Death knell of plasma TV

Thursday, 30th October, 2014

Plasma television is finally succumbing to its LCD rival with LG Electronics one of the latest manufacturers to cease production on 30 November 2014. Focusing instead on “enhancing and expanding its OLED and LCD TV product portfolios”, the Korean manufacturer is expected to convert its plasma display assembly and modular lines located in Gumi, South Korea, to make OLED TVs, LCD TVs and PC monitors.

In a statement today, LG said it did not intend to sell any commercial properties and the approximately 400 affected staff would be reassigned to other areas within the company by year’s end.

Death knell of plasma

LG said sales of plasma TVs had been on a constant decline and in 2013 its plasma business represented just 2.35% of total revenues. The move represents the death knell for plasma.

Samsung is reportedly shutting down its plasma production also by the end of November 2014. Panasonic pulled out of plasma production last year.

While popular at first, and cheaper than its LCD rival, plasma gained a reputation for a shorter lifespan and was subject to burn-ins where the display persisted in showing a dark static image or logo previously on the screen.

An OLED (organic light-emitting diode) is a light-emitting diode (LED) in which the emissive electro-luminescent layer is a film of organic compound which emits light in response to an electric current

OLED represents the way forward for TV manufacturers. Its displays are lighter and thinner than LCD and LED models and do not require back-lighting. The displays are naturally brighter with whiter whites, blacker blacks and more vivid colours. The displays are also flexible and open the way to an era of screens that can wrap around walls and other objects. While still expensive at the moment, OLED is expected to drop dramatically in price as demand increases.

Bang & Olufsen currently produces two plasma TVs: BeoVision 4 and BeoVision 12 (shown above).

See also our article here

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BeoPlay A2: Style & Substance

Wednesday, 29th October, 2014

BeoPlay A2 By B&O Play Review: Doing The Little Things Right

” As with buses, you spend an age waiting for one Bluetooth speaker to turn up and suddenly four turn up at once.

Well now Bang & Olufsen are finally joining the party, and while this one is a hefty £299 it’s also bang on the mark with what you’d expect in terms of quality.

Except… it isn’t Bang and Olufsen. Not really. Instead it’s their young-blood B&O Play brand which gets the honour of launching the company’s first ever Bluetooth speaker. So how does it handle the responsibility? Read on to find out…

As with all of the B&O Play products the A2 fits tightly within the 1930s-inspired design language that the company has assigned to its trendier offshoot.

This is not a bad thing. The A2 is a good-looking speaker, with a strong leather handle at one end and a heavy steel frame in the centre. If we had one complaint it would be that the huge speaker grills which pretty much dominate the A2 are made from thick plastic.

At 1.1kg we can see why they went for plastic but the compromise is frustrating, especially for something that costs £299 and delivers in so many other areas.

BeoPlay A2 grille

The main area that matters, of course, is sound-quality. And the A2 has that in abundance.

B&O haven’t skimped even slightly when it comes to components, so there are 2×30 W digital class D amplifiers and two drivers, tweeters and radiators on either side of the speaker.

That has two effects, the first of which is volume. The A2 can get seriously loud without any degradation in quality. It can also fill a room regardless of where you place it.

Now while many companies will claim to offer ‘360-sound’ the plain fact is that if you’re using passive radiators then a corner or wall is always going to make a difference. Credit where credit’s due however as even when placed in the middle of the room, the A2 has plenty of lower-end thump.

Despite this impressive sound delivery, the A2 still manages to pack in a solid two-days worth of battery life. In fact we got a full weekend out of the A2 before it finally demanded electricity.

The A2 joins a new breed of Bluetooth speakers that are angling to be the only room speaker you’ll ever need.

In the mornings it’ll be your wake-up alarm, in the evenings it’ll be the speaker you take into the kitchen and then after dinner you’ll use it to chill out in the living room.

Can it deliver in this regard? The simple answer is yes, the A2 sounds great and while the build quality and design won’t be to everyone’s taste, we think that if you’re going to forgo the world of Sonos then the A2 isn’t a bad place to start  ”.


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Monday, 27th October, 2014

Bluetooth is a short-range, low-power wireless standard for transmission of digital data and has been around since 1998. It has many uses including that of audio streaming.

Bluetooth has evolved a number of specifications and profiles over the years which can be somewhat confusing. We try to give the basics here in this short article.

Bluetooth devices come in all manners of shape, size and function, but as far as audio is concerned there are two basic types: transmitters and receivers. A Bluetooth audio transmitter is any audio source with Bluetooth functionality, for example an iPhone, computer or dongle which receives audio input from another device. A Bluetooth audio receiver can be a wireless headphone or speaker, or a dedicated audio receiver.

The transmitter sends out a digital signal encoded in a way the receiver can recognise. The receiver then decodes this signal and converts it to analogue for audio playback. To establish a link between transmitter and receiver and determine which Bluetooth profiles can be used ,an initial setup step called “pairing” is necessary.

Bluetooth is commonly listed with a specification version, usually ranging from v2.0 to v4.0 (soon there will be v4.1). There are older versions as well, but v2.0 was specified back in 2004 and it is very unlikely that any audio devices on the current market still use previous specifications. Optional components that may follow the Bluetooth version number, such as +EDR (enhanced data rate) and +HS (high speed), do not affect Bluetooth audio streaming.

Bluetooth v2.1 simplified and streamlined the pairing procedure. Later Bluetooth versions improved power handling and power saving functionality which may affect attributes such as range and connectivity, but anything specified v2.1 or newer should be equivalent as far as audio quality is concerned.

aptX Audio Codec

Bluetooth audio codecs

What determines how audio is sent to a wireless headphone? That is called the ‘codec’. After the transmitter selects the appropriate profile, it chooses a codec to digitally compress the audio for sending to the receiver. The receiver then decodes the file for playback. Although it is theoretically possible to send MP3s or any other digital format straight to the receiver over Bluetooth, this is not what happens. Instead, the A2DP* profile specifies its own set of audio codecs.

There are several different codecs which can be used including SBC (Sub-band Coding), AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) and aptX. For the purposes of this short introductory article we shall just mention aptX as this is the codec used by Bang & Olufsen’s new portable speaker: the BeoPlay A2.

aptX is a proprietary audio codec developed for demanding audio applications. Its use in Bluetooth devices is entirely optional. In fact, aptX is currently supported by only one manufacturer of Bluetooth chipsets: CSR, which acquired parent company APT back in 2010.

aptX is designed to encode a CD-quality (16-bit / 44.1kHz) audio stream without loss of sound quality through a combination of slightly higher data transfer rate compared to SBC as well as more efficient audio encoding. The caveat is that both the headphone and the source must support aptX; if either one lacks aptX support, the default SBC codec will be used instead. Currently, aptX support is limited to mostly high-end Android smartphones and Hi-Fi wireless devices. Nexus 5, for example, does not support apt-X. And nor do Apple devices such as iPhones and iPods.

aptX encoded audio fits neatly within the available bandwidth of wireless transmission standards to offer an efficient solution for band-width restricted connections.

By incorporating aptX® audio coding technology into the next generation of Bluetooth® stereo products, developers can offer consumers audio quality indistinguishable from wired with an impressive dynamic range.


  • Outstanding Bluetooth® Stereo audio quality
  • Audio bandwidth matching CD performance
  • Flat Frequency Response. Full audio bandwidth faithfully reproduced
  • Low audio coding delay. Minimizes latency and ‘lip-sync’ issues
  • Non destructive transcoding, means there are no dueling effects with other algorithms
  • Uses Time Domain ADPCM principle rather than Psycho-acoustic masking
  • Small code / data memory size
  • Backward Compatibility: when aptX is not available the target device will pair down to SBC

*A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) – designed for multimedia and used for stereo audio transmission over Bluetooth.

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BeoPlay A2 on film

Friday, 24th October, 2014

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Read more about BeoPlay A2

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