a result, its Nokia-branded TV will launch on 10 December for 41,999 Indian rupees about $589 in the US or £448 in the UK. There’s no indication it will launch internationally, however.

Written by: Maggie Tillman

Source: Flipkart

Via: Gadgets 360

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Sports fans rejoice! Premier Sports comes to netgem.tv

Written by: Pocket-lint Promotion

Date: 28 November 2019

Sports fans rejoice! Premier Sports comes to netgem.tv
Premier Sports Cmes to netgem.tv

UK TV service netgem.tv has partnered with Premier Sports to offer an unbeatable TV package.

As well as netgem.tv’s superb line up of Freeview digital channels, streaming services and industry leading recommendations, you can now get Premier Sports 1 HD, Premier Sports 2 HD and Freesports channels at no extra cost.

It usually costs £11.99 per month for such a selection of top sports action in high definition, but with netgem.tv you get it all as part of the best value TV offering in the country.

Premier Sports line-up

Premier Sports hosts an expanded line-up of live events, including matches from the La Liga, Serie A and Eredivisie from Spain, Italy and the Netherlands respectively.

You can watch the silky skills of Messi, Ronaldo’s extraordinary free kicks and the rising stars of Dutch football throughout the football season.

In addition, the dedicated sports station presents coverage of the hard-hitting Guinness Pro14 Rugby Union league, NHL matches from the US and Canada, and thrill-a-minute NASCAR races.

These combined with netgem.tv’s partnership with fibre optic broadband providers up and down the UK, means you can secure a superb, affordable bundle of internet, class-leading TV and streaming, plus one of the best sports services around, all for one low monthly price.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Premier Sports,” said netgem.tv managing director, Sylvain Thevenot.

“By forging this relationship, we are offering consumers access to outstanding sports content from around the world, and existing and potential ISPs access to a premium content channel. Our aim as we move forward is to broker more of these deals to demonstrate our ambition of being a serious player in this sector.”

How to get netgem.tv with Premier Sports

Premier Sports is available on netgem.tv boxes and the netgem.tv mobile streaming service as part of Broadband & TV bundles available from internet service providers around the UK.

ISPs to offer netgem.tv as part of their all-in-one broadband and TV packages include Pure Broadband, Air Broadband and Pure Fibre. 

More are planned in the future, so could also be available in your region.

“Premier Sports and FreeSports are delighted to be partnering with netgem.tv to widen our distribution of the Premier Sports brands through its partner ISP network,” said the CEO of Premier Sports and Freesports, Richard Sweeney.

“We look forward to this being a long and successful relationship.”

As will all sports fans looking for a great combination of superfast internet, live events, TV channels, on demand and catch-up TV.


If you can’t get any of the currently supported internet service providers in your area, netgem.tv has a superb Black Friday deal on its NetBox HD set-top-box. It is currently available on Amazon for £39 instead of the usual price of £69.

Written by: Pocket-lint Promotion

Source: https://www.pocket-lint.com

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Samsung Quantum Dot Tech might be its path to OLED TV Relevance.

Written by: Max Freeman-Mills

Date: 29 November 2019

Samsung's quantum dot tech might be its path to OLED TV relevance
Samsung Quantum Dot TV

Samsung knows a thing or two about OLED displays – it’s arguably the market leader when it comes to OLEDs for smartphones, with beautiful screens on its own devices and outsourced manufacturing to a bunch of other phone-makers. 

In terms of TVs, though, it’s had a little bit more trouble in recent years. The South Korean firm has made no secret of the fact that it wants to make high-quality LED televisions for the mass market, but has had difficulty in scaling production effectively.

Rather than going with the more well-known OLED technology, Samsung has been ploughing its own trough with QLED displays, which, while still very much good, haven’t been quite as impressive as some OLED competitors. 

Samsung’s not deterred, though, committing to build a plant, completed in 2025, to just to make its QLED TVs at a scale that becomes cost-effective. It may now have had a bit of a breakthrough, too.

Two of its researchers, Dr. Yu-Ho Won and Dr. Eunjoo Jang, have published a paper in scientific journal Nature detailing quantum-dot LED technology they’ve created that uses less hazardous materials and has a practical lifetime of up to a million hours. That’s the sort of useable life cycle that spells “commercially viable”. 

Lord knows we can’t have enough acronyms, so it looks like this tech will be called “QD-LED”, and Samsung seems to be all-in on the technology. However, given that we’re only at the stage of scientific studies for this new tech, it remains to be seen how long it will actually take for these fresh types of TV to actually hit the market.

Written by: Max Freeman-Mills

Source: https://www.pocket-lint.com

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LG 4K Demo – Light Graffiti in DTS

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LG 4K Demo – Light Graffiti in DTS

LG 4K Demo – Light Graffiti in DTS is a promotional 4k demo video made by LG for the LG 4K UHD TV.

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LG 4K Demo – Light Graffiti in Dolby Digital

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LG 4K Demo – Light Graffiti in Dolby Digital

LG 4K Demo – Light Graffiti in dolby digital is a promotional 4k demo video made by LG for the LG 4K UHD TV.

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BBC iPlayer adds massive selection of box sets to iPlayer, just in time for Christmas

Written by: Rik Henderson

Date: 3 December 2019

BBC iPlayer adds massive selection of box sets to iPlayer, just in time for Christmas
BBC iPlayer Christmas Version

The BBC has greatly expanded the amount of complete box sets available on BBC iPlayer.

After being given the go-ahead by Ofcom earlier this year, the Beeb has added an enormous amount of shows and series to the streaming platform, to be viewed for free in the UK.

Ahead of the Gavin and Stacey reunion Christmas special, you can catch up with the entire run. Or, watch all of Miranda Hart’s self-titled sitcom in preparation of a 10th anniversary special.

All episodes of series 24 to 27 of Top Gear are now available, as is every episode of Doctor Who from the reboot in 2005 and on.

Other drama series you can now find on BBC iPlayer include Peaky Blinders, Killing Eve, His Dark Materials, Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes and Luther.

Comedies include This Time with Alan Partridge, Absolutely Fabulous, Outnumbered and Extras.

There are plenty of factual and documentary series available not too, including a “huge selection” of Louis Theroux’s back catalogue, Blue Planet I and II, Planet Earth I and II, and the superb recent hit, Seven Worlds, One Planet.

Children don’t miss out, with The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and other Julia Donaldson adaptations available throughout Christmas.

“We’ve packed BBC iPlayer with more box sets than ever this Christmas,” said Charlotte Moore, director of BBC content.

This, in addition to the bumper range of festive favourites on our channels, means BBC iPlayer has everything you need for some perfect viewing this Christmas.

Written by: Rik Henderson

Source: https://www.pocket-lint.com

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Plex now offers free movies and TV shows alongside your own

Written by: Maggie Tillman
Date: 4 December 2019

Plex now offers free movies and TV shows alongside your own
The Plex Media Sever it’s Free to use but has Ads

Plex has launched an ad supported streaming service that’s completely free to use.

With this service, you can access movies, TV shows, and documentaries. The catalogue at launch will include content from both major studios and smaller producers. It works across all devices that support Plex. To find it, just look in the sidebar for the “Free to Watch” section, which you can move or hide if you wish. At first glance, there are a few popular films, but also many unknown titles, too.

For instance, we can see classic films like Rain Man, Raging Bull, Apocalypse Now, and Terminator 2. Like many streaming services, the Plex catalogue on offer will change over time, with titles being added and removed regularly. However, Plex is making the bold claim that it will somehow offer “more content to more countries than any other free streaming service to date”.

Plex image 2
The Plex Media Server

It also plans to use your existing media library to serve up TV show and movie recommendations from its streaming service. Although that sounds a little invasive, Plex is promising it does not have any “visibility into the content or metadata” of your personal media collection.

As for video quality, you can expect 1080p. Plex also syncs across devices. so you can start on one device, stop, and pick up on another. Coming down the pike you can also expect subtitle support and a watchlist feature.

Keep in mind Plex is launching its service during the age of the streaming service wars. Both Disney and Apple have recently launched streaming services, and then, of course, there is Netflix, Prime Video, CBS All Access, Hulu, HBO Now, and so on. With so many on-demand offerings now available, you can essentially build up a package to your liking, much like you once could with cable channels.

Written by: Maggie Tillman
Source: https://www.pocket-lint.com

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