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Game of screens

When it comes to the ultimate home entertainment experience, what you watch is just as important as how you watch it. With streaming services like Netflix keeping people glued to their screens people are paying a lot more attention to the overall home viewing experience.

Flat panel TV screens have long been favoured as the most cost-efficient and appropriate option for everyday home entertainment. However, more and more people are investing in projectors and fully kitted-out home theatre systems to enhance the experience, as proven by the 28% global market growth of home-used projectors over the past five years. However, choosing between the myriad of options on the market today can be challenging.

Money matters

When it comes to affordability, TVs are certainly becoming more accessible than ever. Where plasma screens were once the talk of the town, and features like HD quality and larger screen size only added more zeroes to the price, today’s LED and OLED models are far more accessible and affordable for everyone – despite offering even more technologically advanced features, which is the biggest reason why people generally opt for TVs.

However, projectors have become more affordable too, and are just as easy to use. The cutting-edge models available now are a far cry from the clunky ones with poor display quality of the previous tech era. For instance, the full HD Epson TW-600 series offers everything you would expect from high-end projectors – three-times brighter, crystal clear display thanks to 3LCD technology, built-in Wi-Fi, 11 years of lamp life and a great warranty offer – at a much more attractive price point compared to other projectors on the market. Unlike TVs, however, the projectors offer an immersive, real-life experience that TVs simply can’t match.

Screen size and quality

While the cost is almost always the first factor that people consider when purchasing a home entertainment system, factors like quality and screen size are often a close second and third.

On the one hand, LED TVs are great all-rounders for sport, movies, normal TV and gaming, and offer pretty much all the average person needs in terms of a home viewing experience that ranges from adequate to impressive. There are a variety of LED TV models currently on the market that offer great resolutions and good contrast ratios, but TV screens are still limited in terms of size, which impacts the overall viewing experience.

Projectors offer all the benefits of an LED TV with the added benefit of a huge, movie-theatre like screen to enjoy in the comfort of your home. Projectors are also capable of projecting high definition content onto a surface of anywhere from 30 inches right up to 300 inches, allowing you to choose your screen size depending on your requirements.

In terms of quality, 3LCD technology, as offered by world-leading technology brand Epson, is the most popular projector technology available on the market making up more than 69% of all projectors sold worldwide. This technology offers a clearer, crisper image, showing more detail while allowing for smoother motion on-screen and more vibrant, differentiated colours.

Choosing the best screen option for your dream home theatre setup is a decision that’s best made after careful consideration of the options that are currently available. And while the average flat panel TV screen display has certainly improved over the years in terms of technology and affordability, projection technology is cutting edge, and these nifty devices are now more accessible and desirable than ever.

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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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