AV1: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Like Chewbacca cosplayers drooling in anticipation over any Star Wars Episode IX detail droplet, attendees at the recent Streaming Video East confab were all atwitter over the potential of the recently minted AV1 video codec proffered by the Alliance for Open Media (AOM).

It is the very earliest days for the new codec, and streaming giants—such as AOM founding member Netflix—are hoping to add AV1 to its codec toolbox as soon as it’s feasible.

So why all the AV1 enthusiasm? In short, AV1 is designed to produce higher-quality, high-resolution video efficiently and without royalty payments to AOM. At least that’s the short answer. As usual, the devil is in the details.

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6 Best Google Assistant Speakers

A review roundup of the 6 best Google Assistant speakers.

Read the rest of this roundup on Techlicious here.

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The 4K Video Codec War: What You Need To Know

We’re all familiar with format wars — VHS v. Beta, Blu-ray v. HD-DVD, even the 19th century’s AC v. DC war of the currents. What you may not be familiar with is the current 4K video compression format war between HEVC (High-Efficient Video Coding, aka H.265), Google’s VP9, and a new and potentially disruptive entrant, AV1 from the Alliance for Open Media(AOM).

The question is, is this format war too inside-baseball for most CE retailers and vendors to worry about?

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JBL Link 500: This Speaker Should Be Played Loud

Just before the seminal rockumentary The Last Waltz begins to unspool, you are famously advised that “This film should be played loud!” This is wise guidance you should follow when playing the JBL Link 500 Google Assistant speaker ($399.95).

Read the rest of this review here.

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Beyond AirPods, ‘True’ Wireless Headphones Developing Into Lucrative Market

Anyone traversing sidewalks, trains, buses and running paths have noticed the white sticks sticking out of the ears of a growing number of people. Apple’s completely wireless AirPods — a type of completely wire-free earbuds that wirelessly connect via Bluetooth not only to a smartphone or music player but to each other — are ever-present, a new cultural must-have.

Yes, Apple dominates this new “true” wireless category, also referred to as “hearables” to differentiate them from more traditional behind-the-neck wireless Bluetooth earphones. According to The NPD Group, Apple accounts for 86 percent of the dollar volume in this nascent headphone sub-category category.

But Apple’s early dominance of the true wireless market doesn’t mean other manufacturers — and non-Apple retailers — can’t or won’t get involved.

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The Next Best TV Under $1,000?

In January, we named the 55-inch 6 Series TCL TV, the 55P607 (the 2017 model), the best value for a TV under $1,000, and now TCL has upgraded its 6 Series for 2018. Better yet, the company is selling its new 2018 model Series 6 TVs for the same price as last year’s models – $649 for 55-inch 55R617 and $999 for the 65-inch 65R617.

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Harman/Kardon Allure: Alluring Sound, Short on Features

Let’s get right to the point: The Harman/Kardon Allure 360-degree Amazon Alexa-enabled speaker ($249.95) is alluring, both aesthetically and aurally. It’s got an unusual Star Trekprop-like smoky opaque plastic topped design with an interior tube that lights up when sound emanates from its speakers, and it’s equipped with a circular array of speakers that delivers 360-degree sound with plenty of volume and bass.

Read the rest of this review on GearBrain here.

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Appliances Are Getting Smarter — But Is Anyone Buying Them?

Suddenly, it seems, the major appliance market is alive and well.

After several years of slow or flat growth, major appliance sales are projected to rise from 3 to 7 percent this year to an estimated 549 million units and 10 percent in revenue to $216 billion, with a 2 to 6 percent jump to a potential total of 570 million units in 2019, according to GfK.

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Sharp Now Shipping 8K TVs Overseas

After years of teasing at varying trade shows, Sharp has finally begun shipping the world’s first commercially available 8K monitor, the 70-inch, 7,680 by 4,320 Aquos LV-70X500E (€11,199).

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Consumers Ponying Up For Cutting-Edge Tech

Thanks to more informed and more demanding consumers willing to pay more to get what they want, CE sales revenue rose 3.2 percent to $967 billion in 2017, and is projected to rise another 3.9 percent to $1.014 trillion this year.

Continue reading this post here.

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