Both Netflix and Amazon stream in 4K. Cameras like the Sony a7S and the Panasonic Lumix GH4 can shoot in 4K. Even smartphones have been getting in on the act, with handsets like the LG G Pro 2 and Sony Xperia Z2 capable of recording 4K video. So with the amount of 4K content available increasing every day, you may have been thinking about buying a 4K set so you too can bask in the glow of 3,840 x 2,160 resolution. But 4K sets don’t come cheap, and you’re going to want to do a bit of research before dropping that much cash. While we don’t really review televisions here at Engadget, we’ve done the next best thing, compiling the opinions of trusted critics from across the web. Which set offers you the most bang for your buck? Do bells and whistles like a curved screen make a difference? Check out a few members of the 4K Class of 2014 below.
Price: $2,300 and up
Walk into a room and the first thing you’ll notice about the Samsung U9000 is its curved screen, which CNET says adds a “unique, futuristic look” to a set that is overall “drop-dead gorgeous.” It says the picture is equally stunning, offering “deep black levels, accurate color and great bright-room viewing qualities.” But what about that curve? Though it’s meant to create a feeling of depth and immersion, CNET found it “didn’t have any major effect on the picture aside from reducing reflections somewhat,” and Reviewed.com found it actually made some reflections worse, such that “lamps and lights are occasionally stretched across the entire arc of the screen.” It’s worth noting that the U9000 also includes an improved Smart Hub experience, but you can also find other Samsung sets that are a lot cheaper (and less curvy).
Price: $3,297 and up
The Samsung U8550 is a set that eschews the curved screen of its high-end sibling U9000 in favor of “trim bezels and a very narrow panel” that Reviewed.com says “lend this television a modern air.” The picture also does it credit, with LCD TV Buying Guide complimenting its “brilliant images in 4K,” while Sound+Vision was impressed with the “crisp detail and the clean, smooth clarity” of its upconversions. As on the U9000, the Smart Hub has been upgraded with “subtle improvements” that “hit the mark” according to LCD TV Buying Guide, and Reviewed.com says it provides “all of the streaming content and web-browsing functions you’d expect for the price.” And that’s a price that undercuts the competition by $1,000, leaving you some extra cash for an awesome sound or gaming system on the side.
Price: $1,597 and up
Price: $2,998 and up
How is Elon Musk going to produce his vaunted $35,000 Tesla when EV batteries are so expensive? By making his own. Tesla has signed a deal with Panasonic that’ll see the pair team up to build the Gigafactory. It’s from here that vehicle packs and cells will be mass-produced on an unprecedented scale that costs are expected to tumble. According to the announcement, Tesla will build the plant and maintain it, while Panasonic supplies the lithium cells, plant, machinery and manufacturing equipment to make the whole thing happen. The Gigafactory is expected to produce 35GWh of cells and 50GWh of power packs by 2020 and will be built just as soon as Musk and co. work out which state — Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada or Texas — depending on which has the better
tax rebate renewable energy resources.
Filed under: Transportation
Since its beginnings, photo and video enthusiasts have been very fond of the GH4 camera. Now, as it looks to broaden its Lumix portfolio, Panasonic is introducing the FZ1000, a compact shooter that offers 4K (30fps) video-shooting capabilities to folks who may not want to spend too much money. Inside, there is a 1-inch, 20.1-megapixel “high-sensitivity” MOS sensor, paired with a 16x Leica DC Vario-Elmarit optical zoom lens. For $900, you’ll also get a 3-inch articulating LCD, WiFi features, a top ISO of 12,800 and a newly minted AF system which promises to “extremely fast focusing.” Panasonic says its Lumix FZ1000 is aimed at those wanting to shoot great pictures and video, but perhaps don’t have the need (or bank balance) for something as powerful as its $1,700 GH4. If you’re interested, the FZ1000 is set to go on sale late July.
Virgin’s the kind of brand we’re not shocked to see playing with the latest tech — after all, Richard Branson’s got a space plane. Experiments with Google Glass, smartwatches and iBeacon for Virgin have all focused on boosting customer experience, as long as you’re in Upper Class, anyway. European airline easyJet, however, is known for its no-frills, low-cost approach, which is why we’re curious to see the company investing in an “innovation” arm that looks at how new technologies can be applied to aviation, with no immediate return. easyJet sees it differently, though, as the long-term goal is to save money by reducing technical delays, or hopefully avoiding them all together. This has a knock-on effect of improving customer service by minimizing disruptions, of course, but make no mistake: easyJet’s motivated to explore emerging tech because a grounded plane might as well be a money pit.
easyJet envisions reducing aircraft downtime in a number of ways, the simplest (on paper) being better software. In this area, the airline’s testing a system that monitors its fleet in real time, and schedules part replacements before they fail, as well as looking at mobile apps that also take the hassle out of identifying and ordering the right parts. The main issue for easyJet, really, is when a plane is struck by lightning or suffers some other event that might’ve caused damage, and it needs meticulous inspection before returning to active duty. We’re told it can take up to a day for engineers to OK a plane, and it’s this lost time that easyJet is trying to cut dramatically by using a much smaller kind of aircraft: the drone.
Though the airline admittedly has no real idea of when it could deploy drones in support of its engineers, the pipe dream sees UAVs shrinking lengthy inspection times to little more than an hour. Instead of making engineers climb about the aircraft in search of damage, the thinking is drones could help get at hard-to-reach places quickly. While laser scanning and 3D modeling could be part of a drone’s job in the future, easyJet’s still just working on making sure camera quality is as good as it can be. The airline’s working with drone-builders CopterCraft and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (UK) to perform proof-of-concept studies, with the latter even looking into autonomous scanning, multi-drone setups to divide workload and particularly outdoor flight in turbulent environments.
All aircraft maintenance is managed from a command center next to London’s Luton Airport, and the hope is that drone imagery and scans can enhance communication and data availability with engineers on the ground. Not limited to just drones, easyJet’s also testing hand-held and head-mounted cameras, as well as portable 3D scanners for relaying information back to base. AR headwear from the likes of Epson and Vuzix could also feed information the other way, giving engineers a heads-up as to where an issue might be found. Most of these applications are a long way from formal introduction, but some tech is set to save easyJet money right now. By the end of the month, the 25kg of flight manuals and other paperwork its planes lug around will be replaced by Panasonic’s rugged Toughpad tablets. And, according to easyJet, one kilo costs it $20,000 each year. In an effort to make truly paper-free planes, Sony’s large e-paper slates are also expected to substitute in for the plethora of forms the crew must fill out for each flight.
easyJet considers all these projects investments, and ones that will eventually pay off. It’s not concerned with other airline’s riffing of the ideas, either, and in some respects hopes to be a leader in assessing new technologies for their potential in aviation. Most of all though, easyJet wants its planes in the air as much as possible, getting you on your way and making dollars in the process.
Sharif Sakr contributed to this report.
Remember Hospi, the digital porter from 2004? We wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t, since Panasonic only sold two of the things in the better part of a decade. Now, the company is looking for a do-over, having redesigned the robot to actually provide some use to Japan’s hospitals. This time out, the Hospi is designed simply to transport medicines to patients and take medical records to staff members. Not that it’s just carrying around the odd beaker or folder, since Panasonic’s designed the gear to lug around 44 pounds of weight at any one time. Given that each robot costs almost $100,000, you’d think it might be cheaper just to hire some interns or plumb in a vacuum tube system — but it transpires that one hospital used the latter, and it cost almost $10,000 a month just to keep it running.
Filed under: Robots
Source: The Asahi Shimbun
Microsoft isn’t just supporting White House’s ConnectED education program by lowering the cost of Windows — it’s also giving schools the cash they’ll need to buy Windows PCs. The company is donating $1 billion to make sure that students have the tech they’ll need for both getting online and learning technology skills. The funding comes alongside a new device pricing program that should make the PCs more affordable — to start with, it’s offering sub-$300 systems from Acer, ASUS, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, Panasonic and Toshiba.
The company isn’t shy about having a commercial incentive behind its generosity; its Education CTO, Cameron Evans, tells CNET that there’s a hope that kids will become loyal Windows fans down the road. However, he adds that any eventual sales are secondary to the more immediate focus on improving education. The influx of cash should reduce the technology gap for less fortunate students, many of whom could miss out on digital learning without a little help.
[Image credit: Getty Images]
The incoming Panasonic GH4 has broken new ground with 4K, high-bit-rate video for a mere $1,700, but if you want more than 8-bits? It’s doable, but only if you also budget for a pricey external recorder. Fortunately, hacker Thomas Worth has just released a simple Mac command-line program that’ll let you do a neat trick with GH4 files: convert the 4K, 16-million color video to 10-bit HD with a billion hues. It works using pixel summing, in which the extra 4K pixels are used to fill in missing color information, resulting in true, 10-bit DPX files in HD. As shown after the break, the result is a sharper image, smoother color gradients, easier grading and less loss in detail during image processing. The only downside is much larger 17.7MB images, but the last time we checked, hard drives are pretty cheap.
[Image credit: Nick Driftwood]
Filed under: Cameras
Via: 43 Rumors
Source: EOS HD forums
American 3D printer manufacturers have stolen a lead on the competition, but a Japan-based alliance is looking to fight back… it’ll take a year or two, is all. The group includes universities, 27 companies including the likes of Panasonic, Nissan and Kawasaki, as well as the Japanese government. Rather than cheerfully-colored figurines and trinkets, the group plans to use titanium-based materials to craft complicated components like airplane parts and artificial joints for medical use.
For the government’s part, it’s promising 3.8 billion yen ($36.5 million) this year, with each member organization adding another 500,000 yen per year to the research group. According to the Nikkei, work will focus on advanced tech that will allow 3D-printed components through (awesome-sounding) “molten metal powders.” The aim is to have prototype machines by 2015, with some 3D printers ready for sale as commercial products. Final finished machines for making medical equipment and aircraft manufacturers will apparently take another four years to perfect.
If you don’t mind your wearable action cam being tethered to a separate unit for wrangling controls, Panasonic’s HX-A500 offers 4K video capture in return. The company touts the camera as the “world’s first” option for said resolution, recording the those exploits at 25fps. There’s also a 1080p option at 50fps, 720p at 100fps and 480p an a 100fps crawl for judging that swing in time for baseball season. It will also capture up to 30 minutes of video in up to three meters (about 10 feet) of water, should the need arise. Need to get the footage to another device? NFC and WiFi connectivity are built in with compatibility with Ustream for live broadcasts. The HX-A500 carries a similar look to the outfit’s HX-A100, but the “main body” now packs a 1.5-inch LCD monitor for keeping an eye on things and tweaking settings. Other notable features include a IPX8 waterproof rating, automatic leveling correction, image stabilization and a variety of mounts to keep the dustproof cam in the right spot for optimum capture. The HX-A500 is set to arrive in May with a £379.99 (around $626) price tag in tow.
Filed under: Cameras
Well, this is certainly a motley crew: a variety of companies in the virtual reality space are teaming up to create the “Immersive Technology Alliance.” The group is an evolution of an earlier consortium, The Stereoscopic 3D Gaming Alliance — apparently the world of 3D gaming no longer needs their support? Anyway, the renamed group includes major game players like EA as well as little teams like Technical Illusions (of CastAR fame), as well as the company most responsible for re-introducing VR, Oculus VR. The ITA list includes all the players you’d expect, but also has a few outliers in Epson and Panasonic; Sony isn’t part of the ITA just yet, but that may change sooner than later. The group’s first public appearance takes place next week at San Francisco’s annual Game Developers Conference and we’ll be on-hand to document the shindig. Also, to ask Panasonic what it’s doing there. Head below for an example of immersive technology (an Engadget editor punching virtual sharks, obviously) and the full list of members (thus far).
- Oculus VR
- GameFace Labs
- Big Blue Bubble
- I’m in VR
- YEI Technology
- Jon Peddie Research
- Crew Communicatons
- University of Ontario Institute of Technology
- Digital Extremes
- Virtuix Omni