Riva Audio Arena Release Date, Price and Specs

Posted by Samuel Eiferman on 27th June 2017 in Consumer Electronics

Following on from its well-regarded Bluetooth speakers Riva Audio has announced that its new Chromecast-ready Wi-Fi Wand($13.84 at Amazon.com) speaker range is now available.

The range includes two speakers — the portable Arena and the “statement piece” Festival — and the MDF- construction cabinets are available in a choice of black or white.

riva-wand-series-white-with-battery

The $499 Festival and the $249 Arena are available in a choice of black or white.


Riva Audio

Unlike multiroom systems such as Sonos or Denon Heos, the Riva systems offer a large number of different wireless options to users — the most interesting to us being its Google-readiness. Services include Spotify Connect, Chromecast built-in, AirPlay, DLNA and Bluetooth.

They speakers are also dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz and 5GHz) for better connectivity in wireless-crowded setups. They will also accept ad-hoc WiFi($114.58 at Amazon.com) connections directly from your phone — handy for the portable Arena speaker.

The top-of-the-range Festival features six custom “ADX” woofers, six tweeters and four passive radiators and is able to to produce 38Hz and an uncomfortably loud 106 dB. All in a cabinet the size of a loaf of bread.

The portable Arena speaker uses three full-range ADX drivers with three passive radiators and is capable of 101dB of volume. The speaker can be made portable with the addition of the 20 plus hour battery pack which is available separately for $99.

The speakers will incorporate the same “Trillian” technology used in the company’s Turbo X Bluetooth speaker which we said was “one of the loudest and best sounding compact Bluetooth speakers available”.

The company was founded by live sound engineer Rikki Farr whose aim is to make speakers which sound “as close to live as it gets” — hence the product names which describe different types of musical performances.

We heard the speakers at a recent event in New York and played lots of our own material and based on our initial impressions the speakers could have what it takes to compete with Sonos. Bass was deep, and the sound seemed well-balanced with almost everything we tried. We look forward to testing these in the CNET labs.

The Arena ($249) and Festival ($499) are available now.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/products/riva-audio-arena/#ftag=CADe9e329a

Your fingerprints could replace your airline boarding pass

Posted by Carl on 27th June 2017 in Consumer Electronics

Your driver’s license and boarding pass could wind up as excess baggage on your next flight if a new test of biometric identification takes off.

Instead of handing your boarding pass and ID to a Transportation Security Administration agent, you could soon simply place two fingerprints on a scanner to be recognized and ushered through security — and then you could repeat the process to board the plane.

But the initiative, which is being spearheaded by Delta Air Lines (DAL), faces a lengthy pre-flight checklist before it can eventually be implemented in airports, as I learned during a demonstration at Washington’s National Airport.

How it works — and will work

Delta’s system relies on the biometric-identification technology of Clear, the New York firm that sells expedited security screening for $179 a year to travelers who have their fingerprints and retinas scanned.

You can find Clear kiosks at the checkpoints of 22 airports, plus a handful of sports venues. But Delta, which already offers Clear discounts for members of its SkyMiles frequent-flyer program ($99 for general members, $79 for most elites, free for top-tier flyers), plans to deploy Clear fingerprint scanners before and after that security boundary.

“Our goal is to have it as a part of the customer’s check-in experience, from baggage check through the clubs and onto the gate,” said Sandy Gordon, the Atlanta-based airline’s vice president of airport operations.

It’s starting with Delta’s SkyClub lounge at National, where Clear members with SkyClub access can secure entrance with their fingerprints instead of handing over a boarding pass or a membership card.

The actual time saved here is minimal, since the routine of lounge admittance serves a chance for the people behind the front desk to greet you by name and thank you for your business.

Delta fingerprint scanner.Delta fingerprint scanner.

I have no status or lounge membership with Delta, so when I authenticated myself with the fingerprint scanner (it didn’t beep or blink upon recognizing my prints), a screen behind the counter displayed a script for the agent to sell me on a SkyClub membership.

Privacy concerns

For Delta, the payoff will come when the same biometric system can let passengers check bags, clear security, enter the lounge and board the plane. But the TSA has to sign off on it first.

“We’re partnering with the TSA and moving as quickly as they can to get their approval,” Gordon said.

Passengers, in turn, will need to decide on their comfort level with Clear storing so much data. Beyond having the biometric details of my fingers and eyes getting stored with Clear, I had to scan in my driver’s license and enter my Social Security Number.

That’s a lot more data than I had to provide for Global Entry, the government’s program that lets me clear customs and immigration by scanning four fingerprints and my passport at an airport kiosk that costs $100 for five years.

Clear pledges not to sell user info to any third party. But Jeramie Scott, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Domestic Surveillance Project, pointed out that Clear’s privacy policy doesn’t require it to delete your data if you cancel your membership; you have to request that deletion.

The other concern is a broader one: That what is now optional will become mandatory. Scott pointed to the Department of Homeland Security’s biometric entry/exit program, a project for international arrivals and departures that the Trump administration has begun to expedite.

Delta is testing facial-recognition technology at two gates at Atlanta and New York’s John F. Kennedy airports, while JetBlue (JBLU) is conducting a similar test for flights between Boston and Aruba. And the TSA is working with Customs and Border Protection on a wider trial of facial-recognition software.

Do you trust automated facial recognition to work as well as the manual sort we now have humans doing at TSA checkpoints? Do we trust what the government will do with that data? It’s something to consider as border checks get more intrusive.

Other ways to ease boarding

Meanwhile, we have other options to streamline their security that don’t require storing biometric bits.

At Washington Dulles International Airport, for example, the TSA has begun trying a new program at the Pre checkpoint that has agents scan only ID cards like your license. Software matches that data with the government’s Secure Flight database to avoid having to scan a boarding pass.

Airlines, in turn, could do one simple thing to ease the whole check-in process: Have their apps automatically brighten a phone’s screen when you bring up a boarding pass, so it will actually scan on the first try.

This shouldn’t be that hard—the American Airlines (AAL) app may be useless in many ways, but it does offer this. Alas, United Airlines’ (UAL) app doesn’t, and neither does Delta’s.

If airlines are looking for a simple way to make their passengers gripe less, I’d put adding this feature well above anything that requires scanning any body parts.

More from Rob:

Email Rob at rob@robpegoraro.com; follow him on Twitter at @robpegoraro.

Article source: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/fingerprints-replace-boarding-pass-next-flight-192342724.html

Zombie shooter ‘Arizona Sunshine’ invades PSVR

Posted by Carl on 27th June 2017 in Consumer Electronics

Developed by Jaywalker Interactive and published by Vertigo Games, Arizona Sunshine aims to put you directly into the action with both free-movement and teleportation navigation systems. You’ll explore the post-apocalyptic southwest, searching for clues about other survivors and battling the monstrous undead along the way. You can also join up with a friend in co-op multiplayer or pull in three of your buddies to take on the endless Horde mode. The developers promise “next-level zombie mutilation,” which isn’t a phrase you hear every day, and a ton of realistic physics and particle effect systems.

The Arizona Sunshine Launch Edition will be 10 percent off through July 4th and will come with a free PS4 theme. It also can take advantage of the PS 4 Pro‘s extra power and can be used with Sony’s aim controller, which is designed for precision shooting in PSVR games.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/06/27/zombie-shooter-arizona-sunshine-psvr/

Toshiba Portege X20W-D review

Posted by Samuel Eiferman on 26th June 2017 in Consumer Electronics

Toshiba gave all its attention to making business PCs after getting out of the shrinking consumer PC market in 2016. If the company’s premium Portege X20W-D is an indication of where it’s headed, the singular focus might pay off.  

The ultraportable 2-in-1 starts at $999, AU$2,145 or £1,399 in the UK and is available in several preassembled configurations. Or you can, at least in the US, configure one yourself to create a laptop like our review system, which hit $2,099. A better option, though, might be the similarly configured Signature Edition available through Microsoft for $1,500

Regardless of what processor, memory and storage you go with though, all the base features and components are the same and result in an excellent, if slightly buttoned-up, tablet/laptop hybrid. And while it’s aimed at business users, students might want to consider it, too, for its slim body and 2.4-pound weight (1.1 kg) as well as the included Wacom-powered TruPen active stylus.

Toshiba Portege X20W-D

The Portege X20W’s dual-hinge design lets it smoothly switch from a laptop to a tablet.   


Sarah Tew/CNET

The screen doesn’t separate from the keyboard like the Dell Latitude 12 5000 Series 2-in-1‘s or the Microsoft Surface Pro‘s, but instead folds back like on a Lenovo X1 Yoga. This style of two-in-one can be a little awkward to use in tablet mode, but that’s not the case here thanks to its light weight and not-too-big 12.5-inch 1,920×1,080-pixel display. 

Built with Gorilla Glass for extra durability, the screen has an antiglare coating that actually works and, combined with the 350-nit brightness, you won’t struggle so much to see this screen outdoors. 

Toshiba Portege X20W-D

You can, of course, use your fingers to navigate the touchscreen, but Toshiba includes its TruPen stylus with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. Developed with help from industry leader Wacom, the pen has minimal lag that’s probably still too much for a professional artist, but for rough sketches and scribbles during a brainstorming session or adding notes in the margins of a presentation it’s plenty fast. The biggest downside: There’s no place to store the pen. 

While I like the screen and pen, I’m less a fan of the keyboard. There’s not a lot of travel due in part to the shallow body, but the keys feel mushy as well and everything feels tiny and cramped. 

The touchpad is on the small side, too, but at least it’s responsive and the palm rejection worked very well. Plus, there’s a fingerprint reader embedded in the top left corner for logging in with Windows Hello. (Toshiba also includes an IR camera above the display next to its 720p webcam if you’d rather use facial recognition to log in.)

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/products/toshiba-portege-x20w-d/#ftag=CADe9e329a

Here’s who could lead Uber out of its scandals

Posted by Carl on 26th June 2017 in Consumer Electronics

UPDATE: Uber’s Travis Kalanick has resigned as CEO, saying “I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors’ request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight.”

Marne Levine, Instagram's chief operating officer, could be a good candidate for Uber. (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)Marne Levine, Instagram's chief operating officer, could be a good candidate for Uber. (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

To call last week a “doozy” for Uber would be an understatement, with CEO Travis Kalanick announcing a leave of absence from the ride-hailing business following a slew of scandals in recent months and the death of his mother in a boating accident.

Now that the dust has settled somewhat, the question remains: Who can steer Uber into a new chapter?

The onus could fall on a chief operating officer, which the company has actively searched for since March, following allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace from a former Uber engineer. The Wall Street Journal reported in April that Uber interviewed candidates including former Walt Disney Co. COO Thomas Staggs, former Wal-Mart CIO Karenann Terrell, and Helena Foulkes, executive vice president of CVS Health Corp (CVS).

Thomas Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, at the Allen  Company Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, Tuesday, July 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)Thomas Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, at the Allen  Company Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, Tuesday, July 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Two sources familiar with the matter said Staggs remains a favorite, due to a proven 16-year-track record at Disney (DIS). In the 12 years spent as CFO, Staggs reportedly worked on deals including the $7.4 billion acquisition of Pixar in 2006 and the $4 billion purchase of Marvel in 2009, the latter of which yielded a slew of blockbuster films, including “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Avengers.” Staggs also more than doubled overall theme park operating profits to $2.66 billion as chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts.

Uber may also be facing pressure for its COO to be a woman or minority, sources suggested, again, driven in part by recent scandals in its workplace, as well as controversies that include drivers sexually assaulting female passengers.

While several members of the 14-person committee currently running Uber were hailed by sources familiar with the matter as “smart”, “strategic” and “well-respected” inside Uber’s offices and halls, none of them have the obvious C-Suite experience necessary to essentially run the company.

One committee member, Rachel Holt, joined Uber in 2011 after a stint as Associate Marketing Manager at Clorox (CLX). She quickly ascended the ranks, from running operations in Washington, D.C. to running operations for all of North America. But that rapid ascent also means she may lack the experience necessary to run a business with an estimated $68 billion market cap and sprawling global footprint.

“Rachel is absolutely brilliant, but the reality is that she probably is not ready,” one source said.

Rachel Holt speaks at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Next Gen 2016 on November 30, 2016 in Dana Point, California. (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)Rachel Holt speaks at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Next Gen 2016 on November 30, 2016 in Dana Point, California. (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

Dean Crutchfield, a New York-based branding specialist, suggested Uber recruit an experienced, respected female executive such as Pamela Nicholson, president and chief executive of Enterprise Holdings, which includes Enterprise and National car rentals. Otherwise, someone like Instagram COO Marne Levine, who helped evolve the popular photo-sharing app into a bonafide business, could also prove an excellent fit — if Uber could enlist her.

“It would rapidly change the perception of Uber from a media, investor and consumer point of view and send a message that times are changing,” Crutchfield contended. “Plus you typically get a clearer sense of integrity from women execs, because women discriminate less. They generally set up more robust marketing teams, higher levels of publicity and a greater online presence, all things Uber needs for more desirable outcomes.”

In a Medium blog post published on Tuesday, Uber co-founder Garrett Camp acknowledged Uber’s fumbles: neglecting parts of its culture in lieu of rapid growth and failing to build “systems that every company needs to scale successfully.”

Perhaps intended as a first step towards redemption, Uber announced a slew of improvements on Tuesday, including the option to tip drivers. Riders will also be charged by the minute if they keep an Uber driver waiting for more than two minutes.

“I believe that our business can have 10x the impact it has today — once we have additional leadership and training in place, and evolve our culture to be more inclusive and respectful,” Camp wrote. “We should still push hard for what we believe in, and be much more collaborative going forward.”

JP Mangalindan is a senior correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.  

More from JP:

Uber is now being run by a 14-person committee

Uber HR chief’s comments on ‘taking shots’ not wise move: Stanford professor

LEAKED AUDIO: Uber’s all-hands meeting had some uncomfortable moments

The tech giants that made billions copying others 

In San Francisco, $160,000 gets you a storage locker

Here’s how much Nvidia will make off the Nintendo Switch

LEAKED PHOTOS: Fitbit’s new headphones and troubled smartwatch

Facebook exec: How Messenger can improve your social life

 

Article source: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/heres-lead-uber-scandals-191535516.html

Apple MacBook (2017) review

Posted by Samuel Eiferman on 24th June 2017 in Consumer Electronics

Full disclosure: I’ve had a strong affinity for the 12-inch MacBook since it was originally introduced in 2015. Sure, it was underpowered and had an annoyingly flat keyboard. And it had only a single USB-C port — then still something of an exotic novelty — for both power and data connections. But I loved how slim and lightweight it was, its excellent high-resolution display, and how I could get all the useful features of OS X (now called MacOS) in something so easy to pick up and carry around.

However, it wasn’t for everyone. Longform typists would be turned off by the lack of tactile feedback from the shallow keyboard, its Core M processor could chug even when just running a bunch of web browser tabs and everything from USB keys to HDMI cables now required an armful of dongles to use. 

Apple Macbook 12-inch 2017


Sarah Tew/CNET

Still, I persevered. In early 2016 I realized just how much I had grown to like this unusual laptop. I wrote:

“Despite testing and using nearly every new laptop or 2-in-1 hybrid released over the past year, I find myself returning again and again to the 12-inch MacBook. It’s become my default go-to for those times when I need a laptop that’s quick and easy to pick up and use. The MacBook has that same magic quality as the iPad did, which is that it makes for a perfect living room couch device, as it’s lightweight, springs to life the moment I lift the lid, and is small enough that it doesn’t get in the way.”

The second generation from early 2016 added little more than a slightly faster processor to essentially the same machine. Still good, but still a niche product for those who could live within the boundaries of its mechanical limitations.

Apple Macbook 12-inch 2017


Sarah Tew/CNET

Now, in the third version of the 12-inch MacBook, introduced at Apple’s WWDC 2017 conference, the MacBook confidently moves from cult favorite to mainstream machine. A series of internal upgrades make a world of difference, and should make it easier to choose the MacBook over the bigger MacBook Pro or the still severely outdated MacBook Air. 

Apple MacBook (2017)

The more things change

Let’s get a few things out of the way first. The body of the MacBook is unchanged, along with the size and resolution of the display. If that didn’t work for you before, it’s not going to work now. A more in-depth exploration of the MacBook’s design can found in my review of the 2016 version, which is physically identical to this one.

Apple Macbook 12-inch 2017


Sarah Tew/CNET

Slightly bigger elephant in the room: The only port is still a single USB-C one (and it’s not Thunderbolt-enabled), so if you regularly connect USB keys, an external display or any other outboard gear, it’s still a hassle. There are USB-C dongles and adapters available for each and every eventuality, but they’re inconvenient and often expensive. A simple USB-C to USB-A adapter is $20, while Apple’s big multiport dongle that gives you HDMI, USB-A and USB-C (the latter for pass-through charging) is $70.

But, USB-C is much more mainstream now than it was a couple of years ago, with Dell, HP, Samsung and other PC makers adopting it, albeit not to this extreme. Apple’s MacBook Pro models are also USB-C only, but they offer between two and four total ports.

Apple Macbook 12-inch 2017


Sarah Tew/CNET

More clack for your keys

The biggest complaint I heard over and over again about the 12-inch MacBook in its first two incarnations was that its superflat keyboard just never felt entirely right. It lacked tactile feedback, and the keys were too different from the standard island-style keys found on nearly every other laptop in existence.

When the MacBook Pro series adopted a similar flat keyboard in 2016, it at least had an improved butterfly mechanism (the x-shaped trigger under the individual keys on the keyboard), which made the typing experience feel more substantial, even if some people still preferred the old-style traditional MacBook Pro keyboard.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/products/apple-macbook-12-inch-2017/#ftag=CADe9e329a

Why Apple would need to use ex-NSA workers to stop leaks

Posted by Carl on 24th June 2017 in Consumer Electronics

Apple (AAPL) is tired of leaks. And according to a report by The Outline’s William Turton, the company is employing individuals with experience through the likes of the N.S.A., F.B.I. and the U.S. military to stop its confidential information from being tomorrow’s big headline.

But in the irony to end all ironies, the information that Apple is trying plug its leaks comes from a leaked recording of an internal meeting about how to prevent leaks. So it’s a safe bet that Apple is quite unhappy right now.

The report not only touches on who is working with the tech giant, but also how successful its Global Security team has been in reducing leaks as of late.

Most interesting is the fact that Apple has cut leaks at its production facilities overseas so much that the main sources of information leaving the company are employees at its Cupertino, California headquarters.

We reached out to Apple and did not receive a response before publication.

Taking control

Naturally, Apple isn’t the only company dealing with internal leaks. So how do they keep proprietary information from walking out the front door? According to Gartner Vice President Avivah Litan, organizations need to take both technical and non-technical actions.

Non-technical controls include security awareness, which comes down to employees being alert to changes in their coworkers’ behaviors; and workforce management.

Technical controls, on the other hand, involve things like behavior analytics.

“It sounds really creepy, but basically you profile everything a user does, you put them in peer groups, you profile the peer groups, you profile other entries like desktops and databases and then you look at transactions relative to the profiles,” Litan explained.

The leakers who leak

Why would someone risk their livelihood to leak information about their employer’s future products? In countries where Apple manufacturers its products, the main reason is cash, Litan explained.

Leakers at Apple’s campuses, meanwhile, could be trying to retaliate against the company for a poor performance review.

But as Litan tells it, there isn’t just one kind of leaker. In fact, there are several including “pawns,” “goofs,” “collaborators” and “lone wolfs.” Pawns are employees who can be tricked into leaking information via phishing attacks or “honey pot” schemes, while goofs leak information through simple mix-ups without any ill intent.

Collaborators are individuals who work with other parties to steal or leak proprietary information, while lone wolfs are people who act on their own to leak company data.

What’s so bad about a little leaking?

So why is Apple so hung up on making sure its future products aren’t leaked to the press? Because, the company says, it hurts its bottom line.

That’s not exactly off base, either. The company makes the bulk of its cash off of iPhone sales. And while consumers might purchase the latest handset when it first launches, sales slowly trickle off throughout the year as more and more information about the next iPhone release leaks.

If Apple can keep a tighter lid on the flow of information about its next products, it might be able to sell more current-generation phones.

On the flip side, though, consumers should have a right to know that what they’re spending their hard-earned cash on is exactly the product they want. If they want to get a next-generation iPhone, they should be able to do jut that.

But if they hear that a newer more advanced version is coming next year, then they should have the ability to decide if they’ll wait for that handset to hit the market.

It’s also worth noting that Apple isn’t alone in its quest for product secrecy. Every major consumer manufacturer from video games to cars and trucks tries to keep their products under wraps for as long as possible. Apple, however, as one of the world’s richest companies, simply gets more attention.

It will be interesting to see if Apple can truly clamp down on leaks and turn its press conferences into the kind of incredibly surprising events they used to be. But chances are there will always be leakers ready and willing to share the information they have with the press regardless of their reasons.

More from Dan:

Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

Article source: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/apple-need-use-ex-nsa-workers-stop-leaks-205541737.html

A 3D-printed bridge is being built using reinforced concrete

Posted by Carl on 24th June 2017 in Consumer Electronics

It sounds like the university is getting by on a technicality with its “first-ever” claims, but that doesn’t make this project any less interesting. Manufacturing of the concrete parts has begun, and it’s anticipated that bridge construction will start in September. To get to the point where the 3D printed parts were considered reliable, the team at the university first built a 1:2 scale model, which was able to hold a 2,000kg (over 4,400 pounds) load.

As for why this process is an improvement over standard concrete techniques, printing a bridge will use far less concrete than pouring it into molds. There’s an environmental impact here, as well — the production of concrete cement releases CO2, so cutting down on those emissions is worth noting. There’s also more freedom of design, as a 3D-printer can fabricate shapes that are much harder to produce with a mold.

Another benefit is that the steel reinforcement cables can be printed at the same time as the concrete parts, leading to pieces that are “pre-stressed” for additional stability. Of course, this bridge is meant for much lighter weights than those that handle auto traffic are meant for — it’s not clear that this production technique would be able to scale up to handle a more intense load. But even if 3D printing can only be used for less strenuous jobs, there’s still plenty of places where it could be useful.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/06/24/3D-printed-concerete-bridge-netherlands/

LG SJ9 review

Posted by Samuel Eiferman on 23rd June 2017 in Consumer Electronics

One of the most requested sound bar features we receive from you, our readers, is Dolby Atmos support. Despite still being a fledgling format, the surround-sound system has captured the enthusiast community’s imagination in a way not many features do. 3D may have come and mostly gone but Dolby Atmos and its visual partner high dynamic range appear to be here to stay.

The $749 LG SJ9 is the cheapest Dolby Atmos speaker we’ve seen yet. It also brings a solid array of features including Chromecast multiroom, 4K HDR pass-through compatibility, and the ability to add rears speakers if you want.

The good news is that the SJ9’s up-firing speakers do add some spaciousness to its sound. And if you like watching movie stars hurting other movie stars with very large weapons, the punchy SJ9 will help you, er, enjoy that. If, on the other hand, you like rock stars trying to hurt you emotionally, then it’s not the first speaker system we’d recommend. Compared to its Samsung rival, for example, the LG sound bar lacks nuance, a difference most obvious with music.

If you absolutely must have Atmos, value Chromecast built-in and want to spend as little as possible, the LG SJ9 is a decent first option, but for most Atmos sound bar shoppers, the $800 Samsung K850 is worth the extra money.

While the LG SJ9 is relatively affordable in the US, it’s inexplicably expensive in the UK at £1,000. In Australia it costs AU$1,699, which is comparable to UK price.

Design

lg-sj9


Sarah Tew/CNET

There’s a touch of retro to the SJ9’s design. The distinctive bottom grille could have been ripped from the front of a Cadillac or a chrome-plated roadside diner. The sound bar itself is shaped like a big tongue depressor (a glamorous one!) with a series of drivers along the front edge, and two Dolby Atmos-ready height drivers in the top. 

lg-sj9


Sarah Tew/CNET

The bar is 47 inches wide, relatively squat at 2.3 inches high and quite deep at 5.7 inches. It includes a bracket for wall mounting. The mesh along the front panel hides an LED display inside which helps you navigate the onboard menus — helpful, since there’s no onscreen display.

lg-sj9


Sarah Tew/CNET

The sound bar comes with a relatively compact, wireless subwoofer roughly 12 inches square. Behind the front grille we measured a 6-inch driver that is ported at the back of the cabinet.

lg-sj9


Sarah Tew/CNET

The small remote control covers all functions, but you probably won’t use it after initial setup. Your TV remote is better for controlling volume.

Features

LG calls the SJ9 a 5.1.2 sound bar to signify five surrounds plus a sub and two overheads. That isn’t technically correct, however, because the speaker lacks rear channels. You can add rears if you like — either a pair of LG H3s (if you have them) or better, the dedicated SPJ4-S surround kit for $127.

lg-sj9


Sarah Tew/CNET

The sound bar offers compatibility with Dolby Atmos for atmospheric effects, but like Samsung it doesn’t offer the competing format DTS:X. While the unit will decode all other flavors of Dolby, too, including TrueHD, it will only understand basic DTS Surround.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/products/lg-sj9/#ftag=CADe9e329a

Big Cable broke its promise and you're paying for it

Posted by Carl on 23rd June 2017 in Consumer Electronics

 

Cable boxes in a store.Cable boxes in a store.

Last June, Big Cable made an appealing offer for viewers and regulators. Companies would provide consumers with free apps to watch TV rather than making them pay monthly fees for cable boxes. But the cable companies didn’t do this out of the kindness of their hearts — they wanted to stop the Federal Communication Commission from passing regulations making them ship apps.

A year after that “Ditch the Box” pledge, two things have changed. There’s now zero threat of federal regulators requiring cable operators to give subscribers free apps to replace rented boxes, and the industry’s “Ditch the Box” plan seems to have disappeared.

What was on the table

Twelve months ago, cable operators had reason to fear that the FCC would crack open the box market.

Those rectangular devices that sit under your TV set compound your cable bill — typically $10 a month for a tuner or $20 a month for a digital video recorder. But that extra fee often buys you a clunky, low-resolution onscreen interface that can’t show more than few channels worth of program listings.

As President Obama told Yahoo Finance in an interview last April: “There hasn’t been much innovation.”

The FCC’s original “Unlock the Box” proposal would have compelled cable and satellite operators to provide some standard framework upon which outside manufacturers and developers could ship their own hardware and software to receive and record a pay-TV feed.

Ditch The Box, as advocated by a cable-led group called the Future of Television Coalition, would have liberated cable and satellite subscribers from many of those those hardware fees by letting them use free, web-based viewing apps on connected TVs and streaming-media players.

The deal did not cover digital video recorders, and satellite viewers would still need one rented box to get the signal from space and then distribute it through the home.

But it would have happened fast, as an outline of the plan touted: “Providers will have two years to fully implement the new requirements – and many are already racing to do so sooner.”

Where we are now

FCC chair Tom Wheeler adopted some parts of Ditch the Box in a revised proposal that would only have compelled pay-TV providers to ship their own, recording-capable apps, with no need for them to accept third-party boxes. The FCC continued deliberating the matter without a vote — and then Donald Trump won the presidential election.

As part of his administration’s effort to hit the “Undo” button on the Obama administration’s accomplishments, new FCC chair Ajit Pai promptly dropped the Unlock the Box proposal from further consideration.

But what about the companies that had lined up behind Ditch the Box concept?

One, Comcast (CMCSA), did ship a free app for Roku media players and Roku-enabled TVs. Thanks to Comcast’s Kafka-esque pricing, it will save you all of $2.50 a month per TV. But at least you won’t have an extra remote on your coffee table!

Comcast didn’t say how many subscribers had signed up for this, or when it might ship an equivalent app for other platforms. But at least it’s trying.

ATT (T), the other TV giant to endorse Ditch the Box before the FCC, has done much less. Its U-verse and DirecTV apps don’t let you stream to your TV via Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Chromecast or Apple’s (AAPL) Airplay, so you still need a traditional cable box.

That’s the case with most other pay-TV providers, including Yahoo Finance’s parent company Verizon (VZ).

The Future of TV Coalition has gone silent — it last tweeted Nov. 28 — the cable industry’s trade group NCTA hasn’t had much to say about it either.

NCTA spokesman Brian Dietz wrote in an e-mail that Ditch the Box was pitched as “an “alternative” to the Wheeler’s original proposal. Without the FCC’s acceptance of Ditch the Box, that plan got ditched.

BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield offered a shorter explanation in an e-mail: “They make far too much money on boxes.”

Cord-cutting will continue

Cable subscribers, however, have their own votes to cast, and ever more of them have been voting against any kind of traditional pay-TV bundle.

Research firm MoffettNathanson estimated that traditional TV providers lost 762,000 subscribers in the first quarter, and UBS predicts that more than a million others could flee in the second quarter.

But the cheaper streaming video services that many consumers have signed up as an alternative to traditional cable, like Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV, require their own compromises. Some services leave out channels viewers may value.

That’s especially problematic if you want to watch live sports and your team is not among those enlightened enough to shut up and take cord-cutters’ money. And if you want a high-speed connection, you may still be forced to continue buying internet access from the company you just fired from TV duties, since in many markets only the local cable company provides acceptable download speeds.

And their picture quality may suffer from the occasional hiccup — especially if Pai’s move to end net-neutrality rules gives your internet provider cover to degrade the delivery of some services.

Still, for all of their problems, these services won’t make you feel like a chump for paying $10 a month to use some crummy box.

More from Rob:

Why America should import France’s plan to become ‘the nation of startups’

Email Rob at rob@robpegoraro.com; follow him on Twitter at @robpegoraro.

Article source: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/big-cable-broke-promise-youre-paying-191135140.html