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Android arrives on SA TVs

The arrival of the first name-brand Android TV in South African stores symbolises the shift to smart TVs, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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Now, it is about to go large with more than just big screens. It has launched the first serious Android contender for TV market share in South Africa

“Put simply, Smart TVs have built-in apps that everyday consumers can easily use through the TV’s ability to connect to the Internet,” says Jacques Bentley, Southern Africa sales manager at Skyworth. “That means easy access to streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and YouTube, an all in one convenient package.”

Until now, there has been a major downside, though.

“The number of downloadable apps is limited so you’re stuck with what you’ve got. Also, most operating systems aren’t upgradable. This means that when new apps or services, like Hulu, become available in SA, you may need to consider buying a whole new TV just to cater for them.”

Android TVs, on the other hand,  haves access to the Google Play Store. This means that any Android application designed for smart TVs is available for any Android TV.

“Skyworth is the first company in South Africa to partner with Google, meaning it also has access to streaming services, like South African video-on-demand service Showmax, Netflix and YouTube,” says Bentley.

“There’s also the added luxury of the TV’s Voice Search functionality. Instead of having to manually type in what you’re looking for, you can talk to your TV using the remote for a faster, hassle-free way to search. Pairing this feature with Google Assistant allows you to control all your smart home devices too.

“Another big differentiator of this TV is that its operating system is upgradable and so are all of its available applications. This means you can keep up with the best in apps, games and entertainment as and when they enter our country, and without having to splash out on a new device. Think of it as a TV with the same capabilities as a smartphone – except for the fact that it can’t make calls… yet.”

Not all Android apps are compatible, so one won’t find Toonblast, for example, when accessing the Play Store from the Skyworth Android TV. However, other apps traditionally associated with smartphones, like Spotify, take on new life on the big screen. Android in effect turns the TV into an entertainment centre, without the need for the usual set-top box that allows for streaming services. Android TV is itself the streaming service.

The most surprising aspect of the Android TV is the pricing. Despite having more extensive functionality and content available, and despite saving a few thousand rand on a set-top box, it is highly competitive in pricing. A 49” unit is currently selling at a promotional price of R6 999, the 55” goes for R8 999, and the giant 65” for R14 999.

Although the price is right, Skyworth does have a slight snag. Continue reading to find out why.

Arts and Entertainment

Timberlake to headline iTunes London festival

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Apple has announced that Justin Timberlake, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Jack Johnson and Jessie J are among the headliners at this year’s iTunes Festival in London.

Running every night in September at the Roundhouse, the iTunes Festival features more than 60 acts performing at the legendary venue.

Performances can be watched live or on-demand by millions of iOS users around the world on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, as well as by music fans with iTunes on their computer or in stunning HD with Apple TV. Tickets are free for competition winners only.

Music fans from across the world, including the US, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Europe, Japan and Mexico can win tickets to the iTunes Festival through competitions run by local media partners. In the UK, fans can win tickets using the iTunes Festival app and the iTunes Store as well as select media partners including Channel 4, Global Radio and Metro.

Sir Paul McCartney, Amy Winehouse and Crowded House played the first iTunes Festival at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts in 2007. Since then over 370 artists have performed in front of more than 370,000 fans and tens of millions more online and on television. Other performers have included Adele, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Alicia Keys, Paul Simon, Jack White and Oasis. Performances are available for purchase and download on the iTunes Store.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

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Arts and Entertainment

New PS games ready for download

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Sony has announced its June line-up for PlayStation Plus subscribers, including Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and two new catalogue releases, Demon’s Souls and ICO and Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection.

Immerse yourself in the ancient world of Amalur and its 10,000 years of magical history in the action-packed tale Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, created by acclaimed New York Times bestselling author R.A. Salvatore. Take destiny into your own hands as you combat your way through this vast and vibrant world as envisioned by the visionary creator of Spawn and much-admired artist, Todd McFarlane.

In Demon’s Souls you are summoned by a mysterious maiden as the last hope for humanity to take on a mighty demon horde that has taken over the kingdom of Boletaria, after a terrible curse was mistakenly unleashed by King Allant the XII whilst in search of greater powers. Prepare for a battle that has so far defeated all other realm champions as you set out on this epic journey to save the Kingdom from a fate worse than death.

ICO and Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection brings two exciting worlds to PS Plus ready for fans to explore. Adopt the role of ICO, a young boy who finds himself imprisoned by the people of his village inside the walls of a menacing castle before joining forces with a young girl named Yorda as she attempts to escape in ICO. Take on the role of a young man named Wander in Shadow of the Colossus as you journey through an enchanted land, battling 16 enormous beasts known as the Colossi in order to restore the life of a girl named Mono, whose soul is trapped in this haunting world.

For gamer’s on-the-go, grab your PlayStation Vita (PS Vita) and transport yourself to lush forests in the cartoon-quality action title Rayman Origins. Alternatively, weave through airborne mazes as you avoid falling coconuts in Coconut Dodge HD, both available on PS Plus from 5th June.

PS Plus provides subscribers with access to top-rated games on PS3 and PS Vita, extending the service to two platforms for a single price for a one-year subscription. Additionally, 90 day subscriptions are also available giving user’s access to the same fantastic titles and great PlayStation Store discounts.

PS Plus subscribers receive an array of exclusive features, including 2GB cloud storage (1G for PS3 & 1G for PS Vita) for game saves. Automatic updates and beta access, as well as a huge collection of exclusive dynamic themes and PlayStation Network avatars, makes PS Plus the place to be in 2013.

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