STACK Issue 199 MAY 2021 “You’re looking at the hottest thing on Earth.”
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FILM & TV
ISSUE 199 May ’21
INSIDE: JUSTICE LEAGUE • NICK CAVE
YOUR MONTHLY FILM&TV GUIDE TO WHAT’S
YOUR MONTHLY MUSIC GUIDE TO WHAT’S
WIN a SAMSUNG 75 ” SMART TV & HOME THEATRE SOUNDBAR
MEMBER EXCLUSIVE COMPETITION
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A truly immersive experience that’s just a step away from reality. Enjoy an epic edge-to-edge picture, vivid colour and contrast and unbelievably deep blacks and detail with Samsung’s new Neo QLED 8K Smart TVs 1 .
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55” | 65”
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*Compared to QLEDQ80A. Picture qualitywill vary depending on quality and resolution of source content. ^Native 8K content availability is very limited. Picture quality of upscaled content will vary depending on the quality and resolution of source content.
Q-Series Home Theatre Soundbar
Q600A Home Theatre Soundbar
With Samsung Q-Symphony for synchronised sound from your TV and Soundbar 2 .
1 Native 8K content availability is very limited. Picture quality of upscaled content will vary depending on the quality and resolution of source content. 2 Samsung Q-Symphony is compatible with all 2021 Neo QLED, QLED & AU8000 Samsung TVs and 2020 Samsung QLED Q80T TVwith Object Tracking Sound and above. Sound effect mayvary depending on environmental characteristics (including ceiling).
Neo QLED 8K Smart TV - QN900A 75''
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Neo QLED 4K Smart TV - QN800A 75''
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QLED 4K Smart TV - Q70A 75''
QLED 4K Smart TV - Q60A 75''
Also available in: 55" | 65" | 85"
Also available in: 55" | 65" | 85"
• Quantum Dots for vivid colour • Motion Rate 200 to keep up with the action • AirSlim Design, effortlessly stylish
• Quantum Dots for vivid colour • AirSlim design, effortlessly stylish • Smart connectivity, simple and seamless
Q870A Home Theatre Soundbar
Q950A Home Theatre Soundbar
3 Compared to QLED Q80A. Picture qualitywill vary depending on quality and resolution of source content.
ISSUE 199 MAY 2021
LIFE TECH 6 Intro
8-9 TV Buying Guide 10 TV Display Types 12-13 Unpacking the TV Tech 14 TV Installation 16 4K Players and Fetch TV 18 Soundbars 20 TV Accessories 22-23 Samsung 24-26 Sony 28-30 LG 32 TCL 34 Ffalcon 36 Projectors 38 Sonos Roam 40 Cricut Joy 42 What’s New FILM & TV 46 Take 5 48 Bob J’s Movie Trivia 50 Zack Snyder’s Justice League 52 Raya and the Last Dragon 54 Doctor Who 56 Boss Level 58 New from Imprint Films 60 Out this month 62 Getting the full 4K MUSIC 68-72 The Music Room: Interviews and feature reviews with Delta Goodrem, Ed Kuepper, St. Vincent and more 76-77 Cover feature: The STACK Record Club 78 AlbumTales: Gorillaz’ Gorillaz (2001) 80-81 Album reviews 82 This month at JB GAMING FLIP MAG AND READ FROM BACK 3 Take 5/Game Changers 4 Fast Forward/Q5 6 Resident Evil Village 8 Mass Effect 10 Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 12 Accessorise Now! 14 STACK Recommends 16 Out this month
WELCOME May brings our annual visual spectacular – a deep dive into cutting edge TV tech. This is where we get to nerd out over all the brand new TV models that have just rolled off the production line and are gradually landing in-store. The 2021 range is set to deliver an expansive scope of exciting technologies designed to take your visual experience to the next level. We’ve got all the news plus an extensive buying guide to help you make the right choice if you’re on the hunt for a new TV. In an expanded version of the STACK Record Club, we drill down into a handful of classic vinyl essentials including Amy Winehouse, John Coltrane and The Avalanches. We also dissect Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’s meaty new record, Carnage , and chat with Delta Goodrem. Zack Snyder’s Justice League leads in movies, offering superhero fans an epic new cut of the DC film that restores the director’s original vision. And in TV, we catch up with former Doctor Who companion Katy Manning ahead of the Classic Season 8 Collection’s release on Blu-ray. The perennial survival horror franchise Resident Evil heads-up games with Resident Evil Village , ably supported by Mass Effect: Legendary Edition , Biomutant and Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2. Where do you start? Paul Jones, Editor-in-Chief
Founder Nic Short Editor-in-Chief Paul Jones Film & TV Editor Scott Hocking Music Editor Zoë Radas Games & Online Editor Amy Flower Creative Director Gary Siewert Movies Consultant Kerrie Taylor Games Consultant Sachi Fernando Music Consultant Mike Glynn
Marketing Manager Fleur Parker Chief Contributors Bob Jones, Gill Pringle Contributors Anthony Horan, Glenn Cochrane, Bryget Chrisfield, Jeff Jenkins, Simon Lukic, Billy Pinnell, Denise Hylands, Simon Winkler, Jake Cleland, Holly Pereira, Adam Colby,
Dan Nicholson, Alex Deutrom, Bec Summer Social Media Manager Imogene Lewis-Granland Production Manager Craig Patterson Correspondence STACK 33 Jessie Street, Richmond, VIC 3121
Parental guidance recommended
Recommended for mature audiences
Not suitable for people under 15. Under 15smust beaccommpaniedby a parent or adult guardian
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STACK ’ s Tech Tip
1. Turn it off! Yep, every TV has a lifespan, so if you leave it on 24/7, you’re effectively shortening this. Get into the habit of switching the TV off when you go to bed at night to extend its lifespan. And don’t forget about the savings made on electricity usage. 2. Clean it! Ideally, your TV should be cleaned multiple times Maintain your TV wreck the screen. Use a dry microfibre cloth to clean the screen and surrounds. 3. Ventilate! After prolonged use your TV will heat up, so ensure that the unit has plenty of ventilation to prevent it from overheating. Ideally, you’ll want at least 100mm of space at a minimum around the unit. In a perfect world, the TV should be mounted or positioned with plenty of space all around. 4. Surge protection! More and more electronics users are considering protection against electricity spikes and surges that can damage precious tech. (See page 9 for an in-depth look at surge protectors.) 5. Protect the screen! Do you have young children in the house? Try your best to keep hands and sharp objects away from the TV screen. Speaking from personal experience, this is a guaranteed way to permanently destroy the viewing experience. 6. Bright lights! Monitor the brightness and contrast levels on the TV, as most will be set to maximum in the factory. By lowering these settings, you can extend the life of the TV. per week to keep out the dust. Not only will dust damage internal components over time, it can also
H ow often should you upgrade your TV? Well, according to a TV launch event we attended back in 2007 hosted by a charismatic CEO, the magic number was four years, tops. And he emphasised the tops. Of course at the time, we baulked at that suggestion, but that was back when the reveal of television pricing necessitated a seat and a stiff drink. Now, you can walk into a JB Hi-Fi store and land a 65-inch TV for under 700 bucks! However, today there’s merit in what that ebullient CEO said all those years ago. Technology in televisions evolves at a dizzying pace, so that TV you bought in the mid-year sales in 2016 would bear little resemblance under the hood to a current model rolling off the production line this year. So much has changed in those four to five years that when you see the technology side-by-side, it’s almost on recognisable. But buying a TV is a personal experience and will vary
upon what is required. Are you seeking a model to replace a TV in the main viewing area of a house? One for the bedroom or kids' room? Holiday home? And, with all the advances in technology, how do you know what TV to buy and what features you need? Searching for a newTV can be a daunting experience, full of terminology that can be confusing. What’s HDR10+ and refresh rate? Do I need a 4K TV or an 8K? What is the difference between LED and OLED? Well, this month is our annual visual spectacular at STACK where we not only reveal the latest TV models landing at JB stores this year, but also demystify all the TV terminology and help you make an informed buying decision when it’s time to upgrade. And given we’re all spending more time at home these days, there’s never been a better reason – or indeed an excuse – to buy a brand new, state of the art television.
On The Radar
You were top of the tech pops in 1984 if you managed to get your hands on the nascent Epson ET-10, the first handheld TV. Featuring a two-inch LCD screen, the ET-10 had 52,800 pixels, projected vision in full colour, and its diminutive dimensions meant it could be slipped into a pocket or handbag with ease. Battery or mains-powered, the ET-10 was an exciting portent of the future of visual technology. What was the hottest tech in… 1984
Ooh, how can it be June next month? Are we really almost halfway through the year already? Well, if you love smartphones then you’re going to love our June issue, because this is the month we deep dive into the world of mobile communication and assess what’s new, what’s hot, and what you’ll want in your pocket in 2021. On top of that, we’ll be looking at what cracking tech deals tax time can offer you this year.
The all new
Awesome battery, lasts two days *
Awesome Screen With real smooth scrolling, whether you’re gaming or scrolling.
Awesome Camera Crisp, clear and Insta-worthy. Take your pictures to the next level with a 64MP Main Camera.
Awesome Battery Power to maximise, with up to two days * of battery power.
*Estimated against the usage profile of an average/typical user. Independently assessed by Strategy Analytics between 2021.01.20-01.31 in UK with pre-release versions of SM-A725, SM-A525, SM-A526, SM-A325, SM-A326 under default setting using LTE and 5G Sub6 networks (NOT tested under 5G mmWave network). Actual battery life varies by network environment, features and apps used, frequency of calls and messages, number of times charged, and many other factors.
LIFE TECH FEATURE
ULTIMATE 2021 TV BUYING GUIDE STACK ’ S
There’s a great deal of excitement involved when the hunt for a newTV begins. But along
$ with that excitement comes a bucketful of questions – especially if it’s been years since you’ve updated. Like any consumer technology, advancements move at a dizzying pace, so even if you’ve only been out of the cycle for a few years, a lot has changed in that time. You’ll find all the answers you need right here to help you make an informed buying decision.
In saying that bigger is better, you obviously wouldn’t want to fit an 85-inch TV to the wall if you’re only DISTANCE
One of, if not the biggest driver in making a buying decision on a newTV is price, so having a budget in mind before you start shopping is a good place to start. If you’re looking for a TV that will just perform the basics, you can expect to get away pretty lightly at the register. However, to take advantage of the leap forward in technology and get the very best out of your visual experience, expect to pay a little more. The good news is that even top-tier TVs are now more affordable than ever. $
sitting a metre from the screen. It is therefore important to consider how far your viewing position is from the TV. While you can find detailed equations to calculate optimum viewing distances online (a bit of overkill in our opinion, as it completely depends on your level of eyesight), you can actually sit a little closer to a 4K TV because of the smaller pixels. As a rule of thumb, multiply the screen size by 1.2, so a 65-inch TV comes out at 78 inches. Convert that to metric and you have a 1.99 metre optimal viewing distance. Alternatively, you can do what several of the STACK team did when they bought newTVs last year – go into a JB store, walk up to the TV display, pick the size you’re interested in and step back until you feel comfortable with the viewing distance. Count those steps, and voila!
A decade ago, 55 inches was deemed to be a large screen for a TV, but now it really is a case of the bigger the better. 2020 taught us that it’s quite feasible to put together a complete home theatre setup where you can enjoy a full cinema experience without getting out of your pyjamas. Pull out a tape measure and do the calculations on available wall space – you’ll never regret going bigger.
reasons to upgrade your TV
1 There is no one left on the planet that can be convinced that your plasma TV is “Still the best picture quality I’ve ever seen!” Head in-store and take 10 minutes to peruse the TV displays – and take someone to support you when your legs give out.
2 Despite achieving a modern retail miracle and getting hold of a PS5 or an Xbox Series X, it has become impossible to insist that it looks “great” on your five-year-old TV. It doesn’t. These consoles were designed for TVs that feature 4K and 8K resolutions and refresh rates, plus High Dynamic Range (HDR). Anything less and you might as well pull out the PS3.
3 The smart component of your TV – that allows you to connect and access web content – runs like dial-up.
4 The screen image has dulled so much, it’s like watching a TV show in perpetual dusk. And let’s not forget those missing pixels!
5 The resolution you’re watching is 1080i – or lower.
FEATURE LIFE TECH
– something to consider A power surge can wreak havoc on the tech inside your TV, computer or any other electrical appliance. Surges can originate internally when power-hungry appliances like refrigerators and tumble dryers start up, or externally through lightning strikes. But don’t despair, there’s something you can do to protect your precious appliances. A surge protection power board is designed to act as a multi-plug adaptor for all your electrical inputs, while offering protection to the connected devices by safely absorbing any unwanted power spikes. Rule of thumb – the higher the joule rating on the product, the
This is an important consideration, especially for a big family or those who like to entertain a large group for sporting events or movie nights. The optimal viewing position for your big screen TV is dead centre with the middle of the screen ideally at eye level. But move to the side of the couch or room and you may experience a reduction in contrast and less vibrant colours. This can vary depending on the type
of screen you’ve chosen – OLED TVs will deliver consistent image quality from every angle, while some Samsung and Sony models feature Ultra-Wide Angle and X-Wide Angle, respectively. Like the aforementioned distance test, you should also size up the viewing angle when checking out TVs in-store.
better the protection. If you love your tech, you’ll want to protect it. Pro tip: Always buy a surge protection block with more plug outlets than you need – you’ll end up using them. Belkin Pro Series 8-Way Surge Protector This one features eight sockets and the beauty here is the double spacing between sockets allows for those annoying oversized adaptors to be plugged in, too. It’s protected for under and over voltage and offers protection for telephone, aerial and networking ports.
4K ULTRA HD has rapidly become the industry standard for big screen televisions. 4K resolution comprises 3840 x 2160 pixels – that’s four times the amount of Full HD (1920 x 1080). Ultra HD adds more depth and colour resolution, resulting in sharper and more lifelike images. And the picture will remain crystal-clear, even if you’re sitting way too close to the screen. There is a lot of 4K content to enjoy, too, with a great range of classic and new release movies and TV shows available on 4K physical discs, as well as various streaming services offering a plethora of choice. Moreover, with many smartphones now sporting built-in 4K cameras, you’ll be able to enjoy the footage you’ve shot in stunning UHD on a big screen. 4K TVs can also upscale content that’s of lower resolution, which means your DVD and Blu-ray collection will look even better than it did in Full HD.
8K is sort of still the new kid on the block and offers another major leap in image resolution, delivering four times the pixels of 4K and 16 times that of Full HD. 8K boasts 7680 x 4320 pixels, enabling larger displays to maintain maximum image sharpness and clarity. Simply put, the more pixels-per-inch of screen, the sharper the image. Add HDR (High Dynamic Range) and a wide colour gamut and you’re looking at currently the best possible image quality, especially on larger screens 85 inches and up. Many 8K TVs ultilise AI to upscale/convert lower resolution video.
Jackson Surge Protected Board Offering a whopping 10 sockets, this surge protection board from Jackson also features six fast charge USB-A ports for added convenience. Crest Platinum 6 socket 2 USB Equipment Protector
The Platinum 6 offers protection for six sockets, TV antennas, modem and phones. It also has two fast charging USB ports.
A Smart TV connects to the internet, opening up a world of entertainment possibilities, and can also be integrated into a smart home ecosystem. Most Smart TVs offer voice control functionality with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support, and many come with the most popular streaming apps already loaded and ready to browse. A user friendly onscreen interface makes navigation a cinch, and the powerful processors within can automatically adjust the picture and sound according to the environment surrounding the TV for the optimal viewing experience. When choosing a Smart TV, consider the kind of smart functionality that will best suit your needs.
LIFE TECH FEATURE
FANCY A NEW TV BUT CONFUSED BY ALL THE ACRONYMS? Let’s break them down…
WHAT’S NEW THIS SEASON?
This year sees a major leap forward in TV technology, with the next level in LCD/LED displays set to challenge the flagship OLED in image quality and affordability. As screens get progressively bigger, the backlighting has gotten smaller. Mini-LED is a more advanced form of backlighting in LCD panels, offering greater resolution control (particularly with HDR content) to deliver the enhanced colour reproduction and deep blacks boasted by OLED technology, albeit with the greater peak brightness of LCD/LED. Mini-LEDs, as the name suggests, are a lot smaller than those found in standard LCD panels, measuring 0.008 of an inch across – that’s approximately
LCD/LED The most affordable display type on the market, with a screen size to fit every room. LCD/LEDTVs have an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) panel that is direct-lit or edge-lit by Light- Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Overall, LED screens offer better peak brightness and are ideal for brightly lit environments.
QUANTUM DOT (QLED) Similar to LED technology albeit incorporating a filter of Quantum-dot Light-Emitting Diodes – microscopic molecules capable of emitting light in various colours – between the LED back- or edge-lighting and the LCD panel. Quantum Dot TVs, like Samsung’s proprietary QLED, deliver extremely accurate colours with better saturation. Moreover, the image remains clear and vibrant in brightly lit rooms or outdoors.
OLED OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode – individual pixels that emit their own light. The ‘Organic’ bit is a carbon-based film through which a current is passed to create light. With this enhanced pixel accuracy, OLEDTVs deliver higher contrast levels, perfect blacks and colour definition, as well as a wide viewing angle. They are ideal for dark home theatre rooms. The display panels are thinner than LCD/LED, and sizes start at a generous 48 inches. The Rolls Royce of TVs with a premium price tag, and worth every penny.
one fifth the size of a regular LED light. Consequently, there are a lot more of them to do the job – think tens of thousands rather than thousands. Mini- LEDs, when densely packed, illuminate smaller areas of the screen where required, resulting in more backlighting control over the brightening and dimming of image zones – crucial to creating the perfect contrast ratio of highlights and shadows, and eliminating the ‘blooming’ or haloing effect on are already onboard with mini-LED tech. Samsung’s Neo QLED range integrates mini-LED with its Quantum Matrix technology, while LG’s QNED series combines its existing Quantum NanoCell Colour with mini-LED backlighting. Perhaps the best news surrounding the uptake of mini-LED is that these TVs are less expensive to manufacture than their OLED rivals, meaning higher quality at a lower price. bright objects in dark scenes. Several major manufacturers
GET APPY Your new 4K Smart TV will have many of the most
popular streaming apps pre-installed (depending on the manufacturer and model), but don’t panic if your favourite one isn’t there. Simply select the Apps icon on the TV’s Home screen menu to find the app you want to install (Note: some TV manufacturers require you to open an account with them in order to download additional apps). For example,
if you have an Android TV, select the onscreen Apps icon, then select the Google Play Store and search for the app(s) required – if the app isn’t free, the price will be displayed before you are prompted to install it.
10 MAY 2021
2021 TV RANGE
Access all your favourite entertainment apps in one place, from world-class sport to award-winning movies. *
*A subscription is required for the streaming platforms. Internet connection required. Additional data charges may apply. Apps or content may be subject to change.
LIFE TECH FEATURE
Now that you’ve sorted out the type of TV that best suits your requirements, here are some other important key features to look out for:
HDR (HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE)
What is it? Simply put, HDR heightens a picture’s dynamic range – the contrast between bright whites and deep blacks – revealing more details in the bright and dark areas of an image. It also significantly expands the range of colour, especially on TVs with wide colour gamut.
What is it? A feature of LCD/LED TVs, local dimming reduces the LED light in dark areas of the screen while keeping the bright bits bright, creating a better contrast ratio. This is particularly noticeable when watching HDR- supported content on a 4K LCD/LEDTV. Why it’s important: Full Array Local Dimming – used in most top-end LCD/LEDTVs – utilises an array of LEDs behind the LCD panel that are divided into zones. Where required, the specific areas of the picture that need to be darker are dimmed without compromising the areas that need to be brighter.
There are presently three types of HDR:
HDR10 The standard for streaming content and 4K UHD discs, using static metadata to set brightness and colour levels at a specific value. HDR10+ Developed by Samsung, HDR10+ adds dynamic metadata – scene-by-scene image optimisation – to further enhance the picture, giving it the edge over HDR10.
DOLBY VISION Dolby Laboratories’ certified HDR format, which does for video what Dolby Surround did for audio. Like HDR10+, Dolby Vision uses dynamic metadata to optimise each scene in a movie, rather than a set value for the whole film.
Note: HDR can sometimes make an image appear considerably darker, but still more warm and natural looking in terms of colour and contrast. Tip: If your TV has the option to turn off ambient light detection, disabling this function will brighten the image somewhat while still retaining those “brightest brights and deepest darks.”
Why it’s important: HDR is one of the most important features to look for when choosing a 4K UHDTV. When the content you’re watching supports HDR, you’ll notice the difference immediately – it’s like a stunning matte finish has been added to an already vibrant and detailed image, making finer details and colours really pop (particularly in dark scenes) and giving the picture a warmer and more natural look. Movies on 4K UHD discs more closely resemble how they looked in the cinema, and HDR support is now common on content offered by the more popular streaming services (if you have a speedy internet connection).
TV CALIBRATION TIPS
Most smart TVs come with picture settings precalibrated for the best possible image quality, largely eliminating the need for further fiddling with colour, contrast and brightness levels. Moreover, many feature built-in AI that will automatically adjust and optimise the screen image according to the video source and environmental factors like a room’s ambient light. But great picture quality is subjective, of course, so if you feel the need for further tweaking, an internet search will return a plethora of suggested settings according to your
TV model. However, it can also send you down a rabbit hole of technobabble and leave you stressing about things like the right Chroma level. The best and simplest way to refine the picture to your liking is to first select the Picture Mode setting (see page 13) and then toggle between the options to determine which one looks best to your eye – Movie/Cinema mode is a good one-fits-all setting. Colour, contrast and brightness are the key settings you may want to adjust – ideally, colour and brightness should be set at 50 per cent, with contrast as
high as possible. Sharpness should be left under 50 per cent or at zero, while colour temperature/tone is best set to Warm.
When you’ve found the right balance, set and forget. But if levels still don’t look quite right, revert to the default/factory settings and start over.
12 MAY 2021
FEATURE LIFE TECH
LIGHT-POWERED REMOTES Samsung’s 4K and 8K Neo QLED range for 2021 will feature an Eco Remote that’s powered by light, reducing the environmental impact caused by an estimated 200 tons of waste in used AAA batteries. Constructed using 28 per cent recycled plastic, the Eco WHAT'S NEW THIS SEASON
What is it? Refresh rate refers to the number of times a TV refreshes the image’s frame rate per second, measured in hertz (Hz). Most TVs have a native refresh rate of 60Hz or 120Hz, which means the picture refreshes 60 or 120 times per second. Why it’s important: It reduces motion blur and flicker that can occur when viewing fast moving images in sports broadcasts, gaming, and frenetic action scenes in movies. Video content and games with a frame rate higher than the standard will be displayed as intended.
Remote features Samsung’s streamlined clicker design, while on the rear is a panel of solar cells that charge
the internal battery. And there’s no need to leave it out in
What is it? Ultra High Definition TVs feature a number of convenient preset picture modes that will automatically optimise the image quality – simply select which one is best suited to the type of content you’re watching.
direct sunlight to charge – it’s sensitive enough to draw power
The most common picture modes are:
Dynamic Sharpens and boosts the image’s brightness and colour to high levels and is best used for brightly lit and outdoor environments. Standard/Natural Delivers a strong, bright image that’s good for everyday TV broadcasts and daytime viewing. Sports Ultilises motion smoothing on content with higher frame rates and fast moving images. Best for bars or outdoor viewing on the deck. Games Reduces input lag, which is the time it takes for the TV to process an image sent from the console to the screen.
Movie/Cinema Delivers accurate colour reproduction and the most warm and natural looking picture. Ideal for use across all types of content. Set and forget. Filmmaker Some manufacturers also offer this mode (endorsed by Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan, no less), which delivers an even more natural looking and cinematic picture that’s as close as possible to what the filmmaker intended.
from indoor lights. SEE COLOURS
Samsung is also expanding accessibility with its 2021 TV models, which means those who suffer from colour vision deficiency (CVD) can now enjoy the millions of colours available with the help of
Why it’s important: Preset picture modes instantly tweak specific types of video content to maximise image quality. How good a picture looks is subjective, so experiment with each to determine which looks best to your eye.
the SeeColors app. When installed, the app makes colour adjustments to deliver better optimised colours for those with CVD, beginning with a colour vision test to identify the type of CVD so that the screen can be recalibrated accordingly. SIGN LANGUAGE ZOOM If pandemic press conferences have taught us one thing, it’s a better appreciation of the Auslan translators speedily signing for the hearing impaired. Samsung’s new Sign Language Zoom feature automatically recognises and enlarges the translator. Alternatively, hearing impaired viewers can specify the sign language area of the screen and adjust the magnification to suit.
ARC AND eARC
What is it? A new specification in HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) connectivity to support higher video resolutions and refresh rates. Why it’s important: It’s all about the transmission of data – more bandwidth equals higher resolutions. Standard HDMI has a bandwidth of 18Gbps (gigabits per second), HDMI 2.1 raises it to 48Gbps for resolutions up to 10K and frame rates of 120fps. 8K TVs and next-gen gaming consoles (PS5 and Xbox Series X) support HDMI 2.1 connectivity.
What is it? Audio connectivity via a HDMI cable, sending the sound from a TV back to a connected soundbar or AV receiver. ARC stands for Audio Return Channel and is supported by most TVs and soundbars/ receivers. eARC is Enhanced Audio Return Channel, boosting bandwidth and speed for higher quality audio formats, and is backwards compatible with ARC. Why is it important:
ARC simplifies the connection of audio receivers to the TV. eARC, with its higher bandwidth, brings out the best in Dolby Atmos and Dolby True HD. Be sure to check if the TV has an ARC or eARC HDMI port.
LIFE TECH FEATURE
Sometimes it’s just best to let the experts do it. Words Adam Colby
into what a professional installation service entailed. All the personnel are professionally trained to complete the job as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible. The most popular services are TV set-up and connect, and TV wall mount. The former includes connecting a TV on an existing surface such as a cabinet, tuning and linking it to Wi-Fi and streaming apps, and also setting up five existing plug-and-play peripherals including gaming consoles and 4K players. On top of that you get up to a 15-minute tutorial on how to use your newTV and access all of your content. The latter service features all of the above plus the mounting of the TV to a wall. And that aforementioned mass of packing is responsibly disposed of, too. Before the technicians arrive, make sure you have your Wi-Fi name and password and your usernames and passwords for your streaming platforms on hand. All cables and mounting brackets must be purchased by the customer and ready to use ahead of the installation date. If you need However, if you want your cables buried in the wall, depending on the wall's material and location, you can pay an additional charge for the JB technicians to undertake that work for you. Overall pricing for the installation will depend on the size of the TV being installed and what you want done. And it’s not just limited to TVs, either – all audio and home theatre set- ups are also catered for. Speaking from experience, enlisting the service of a professionally trained technician to install your TV and complete an overall set up is a smart decision. additional power or aerial points, you’ll need to arrange a qualified electrician to install them.
How long will it take? It’s recommended that you allow one hour for set-up and connect jobs, and two for wall mounting services. Will they take away my old TV? Yes, but that is an additional cost because the TV will need to be disposed of at an approved E-Waste centre. Will the technician connect my existing devices? Up to five existing devices will be connected as part of the installation cost. However, if you have more than five, you can pay to have additional devices connected. Is it cheaper if I already have a bracket mounted to the wall? The technician will have to evaluate, test and potentially relocate an existing bracket and as such, there is no discount for brackets already mounted. Quick Qs
L et me tell you a story. Last year, confined to the four walls of my home and periodically surrounded by children who never quite grasped the idea behind home ‘schooling’, I convinced myself (it didn’t take long, to be fair) to take the plunge on a new 75” Samsung TV. Of course, with the TV came the need for a bracket to fix this onyx rectangle spectacular to the wall. So to try and save money, and armed with some DIY knowledge, I opted to self-install. Big mistake! It all started with the box it was
delivered in. There’s an extraordinary amount of packaging involved here and you’ll need to pay to have it properly disposed of – a cost I didn’t consider. And then came the install. First, some wrongly-marked holes and a stud finder that couldn’t find timber
in a forest. After more wrong holes and a titanic struggle, the bracket was finally affixed to the wall. Now for the TV, which my wife and I struggled to hook on to the bracket. One end would attach but the other wouldn’t. That’s when the swearing started. When we finally succeeded, we realised that not all of the HDMI cables had been connected. Off it came again and another struggle ensued to get it back onto the rail. And then I noticed the TV was slightly out of level. It broke me. In all, it had taken close to four hours of sweat, blood and tears. Was it worth it? Not a chance. Intrigued, I looked
14 MAY 2021
S M A R T A N D S L E E K
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Want to show off your 4K set-up? These four discs best showcase the format in all its visual glory… BLUE PLANET II This BBC documentary is one of the best go-to discs when showing off 4K’s capabilities. The true 4K vision is astonishing in its clarity, turning the TV into a flat aquarium. DEMO DISCS
S o, you’ve got a new 4K TV and are ready to settle in for a movie night. But if you’re still using a conventional Blu-ray player, you’ll notice that while the image looks considerably better, it also looks a bit flat. 4K UHD Blu-ray players not only open up the world of Ultra High Definition, with a steadily growing range of classic and new release films and TV shows available in 4K, they also upscale your Blu-rays and DVDs to look top notch. In fact, upscaled Blu-ray discs can look almost as good as a native 4K image (sans the HDR grading), especially if the film has been transferred from a 4K scan of the original camera negative. And DVDs scrub up nicely, too, looking a lot more vibrant and detailed than you’d expect from an SD source. Thanks to the higher resolution and HDR, movies in native 4K look better than you’ve ever seen them before at home. The litmus test is checking out an all-time favourite film that you know intimately – we guarantee you’ll notice things you’ve never noticed before. Of course, getting a stunning picture depends on the type of 4K player and its functionality. We’ve selected two that deliver the image upgrade and features that you really need:
1917 A stunning native 4K
transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10+ enhances this ‘one-shot’ war drama’s Oscar- winning cinematography, delivering an even more immersive experience.
ALIEN HDR10+ reveals the incredible detail in the Nostromo sets, every glistening drop of blood on the chestburster, and adds remarkable depth to those
SONY UBP-X700 COMPACT 4K UHD Blu-ray Player
If you’re on a budget but still want a 4K player with all the key features, Sony has got you covered with the affordable X700. This compact unit supports Dolby Vision and HDR10, has good 4K upscaling, and is compatible with most high definition video and audio formats. There’s Wi-Fi connectivity for 4K video streaming, dual HDMI outputs, and Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support. A great, basic player that does everything you need it to do.
Panasonic DP-UB820 4K UHD Blu-ray Player
darkened spacecraft corridors.
JAWS Just when you thought it was safe to watch a 4K disc, HDR10+ brings Spielberg’s 1975 masterpiece to even more vivid life, especially the underwater scenes.
One of Panasonic’s premium 4K players, the UB820 is a great investment if you’re serious about movies. There’s multi HDR support (including HDR10+ and Dolby Vision), Panasonic’s proprietary HCX (Hollywood Cinema Experience) processor to deliver precise colours and HDR reproduction every time, and 4K High Precision Chroma Processing tech to up-convert Full HD content to 4K. It really does look as good as it sounds! And speaking of sounds, audiophiles are catered for with High Clarity Sound and a 7.1 channel analogue audio input for like-like surround. The player also connects wirelessly to the internet, so you can enjoy a variety of streaming content in 4K, and there’s voice control via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. We also like the old school inclusion of a time display counter on the front of the unit, which can be dimmed or switched off if it becomes distracting.
and can record up to 585 hours of SD content, and six channels simultaneously. A Series Tag option sets automatic recording of episodes from your selected show(s) and then files them in an easy-access folder. There’s also 4K streaming support and the ability to pause and rewind live TV. If recording isn’t a priority, the more affordable Fetch Mini offers
gen Fetch Mini 4K improves on its predecessor with a Bluetooth voice remote control, faster response time, and most importantly, streams content in 4K (where available). Simply plug the antenna cable into your Fetch box, connect to the internet, and go fetch your desired shows and movies. There’s also multi-room support, enabling you to connect up to three boxes.
Fetch TV consolidates free-to-air channels, streaming services, movie rentals and purchases, catch-up apps and more into one convenient, central entertainment hub. The Wi-Fi enabled Fetch TV box is available in three types: The Fetch Mighty is perfect for the dedicated binge-watcher. It has a Quad Tuner PVR with a 1TB HDD
a single tuner with 7-day EPG, TV and movie store, limited
streaming apps, and free-to-air catch-up channels. And the next-
BAR H G Soundbars have become the audio choice for many homes. Words Bec Summer O P P I N S
The dynamic range in movies has been specifically mixed for the acoustics you find in contemporary cinemas, so it can be frustrating watching at home with one finger on the remote to counter any sudden and dramatic changes in volume. However, there are some things you can do in the home to compensate for this, and maximise the sound from your device. designed to lift dialogue in quieter scenes without forcing you to lift the volume and risk waking the house when the film switches to a louder scene. 2 Many soundbars will allow the sound to be tweaked through the EQ in an app to customise your personal audio preference. 3 The first thing you’ll want to do when introducing a soundbar at home is mute or turn off the TV speakers, as they can adversely affect the quality of sound you’re getting. There are some exceptions to this rule: top end Samsung TVs are designed to incorporate in-built TV speakers with some Samsung soundbars to enhance the audio experience. 4 Shoot for Dolby Atmos or DTS: X. These audio formats are now becoming more prevalent in high end soundbars. In short, they deliver a fuller sound by utilising upward- and sideways-facing speakers that bounce the audio off the walls and ceiling. 1 Most quality soundbars will offer a night mode – a feature
Sonos Arc At 55 inches, the Arc is a long soundbar that comes with voice control for Google Assistant, Alexa and AirPlay 2. A stylish, curved design, the Arc features Dolby Atmos for the first time, and with Arc’s whopping 11 high performance drivers for upwards, forwards and sideways audio, the true cinema sonic experience here is astounding. ARC/eARC, a HDMI port most TVs now ship with as standard, allows the Arc to talk directly to the TV, eliminating the need for multiple remotes, but if you have an older TV, Sonos include an optical cable.
Bose Smart Soundbar 300 The Bose Smart Soundbar 300 connects to Wi-Fi via its SimpleSync technology and becomes part of a multi-room sound system, along with other Bose speakers in your house. Plus, you can even pair up Bose headphones for the full audio experience, without waking the little ones. Set-up is a breeze and you can be totally assured of Bose’s renowned sound quality. Along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, it’s also Apple AirPlay 2 compatible and it has Alexa built in to slip seamlessly into your smart home ecosystem.
Samsung HW-Q950A The perfect companion for your 2021 Samsung Neo QLEDTV. The Q950A delivers 11.1 channel sound, thanks to the inclusion of two separate wireless rear speakers, along with the main soundbar and wireless subwoofer. On compatible Samsung QLEDTVs, the Total Sound Collaboration feature set customises sound for the music or movie you’re playing, and the room you’re listening in. Chromecast is built in, plus the Q950A works with Alexa and Apple AirPlay 2. Connect via the HDMI eARC and full resolution content like Dolby Atmos passes from the TV to the soundbar, for the best possible sound quality. JBL Bar 5.1 Channel Soundbar with Wireless Sub If you want to be immersed in a cinematic audio experience, this 550-watt system and 10" subwoofer will do very nicely. Building on a 75-year legacy in theatre sound, JBL’s MultiBeam technology delivers an impressive panoramic soundscape, without the need for extra speakers. The subwoofer is wireless, so all you need is power to the unit and one optical connection. Use the HDMI and you’ll get 4K Dolby Vision passthrough. Plus, Wi-Fi compatibility with Chromecast and Airplay 2 ensures easy streaming of your favourite online content.
18 MAY 2021
FREE TO TURN
JBL BAR SERIES – CINEMATIC SOUND IN YOUR LIVING ROOM The JBL range of Soundbars deliver the ultimate home cinematic experience. Bring everything you watch to life - the driving bass of an action movie, the tension of a thriller, the beauty of a nature documentary or the adrenaline of gaming. With Dolby Digital and JBL Surround Sound standard on all bars and wireless subwoofers on some, these feature packed bars are all you need to turn it up and immerse yourself in cinema quality sound.
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be a night owl and would rather hear things loud and clear instead of struggling to discern low volumes, worrying all the time whether you’re going to wake somebody. Here are three of our favourite pieces of gear for the dedicated TV addict, the ace gamer, or the bit- of-everything all-rounder.
W atching TV can be a great group activity, but sometimes you just want – or need – to go it alone. Headphones and television make a great couple, allowing that extra element of escape from the world around you through total immersion in what you’re viewing. Or you may
One For All Designer TV Stand This stylish TV stand looks like it’s been pulled straight from an episode of Grand Designs . With 360-degree rotation, the tripod comes in walnut, oak, silver or gunmetal colours and will house a TV from 32” right up to 65”. And it even has a handy soundbar holder.
One For All Wireless HDTV Sender Now this is a neat bit of kit that will link up all your AV devices and allow you to control them from a different location in the house. Want to watch the big game in the garden? Need to escape the family and watch a film in your bedroom? Not a problem. Now you can do it without trailing wires through the house.
Sennheiser RS175-U RF Wireless Headphone System
ASTRO A50 Wireless + Base Station for PlayStation and PC If your TV viewing amounts to games and plenty of them, this one’s the crème de la crème of gaming headsets. Another wireless unit with base station combo, the A50 Wireless supports PS5, PS4, PC and Mac, packing in top- of-the-line acoustics with the comfort – and durability – that gamers require.
SteelSeries Arctis Pro Gaming Headset Want cans to handle
anything you use the TV for, be it movie or game? Look no further, for here’s a top wired jack-of-all- trades. Gaming? Slide out the mic and get pew- pewing. Relaxing with a favourite show or a film? Retract the mic while you lavish in awesome stereo surround sound.
The RS175 is perfect for anybody wanting primo TV sound, with wireless freedom of movement. The base station looks after the wires, while the closed back headset design means you’ll be ensconced in your own world – plus it connects via standard 3.5mm socket, classic RCA or digital optical.
One For All Essence 3 Universal Remote Control Fed up with losing all those remotes around the house? With the Essence 3, you can control your TV, set top box, games console, DVD/Blu-ray player and AV receiver/soundbar from one easy to use remote control unit. XCD Adjustable TV Desk Stand This desk TV stand has a swivel feature and will fit most TV designs from 37” to 70”. The maximum weight load is 60kg.
Ezymount Fixed Wall Bracket Designed for TV screens ranging from 37” up to 80”, the Ezymount will hold a maximum of 75kg and features an anti-theft design (you’ll need to supply the padlock) to stop it being ‘lifted’ off the wall.
Vogel DesignMount NEXT 7345 Sleekly designed with a luxury aesthetic, the Vogel DesignMount will take a screen from 40” right up to 65” and up to a weight of 30kg. It can also turn up to 120 degrees for that perfect viewing angle.
One For All Amplified DVB-T2 Fabric Design Indoor Antenna If you’re reliant on an indoor TV antenna, this powerful and smart looking fabric-covered multi-directional antenna can even receive 4K UHD broadcasts.