We've compiled the latest gear news, including new integration features for MusicCast devices, mobile support for YouTube HDR, and more.
From product announcements and streaming app updates to general industry news and recent gear trends, keeping up with the latest tech news can be a daunting task. With that in mind, we're here to offer you a roundup of some of the latest gear and consumer electronics news that you may have missed.
For this edition, we're covering updated features for Yamaha's MusicCast platform, the arrival of YouTube HDR support on mobile devices, a new dual-roller projection screen system from Stewart Filmscreen, and the addition of CW Seed streaming to the Amazon Fire TV.
So, without further ado, here's a rundown of some of the latest gear and tech news:
Yamaha Announces Alexa Support and Integration Enhancements for MusicCast Devices
To coincide with the CEDIA 2017 tech show, Yamaha has detailed several new features geared toward custom integration use for its line of MusicCast multi-room audio devices. The updates include support for more home-control systems, new remote management capabilities, and voice control of multi-room audio through Amazon Alexa.
"MusicCast is the most flexible multi-room audio system available today," said Robert Goedken, general manager, AV division, Yamaha Corporation of America. "Whether a consumer wants music and audio solutions that are wired, wireless, or some combination of both, MusicCast offers more solutions for everyone. Now, with new control system integration, remote monitoring capabilities and voice control with Amazon Alexa, integrators will find even more ways to amaze their clients with custom-tailored experiences."
With MusicCast, users can stream audio through a simple Android or iOS app, and easily link to other MusicCast products like speakers, AV receivers and Hi-Fi gear in other rooms to share music throughout the home. And as part of the tech's new feature set, the company has revealed plans to launch the MusicCast skill for Amazon Alexa in early October, allowing MusicCast voice control through Alexa-enabled devices like the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Tap, and Echo Show. MusicCast functions set to be supported by Alexa include powering products on and off, controlling basic playback, selecting playlists, and linking multiple MusicCast products together. In addition, Yamaha plans to offer further integration of Alexa into its AV lineup in the winter.
Meanwhile, upcoming updates also include MusicCast product support for RTI and URC IP-based home-control systems, allowing users to control Yamaha audio products throughout the house via in-wall and tabletop touchscreens. Likewise, Yamaha is also set to offer new remote monitoring and management capabilities for networked MusicCast devices.
Google Launches Mobile YouTube HDR Playback
Google has launched YouTube HDR (high dynamic range) support for several mobile devices. Supported smartphones currently include the Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Google Pixel, LG V30, Sony Xperia XZ Premium. The update was first noticed by users on Reddit.
HDR is an advanced display and image mastering technology that offers expanded brightness to improve contrast between dark and light aspects of an image, bringing out deeper black levels and more realistic details in specular highlights -- like the sun reflecting off of an ocean -- in specially graded HDR material. In order to watch HDR YouTube content on supported smartphones, users will need the latest YouTube app update. Once updated, viewers will be able to access HDR playback at resolutions up to 1440p when manually changing the video quality of HDR enabled videos.
The Galaxy S8 features a 5.8-inch quad HD Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 2960x1440 and 570ppi; the Galaxy S8+ features a 6.2-inch quad HD Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 2960x1440 and 529ppi; the Galaxy Note 8 features a 6.3-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity Display; the LG V30 features a 6-inch 18:9 QuadHD+ OLED FullVision Display with a resolution of 2880 x 1440 and 538ppi; and the Sony Xperia XZ Premium features a 5.5-inch 4K HDR Display with TRILUMINOS tech.
Beyond YouTube, Netflix also recently expanded support for mobile HDR playback to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, LG V30, and Sony Xperia XZ1, joining the previously supported Sony Xperia XZ Premium and LG G6 handsets.
Stewart Filmscreen Reveals Gemini Dual Roller Projection Screen System
During the CEDIA 2017 tech show in San Diego, Stewart Filmscreen debuted its latest projector screen product. The new dual-roller Gemini projection screen system offers support for switching between two different screen materials and aspect ratios to better suit different lighting conditions and content types.
"At Stewart, we pride ourselves on listening to the market. The new Gemini dual roller screen system provides consumers with the ability to enjoy their favorite sports and movies with the best image fidelity and performance, all with one screen application. We're excited to present this new product offering to the market at CEDIA 2017 and hope that attendees will stop by and witness the ultimate viewing experience for themselves," said Shannon Townley, Stewart Filmscreen President and CEO.
With the dual-roller Gemini projection screen system, users can automatically switch between two different material projector screens and aspect ratios, allowing customers to transition from a 2:35:1 CinemaScope screen designed for dark home theater use and a 16:9 screen designed for high-ambient lighting conditions during the day. Both screens roll up into Gemini's unobtrusive casing when not in use, and can be unrolled through the push of a button or voice control when paired with a third party solution like an Amazon Echo device with Alexa.
The Gemini dual-roller projection system is available in a variety of flexible, front projection types and sizes, including acoustically transparent options. Likewise, the lightweight screen housing comes in a black or white case, and the system includes dual Somfy screen motors for nearly silent use.
Source: Stewart Filmscreen
Amazon Fire TV Devices Add CW Seed Streaming App
The CW has announced the arrival of its free Seed streaming app on Amazon's lineup of Fire TV products, including the Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, and Fire TV Edition displays. The app previously launched on iOS and Android, Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, and Xbox One. Likewise, users can access the service through cwseed.com.
CW Seed is a free, ad-supported streaming platform that does not require a separate pay-TV subscription. Though current CW shows are not included, the platform offers a library of catalog series, including titles like Everwood, Everybody Hates Chris, Pushing Daisies, Dynasty, and more. In addition, several CW Seed original shows are also available for streaming.