Hi-Res Coming to Apple’s iTunes – It is rumored that the world’s largest seller of music will began offering hi-res audio downloads within a couple months. Apple already has a huge library of hi-res material for which they have distribution rights, and they have the infrastructure to deliver bandwidth-hungry HD downloads. This time the upgrade probably won’t be free, as Apple had offered users to upgrade their audio files from MP3 to 256 kbps AAC. But there is a big demand for the higher quality audio and it will instantly be available to a gigantic user base. Hi-res will no longer be an audiophile niche but will move into the mainstream. The upcoming change has been compared to the introduction of HDTV, which was languishing until the FCC forced TV stations to begin offering programming in HDTV and telecasting it. The tremendous improvement of hi-res audio files may not be realized by those with mobile equipment and tiny little speakers or poor-quality earbuds or headphones. Perhaps it will move some to upgrade their playback gear. iTunes will instantly be the largest hi-res dealer in audio files.
LG and Smart TVs – LG Electronics’ first WebOS-based smart TVs, UHD TVs and OLED sets have been introduced. WebOS is a Linux kernel-based operating system for smart TVs, replacing LG’s former NetCast platform. A spokesman said WebOS will transform smart-TV viewing from the complex “lean-forward experience” due to the use of platforms intended for smartphones and tablets, to a more relaxing “lean-back experience” that lets the content take over. It will speed up and simplify switching between online and offline content, including speeding up switching between live streaming programs. It will simplify discovering content between multiple online and offline sources, and will simplify the process of setting up the TV with a home network. Viewers will be able to select the programs they want from an integrated mix of sources, including live cable/satellite boxes, recorded programs, and over-the-top streaming services. LG has partnered with other firms to offer special services on their smart TVs. The WebOS platform is also included in some of the latest generation UHD and OLED TVs from LG. (Their new 55-inch OLED HDTV is $11,000.) According to CES research, screen sizes of 50 to 59 inches are predicted to grow 9% and those 60 inches and large are predicted to grow 19%.
Samsung’s New Headphones and Bluetooth Speaker – Samsung Electronics’ line of headphones include the top Level Over over-ear headphones which have Bluetooth, AptX and active noise-canceling, plus 50mm drivers, in-line mic and remote, on-ear touch controls and can be charged via a MicroUSB connection. The portable Bluetooth speaker, the Level Box, has a 56mm driver and passive radiator, metal grill, built-in mic for speakerphone capabilities, on-device controls, NFC pairing, and also charges via a MicroUSB cable. A Samsung app with SoundAlive EQ allows users to apply 3D audio, bass and clarity effects to every type of media. It also provides 25 sound settings, protective volume monitoring and text-to-speech capabilities.