We've compiled the latest gear news, including new system-on-chips with DTS Virtual:X, updates for the Fire TV platform, 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 the integration of DTS Virtual:X tech into MStar SOCs, new updates for the Fire TV, the addition of HDR and surround sound Netflix playback to the Razer Phone, and the launch of the Plex VR app for Daydream.
So, without further ado, here's a rundown of some of the latest gear and tech news:
MStar Integrates DTS Virtual:X Tech Into Smart TV SOCs
Xperi has announced the integration of DTS Virtual:X technology into new smart TV system-on-chips from MStar. The deal will allow TV manufacturers to start implementing DTS Virtual:X into their upcoming models.
"We are excited to partner with the number one TV SOC provider, MStar, to allow TV vendors to include DTS Virtual:X technology in their products through MStar’s SOC chipsets," said Joanna Skrdlant, general manager, home audio, Xperi. "DTS Virtual:X technology continues to be adopted by leading brands who wish to provide consumers an immersive sound experience through sound bars, A/V receivers, and now, TVs. We look forward to continuing this collaboration and working with TV OEM partners to deliver the DTS Virtual:X experience to consumers."
DTS Virtual:X is a post-processing virtualization technology that can create an immersive audio experience without the need for ceiling speakers, upward firing drivers, or surround speakers. The process can support all input sources from stereo to a 7.1.4 layout, along with optimization for DTS codecs, including DTS:X. Likewise, the tech offers upmixing capabilities for legacy content.
The first TVs with DTS Virtual:X tech are set to hit the market early this year.
Amazon Updates Live TV Experience & Launches Single Sign-On Feature for Fire TV Apps
Amazon has announced several updates and additions to its Fire TV platform, including a single sign-on option for select pay-TV apps and a new Live TV interface for supported channels.
With single sign-on, users who own a Fire TV device can now use their authenticated pay-TV subscription information to sign into all supported apps at once without the need to log into each individual service. The feature works with an extensive list of TV providers, including AT&T U-Verse, Spectrum, DirecTV, Dish, and Verizon -- though Comcast Xfinity is not currently supported. Compatible apps include A&E, AMC, BBC, Hallmark , Bravo, CNNgo, Cooking Channel, DIY, E!, Food Network,Freeform, HGTV, History, Lifetime, Syfy, Telemundo, Travel Channel, Turner TCM, and USA. Likewise, support for TNT and TBS is expected to be added soon.
Meanwhile, Amazon has also added a new "On Now" row and a "Channel Guide" to the Fire TV interface for live content. The "On Now" row on the homepage displays what live content is available to watch if you've subscribed to HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, or Cinemax through Amazon Channels. In addition, users can also now bring up a new "Channel Guide" by pressing the Options button on the Alexa Voice Remote while watching Live TV. The Guide displays your subscribed channels and all the future programming information for that day and the next two weeks. Finally, customers can ask Alexa to tune to a specific live channel as well by pressing the mic button on their voice remote or by speaking to a connected Echo product.
Sources: Amazon Fire TV Blog, Engadget
Netflix Adds HDR & Surround Sound Support for Razer Phone
Razer has announced plans to add Netflix HDR10 and simulated Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound playback to its Razer Phone, making it the first smartphone to enable support for both features together.
HDR10 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. Likewise, HDR10 content is typically graded with a wide color gamut as well, offering a greater range of colors than those found in the standard Rec. 709 gamut. In order to watch Netflix HDR programming, users will need to subscribe to the premium $14 per month Netflix plan.
The Razer Phone features a 5.7-inch IGZO LCD 120 Hz UltraMotion display with a Quad HD resolution of 1440 x 2560 120 Hz and Wide Color Gamut (WCG) support. Under the hood, the device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 with 8GB RAM and a 4,000 mAh battery running Android. 12MP dual cameras are integrated as well, and the unit includes stereo front-firing speakers with dual dedicated amps and Dolby Atmos technology.
The Razer Phone is now available for an MSRP of $700. The Netflix HDR and 5.1 update is set to launch in the coming weeks via a software update.
Sources: Razer, Engadget
Plex Launches Daydream VR Support
Plex has announced the arrival of Plex VR on the Daydream platform. The new app allows users to watch their Plex Media Server content in a virtual reality environment with their friends.
In order to use the Plex VR app, users will need a Daydream-ready smartphone like the Google Pixel and a Google Daydream View headset. Once downloaded, the app offers support for watching Plex Media Server content on a virtual big screen with up to four friends in real time in one of three interactive environments: The Void, Loft Apartment, and Drive-In Theater. Once in the environment, each user's avatar will appear in the scene and the group can communicate via voice chat. In addition, customers can also watch local videos on their Android device, including 3D and 360/180 degree content.
The Plex VR app is now available for Daydream devices via the Google Play app. VR streaming is free for all users, but the co-watching and Drive-In environment are exclusive to Plex Pass subscribers.
Google's latest Daydream headset is on sale now for an MSRP of $99 in Fog, Charcoal and Coral color options. The upgraded 2017 model features new high-performance lenses for better image clarity and a wider field of view, along with a premium two-tone fabric to make the headset soft and light.
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