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CES: Sony supersizes new 8K TV range at 98″

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AT CES 2019 in Las Vegas last week, Sony Electronics announced the new MASTER Series Z9G 8K LCD and A9G 4K OLED televisions, which it intends to standardise larger displays on TV.

Larger TVs, it believes, are becoming more popular, and Sony’s goal with delivering new Z9G 98″ and 85″ class (97.5″ and 84.6″ diagonal) TVs is to maximise the super-large screen experience in the living room. In order to deliver premium picture quality in such extra-large screens, Sony is introducing extra resolution with its first consumer 8K television. With twice the number of horizontal lines and vertical lines, 8K provides four times the pixels of 4K (or 16 times the resolution of HD). This higher resolution results in a more immersive viewing experience, as 8K resolution means the larger-sized TVs look great up close with virtually no pixel differentiation.

Experts know that picture quality is not only about resolution. As screen sizes get larger, the processor plays an even more critical role in delivering premium picture quality. Using a proprietary algorithm, Sony’s Picture Processor X1 Ultimate has been optimised to handle the 33 million pixels of 8K. The same processor also enables the newly developed 8K X-Reality PRO to upscale any content using a new, dedicated 8K database for reference, resulting in more precise, detailed upscaling.

With a long history and expertise in developing professional cameras and monitors, Sony says, it recognises that “precision in constructing fine signal processing components results in an immediately visible difference to the whole image”.

In addition, new 8K technologies have been developed for the Z9G series, including a Backlight Master Drive feature with full-array local dimming and 8K X-tended Dynamic Range PRO. The Backlight Master Drive on the Z9G has ultra-dense LED modules that are independently controlled, delivering contrast with punchy brightness and pitch blacks. To optimise this backlight system, 8K X-tended Dynamic Range PRO uses the saved energy to boost brightness in the areas where it is needed.

Accurate sound position is another key factor as TVs get larger, says Sony:

“Taking the experience gained from its OLED Acoustic Surface Audio, Sony has expanded the concept to the Z9G LCD TV with Acoustic Multi-Audio. To deliver the Sound-from-Picture Reality experience, the new Acoustic Multi-Audio on the Z9G uses four front-facing speakers—two on the bottom and two on the top—to deliver a faithful sound position. Viewers will hear the sound coming from the screen, and not where the speaker is located. In addition, the Z9G has a TV Center Speaker Mode for people who have a home theatre setup, whereby the TV becomes the centre speaker. The sound experience is also enhanced by the TV’s compatibility with Dolby Atmos1, which adds a wide, rich sound field.”

The Z9G also features X-Wide Angle to ensure the picture retains its quality regardless of the viewing angle. This feature enables a wider viewing angle that reduces colour shifts when viewing the screen off-axis, so colours stay true no matter the viewer’s position, while X-Motion Clarity minimises motion blur without sacrificing screen brightness.

Sony also released a new flagship 4K OLED TV, the A9G, in 77″, 65″ and 55″ classes (76.7″, 64.5″, and 54.6″ diagonal).

Click here to read more detailed information and specs for the new Sony TVs.

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CES: Most useless gadgets

The worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Language tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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