Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Blackmagic Rolls Out a New Range of Ultra HD Products

Posted by JenThorpe at 3:11 PM on April 13, 2014

Blackmagic Design logoBlackmagic Design brought a whole new range of Ultra HD products to NAB 2014. It includes converters, routers, DeckLink cards and much more. Here is a quick look at some of the new products from Blackmagic.

Blackmagic URSA Camera is the world’s first user upgradable 4K digital film camera. Its DOP station has a 10 inch fold out on set monitor and separate 5 inch screen for settings, camera status, and scopes. It includes an upgradable Super 35 4K image sensor with global shutter, 12G-SDI connections, XLR audio inputs with phantom power and dual Cfast based RAW and ProRes recorders.

DaVinci Resolve has had over 70 new editing features upgraded and added. This includes the dual monitor support, dynamic JKL trimming, audio crossfades, and a fully customizable keyboard for faster editing. The color correction features have been upgraded. Apple Final Cut Pro X is part of the enhanced editing features.

Blackmagic Studio Camera features a very large and bright 10 inch viewfinder, built in 4 hour battery, talkback, tally indicators, balanced XLR phantom powered microphone connections and built in optical fiber and SDI connections. There are two models of this camera to choose from: the Blackmagic Studio Camera (which is an HD model) and the Blackmagic Studio Camera 4K.

Blackmagic Cintel Film Scanner supports real time scanning of both 35mm and 16mm negative and positive film and it diffuses the patented Cintel diffuse light source to reduce dust pickup. It features Thunderbolt 2, which allows you to plug it in and run the control software on a Mac.

The Blackmagic Mini Converters are upgrades that replace the old models. The new models are Mini Converter SDI to HDMI 4K, Mini Converter HDMI to SDI 4K, Mini Converter SDI to Analog 4K, and Mini Converter SDI Distribution 4K.

Amazon Fire TV

Posted by Andrew at 4:52 PM on April 2, 2014

Amazon Fire TVAfter weeks of speculation, Amazon has finally shown its hand in the set-top box game with the Fire TV. It’s a $99 box with a Bluetooth remote control that connects to your HD TV and shows Amazon content plus media from partners, including Netflix, Hulu, ESPN and Pandora.

Amazon Fire TV

Initially, this doesn’t sound terribly different from the Roku and Apple TV units, but when you get into the feature set, it’s pretty impressive. There’s voice search which helps you find the shows without the laborious letter selection that bedevils remote controls. ASAP is a predictive feature that pre-loads content so that shows start instantly without the buffering delay. WhisperSync synchronises watching and listening across multiple devices so you never lose a second, and X-Ray takes the movie experience further, showing film and character information on your second screen Kindle Fire HDX.

As you’d expect, the Fire TV is seamlessly integrated with Prime Instant Video, Amazon’s subscription streaming service, giving access to tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes. With Dolby Digital Plus, films and music will sound amazing and any media stored in Amazon’s Cloud Drive from photos to personal videos can be played through the Fire TV.

Tiny box, huge specs, tons of content, incredible price—people are going to love Fire TV,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “Voice search that actually works means no more typing on an alphabet grid. Our exclusive new ASAP feature predicts the shows you’ll want to watch and gets them ready to stream instantly. And our open approach gives you not just Amazon Instant Video and Prime Instant Video, but also Netflix, Hulu Plus, and more. On Fire TV you can watch Alpha House and House of Cards.

Amazon are definitely taking the fight to the competition as the Fire TV is a mini powerhouse, with a quad-core processor and 2 GB RAM, which lets the unit double as a gaming unit with over 100 games available at launch. Already available are Minecraft, Monsters University, The Game of Life, The Walking Dead, NBA2K14, Asphalt 8, Riptide GP2, Despicable Me: Minion Rush and Amazon has signed up EA, Disney, Gameloft, Ubisoft, Telltale, Mojang, 2K, and Sega to bring their games to Fire TV.  To complement the gaming, there’s an additional game controller that will set you back a penny shy of $40. The controller connects via Bluetooth too and will run for up to 55 hours on AA batteries.

Simplistically, it’s a desktop version of the Kindle Fire tablets and sure enough, Fire TV runs the latest version of Fire OS “Mojito,” which is based on Android. This means that apps should be easily ported over to the Fire TV (and Kindle Fires).

The Kindle Fire TV is available now in the US. No news on international availability yet.

First Trailer for Jobs – The Story of Steve Jobs and Apple

Posted by J Powers at 2:27 PM on June 21, 2013

The first trailer for the anticipated Steve Jobs movie came out today. What they call the “Original Visionary”, the trailer shows Apple from inception to death.

Simply titled “Jobs”, this is a quick two minute look at Apple’s history. Although some people have mentioned it is not entirely correct on the facts. Even Steve Wozniak said in an interview it was “awful and atrocious”. He noted that was not the way he worked with Steve at the beginning.

A better potrayal of Steve Jobs is in the TNT movie “Pirates of Silicon Valley”, which was released 14 years ago yesterday.

Jobs is getting a 43% on Rotten Tomatoes. Jobs stars Ashton Kutcher and Josh Gad, with Matthew Modine as John Sculley. Jobs hits theaters August 16th.

Veho MUVI X-Lapse

Posted by Andrew at 1:36 PM on December 5, 2012

The new generation of smartphones and digital SLRs make it very easy to take panoramic photos and time-lapse films that would be inconceivable at the price point a few years ago. But if you want to take the pictures to the next level without investing a fortune in accessories, you need to check out the Veho MUVI X-Lapse. It’s a camera mount that automatically rotates 360 degrees to take really good panoramic shots but it’s priced just under £30.

Muvi X-Lapse with Smartphone

The MUVI X-Lapse takes up to an hour to gradually rotate a full circle or it can be set to only rotate through part of the arc. Mounts for both smartphones and standard cameras (1/4-20) are included, and the X-Lapse itself can also be mounted on a tripod. Fold-out feet ensure a steady platform for heavier SLRs and video cameras

Veho Muvi X-LapseVeho Muvi X-Lapse

The X-Lapse doesn’t come with any app but there are plenty to choose from in the applicable app stores. If there’s a photographer in your life, I’m sure that they’d love one of these for Christmas. On sale from Veho for £29.95.

Made On Earth and Blade Runner

Posted by Andrew at 6:32 AM on November 10, 2012

Spanish cinematography Enrique Pacheco has put together a beautiful montage of natural and man-made monuments, Made on Earth. Filmed over two years in far-flung locations including Iceland, Estonia, USA and Spain, it’s breath-taking and is currently one of Vimeo’s Staff Picks.

What set me back was just one part of the film, which powerfully struck me as reminiscent of a scene from Blade Runner. Here are two sample frames, with Blade Runner first and Made on Earth second.

Blade Runner

Made On Earth

Perhaps  it wasn’t Enrique Pacheco’s intention to echo Blade Runner, but it’s there nevertheless and the advancement towards Ridley Scott’s dystopia is striking. In Made on Earth, there’s a second scene immediately after the one above which further references the chimney stacks and flares of Blade Runner. Watch the full video to see how it links in at around 2:09.

Blade Runner image from BladeZone‘s image archive.

 

Enhance the Movie Experience

Posted by Andrew at 4:35 PM on July 19, 2012

Movie & Meal DealEver since the motion picture first burst onto the silver screen, people have wanted to enhance the cinematic experience. From 3D and IMAX to Smell-O-vision, just about every trick in the book has been used to make you feel part of the film, rather than an outside observer. To this fine canon of techniques, UK retailer Tesco and on-line movie service blinkbox are adding….food.

For their “Movie & Meal Deal“, Tesco and blinkbox commissioned top neuroscientist, Dr. Jack Lewis, to study the effects of active ingredients on people’s brains and then suggest food types that complement the movie-watching experience. His findings gave Tesco and blinkbox the perfect, if somewhat unusual, combinations for the ultimate movie night in.

Dr. Lewis reckons these foods match the movie genres.

  • Action – Sun-dried tomatoes coated in cocoa powder will raise noradrenaline which is instrumental to sensations of excitement
  • Comedy –  Fresh fish stuffed with beetroot and coleslaw to supplement the nitric oxide system and improve dopamine availability in the pleasure pathways of your brain
  • Drama – Chopped lemon, lime and mint sandwich drizzled with chilli sauce on wholewheat bread to trigger the RAS (reticular activating system) to remain alert and focused.
  • Horror – Chicken marinated in freshly brewed coffee will take you out of your comfort zone and raise levels of anxiety
  • Romance – Curl up with a spicy curry (not chocolate!) to top up your libido-stoking testosterone levels

Everyone knows that certain drugs can change the way you feel, but the chemicals we take into our bodies through our diet can also have an effect on our mood,” says Dr. Jack Lewis “Choosing to eat certain foods, whilst leaving others out, regulates the availability of ‘raw materials’ that the brain’s chemical messengers are created from. This means that you can tailor your meals to create the perfect mood for a movie night in, no matter what the genre.

The “Move & Meal Deal” is a partnership between Tesco and blinkbox: buy a variety of food and drinks from Tesco and then rent a blinkbox new release movie for just £2 instead of the usual price of £3.49.

Me, I think I’ll stick to popcorn.

Superhero RGB Colours

Posted by Andrew at 11:04 AM on July 14, 2012

The summer superhero season is in full swing with Spiderman already in theatres and Batman returning shortly. Each superhero has their own outfit, both instantly recognisable yet disguising at the same time.

Art Director Gidi Vigo has matched the key colours from nine superheroes to their respective RGB colours, so the next time you need some superhero duds, you know what to ask for.

Daredevil Hellboy 

Green Lantern The Hulk Green Hornet

Doctor Manhattan Superman Captain America

All images courtesy of Gidi Vigo.

 

Barber Tech SteddiePod

Posted by Andrew at 9:31 AM on February 21, 2012

BarberTech SteddiePodThis is the funniest CES interview I’ve seen (which isn’t saying much, to be honest). Jeffrey and Jamie get a hands-on demonstration of BarberTech‘s SteddiePod by Eddie Barber, which actually looks pretty handy, all joking aside.

The Barber Tech SteddiePod is billed as the “world’s most versatile camera support” and it’s a handheld camera stabiliser with extra features designed in, so it can be used as a tripod or with the boom extended to give overhead shots. The setup looks amazingly straightforward – there’s a good video on the Barber Tech website – and with just a few minutes easy work, the SteddiePod can be accurately balanced for a video camera.

The SteddiePod starts at $499 and is available from dealers nationwide. Barber Tech is “Emmy Award Winning” and has other products such as camera booms and teleprompters for the TV and film industry.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine and Jamie Davies of the MedicCast and the Nursing Show.

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Peel Recommends TV Shows For You

Posted by Andrew at 12:24 AM on February 9, 2012

Peel on iOS and AndroidIn the “old days” finding enjoyable TV programmes relied on three sources – in programme advertising for another show, flicking through the channels or your friends saying, “Did you watch xxxx last night? It’s brilliant!” At CES, Andy and Courtney discover Peel, a fourth way of discovering great new TV shows.

Peel is an iPhone and Android app which offers show recommendations based on your viewing habits and the shows that your friends and family are watching.

The app offers “Top picks” based on what you watch and you can rate shows as favourites or as “guilty pleasures” – I think we all know what that means! The app also gives “Friends’ favourites”, the shows that everyone else is watching, so you can catchup with what’s hot.

It’s not clear whether Peel is US-centric or not, but it’s a free app, so there’s nothing to lose.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Sony Connects Up At CES

Posted by Andrew at 7:30 AM on January 10, 2012

Sony LogoSony‘s CES focus this year is on electronics, content and network services combining to deliver high quality entertainment anytime and anywhere. Supported by a slew of product announcements, new connected devices range from TVs, Blu-ray players and A/V receivers through to tablets, smartphones and PCs and on to camcorders and mobile music players. Sony is combining these with online services for music, video and game delivery, creating a great user experience (as they say). TVs, PCs, smartphones and tablets are key to this experience as the four main devices used for entertainment.

Sony is committed to designing technologies for every aspect of consumer entertainment – in or out of the home, on the go, in the air, at work, at play, or wherever life takes you,” said Kazuo Hirai, Executive Deputy President, Sony Corporation. “When these products are combined with Sony Entertainment Network (SEN), which offers innovative services like Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited, as well as PlayStation Network, the user experience is truly unmatched and only made possible by a company like Sony.”

The Bravia TV line has been expanded in all three areas; entry level BX, step-up EX and flagship HX. Brightness and contrast levels have been increased and picture quality improved with Sony’s X-Reality and Motionflow video technologies. In particular the latter helps to reduce blur caused by rapid camera movements which is often a problem with LCD screens. Sony is sticking with the Google TV platform with a new network player and Blu-ray player featuring Google TV. Certain Bravia models will link seamlessly to these devices to provide Google TV features directly on the TV.

Sony Xperia ion smartphoneSony’s Vaio range of computers will continue to be updated with more entertainment feature and new designs that fit with consumers’ needs and increasing mobility. At CES, Sony will be demonstrating new technologies and prototypes for a range of technologies including glasses-free 3D.

In the smartphone space, the Xperia brand has done reasonably well, but increasing the smartphone share in North America is now one of Sony’s highest priorities. Sony Ericsson will be subsumed into Sony Mobile Communications and all new phones will carry Sony branding. The latest addition to the Xperia line-up is the Xperia ion, Sony’s first LTE smartphone coming with an HD 720p display and aluminium body. Also new is the Xperia S which comes with 3D image capture.

Sony Bloggie LiveOn the imaging front, no less than 13 new Handycam camcorders are being unveiled. A new image stabilisation system called Balanced Optical Steady Shot has been developed that controls the complete optical path from lens to sensor as a single floating unit. This reduces handshake blur by up to 13 times compared to the previous models. There’s a new camcorder model with a built-in video projector that has improved brightness and enhanced audio. The trusty Bloggie range now has a “Live” model which will live stream HD video over a Wi-Fi connection and there’s an unboxing over at sister channel TPN.tv. Of course, Sony has a bunch of new Cybershot digital still cameras.

Z Series Audio MP3 PlayerFinally, it wouldn’t be CES if Sony didn’t announce a Walkman or two. The new Z series of MP3 players comes with an application interface and connectivity to both Sony’s Music Unlimited and the Android Market. Content can be played from Z series devices either wirelessly using DLNA or via HDMI to Bravia TVs. To further improve the audio experience, no less than eleven new Balanced Armature earbud-style headphones are now available as well.

That’s it – a quick overview of the products on show at CES by Sony and they all look like fun.