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Beware the 4K con

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Buyers of an Ultra-High Definition (UHD) TV should be certain they are purchasing a genuine 4K set in order to guarantee the best entertainment experience.

This is the advice of Samsung South Africa, which is cautioning consumers against some of the so-called branded televisions on the market that are not true UHD. According to the International Committee for Display Metrology (ICDM), Measurement Specifications are likely to be revised so as to prevent low resolution TVs from being sold as 4K UHD TVs to unsuspecting consumers.

“Customers should always check the exact resolution of any television that claims to be UHD quality,” says Matthew Thackrah, Deputy Managing Director and Head of Consumer Electronics at Samsung Electronics SA. “A true 4K TV will have 3 840 x 2160 pixels with exceptional screen quality, whereas a fake one will only offer 3K resolution at 25% less (2 880 x 2 160). The latter also use the RGBW method – which stands for Red, Green, Black and White – that replaces some of the RGB (Red, Green and Black) sub-pixels with white sub-pixels to cut back on production costs. It also, unfortunately, cuts back on the quality.”

Thackrah says the original Measurement Specifications as outlined by the ICDM are being purposefully misinterpreted by manufacturers selling RGBW panels as UHD TVs. The colour is compromised and users therefore do not fully experience true UHD resolution. Many consumers have been caught out by the fake UHD TV moniker, not realising how the combination of RGBW technology and low 3K resolution will impact their viewing.

“It is essential to examine the credentials of any manufacturer claiming to sell a UHD TV and to make sure that resolution is true 4K,” says Thackrah. “Check that the TV has an aspect ratio of at least 16:9, a colour bit depth of 8 bits and a high frame rate of around 24p to 60p. Many units don’t have clear information about the display or the core technology, so ask the right questions and make sure you get the right answers before you make a purchase.”

Samsung has invested considerable research and development into its UHD TV range, including the premium SUHD TVs that have incredible depth, colour and captivating visual quality. Generally, fake UHD TVs do not come with as much feature variety as the genuine article and rarely give consumers the connected lifestyle and dynamic experience that come standard with the real thing.

Thackrah advises consumers that, before spending money on a new UHD TV, they need to check the specifications and be sure that it is a worthwhile investment and not a cheap fake. He says the fact that the ICDM is considering amending the Measurement Specifications going forward should provide customers with an additional layer of protection in the future.

“The picture quality of a fake UHD TV is nowhere near the deep blacks and vivid colours of true 4K,” concludes Thackrah. “It probably won’t turn on with your mobile device, tell you the weather and the time, provide a variety of connectivity options and allow for complete user control from anywhere in the home. A Samsung SUHD TV is something you can truly be proud to have in your home and we urge people not to compromise on quality.”

Spotting the difference between real and pseudo 4K / UHD TVs

  • Take a close-up photo of a white portion of your TV screen
  • Zoom in the photo as far as it will go:
    • If you see perfect vertical and horizontal lines of red, green and blue, repeated in this order throughout, your TV is a genuine 4K UHD TV.
    • However, if you see any lines of white mixed in with the red, green and blue lines, your TV delivers pseudo UHD TV.

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5 things you should ask about buying a new TV

With so many technological advancements that cater to various needs, and endless options on the market, buying a new TV for your home can be pretty daunting. JACQUES BENTLEY, Southern African Sales Manager at Skyworth, offers a few tips when buying a new TV.

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Given the role a TV occupies in the home – providing entertainment, relaxation and a window to the world for the whole family – it’s not a purchasing decision to be made lightly. Not to mention the fact that you’re likely to spend a rather large sum of hard-earned dough in the process. Fear not – we’re here to help you decide. Here are five important things to think about before you swipe that plastic to ensure your new TV will bring nothing but joy into your home (ok, and maybe a couple of disagreements on what to watch).

  1. Size matters

If you’re a fan of action-packed movies or nail-biting sporting events, you already know how important the size of the screen is. Consider the space into which your new TV will fit, and take measurements of the wall area or cabinet it’s going to sit on to make sure that you’re being practical about its size. How many people will be watching the TV at the same time? Now opt for the largest screen size that will fit comfortably in your lounge (and your budget). Generally, anything between 55 and 65 inches is a great all-round pick according to price, performance and how close most families sit to the TV.

  1. Is it digital-ready?

South Africa’s digital migration is upon us and by June 2019, you’ll either need a digital-ready TV that can transmit digital signals or a Set-Top Box to decode digital signals for your old, box-style analogue TV set. The benefits of investing in a digital TV include crystal-clear image quality, excellent sound and a wider range of channels. Ask the sales assistant to show you their range of digital ready TVs when making your selection.

  1. Does it have a 4K screen resolution?

Resolution refers to the sharpness of the TV picture, usually in terms of horizontal lines of pixels. Ultra HD/ 4K sets have four times more pixels than current Full HD screens. That’s as many as 2 160 horizontal lines, or 3 840 x 2 160 pixels. The result? Super-sharp, detailed and lifelike images, even on large screen sizes. For this reason, a 4K resolution is becoming increasingly popular because it’s a much better choice if you want to future-proof your investment – Skyworth’s G6 model was created with this in mind; it’s basically an Android TV made for the future.

  1. What will you be using your TV for?

Apart from the obvious activity of chilling out to watch your favourite shows, what else do you want to be able to do with your TV? Will your kids be using it to play games? Will you be streaming shows on it? All of these preferences will impact the specific features that will attract you to buy a certain model over another one, so it’s wise to do your research, either online or in store, before you say ‘yes’ to the device. Also, look out for at least four HDMI ports at the back of the set as these tend to get used up very quickly, especially if you are using accessories like a sound bar.

  1. Does it include cutting-edge technology?

From Google Voice Assist, allowing you to speak to your TV, to rich connectivity via Bluetooth, selecting a TV that has advanced capabilities makes for a smarter TV and one you aren’t likely to need to replace in a few years’ time. With Android System 6.0, an easily updatable operating system, the G6 TV is your best bet when it comes to constantly upgrading your TV without forking out money every time.

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Kia makes car audio personal

KIA Motors has revealed its Separated Sound Zone (SSZ) technology that allows each passenger of a vehicle to experience an audio stream tailored to their individual needs.

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SSZ technology creates and controls the acoustic fields of the car, allowing the driver and each passenger to hear isolated sounds. The many speakers installed in the vehicle feature technology that uses scientific principles to reduce or increase audio levels of sound waves. This negates the overlap of sounds being heard in each seat, creating the same effect as current noise cancellation systems, but without the need for headphones.

“Customers in the autonomous navigation era will demand increasingly customisable entertainment options within their vehicles, which includes technological innovations such as the Separated Sound System.” says Kang-duck Ih, Research Fellow at KIA’s NVH Research Lab. “I hope by providing drivers and passengers with tailored, independent audio spaces, they will experience a more comfortable and entertaining transportation environment.”

People’s musical tastes vary, so some passengers choose to use headphones during a journey to isolate their audio stream, but this also creates an unnecessary social barrier when interacting with other passengers. When travelling in a vehicle equipped with next-generation SSZ technology, each passenger can connect their smartphone via Bluetooth and listen to their own music without interference from, or interfering with other passenger’s audio streams.

When the SSZ is utilised, hands-free phone calls can also be isolated to individual passengers, ensuring privacy when having important phone conversations on the move.

Furthermore, this ground-breaking technology can eliminate unnecessary sounds for the passenger, but provide them for the driver. Navigation sounds, or various alerts, allow the driver to focus on controlling the vehicle, while the SSZ system isolates these sounds, maintaining a quiet area for the other passengers. This has a particularly strong application for drivers with a sleeping child in the vehicle.

SSZ technology has been in development since 2014, and the completed mass production system is expected to be ready for installation in vehicles within one to two years.

For a video of Separated Sound Zone technology, please visit https://youtu.be/lokXL8qyu1c.

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