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System Integration for the Connected Home

Control and Home Media Systems

Netflix Goes (Almost) Global

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Netflix announces a global expansion of unprecedented proportions at CES 2016, as now 130 countries (bringing the total to 190) are able to access the video streaming service.

Netflix globalIn fact, it is easier to list the nations lacking Netflix access-- China, N. Korea, Syria and Crimea.

“With this launch, consumers around the world-- from Singapore to St. Petersburg, from San Francisco to Sao Paulo-- will be able to enjoy TV shows and movies simultaneously-- no more waiting," CEO Reed Hastings. "With the help of the Internet, we are putting power in consumers’ hands to watch whenever, wherever and on whatever device.”

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Autonomic Intros KP-6 In-Wall Keypad

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Autonomic launches the KP-6-- a decora-style in-wall keypad providing instant access to the basic features of the Mirage Audio System without need to open a mobile device app.

Autonomic KP-6The KP-6 features fingertip control of power on/off, volume, source and track-skip, as well as 4 user-programmable preset buttons. Users need to first curate content on the Mirage Media Controller app (iOS/Android) before pressing and holding to store the programming as a preset, with presents being anything from Pandora or SiriusXM radio stations to a playlist or favourite album.

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Roku Presents Roku 4

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Roku adds 4K/UHD streaming capability and an updated OS to its streaming STB lineup through the Roku 4, a flatter and wider STB featuring a large streaming channel lineup and universal voice search.

Roku 4A quad-core processor powers the STB, with 4K video support at up to 60fps. It also features improved 802.11ac wifi, while connectivity includes HDMI, ethernet, USB and, in a Roku first, optical audio output.

On the software side the new Roku OS 7 allows users to follow movies, TV shows, actors and directors to receive automatic updates on pricing and availability, while a Hotel and Dorm Connect feautre handles quick connectivity in locations requiring log-in credentials for network access. Another new feature is a Remote Finder useful for those prone to losing the  Roku remote.

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Amazon Updates STB Lineup

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Reports might suggest Amazon is giving up on hardware, but the online retailer shows this is at least partly not the case as it presents a pair of Fire TV devices.

Amazon Fire STBThe Fire TV devices in question are upgrades of the original STB and the Stick HDMI dongle. The new Fire TV feature 4K/UHD resolution and HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) support, as well as more processing power, 802.11ac MIMO wifi and 8GB built-in storage (expandable to 128GB via microSD card slot).

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Philips Home Control Becomes Omni Remotes

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Following its recent divestment from Royal Philips, the Philips Home Control division becomes Omni Remotes, an independent company owned by Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia (MSPEA).

Omni remotesOmni Remotes still uses "founded by Philips" as a tagline, if to emphisise its having 25 years of experience in the field. It also has a new logo that "visualises the wireless use of the remote control in the home environment and its expanding role."

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Apple TV Gets Long Awaited Update

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The September Apple event confirms another rumour with the announcement of the next generation Apple TV, one featuring the same form factor as the first Apple STB but running on a more powerful 64-bit A8 chip and featuring an App Store, new OS and a remote complete with touch surface.

Apple TV"Our vision for TV is simple and perhaps a little provocative," Apple CEO Tim Cook says. "We believe the future of TV is apps."

As such, the new Apple TV runs on an iOS variant dubbed tvOS, while apps include the predictable likes of Netflix, HBO and Hulu, as well as a variety of games. Control comes through the aforementioned remote. It connects to the Apple TV via Bluteooth 4.0, offers a touch surface, gyroscope and accelerometer, and promises up to 3 months of use on a single charge.

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The Sony Remote/Speaker Hybrid

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Sony retains a more whimsical side as it presents the SRS-LSR100-- essentially a TV remote grafted on top of a wireless speaker able to receive 2.4GHz signals from a dongle attached to TVs or stereos.

Sony speaker remoteBut why would anyone even want a remote-speaker combo? As the company puts it, sometimes users want to continue listening to the TV and be able to change the channel even as they move away from the screen. As one does.

Other uses suggested by Sony include boosting TV sound while indulging in noisy activities (such as cooking or exercising), as aid viewers who might be hard of hearing or soothing babies to sleep.

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