The UpStream

The CEA Recommends New Guidelines for Ultra HD Displays

posted Friday Jun 27, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

The CEA Recommends New Guidelines for Ultra HD Displays

Standards are a big thing in the consumer electronics industry. When something new comes to market, manufacturers are quick to create whatever they can get out of the door, so associations recommending a set list of protocols to follow only help the consumer. And last year, when Ultra HDTV really hit the industry, companies followed a standard set by the Consumer Electronics Association in October 2012. This week, the CEA has announced an updated list of characteristics that are built upon the ones from two years ago.

The CEA's Ultra High-Definition Display Characteristics V2 are voluntary guidelines that will go into place in September of this year. The idea was to continue addressing the various aspects of the quality of the screen, compatibility with formats and making it easier for consumers to understand what UHD really is.

The CEA has said for a projector, monitor or TV to be considered Ultra High-definition, it must meet the following standards:

Display Resolution - Has at least eight million active pixels, with at least 3840 horizontally and at least 2160 vertically.

Aspect Ratio - Has a width to height ratio of the display's native resolution of 16:9 or wider.

Upconversion - Is capable of upscaling HD video and displaying it at Ultra High-Definition resolution.

Digital Input - Has one or more HDMI inputs supporting at least 3840x2160 native content resolution at 24p, 30p and 60p frames per second. At least one of the 3840x2160 HDMI inputs shall support HDCP revision 2.2 or equivalent content protection.

Colorimetry - Processes 2160p video inputs encoded according to ITU-R BT.709 color space and may support wider colorimetry standards.

Bit Depth - Has a minimum color bit depth of eight bits.

The CEA also recommended a set of attributes to follow for those who wish to call themselves a Connected Ultra HD Device.

Ultra High-Definition Capability - Meets all of the requirements of the CEA Ultra High-Definition Display Characteristics V2 (listed above).

Video Codec - Decodes IP-delivered video of 3840x2160 resolution that has been compressed using HEVC* and may decode video from other standard encoders.

Audio Codec - Receives and reproduces, and/or outputs multichannel audio.

IP and Networking - Receives IP-delivered Ultra HD video through a Wi-Fi, Ethernet or other appropriate connection.

Application Services - Supports IP-delivered Ultra HD video through services or applications on the platform of the manufacturer's choosing.

Speaking on these lists of attributes, CEO of the CEA Gary Shaprio said,

Ultra High-Definition TV is the next revolution in home display technology, offering consumers an incredibly immersive viewing experience with outstanding new levels of picture quality. These updated attributes will help ensure consumers get the most out of this exciting new technology and will provide additional certainty in the marketplace.

The CEA is also working on creating a logo for UHD that will help consumers identify when a TV set they wish to buy is actually Ultra HD. Launching later this year, the logo would be voluntary for manufacturers to implement on packaging and marketing, but is said to be widely adopted. With all of the changes coming to televisions in the next year, it makes sense for the effort to educate the consumer to be one of the fore-fronts in the UHD movement. And hopefully manufacturers will follow the recommended attributes so that the customer experience doesn't suffer in the end.

Rumors Swirling Around Spotify Launching Video-Streaming Service

posted Sunday Jun 22, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Rumors Swirling Around Spotify Launching Video-Streaming Service

What's Spotify doing lately? Well, after trying to single-handedly revolutionize the music industry, a little service called Beats Music came along and put some pressure on the music-streaming service space, Spotify included. So, to go one-up on Beats, the company might be looking to get into the video-streaming space to take on the Netflix' and Amazons of the world.

While this is still a rumor as of now, many sources are reporting that Spotify wants to shift into a music and video service that would have a heavy focus on original content and exclusive deals. Those close to the matter have said that the company is already looking at partners to both source additional funding, as well as produce exclusive content for the platform. As it stands, there is no word on if we'd see another round of investment offers in Spotify, but with a valuation of $3 billion thanks to $100 million of investment from Goldman Sachs and Coca-Cola, it seems unlikely.

We also don't know if what type of video we'd see, whether it be movies, TV shows or even just music videos. When CEO Daniel Ek was questioned about it, he professionally danced around the topic. "I won't rule it out because we're a company that looks at what we're doing incredibly long term. But right now, we're all focused on music," he said in an interview.

Can Spotify hang with the established brands in the space? With a whole bunch of companies spinning up different types of video-streaming services lately, I can see why Spotify would want to try its hand in a related space since the company is already involved with labels and owns a good portion of the media market. However, with original content like House of Cards costing Netflix $100 million to make, a company with a lower valuation than the big boys might not be able to sustain. However, if the company chooses to literally own the music video space, something nobody else is really doing legally right now, it is possible that the blend of music and music videos would sit nicely with Spotify.

Again, all of this is a rumor for now, but it does open up some interesting discussion points and possibilities. Should a music company get involved in video or vice versa? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Facebook Launches a Slingshot to Fight Snapchat

posted Sunday Jun 22, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Facebook Launches a Slingshot to Fight Snapchat

Somewhere between oddball projects and dropping billions on somewhat unrelated tech, Facebook is always in the mood to launch products to compete with what's in the market. And apparently its purchase of WhatsApp for $16 billion wasn't enough, so why not launch another messaging app?

Because the world needs another psuedo-disappearing picture app, Facebook has launched Slingshot, a similar app for iPhone and Android that won't require a Facebook account to use. The one caveat here, though, is the "take a penny, leave a penny" motive behind the app. If you want to view a photo, one must share a photo as well. So if a user has a photo in their inbox, they must reply first in order to view it. It's been reported that the users of Snapchat actually send more pictures per day than WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook put together. If that's the case, I suppose it would make sense for Facebook to strike while the iron is hot.

But Facebook has already attempted this a while ago, with Poke, and I'm not talking about the feature that your grandmother keeps clicking on and asking you what it does. Facebook killed the Snapchat lookalike back in May before dropping serious cash on both Instagram and WhatsApp.

And with brands, sports teams and events all taking to Snapchat in order to take advantage of new features the product has each day, the popularity is increasing at a rapid rate. Now if Facebook can incorporate its already massive data bank into the app, and allow existing brands to tie the two together, perhaps we'll see the app take off. However with the raising concerns of privacy, along with the feeling of Snapchat being just another fad app, I can't see Slingshot working out either.

It should also be noted that, as mentioned, it's only available for iOS and Android, so that leaves Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Tizen and a bunch of up-and-coming platforms in the dust. While those two systems are the biggest right now, their marketshare is quickly dwindling and new app developers need to start considering the rest of the platforms in order to really become successful rather than just a flash in the pan.

E3 Does Well for Twitch, Company Awarded Two World Records During Week

posted Saturday Jun 21, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

E3 Does Well for Twitch, Company Awarded Two World Records During Week

E3 is an expo that can either go really well or really badly for a company. In the case of Twitch, the show was an outstanding success. People who couldn't or didn't want to attend the event could watch it from the comfort of their own home and could enjoy multiple streams of dozens of game developers and hundreds of games. E3 week was so great for Twitch that it even saw the company receive two world records.

For the first day of E3 coverage, which technically wasn't the first day of E3, Twitch saw 5.9 million unique viewers tune into the broadcasts. For the entire broadcast week, Twitch hit a staggering 12 million unique viewers checking out their gaming content. Plus, over 405,000 people watched the E3 livestream on the first day at the same time. These numbers alone shows how gamers and the industry as a whole are altering their ways to consume their content. In total Twitch sees around 45 million unique viewers each month to the website to watch over 1 million people broadcast their gameplay.

Game companies and manufacturers both took notice to Twitch's up-and-coming success and Nintendo even hosted content all week on its own channel on the streaming service. Dubbed the Treehouse, fans logged on for the four days to watch game devs, execs and others all try out new games on the Nintendo hardware.

Twitch's VP of marketing, Matthew DiPietro said this about its E3 efforts.

By helping our partners get the most value out of their E3 presence with our centralized platform and our partnership with the ESA, the numbers illustrated it was a resounding success. As a result, we were able to offer our global community a front row seat to all of the best content from the show.

Not only did E3 bring in huge numbers for Twitch, but the week brought two world records to the company. From February 12th to March 1st, 2014, you might have remembered a little thing called "Twitch Plays Pokemon." Well, that saga was so well-loved by gamers and fans everywhere that on June 12th the Guinness World Record for most participants on a single-player online video game was awarded to Twitch with a total of 1,165,140 gamers. Guinness also presented the World Record for most concurrent viewers for a video game livestreaming service with 826,778. And while that latter record seems a little specific, it's still pretty impressive. The company is so proud about the records that it is selling a T-shirt to commemorate the occasion, with all proceeds going to ExtraLife and St. Jude PLAY LIVE charities.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere Drops F-Bombs, Says AT&T and Verizon are Raping You

posted Saturday Jun 21, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

T-Mobile CEO John Legere Drops F-Bombs, Says AT&T and Verizon are Raping You

T-Mobile is on a rampage lately. CEO John Legere, known for his very "out there" personality and as someone who isn't afraid to just say what's on his mind, has taken things to a whole new level at the recent T-Mobile press conference. In what was a direct attack at the competition during the announcement of T-Mobile's new Music Freedom program, Legere went on record to drop more than a few F-bombs and even say the other carriers are "raping you" with their policies.

While some profanity and jaw-dropping remarks are not a surprise coming from the almost-hipster CEO, the length he went to that night seems a bit extreme. Since taking over the CEO position in 2012, he definitely has changed the company from lying about its 4G networks to something that is causing Verizon, Sprint and AT&T to actually adapt to the announcements T-Mobile is putting out. And with that, he's changed the company's image to something more edgy, albeit it occasionally over the line. In the Music Freedom press conference, he said this about Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

These high and mighty duopolists that are raping you for every penny you have...they f****** hate you.

Like I said, while I am no longer shocked by his persona of "coolness" to appeal and attract a young, new crowd, perhaps one that is the chief executive of a top company shouldn't be throwing out the "rape" word to a group of people in the media. And I'd be right in that thought process too, if it wasn't for the fact Legere realized he went too far and actually apologized on Twitter for his remark. I think it might be his first public apology ever.

The drawback to having no filter when I speakā€¦ sometimes I need a filter. Genuinely apologize to those offended last night

Am I getting too old to appreciate the rough-edged comments from a guy that I believe should always be wearing a leather jacket? Or did he really cross a line? I know he doesn't care, but do you? Courtesy of The Verge, there's a video clip of the highlights from the evening. I encourage you all to check it out and let me know what you think.

Star Wars Parts Ways with JJ Abrams for Future Projects

posted Saturday Jun 21, 2014 by Scott Ertz

<i>Star Wars</i> Parts Ways with JJ Abrams for Future Projects

When Disney purchased Lucasfilm, it was announced that another trilogy was coming. Shortly after, it was announced that Star Trek reboot director JJ Abrams would run the show. Well, this week that has changed some, with Abrams out after Episode VII, in production now.

In his place will be Looper writer-director Rian Johnson. While his major film debut was well-received, jumping from Looper to Star Wars is a pretty major leap for anyone, despite their talent. In fact, it is hard to imagine a higher point in any director or writer's career, so I guess it's good to get that out of the way almost immediately.

Johnson will be joined by Producer Ram Bergman, who produced both of Johnson's previous films. It is unclear why Abrams is leaving the franchise, but it could have to do with his work on future Star Trek films, another upcoming project, or possibly something else entirely. It would be pretty unexpected for Abrams to be removed against his will, though, as he has had numerous successes in the science fiction realm, such as Cloverfield, Revolution, Lost and, of course, Star Trek. With a successful track record like that, it would almost have to have been his choice.

Do you think this will affect quality on Episodes VIII and IX for the better or worse? Sound off in the comments.

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