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  1. MediaTek MT9638 chip aims to bring premium smart TV features to the masses The MT6938 smart TV chip by MediaTek brings support for features such as AI-driven image quality enhancement, VRR, and MEMC to name a few. MediaTek has introduced its latest silicon – the MT9638 – a chip that is destined for budget-centric 4K smart TVs in the near future. The latest MediaTek offering brings some impressive features to the table such as AI-driven image quality enhancement, VRR (variable refresh rate) support, and MEMC (motion estimation and motion compensation) for graphics smoothing in real-time, a feature that we’ve lately seen on a host of high-end and mid-range TVs from the likes of Samsung, OnePlus and Xiaomi. The MediaTek MT9638 is a quad-core chip that comes with an upgraded APU which is claimed to boost processing times by 10x. It also brings support for an up-to-date multimedia suite that includes support for Dolby Atmos and DTS Virtual X surround sound, and global HDR standards such as HDR 10+ and Dolby Vision HDR. Plus, it can drive up to 2304 backlight dimming zones to provide better control over reproducing lighting in complex scenery. MediaTek also employs what it is calling AI-SR (super-resolution), AI-PQ (picture quality) & AI-AQ (audio quality) technologies, all of which combined to perform tasks such as noise reduction, optimized image quality parameters such as sharpness, and resolution upscaling to make objects on the screen look crisp. As for the MEMC technology, MediaTek claims that the MT9638 smart TV chip employs multi-frame blending to show visuals that match the TV’s native resolution. And to ensure that smart TVs powered by MediaTek’s new chip are truly smart, it also allows OEMs to integrate the virtual assistant of their choice, complete with an always-on assistance convenience. Additionally, it can drive up to four far-field microphones and facilitates one-second resume when the assistant hotword is said. As far as connectivity goes, the MT9638 chip brings support for Gigabit-class Wi-Fi 6, with HDMI 2.1a and USB 3.0 standard also in tow. CPU Type: Arm Cortex-A55 CPU Bit: 64-bit CPU Cores: Quad Max CPU Frequency: 1.5GHz GPU Type: Arm Mali-G52 MC1 Memory: 48b DDR3, 64b DDR3 Max Memory: 3GB Max Display Resolution: 3840 x 2160 (4K) HDR Standards: BBC HLG, HDR10 (SMPTE2084), Dolby Vision HDR, Technicolor/Philips JHDR (ESTI TS 103 433), HDR10+, China HDR (Preliminary Support) Video Encoding: H.264 Video Decoding: AV1, AVS2, HEVC, VP9, H.264, SHVC [email protected] Audio Decoding: Dolby Atmos, DTS Virtual X Microphones: 4X Directional Mic Interfaces HDMI 2.0/1.4 with HDCP 2.2, HDMI 2.1a, USB 2.0, USB 3.0 Source: MediaTek MT9638 chip aims to bring premium smart TV features to the masses
  2. The publication by WikiLeaks of documents it says are from the CIA's secret hacking program describe tools that can turn a world of increasingly networked, camera- and microphone-equipped devices into eavesdroppers. Smart televisions and automobiles now have on-board computers and microphones, joining the ubiquitous smartphones, laptops and tablets that have had microphones and cameras as standard equipment for a decade. That the CIA has created tools to turn them into listening posts surprises no one in the security community. Q: How Worried Should Consumers Be Who Have Surrounded Themselves with These Devices? A: Importantly, the intrusion tools highlighted by the leak do not appear to be instruments of mass surveillance. So, it's not as if everyone's TV or high-tech vehicle is at risk. "It's unsurprising, and also somewhat reassuring, that these are tools that appear to be targeted at specific people's (devices) by compromising the software on them -- as opposed to tools that decrypt the encrypted traffic over the internet," said Matt Blaze, University of Pennsylvania computer scientist. The exploits appear to emphasize targeted attacks, such as collecting keystrokes or silently activating a Samsung TV's microphone while the set is turned off. In fact, many of the intrusion tools described in the documents are for delivery via "removable device." Q: Once Devices Are Compromised They Need To Be Internet-Connected in Order To Share Collected Intelligence with Spies. What Can Be Done To Stop That? A: Not much if you don't want to sacrifice the benefits of the device. "Anything that is voice-activated or that has voice- and internet-connected functionality is susceptible to these types of attacks," said Robert M. Lee, a former U.S. cyberwar operations officer and CEO of the cybersecurity company Dragos. That includes smart TVs and voice-controlled information devices like the Amazon Echo, which can read news, play music, close the garage door and turn up the thermostat. An Amazon Echo was enlisted as a potential witness in an Arkansas murder case. To ensure a connected device can't spy on you, unplug it from the grid and the internet and remove the batteries, if that's possible. Or perhaps don't buy it, especially if you don't especially require the networked features and the manufacturer hasn't proven careful on security. Security experts have found flaws in devices -- like WiFi-enabled dolls -- with embedded microphones and cameras. Q: I Recently Began Using WhatsApp and Signal on my Smartphone for Voice and Text Communication Because of Their Strong Encryption. Can the Exploits Described in the WikiLeaks Documents Break Them? A: No. But exploits designed to infiltrate the operating system on your Android smartphone, iPhone, iPad or Windows-based computer can read your messages or listen in on conversations on the compromised device itself, though communications are encrypted in transit. "The bad news is that platform exploits are very powerful," Blaze tweeted. "The good news is that they have to target you in order to read your messages." He and other experts say reliably defending against a state-level adversary is all but impossible. And the CIA was planting microphones long before we became networked. Q: I'm Not a High-Value Target for Intelligence Agencies. But I Still Want To Protect Myself. How? A: It may sound boring, but it's vital: Keep all your operating systems patched and up-to-date, and don't click links or open email attachments unless you are sure they are safe. There will always be exploits of which antivirus companies are not aware until it's too late. These are known as zero-day exploits because no patches are available and victims have zero time to prepare. The CIA, National Security Agency and plenty of other intelligence agencies purchase and develop them. But they don't come cheap. And most of us are hardly worth it. Source
  3. The vast majority of televisions available today are "smart" TVs, with internet connections, advertising placement, and streaming services built in. Despite the added functionality, TV prices are lower than ever — especially from companies like TCL and Vizio, which specialize in low-cost, high-tech smart TVs. There's a simple reason that smart TVs are priced so low: Some TV makers collect user data and sell it to third parties. Did you get a 4K, HDR-capable TV this past holiday, perhaps on sale? Millions of Americans did. Massive TVs with razor-thin frames, brilliant image quality, and built-in streaming services are more affordable than ever thanks to companies like Vizio and TCL. If you want a 65-inch 4K smart TV with HDR capability, one can be purchased for below $500 — a price that may seem surprisingly low for such a massive piece of technology, nonetheless one that's likely to live in your home for years before you upgrade. But that low price comes with a caveat most people probably don't realize: Some manufacturers collect data about users and sell that data to third parties. The data can include the types of shows you watch, which ads you watch, and your approximate location. The Roku TV interface on TCL's smart TVs comes with a prominent ad placement on the home screen. A recent interview on The Verge's podcast with Vizio's chief technology officer, Bill Baxter, did a great job illuminating how this works. "This is a cutthroat industry," Baxter said. "It's a 6% margin industry. The greater strategy is I really don't need to make money off of the TV. I need to cover my cost." More specifically, companies like Vizio don't need to make money from every TV they sell. Smart TVs can be sold at or near cost to consumers because Vizio is able to monetize those TVs through data collection, advertising, and selling direct-to-consumer entertainment (movies, etc.). Or, as Baxter put it: "It's not just about data collection. It's about post-purchase monetization of the TV." And there are a few ways to monetize those TVs after the initial purchase. On TCL's Roku TVs, users can opt out of the full scope of ad tracking. How much you're able to block yourself from data tracking varies by TV manufacturer. "You sell some movies, you sell some TV shows, you sell some ads, you know," he said. "It's not really that different than the Verge website." It's those additional forms of revenue that help make the large, beautiful smart TVs from companies like Vizio and TCL so affordable. Without that revenue stream, Baxter said, consumers would be paying more up front. "We'd collect a little bit more margin at retail to offset it," he said. The exchange is fascinating and worth listening to in full — check it out right here. Source
  4. Redmi, an independent brand of Xiaomi Corp, unveiled its first smart TV on Thursday, signaling the Chinese smartphone vendor's further ambition to expand its presence in the TV sector. Redmi TV supports Dolby Audio and DTS HD audio technologies The move came shortly after Honor, an independent brand of Huawei Technologies Co, made a similar push earlier this month, highlighting the mounting competition among companies to give new vitality to traditional TV businesses. The Redmi TV starts from 3,799 yuan ($531), the same price as Honor's first TV product Honor Vision. But the former comes with a 70-inch screen, in comparison with the latter's 55-inch screen. Lu Weibing, who is in charge of Redmi's business, said with the commercialization of 5G, smart TVs have become a high ground for competition. "The bigger the screen is, the better the TVs are. Price is always the reason that limits users' willingness to buy big-screen TVs," Lu said. The average price for 70-inch TVs sold in China from January to July was 6,848 yuan, about 3,000 yuan higher the price of Redmi's device, according to data from All View Cloud. Redmi became an independent brand in January, a move widely seen by analysts as a key way to better compete with Honor, one of the two signature brands of Huawei. The Beijing-based company already has sold smart TVs under its main brand Xiaomi for several years. And data from market research company International Data Corp show that Xiaomi shipped 2.35 million units of smart TVs in the first quarter of this year, and accounted for 21. 7 percent of the market, the largest one. That marks a 79 percent year-on-year jump for Xiaomi, faster than the market average growth rate of 1.7 percent. Market research company International Data Corp also predicted that the annual shipment of smart TVs in China will hit 49.38 million units by 2023, maintaining a steady growth momentum. That's far better than the global smartphone industry which is seeing declines for quarters due to market saturation. Liu Yun, an analyst at IDC, said artificial intelligence is making TVs smarter and the diversified content for TVs will also attract more users to interact with these devices. Zhao Ming, president of Honor, said earlier that smart TVs will function as a center for information sharing for families and a center for multi-device interaction. Source
  5. Flipkart says first Nokia-branded smart TV will offer superior audio experience as it will come with ‘Sound by JBL’. Nokia-branded smart TVs are coming to India soon. Flipkart has partnered with Nokia to launch ‘Made in India’ smart TV on the e-commerce platform. The company hasn’t revealed the launch date for Nokia smart TV. Flipkart said that Nokia smart TV in India will come with ‘Sound by JBL’ – marking JBL’s foray into the TV space. “The Nokia branded Smart TVs will feature superior audio quality powered by JBL’s sound program, an initiative by HARMAN to expand the uses of its audio expertise further,” said Flipkart in a release. “We are delighted that Flipkart, the leading e-commerce company in the country, will bring the first-ever Nokia branded Smart TVs to India. Today marks the start of an exciting new chapter for the Nokia brand in a new category. And where better to start than in India, where our brand has been trusted for quality, design and reliability. Flipkart’s understanding of the needs and behaviors of Indian consumers, and the power of its reach, will help it make Nokia branded Smart TVs accessible and affordable to many,” said Vipul Mehrotra, Vice President, Nokia Brand Partnerships in a release. “Working with Nokia allows us to further expand the choice of high-quality, technologically advanced products for Indian consumers. Nokia is a globally popular technology brand and enjoys immense brand recall, so we’re excited to start this journey with them to extend the brand into a fast-growing product segment. We are committed, as always, to bringing best of brands and technology together as we work towards welcoming the next 200 million consumers on our platform,” said Adarsh Menon, Senior Vice President and Head - Private Brands, Electronics and Furniture at Flipkart. The announcement comes weeks after Flipkart entered into a similar partnership with Motorola to launch locally manufactured smart TVs in India. Dubbed as ‘Motorola TV’, the smart TV series is available online via Flipkart for a starting price of Rs 13,999. The smart TV series also features 3-inch, 50-inch and 55-inch UHD models and a premium 65-inch Motorola TV with UHD panel. The top-end model costs Rs 64,999. Some of the key features of Motorola TVs include MEMC technology and HDR support for better visual experience. Source: Nokia smart TV with JBL audio coming to India soon, courtesy Flipkart (via Hindustan Times)
  6. To the delight of binge-watchers everywhere, it’s no longer prohibitively expensive to purchase a giant television. And those devices are also getting smarter, with features like voice commands, personalized recommendations, and built-in apps for Netflix and other streaming services. It’s almost impossible to buy a TV without them. The average consumer might ascribe the declining price to a variant of Moore’s law. But this isn’t entirely true. “Right now, you’re paying with your data, but you don’t know the price,” says Casey Oppenheim, CEO of Disconnect, a privacy-focused software company. While most consumers now know the game when they use Facebook (keep in touch with old classmates in exchange for your data) or a smart home assistant (check the weather hands-free in exchange for your data), the exchange is not so transparent with smart TVs. Now “your television is essentially a big computer,” Oppenheim says. Just like any other computer you have let into your house, this one is collecting data. The reason is simple. “It allows Internet service providers and television manufacturers to make more money,” he says. Viewing habits can be used to build a rich consumer profile, which is extremely valuable to advertisers, insurance companies, and other parties. And being computers, smart TVs are now also hackable. Some TV manufacturers, like Samsung, have even recommended customers scan their TVs for malware—something most users don’t even do with their personal computers. Source
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