Home Theater

Sony 4K TVs will get access to Google Assistant with Android O

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With Google I/O concluding yesterday, it’s safe to say what was announced at CES 2017 is still on track for Google Assistant coming to Android TV. Here is Raymond Wong from Mashable:

 With an “OK Google” command, you can play shows, check the weather, search Google, control your smart home and more. And because Assistant is contextually aware, it can respond to follow-up queries without repeated “OK Google” prompts.

The limitation right now is you have to speak into a voice remote to activate Assistant, but in the future you’ll simply talk directly to your TV. Though he wouldn’t share specific details or partners, Prueter says Google’s already working with companies to build far-field voice recognition technology right into TVs. 

Dolby Vision Blu-ray discs coming from Sony Pictures soon

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A big surprise from CES 2017 was Sony’s support for Dolby Vision, a feature that was secretly built into their TVs as far back as fall of 2016 with the release of the Z9D which was then activated via a future firmware update. With the Z9D, X930/940E, and A1E supporting the format, the next obvious answer would be for Sony Pictures to support the format. Via flatpanelshd:

 The first two confirmed Dolby Vision UHD Blu-ray releases are Universal’s Despicable Me 1 & 2. We are still waiting for Warner Bros and Lionsgate, which were announced as the other two launch partners by Dolby at CES, to detail their launch plans. 

As for Sony Pictures:

More affordable Sony XE70 4K HDR TV without Android announced

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If Android TV is not your thing because you’ve already got a set top box you like to use like Apple TV or perhaps PS4 Pro, then you’re in luck. Sony has announced a new, more affordable 4K TV lineup for 2017, the XE70, without any of the connected functionality and just the good stuff, their display technology. From Sony:

 The XE70 Series has an elegant minimalist design with a narrow frame featuring an aluminium finish and a clever cable management solution that allows cables to be neatly arranged across the back of the TV and channelled into the unique stand for a tidy look 

Sony OLED TV ad “Earth Rising” is beautiful

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Here’s something I don’t often get to say – Sony released an ad that’s simple and mesmerizing. Even though the price for the A1E OLED puts it out of range for most consumers, it’s important that this TV could have the right kind of flair and pizzazz to make people reconsider the brand, even if what they end up purchasing is a different TV like the X940E. A product halo affect is something that shouldn’t be underestimated and till now, even if Sony has had a worthy product, they haven’t been good at telling people about it.

Now of course a single ad released online isn’t suddenly going to drive massive mindshare towards Sony, nor the A1E but it’s a good sign and a beautiful ad. For those playing at home, make sure you change the video setting to 4K, sit back, and enjoy.

Nougat finally to arrive on Sony 4K Android TVs?

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Sony has not only upped its game when it comes to software releases on phones, but has become the leader, beating even Google to releasing the latest Android updates. TVs however are still much more reminiscent of the old Sony with all models still running on Marshmallow, but as John Hoff  writes for Android Community, that could change.

 Some Sony Android TV users are getting reminders about an impending update, and it sounds a lot like Nougat. 

Part 2 – Why I chose the X940E over Z9D and A1E OLED

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Before reading this post, be sure to check out the previous two posts in the series:

A lot of you have asked why I opted to go with the 75-inch X940E over the Z9D which was introduced in October of 2016 and the soon-to-be-released OLED A1E and it boils down to a simple reason; price. With the OLED, the answer is the easiest to give – one of the dilemmas I faced with getting the X940E was that I was already downsizing, going from a projector which offered nearly a 120-inch screen down to 75 inches. Conversely though, the picture quality was going to go up astronomically compared to the setup I had, making the loss of nearly 50 inches well worth it.

UK pricing for Sony A1E OLED revealed

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It’s almost been a month since Sony announced the official US pricing for their dazzling 4K HDR OLED TVs which were unveiled at CES 2017. Known as the A1E, Sony has now committed itself to the OLED consumer space with US and European models set to launch sometime this month. In fact, those in the UK can pre-order the 55- and 65-inch variants starting today. As expected, pricing isn’t cheap for the 4K TV with the two sizes coming in at:

About 90% of smart TVs vulnerable to remote hacking

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Happy Tuesday! Also, your TV is vulnerable as shit, apparently. We’ve known for some time that a lot of connected products like IoT devices are susceptible to outside attacks, but I never quite thought smart TVs would make that list in such a big way. Here is Catalin Cimpanu from Bleeping Computer:

 Scheel says that about 90% of the TVs sold in the last years are potential victims of similar attacks, highlighting a major flaw in the infrastructure surrounding smart TVs all over the globe.

At the center of Scheel’s attack is Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV), an industry standard supported by most cable providers and smart TV makers that harmonizes classic broadcast, IPTV, and broadband delivery systems. TV transmission signal technologies like DVB-T, DVB-C, or IPTV all support HbbTV.

Scheel says that anyone can set up a custom DVB-T transmitter with equipment priced between $50-$150, and start broadcasting a DVB-T signal.

By design, any nearby TV will connect to the stronger signal. Since cable providers send their signals from tens or hundreds of miles away, attacks using rogue DVB-T signals could be mounted on nearby houses, a neighborhood, or small city. Furthermore, an attack could be carried out by mounting the DVB-T transmitter on a drone, targeting a specific room in a building, or flying over an entire city. 

The fact that the price of entry into creating such a device is so inexpensive shouldn’t be all surprising. Despite the fact that it’s cliche, all it really takes to “hack” something is indeed often just a computer. In this case, it takes a bit more as a device is needed to be built in order to transmit the signal but all in all, an inexpensive hack. So once built, what can the hack do? A lot, it seems.

Part 1 – Sony X940E pre-order experience

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Generally, plunking down a pile of cash for something should be a good experience, right? After all, I’m buying a premium device and I’d hope, if nothing else, to find an easy method to give someone money in exchange for the product I want. Apparently, I asked for too much. Now I’m sure there is some complicated reason that boils down to dollars and cents but when, in 2015, Sony decided to shutter their dozen or so retail stores they operated in the US alongside their entire online store, they also opted to end any direct relationship they had with consumers.

For a company that enjoys a very small mindshare among consumers outside of PlayStation, and has little to no marketing efforts, surely my experience of trying to give them $6,500 for a TV can be traced back to that decision. The keyword here is trying.

So I pre-ordered the 75-inch Sony X940E

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One of the great things about running a site like SRN is that Sony routinely gives me free stuff like their latest 4K TV, the 75-inch monster that is the X940E. Unveiled at CES 2017, the X940E takes everything about the 2016 X940D and improves upon like adding Dolby Vision HDR, thanks to their new X1 Extreme processor.

Now, yes, I had to wait for the pre-order to go live on Best Buy, and yes, I had to pay for the TV on my own credit card. But Sony was nice enough to make sure the pre-ordering process itself was free. So see, they give me free stuff like the opportunity to buy their TVs, something that some of their other divisions don’t allow for, seeing how you can’t find them on store shelves (looking at you, Sony Mobile, h.ear headphones and speakers, etc. etc.).

All of this is basically a long winded way of saying that when I decided to drop $6K+ on the X940E, it wasn’t a decision I made lightly. So why the X940E, and why not?

2017 Netflix Recommended TVs include all 2017 Sony 4K models

2017_Netflix_Recommended_TV_ListAs more and more people start to watch shows via streaming services, the more important the hardware we use becomes. This notion becomes even more critical for home theater and tech geeks who are finding themselves drawn more and more to Netflix who is leading the good fight for providing 4K, HDR, and now Dolby Vision HDR content, something that physical media and traditional TV simply cannot match. Now just because Netflix offers it doesn’t mean your TV will be capable of playing it, or playing it in an optimal way. Enter the Netflix Recommended TVs guide, a list provided once a year to help consumers make a better decision when buying their next TV set.

 At Netflix, we are continuously innovating to make sure using internet TV is as easy and great as possible. Improving the experience on the Smart TVs our members watch Netflix on is a big part of this process, and with our Netflix Recommended TV program, we are able to shine a light on the TVs leading this wave. This year, a handful of devices have innovated further – offering better usability, faster performance, and new features that make getting to Netflix and other internet TV services as easy as getting to live TV. Today, we’re excited to announce the first Netflix Recommended TVs of 2017. 

Everything you need to know about Dolby Vision HDR

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One of the more delightful reveals from CES 2017 was the inclusion of Dolby Vision HDR in Sony’s flagship series of TVs coming in 2017 which includes the X930/X940E series and the OLED A1E. What’s made this possible is Sony’s custom X1 Extreme processor which can be found inside both TV sets. In fact, the highly rewarded Z9D from Sony which arrived in October of 2016 is also getting Dolby Vision HDR as it utilizes the same chipset inside, allowing Sony to bring the feature via a firmware update.

All of this of course begs the question – just what the hell is Dolby Vision HDR? A lot of us have been hearing about HDR for nearly two years now which typically refers to HDR10, something that Sony and Samsung both had a hand in creating. In fact, all 4K Blu-ray with HDR must support HDR10. Here is John Archer from What Hi-Fi breaking down the two formats:

Sony’s Dolby Atmos Sound Bar ST5000 and DN1080 receiver get priced

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CES 2017 was a bit of a coming out party for Sony’s home theater endeavors. With everyone lamenting that Sony didn’t support Dolby’s latest sound and vision efforts with previous models, 2017 models point to a different story. Dolby Vision HDR is now available on the Z9D with the upcoming A1E OLED and X930/940E series also supporting the format once they’re released.

As for sound, Sony is also ready to bring Dolby Atmos to the masses with the ST5000 sound bar and DN1080 receiver which gives you more flexibility than you know what to do with. Now three months after the show, all of these products have price tags and release dates.

Official pricing for 2017 Sony OLED TV (A1E) revealed

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Year after year, Sony got dinged for not offering an OLED TV while others like LG did. After all, OLED TVs are the hot thing in home theater (that is if you don’t plan on putting your kids through college) so at CES 2017, Sony did something about it by introducing the A1E series, their first consumer OLED TVs.

You can see my Sony OLED TV preview from CES 2017 here but in a nutshell, they’re impressive TVs that will cost you, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Pricing for the series is as such:

Sony racks up 18 iF Design Awards, including three golds

iF_Awards_2017_LogoYou know what Sony’s amazing at? Designing products and winning awards for them. You know what Sony is terrible at? Telling the world and not regular readers of sites like SRN that they make these fantastic products.

 Today Sony is proud to announce that 18 products have been honoured with iF Design Awards, including three prestigious gold awards. The products that have won gold awards are the PS-HX500 turntable, Future Lab Program™ T Interactive Projector and PlayStation®VR (PS VR) virtual reality system for PlayStation®4, from Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE). 

Here are the products that won: