tablet computer Archive

Intel Skylake gives you a break for cheaper computers

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook

Make hay while the sun shines when you purchase your next laptop now

Intel has just premiered their new Skylake desktop and mobile CPU range which is leading to increased performance even for battery-operated devices. It also has led to newer connectivity options like USB 3.1 Type-C and Intel Thunderbolt connections to improve how you connect these computers to external devices. As well, most of these computers will come pre-delivered with Windows 10 as their operating system.

This is leading to computer manufacturers refreshing their computer lineups with equipment based on these new technologies and their will be an impetus on the manufacturers, distributors and retailers to clear out just-superseded equipment based on prior technologies. For example in Australia, JB Hi-FI is offering 15% off the ticketed price for most of the laptops on sale at most of their stores

If you are considering a computer purchase whether to upgrade existing equipment, or as an additional unit like a travel laptop or a secondary computer used in the kitchen, it may be a good time to check the specials out. For some of you, it may be a chance to move off the iPad as your only computing device and move towards a “grown up” computer system.

But here are some points worth considering:

  • If you are buying Windows-based equipment, the computer may come pre-delivered with Windows 8.1 but you can upgrade this operating system to Windows 10 for free. This is another saving for you when you want to be sure you are running the latest operating system for your Windows-based computer.
  • If you are upgrading your main computer, make sure you buy the system with as much RAM and storage as you can afford. As well, look for discrete graphics and powerful processors if you are using it frequently for graphics, games and multimedia.
  • You may get by with the Intel Atom, Celeron or Pentium processors and 2Gb RAM for your secondary laptop that is primarily for Web browsing, email and word-processing. These will probably limit you to up to 2 or 3 windows or browser tabs open at at time. The Core M, i3 and i5 processors and 4Gb RAM may allow you to be a bit more productive with these machines.
  • Solid-state may be the way to go for your ultraportable but you could eek out more storage through the use of a USB 3.0 external hard disk which you could bargain in to the purchase. This drive can earn its keep with large photo or video collections that you may be downloading from your camera or camcorder.
  • You may also be in a position to use the savings to purchase a newer printer or home-network equipment which you could also bargain in to the deal.

If you express doubts about a purchase, please don’t hesitate to contact me using the Contact Form on this site.

Send to Kindle

Tablets facing attack from different points


The future of the tablet is the PC | CNET

My Comments

Acer Iconia Tab A500 tablet computer

The 10″ tablet faces stiff competition nowadays

The 8”-10” tablet like the Apple iPad and its peers is facing competition from many different angles.

Firstly, it is considered a venerable portable computing device class that suits most reading tasks including Web browsing, social-network interaction, email management and the like along with casual gaming, video viewing and the like. In a lot of situations, there isn’t much need to upgrade to newer models, except if the idea is to purchase a newer model so someone else can use the existing tablet. This is very similar to the colour television set that was based on solid-state electronics where this device was brought to a point where it can serve most people’s needs effectively and reliably for a long time and manufacturers worked on ways to improve the higher end of the market.

Sports scoreboard app

The phablet-style smartphone becomes the norm – fits in your hand easily

This device is facing competition from the 5”-6” smartphone or “phablet” phone with these phones becoming the norm for a highly-portable reading device. They are displacing highly-compact smartphones like the original iPhones along with the 7” “coat-pocket” tablets like the iPad Mini. This is because their size is very similar to a pocket calculator of the high-end scientific or financial type which had a large surface area with plenty of buttons for direct access to the formulae and functions that mattered.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro convertible notebook at Phamish St Kilda

The 2-in-one like this Lenovo Yoga Pro family offers competition to the tablet

Another device that is causing competition to these tablets is the so-called “2-in-1” which becomes either a laptop computer or a tablet depending on how you fold over the keyboard or whether you attach a detachable keyboard. The 11” variants like the Microsoft Surface family offer a size that suits tablet use but may be too small for intense document-creation activity whereas the 13” variants may be too large to work as a personal tablet but earn their keep for creating documents. This is although some tablet users are using Bluetooth or USB keyboards including the tablet cases that come with integral keyboards with their tablets to speed up text entry.

There have been the doubters who thought these devices would flounder during the early years of mobile computing. One of these was Apple’s Tim Cook who described the 2-in-1s as crossbreeding a fridge and toaster in 2012 and another was the Dell Streak which was one of the first 5” phablets that was panned by consumers and critics in 2010. These were made at the time when the market wasn’t really ready for these classes of devices and was grappling with the platform smartphones and tablets.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10" tablet - Press Photo courtesy of Samsung

The AMOLED-equipped Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablets fit for previewing digital images

Apple and Samsung are looking at exploring other market niches for their mobile-platform tablets while keeping venerable product categories alive. One area they are working on is to launch mobile-platform tablets that have a screen size of 13” or above. This may be seen as a way to snap at the heels of the 13” 2-in-1 of the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro ilk or the regular laptop computer where these computers are based on Windows or MacOS X which are “regular-computer” operating systems rather than mobile operating systems.

Other market niches worth exploring would include use in the business context including high-durability tablets for those doing construction / outdoors work. Similarly,tablets can be purposed to particular user groups like those of us who work in the graphics arts or those who enjoy advanced gaming. An example of this could be the Samsung Galaxy Tab S family with the AMOLED displays that excel on contrast making them fit for previewing photographs.

Send to Kindle

Product Review–Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Android tablet


I am reviewing the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Android tablet which is styled on the same look as Lenovo’s Yoga lineup of “fold-over” convertible laptops. This 10” tablet is pitched more as a something that would appeal to home users and businesses who want something that can answer the Apple iPad.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 tablet

– reviewed configuration
Screen 10” (1920×1200) LED-backlit LCD
User Memory 16Gb Micro SD card
Operating environment Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (reviewed version)
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n dual-band
Wireless Broadband Optional or standard
Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready
Audio 3.5mm stereo jack

The unit itself

Aesthetics and build quality

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 standing up

How it looks standing up

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 tablet is an example of a tablet that has strong build quality with metal housing. As well, the Lenovo doesn’t exhibit any problems with overheating even if you are watching video content.

The integrated kickstand works properly and smoothly allowing it to be free-standing and could support applications like an electronic display frame. As well, the Yoga Tablet 2’s “hinge-pin” which is part of the kickstand is used effectively for the audio jack and for the on-off button.


Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 tablet

Sharp display

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 comes across with a bright sharp display that is very responsive but it is very glossy which is something common with a lot of consumer tablets. It has performed well for video material and also for games.


The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 implements Dolby audio tuning in conjunction with the two inbuilt speakers that are positioned far apart thus allowing for improved stereo separation when you are watching video material. But, like with a lot of tablets, they come across with sound that has very little bass response.

Connectivity and Expandability

Hinge pin detail on the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2

The headphone jack is positioned in the centre of the hinge pin

The only data port that the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 has is the microUSB charge / data port like what is expected on most Android phones. Here, this one also supports USB On-The-Go connectivity which provides for extra storage connectivity with USB flash-drives and memory-card adaptors at least. The omission here would be that it doesn’t support connectivity to external displays via MHL technology.

As for storage beyond the 16Gb flash memory, there is the ability to install a microSD card in a cavity behind the kickstand for this extra storage. There is also a 3.5mm stereo headset jack in the “hinge pin” so you can connect your headphones to the Yoga Tablet 2.

As for wireless networking, the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 works to 802.11n dual-band Wi-Fi networking along with Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready connectivity.


A friend of mine has a soft spot for Plants vs Zombies 2  on the iOS platform, so I downloaded the Android port of this game and gave him a chance to play a few rounds of this game on the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2. Here, his experience with device performance was very similar to what he experienced on an iPad 3 Retina which he was regularly playing the game on. There was still the same level of responsiveness that was required for that game.

As for video play, the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 worked properly for YouTube playback and wasn’t draining the batteries even after a three-hour Microsoft video presentation about WIndows 10.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

Lenovo could offer an increased number of model variations of its Yoga Tablet 2. This could be in the form of a model that has increased storage capacity, a high-performance “gamer-grade” model that suits the new wave of mobile gaming along with one or more models that are equipped with integrated wireless broadband. This means that people can choose the model that suits their needs rather than being stuck with one model.

As well, to be considered up-to-date, Lenovo could implement 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless technology and deliver the Yoga Tablet 2 with Android 5 Lollipop.


Android-based lifestyle tablet

I would position the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 as a viable Android-based alternative to the iPad, especially if you want something that can be freestanding especially for showing pictures or engaging in videocalls. Here, I would best describe it as an Android-based lifestyle tablet.

Send to Kindle

At last Australian small business buying new IT equipment benefits from a tax break

Articles Small businesses - Belgrave shopping strip

Fringe Benefits Tax on all portable devices used for work abolished | SmartCompany

Federal budget 2015: Fringe benefits tax abolished on tablets, laptops and mobile phones | Australian Financial Review

From the horse’s mouth

The Hon. Joe Hockey MP, Treasurer Of The Commonwealth Of Australia

Growing Jobs and Small Business Package Press Release

Relevant Material

Small Business Technology page

Buyers’ Guides

Product Reviews: Laptop, Notebook And Netbook Computers

My Comments

Lenovo Thinkpad G50-70 Laptop

A 15″ work-home laptop that is now eligible to be paired with a..

As part of Australian tax law since the late 1980s, companies were required to pay a fringe-benefits tax on non-cash supplementary benefits they gave to their employees. The same situation also ensnared sole-traders who chose to run their businesses as a company and buy capital equipment like vehicles or computers in the company’s name but use it for business and personal / community purposes.

This has caused various tax-compliance quagmires for all businesses but there has been some special treatment for small businesses in relationship to them buying portable computer equipment. Previously, it was seen under fringe-benefits-tax law that if a company gave an employee two computers like a “work-home” laptop and a tablet computer or ultraportable, they could only see one of these devices as FBT-exempt because they did the same function.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro convertible notebook at Phamish St Kilda

.. tablet computer, “2-in-1” or other ultraportable without FBT risks for small buisness

Now, as part of the 2015 Federal Budget, the Australian Government have installed a tax break for small businesses with an annual turnover of under AUD$2 million by making the supply of all work-related portable electronic device not subject to FBT. This measure, which applies from April 1 2016, would allow for the supply of a regular 15”-17” laptop as a “work-home” computer along with a tablet, “2-in-1” or ultraportable, and a smartphone to an employee and the technology can be used for personal use without dealing with any further red tape.

This, along with a tax deduction for newly-purchased individual assets less than AUD$20,000, has been part of a series of measures that Treasurer Joe Hockey, who has had small-business experience through his family life, that make things easier for start-ups and small businesses.

Send to Kindle

Samsung releases an Android tablet for business and trades

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 8" business tablet press picture courtesy of Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 8″ business tablet


First business-specific Samsung Galaxy tablet goes on sale | PC World

Samsung launches the Galaxy Tab Active for business and enterprise | AusDroid

Samsung means business with new tablet for work | Geelong Advertiser

From the horse’s mouth


Galaxy Tab Active (Product Page)

My Comments

Samsung have released an Android tablet that has for the first time been pitched at business users including tradesmen. This tablet, known as the Galaxy Tab Active has been designed from knowledge Samsung gleaned from their interaction with the US’s Fortune-500 companies about the kind of tablets they require.

Personally, I see this as a small-form 8” tablet that could answer Apple’s iPad as a workplace tablet that is based on a mobile operating system. It is designed to IP67 rugged-use specifications which would make it even useful for outdoor work including as a workhorse for tradespeople who are effectively working out of the back of their vans.

The Android 4.4 KitKat tablet is security-hardened courtesy of Samsung’s KNOX security platform for business Android devices. It can link to an 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi network and mobile-broadband variants can work with the 4G LTE mobile-broadband services. It has 16Gb memory on board and the ability to work with “infinitely swappable” microSD cards like most other Android devices.

Of course the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active is pitched for business users and may not be easily available through the big-box consumer-technology stores, but would be available through some carrier outlets and business-technology specialists including independent computer / technology stores. The durability aspect could also appeal to those of us who want an Android tablet that “bridges” between the smaller coat-pocket personal tablets and the 10” tablets of the iPad ilk.

There is also the billion-dollar question about whether Android 5.1 Lollipop will be offered to this tablet rather than it being stuck with the Android 4.4 Kitkat software.

Personally I would like to see Samsung offer a 10” variant of this model to the business community for applications where such a screen size can play in handy. As well, if a unit has done its business tour of duty, it could earn its keep as a cost-effective alternative to equipment like the iPad.

Send to Kindle

HP joins with Bang & Olufsen for optimised notebook sound


HP taps Bang & Olufsen for audio tech now that Apple has Beats | Engadget

HP Partnership With Apple’s Beats Officially Ends as HP Moves on to Bang & Olufsen | MacRumors

From the horse’s mouth

Bang & Olufsen

Press Release


Press Release

My Comments

B&O will start to appear in HP computers very soon

B&O will start to appear in HP computers very soon

Over the last many years, most of the Windows-based laptop manufacturers have been working with companies in the sound-recording and sound-reproduction space to improve the way these computers have sounded. This is whether through the integrated speakers or when they are connected to external speakers or headphones and was seen as a way to compete with Apple for music recording and reproduction.

The knowhow associated with this sound system will affect how the next HP laptop is designed

The knowhow associated with this sound system will affect how the next HP laptop is designed

As I have seen with the Hewlett-Packard laptops that I have reviewed, HP had partnered with Beats by Dr Dre, known for headphones and speakers with a very impressive bass response, to improve the sound from their laptops. But lately Apple bought out Beats and HP realised they couldn’t continue this partnership.

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Bang & Olufsen has been well known for some very impressive hi-fi and video equipment, speakers, and audio accessories that are works of art in themselves for a long time.  For example, I had cited their single-piece music systems such as the Beocenter 7000 series, the Beocenter 9000 series and Beosound 9000 CD changer as being above their peers for sound quality even in their days.

They also have designed the ICEPower power-amplification modules to allow sound to be amplified by a compact device that is efficient with power and heat. Of course, B&O has related to a wide range of music from the classics through jazz and classic rock to current popular music and made their brand have that same kind of appeal as the Jaguar or Range Rover cars. This is where a premium brand like these isn’t just about being a status symbol, but is about enjoying the legendary expertise that the brand is all about.

But they have dabbled with sound tuning for ASUS, initially on a project basis but had applied the technology to a larger range of laptops under this brand.

So B&O have decided to pick up the mantle and offer the sound-tuning expertise to HP. This will also be about sharing the design expertise that is associated with how the Beomaster 1900 or Beosound Ouverture were designed. This includes preventing audio-noise sources like the power supply or other control circuitry from adding noise to the signal path.

Let’s not forget the way they have designed their speakers, headphones and similar equipment where they use a special cubic room for measuring the acoustic characteristics for the device they are designing. Here, this could lead towards being able to answer the question about how a laptop or tablet’s integrated sound system can be improved upon, making for a product that is more listenable.

The “Bang & Olufsen” brand will appear on the premium HP computers such as the Envy, Omen and Spectre lineups while the B&O Play lifestyle-focused brand will appear on the Pavilion computers, the tablets and accessories. Here, the B&O influence will affect HP computers that are being released through this year onwards.

I would see this partnership celebrate the expertise that both HP and B&O are about when it comes to their proficiencies rather than the bragging rights that is associated with a particular brand. Could that newer HP Envy or Omen complement that Beocenter?

Send to Kindle

Consumer Electronics Show 2015–Part 1–Personal Computing

No sooner than the Christmas shopping season is upon us that the hype machine for the Consumer Electronics Show starts to warm up. This is where the Internet is awash with rumours about what hot gadgets will be shown in Las Vegas during the first week of January.

This year, it is becoming the place to even show household appliances in a similar vein to what is happening in Europe when the Internationaler Funkaustellung takes place in Berlin during the first week of September. But certain technologies are being considered key drivers at this show such as more of 4K UHDTV including more content for this ultra-high-resolution technology, the Internet Of Everything being more pervasive with an increase in the number of gadgets that link to the Internet or our smartphones, along with highly-converged personal computing.

A key issue that will be worth remembering  through this year’s Consumer Electronics Show is how Sony has come out of its recent massive cyber-attack that nearly crippled Sony Pictures. The President of Sony Corporation, as part of the press conference, ran a speech about not caving in to that attack especially where it concerned “The Interview”. He was underscoring the key factors of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of association as being very important lifebloods and lifelines of Sony and their entertainment business. For me, it was very much like Winston Churchill’s “We Shall Fight On The Beaches” battle speech given to the UK Parliament on June 4 1940 during World War II with these memorable lines:

“…. we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…..

Personal Computing

It is hard to split apart the different classes of personal computing devices what with the “2-in-1” convertibles and detachables becoming a major part of manufacturers’ lineups while smaller tablets have the computing abilities of even low-end laptops. Some of these even run Windows or Android or even can boot between both operating systems. This is why I have classed them together as one heading because of the way the CES hype machine was coming up with these machines.

As well, it is coming to the point where a household will have multiple computer devices at different screen sizes and for different uses. For example a “2-in-1” convertible or detachable computer could serve as one’s highly-portable auxiliary computer whereas a 7”-8” tablet could become a personal reference device or a smartphone becomes your main communications device.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon press image - courtesy of Lenovo

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – now refreshed with new hardware

An example of this is NVIDIA with their Tegra X1 ARM processor which is able to achieve a 1 teraflop throughput and work with 4K video at 60Hz. Sony had put in to the CES hype machine the idea of a 12” Android tablet that can work at 4K resolution.

Lenovo have refreshed most of their computer lineup like the Thinkpad X1 Carbon carbon-fibre-built Ultrabook. Their new equipment will be more slimline and there will be a new solid-state-drive-only Ultrabook in the form of the T450S. They have also built up a range of Ultrabook accessories that are designed to stack like Lego bricks such a an external battery pack, expansion module (docking station) and an external hard disk.

Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook press image courtesy of Dell

Dell XPS 13 negligable-bezel Ultrabook

Dell have released a negligable-bezel XPS 13 Ultrabook and an ultra-slim Venue 8 7000 coat-pocket Android tablet. This implements multiple-camera depth-sense technology along with, guess what, an OLED screen which I would expect to be a treat for your social-media pictures or what you took with your camera.

Toshiba Portégé Z20T detachable laptop press image courtesy of Toshiba

Toshiba Portégé Z20T detachable pitched at the business user

The “two-in-one” convertible or detachable computer is still alive with the Jide which is an 11” Surface-style tablet along with Toshiba’s Satellite Click Mini which is an 11” netbook-style detachable. Toshiba also released the Portégé Z20t which is a 12.5” 2-in-1 detachable pitched at the business user and is driven by the Intel Core M technology.

They are still pushing on with smartphones with Acer fielding the Liquid Z410 Android low-cost unit with 4.5” screen. Yezz is even pitching to the Windows Phone platform with the Billy S5 LTE model. The old dogs of consumer photography are vying for each other’s existence in the digital world through Kodak and Polaroid offering Android smartphones with Polaroid’s phone, a badge-engineered Oppo N1, known as the “Selfie” to court the selfie-taking craze. As well, ASUS have released the ZenFone Zoom which is the first smartphone to implement optical zoom in their rear camera. This Android phone also implements a 13-megapixel sensor and optical stabilisation on that camera.

LG G-Flex 2 curved Android smartphone - courtesy of LG

LG G-Flex 2 curved smartphone – to snap at Apple’s and Samsung’s heels

But the steal of the show is the LG G Flex 2 which is the first curved smartphone to get some real market traction. This sexy number implements a 5.5” Full HD OLED screen and is more durable than most flat phones. It is equipped with Gorilla Glass and a self-healing case that keeps looking anew. But it uses Snapdragon 810 64-bit horespower with 2Gb RAM and 32Gb storage infinitely expandable by microSD cards. The camera implements laser-assisted auto focus and it runs Android 5 Lollipop. But do I see it knock Apple, HTC and Samsung off their perches when it comes to premium smartphones – if it becomes the next thing in cool.

In the next post, I will be looking at the trends for wearable technology and the Internet Of Everything

Send to Kindle

Nice camera and Android phone can work together


You can use pictures from your good digital camera with your Android mobile device

You can use pictures from your good digital camera with your Android mobile device

Android customization – how to connect a USB flash drive to your Android device  | Android Authority

My Comments

I have a good Canon digital camera and have used it to take some pictures and, at times, place them on Instagram, MMS messaging or other services using my Samsung Android phone. But how do I do this?

Here, this is another virtue of “open-frame” computing which the Android mobile platform wholeheartedly supports. What I did was to purchase a USB “On-The-Go” (OTG) cable and a small SD card reader and used these to get at the pictures on my camera’s SD card. It may be easier to purchase this accessory online or through an independent computer, electronics or mobile-accessories specialist. You can use other memory-card readers with a USB “On-The-Go” cable to suit the memory card that your camera works with such as a CompactFlash card. You may also have to pay attention to the size of these accessories if you want to make sure you can stow them in your gadget bag or camera case.

USB On-The-Go cable

USB On-The-Go cable

Here, I may have to use an Android file manager like ES File Manager to discover the pictures in the camera’s DCIM directory on the SD card. There is even a special file manager pitched at USB OTG applications called OTG Disk Explorer Lite which can be the way if you don’t want to mess with a “full-bore” file manager app.

SD card connected to Android smartphone via OTG cable

SD card connected to Android smartphone via OTG cable

You may also have to look for a RAW or DNG file app in the Google Play Store which can export as JPEG if you are working with these ultra-high-quality “master” formats for your photos.

Here, I was able to share a good photo of one of Melbourne’s “art trams” via Instagram, simply by taking the picture with my digital camera, then using the USB OTG cable to share the picture on this photo-sharing service. Here, you would have to select the option as of you are picking photos from your image library on your phone, yet look for something like “USBStorageA” or something similar.

Digital camera card shown in ES Explorer Android app

Digital camera card shown in ES Explorer Android app

For MMS messaging, I would need to use an app to make “scaled-down” copies of the images to WXGA resolution to send these through that technology. The Android app I use is called “Reduce Photo Size” which makes a local copy of the reduced image so I can send it using MMS. I had used thsi technique when I went on a walk through a neighbourhood that had fond memories for a friend of mine whom I live with and wanted to share some pictures that I took with the Canon camera with those people via MMS which was effectively their “comfort zone”.

SD card reader small enough to stow in your gadget bag or camera case.

SD card reader small enough to stow in your gadget bag or camera case.

I pack these accessories in my camera’s “gadget bag” so I can share photos I have taken with it using Instagram, MMS or similar “mobile-only” services. This can even work with any of the mobile front-ends for the Social Web or cloud-upload services like Facebook, Google+ or Dropbox.

Send to Kindle

NEC implements your smartphone’s camera to detect knock-off goods


NEC smartphone tech can spot counterfeit goods | PC World

NEC wants you to spot counterfeits using your phone’s camera | Engadget

My Comments

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 smartphone

The camera on these smartphones could work towards identifying whether that handbag at the flea market is a knock-off

Previously, I had covered some applications where commodity-priced camera modules have been used for machine vision. These applications, which were mostly based around the cameras that your typical smartphone or tablet are equipped with, were more than just reading and interpreting a barcode of some sort in order to look up data. Rather they were about interpreting a control stick typically soaked in liquid that is used as part of urinalysis or to observe the character of blood vessels on one’s face to read one’s pulse.

But NEC is implementing machine vision using one’s smartphone to determine whether an object like a luxury handbag or a pair of name-brand sneakers is a “knock-off” or not. Here, they use the camera with a macro-lens attachment to identify the “fingerprint” that the metal or plastic material’s grain yields through its manufacture. This typically applies to items made of these materials or where an item is equipped with one or more fasteners, trim items or other fittings made of these materials.

NEC wants to see this technology not just apply to verifying the authenticity of new goods but also be used to allow the manufacturers to check that repair and maintenance of goods is “up to snuff” or follow the distribution and retail chain of these goods.

The manufacturers have to “register” these items in order to create the “reference database” that relates to their goods. As well, users would have to use a macro-equipped device such as a smartphone equipped with a macro-converter attachment or a “clip-on” camera with this kind of lens. They will offer the lenses as a 3D-printed attachment to suit most of the popular handsets and tablets. It could also open up a market for small-form Webcams and similar cameras that come with macro lenses or multi-function lenses.

A missing part of the question would be whether the technology would apply to goods made out of soft materials like cloth or leather. This would take it further with identifying clothes, footwear and “soft-material” luggage or checking whether the material used to upholster furniture reflects what the manufacturer or customer wants for the job.

Send to Kindle

VIDIPATH has now been launched for Pay-TV


VIDIPATH logo courtesy of DLNADLNA have worked out the final set of CVP-2 Guidelines and have started a testing regime for video equipment that fits the bill. This is to provide the ability for a level playing field when it comes to distributing premium subscription-TV (Pay-TV) content around a customer’s home network to devices that the customer owns.

A current pay-TV setup with each TV having a set-top box

A current pay-TV setup with each TV having a set-top box

They have also decided to market the new concept under a consumer-friendly brand which is “VIDIPATH”. This is following on from how a distinct brand make it easier for customers to remember what to look for when buying in to a technological improvement, such as with the successful Dolby noise-reduction system for the cassette tape.

The reason to progress with VIDIPATH has been based on the strong circulation of DLNA-capable media-server and media-endpoint equipment to distribute audio, image and video material over the home network. For that matter, it is a feature that is so important to me when I choose network-capable AV equipment or NAS units.

A VIDIPATH-enabled pay-TV setup where each VIDIPATH-capable TV, video peripheral or computer can view pay-TV

A VIDIPATH-enabled pay-TV setup where each VIDIPATH-capable TV, video peripheral or computer can view pay-TV

They launched the certification program for service-provider and consumer equipment on Sept. 11 and VIDIPATH-certified equipment is expected to be available by December, in time for this Christmas’ shopping season.

What does it offer

VIDIPATH offers DLNA compliance plus features essential to the delivery of premium subscription-TV content around the home to the display device.

Media contents in Dropbox folder available on DLNA-capable Samsung smart TV

VIDIPATH enables a compatible smart TV to view pay-TV content without the need for a set-top box

It uses DTCP-IP link-layer protection and device authentication to assure a secure signal path to the display device. This is important for content providers who want to be sure where the content is actually ending up.

Foxtel IQ2 pay-TV PVR

A PVR-type set-top box can serve as the hub of a VIDIPATH pay-TV setup

Also it uses HTML5-based remote user interface to allow the customer to have the full user experience associated with the pay-TV service at the TV or on the mobile device without the need for a set-top box or “TV-Everywhere” app on each viewing device. This allows for access to PVR services, pay-per-view / video-on-demand content, the pay-TV provider’s storefront and other services associated with the pay-TV service. The HTML5 interface would be able to adjust itself for useability on smartphones or small tablets which have the smaller actual screen sizes even though a lot of newer devices are implementing increased screen pixel densities.

Sony BDP-S390 Blu-Ray Disc Player

VIDIPATH-capable Blu-Ray players can bring pay-TV to the secondary bedroom TV

Another feature is to provide the exchange of necessary data across the home network to allow the gateway device to enter low-power modes when the display client devices aren’t making use of it. This also works alongside the ability to provide remote diagnostics on any of the display client devices when the customer calls the pay-TV service provider to rectify faults with their viewing experience.

It even supports “adaptive delivery” to allow the VIDIPATH-capable Pay-TV system to provide a best-case signal that is dependent on the viewing device and on the bandwidth available to the home and within the home network. This is based around the open-frame MPEG-DASH adaptive-streaming technology so that implementations aren’t necessarily bound to particular vendor ecosystems.

How will VIDIPATH be implemented in the home network?

Sony PS3 games console

Consoles like these could be able to pick up pay TV from a VIDIPATH gateway device

A pay-TV service like Sky, DirecTV or Foxtel would supply a VIDIPATH-certified gateway device to the customer. This device would be connected to the satellite dish, cable-TV infrastructure or dedicated IP service connection like DSL and to the home network. It may be in one of two form factors: a “headless” device that has no video output for an attached display device, or a full PVR set-top box of the same ilk as a Foxtel iQ2, Sky Plus box or one of the cable-TV PVR boxes, which is typically connected to the main living-room TV set.

The customer would view their content on a display device that would be a VIDIPATH-capable Smart TV or be a TV set connected to a DVD player, network media player or other video-peripheral device that is VIDIPATH-certified. They could also run a VIDIPATH-certified media-client program on their regular computer, smartphone or tablet to view the TV content on the device.

How will it benefit


Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10" tablet - Press Photo courtesy of Samsung

With the appropriate app, this tablet can pull in pay-TV using VIDIPATH

They can concentrate on their own TV or video peripheral device and the device’s remote control being the navigation device for their pay-TV content, rather than juggling different remote controls for changing channels on the pay-TV box and adjusting the sound on the TV or home-theatre. This is a real bonus with smart TV’s or home-theatre systems that have access to network-hosted AV content.

If I move location, I would only need to worry about returning one piece of hardware to the pay-TV provider as part of the move-out process if they don’t operate in my new location. Similarly, for those of you who live in pay-TV markets where different providers compete, the process of selecting the best offer is simplified because you only deal with one piece of hardware to connect to the provider’s infrastructure. An example of this is most US markets where DirecTV and / or DISH provide a satellite TV service that can compete with what the local cable-TV firm offers.

Pay-TV providers

They are in a good position because they can rationalise the pay-TV customer-premises hardware they need to have on hand at all times. This is more so with having to deal with providing and managing set-top boxes for customers who want pay-TV in other rooms. Rather they can be in a better position to provide highly-capable gateway devices and manage one of these per subscribing household or business.

They still don’t lose the ability to provide the distinctly-branded user experience because this can be conveyed across all of the customer’s VIDIPATH-capable display devices. Rather they can even enrich the branded service and effectively take it further in a “write once, run anywhere” manner.

What do we need to do?

.... as can a smartphone like this

…. as can a smartphone like this

As customers, when the opportunity comes to buy network-capable video equipment, we need to keep our eyes peeled for the VIDIPATH logo on the equipment. As well, when we subscribe to pay-TV, we can use our pay-TV provider’s feedback mechanism to suggest implementing VIDIPATH as a service feature.

As pay-TV providers, we should look towards identifying whether the pay-TV equipment that is in current circulation at our subscribers’ homes can support VIDIPATH after a firmware upgrade. Similarly, implementing VIDIPATH in next-generation customer-facing equipment like gateways or set-top boxes can be a valid step for evolving the pay-TV service. This also will be about training the staff who deal with our subscriber base such as sales staff, customer-service staff and installation technicians to understand the VIDIPATH system and how it can make the job easier. It may also involve effectively “dumping” the revenue stream that is realised from renting multiple set-top boxes to customers who have multiple TVs.


I would expect DLNA VIDIPATH to simplify the pay-TV experience and integrate it with an increasing number of customer-owned display devices, whether be Smart TVs, games consoles or tablets.

Send to Kindle