Tag: tv

Anthony Agius  & Raj Deut discuss Australia’s insistence on forcing companies to provide a backdoor with the fear of imprisonment as both major political parties swing their di#ks in parliament haggling over the downfall of us all in the “Assistance and Accessibility Bill”.

In addition to that rant-fest they look at how Tumblr plans on staying relevant after banning porn, Ant gives Raj an EV 101 lesson with the purchase of his Hyundai Ioninc, the Quora & Marriott hacks are put under the microscope and we all throw out our now crappy old useless 4K TVs as Japan’s NHK starts broadcasting 8K!!

Continue reading

Democracy is coming to the USA

Yeah, yeah your dragons are flying around and crashing Foxtel’s sign-on system every week, but a better show is returning for its third season later this year and it’s first trailer is a doozy!

Mr Robot returns on October 11th, 2017.

British actress Jodie Whittaker has been named as the thirteenth Doctor Who.

The announcement will both delight and stun fans as the iconic time traveller has, for the last five decades at least, been male.

I’m no Doctor Who fan, in fact I’d go as far as to say I find it kind of generic & annoying, but that doesn’t mean that thousands of people don’t LOVE it and that I can’t heap praise on its show-runners in a change that finally introduces some gender balance to its lead role.

Well done.

Source: Doctor who? Jodie Whittaker becomes the first female Time Lord

The founder of Kogan, Ruslan Kogan (who of course named his company after himself) is an Ayn Rand loving, publicity seeking show off and is generally a distasteful person that is the antithesis of what I consider someone I’d get along with. He perturbs me to the extent that for years I refused to buy anything with his name emblazoned upon it. But here I am, in June 2015 and a 65″ 1080p LCD TV is sitting in my living room with the word “Kogan” written on the front in small letters and it only cost me $999. Continue reading

TLDR; buy the Philips BDM4065UC.

I spend a lot of time looking at transistors stuck on elaborate chemical films, squished between electrodes, encased in plastic boxes. I want more and more of those transistors, as the more transistors, the more pixels available to display the wonderful things my computer has to offer – such as photoshopped images of celebrities and a constant stream of news that my government and the government of my government’s allies are conspiring against me in the name of some bullshit war on terrorism that’s totally driven by corrupt and racist ideologues.

My unquenchable thirst for pixels has led me on a hunt for a relatively inexpensive UHD4K (3840×2160) display that I can hook up to my computer. I’m not alone in this hunt as others want a sweet piece of silicon and plastic that can make 8,294,400 little lights glow in unison with pretty colours. This article will guide you through the maze of technical jargon and obsolete information in order to find a monitor that won’t make your eyes bleed.

connectors

Does Your Computer Support 4K?

First of all, you need a computer that’ll actually support 3840×2160. The main issue with 4K support is the insane amount of bandwidth required to send all those pixels uncompressed down the wire from your computer to the display. There’s over 12Gbit (that’s 1.5 gigabytes) of data a second transferred between the computer and display! This sort of bandwidth requires special protocols and connectors.

HDMI v1.4 can support 4K, but only at a maximum of 30Hz – not so good for desktop computer use. HDMI 2.0 is designed with 4K 60Hz in mind and many of the new 4K TVs have HDMI 2.0 support or a quasi version of it. HDMI 2.0 support is still thin on the ground as of late 2014, not appearing in any Macs and only on the top end latest model graphics cards.

DisplayPort 1.2 supports the higher bandwidth required for [email protected] and is on most relatively modern graphics cards. DisplayPort 1.3 is more recent (September 2014) and has ample bandwidth for [email protected], but isn’t on any graphics cards right now.

For Macs, Apple has written a support document on support for 4K monitors. You pretty much need a Mac with Thunderbolt 2 and has Intel Iris Pro graphics or better (Intel 5000 graphics won’t cut the mustard). If you want 60Hz output, you need to use the Mini DisplayPort plug, as HDMI 1.4 (which is on all the Macs) won’t be enough.

Also useful to know is what SST and MST mean – Single Stream Transport and Multi Stream Transport. Although we have these cool 4K LCD panels and graphics cards that support 4K, the input controller on the displays didn’t keep up. As a workaround, the display manufacturers used multiple input controllers to handle the extra bandwidth coming in from the computer. This method is called MST and is kind of a hack to split data up and sort of pretend to be multiple monitors. Any 4K display out now will probably have a setting in it’s menus to enable this. Without it on, the max refresh rate you’ll get is 25Hz or 30Hz.

If your computer can handle 4K output, now you can actually think about getting a 4K monitor. The ideal 4K display for computer use needs to satisfy a few criteria.

Native resolution of 3840×2160
Duh, this is the whole point! Heaps more pixels and screen real estate than the 2560×1440 displays.

60hz refresh rate at the UHD4K resolution
This is one of the most important considerations, as using a computer monitor lower than 60hz is quite annoying and almost all 4K TVs are 25hz or 30hz, as television content doesn’t generally go beyond this. We will discuss why this is important later on in the article.

Pixel density in the 92-115ppi range
Dudley Storey has written an easy to understand explanation of what pixel density is and what it means in relation to what you see on your display. A 27” 2560×1440 display has a PPI of 108.79 and is at the upper end of what my eyes are comfortable with. A nice PPI calculator (pop in the screen size and the resolution and it gives you the PPI and lists the PPI of many popular displays) has been made by Sven Neuhaus.

38-42” diagonal size
This helps achieve the right PPI so that we actually get a nice big desktop to spread our pixel junk all over. If the monitor is too small text is hard to read as the pixels are squished together.

Sub-$1000 price
When new 2560×1440 displays are going for under $500 and 2nd hand Dell ones in the $350 range, I didn’t want to spend more than $1,000 for the extra pixels 4K brings.

I am not a gamer and I don’t edit photos for a living, so colour accuracy, super high 120hz or 144hz refresh rate and input lag are not considerations of mine.

With that criteria – [email protected], 90-115ppi, 38”-42” and under $1,000, let’s go shopping!

Seiki SE39UY04

seiki

The display that started it all, the Seiki SE39UY04 was released in 2013 for only US$699 and is only US$339.99 right now. It ticks all the boxes, sub$1000 even when delivered to Australia, is 4K, 113ppi and 39” – oh, but wait, 4K is limited to 30Hz. Bummer. Many people overlooked this due to the excellent price, got one anyways and plugged it into their computers. Here’s some blog posts of nerds who did this:

For me, the biggest issue with the Seiki SE39UY04 is the lack of 60Hz support. Some people seem to tolerate 30Hz, but I cannot. Plus apparently the image needs a lot of tweaking to be acceptable as a monitor. Seiki is bringing out a “proper” monitor in Q1 2015 though, the 40U4SEP-G02 which will have HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.3 and even a USB 3.0 hub. Certainly one to keep an eye on.

UHD4K Televisions
There’s plenty of 4K TVs out now too from Sony, Samsung, Hisense, Panasonic and probably other brands I don’t even realise. Unfortunately, they’re all too big – once you go above 48″ get a PPI that’s too high and not really suitable for using up close on a desk. TCL and Kogan sell 40” and 42” 4K TVs, but they lack HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort ports and hence, won’t do [email protected]

There are a handful TVs in Australia I’m aware of that have [email protected] HDMI 2.0 ports and are not too massive for desktop use, the Sony KD-49X8500B and LG 40UB800T & 49UB850T. Inspired by the good review Campbell Simpson at Gizmodo AU gave the LG 40UB800T, I went to the Good Guys down at Maribyrnong and the tried Sony KD-49X8500B and the LG 40UB800T displays. Whilst they worked at 4K (albeit at 25Hz, as I couldn’t find the MST settings on the TVs and I think my MiniDP to HDMI adaptor doesn’t do HDMI 2.0 like it said it does), I was immediately repulsed by the image quality of websites and text. I tried to tweak the image with the settings on the TV but it didn’t really improve.

Unfortunately, the Sony and the 40” LG have reduced chroma subsampling (i.e: a monitor will normally have 4:4:4 colour). This 4:2:0 colour results in text that looks like this:

chroma

When displaying an image or a video, it looks fine, but text, ugh. Illegible rainbow blurring which results in these TVs useless as computer monitors. Even if they do support [email protected], the decline in image quality isn’t worth the move from my current 2560×1440 monitor.

I haven’t tried the LG 49UB850T, which apparently does 4:4:4 colour over HDMI 2.0, unlike its cheaper 40″ counterpart.

To add further salt into the wound, the Sony and the 49” LG are over $1,000 – which doesn’t meet the criteria. Panasonic have a range of 4K TVs with DisplayPort that work perfectly. Unfortunately, the smallest screen size is 58″ – far too large for desktop use.

Proper 4K Monitors

There are 4K monitors on the market, some quite cheap – good too as they support the right colours, have DisplayPort and have proper stands as well. Unfortunately, even these have caveats to be aware of.

The AOC 28″ U2868PQU is only $500, the Samsung 28” LU28D590DS around $540 and Dell has five 4K displays all quite cheap at under $1000 and one only $559. The only thing wrong with all these monitors are their size. Using these without adjusting the operating system DPI and scaling the interface is almost impossible. Text is tiny and hurts your eyes. Adjusting the DPI in the operating system does improve text clarity (aka Apple’s Retina term) but loses screen real estate too. Even the monitors Apple have “recommended” from Sharp and ASUS are too small at 32”.

There’s some nice 21:9 displays that provide 3440 x 1440, which isn’t far off 4K. The LG 34UC97 is cool with it’s curves and all. It’s $1700 though, much more than the 4K TVs and monitors. The cheaper, non-curved LG 34UM95 is only $1200 and the AOC U3477PQU which uses the same panel is only $950. But these screens don’t have the vertical height of UHD4K (2160 pixels vs. 1440) and are still relatively expensive at $950. The curved one is pretty sweet tho.

Where does this leave me now? If the TVs have poor text rendering and the displays actually designed as computer monitors are too small, is there actually anything to buy, at any price? There are the Panasonic range of 4K TVs which work really well, display 4:4:4 colour and even have DisplayPort input. But they’re big TVs, the smallest is 58″. If you were sitting a bit away from your computer they’d be good, if you can stomach the price. I just want a big monitor with lots of pixels to put on my desk and plug my Retina MBP into. Is that too much to ask?

The Good 4K Monitors Are Coming Very Soon

9yvdisd

The ideal monitor that meets all my criteria isn’t out yet, but is out very, very soon. Hope is not lost! The Philips BDM4065UC meets all the criteria I listed right at the start. It’s a proper computer monitor! The non-Australian people on HardOCP are pretty happy with it too. Apparently the stand is a bit too tall, making the top of the monitor really high, but people have circumvented this by replacing the stand with another VESA mount arm, bringing the edge of the display closer to the surface of the desk.

There are 4K panels floating around from Innolux, according to Panelook, which means there’s a good chance more monitors with them will be out soon. The TCL and LG 40” 4K TVs probably use one of these panels, but the internal hardware isn’t up to scratch, lacking proper 4:4:4 colour. Apparently this is because HDCP 2.2 (HDMI’s copy protection so you can’t plug your Bluray player into a computer and get a bit perfect copy…) uses up too much bandwidth and the first generation HDMI 2.0 chips don’t implement the full 18gbit bandwidth – more detail on this is on HardOCP.

The Philips BDM4065UC will likely be the first in Australia (it’s out already pretty much everywhere else in the world) – I called Philips and they said stock should hit PC stores in AU around mid-December, it’s already listed at $1049 at Scorptec.

If you’re not in a rush you can hang out for the Seiki 40U4SEP-G02, out sometime in early 2015, probably using the same panel as the Philips, but will probably be cheaper. No doubt a bunch of other companies like Benq and AOC will use the same panel and release monitors cheaper than the Philips.

God speed pixel nerds, god speed.

Liked this article?
Then you’ll love The Sizzle! Daily tech news straight to your inbox, with an Aussie slant.
No spam! Just tech news.
oitnb-australia

Australians have complained for years about hit international TV shows being delayed locally, but it is often difficult to pinpoint specific examples.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve taken an in-depth look at the most popular TV shows of 2014 and their availability in Australia. What I found reveals the situation is perhaps more dire than most of us have realised.

Out of the thirty-one shows surveyed, just two were available to Australian viewers on TV and available for purchase digitally within 24 hours of their US premiere.

I’ll repeat that. Two. (Those were Da Vinci’s Demons Season Two and Mad Men Season Seven.)

Let’s put aside online services for a moment. Just 23% of the TV shows surveyed were shown on Australian TV (either free-to-air or Foxtel) within 24 hours of their US screening, and a further 13% were shown within a week.

From here, the numbers take a turn for the worse. 32% took more than a week to arrive on Australian TV screens — and these shows weren’t just a little bit more than a week — they averaged a delay of an astonishing 54 days.

That leaves a further 32% of the TV shows surveyed which have no specific air date or have not been confirmed if they will air in Australia. These non-airing shows aren’t just niches or junk programming either; they include award-nominated shows in a variety of categories.

Delay_AusTV

The picture gets even worse when it comes to the ability of Australians to purchase episodes after they air, which can be particularly important for those who don’t own Foxtel but still want to keep up to date with a TV show.

This survey looked at iTunes, Google Play, Xbox Video and Quickflix and it revealed just 10% (just three out of the thirty-one shows) were made available for purchase within 24 hours of its US release. A further 19% were available within a month and another 19% took more than a month. A staggering 52% of the TV shows surveyed have not been made available at all on digital stores.

“A staggering 52% of the TV shows surveyed have not been made available at all on digital stores”

Delay_AusDigital

If you’re wondering how I selected the thirty-one shows to be surveyed, I tried to choose an objective method. In the end I settled on looking at the thirty-one highest rated TV shows, according to MetaCritic scores (using an average of the aggregate critic scores and user scores), that premiered in the first six months of 2014.

Those chosen were comprised of 11 new TV shows such as Halt and Catch Fire, True Detective, and Fargo, as well as 20 returning series including Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, and Hannibal.

Not Available In Your Region

Ten of the shows surveyed are not yet available to Australians in any legitimate form at all, not airing on free to air TV, Foxtel or via digital distribution. They include Rectify Season 2, Louie Season 4 (Emmy nominated for best actor in a comedy series), Community Season 5, Portlandia Season 4 (Emmy nominated for best supporting actor in a comedy series), The Normal Heart (Emmy nominated for best actor in a tele-movie), The Trip to Bountiful (Emmy nominated for best actor in a tele-movie), Review, and Halt and Catch Fire.

“Ten of the shows surveyed are not yet available to Australians in any legitimate form at all”

Whilst other shows surveyed, including Game of Thrones, have actually become less accessible for Australians. Since Foxtel signed a new exclusivity deal with HBO, Australians without Foxtel have no way to purchase new episodes of Game of Thrones and other HBO shows until the end of their seasons.

That has changed since last year when new episodes of Game of Thrones were also available for purchase on iTunes just hours after airing on Foxtel. Instead, Australians this year had to wait until the whole season had finished before they could purchase it on Google Play or Quickflix (it was also made available on iTunes in mid-July).

Keeping It Weekly

Of course, there are even worse examples than Game of Thrones. Netflix’s popular and highly regarded original series House of Cards and Orange is the New Black highlight just how ridiculous the situation can be.

House of Cards Season 2 did air within a day of its US release, except Foxtel aired just one episode a week (the digital release was available hours after airing on Foxtel).

For those unfamiliar with Netflix’s model, they released all 13 episodes of House of Cards instantly, meaning Australians who waited the 3 months to watch the finale on Foxtel had to avoid (big) spoilers on Twitter, Facebook, BuzzFeed and all manner of other sources.

The situation is even worse for Orange is the New Black which–despite being released by Netflix on June 6–won’t appear on Foxtel until July 26 and once again, it will be a staggered release. Both House of Cards and Orange is the New Black received more than 10 Emmy nominations each.

Meanwhile, Australians who used a VPN or service such as Unblock-US and purchased a US Netflix subscription were able to watch either show at the same time as those in the US.

Three Strikes And You’re Out

The poor results from the survey come at a time when the government, led by Attorney-General George Brandis, is investigating measures to combat piracy. Among the reported options on the table are a three-strikes policy which has been implemented by other countries with little effect according to Monash Law academic Rebecca Giblin.

Also being canvassed is the idea of blocking websites that offer pirated content, another policy that many believe will be easily circumvented and others have criticised for being dangerously close to infringing free speech.

Australian consumer group CHOICE wrote earlier this year that “the best way to address online piracy is to improve access to legitimate content so that consumers can access it when they want to and in the format they want”. This sentiment is echoed by iiNet’s chief regulatory officer, Steve Dalby, and many others in the community.

If they are correct, and access to content is the root problem of piracy in Australia, the results from this research reveals just how poor Australians have it when it comes to availability of TV content.


Its pretty astonishing that in 2014 Australians face lengthy and uncertain delays before getting access to some of the most critically acclaimed TV shows – and not just on digital stores, but even on Foxtel, where you’re paying a significant premium.

Don’t get me wrong, this is all a very #firstworldproblem, and certainly doesn’t make piracy ‘OK’, but surely it must beg the question; is anti-piracy copyright law reform the best way to reduce piracy in Australia? Not in my opinion, and I think fellow-Reckoner, James Croft, said it best a few months ago:

Australian pollies have it backwards; Aussies don’t pirate because there’s no safeguards against piracy. Aussies pirate because global media and entertainment is a part of Australian culture now. We follow it, we talk about it and contribute back. It has become part of our daily lives.

Availability of TV Shows in Australia Scorecard

Note: Data for this article was collated over a number of weeks and was correct as at July 15. The delay for House of Cards and Orange is the New Black is averaged because Foxtel staggered the release of episodes, whilst Netflix released all episodes instantaneously.

Update 1: As noted by Beau Giles, 24: Live Another Day was actually available on tenplay straight after the US premiere.

Update 2: Similarly, targaryens in the comments below points out that Orphan Black was available on SBS On Demand straight after the US premiere.

Update 3: Patrick Avenell on Twitter points out that Foxtel did actually make every episode of House of Cards instantly available on Foxtel Go. This is noteworthy, and good to see, but I stand by my original grading of ‘C’ for House of Cards and digital availability, simply because the primary purpose of that analysis was to see how quickly people who didn’t have/want Foxtel or didn’t want to watch adverts, could legitimately purchase the content.

Update 4: In case you were curious about which shows aired on Foxtel vs FTA, and what the split was, the following chart may be of interest. Whilst this was a survey of just 31 shows, it was the 31 best shows that premiered in the first six months of 2014, so its interesting to see where they ended up. Just remember this data is from about two weeks ago when I completed my research, announcements may have been made since.

Channel

Jared Rosen at Indie Statik:

This is the story of the most expensive, most highly-produced game jam in the history of the video game industry, and how it was dismantled by a single man.

Let’s get started.

The fascinating story of how a TV production company tried to make a corporate-branded, fake-drama reality show about game jams with some genuinely nice indie developers. Spoiler: it doesn’t end well.

Michael Idato at The Age:

Sports satirists H.G. Nelson and “Rampaging” Roy Slaven are exporting their wry commentary to Russia.

But what will the Russians make of the “battered sav”, the “Chiko Roll”, the “Dutch wink” and the “hello, boys”?

Holy Crap! I suddenly care about the Winter Olympics.