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Hong Kong telco HKT launches VoD in South Africa

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Hong Kong telecommunications operator HKT, via its international operating division PCCW Global, has launched ONTAPtv.com, a new Internet-based Video on Demand (VoD) entertainment service for South Africa.

With a selection of à la carte content packages for a variety of entertainment needs, ONTAPtv.com is available now via www.ontaptv.com  as well as Android and iOS apps.

Customers can subscribe to monthly packages of local and international TV series, movies, and lifestyle programmes, and rent Hollywood blockbusters. They can stream this content to PCs and Macs, and stream or download to their smartphones and tablets.

“We are excited about the growth in demand for anytime, anywhere VoD services. We first invested in South Africa in 2012 through the acquisition of Gateway, and this has been extremely successful for us. We are today delighted to demonstrate our further commitment to South Africa through the launch of ONTAPtv.com,” said Marc Halbfinger, Chief Executive Officer of PCCW Global.

Lindsay Servian, Head of ONTAPtv.com, said, “There is something for everyone in ONTAPtv.com. Our comprehensive content lineup includes local SABC series, as well as leading international content from studios such as Warner Bros, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and BBC Worldwide, and we are also delighted to announce our sponsorship of projects of the Maxum Media Accelerator (the MMA) to produce local dramas which will be available later this year. This partnership demonstrates our commitment to the development of exciting local content, whilst helping to grow the South African film and entertainment industry.  ONTAPtv.com also offers Chinese content from PCCW’s now TV, Hong Kong’s leading IPTV service.”

With around 2,500 movies and episodes, and more being added all the time, customers are able to choose to stream, using Adaptive Bit Rate technology, or download content using public Wi-Fi hotspots and mobile data. They can use routers at home linked to ADSL or fibre-based Internet connections. Once downloaded, the content is available for viewing on smartphones and tablets for 48 hours and customers can link their devices to TVs.

ONTAPtv.com packages start from R39 per month, or customers can subscribe to blockbuster hits from R15 for a 48-hour rental.  In order to ensure that customers only pay for the content they want to watch, ONTAPtv.com has introduced an à la carte approach to watching video on demand. ONTAPtv.com customers can choose from a range of packages specifically tailored to their viewing needs, with only a small incremental payment required for additional packages within the flagship mega-pack offering. ONTAPtv.com has a free trial  with no obligations to subscribe later.

Servian added, “Customers are able to access ONTAPtv.com through any data provider. However we are pleased to announce that we have negotiated highly cost effective data bundles for exclusive ONTAPtv.comuse in AlwaysOn Super Wi-Fi locations nationwide, including shopping malls, hotels, hospitals and transport locations.”

The ONTAPtv.com app is free to download through the Google Play and iOS App stores, and includes preview trailers, where available. Registration and subscriptions are made through www.ontaptv.com.

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Planet Radio TV tune in on any device

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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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Canon EOS M – small and simple

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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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