Tag: TV

TV resellers can rejoice as Sky plans 4K service

tvOne of the sales problems for 4K TVs has been a lack of content, but it appears that Sky is getting ready to fix that.

Dubbed SkyQ, the gear will be in the shops soon. Coincidentally it appears soon after BT’s Ultra HD box began selling online.

Like EE TV, Sky’s new box will enable you to share broadcasts across smartphones and tablets as families move towards viewing TV on multiple devices.

It will also let you  watch or record at least four programmes at once although that will require you to learn how to programme the damn thing.

Apparently SkyQ’s killer feature is 4K football which means that it will be only useful for people who want to watch grossly overpaid, tax dodging morons running up and down a field kicking a ball.

For the rest of the world who wants entertainment that investment in a 4K telly is still a waste of money until Sky and its ilk start upgrading their lower res content.

Sky will launch its box within a month or two so we will know then. The company has not released much in the way of content pricing either. If it is like 3D it will probably be a bit expensive.

Apple wants to get into the TV business

tvFruity cargo cult Apple is convinced it can make a bob or two out of the television market, despite failing dismally in the past.

Boldly going where Intel and Microsoft have failed, Apple has been hinting that it would get into the telly business for a while now. However the Wall Street Journal thinks it has found evidence that the iPhone maker is in talks with programmers to offer a slimmed-down bundle of TV networks in the autumn.

Apple’s service would have about 25 channels, anchored by broadcasters such as ABC, CBS and Fox, and be available across all devices powered by Apple’s iOS operating system, including iPhones, iPads and Apple TV set-top boxes, the newspaper said.

Apple has been talking to Walt Disney, CBS, and Twenty-First Century Fox, and other media companies to offer a “skinny” bundle with well-known channels like CBS, ESPN and FX, leaving out the many smaller networks in the standard cable TV package, the Journal said.

Apple will charge $30 to $40 a month, plans to announce the service in June and launch it in September.

Apple is refusing to comment on the news until it has been hyped a little more and it can stage one of its Nuremburg rallies to promote the idea.

Several media companies are considering joining streaming-only services, or launching their own like HBO and CBS, to attract young people who do not subscribe to traditional pay TV packages. But programmers also fear the packages could become so popular that they undercut current, more profitable deals with cable companies.

Sony is rolling out competing services and it already has the inside measurement of the entertainment business.

LG fights to make OLED more mainstream

tvLG will partner with Chinese and Japanese firms in a bid to make organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display televisions more acceptable to the great unwashed.

LG has not said who it is teaming up with or what its OLED partnership would mean for those signing up to it.

So far, its affiliate LG Display is the only panel maker that can mass-produce OLED TV panels, and Samsung and LG are the biggest proponents of the technology for the TV market.

The LG companies say OLED offers better picture quality and consumes less power than mainstream liquid crystal displays (LCD).

However, they are still more expensive than LCD televisions. Quantum dot technology, which has many of the advantages of OLED but costs less, could also undercut OLED TV sales.

Some Chinese TV makers like Skyworth Digital Holdings and Konka are using OLED, but analysts say the technology needs to be more widely used by manufacturers to take off.

Samsung has said it has no plans to make OLED TVs in the immediate future because the technology is not yet ready for mass consumption.

Sony said it would be open to using OLED displays for its televisions but nothing appears to have happened yet.

White space will speed up your connection

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 14.57.04A technology that makes use of gaps in radio and TV frequencies has been approved by regulator Ofcom.

Academics from Strathclude University tested the technique by producing a prototype system in Glasgow which Ofcom has approved.

Ofcom believes that the technique will allow internet access for ships and boats, machine to machine networks and other wide ranging applications. The white space technology can pass more easily through walls and has a greater range than wi-fi.

Ofcom will guide the industry on how to use the white spaces in the frequencies without affecting other channels.

It said it was likely that commercial applications of the technology will be available by the end of this year.

The wireless technology is also expected to be useful when products and services based on the internet of things finally kicks off.

A number of organisations and companies are already experimenting with the technology.

Samsung invests in new OLED plant

oldtvSamsung thinks that more people will be interested in buying its OLED TVs which spy on you and tell advertisers your doings.

The outfit has announced that it plans to write a cheque for $3.6 billion into making organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels.

A Samsung Display spokesman said that the new production line would mainly make medium and small-sized OLED displays for consumer electronics devices like smartphones and tablets. The investment would be made from 2015 to 2017.

The new line will initially produce curved panels like those on the Galaxy Note Edge, and eventually help win external customers which are becoming crucial to parent Samsung Electronics’ future earnings growth.

In addition to the planned OLED investment, Samsung is expected to start building a chip plant in South Korea sometime in the first half of the year. The company said in October that construction for this plant will be completed in the second half of 2017.

However it is likely that all this investment will cut back on Samsung’s total 2015 dividend payout and it is likely that share values will fall.

It is not the only one thinking of following this line. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency said this morning that LG Display is adding capacity in an existing large-panel OLED production line.



Video drives the mobile data market

tvThe age of TV is not over, it’s just taken a different shape.
IDC estimates that mobile data traffic will show double digit growth in 2015 – by 59 percent.
The company said in a report that while faster networks and more affordable 4G handsets are playing their part, the real reason for data growth on this scale is mobile video apps and other streamed content.
In 2013, mobile data traffic was 19,049,158 terabytes but by this year that figure will grow to close to 52 million terabytes while in 2016 the figure will not be far off 80 million terabytes.
IDC thinks 4G service prices will continue to fall but 3G still has its place, particularly in the non-Western markets.
By 2018, the company believes that people using 4G handsets will generate 46 percent of data traffic.
By 2018, it estimates that 4G devices will churn 5.5GB of data a month, three times more than a 3G smartphone.
Right now, mobile video generates 50 percent of all mobile data and that number is set to increase.  And video calling services are also set to grow.


Samsung confirms Tizen TV move

tv58Samsung has confirmed that it is moving all its new smart television products launched in 2015 to its operating system which is named after a particularly loud sneeze.

Tizen will give smart tellies additional software and connectivity functions, such as video streaming and web browsing capabilities.

Kim Hyun-suk, Samsung’s president of visual display business said that while Samsung is focusing on Tizen, the hope was that other TV makers will follow suit and help build an ecosystem that will help the platform grow.

Televisions are only part of Samsung’s Tizen plans. The idea is that a few smartwatches and cameras will also use it.

Samsung has been keen to move to Tizen to break it free from Google’s iron grip with its Android platform. Some pundits think that it will not take off until Samsung builds a successful smartphone with it.

This will encourage developers to write software for Tizen.  Certainly TVs will increase the platform’s user base, even if it is not the normal sort of market developers write for.


Hon Hai ties up with Innolux

Hon-HaiHon Hai Precision Industry has tied up with flat panel maker Innolux and is investing $2.8 billion in a panel producing plant in Taiwan.

Hon Hai is desperately trying to find new revenue streams which do not depend on the fruity themed cargo cult, Apple.  Earlier this year it bought stakes in a Taiwanese mobile network provider and a South Korean IT services provider.

Under the plan, the pair will buy equipment for the facility located in the southern city of Kaohsiung and which is expected to start production in the second half of 2016.

The plant, which will make low-temperature polysilicon panels, predominantly for use in smartphones, was built in 2008, but was mothballed due to financial constraints after the 2008 global financial crisis.

The plans are still awaiting final approval from the boards of both companies, but it seems likely that Hon Hai will stump up for the majority of the cash. The Innolux representative said the investment may take the form of a new joint-venture company.

Hon Hai already holds a nine percent stake in Innolux though its various subsidiaries. It is all a little mysterious dot com.


Top TV makers reject OLED

tv58Samsung and LG have decided that the world is not ready for OLED and the next generation of TVs will run on quantum dot technology.

The problem is that they can’t come up with a way of making OLED affordable for the mass market.

Quantum dot involves incorporating a film of tiny light-emitting crystals into regular liquid crystal displays (LCD). The manufacturing process is relatively straightforward and offers improved picture quality at much cheaper cost than using organic light-emitting diodes (OLED).

The manufacturers think that the resulting lower prices could help the technology catch on far quicker. One industry analyst estimated a 55-inch quantum dot TV would be priced 30 to 35 percent more than a current LCD TV, while an OLED TV could be 5 times more expensive.

LG’s 65-inch ultra-high definition OLED TV cost $11,350  which is a big problem.

The only real difficulty is that the quantum dot material comes from a small pool of suppliers, including Quantum Materials and Nanoco who are almost certain to jack up the prices as it might be in short supply.

Nanoco said a South Korean plant being built by partner Dow Chemical will start quantum dot production in the first half of 2015. Analysts believe the output is destined for a local client.

LG plans to make quantum dot TVs in addition to OLED TVs. Analysts regarded that a tacit acknowledgement that OLED needs more time for prices to come down before eventually becoming the new standard.

LG Chief Financial Officer Jung Do-hyun told analysts after the company reported earnings that OLED is the fundamentally superior product.

Samsung Vice President Simon Sung said that quantum dot is among many technologies under consideration.

Sony is the only major electronics manufacturer selling quantum dot TVs. Researcher DisplaySearch forecasts 1.95 million quantum dot TV shipments next year, for just 0.8 percent of the market, growing to 25.5 million by 2020. IHS Technology sees OLED TV shipments at 7.8 million units by 2019 from 600,000 in 2015.


Microsoft to release a Chromecast rival

tvMicrosoft thinks that there is room for another TV casting dongle and is apparently thinking about releasing a rival to Chromecast.

Redmond has not mentioned the dongle so far but it did pop up in an FCC filing.

The filing  lacks much info to identify the device, but it carries the model number HD-10.

The FCC filing says that this device has an HDMI port, Wi-Fi and a USB charging unit.

But if you look at the Wi-Fi Alliance product database you can spot that Microsoft’s HD-10 is described as a Miracast dongle.

Miracast is a wireless standard that lets devices connect to one another and share media.  It is not as sexy as the Chromecast or Apple AirPlay. Miracast doesn’t let users queue up multiple files from different sources or play multiplayer games, and it requires media to be played on other devices and sent to the TV, rather than directly from online and cloud sources.

However, this does mean that Microsoft will get its Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 devices casting to the TV which, at the moment, it cannot do.



Smart toys change Brit living rooms

living-roomOfcom research has revealed that the huge take-up of smartphones and tablets is transforming the traditional living room into a digital media hub. Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2013 found that people are still coming together to watch TV in the living room, but the telly is no longer the centre of attention.

The number of UK adults who watch TV in the living room is 91 percent, up from 88 percent in 2002, but adults and kids alike now have a huge range of distractions. People are streaming videos, messaging, updating their social media status and doing a lot more, all while watching more TV than before. In fact, watching may not be the right word, as the TV now apparently provides the soundtrack for couch surfing.

More than half of adults now use smartphones, almost double the number two years ago (27 percent). Tablet ownership has more than doubled in the past year, going up from 11 percent to 24 percent The average household now has more than three types of internet enabled devices and one in five owns six or more.

So what exactly are people doing on their smart toys while “watching” TV? A quarter are “media meshing” which means they aren’t exactly watching TV, but doing something related to what’s on TV, like browsing IMDB, talking on the phone or texting about what they’re watching. Younger people are a lot more likely to use other media while watching TV (74 percent).

The other phenomenon is called “media stacking”. Half of people use their devices for completely unrelated activities while watching TV. These include smurfing the internet, social notworking and online shopping (16 percent). Women are more likely to media multitask than men, 56 percent compared to 51 percent.

However, ye olde telly is fighting back. Many people are picking up bigger TVs, with panels over 43 inches, but many households are reverting to having just one TV rather than a bunch of sets in different rooms. Tablets appear to be disrupting the traditional TV routine and smart TVs are also becoming relevant.

The growth in ownership of tablets is driving the use of second screens, and enticing people to the main TV room. More than half (56 percent) of tablet owners use their device for viewing audiovisual content and half of these do so while in the living room.

In addition, tablets are a very useful tool for entertaining and educating children. Kids of all ages love anything with a touchscreen and the vast majority of parents say the let their kids use tablets.

The transformation of the traditional living room into a multimedia hub could go even faster with superfast broadband services with speeds of over 30Mbps. However, just 17.5 percent of British homes have a superfast connection right now. People who decided to switch to superfast broadband told researchers that they have increased their levels of streaming high-definition content and started using more cloud services.

4K to steady global TV market

tv58The worldwide TV market is showing signs that it will return to growth this year after a 2012 shipment shortfall.

FutureSource consulting forecasts that the TV market will grow six percent this year, and continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate of four percent through to 2017 – when it is expected annual shipments will be above 270 million units, with emerging markets accounting for 67 percent of those.

Ultra high definition 4K TV sets are beginning to emerge, and it’s predicted that worldwide shipments for these will grow from 62,000 in 2012 to 780,000 in 2013. They should reach 22 million units in 2017, according to FutureSource, bolstered by an increase in native 4K content and broader consumer appeal around 2015.

Cheaper sets from big Chinese domestic brands are pushing China to the front of the 4K rollout. But most major brands worldwide are expected to begin launching their own 4K TVs this year. North America is tipped to be a big market because of strong demand for enormous screens.

While 3D was an attempt to tackle the glut in flat panels, it didn’t really manage it by itself. 4K sets, according to FutureSource, indicate a natural progression instead, but it will have its own set of challenges.

Producing 4K panels at high yield rates could prove difficult, as well as challenges in delivering content that requires serious bandwidth. Compression improvements from the HEVC codec should help with broadcast.

Ad market to grow £3 billion, hit £17 billion by 2017

billboardThe UK advertising market is getting a shot in the arm from online operations and it is expected to grow by £3 billion by 2017, reaching £17 billion. According to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) the UK entertainment and media market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of four percent between 2013 and 2017, reaching £65.5 billion, up from £54 in 2012.

Panasonic announces job cuts

seppuku-p1000701Panasonic has announced that 5,000 of its staff will be axed over the next three years.

The Japanese company has said those in its automotive and industrial units will fall on Panasonic’s sword as the company scales back its operations and tries to recoup huge annual losses of $7.5 billion, announced in March.

According to Channel News Asia, the company, which has already cut 20 percent of its workers will now move to slash its staff of around 111,000 people by March 2016. The move is part of an overall strategy to recover its business after a flagging year.

In March, rumours circulated that the company would further salvage its business by cutting its plasma business over the next three years.

It is thought Panasonic’s TV business, which generated sales of $10.5 billion during its peak in 2009 and 2010, accumulated less than half of that amount in 2015 and 2016.

It announced that it would end plasma TV panel production at its main plant in Amagaskai in western Japan around fiscal year 2014.

Ultra HD TV panel shipments to hit 2.6 million units this year

lg-ultra-hdThe first Ultra HD devices are hitting the market and analysts now estimate 2.6 million Ultra HD TV panels could be shipped by the end of the year.

Since Ultra HD, or 4Kx2K is a relatively new standard, shipments last year were negligible, just 63,000 units. This year we should see the first generation of commercially viable Ultra HD televisions, but it will take years before they go mainstream.

Ultra HD sets are extremely expensive and they are pretty pointless for the time being. There is practically no 4K content out there and spending thousands on “future proof” TVs just isn’t an option for most consumers. NPD Display Search reckons panel makers are looking to speed up 4Kx2K adoption by strengthening their relationships with TV brands and stepping up their manufacturing and sales efforts.

DisplaySearch Vice President, Greater China Market, said Innolux Corp is the most aggressive Ultra HD panel maker at this point, as it is developing a full line-up of panels in the 35- to 85-inch range.

“Despite this, 4K×2K panel manufacturers’ shipments are primarily focused on 50″, 55″/58”, and 65″ sizes, which are expected to have the highest volume shipments, especially in China,” said Hsieh. “4K×2K LCD TV is the newest TV technology available, and in order for it to be successful, it will be critical for the supply chain to avoid falling behind when making their purchases, even if content is still scarce. Some panel makers are also working with design houses to develop circuits built into the panel, to enable up-scaling of HD to 4K×2K content. This will help to drive the 4K×2K LCD TV market and encourage panel makers, especially those that have already started design-in work with TV brands in 2013.”

It all sounds a tad optimistic. New chips and upscaling are no substitute for 4K content, which is simply not around and it won’t be readily available for years to come.