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Beware the 4K con

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.

Audio/Visual

Planet Radio TV tune in on any device

Planet Radio TV plans to be Africa’s first online broadcaster that allows its listeners to watch via Internet and satellite TV as well as listen via FM or Internet radio. SEAN BACHER visits its studios.

Planet Radio TV (PRTV) is broadcast much like any other terrestrial radio station, allowing its users to tune into it with a standard FM tuner. But its owner, Planet Image Productions, is about to launch two other means of tuning into the station.

In the coming month, MultiChoice will place a new satellite in orbit that will, by the new year, allow Planet to broadcast to subscribers via the satellite. Planet has also announced the PRTV app, which can be downloaded to Apple, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Mobile devices, allowing users to stream the content to their phones and tablets.

‚”What makes this unique though is that our systems will automatically detect a user’s connection speed and stream content in a format that suits that speed, says Planet Image CEO Wale Akinlabi. ‚”For example, someone connecting through 3G will be able to view high-definition video and hear high-definition audio. A user with a slower connection will still be able to view and listen to the station, but at a lower quality.‚”

This, he believes, will eliminate the buffering issue which discourages many users from streaming video and audio to their devices.

The radio station comprises 80% African music, with the remainder being international, and is targeted at Africa’s youth.

‚”At PRTV we intend to change the way consumers view, listen and interact with television, radio and Internet mediums,‚” says Mabel Mabaso, chief operations officer and director at Planet Image. ‚”It is an exciting platform that synchronises three mediums, providing opportunities for consumers and advertisers alike.‚”

Planet RadioTV differentiates itself from other local broadcasters with its clever use of software and hardware. Planet Image uses a high-definition video-graphics (HDVG) rendering program, designed by Orad, an Israeli company specialising in TV production software. This software suite, combined with four Panasonic high-definition cameras, is able to detect and focus on a person’s voice. When the camera fixes on a voice, that camera is automatically activated and begins broadcasting. Should someone else begin talking, a separate camera will detect the voice and focus on that person.

The software controlling the cameras also performs basic video editing. Mabaso says that, although the initial cost of the equipment was more than that of standard cameras, it will prove well worth it, as it eliminates the need for a dedicated cameraman filming the show in the studio.

‚”Another payoff is that we don’t need that much office space,‚” she says.

Based in Randburg in Johannesburg, the studio is small in comparison to most others and the control room is just big enough for one person.

‚”The control room merely serves as a back-up should one of the cameras fail. It also allows us to control when and where visual adverts appear.‚”

The system is also tightly integrated with applications like Skype.

‚”We can interview someone overseas without having to send a crew there to perform recording. We simply communicate via Skype, making the interviewee’s Internet camera an extension of our own in-studio cameras.‚”

Besides featuring local and international music, the station has regular fashion, food and cooking, music and culture segments, which are broadcast to around 30 000 listeners around Africa.

Rounding up the technology aspect, PRTV has integrated Twitter and Facebook, allowing its listeners to interact with DJs.

Listeners can tune into Planet Radio TV by logging onto www.planetradio.co.za

* Follow Sean Bacher on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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Audio/Visual

Canon EOS M – small and simple

Canon has extended the EOS range with the EOS M, its first compact system camera. Although not yet available in South Africa, the EOS M offers DSLR quality images and full HD recording in a compact, easy to use device.

Canon has expanded the EOS range with the launch of the EOS M. The company’s first ever compact system camera (CSC), the EOS M offers DSLR-quality imaging and full HD movie creation in a compact and easy-to-use model.

The EOS M is available in sleek black, glossy white, stylish silver or bold red colours, and condenses Canon’s EOS imaging heritage into a stylish, compact design. The model launches alongside two new lenses, the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM pancake and the EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM standard zoom, as well as a new compact EX Speedlite the Speedlite 90EX. For those who want to push their images even further, the EOS M can also use Canon’s range of EF lenses with the new Mount Adapter EF-EOS M, for even more creative freedom.

The quality of a Canon DSLR

The EOS M’s high-resolution, 18 megapixel APS-C hybrid CMOS sensor also allows you to blur the background for beautiful portraits, or for close-ups with impact.

With the inclusion of Canon’s DIGIC 5 processor, colours ‚’pop’ and skin tones are beautifully natural, while a super-fast shutter allows you to capture split-second action.

Shoot what you see and easily express your creative vision

Every aspect of the EOS M has been designed to make it simple to capture high-quality images. With the high-resolution, 7.7cm (3.0‚”), Clear View LCD II Touch screen, the EOS M gives you as much or as little control over your photos as desired. Simply select different shooting modes and settings via the on-screen icons, or let Scene Intelligent Auto adjust the camera settings according to the subject and shooting conditions, leaving you free to focus on composition and selecting the perfect moment to hit the shutter release button.

Turn film-maker with EOS Movie and Video Snapshot

When a moment calls for more than a still image, the EOS M lets you switch to Full HD video with stereo sound.

Extending the EOS System with dedicated accessories

In addition to compatibility with Canon’s existing EF lenses, accessories and Speedlites, the EOS M launches with its own range of accessories. Two new EF-M lenses offer portability and high performance when using the new model the EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM standard zoom and the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM pancake lens. Both feature new stepper motor technology for exceptionally smooth AF performance, as well as precision Canon optics, while their compact designs offer the perfect form-factor to complement the camera’s pocket-sized body.

Additionally, the EOS M will ship with the new Speedlite 90EX flash unit as standard. Lightweight and highly-compact, it offers a maximum guide number of nine and supports wide-angle lenses, making it an ideal general-purpose flash for everyday use. A wireless master function also allows the control of multiple flash guns wirelessly, allowing more advanced users to experiment with a range of creative lighting effects.

EOS M key features

· The quality of a digital SLR in a compact body

· Scene Intelligent Auto

· Be versatile with interchangeable lenses

· Create out-of-focus backgrounds for high impact

· Easy-to-use touch-screen

· Atmospheric photos in low light

· Full-HD video with Video Snapshot Mode

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