Amazon Prime Video Finally Comes to Apple TV

Amazon Prime Video Finally Comes to Apple TV

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Amazon Prime Video is now available on tvOS
  • The feature was first spotted on the iOS App Store
  • The app’s arrival is in the midst of a spat between Amazon and Google

Amazon Prime Video on Apple TV is a finally a thing. In a world of walled gardens, it’s the customers who suffer from a lack of choices. And today, they’re set to get more options for their video consumption desires. To recall, back at WWDC 2017, Apple had announced that Amazon Prime Video will be coming to Apple TV as well as the TV app. The deal was also presumed to mean that Amazonwould resume stocking the Apple TV set-top box on its online marketplace. The former has come to pass on Wednesday, but the latter has yet to happen.

First spotted on the iOS App Store, the Amazon Prime Video app for iOS had received an update on Wednesday that brought it to version 5.0. The changelog clearly mentions that users will now be able to watch Amazon Prime Video on their Apple TV directly, if they download the separate tvOS app – meant for Apple TV 3rd Generation and later set-top boxes. Now, a few hours later, the Amazon Prime Video app for tvOS has gone live on the dedicated tvOS App Store, with users across the world reporting seeing the app. Neither Amazon or Apple have yet to make an official statement about the launch. v5.0 of the Amazon Prime Video app on iOS also brings Universal Search support for iOS search, and iPhone X support.

amazon prime video itunes amazon

Amazon Prime Video app on iOS App Store earlier in the day, with changelog clearly mentioning support

The arrival of Amazon Prime Video on Apple TV comes on the heels of a continued spat between Amazon and Google. Just this week, the latest blow was dealt by Google – the search giant announced it would block the YouTube app on Amazon’s Echo Show and Fire TV devices. As we mentioned, Amazon hasn’t listed the Apple TV (or Google’s Chromecast dongles) on its online marketplace since 2015. Amazon had explained the move by saying it wanted to avoid confusing customers who might expect its Prime Video service to be available on devices sold by Amazon. However, Google clearly mentions this treatment as its reason for pulling YouTube support.

In a statement, Google said, “Amazon doesn’t carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn’t make (its) Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of (our sister company) Nest’s latest products.

“Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV,” Google said. “We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.”

Amazon reacted to Google’s statement with its own, “Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website.”

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Samsung Q8C 55-Inch 4K HDR QLED TV 2017 Review

Samsung Q8C 55-Inch 4K HDR QLED TV 2017 Review

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Samsung Q8C 55-inch QLED TV is priced Rs. 3,44,900
  • It has a curved display, and supports HDR 10
  • Runs on Samsung’s Tizen OS, has support for most streaming services

Samsung first showed off its range of QLED TVs at CES this year, and there was a lot to be excited about. The 4K HDR image quality of the Samsung panels on the show floor was spectacular, with dynamic brightness levels that seemed to match what OLED TVs can achieve, but at substantially more affordable prices.

The Q8C family, in particular, is in the middle of Samsung’s new QLED TV range, and you have a choice of 55-inch, 65-inch, and 75-inch models. The Q9F models are the flagships, and the Q7 models are more entry-level. The C in the name indicates a curved panel. We have the 55-inch Q8C model with us for review, and there’s a lot more than just its curve going for it. In fact, this is one of the most interesting TVs in the market today. Here’s our review.

Samsung 2017 QLED TV design and features

Let’s start with the curved panel since that itself is a deciding factor for a lot of buyers. The curvature on the Samsung Q8C is not as prominent as it was on models a few years ago, so viewing angles have increased greatly. The sweet spot is much wider and that makes a big difference when you have your family or friends seated at up to 45 degrees off-centre. It’s also worth mentioning that due to the enveloping effect that the curved screen creates, this TV immediately felt bigger than a flat, 55-inch model placed right alongside it. There is still an issue if you’re watching TV from way off-centre, so if you really care about the experience, you’ll definitely need to position this TV carefully. If you know that people will be watching TV sitting near the far edges or corners of your room, a curved TV such as the Q8C might not be the best choice on your wishlist.

With that out of the way, the TV itself is super-slim and near edgeless. The screen measures 54.6 inches diagonally. There are front-firing 4.2 channel speakers; the .2 referring to two downward-firing subwoofers, all housed in the body of the TV itself. The back has a silver brushed-metal finish and an extremely clean design since all ports and sockets are in a separate unit called the One Connect box which is bundled with the TV.

Samsung q8c qled tv 02 Samsung Q8C 55-Inch 4K HDR QLED TV Review

The stand itself is curved with a wide angle to match the panel’s curvature. The back of the stand conceals the two cables that attach inside of it – the Power cable, and the thin cable that connects to the One Connect Box. Samsung has a specialised wall mount made for this panel that leaves no gap between the rear-centre of the TV and the wall, giving it a true wall-art kind of look. There’s no denying that this panel was designed to look good in your room, and it does that job well. Especially by cutting out the clutter of cables that attach to most other TV panels.

As stated before this is a 4K UHD panel with a resolution of 3840×2160, and it offers HDR support. It has a really impressive level of brightness at 1500 nits, but this tends to make colours pop a bit too much by default. Just for a rough comparison, most other TVs in this range have a much lower brightness level, usually between 600 and 1000 nits. Since it uses quantum dot technology – which is the ‘Q’ in QLED, the panel is edge-lit – unlike OLEDs (Organic LEDs), in which each LED is its own light source. The difference here is that while OLEDs are capable of incredibly deep black levels, QLED has an advantage in bright spots.

Samsung has been using Tizen for its Smart TV interface for a while now, and it seems to have gotten to a good level of refinement here. Though still not as spiffy as Android TV, it does give you a very neat interface, intelligently remembering where you left off when you put the TV in standby. The downside to this is that at one point an app became unresponsive and we had to turn the Q8C off and then on again from the main power to exit. Apps like Amazon Prime, Box TV, YouTube and Netflix came pre-installed on the TV, and a host of other apps and games are available in the TV’s app store – no Hotstar though.

Samsung 2017 QLED TV remote control

The separate One Connect box helps cut the clutter, as all connectivity is routed through it. This includes four HDMI ports, a DisplayPort, Ethernet, three USB 2.0 ports with one supporting 1A power output for hard drives, S/PDIF optical out, and an antenna-in. Besides these the TV also supports Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi-Direct, and Bluetooth. The cable that connects the One Connect box to the TV is around 15 feet long, which is enough for it to be placed at quite a distance from the panel.

Samsung q8c qled tv 05 Samsung Q8C 55-Inch 4K HDR QLED TV Review

If you’d rather have all your source devices and remotes in another part of the room, this unit will make that possible. The One Connect box needs its own power source, which is not really a negative, but something you need to make note of when designing your space. The remote control works over Bluetooth so there’s no need to have a direct line of sight between you and the box.

Speaking of the remote, it’s a bit minimalistic, but it does aim to take over as a universal remote. Most popular Blu-Ray players, soundbars, and other devices are detected automatically and can work directly with this remote. It also has a button for speech input, but that wasn’t very useful in our experience. It misheard almost every phrase we tried, which meant we had to resort to typing manually.

There’s a Samsung Smart View app that’s available on both Android and iOS, which shows your content library and the remote interface right on your phone’s screen. It gives you a touchpad interface that can be used for the cursor in the Web browser and lets you type URLs into the address bar. However, the app doesn’t extend its keyboard support when typing on the TV’s apps, which is where it would have made the most sense. The Smart View app does offer you shortcuts to the content. There was also quite an input lag when we tried that out.

Samsung q8c qled tv 06 Samsung Q8C 55-Inch 4K HDR QLED TV Review

Samsung 2017 QLED TV performance (full-HD, SDR)

We start with full-HD resolution media since that’s what you’ll mostly be spending most of your time watching, considering that 4K media is still pretty rare. As with all UHD TVs, the Samsung Q8C does a pretty good job of upscaling full-HD media, as long as the source is good.

Starting with Blu-Ray discs, the upscaling is quite impressive. Details translate well and the panel does a great job of sharpening edges to the point that you could fool someone into thinking that you’re playing media at its native resolution. The lack of heavy compression on Blu-Ray media serves this TV well, to the point that you wouldn’t feel any need to upgrade your current collection to UHD Blu-Rays. The satellite TV stream we tested ran at 1080i and also looked pretty good on the screen apart from a few noticeable jaggies every now and then. 4K set top boxes are available from Videocon and Airtel in India, which might help you get better picture quality.

Samsung q8c qled tv 10 Samsung Q8C 55-Inch 4K HDR QLED TV Review

Netflix and Amazon Prime had similar issues when it came to non-4K media, with the edges appearing a bit soft and some minor dithering in sections with fine details. It’s a minor thing, but there are some noticeable effects of the upscaling if you have the eye to spot them.

The TV’s HDR+ mode forces tone mapping to identify bright and dark areas and adjust them accordingly, but is pretty aggressive. Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) content looked unnaturally warm, and we had to change the colour tone in this mode from Warm 2 to Standard. There was also a bit of banding in some colour gradients when watching streaming media, which we didn’t notice with Blu-Rays. This could be a result of the compression used for streaming, considering how forced HDR works, the flaws are more easily visible. Also, the HDR+ mode does seem to favour reds over other colours, so you might see a little more intensity there.

In Standard mode, you get pretty good image quality, with no exaggerated bloom in brighter areas and dark areas not pushed to match the scene tone. What mode you set your TV to is completely up to your preferences, but we can say that the Q8C does a pretty good job of upscaling lower-resolution content and forcing HDR+ (after a bit of manual tweaking).

Samsung 2017 QLED TV performance (4K, HDR)

The Q8C really shines with native 4K HDR content. Though we understand that true, uncompressed 4K UHD media is not easy to find (not even on a lot of UHD Blu-Rays), the TV does an amazing job with whatever you can throw at it. Native UHD media works brilliantly with a highly noticeable boost in image clarity which you won’t get from HD media. In movies, the effect is a bit more subtle because of the cinematic film grain added to the media, but if you’re watching a TV show or an animated film, the details are as good as they can get.

Streaming video from Netflix (4K) and Amazon Prime didn’t show that much of a substantial improvement, and won’t make for a compelling argument to jump to 4K. The panel does add an additional layer of clarity and the experience is definitely a step up from watching 1080p streams on a 4K TV, but if you’re thinking of upgrading just to watch streaming media in 4K, this is not the time to make that jump.

This Samsung 2017 QLED TV handled HDR really well. We instantly noticed a much higher depth in the overall colour reproduction, with contrasts reduced to show more details instead. This was especially evident in the games we tested on the TV using a PlayStation 4 Pro, which supports HDR 10 output. The most noticeable change was in Injustice 2 – a DC superhero fighting game with over-the-top visuals and bright colours. Lighting was managed extremely well, and bright spots showed a lot more depth in their colour gradients instead of just burning to a bright white. Characters like Firestorm had more realistic-looking flames with details that were just not seen when using SDR.

Samsung q8c qled tv 08 Samsung Q8C 55-Inch 4K HDR QLED TV Review

The other game we tried was Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s already one of the best-looking games of our generation, and HDR pushed it a step further. With HDR we instantly noticed an even glow to the landscape, which earlier had sharp contrasts. Though subtle, due to the realistic design of the game, the change was still quite evident.

It’s worth noting that the option to turn HDR on for external sources is buried in the System menu of the TV instead of the Picture menu, like in Samsung’s 2016 TVs. This is an odd change that took us a while to figure out.

Samsung 2017 QLED TV audio performance

The Samsung Q8C produces a full sound with good highs, excellent mids and effective lows. The bass is not too boomy, but it is punchy enough to create an impact. The faux-surround effect does fill up a room pretty well and works well for movies and gaming alike. Of course, we were testing it in a 15×20 feet room, so if you’re using the TV in a bigger space, we would definitely recommend a soundbar at least, if not a full surround-sound system to truly enjoy your media with.

Samsung q8c qled tv 03 Samsung Q8C 55-Inch 4K HDR QLED TV Review

Verdict

Samsung has been pushing the envelope for curved displays for a while now, and now it’s reached a point where we do see the appeal in them. The performance of the Q8C is quite brilliant when it comes to handling colours and filling up a room with its impressive brightness. The upscaling works well, so your HD movie collection will still be relevant. Gaming at 4K with HDR in supported titles is amazing as well.

This TV isn’t perfect. Navigation and the Tizen Store still need a bit of work, and so does the smartphone app. The voice input feature was a complete miss for us. However, those are little things to complain about for a TV that can give OLEDs a run for their money without the massive prices they command.

Price (MRP): Rs. 3,44,900

Pros

  • High brightness and excellent colours
  • Great HDR performance
  • Excellent upscaling of Blu-Rays and Games
  • Good horizontal viewing angles for a Curved Display
  • Good audio performance

Cons

  • Hotstar is missing from the Tizen Store
  • Favours reds in HDR+ Mode
  • Unsatisfactory voice recognition

Ratings (Out of 5)

Design: 4.5
Performance: 4
Value for money: 4.5
Overall: 4

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Google’s cord cutter app YouTube TV reaches 2 million downloads

Approximately 2 million people have installed the YouTube TV app, Google’s live TV service aimed at a younger generation of cord cutters, as well as those who never signed up for traditional pay TV in the first place. That download figure comes from app store analytics firms Sensor Tower and App Annie, which both also noted that installs are evenly split between iOS and Android devices.

Of course, 2 million downloads doesn’t necessarily translate into subscribers — many users may have simply installed the app out of curiosity; others could be on free trials that never convert to paid subscriptions.

Still, it’s a number that should give YouTube TV competitors — in particular, telco rivals — pause. YouTube TV is the youngest arrival in the over-the-top live TV space, and it’s growing rapidly.

Sensor Tower said that YouTube TV added about 700,000 new installs of its app since its announcement last week that it was entering several new U.S. markets, tripling its footprint.

Yes, that’s right — YouTube TV has 2 million installs and isn’t even available across all of the U.S. at this point.

That’s a promising start for a newcomer in this race, even if many of those are still trial customers.

That’s not to say YouTube TV is without serious competition.

This April, YouTube TV entered a crowded market, where numerous services compete to deliver live TV to consumers over the internet. Before YouTube TV arrived, Dish’s Sling TV, Sony’s PlayStation Vue and AT&T’s DirecTV Now were battling for cord cutters’ attention. Following the launch of YouTube TV, Hulu rolled out its own Live TV service. And this week, Comcast said its Xfinity Instant TV service could hit the U.S. before the end of the year.

The live TV rivals

Dish’s Sling TV live TV service has been around the longest, allowing it to move quickly into new areas — as it recently did with pay-per-view. Its service has more than 2 million subscribers, according to comScore’s latest report, released last month.

AT&T, meanwhile, can push DirecTV Now on its wireless customers by offering deals, and Sony can market Vue to its millions of PlayStation users. But Vue and DirecTV Now combined only have 1.1 million subscribers, says comScore. (Separately, AT&T announced this week DirecTV Now was nearing half a million subscribers.)

Then there’s Hulu, whose brand is well-known to consumers who think of it as a place to watch the broadcast and cable TV shows Netflix doesn’t offer. Hulu can upsell live TV to its existing customers. While the company doesn’t release subscriber figures, it said in May it had 47 million total unique viewers. (comScore didn’t release numbers for Hulu, YouTube TV or FuboTV.)

YouTube TV’s advantages

For the telcos, in particular, the streaming market is a tough business. As AT&T and Dish’s earnings have revealed, these newer internet TV services aren’t able to onboard customers fast enough to offset the losses from those dropping residential pay TV subscriptions.

For instance, AT&T in its most recent quarter lost a record number of traditional TV subscribers, and while DirecTV Now “helped” offset those losses, it couldn’t close the gap.

But for YouTube, there’s no legacy TV biz to shore up. It can move into the space freely, without worrying much about the slim margins of its low-cost $35 per month subscription offering. And its margins could be very slim, indeed. One analyst had estimated that $29 per month of affiliate fees would eat up the $35 subscription, before regional sports networks came in, adding $4 to $5 more.

Or, in other words, YouTube TV would be an ad-supported business.

Good thing for YouTube, then, that its user base grew up watching ads alongside their videos.

Though an optional YouTube Red subscription can remove those ads across regular YouTube, the mere existence of ads on YouTube TV — (and they’re everywhere — live, on-demand, DVR, etc.) — won’t necessarily be a deal breaker for the live TV service’s subscribers.

YouTube also has the benefit of selling TV to an existing and massive user base. The company announced in June it had grown to 1.5 billion logged-in monthly viewers. (YouTube doesn’t break out its U.S. monthly viewer numbers, but eMarketer says 185.9 million.)

Plus, YouTube TV has original content of its own, catering to its young viewers. Its 37 original programs, which are included with both YouTube TV and the ad-free paid subscription, YouTube Red, have now generated nearly 250 million views.

Also worth noting, YouTube itself appeals to the next generation of “TV” viewers — the kids who know their favorite YouTube stars better than they do Hollywood A-listers.

YouTube doesn’t have to convince these kids to cut the cord in favor of YouTube — they never planned to buy the cord in the first place.

Sensor Tower’s figures for YouTube TV — 2 million downloads, 50/50 split — were also confirmed by App Annie, which added that if time spent in the YouTube Kids app is any indication, then YouTube TV should do well among streaming apps for user engagement. YouTube TV may be in its infancy, but its download levels show significant traction, App Annie said.

YouTube Kids launched in 2015 and now ranks No. 7 by total time spent among Entertainment apps, as of June 2017 on Android phones in the U.S., behind giants like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.

Meanwhile, YouTube itself is No. 3 out of overall apps for time spent on Android phones in the U.S. — or nearly 17 times the average total time spent of the next three highest ranking video streaming apps, said App Annie.

Reached for comment, YouTube declined to confirm the new download numbers.

[“Source-techcrunch”]

TV Review: ‘Claws’

TV Review: 'Claws,' Starring Niecy Nash

Niecy Nash and Carrie Preston star in this shaggy, fun TNT drama following crooked manicurists in the distinctly trashy landscape of Manatee County, Fla.

Aesthetically, “Claws” is magnificent. In the nail salon where much of the action takes place, the show’s palette pops with teal and pink and coral. The manicurists create bright, patterned and often bejeweled confections for their clients’ nails — and they dress themselves following the same philosophy. Everything is eye-catching and attention-grabbing, form-fitting and asset-enhancing. The looks are finished off with ambitious shoes, statement purses, fluorescent lipstick, and chunky jewelry. “Claws” is a show about manicurists dabbling in mild-to-moderate mob activity on the Gulf Coast of Florida. So the polyester jumpsuits and gilded sunglasses see some unconventional use. Early in the second episode, a character tries to drag a bloody corpse from one place to another in Lucite platform heels. In the pilot, one character gets roughed up by getting her face slammed into a rack of candy-colored nailpolishes.

“Claws” is a story about petty criminals, but it stands out because it portrays a culture that most television uses only as a cipher. A character in a network drama who walked in with inch-long acrylics and knee-high lace-up boots would likely be treated in a very specific way. Reality television similarly leans heavily on these style signifiers when creating narrative arcs for its “characters.” In “Claws,” the style is not shorthand for something else, it is the story. The characters are engaged in the art of crafting and distributing an element of that style: They own it. And because they are so proud of and attuned to their own aesthetic, they are practically strutting in their own reality show.

Like “Orange Is the New Black,” “Claws” is impressive primarily for how genuinely it engages with a disenfranchised underclass (without making it feel as boring or academic as that sounds). Desna (Niecy Nash), who owns the salon, has ambitions to get out of this hand-to-mouth life. Ex-con Polly (Carrie Preston) has an ankle bracelet monitoring her movements and likes to invent stories about why she went to prison. Quiet Ann (Judy Reyes) is a butch lesbian with messy cornrows and a man’s swagger, guarding the front door with a baseball bat. And Jen (Jenn Lyon) is an ex-addict and mother of two girls from two previous ex-boyfriends. On the outside of their crew, but desperate to get in, is pretty young thing Virginia (Karrueche Tran). There’s a bit of “Steel Magnolias”-esque small-town closeness in the crew’s tight-knit dynamic and beauty parlor gossip. But perhaps because of the emptiness of exurban Florida, there’s a desperation keeping them all together, too: Without each other and the life preserver of the salon, it would be so easy to drown.

The manicurists are almost all ex-strippers or sex workers, now hustling for tips in their 40s. They’re in the thrall of the petty crime lord that owns the strip club and launder money for the oxycodone clinic at the other end of the strip mall. They seem to have ended up in Manatee County, Fla., because no one else would take them. But even here, they’re treated like the underclass. There’s a subtle violence in the way their boyfriends, bosses, and husbands talk to them — in the way clients and patrons shrug off their protestations. The premiere shows us Desna’s long-simmering frustration at being sidelined by the men who rely on her and then shut her out of success. It’s not long before she acts on her anger, but of course, that has a long tail of consequences.

The characters of “Claws” inhabit that paradox of space outside both leftist intellectualism and conservative “family values” — they’re not self-consciously political in their language, but are mostly by necessity in one of the most vibrantly diverse communities in America. It creates interesting, unconventional storytelling scenarios. Virginia is repeatedly subject to a racist barrage of language about her Asian features, mostly from Desna — only to find Desna the only person willing to help her following a crisis. Other moments offer glimpses of this life: Jen’s two children appear to be completely different races, despite their shared mom; Ann’s specialty is getting “straight” women to hook up with her; and the “Dixie Mafia” is headed by strip-club owner Uncle Daddy (Dean Norris), who is both very bisexual and very Catholic.

As a vehicle for exploring this world, “Claws” is fascinating. As a storytelling machine, it’s a little less so. The primary story driver is that Desna is trying to invest in a new nail salon in a different neighborhood. But there’s so much thrown in the way — mobsters of various stripes, a quack with marital problems, Desna’s autistic brother Dean (Harold Perrineau), and the actual art and craft of manicures — that frequently it feels like “Claws” is over-embellishing its own fingertips. And though “Claws” admirably avoids judging this world, it still struggles with tone. The drama can’t quite decide how funny, smart, or pathetic it wants to be, and that can make for a jarring viewing experience. Desna’s relationship with wannabe mobster Roller (Jack Kesy) is where this problem is at its most pronounced. (This may be entirely because Roller is an amorous lover with a grill (the teeth kind), a grill (the barbecue kind), and penchant for manscaping. It’s hard to know how to feel about anything he does.)

There is something uniquely and pervasively raw about Floridian life — whether that is the alarming number of strip clubs per capita, the unrelentingly hot sun, or the population’s odd obsession with alligators. “Claws” gloms onto the landscape with surprising ease, riffing on Florida’s self-conscious trashiness (“WE SELL BIG SHRIMPS,” reads a sign outside the salon) and its gloriously unlikely cultural mashups. For its unique details alone, it’s thrilling. Jen ends up square dancing on a weekday morning at the “Messianic Jewish Cafeteria and Internet Center.” We’re deep in the slew of content that comprises Peak TV — but that’s not a moment you’ll find on any other show.

[“Source-ndtv”]