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The content cost of Netflix blocking VPNs

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Users have turned to VPNs in order to view all the content on Netflix – no matter their location. But, the VOD provider has cracked down on these. However, NordVPN still allows users to access Netflix USA with a few workaround options.

Netflix has a stated goal of expanding globally ­and making all the shows that are available in the U.S. – currently about 5,500 titles – available globally in the future. The most significant sign of the global expansion: determination of Netflix to spend $5 billion in 2016, most of it dedicated to creating its own original content and not dealing with painful licensing agreements.

Licensing deals from producers ­for such wildly popular shows as House of Cards ­ are the main obstacles preventing global Netflix subscribers from enjoying the same content as Americans. Australians, for example, get just about 2,000 titles, while viewers in India only see 875. In South Africa, viewers get to choose from less than 700 titles.

This has given rise to proxy services and enhanced the popularity of VPNs -­ Virtual Private Networks ­- that allow Netflix subscribers in France, for example, to appear as if they were in America with a click of a button. As a result, Netflix announced global crackdown on proxy services and VPNs, succeeding in blocking a good deal of them, and prompting many users to resort back to illegal downloads or unsubscribing from Netflix altogether. Unlike proxies, VPNs also protect users’ online security by encrypting their online data, so not having one is too big of a price to pay.

Netflix’s decision to focus on creating original content might be a good solution for the future. However, presently, Netflix continues to increase the number of dissatisfied customers who cannot watch the same shows as Americans do and are forced to stop using VPNs, being left without online protection that VPNs provide.

NordVPN users can still connect to Netflix USA with a few workaround options. In case the crackdown becomes more severe, backup workaround options are being prepared, says the organisation.

It argues that Netflix’s decision to block VPN users from accessing the service has a negative effect on online privacy and security, and the message it sends disregards users’ Internet security.

“NordVPN has increased its efforts to fight for the right of people to use VPNs, partnering up with Openmedia.org, an organisation that fights for Internet to be accessible to everyone, as Internet was created for sharing and connecting,” reads a company statement

According to Openmedia.org, “Blocking VPNs means innocent customers will become collateral damage: it will block VPN users from accessing domestic content they paid for, undermine privacy, and could push users to illegal alternatives.”

NordVPN says it is mostly concerned about Internet users’ privacy and security issues that come into jeopardy with VPN crackdowns, and encourages its users to sign an Openmedia.org petition directed to Netflix: https://nordvpn.com/blog/netflix-vs-privacy.
For more information on NordVPN, please visit www.nordvpn.com.

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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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Future of TV in 4 letters

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Television technology has come a long way, transforming not just the way we consume our entertainment, but also the formats in which media is broadcasted or streamed. Today, TVs can do a lot more than just display our favourite shows, says DEAN DAFFUE, GTM manager at LG Electronics SA.

Today, consumers demand TVs that are not just slim, but so thin that they are like paintings on walls. TVs have become an element of décor that can seamlessly integrate into the design of a home, and render the clearest, sharpest images, with the deepest blacks and crispest whites without compromising on resolution. Home cinema is not just about the picture anymore. Consumers are eyeing TVs that would be able to learn usage patterns and automatically suggest entertainment based on individual preferences. The switch from LCD to LED transformed TV design, allowing for lighter, thinner and easily wall-mountable frames, housing even more sophisticated display tech. The picture quality also dramatically improved with new contrast ratios rendering more vivid colours, deeper blacks and crisper whites. But they were still more functional than aesthetic.

As larger segments of the population embraced internet connectivity and streaming content, the TV became smarter, integrating content-streaming apps for a more seamless viewing experience. As Internet Service Providers (ISPs) upgraded their infrastructures to accommodate the growth in streaming services, TV manufacturers also upgraded their TVs’ ability to tap into different types of content.

In the future, TVs with built in Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be able to learn usage patterns and automatically switch modes based on user preference, and even take instructions from multiple users as TVs become increasingly connected to digital home assistant systems.

Six years on, and we see the evolution that continues to lead in the OLED TV market, LG is racking up awards and accolades for its innovative OLED TVs. This pioneering effort in the design and manufacturing of OLED TVs has culminated in complete dominance of the OLED market, leaving the pinnacle challenge of innovation in display technology, redefining the TV viewing experience, and its place in your home. Great efforts have been made on OLED technology being affordable and accessible, allowing more people to enjoy a better-quality television experience than before. No TV is a greater testament to this than last year’s award-winning LG SIGNATURE W7 – also known as wallpaper.

As South Africans are continuously looking for ‘an experience that amazes’, OLED TVs are considered by industry experts to offer the most advanced display technology. As each pixel on the display can be individually switched on and off, OLED offers enhanced picture quality without image degradation. This results in the highest quality image rendering with the purest blacks. With its myriad advantages, OLED panels have become the most desired display technology today and it has become a leading force in making this technology even more ubiquitous and accessible.

With support for both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, LG OLED TV is the first of its kind to offer a premium cinema experience in the comfort of your home. It also features Active HDR technology, which optimises HDR picture quality scene-by-scene, rendering brighter scenes and greater shadow detail for a life-like viewing experience.

Despite the market dominance, the development of newer, more innovative technologies does not stop. This year a staggering number of innovative display technologies were unveiled, such as future display technology like roll-able OLED screens and large format curved displays that will become the future of wall art.

AI is also set to make an appearance. There is a unique and personalised AI services built on the deep learning-based DeepThinQ technology, in cooperation with other AI service providers such as Google, giving AI TVs the ability to automatically adjust the settings to Game Mode, or Sports Mode based on whether a user is currently playing Xbox or watching a football match. Ultimately, AI TV will provide care and comfort to users’ mind and body by learning more about its users’ viewing habits.

What does this all mean for consumers? With continued innovation and development of display technologies, as well as advanced design, AI, premium audio integration and support for the latest resolutions, colour and High Dynamic Range (HDR) standards, the TV will no longer be a display, but a complete home viewing experience. This is what new ranges of OLED TVs will bring to fruition in the coming months, making it the ideal time to upgrade your TV to the ultimate home entertainment experience.

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