For a large group of people, Netflix has become the primary platform for watching TV shows and movies on a big screen TV. Digging into a menu and launching the app every day can be a pain though. The solution? TV remotes that offer a dedicated Netflix button, of course. They’ve been available in the US for years, but finally they’re coming to Europe too. For starters, Netflix is partnering with Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, Philips and Vestel to offer the new remotes with several of their smart TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes. The company says the move is part of its larger mission to work more closely with hardware manufacturers and optimize its service for subscribers. If that leads to a reduction in the time spent between switching on the TV and watching Bloodline, count us in.
[Image Credit: AP Photo/Neflix Inc.]
Filed under: Home Entertainment
Panasonic is the latest company to throw its real hat into the virtual reality fray, after showing off a prototype headset that will compete with rival products from Samsung and LG. The goggles were shown at a press event in Japan this week, and house an OLED display with a 90-degree viewing angle, capable of video unto 75 frames per second. The glasses use ear-hooks to support themselves, and were demonstrated alongside an omnidirectional camera, similar to Samsung’s Project Beyond. Of course, this doesn’t rule out gaming use (which is mostly where Oculus and Sony are duking it out), but given Panasonic’s heritage in displays and image capture, it’s not hard to imagine that immersive content will be the primary use case (no word on what inputs there are etc.). The company reportedly said that the camera-part is being built with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in mind. While that’s still a few years away, we’re hoping all the signs are suggesting we won’t have to wait quite so long for more details on the when this headset might become reality.
If you just can’t get enough of you, Panasonic has joined the recent parade mirrorless cameras marketed at selfie photographers. The Lumix GF7′s micro four-thirds, 16-megapixel sensor will give you much nicer shots than your smartphone ever could without being a burden to haul around. Panasonic transformed the GF7 into a more classic-looking camera than the GF6 and managed to shave a few millimeters from the already-small form factor, too. The 3-inch, 1.04 million-dot screen switches to selfie mode as soon as it’s flipped around, and built-in WiFi lets you activate the shutter via a smartphone. It’s also nicely spec’d with 1920/60p video, 25,600 ISO and a 5.8 fps shooting speed. You’ll be able to get one February 20th for $600, with a 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 lens that’s wide enough to capture you and at least several pals.
Filed under: Cameras
Sure, there are plenty of Ultra HD televisions floating around the Las Vegas Convention Center, but how will you find anything suitably super high-res to play on them? Netflix, Amazon and a few others have started 4K internet delivery while DirecTV and Comcast also have limited approaches, but sometimes you prefer media you can hold onto. Physical media fans have help on the way in two forms, but the bad news is neither one is ready to launch right now. The Blu-ray Disc Association has confirmed the name of its 4K format (Ultra HD Blu-ray) and many of its capabilities, while the Secure Content Storage Association has its own demo for Ultra HD movies you can download and transfer (almost) at will, with backing from Fox, Warner Bros., Samsung and others.
Panasonic is showing off a prototype Ultra HD Blu-ray player in its booth here, and shockingly — it’s a Blu-ray player. The demo unit has a hole cut in the top, but we didn’t spot any extra pixels leaking out anywhere. According to statements from various board members, licensing is on track to happen this summer and we could see discs by the end of this year. It’s expected that Ultra HD Blu-ray will upgrade the format to handle 33GB layers (up from the 25GB per layer of current discs) and discs that hold as much 100GB of data. You’ll need a new player to read the new discs, but the new players will be backwards compatible with existing Blu-ray movies. In our discussions with studio execs, we’ve heard that most movies encoded with HEVC (h.265, the new compression format for 4K video) should fit on dual-layer discs comfortably.
There’s room for 60fps video, HDR / Dolby Vision support, at least 10-bit color gradation and wide color gamut (read: better and more colors). Panasonic’s prototype player spec says it can push video at up to 100Mbps — far higher than the 15Mbps profiles we saw demonstrated by Netflix last year. Of course, there’s a lot of work to be done before the spec is final, and we still haven’t heard much about improvements to audio.
But what about those who have moved on to a discless lifestyle, or are just interested in a version of digital copies that can be carried around? The Secure Content Storage Association has stepped up and, like the BDA, says finalization of its spec is “coming soon.” We got a preview of what it’s working on this week, when Samsung announced that its new TVs would support 4K downloads from M-Go, by using the SCSA’s standards. We got a quick demo of what the consortium has planned and it most reminds us of what we’ve seen from internet stores for videogames like Steam, Xbox and PlayStation.
We’ll still need to wait and see exactly how Hollywood studios implement the DRM, but it’s set up so users can download copies of movies, store and watch them without hassle. There’s an ability to copy, move or share the stored files, and access various profiles for different devices like TVs, phones or tablets. In mocked-up player, users had the option make a licensed copy, registered to them and playable on any device, or an unlicensed copy. That copy of the movie can be shared, but if someone else wanted to play it they’d need to buy it from a store in order to unlock it for viewing.
Also built-in is support for finding any compatible files across a network, so if the movie is stored on your NAS, a PC, a phone or tethered hard drive it will pop up in the menu for playback. For better and/or worse, it all struck as as a sort of movie studio-designed variant of
XBMC (oops, Kodi) or Plex.
The SCSA is also talking about quality, with support for Ultra HD, HDR and potentially things like high frame rate video. It’s also considering that customers might be able to upgrade their copies to a new version, so if for example a remastered HDR version of a movie comes out, it will be in your library. Our remaining questions cover things like studio / store support — you can count in the usual names from Ultraviolet plus some newcomers, but we’ll have to wait and see if Disney jumps in or goes its own way again. It appears that finding compatible devices won’t be difficult, and Qualcomm is on board to make sure its chips (probably inside your phones / tablets already) are compatible.
Formerly known as Project Phenix the SCSA is several years in the making, we’ll see if that long gestation was enough to strike a balance between the desires of studios and the customers it hopes will want to pay for downloadable movies.
Panasonic announced the Lumix DMC-CM1 last year, but the Japanese company hit CES this week to announce that the attractive hybrid camera-phone would be coming stateside by way of AT&T and T-Mobile.
As a huge Panasonic fan, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take the Lumix CM1 for a quick spin. The device isn’t the first attempt to marry an Android smartphone to a point-and-shoot, but is the CM1 any better? We find out in this quick look!
The simplest way to describe the Lumix CM1 is it’s an Android smartphone on the front and a point-and-shoot on the back. Panasonic refers to it as a camera primarily, but you’d be forgiven to think it’s just another Android smartphone by looking at its front, which is all-screen.
Integrating a camera into a smartphone means size and weight are way above average. The CM1 is 21.1 millimeters thick (about three times the size of an Xperia Z3, for instance) and weighs 204 grams, but that’s actually not bad for what the device offers.
The square corners, metallic sides, and textured plastic cover are all fairly typical for point-and-shoot cameras. The large lens module is surrounded by a ridged ring, and protrudes out, but not enough to make the device hard to hold or difficult to slip into a jeans pocket.
Specifications of the phone include an excellent 4.7-inch Full HD panel (465-ppi), a Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, microSD slot, and a 2,600-mAh battery. The device runs a stock version of Android 4.4.4, that will give you the typical KitKat smartphone user experience.
The camera on the front is an average 1.1MP, but, of course, the rear shooter is anything but average. The Lumix CM1 features a large 1-inch sensor with 20 MP resolution, Leica optics with a f/2.8 lens, and an LED flash. This isn’t a DSLR-replacement by any means, but the specs should be enough in many situations – after all, the best camera is the one you have with you, and with its phone alter-ego, the CM1 will be carried around extensively.
The camera app on the Lumix CM1 emulates the controls of a Panasonic point-and-shoot, and anyone who is familiar with Lumix products will feel right at home. There’s the usual bevy of controls, for things like exposure and aperture, plus many automatic modes for those times you just want to snap a quick shot.
The CES floor is no place to test a camera, but with the Lumix CM1 heading to the states, we hope we’ll get the chance to take Panasonic’s camera-phone for a shootout soon.
Stay tuned to Android Authority for more coverage of the CM1 and the other weird and wonderful things coming out of CES 2015.
Earlier today, Panasonic has announced the Lumix CM1 at CES 2015. AndroidandMe notes the device originally was slated just for the European market. However, with today’s unveiling, the company has revealed the device is indeed coming to the United States.
The Panasonic Lumix CM1’s main selling point appears to be a 20-megapixel camera with a f/2.8 Leica lens, a manual control ring, and a mechanical shutter. Nonetheless, it is equipped with some rather high-end specs, including Android 4.4 KitKat, a 4.7-inch 1080p display, a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a micro SD card slot, and a 2,600mAH battery.
The Lumix CM1 will be released this summer for $1,000 as an unlocked GSM device that will function on AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks.
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Astronauts aboard the ISS have been sending back space videos for years, but now they’ve stepped up their game: they just beamed back a couple of 3D footage taken by a Panasonic camera. These video clips take us on a 3D tour of the space station and show the astronauts submerging a sealed GoPro into a water bubble floating around in zero-g. By the sound of NASA’s press release, though, we’ll see more 3D videos in the future, as the camera used to take them fares batter in space. See, the radiation out there affects ordinary cams, burning out hundreds to thousands of pixels — enough for them to need replacing every 8 to 12 months. The astronauts noticed, however, that the first $21,000 3D camera brought aboard the station in 2011 remained largely the same through the years.
According to NASA Imagery Experts program manager Rodney Grubbs, when the original 3D camera returned on a SpaceX rocket, they “found the overlay of the two stereo images forming the 3-D picture may have helped lessen the appearance of damaged pixels.” The downside is that you’ll need special glasses to view the videos properly, but you can always tap into your arts and crafts experience from grade school and make your own.
Filed under: Misc
If you’re worried about missing a once-in-a-lifetime photo op, Panasonic and Red have a proposition: Why not shoot ultra high-res video and just grab still images? Both companies had the same idea at Photokina 2014 (though Red had it long before that), albeit with wildly different thoughts about price and quality. Panasonic’s system is called “4K Photo,” and allows you to extract a still from its 4K, 30 fps, 100 Mbps video stream, for as little as $900 on the new LX100 compact camera. Red, on the other hand, has got a more extreme plan: Capture up to 100 fps, 19-megapixel RAW stills starting at $17,000 for its Red Scarlet Dragon cinema camera.
We spoke with both companies at the bi-annual photo show about shooting video for still photos. Panasonic has implemented the new “4K Photo” feature on its new high-end compact, the Lumix LX100, along with the FZ1000 superzoom, CM1 camera phone and the HC-X1000, its latest 4K camcorder. The feature is also now available on the Lumix GH4 thanks to a new firmware upgrade. Here’s how it works: Simply shoot 4K video and search through the resulting footage to retrieve a desired still, complete with EXIF data. Images can be captured at 16:9, 4:3, 3:2 and even 1:1 (hello, Instagram). With a data rate of 100 Mbps, that will give a compressed .MP4 still image of about 400-plus KB, not very much for an 8-megapixel photo, but still equivalent to about a 70 percent compressed JPEG image. You could use an external recorder to capture better-quality stills on the GH4 too.
Panasonic sees it as a way for the average Joe to extract that one fleeting, perfect moment. With a 1/16,000th of a second shutter speed, you could freeze a water splash from Junior’s cannonball, for instance. This can all happen while you’re also grabbing video, though there’s one drawback. In order to capture still frames, the necessary higher shutter speed will eliminate the normal (desirable) motion blur from video. That means that event videographers who want to grab still photos from video will need to choose between natural-looking video or non-blurry still images. Still, having more options is always better, and this is opening up a new way of shooting photos on a $900 camera.
On the other end of the scale, professional photographers have been using Red cinema cameras to do the same thing since a Megan Fox photo spread appeared in Esquire back in 2009. For Photokina this year, the company has formalized the process with a new tethering system that lets you send RAW images across an Ethernet network. On top of that, the company’s RedcineX Pro now supports frame tagging, making it easier to pre-select still frames from a video feed of up to 100 fps.
The company gave me a quick demo of the process. It starts by shooting 6K RAW video at 15 fps on the Red Epic Scarlet ($16,700 for the body only) up to 100 fps on the Red Epic ($31,200). While shooting, the photographer can tag frames to help the editor find the best shots. With the new Dragon sensor, Red claims you’ll get a 16.5-stop dynamic range (DR), with 16 bits of color information from its sensor — which is larger than APS-C, but smaller than full-frame. That beats every other DSLR on the market for DR, though 19 megapixels is half of a Nikon D800’s resolution — and many photographers prefer larger full-frame or medium-format sensors. I tried hefting a stripped-down RED Scarlet Dragon camera (above) with a Canon EF mount and it’s definitely heavier than any DSLR I’ve hoisted, but certainly feasible.
The photos can instantly be transferred along an Ethernet network thanks to a camera tether, though that option is still in the testing stages. But to prove its point, Red was grabbing stills from a swimsuit photo shoot (yes, it’s a trade show) and printing them out at poster sizes from a large, professional printer. Judging by the results, the cameras could be equally at home on a Vogue photo shoot or the set of a Hobbit movie.
Of course, all of this was possible before Red and Panasonic put a label on it. There’s no reason why you can’t take high-quality stills out of cameras from Sony, Samsung, Blackmagic Design (above, with 4K RAW DPX) or others. What has changed is that 4K video is becoming more and more common — and 4K can give you an 8-megapixel still, compared to only two megapixels for HD. Since most of us aren’t professional photographers with perfect instincts and reflexes, that means we’ll no longer need leave it to pure chance to capture the perfect image.
We’ve seen plenty of interesting rebrands in past years. Leica’s perhaps the most prolific manufacturer to redesign housings and jack up a camera’s price, but Hasselblad is also guilty of trying to pass off a competitor’s cam as its own, with the $10,000 Solar. Leica’s own recreations are hardly as egregious — select photographers certainly don’t mind paying a few hundred dollars more for what’s arguably a better-looking camera from a more premium brand, making this year’s V-Lux and D-Lux a reasonable purchase for some. That first model is based on the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000, while the D-Lux is a deluxe version of the LX100, which squeezes a powerful Micro Four Thirds sensor into a surprisingly compact body.
The challenge, of course, comes down to pricing. If you opt for the generally identical Panasonic models, you’ll pay much less. Panasonic’s FZ1000 costs $899, for example, though Leica’s pricing its equivalent at €1,100 (about $1,425). The LX100, meanwhile, will also run you $899, compared to €995 (nearly $1,300) for the Leica D-Lux model. If you can afford to look past that discrepancy, you’ll end up with a great (perhaps better) looking alternative to two of the most powerful point-and-shoots on the market. The V-Lux hits shelves next month, while you’ll need to wait until November to pick up a D-Lux.
Photos by Edgar Alvarez.
Filed under: Cameras
The rumors were true: Microsoft is buying Minecraft developer Mojang for $2.5 billion. Crazy, right? That’s not all that happened today though. Go ahead and spice up your Monday with Engadget’s news highlights from the last 24 hours. You know you want to.