It occupies a space in our heart and homes, but how much do we know about the humble TV? LG Electronics’ GM for Marketing, THOMAS VAN DER LINDE looks at the history of the television and where it might be going next.
Just when you were getting used to terms like UHD and OLED, another major new technology has emerged to wow viewers everywhere. RGBW panel design, which adds white colour subpixels to the standard red, green blue, is a major leap forward in display technology. The technology is set to replace the RGB three-colour panel system that has dominated since colour TVs first hit the market.
It’s hard to believe how far the television has come in a little under a century. As we prepare to enter a brighter age of TV thanks to RGBW, let’s look back at the journey we have taken to get to this point.
Who invented the TV?
This a source of great debate. TV was invented by degrees – a multitude of inventors came up with the technologies that define what we know as television. A few names stand out as the top contenders for the job.
A Russian called Vladimir Zworykin was the first to patent the idea for a television as we know it, then known as the Iconoscope. A few years later, Philo Farnsworth was able to produce a working prototype. Credit must also be given to John Logie Baird, who demonstrated a colour television and video-recording system and was also responsible for the first transatlantic television service.
Welcome to SA
While TV was widespread in most of the world by the end of the 1960s, South Africa was slow to catch on. The Apartheid government saw television as a threat to its dominance as it had a monopoly on radio broadcasting. By the 1970s, public demand was such that the SABC was forced to introduce its first television service.
In 1976, nationwide service of South African television finally began. The country was the last in Africa to start broadcasting. Initially, viewers only had one channel to choose from, but in 1981, a second channel was introduced, broadcasting in Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho and Tswana. M-Net became the first subscription service to launch in 1986, and satellite became a reality almost a decade later in 1995.
Couch potatoes rejoice
For those of us who remember a time where you had to change the channel manually, you might be surprised to learn of the long history of the TV remote. As far back as 1893, chronic overachiever Nikola Tesla came up with the idea of a remote control. By the 1940s, the Germans were using remote control motorboats.
In 1950, the first TV control, fittingly called the Lazybone, was invented. This remote control was attached to the TV set by a bulky cable. It was not until 1955 when the first wireless remote came into being – the Flash-matic, which was shaped like a gun. By the 1980s, infrared remote controls had become commonplace.
Ever wonder why in the 1990s, your grandmother could get away with having an old set from the 1970s in her living room? This is because television technology remained static for a good few decades, barring an upgrade in material components and style! CRT technology has dominated most of TV’s life. That is until the 2000s when broadcasters began transmitting in HD, and TVs started getting slimmer, more connected and capable of better resolution.
The one big technological leap during this time was the introduction of colour TV. Although we associate black and white television with old movies from the 1950s, a man called Peter Goldmark had in fact demonstrated his colour TV system as early as 1946. By the 1960s, most sets were able to broadcast in colour. One advantage of coming to the TV game so late was that South Africa never really experienced black and white broadcasting, but was able to make the leap straight to colour.
A decade of innovation
The last 10 years have seen the greatest leap forward in television technology since the 1920s and 1930s. The reason for this rapid evolution was the switch from PAL and NTSC to HD broadcasting, which gave TV manufacturers an incentive to find new ways of improving image quality. LG has led the way, being the first to develop 60-inch plasma TV, Full HD LCD TV and full LED 3D TV.
First came LCDs, which were quickly replaced by LEDs and Plasma. Now, we speak of terms like OLED, UHD and HDR. While these technologies all work differently from each other, they each represent a step closer to providing the ultimate visual experience.
Flat, flatter, flattest
Today, flat screens are ubiquitous, but as recently as 2004, the average TV was a 27-inch CRT. Nowadays, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a screen under 32 inches. Today’s screen sizes push the boundaries of what we believed was possible even five years ago – take LG’s 105-inch Ultra HD display.
At the same time as they were getting bigger, they were also slimming down. Interestingly, the first flat panel displays are not a product of the 2000s – a limited number were produced for military use in the 1950s. The first flat panel TVs were invented in 1964 but were much too expensive to mass produce using the technology available at the time.
Where will the coming decades take TVs? No-one knows for sure, although there are many exciting technologies on the horizon. Here’s to a future that’s as rich and colourful as the last 90!
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
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