On Monday (25 Mar), Panasonic Singapore launched its next generation of SMART VIERA TVs, LUMIX cameras and AV systems, seeking to bring together a seamless connective experience that makes it easy to share memories.
I was invited to the launch at Intercontinental Hotel to learn more about their new products for the beginning of 2013 and to be among the first in Singapore to try out the products.
Interact with your Smart VIERA TV with a personal touch
Panasonic introduced ‘my Home Screen’ which provides instant access to your favourite content through customisable home-screens. These home-screens are activated through face and voice recognition, so each member of the household can easily personalise and access your favourite TV shows, movies, internet, videos as well as photos. The ‘Voice Interaction’ function also enables operating the TV and surfing the internet by talking into the Touch Pad Controller. Use the Voice Guidance function to read out search results so you can keep your fingers free for that cup of coffee or have a facial treatment while lying on the sofa. It even works on smartphones or tablets, through a downloadable app.
‘Swipe & Share 2.0’, an upgraded photo-sharing feature where users can share images on the TV easily is also a key feature in the new upgrade. By tapping onto a shared Wi-Fi network, users can send photos and videos from their smartphones to the Smart VIERA TV with a flick of their fingers, showing images in large format. Friends and family can ‘capture’ the same images on their phones easily with an inward flick of their fingers, enabling rapid sharing of memories and experiences.
These new features can be enjoyed on the Smart VIERA LED WT Series with 3D TV capabilities, featuring an advanced design with unique high-quality IPS panel, and the Smart VIERA Plasma VT Series which offers supreme picture quality with the newest smart functions. The VT Series TVs are also touch-screen enabled with an electronic ‘Touch Pen’, allowing words, pictures and diagrams to be drawn directly on it, which is perfect for party games as well as for educational uses.
Superior sound and seamless connectivity with HD 3D Blu-ray home theatre systems
Complementing the new TVs are an array of improved FULL HD 3D Blu-ray™ home theatre systems that focus on high-quality picture, sound, design and smart networking, led by the trail-blazing SC-BTT430. New micro Hi-Fi systems with wireless speakers provide massive sound in a small package, making it easy to implement a flawless sound environment in your home. Equipped with Cinema Surround Technology as a standard feature, the new models are also suitable for high-definition 3D videos.
The new home theatre systems tap upon new technologies to enable sharing in the home environment and also provide a seamless integration of existing media libraries. Panasonic has developed the Panasonic Music Streaming App which allows a user to view all music that has been archived onto a NAS or PC on a home network, and stream them to the SC-NE5 and SC-NE3 wireless speakers. The app makes it possible to control DLNA, AirPlay or Bluetooth® wireless technologies by itself, eliminating the need to switch between different apps that can only match an individual wireless system and also expands the playable music list from beyond just what is on the mobile device.
The Panasonic Music Streaming App will be available in Singapore and can be downloaded from the iTunes Store or Google Play.
Go further with LUMIX
Panasonic will also be introducing the latest members of the LUMIX camera family, including the new pocket-sized high performance LUMIX DMC-TZ40 with 24mm ultra wide angle 20x optical zoom LEICA DC Lens. The advanced optical design makes the camera the world’s slimmest in class, and its advanced lens system supported by Intelligent Resolution technology further extends its already impressive zoom ratio to 40x equivalent, with minimum deterioration of picture quality.
Those with an active lifestyle and who want to capture life on the edge will love the extremely tough and rugged LUMIX DMC-FT5, with its dustproof, freeze-proof of up to -10 degrees Celsius, waterproof of up to 13m (43 ft), and handling up to 100kgf of pressure capabilities. Complementing it is an in-built GPS and an internal geographical dictionary of place name information, compass, altimeter and barometer, so you always know where the picture was taken.
Both models feature Wi-Fi® connectivity (IEEE 802.11 b/g/n) with NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, which allow users to enjoy flexible shooting styles, and is also helpful for long-exposure shots which require an absolutely still camera to avoid shaking or blurred images. Users can remotely control the setting focus, zooming, shutter release and several other extensive recording settings through a smartphone or tablet away from where the camera is positioned.
The newly added Instant Transfer function allows the camera to transfer the photo data to the designated electronic devices automatically whenever the shutter is released, and some models like the LUMIX DMC-TZ40 even archive images automatically to your PC or compliant Panasonic AV devices via your home Wi-Fi. This feature can be accessed through an easy-to-use interface; photos can also be transferred seamlessly from camera to mobile device, and easily uploaded to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, without having to use a computer. In today’s high-speed society, this provides consumers with the option of capturing and sharing memories instantly, like sharing that cool picture of a sea turtle off the coast of Bali or that close-up shot of sun-rays peaking over the top of Mount Fuji within minutes.
Capturing life’s moments with Panasonic
Camcorders have also joined the fun with the HC-X920M, which is equipped with built-in Wi-Fi function that enables Real Time Broadcasting of important events via Ustream, while recording images in Full-HD. It also features the new 3MOS System PRO which uses a BSI (Back Side Illumination) Sensor to provide excellent shooting performance even in dim lighting situations and reduces noise by 50% compared to previous models. Another exciting product is the HX-WA30, which is waterproof down to 10m, shockproof to 1.5m, freeze-proof down to -10 degrees Celsius and dustproof. Allowing one-handed shooting even in harsh environment, it is great for windsurfing, diving or mountain climbing.
Doomsday social media practitioners like to predict the death of news publishers with the advent of social media, just as people used to predict the “death of radio” with television and the “death of television” with Internet.
To this day, all these different media are still very much alive, each finding its own audience and adjusting to survive.
What is social media?
From Wikipedia: “Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.”
Fundamentally, social media is about two things: the people and the act of content sharing.
Where does shared content come from?
Sans the rare breaking news stories, images captured by citizen journalists, and updates on cute cats and dogs (you get the drift), what makes up the bulk of the content being shared on social media? Rather, where does quality content comes from?
Most of the content shared on social media is reposts of online newspaper or magazine articles and professionally taken photos or videos by news organisations or media personnel.
Recently, a video posted by omy.sg, the bilingual news and entertainment Web portal where I work, went viral in Singapore, garnering close to 1,000 Facebook shares in a matter of days.
The video featured the funeral of two young Singaporean brothers who were killed on the spot in a tragic traffic accident that tugged the heartstrings of the nation. The article accompanying the video garnered another 1,000 shares.
If you combine the two, that is more than 2,000 Facebook shares.
The number might not seem large, but in Singapore’s context, it is. Singapore has a small population of just over five million, and most are not avid “news sharers” culturally. News articles seldom even reach 100 shares.
When the news first broke, many Singaporeans shed tears and shared the family’s heartache at the unfortunate demise of the two brothers. Their parents were both ordinary, working-class Singaporeans with whom many could identify.
The public was hungry for news about the funeral and how their family members and parents were coping. Many wanted to help, whether in monetary form or by providing moral support.
Where does such news and information come from then? Was citizen journalism via social media enough?
No, most of the relevant news content came from news publishers. In fact, there were some tasteless members of the public who kept re-posting leaked photos of the horrific corpses of the two boys, despite calls from the boys’ family to stop.
I am proud to say none of my newsroom colleagues published those photos. We joined in the call for others to stop circulating them. In the end, the newsrooms’ reports were the news content and photos that went viral, not the photos of the corpses.
Quality content has to come from somewhere. It has to be professionally written and produced. Social media needs newspaper publishers because, without news content, there is nothing much to share.
Nonetheless, with social media, there is a paradigm shift in power from the newsroom editors as the sole influencer to the public as influencers. The editors curate what goes to print first. But after the news content is published, it is the individuals who curate each piece of news content that comes out – deciding whether it should be shared on his or her own Facebook profile.
“The medium is the message,” wrote Canadian media scholar Marshall Mcluhan in 1964. The phrase is still relevant today. Social media shapes how we produce, consume, and engage with news content. But, fundamentally, social media is about sharing, and you need content to share.
Hence content is still king.
It is not all doom and gloom. Social media needs news publishers (and vice versa). We just have to adapt and adjust to this new medium.
The attendees for the night featured many prominent figures in the Singapore Chinese cultural scene. My big boss, the Editor-in-Chief of the Chinese Newspapers Division in Singapore Press Holdings, Mr Lim Jim Koon was there, so was Zaobao.com Editor/ Crossroads Editor, Dr. Zhou Zhao Cheng. I was pleasantly surprise to spot two Member of Parliament, Mr Low Thia Khiang and Mr Chen Show Mao with their respective spouses.
The play is an ambitious narrative about eight different women from different era in Singapore history, each seeking their own escapism. Interestingly, it is written by two men, playwrights Jonathan Lim and Liu Xiaoyi. The director, Kuo Jian Hong is female.
A door that’s never locked. A mysterious location. Occupied by women from different generations and backgrounds – and their secrets. A runaway bride abruptly invades this space, kicking off a series of suspenseful moments, frolics, disputes and warmth.
Audiences will find this light-hearted black comedy to be hugely accessible, as the merriment of the show provides a setting to explore the issues of gender, history, society and more.
Series of trailers on “Missing” females – Part 1 of 8:
Men writing about women – risky, but I think they did a pretty good job. Many female audiences seem to enjoy the play, including my wife.
In fact, Rachel was shocked when I told her the play was written by two men.
I find the use of several different languages (Malay, Cantonese and Chinese) to reflect the multilingual Singapore society since historical times very refreshing. However, it can be a bit difficult to keep up with the subtitles, especially when a few characters use different languages at the same time.
The playwright weaved in some puns on the current tension between born-in-Singapore Singaporeans versus the “new citizens” and “new immigrants”. What makes a person a Singaporean? There is the white collar office worker who immigrated from Hong Kong to Singapore before 1997 who consider herself an “old citizen” while criticising another woman from mainland China who only came here recently with a student permit. Are they that different? What is old and what is new?
I like the concept and setting of the whole play. Put eight vastly different women from different era into a confined room and they are forced to interact. This is bound to bring out tensions and coax out the life story of each character, one at a time. Brilliant. This keeps the audience in constant suspense, expecting to find out more about each character as the play moves along.
Overall, Rachel enjoyed the play much more than me. I was probably trying to read too much into the escapism narrative, trying to find some deeper symbolism while she is able to take the storyline at face value. At times, I feel the liberal use of caricatures for entertainment sacrificed much precious screen time which could have been used to bring out more depth to each character.
At the end of the play, I left the theatre wanting to know more about each character, beyond what was revealed in the play. Then again, this could a deliberate ploy by the playwrights…
On a hot Sunday morning (3 Mar 2013), I had the privilege to meet China multi-millionaire philanthropist Chen Guangbiao (陈光标) for breakfast at Bedok interchange Hawker Centre. Together with me were four other bloggers, Smith, Claire, Tech and Darren.
I did not sat down with Chen as I was with the working crew from omy.sg, facilitating the bloggers’ breakfast meeting.
Nonetheless, from my limited interaction with Chen, he come across as a rather sincere and earnest person, determined to do what he think is right, regardless what others have to say about him.
Claire asked Chen what is the most expensive item he bought for himself.
Given his showy way of doing charity, I was quite surprise when he answered saying it is probably a Patek Philippe wrist watch he was wearing:
The watch was said to be given to him by a fan and he do not know if it is even authentic.
Chen added he do not go for branded goods and advocate the same principle to his wife and family members. He also do not indulge in vices like gambling and his biggest “vice” and hobby is doing charity.
He mentioned if he were to visit Singapore again, he is considering going to the casinos to tell the high-rollers to donate their money to charitable causes instead.
I am impressed. Really.
I do hope Chen will visit Singapore again and follow through with this plan.
During the short one hour, we witnessed him gave 3 x US$100 notes on-the-spot to an old auntie selling tissue paper who approached his table and two elderly cleaners:
There is a sizable number of rich elites in this world like Chen who have amassed immense fortunes which the majority of us can never make in multiple lifetimes.
This video below about the income gap in the USA was released late last year and has gone viral. It shows how bad the income gap is in the USA by taking the ratio of the wealth and income of the top and comparing it with the bottom:
Isn’t it good that some like Chen choose to give back to society?
Borrowing a phrase from Deng Xiaoping: “”It doesn’t matter whether a cat is white or black, as long as it catches mice (不管黑貓白貓,會抓老鼠的就是好貓)”.
In other words, why bother how one is donating as long as he/she is giving back to society.
I am a big fan of Tarentino. He single-handedly lifted the exploitation film genre to art-house status, enjoyed by both mass audience and critics.
Django Unchained is Tarentino’s attempt to rewrite history again, after wiping out Adolf Hitler and his gang of Nazis in Inglorious Basterds.
This time round, racist Southern slave traders and Ku Klux Klan members from the pre-American Civil War period are his target for vilification and revenge.
The movie stars two of my favourite actors, German-Austrian actor Christoph Waltz and American actor, stand-up comedian, singer-songwriter, musician, and talk radio host, Jamie Foxx.
For those who watched Inglorious Basterds, you will remember Waltz as the evil-to-the-bones Nazi SS Colonel Hans Landa – the main antagonist in the movie. Waltz’s performance was rock solid. For his portrayal of Hans Landa, Waltz won the Best Actor Award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival; a Gloden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guld Award, an Academy Award and an BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor!
One can never get enough of Waltz and I was delighted to see him playing a supporting role again in Django Unchained. Though Waltz had limited screen time, he commands a strong screen presence which linger on even after his character exit the storyline.
Leonado DiCaprio plays a plantations and slaves owner who enjoys making his slaves fight each other to death for entertainment. It is rare to see pretty boy DiCarpio plays a villainous role. He was downright evil in his portrayal and I am sure any decent human being would want to see him dead by the end of the movie.
Watch out for Tarentino’s own cameo in the movie which came quite surprisingly and ended quickly. Veteran actor, Samuel L. Jackson also appeared in a small role as a evil house slave who turns on his own kind.
The movie runs for over two and a half hour, but the storyline is so full of twists and turns that you will not find it a minute too long.
Witty, powerful and rewriting history in the way it should be in an ideal world, Tarentino unleashed yet another classic exploitation film with art-house standard following Inglorious Basterds.
For those easily offended by graphic material, Django Unchained, true to the genre of exploitation films, would not be easy to stomach with it’s mix of blood, gore, violence and sex scenes.
For those who are sanitised to such stuff like yours truly, the movie comes highly recommended for solid entertainment.
Interview with Tarentino, DiCarpio and Foxx:
Django Unchained opens in Singapore cinemas on 21 Mar 2013 (this Thursday). Go catch it!
LE NOIR – a brand new circus spectacular opened at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, last Tuesday (12 Mar), direct from a sold-out world-premiere season in Tokyo. It will be showing at Sands Theatre till 7 April 2013.
The show features former performers from the acclaimed Cirque Du Soleil with a cast of world class acrobats, musicians, specialty acts and comedians. I had the privilege to catch it on the opening night.
There is no linear storyline to weave the show together. Seemingly disjointed speciality acts and acrobatic performances transits from one to the next with the use of visually spectacular costumes and dance acts.
A circus master acted as a central comedic character to engage and interact with the audience, helping to warm the audience before and after each act.
The official website aptly described Le Noir’s content as “risqué, seductive and at times hilariously naughty”.
With a slew of beautifully chiseled bodies parading before the audience in a unique show arena that allows for 360 viewing, it is hard not to be left awe-stricken.
Fundamentally, Le Noir is just a string of acrobatic and specialty acts.
How Le Noir stands out is with the artful packaging of the whole show into a visual spectacular so beautiful that you find attention all glued on the stage.
The production is fast paced, extremely funny and highly entertaining. I enjoyed myself very much, even though I do not usually enjoy theatrical performances with no clear narrative.
Go catch it if you are looking for a visual treat. 🙂