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South Africa to get SUHD as Samsung redefines TV

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When Samsung unveiled its latest range of curved LED TVs in January, the devices seemed distant and inaccessible. Now they’re about to arrive in South Africa, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

There’s a new word in high-definition TV, but it’s not one you’ll find in a dictionary. That’s because Samsung just invented SUHD to describe its new line-up of curved TVs. Many instinctively assumed it stood for Super UHD which, in turn, is a standard term for Ultra High-Definition TV.

Not so, says Samsung: it’s a composite initial for “sensational picture, seamless interaction and stylish design”. The intentional showiness of the term worked well in the world capital of showiness, Las Vegas, when it was launched there during the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in January. It may not be as convincing in the more mundane surrounds of retail electronics outlets.

However, an event in Turkey last week was a useful halfway mark both in hype and in the technology’s journey to South Africa.

The Samsung Africa Forum, strangely held in the seaside city of Antalya in the heart of Turkey’s winter, hosted the official launch of SUHD TVs into the African market.  Three series – the JS9500, JS9000 and JS8000 ⎯ range from 48-inch to 88-inch curved screens. The smallest unit, with around a R13 000 price tag, is expected to make a major impact. A 55-inch unit will come in at R17 000 – about where standard LED TVs were just three or four years ago.

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“The curved shape draws you into the picture and gives you a more immersive experience because you’re almost surrounded by the screen, particularly in larger screen sizes,” said Matthew Thackrah, deputy managing director of Samsung Africa, speaking at the event.

However, from a distance of, say, across a room, the surround impact is lost. So it could easily be argued that the curve is more about aesthetic appeal than viewing experience. Thackrah didn’t entirely disagree.

“Over the last ten years design has been a hugely important aspect of purchasing any appliance, because the home is becoming more open plan,” he said. “Whether a TV or a refrigerator, design is now one of the major influencing factors.”

Particularly at the higher end of the market, with its lower price sensitivity, the devices are expected to be a hit. Last year, said Thackrah. 20 per cent of Samsung’s “premium sets” sold in South Africa were curved. That’s expected to rise to a third of its premium sales this year.

Ironically, it’s not the stand-out feature – the curve – that truly defines the new sets, but rather their display technology and image processing.

According to the product description: “The SUHD TV’s nano-crystal transmits different colours of light depending on their size to produce the highest color purity and light efficiency available today. This technology produces a wide range of more accurate colours, providing viewers with 64 times more colour expression than conventional TVs.”

That’s when SUHD enters the picture.  Not only is it intended to enhance the picture, but is also claimed to be more eco-friendly than conventional displays:

“The intelligent SUHD re-mastering engine optimises all content to match the colour and brightness reproduction of the SUHD TV. It automatically analyses the brightness of images to minimise additional power consumption, while also producing ultimate contrast levels, showcasing images with much darker blacks and an elevated level of brightness that’s more than 2.5 times brighter than conventional TVs.”

Thackrah pointed out, however, that it was not a reinvention of TV display technology.

“We’re launching not so much a different technology, as improving certain aspects of the technology through better colour rendition and faster response rates compared to competing products. That’s why we made the choice of the SUHD label: we had to differentiate ourselves from the rest.”

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee, and subscribe to his YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/GGadgets

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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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