Entertainment Technologies

TVs are covered in separate section.

The technologies associated with remote control devices are covered in our remotes section.

AirPlay

Apple AirPlay is a proprietary technology developed by Apple to allow their devices to stream music, video, photos, etc. between devices using wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi.

AirPlay video streaming is limited to MPEG4 and H.264 videos that are encoded to Apple's specifications only. That said, the hacker community are starting to change this.

With the release of iOS 4.3 in March 2011, Apple's AirPlay became a much more compelling proposition with the range of apps that could support this functionality extended to now encompass 3rd party apps and even websites. As further releases of iOS have been released, AirPlay support has become more and more embedded as a capability.

Bluetooth

This is covered in our home automation technology section.

Blu-ray

The Blu-ray technology is best described here. It is currently the only home technology that provides high quality (low compression) 1080p video.

DLNA

The Digital Living Network Alliance is a standards-based technology to make it easier for consumers to use and share their digital photos, music and videos. It is the most widely deployed standard in this space but implmentations vary between manufacturers. The level of support also varies significantly and the base level spec is quite minimal. DLNA devices support one of more roles:

  • Server - a content store that exposes file structures and files.
  • Player - a browser and content player with native controls.
  • Renderer - a device that displays content and is remotely controlled.
  • Controller - a device that exposes servers and connects and controls renders.

Many NAS devices expose folders and content using DLNA. Some routers also do this. Our Thomson TG789vn router will expose a USB pendrive in this way, when it is plugged into the USB port.

Freeview

Freeview.

HDMI

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a compact audio/video interface for transmitting uncompressed digital data. It is a digital alternative to the existing consumer analog standards, such as radio frequency (RF) coaxial cable, composite video, S-Video, SCART, etc. HDMI connects digital audio/video sourcessuch as set-top boxes, Blu-ray Disc players, personal computers (PCs), video game consoles and AV receiversto compatible digital audio devices, computer monitors, and digital televisions. It is the most common standard route for interconnecting digital video devices at the moment.

Note: There are some very expensive HDMI cables on the market! The 1.5m HDMI cables in our home have cost us less than £2.50 and you cannot tell the difference between these and cables costing ten or twenty times more. Longer cables (5m or 10m) benefit from being higher quality but, even these should not cost any more than £30 each. Make sure you buy cables that are the right version. If you want suppport for 3D video, then you need at least HDMI V1.4a.

HDMI 2.0

The HDMI standard was finalised in late 2013 and has been updated to support existing HDMI 1.4a cables whilst enabling 4K or UHD TV at

HDMI over IP

There are now products available that enable HDMI signals to be set over IP networks. These are still relatively expensive pieces of equipment though.

HDMI CEC

T.B.C.

HDTV

High Definition (HD) TV or HDTV is the term used to describe the current, mainsteam HD technology on the market. It usually refers to a display resolution of 1920 × 1280 pixels but, the 'HD' moniker has been hijacked by some manufacturers, who use it to describe 720p capable devices. Because of this, it is sometime referred to as 'true HD' or 'full HD'.

MP3

MP3 is the most common music file format in use today because it provides an efficient, DRM free way to encode music. This has made it the file format of choice and this popularity has increased its adoption and support worldwide.

The MP3 format provides the ability to encode at different (and variable) bit rates. The quality of the audio on playback is heavily dependent on the bit rate used. Whilst these are subjective, we use the following bit rates and guidance:

  • 128Kbps is really about as low a bit rate as you would want to go. It really doesn't sound that good but results in fairly small files. OK for use in a car but not recommended otherwise. We have binned any music files below this bit rate in our music library.
  • 160Kbps provides a noticable improvement over 128Kbps and a good compromise between file size and audio quality. A decent sound system (even in a noisy vehicle environment) will show up the limitations of this bit rate encoding.
  • ~200Kbps VBR is now the lowest bit rate format we use in our house when ripping CDs. The VBR stands for 'Variable Bit Rate' and is a mechanism for altering the bit rate according to the material being encoded, to improve quality and files sizes.
  • 320Kbps is about the highest bit rate provided by on-line music stores. On a typical hi-fi system it is quite hard to spot the difference between this and the source CD. A good quality hi-fi system will show up the differences though. This is our preferred and recommended bit rate when ripping CDs. The amount of memory provided by modern music players means the larger file sizes are less of an issue than they used to be.

Plex

Plex is covered in its own section.

S/PDIF

S/PDIF is a standard for transmitting audio over optical fibre cables and is usually presented via a Toslink connector.

S/PDIF doesn't use error correction, so it is possible for a poor quality cable to introduce errors that manifest themselves as noise. Timing is extracted at the distant end from the transmit clock of the digital audio source (not the transmitter) so jitter could become a problem too. That said, I've used the cheapest cables I could find (69p delivered from eBay seller) and not had any issues at all.

WHDI

WHDI stands for Wireless Home Digital Interface. It is essentially a standard for sending HDMI video between devices, using the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz frequencies also used by Wi-Fi.

720p

720p refers to a display or content resolution of 1280 × 720 pixels. Some manufacturers such as Apple, mistakenly refer to this as HD but, the 'HD' normally refers to full 1080p displays and content.

1080p

1080p refers to a display or content resolution of 1920 × 1080 pixels. This is often simply referred to as 'high definition' or 'HD', when it comes to displays, TVs and content resolution. This is the resolution currently used by Blu-ray discs and Freeview HD transmissions.

4K2K

4K2K or Quad HD (also called Ultra Definition) is a short-hand description used to describe the high resolution displays that are coming onto the market, with a pixel format of around 4096 × 2160 pixels, approximately 4 times the size of a typical High Definition (HD) TV. We are already seeing 4K2K projectors in some digital cinemas and with advanced H264 encoding, the video can be delivered over ~50Mbps.

4K2K TV became available in 2012 but are very expensive. Our experience of them shows that they make a significant improvement to the picture quality.

There is some more useful info:here.

UHDTV

Ultra High Definition Television (UHDTV) is a digital video format that is 16 times the resolution of HD or 1080p and equates to 7680 × 4320 pixels. It is also sometimes called 8K or 8K4K. And yes, there is content and there are devices available to play it on.

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