Consumer Tech Spending Sentiment Down Seasonally for August, says CTA
Tue, 23 Aug 2016 16:46:13 -0400
Consumer confidence toward tech spending saw a small decline in August, while sentiment toward the overall economy increased, according to the monthly Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™ Indexes.
The CTA Index of Consumer Technology Expectations (ICTE), which measures consumer expectations about technology spending, decreased 5.3 points in August to 86.3.
“Not uncommon for the end of the summer season, consumer sentiment toward tech spending saw a small seasonal dip in August,” said Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., chief economist, CTA. “I expect sentiment toward tech spending to move higher in the coming months, with a combination of major product launches and the holiday shopping season.”
Ahead of anticipated product launches, according to CTA forecasts, unit sales of smartphones are expected to reach 183 million in 2016 (up five percent year-to-year), while revenues will reach $55 billion (a four percent increase). As more virtual reality (VR) headsets come to market in 2016, CTA expects unit sales to increase by 296 percent over last year, reaching 800,000 units sold. And CTA projects digital assistant devices (voice-activated devices that provide a cloud-based artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant, such as Amazon’s Echo) to reach 2.2 million units (up 32 percent).
It will also be a strong second half of the year for 4K Ultra High-Definition TVs, with shipments expected to reach 15 million units (a 105 percent increase), and revenue that will exceed $12.9 billion (a 69 percent increase).
The CTA Index of Consumer Expectations (ICE), which measures consumer sentiment about the U.S. economy as a whole, increased by 4.3 points in August to reach 176.3.
“Despite a tepid first half of the year, some uncertainties appear to be waning, and equities moved higher over the duration of August,” said DuBravac. “Sentiment toward the overall economy naturally followed in tandem.”
Blackmagic Design Launches Public Beta of New URSA Mini Operating System, User Interface
Mon, 22 Aug 2016 17:26:13 -0400
Blackmagic Design announced the availability of Blackmagic Camera 4.0 Public Beta. This public beta lets customers install and test Blackmagic’s major new camera operating system and user interface for URSA Mini. Blackmagic Camera 4.0 Public Beta is available for download free of charge from the Blackmagic Design website for all Blackmagic URSA Mini customers.
Since it was announced at NAB, Blackmagic Design engineers have worked closely with professional cinematographers and DoPs on the new camera operating system and have designed an interface that revolutionizes the way customers interact with and use digital film cameras. The new URSA Mini camera OS brings massive innovation to digital film, and makes Blackmagic Design cameras easier and more intuitive to use.
The public beta of the new camera operating system replaces multi level menus, massive numbers of buttons, and hard to find settings with an elegant, beautifully designed interface that puts the most important and often used functions at the operator’s fingertips. For example, the new heads up display dramatically reduces the number of menus and submenus needed to find specific settings and commands. That means customers can now quickly change settings such as ISO, white balance, shutter angle, iris, frame rate, frame guides and more without ever having to navigate through any menus. What’s even more exciting is that customers can quickly toggle back and forth between different settings, allowing them to try different combinations of settings on the fly. Customers can also save and load presets for different shooting situations and save them to a card for use on different cameras.
In addition, there are now custom white balance and white balance presets, along with tint control settings. Customers also get more accurate shutter angle selection, including a large easy to use on screen keyboard for quick entry of settings. When entering the shutter angle, the new URSA Mini camera OS will even offer smart flicker free shutter angle suggestions to assist the camera operator. These suggestions are automatically calculated based on the frame rate and the electrical system (50Hz or 60Hz).
False color exposure tools have also been added that make it easier to properly set exposure. When using false color, specific ranges of luminance in the image will show a color overlay. For example, green indicates neutral grey, while pink tones are good references for skin, which is typically one stop over neutral grey. Using false color helps camera operators keep exposure consistent from shot to shot, which also saves time in post production when color correcting and finishing.
The public beta of the new URSA Mini camera OS also improves focus assist. Customers can now adjust the color for focus assist overlays, or they can choose to use more traditional focus peaking tools that simply highlight the sharpest areas of an image.
Entering metadata on cameras has always been tedious. The new URSA Mini camera OS solves this by giving customers a new “slate” page that can be accessed by simply swiping left or right on the screen. This brings up a slate for both the shot and the entire project. Entering metadata is simplified through the use of predictive entry suggestions. A preloaded dictionary of commonly used terms can be applied as metadata tags with a simple tap. For example, if you stop and start recording, the take will automatically increment. If you increase the scene number, the shot and take will automatically reset to 1.
In addition, lens metadata is automatically read from electronic lenses or can be entered manually, along with production specific information, technical information and much more. All of this metadata is saved with the files and can be used by software such as DaVinci Resolve for editing and color correction.
To further simplify camera setup and use, all other settings are located under 5 easy to access tabs called Record, Monitor, Audio, Setup, Presets, and LUTS. The Record tab lets customers quickly select codec, quality, and resolution, while also setting up dynamic range, frame rates, sensor windowing and more. The new URSA Mini camera OS provides much more flexible media formatting, card usage, and recording information as well, making it easier for customers to know exactly how much more shooting time they have left and when they should switch cards.
The new Monitor tab lets customers decide what is shown on the main LCD, and what is output on the front and main SDI. This can include any thing from clean feeds to LUTs, frame guides and more. Customers can even send different status text for the cinematographer or the director to different outputs as needed. The new URSA Mini camera OS also adds 1.33x and 2.x anamorphic de-squeeze for monitoring when shooting with anamorphic lenses.
Customers can get quick access to audio level settings by tapping on the live audio meters. For more detailed settings, all of the audio input controls under the Audio tab. This includes features such as levels for the internal mic, speaker and headphone volume, low cut filter, and more.
The new setup tab provides access to basic camera settings, as well as the ability to customize and program the external physical F1 and F2 buttons on the camera. Function buttons can trigger presets, be used as up/down buttons, or be used toggle specific feature on and off. In addition, the new URSA Mini camera OS can have up to 6 presets loaded. These can be loaded, saved, exported and imported from the Presets tab.
The LUTS tab lets customers import, export, manage and delete 3D LUTs. The LUTs can be assigned and displayed on the LCD or front and main SDI outputs independently.
In addition to all of the URSA Mini improvements, Blackmagic Camera 4.0 Public Beta also improves the performance of the Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder. Customers will get better colorimetry, improved proximity sensor sensitivity and timeout settings. In addition, the Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder will now support the new URSA Mini camera OS metadata settings, new frame guides, safe areas, grids and menu items for configuring overlay settings.
“The combination of URSA Mini’s 4.6K resolution with 15 stops of dynamic range and the new camera OS is incredibly exciting,” says Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “Customers already love the images they’re getting from URSA Mini and we are still working incredibly hard to meet all the customers back orders. This public beta of the new URSA Mini camera OS gives our customers an opportunity to test all of the new features and provide feedback to Blackmagic Design engineers on these exciting new features. Our dream is to design the world’s most advanced cameras with an incredibly modern OS that’s faster to use and more feature rich than has ever been possible before. Its a privilege to be able provide this update to our URSA Mini customers who are some of the worlds top cinematographers and who blow our minds with their creative work!”
FCC Chairman Announces Staff Change
Thu, 18 Aug 2016 15:58:38 -0400
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today announced his intention to appoint Paul de Sa as chief of the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis starting later this month. Mr. de Sa will be returning to a leadership position he held under former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
“Paul has a rare combination of business insight, technical expertise, and policy experience that will make him an invaluable addition to our team.” said Chairman Wheeler. “Paul is the ideal person to lead OSP as we pursue our agenda of promoting innovation and competition and protecting consumers.”
The Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis (“OSP”) – which includes economists, technologists, and lawyers – advises the Commissioners on policy initiatives, develops strategic plans, and helps identify the agency's policy objectives. It also provides research and analysis regarding emerging communications issues.
From 2012 to 2016, Mr. de Sa was the senior analyst covering U.S. telecommunications at Bernstein Research, where he published research on topics relevant for telecom and cable investors, including fixed and mobile broadband, spectrum, corporate strategy and competition. Mr. de Sa was OSP chief from 2009 to 2012 and prior to that was a partner in McKinsey & Company’s Washington, D.C. and Seoul offices, where he worked in the telecom/media, private equity and corporate finance practices.
Mr. de Sa holds an undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge, a doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford, was a John F. Kennedy Memorial Scholar at MIT, and researched technology policy as a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard.
CTA Applauds EPA on Revision to ENERGY STAR Television Requirements
Wed, 17 Aug 2016 15:55:00 -0400
The following statement is attributed to Douglas Johnson, vice president of technology policy at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™, regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to revert to its Version 7 ENERGY STAR® television testing requirements:
“We welcome EPA’s decision to rescind its recent guidance document that would have abruptly changed the ENERGY STAR test procedure, significantly impacting the market for ENERGY STAR-certified televisions. We had been very concerned about the legal and stakeholder process issues raised by the suddenly proposed changes affecting how TVs would be tested for ENERGY STAR.
"Our industry is a strong supporter of the ENERGY STAR program –nearly a quarter century old– which is well-recognized by consumers and a leading public policy initiative for promoting energy efficiency in several consumer tech categories. To continue building on our success, the industry and EPA’s partnership must embrace both a transparent and participatory process, involving all affected stakeholders in any decision that could change product specification requirements.
“CTA and its members applaud EPA for acknowledging the negative implications of the testing guidance issued on May 17, 2016. We look forward to working with EPA and other stakeholders as we move forward together to develop an eighth generation ENERGY STAR specification for televisions.”
CTA submitted comments to EPA on July 27, 2016, regarding the ENERGY STAR “additional guidance” that changed the testing for televisions with features that adjust screen luminance.
Major PAY-TV Providers Lost About 665,000 Subscribers in 2Q 2016
Tue, 16 Aug 2016 09:59:07 -0400
Leichtman Research Group, Inc. (LRG) found that the eleven largest pay-TV providers in the US -- representing about 95% of the market -- lost about 665,000 net video subscribers in 2Q 2016, compared to a loss of about 545,000 subscribers in 2Q 2015.
The top pay-TV providers account for 93.75 million subscribers -- with the top six cable companies having 48.9 million video subscribers, satellite TV companies having 34.0 million subscribers (including about 710,000 from DISH's Internet-delivered Sling TV), and the top telephone companies having 10.8 million subscribers.
Other key findings for the quarter include:
- The top six cable companies lost about 225,000 video subscribers in 2Q 2016 -- compared to a loss of about 340,000 subscribers in 2Q 2015
- Top cable MSOs losses were the fewest in any second quarter since 2006
- Satellite TV providers added 61,000 subscribers in 2Q 2016 (including gains from Sling TV) -- compared to a loss of 214,000 in 2Q 2015
- DirecTV's net adds of 342,000 in 2Q 2016 were more than in any quarter since 1Q 2009
- The top phone providers lost about 500,000 video subscribers in 2Q 2016 -- compared to a gain of about 10,000 subscribers in 2Q 2015
- AT&T U-verse's 391,000 net losses in 2Q 2016 were the most losses ever in a quarter by any provider (for the second consecutive quarter)
"The top pay-TV providers lost about 665,000 subscribers in the traditionally weak second quarter, with net losses in 2Q 2016 surpassing the previous quarterly low set in last year's second quarter," said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. "Over the past year, the top pay-TV providers (including DISH's Sling TV) lost about 705,000 subscribers -- compared to a loss of about 380,000 over the prior year."