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4
Jan

LG has an Alexa-powered fridge, move over Family Hub


LG has unveiled its own version of the Family Hub fridge.

The LG Smart Instaview Refrigerator has a webOS-powered 29-inch Full HD touch panel in the right-hand door, which offers all manner of apps and gestures to leave notes, see what’s inside the appliance and more. But the biggest news is that LG has also partnered with Amazon to integrated Alexa voice control.

This means you can bark commands at the fridge just as you would an Amazon Echo. It will also have some dedicated commands that are related to the refrigerator itself.

You can use the Instaview feature by voice, for example. This shows what is in the fridge behind the panel so you can see your most used items. Normally, this is done by knocking on the display twice, but with Alexa you just have to ask it.

You can also use Alexa to add items to a shopping list or buy them straight from Amazon.

There’s no word yet on release date or price for the LG Smart Instaview Refrigerator, but it will be on the show floor at CES where we’ll catch up with it to bring you more.

We suspect it won’t be cheap, considering Samsung’s 2016 Family Hub rival was several grand.

4
Jan

LG’s Ultra HD Blu-ray player supports Dolby Vision, for HDR like no other


LG has unveiled the Ultra HD Blu-ray player that many have been waiting for, offering support for Dolby Vision, as well as other HDR formats.

Joining the 4K disc market that’s slowly been gaining traction since the first unveilings in 2016, LG used its CES 2017 press conference to unveil its new line-up of OLED TVs for 2017, as well as a new flagship picture on wall model, the Signature OLED W.

LG’s Ultra HD Blu-ray player will be able to play the latest optical discs offering luscious 4K and HDR movies – we’ve been impressed with the efforts from Samsung and Panasonic so far, but those players didn’t support Dolby Vision.

  • What is HDR, what TVs support HDR, and what HDR content can I watch?

The new LG Ultra HD Blu-ray player will be the perfect companion for your 2016 LG OLED TV, or any of the new models from the 2017 OLED or Super UHD range which all offer support for Dolby Vision too.

The news comes as major studios have aligned to announce support for Dolby Vision Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. Lionsgate, Universal and Warner Bros have released a statement confirming that these discs will become available, with early 2017 given as a timeframe.

LG’s foray into Dolby technology doesn’t stop with TV and Blu-ray, it also announced a Dolby Atmos soundbar at CES 2017.

The technical details on the new Ultra HD Blu-ray player are a little thin on the ground at the moment, but we’ll update with prices and details as soon as we know more.

4
Jan

LG Signature OLED W TV attaches to your wall using magnets and is just 2.5mm thick


LG used its CES 2017 press conference to unveil a new range of OLED TVs with new high dynamic range (HDR) standards support and Dolby Atmos audio, but the star of the show was undoubtedly the LG Signature OLED W – a TV so thin the company tags it as a “wallpaper” set.

It measures just 2.57mm and hangs onto a wall using magnets, meaning it is almost completely flush to the background.

The OLED65W7P is effectively a 65-inch 4K Ultra HD screen with a single cable running to a version of the 4.2 channel LG Dolby Atmos soundbar also revealed at this year’s CES. That serves as the media box for connection to external sources.

There is also a 77-inch version.

There is built-in Wi-Fi and four HDCP 2.2 enabled HDMI ports, compliant with 4K video and HDR tech.

All of LG’s 2017 models support four different forms of HDR, including HDR10 and Dolby Vision, like last year’s sets. This time though, both HLG and another created by Technicolor.

The smart TV operating system is an enhanced version of webOS: webOS 3.5. The set is also 25 per cent brighter than last year’s Signature edition OLED TV.

There is no word yet on price or a specific release date. We’ll be catching up with the OLED W TV on the show floor in the next couple of days to give you our first impressions.

4
Jan

LG’s 2017 OLED TVs are brighter than ever before and support Dolby Atmos


LG has taken to CES to introduce its new range of OLED TVs for 2017. Following from the 6-series of screens from 2016, the 10 new models are split between four ranges: the G7 (77in/65in), E7 (65in/55in), C7 (65in/55in) and B7 (65in/55in). LG also announced a Signature W7 model that we’ve spoken about in a separate story.

  • CES 2017: All the announcements, TVs, laptops and more from the show

This year, LG has partnered with Hollywood colour experts Technicolor for all its OLED and Super UHD TVs to ensure they reproduce the most accurate colours possible.

All OLED models incorporate Active HDR, which LG says encompasses the entire spectrum of HDR formats: HDR10, Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log Gamma and Advanced HDR by Technicolor. The TV is able to analyse the incoming signal and insert dynamic data wherever it may be needed. LG says the TVs are able to produce the “best picture even if the original HDR content contains static or no metadata at all”.

Some of these formats are still in their infancy, but it’s good to know all 2017 OLED models are futureproofed.

  • LG’s Ultra HD Blu-ray players supports Dolby Vision, for HDR like no other

HDR Effect, a feature available on some current LG OLED TVs, claims to analyse and process standard dynamic range (SDR) content and adjust the picture settings, such as improving brightness in certain areas, to make them appear more like HDR.

One big piece of news LG had to announce at its press conference was that all 2017 OLED models will be 25 percent brighter than their 2016 siblings. This is particularly big news for OLED screens as it will help with their HDR performance. While OLED screens inherently have fantastic contrast ratios and deep blacks, they can’t fully compete with LCD screens when it comes to HDR because they can’t go as bright.

The other big announcement is the inclusion of Dolby Atmos on all OLED TVs. While the Signature W7 has an adjoining Dolby Atmos soundbar, the rest of the OLED range will be able to support it on a pass-through basis. This means if you hook up an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, or stream content from a video-on-demand service that supports Dolby Atmos to the TV, it will be able to pass on the Atmos soundtrack to a compatible receiver or soundbar.

While we haven’t been able to see any of LG’s 2017 OLED models yet, we’re excited to see how the brighter panels will compete with the likes of Samsung’s new QLED screens for HDR supremacy.

4
Jan

LG’s Hub Robot will be your home’s new best friend


LG already produces a mass of connected devices, from refrigerators to washing machines, but now it’s created the Hub Robot to control all of them for you, making your life even easier.

The Hub Robot is powered by Amazon Alexa and be used to complete simple tasks such as turning on the air conditioner or changing the cycle your dryer is currently on.

But behind its cute little face, it can display a wealth of information about your home, from all the devices it’s connected to. This includes images of the inside of your smart refrigerator or cooking recipes from the cloud, which it can then read aloud to you step-by-step.

And because it has a speaker built-in, it can connect to music streaming services to play your favourite music, which it learns over time, read the latest weather report or give you an update on your memos.

LG has designed the Hub Robot to be as lifelike as possible, for example it can nod its head when answering questions, or display various facial expressions on the screen. It even has a camera built-in, so it can recognise individual family members and greet each of them with a different phrase. LG has also produced Mini Robots, which can be placed in other rooms around the home and can perform the same tasks, but the Hub Robot is the one that takes care of all the controls.

LG hasn’t given details of price or availability of the Hub Robot. We expect it will initially be given a US launch, but will have to find out if it will make its way to the UK.

4
Jan

Blackberry Mercury preview: Fingerprint scanner and QWERTY keyboard for BB’s next flagship


Say hello to the next flagship BlackBerry phone, codename Mercury.

Looks like a beaut, doesn’t it? Only – and despite getting a preview session via new parent company TCL (which owns Alcatel) at CES 2017 – we don’t know a huge amount about the forthcoming phone. It’s all kept shtum for the time being, before a full unveil at Mobile World Congress later in the year.

  • BlackBerry DTEK70/Mercury: Release date, specs and what we know so far

There are some obvious BlackBerry hallmarks in the Mercury: that full QWERTY keyboard being the most apparent. It has capacitive buttons that can be swiped across to control the Android handset, much like the BlackBerry Priv (and much-maligned Passport).

The rest of the keyboard is very much in line with BlackBerry tradition. Four rows of small, sculpted keys that are separated by three slim metal frets. These should be easy to type on, thanks to that shape and separation. 

Pocket-lint

New this time, however, is a fingerprint scanner home/spacebar key. It’s not setup to wake-up the phone just yet, but we suspect it will be upon release.

In typical BlackBerry style, it’ll be of considerable use for security purposes – whether via apps or embedded within the operating system itself. That’s a primary purpose to buy BlackBerry – and that’ll remain unchanged under TCT management.

Software will undoubtedly include the DTEK app which makes it really easy to keep an eye on your phone’s security status, and help you easily detect which apps are getting far too cosy with some of your phone’s permissions.

It will also come loaded with the Hub, a handy place for instant access to all of your notifications and messages, as well app widget shortcuts from home screen app icons. 

The build quality of the Mercury is formidable. It’s a fairly chunky phone by today’s super-slim standards, but not to excess. Presumably that’ll mean a big battery to keep the phone going all day, while the presence of a USB Type-C port (another new feature) suggests there’ll be fast charging too.

Pocket-lint

To look at, the Mercury is like an elongated Silver Edition Passport in a sense. Its proportions are far better, though, with a well-balanced feel and grippy rear. There’s even a big circular camera which protrudes slightly, suggesting an image-stabilised snapper. There’s the usual dual-LED two tone flash next to it too. 

The buttons are very Alcatel-like though: the power button is miles away to the top left side, which is a nuisance (especially as the spacebar can’t wake the phone yet); while the convenience key and volume up/down to the right are too low down the phone. That’s probably for the sake of typing balance.

All of those buttons are built in to a metal edge which is really nicely rounded, and feels great in the hand. It almost reminds us of the rounded edges of the original iPhone. 

Pocket-lint

Of course, specifications could make or break this phone. We just don’t know what processor, RAM or storage options it will be equipped with. We don’t even know what resolution the oddly-proportioned screen is.

Rumours have suggest a mid-range Snapdragon 600-series processor, others have speculated a more high end chip, like the Snapdragon 821. If it’s the latter, it could have the power to match the best phones on the market. If it’s the former, this phone will sit between the current two BlackBerry phones. 

  • BlackBerry DTEK60 review: More than just an Alcatel clone?
  • BlackBerry DTEK50 review: Secure, just not top drawer

We’ve had a love-hate relationship with some recent BlackBerry devices. But with the keyboard firmly back, security as top priority as ever, and decent software features such as BlackBerry Hub running on an app-friendly Android base, the Mercury looks like it’ll float the boats of the BlackBerry elite once more.

4
Jan

Panasonic Lumix GH5 preview: A new benchmark for 4K capture


Panasonic made the unusual move of teasing a forthcoming camera at Photokina 2016. Cameras don’t often get this type of pre-announcement, but then most cameras aren’t the Lumix GH5.

Panasonic instead used CES 2017 to launch the new Lumix GH5, a refreshed flagship interchangeable lens camera that sits at the top of Panasonic’s range of models. This isn’t a replacement for the popular GH4, there are so many changes and the GH4 is such a solid performer, that in the short-term (at least) the GH5 will sit alongside the GH4.

We had the chance to get our hands on a GH5 pre-production model prior to launch, so here’s a full run-down of what you can expect from this potent update. 

Panasonic Lumix GH5 preview: Design

  • Water, dust and cold proof
  • 3.2-inch rear monitor
  • Dual SD card slots

The design of the GH5 is familiar to anyone who has used the GH4 and indeed a number of other G series models. It adopts that familiar compact DSLR-looking design, with plenty of controls, a pronounced right-hand grip and a serious body. Like its forebear, the GH5 has a magnesium alloy body that is splash and dust resistant, with Panasonic now specifying that it’s freezeproof, so better protected for use in all conditions than the GH4. 

The layout of controls is fairly familiar too, so most things fall into place exactly where you’d expect them to be if coming from another G series. There’s been a change in body design from the 2014 Lumix GH4 that’s most noticeable around the right shoulder and top right rear panel.

Pocket-lint

There’s been a slight reconfiguration of the buttons, moving the video capture button to the top, giving space for a thumb stick on the rear next to the focus controls. 

Elsewhere the changes are mostly cosmetic, evolving the design for better looks. It’s slightly less fussy than the previous model, which for a camera that’s expanding its feature set is a positive thing. With that in mind, there’s still a scattering of Fn buttons that you can program to your own preference, and those two dials, one on each shoulder, one for the shooting mode, the other for drive mode. 

You’ll notice here that the left-hand dial offers 6K Photo, a dedicated mode that Panasonic has introduced as a successor to 4K Photo that’s appeared on a number of recent Lumix cameras, more on this later.

Pocket-lint

Those with eagle eyes might spot the slight change in the flaps to the left-hand edge where the physical connections lie, as there’s now a full-sized HDMI connector, as well as USB Type-C. The shift away from using one of the compact HDMI standards has been in direct feedback from videographers, to ensure that the GH5 works with existing equipment with minimal fuss. You even get the HDMI lock in the box, so you can screw the cable down and make sure it doesn’t fall out, vital if recording video on an external device. 

You also might notice that the rear display has expanded to 3.2-inches, giving you a little more space to use that monitor, but without eating away at the rest of the body. There are also dual SD card slots.

Additionally, the electronic viewfinder has been boosted too. It’s still an OLED panel but is a higher resolution than the GH4, moving up to 3.6 million dots. It’s lovely to use, packed full of detail and information and we can’t wait to test it further.

  • Panasonic Lumix GH4 review

Panasonic Lumix GH5 preview: Huge internal changes 

  • 5-axis in-body image stabilisation
  • New 20-megapixel sensor, no low pass filter
  • New Venus image processing engine

One of things you can’t see is the new 5-axis dual image stabilisation system that’s built into the body. Panasonic say that this is good for five stops, although we’ve not had the chance to test its performance. Certainly, in-body stabilisation is welcomed, meaning stabilisation on those lenses that don’t offer it.

Aside from stabilisation, the heart of this camera is new, with a new 20-megapixel sensor. There’s no low pass filter on this sensor, with Panasonic claiming that this is the highest quality Lumix ever. It is combined with a new Venus image-processing engine, giving you more power.

Pocket-lint

There’s a whole stack of features that come with the new model. Aside from just the promise of higher quality images, there’s a lot of options for videographers, with Panasonic aiming TV and cinema, as well as those professionals looking for the ultimate hybrid camera for events.

Another change that you can’t see is the step-up to 5GHz ac Wi-Fi as well as the inclusion of Bluetooth for direct control. The GH5 has also been engineered to be a quieter camera, with a floating construction for the shutter aiming to reduce the vibration and the noise. Panasonic is claiming that 10dB noise reduction has been shaved from the shutter. 

Panasonic Lumix GH5 preview: High quality photos and supercharged video

  • 6K Photo, 18-megapixel still from 30fps video
  • 12fps still shooting, up to 100 RAW photos
  • 4:2:2 10-bit 4K video
  • Hybrid log gamma video capture

Returning to that 6K mode, this is one of the features that Panasonic teased at the Photokina announcement. This is 6K Photo an enhancement of the 4K Photo option that’s widely offered on recent Lumix models (including the GH4). 

The new 6K Photo mode will capture 18-megapixel frames at 30fps, the idea being that 6K Photo will let you capture the perfect photo from moving action. It’s really a fancy burst mode, the big sell here being that it’s capturing high-quality video and giving you the perfect still photo.

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It’s worth noting that regular high-speed capture at full resolution is only 12fps, so for a drop of only 2-megapixels, 6K Photo looks to have more merit than 4K Photo offered previously, but 4K Photos also gets a boost: you can shoot 8-megapixel photos at 60fps in the GH5, with the same aim of getting the perfect still from a fast moving subject. 

It’s on the video front that Panasonic has made a huge number of changes and we can see why this camera sits alongside the GH4. For those wanting is highly capable stills and video machine, the GH4 is just that. For those wanting to supercharge video, the GH5 is fully loaded.

There’s no pixel binning from the sensor when shooting 4K video and there’s also no limit on the recording time in 4K. You can capture 10-bit 4:2:2 at 30/25/24p, or 8-bit 4:2:0 at 60/50p. The HDMI will output this video for recording, while you can also record on the internal card in most settings too.

Pocket-lint

If that wasn’t enough, the GH5 is already in line for a number of firmware upgrades to add more features to its skills. 

One of these is the addition of hybrid log gamma (HLG) capture, meaning that the GH5 will be able to capture this new standard of HDR that’s being developed by, amongst others, the BBC. The whole aim of HLG is to work with legacy equipment so it’s appealing to broadcasters, because it doesn’t involve a huge change in workflow or equipment.

  • What is Hybrid Log Gamma and why should you care?

We’ve not had the chance to test the performance of the GH5, as the sample that we saw was pre-production and we weren’t allowed to put a card in the camera, so all we can report on is the detail that we’ve gleaned from Panasonic. That means we can’t comment on the quality until we get the Lumix GH5 back for a full review. 

First Impressions

The Panasonic Lumix GH5 packs in a full range of changes, making it not only the highest quality Lumix model so far, but a model that should appeal to a wide range of video producers looking for range of high-end 4K capture options.

As we’ve said a couple of times, the GH5 isn’t pitched as a replacement for the GH4 and as such it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s a little more expensive. Priced at £1699 (body only), it’s about £300 more than the GH4 at launch. 

Hitting stores from 20 March, the Panasonic Lumix GH5 looks like it pushes the videographers weapon of choice even higher.

4
Jan

Panasonic Lumix GH5 supercharges 4K capture with serious updates


Panasonic has unveiled the Lumix GH5, first teased at Photokina 2016. Using CES 2017 as the launch platform, the new camera is claimed to be the highest quality Lumix G camera yet. 

Rather than replacing the existing and very popular Lumix GH4, the new GH5 updates that model in a few key areas for a model that’s more focused on quality and offers a range of options, especially the videographers that the GH4 doesn’t.

There’s a wide range of capture formats supported across 4K with options for 4K at 60fps, as well as 30fps 4:2:2 10-bit capture. This means there’s a billion colours supported, rather than just the 16 million of the 8-bit 4:2:0.

There’s a full pixel readout offered from the new 20.3-megapixel sensor, a full-sized HDMI, as well as a firmware update plan that includes things like hybrid log gamma, the format that the BBC is developing for broadcast HDR.

  • What is Hybrid Log Gamma and why should you care?

Aside from video skills, there’s a larger 3.2-inch display on the back and an updated OLED viewfinder, bumping up to 3.6-million dots to make it clearer and sharper than before.

Lying at the heart is a new 20.3-megapixel sensor without a low pass filter. This sensor is fronted with a new shutter that’s been engineered to be quieter and there’s now a 5-axis stabilisation system in the body, meaning you’ll get the benefit for whatever lens you attach to the front. This will work as a dual-IS system with compatible lenses, giving you the benefit of the lens’ optical image stabilisation too. There are dual SD card slots.

Panasonic is bumped the 4K Photo feature into 6K Photo, so you’ll now be able to rattle off 18-megapixel photos at 30fps, meaning you can ensure you get that perfect shot from fast moving action. There’s also 4K Photo (8-megapixel) at 60fps.

The Lumix GH5 will be in stores from 20 March 2017 and will be priced at £1699 body only, but we’ve already had the chance to take a closer look.

  • Panasonic Lumix GH5 preview: A new benchmark for 4K capture
4
Jan

Panasonic gets you into the action with Lumix FZ82’s 60x zoom


The Panasonic Lumix FZ82’s main feature is the huge 60x zoom lens on the front. Ranging from 20-1200mm, it will quickly get you up close and personal, no matter how far away your subject is. 

Unveiled at CES 2017, the new model replaces the Lumix FZ72. It has an 18-megapixel sensor at its heart and is powered by the same Venus Engine that drives the GH4, meaning there’s plenty of power on offer.

There’s optical image stabilisation on that lens, which offers a reasonable F/2.8 at the widest angle, although to narrows rapidly as you zoom in.

Sitting in the bridge category of cameras, this is a fixed lens model, so there’s no lens swapping here, the aim being to give you everything in one model. The 60x zoom has been crammed into a body that, although a little bulky is much more compact an manageable than a system camera with the same sort of range, so it’s ideal for people wanting zoom without the fuss and at a reasonable price. 

Hitting shelves in March 2017, the Lumix FZ82 will cost you £399 and will support 4K video recording, as well as Panasonic’s 4K Photo function. This latter feature will capture a burst of photos at 30fps, meaning you can capture fast moving action and get a sharp, perfect 8-megapixel photo at the end of it. 

There’s a 1040k-dot display on the rear in addition to the 1170k-dot electronic viewfinder to aid with photo composition.

There’s also a built-in flash and a hot shoe to support a range of additional accessories.

4
Jan

Panasonic Lumix GX800 is the cutest, most compact, G series camera around


Panasonic is launching a number of cameras fresh for 2017, with the new Lumix GH5 leading the charge and this, the GX800, winning the prize for the cutest interchangeable lens camera around.

Announced at CES 2017, the new GX800 sits in the same sort of space as the GF models, with early leaks suggesting this model might be called the GF9. Lumix fans will be able to logically trace the naming logic from GX8 to GX80 to GX800, each getting smaller as it adds a zero to the name.

The new GX800 is the most affordable Lumix G mirrorless interchangeable lens camera at £499.99 and that includes the 12-32mm collapsible lens. To add appeal, this dinky CSC comes in silver, black, tan and orange colours. 

For that you have a camera that’s almost pocketable, but still fully-loaded. There’s a 16-megapixel sensor at its heart with no low pass filter, there’s a tiltable 3-inch 1040k-dot display on the back that flips all the way up to put the camera into selfie mode so you can shoot yourself. 

There’s 4K video capture on board, as well as 4K Photo, the system that will let you shoot 8-megapixel photos at 30fps to make sure you get the perfect moment from a moving subject. There’s a range of features you don’t get, like a viewfinder, but there’s still a lot crammed into this compact package. 

Available from March 2017, we’ve already had the chance to play with the Lumix GX800 briefly, so be sure you check out our first impressions.

  • Panasonic Lumix GX800 preview: Small but perfectly formed
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