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Feb232018

Podcast #832: Smart Speakers and Dumb Aspect Ratios

If you haven’t already invested in one of the many smart home speakers on the market, this summer you’ll have even more options, as Facebook plans to unveil its own version of voice-enabled smart home speakers, called Fiona and Aloha. Looking like something one might buy at Hobby Lobby, the $70 ClearStream View is a large, black picture frame with cutouts for family photos. Concealed in its back is a flat HDTV antenna.

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Smart Speakers and Dumb Aspect Ratios

Facebook Fiona: New Competition for Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod, and Google Home

If you haven’t already invested in one of the many smart home speakers on the market, this summer you’ll have even more options, as Facebook plans to unveil its own version of voice-enabled smart home speakers, called Fiona and Aloha. Unlike most of the smart home speakers available today, like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod, Fiona and Aloha will each feature a built-in 15-inch touchscreen. As an extra perk, Aloha will also boast facial recognition technology, which will allow users to access Facebook (and likely launch other tasks) when the smart speaker’s camera lens recognizes them.

 

ClearStream View Wall-Frame HDTV Antenna Review: Nearly Picture Perfect

By building the antenna into a large picture frame, Antenna Direct's ClearStream View is a unique solution to the visually challenging problem of how to hide an indoor antenna. ... the $70 ClearStream View is a large, black picture frame with cutouts for family photos. Concealed in its back is a flat HDTV antenna. The ClearStream View emphasizes design. The plastic 14.25 x 18.75 frame can fit in with any kind of decor (it can even be painted), and it hangs on a single hook or nail. The white collage mat, into which you insert personal photos or artistic endeavors, can accommodate nine pictures ranging from 3.5 x 3.5 inches to 3.5 x 5 inches. You could also simply put one large, say, Monet print in the frame.

 

A Brief History of Aspect Ratios, a.k.a Screen Proportions

This month, my Scientific American column tackles the new era of vertical video—videos shot and viewed as tall, thin rectangles, suitable for smartphone screens without having to turn them. It’s kind of a mess: Vertical videos look ridiculous on TV sets and computer screens, but traditional horizontal videos play tiny and goofily on smartphones held upright. This isn’t the first time aspect ratios (screen proportions) have changed—or have given society headaches. Here’s a quick history lesson. (An aspect ratio is expressed as either a horizontal-by-vertical proportion, like 4:3, or as its resulting ratio, like 1.33. The smaller the ratio, the more square the picture; the larger the ratio, the wider the image.)

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (3)

Obligatory vertical video PSA:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bt9zSfinwFA&vl=en

Brian

February 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBrian McCarty

Thanks Brian. That's hilarious. Just added that video to the show notes above. Too perfect.

February 23, 2018 | Registered CommenterHT Guys

Hi Ara,

Looking forward to your review of the Channel Master 'Smart antenna +' that you mentioned on the show.

March 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSunil

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