7 of The Best Educational Apps 2014

If you love learning at home or on the go, there a ton of useful apps that can help you with this. In this post, we’re going to concentrate on the 7 best educational apps of this year, so you can learn in the best way possible, wherever you may be.

IBM Think

This app cleverly and prettily charts the evolution of technology. If you ever heard of the Think pop up exhibit that was held in New York in 2011, this is it in app form! It’s inspired by years of scientific discovery and it’s aim is to show how early tools have evolved into the amazing masterpieces we see today.
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Atlas by Collins

This app gives you an innovative and exciting new way to explore the earth, letting users explore the world through a vast collection of 3D globes. Visual data is then displayed all about our beautiful planet! It is expensive however, at $9.99. It’s also very large so not the best choice if you have limited space on your smartphone. If you have the cash and the space though, it’s a great app to have.

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King of Maths

King of Maths is a fun, fast paced maths game that gives you many different problems to solve in all kinds of areas. You can even pick a character and work towards improving your total score! Play against your friends or people from all over the world for a fun game that’ll teach you great things. The only other thing that could teach you maths like this is a local MathsDoctor tutor! king2.jpeg

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Languages

This is a quick and easy to use offline translation dictionary app. The main app interface is pretty, and looks like a bookshelf with many language dictionaries on it. You can choose a dictionary to download to your device, when it becomes available online and offline.

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Wonders of the Universe

With this app you’ll enjoy a custom 3D rendering engine, tons of video, text, and image content. You’ll love the stunning detail this app provides.

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Daily Art

If you love a bit of culture, this app gives you a daily dose of classic paintings. Every day you receive a notification showing you a classic art piece that you can open and read background information on. You’ll learn all about the artist and painting, so it’s great for people who fancy getting more into art culture.

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Wiki Web

This app allows you to explore any Wikipedia article, but also view the connection between articles. The presentation of the app is beautiful, but you’ll also get to discover all kinds of articles you wouldn’t have read before due to the great connection feature!

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These app will help you to learn all kinds of interesting things. Who needs courses and school work, when you have an iPhone?! Next time somebody tells you to get off your phone, you can tell them that you’re filling your brain with tons of helpful information and knowledge…so there!

Cool Things You Can Do With Your Apple iPhone

We live in such a fast-paced world that it is now possible for consumer electronics devices to offer a plethora of features, often which are completely unrelated to the device’s original purpose. Take mobile phones, for example.

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Originally they were just devices that enabled us to call and text people, but now smartphones let us have what is to all intents and purposes an ultra-portable computer in the palm of our hands!

Smartphones such as the Apple iPhone offer us the ability to run all sorts of productivity apps, but did you know that they can be used for all sorts of other weird, wonderful and just generally awesome things? Here are some examples that illustrate just what I mean!

Detect Radiation

You might have thought that you would need a Geiger counter to detect whether there were any unusually high levels of radiation in your area, but thankfully you don’t need to carry out such cumbersome and often expensive equipment anymore!

The Pocket Geiger app works in tandem with a Pocket Geiger device, and is even safe enough to take on a plane with you (probably useful if you happen to be travelling near Pripyat in the Ukraine).

Tune Your Guitar

 Do you play the guitar? Are you constantly losing your tuner whenever you and your guitar head off to a jam session or gig? If so, the iPhone is a great way to help you get back in tune thanks to apps such as the obviously-named Guitar Tuner!

Of course, you have to make sure that you take your iPhone with you, otherwise, you would be in a bit of a pickle!

Find Your Car

 Sometimes I am a bit of an absent-minded motorist. Once, I headed off to a supermarket to buy some groceries and when I came back out, I had completely forgotten where I had parked my car!

An interesting use for augmented reality and GPS on the iPhone is the ability to find your car, and one such example is the Car Finder app! Such apps like these even give you turn-by-turn directions from your current location, so that you know how to get back to your car – useful if you park somewhere like a festival car park, for example.

Find Out How Level Something Is

Here’s one for you DIYers: did you know that your iPhone can help you determine how level something is? There is a plethora of apps in the App Store for the purpose, such as the iHandy Level app, that you can download. They are a great resource when you just can’t seem to find your spirit level!

Check Out Your CCTV Cameras

According to MRFS CCTV Systems, IP cameras are a great way of monitoring any CCTV cameras from a LAN (local area network). A lot of people are under the misconception that you have to use a computer to monitor your cameras, because it is possible to use apps such as iCamViewer on your iPhone that offer the same feature!

The technological revolution for online gaming

The Technological Revolution For Online Gaming

Modern technology has moved at such a fast pace since 2000 that any consumers who blinked would have missed the latest development. Smartphones are unrecognisable from their ancient basic mobile phone predecessors; tablets have almost consigned laptops to the scrapheap, and even televisions have advanced a thousand years over only 14 years.

Impact on online gaming

These technology trends have also greatly impacted the world of online gaming. Thanks to the advent of high-definition graphics, faster processors, and enhanced sound, many gamers now prefer to play online, rather than undertake the expense and effort of buying physical games and consoles.

The rapid development of smartphones and tablets have also changed the online gaming environment. It doesn’t seem too long ago that the most popular mobile phone games were a basic black and white version of ‘Snake’. This game basically boiled down to a line chasing a dot and trying to avoid its own tail.

Current mobile games are also infinitely superior to early incarnations, as smartphones have gradually become more like small PCs and less like clunky digital bricks.

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The introduction of online and mobile-adapted capabilities on these devices has also resulted in several gamers taking to their mobile devices to play their favourite online games, rather than having to undertake the effort of operating a far heavier and less accessible PC device.

Casinos such as Euro Palace Mobile Casino have especially benefited from the increasing popularity of mobile online gaming, and several new online casinos have resultantly emerged over the last 10 years.

Watch this space – as technology reaches unprecedented frontiers, the sky is the limit for online gaming.

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Gaming Through the Ages – Times Change But Demand Only Increases

Sony PlayStation at GDC
Gamers have always been tagged as ‘geeks’ and ‘nerds’ but as anyone who is seriously into their gaming knows, it’s a hobby just like any other. Whether you’re running around kicking a ball, singing and dancing on a stage, riding a horse or playing computer games – they’re all pastimes that provide millions with hours of entertainment.

Unlike other pastimes, the gaming industry is regularly going through a period of change, with new games released on various platforms that themselves are being regularly updated. We’ve seen in the past couple of months that consoles are still as popular as ever before with the release of Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4, along with games developed with the new consoles at the heart.

You also need to throw mobile gaming into the mix, a concept that was merely that – a concept – two years ago. Smartphones and tablet computers have enabled gamers to get their ‘fix’ even when they’re away from their consoles and desktop computers, and all the games themselves are improving with every update, and even change without us having to do anything thanks to automatic updates that add extra content just when we think we’re finally getting to the end of the game which takes away the age-old issue with console gaming that you do in fact finish every stage of a game (if you’re that committed!)

Since gaming really took off in the mid-90s, we’ve seen all kinds of records broken in relation to sales of individual titles and consoles. The days where Pac-Man was King turned to Sonic and other top titles as people’s expectations and tastes changed along with the new titles and their own developments. We’re now at a point where gamers are only truly happy with the titles if they offer them something new, that they haven’t experienced before, or that enhances their all-round gaming experience with excitement and fulfillment – the way it should be.

The moment you turn on a computer or console to play a game, you do so with the hope and expectation of being entertained, getting away from the things that matter for a short while such as work life and trying to unwind. The opportunity to adopt the role of various characters allows us to escape reality – even for a short while – and switching off our brains.

We’ve seen gaming change from the simplistic versions like the aforementioned Pac-Man, into the more sophisticated titles such as Call of Duty that even allow gamers to play with friends and complete strangers across the web, communicating via headsets to provide instructions on how to complete certain tasks, and social gaming could become the buzzword as we move into 2014… watch this space.

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Four Killer Alternatives to Apple TV

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Apple has always been a divisive company. Some love it, others hate it.  It was therefore no surprise that Apple TV – the company’s first product designed to increase ease of use in terms of streaming movies and TV at home – obtained some variable reviews.  Today, we’re going to take a look at some legitimate alternatives for those that don’t like handing their cash over to the big ‘A’. Click here for more information on a number of other tech products.

The Western Digital WDTV Live

For those in the UK, the WDTV offers everything you could realistically need if you rely on digital for your TV shows and movies.  It includes BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, Acetrax and even Spotify.  What’s more, it can comfortably deal with virtually every single other video format, from ISO to XviD. (There’s a list of supported formats on the company’s website).  Files can be played back through a network connection, the HDMI output or through a USB attached hard drive.  Costing only 80 or so, the WDTV offers excellent value for money.

The D-Link Boxee Box

The Boxee Box was originally created for those that built their entertainment centres around their PCs and needed an easy way to connect their desktops and laptops to the TV.  Now though, the Boxee is being targeted to a more mainstream audience.  It includes iPlayer, YouTube and Pandora, as well as access to Facebook and Twitter.  However, it’s worth noting that a few of the UK’s other catch-up channels aren’t accessible as of yet.  The Boxee’s support for other files is largely pretty good, with MKV, AVI, MP4 and MWV (in addition to a number of others) all tested as working fine.  At around 140, it’s an expensive option, but many will enjoy making use of the Boxee.

Roku 2 XS

Visually, there’s actually very little to choose between the Roku and the Apple TV unit: both are small and black, and both cost around the 100 mark.  The XS offers full 1080p HD output support, but also offers a wider range of services than the Apple Product, with all of the main beasts (Netflix, Vimeo, Flickr, Crackle and iPlayer) included.  You can also play some games – such as Angry Birds and Pac-Man – using the unit.  Cool stuff.  There’s Bluetooth compatibility for those that want it.  The only real problem is that video compatibility is weak when compared to the other units on this list: for instance, connecting via USB means that only MP4 will work, and there’s no support for either MKV or DivX.

The XBox 360

Alright, yes: this is technically a console.  However, due to Microsoft’s steadfast updates, the 360 now works very effectively as a general streaming device.  All of the main streaming big dogs (Netflix, iPlayer, Sky Go, LoveFilm, YouTube) can be downloaded as apps and then accessed through the easy-to-use interface.  The 360 can also playback a number of different video formats, including DivX, H.264 and MP4s.  All modern 360s also include HDMI outputs.  Bearing in mind that you can find pre-owned 360s for 100 or so and that they offer the additional ability to play games, Microsoft’s machine is an option that’s well worth consideration.

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Smartphone & Tablets Taking Over The World

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The likelihood is you will probably be reading this from your smartphone or tablet. Which is hugely telling. The rise of smartphones and tablets over the past five or so years have transformed the way we use the internet, and indeed the way we game, and the PC is seemingly dying out as the go-to option.

And PC sales are expected to face their biggest challenge to date in 2014 with even more high-powered devices ready to land on the shelves. According to IDC PC sales fell by 10 percent in 2013, although that rate is expected to slow.

The plummet is part down to there being less reason to replace an older system and part to do with the influx of smartphones in the world. One in every five people across the world own a smartphone, whilst six billion have access to a mobile phone, that’s more than have access to a working toilet.

And it could be PC’s that will be getting flushed in the future. Tablet usage is continuing to rise, whilst IDC research also shows that 87% of connected device sales will be tablets and smartphones by 2017.

The problem PC’s face is that a mobile phone or tablet can do just as much nowadays, and in some cases, considerably more. The mobility factor is obviously the major draw. You can work, organise and play on the move with a smartphone, whilst the App Store and Google Play have a considerable number of games more than the likes of Steam, with the likes of Real Racing and Full Tilt mobile apps available to download.

Nvidia however are not convinced claiming PC’s are even better gaming platforms than the next gen consoles. Matt Wright, executive of the company said, “The PC platform is far superior to any console when it comes to gaming, plus you get all the extra functionality that a computer brings.”

Which is fine, except consoles aren’t necessarily challenging the home computer. We are living in an increasingly busy world. McDonald’s is king and the ready meal is almost considered fine dining, so we’re increasingly requiring to gain our information during a spare five minutes.

Commercially of course the PC will always be required, it’s the life and soul of the office, so it’s unlikely they will completely die out, but shipments are likely to only hit around 300 million by 2017, whilst the amount of smartphones sold annually by 2016 will reach 1.16 billion.

We are continually finding new uses for our devices, we can catch up on television, order shopping, book a hotel, calculate a route, of which all of this you can do on a PC. But having to sit by a desk to do it, just isn’t appealing anymore.

Your Carbon Footprint and the Electronic Signature

Forest above Crafnant

In today’s digital world the countless photocopies and mass print jobs, are more or less, becoming extinct.  Technology has changed the business landscape of many organizations and reducing paper waste can be marked down as one of its significant gains.

Office culture heavily relies on communication between departments ensuring everyone ‘got the memo’. Computers have changed the way co-workers interact, for better or for worse. Less face-to-face interaction also means less paper handling. From PowerPoint presentations to chat software, technology rules our realities.

Not only has paper consumption significantly gone down, but efficiency has gone up. A great example of this is how documents are transferred and viewed. No longer needing to mail, fax, or hand out – scanners provide a clear copy easy to send and share through e-mail or other methods (dropbox, cloud etc).  Waiting days for a client or distant co-worker to receive important documents simply doesn’t exist anymore.

What about signatures? This is all something all of us face difficulty with, even in the home. Receiving a document requiring a signature to send back via web can become a big hassle if you don’t come equipped with a printer and scanner – and most people who are not self-employed don’t necessarily have a fully stocked home office.  In addition, these types of digital signatures are neither secure nor always enforceable in court. Yet, electronic signature is a feature that has recently become more available and reliable.

Whether you have access to a desktop computer, or better yet a smart phone or tablet – you can electronically produce a unique signature if a document is made with specific software. For example, EchoSign, e-Sign and multiple other services exist to allow you and your coworkers to efficiently and securely sign documents without a pen.

With the general public becoming more and more aware of green methods, it is important to be in the loop. Reducing your carbon footprint while incorporating up-to-date technologies will have everyone buzzing about your forward-thinking initiatives.

photo by: erwlas

4 Technologies To Help You Sell Your Home

Social Media apps

Selling your home can be a competitive process that requires creating the best possible first impression. There’s a lot of people out there vying for buyers’ attention, so it’s best to take advantage of the technology out there in order to maximize your efforts.

Today’s technology can help you in everything from the staging process to how you market your home to buyers.

Here are four technologies that can help you sell your home:

Staging Process

Dimmers or automated lighting – Whether or not it’s conscious, lighting is one of the first things that buyers will consider. Well-lit rooms can almost always help you sell your home. Putting dimmer switches in the main living areas gives you more control over finding the perfect lighting for the perfect time of day. For instance if the sun isn’t shining through the windows, you may need to crank the switch up just a little bit to get the corners of the room lit properly. This can make the room more attractive to potential buyers.

An automated lighting system can also help in the home staging process, and be attractive to potential buyers. If the seller is leaving their home for a few hours while it is shown, they can control the lighting levels via their smart phone, tablet or other mobile device. Both dimmers and automated lighting are features that will appeal to the buyer as well.

A premium airwasher – The quality of the air can be one of the first things that a buyer notices as they visit listed homes. Having a premium airwasher such as the Venta Airwasher can help ensure that the air is both humidified and purified. It’s also great for preventing the spread of germs and bacteria through the home. They are also low maintenance, don’t use filters, and can’t over humidify the home.

They’re crucial for making sure that the home is well humidified, without having to worry about regular upkeep. These are all attributes that are especially important if you own several properties, or no one is currently living in the home that you are selling. You’ll never have to worry about maintaining this system as you check on the home.

Marketing Your Home Listing

Virtual Tours – More and more buyers are using the Internet to find home listings. Creating a virtual tour of your home can help ensure that people get a strong sense for the property before they ever set foot in the door. It can be a way to showcase your property’s best features in order to entice more potential buyers.

You can either create your own virtual tour, or hire someone to do it for you. If you decide to create one yourself, make sure the video is steady, and that your home is cleaned, staged, and in the condition that you would want to show it in. Remember, you’re creating a viewer’s first impression of your home with the tour. If this is not a project you want to take on yourself, there are also companies out there that can help you create a professional-looking visual tour that will enhance the appeal of your home.

Social media – Sellers can utilize their social media platforms to help make sure that their home is being seen by the most promising prospects. It’s easy to set up a Facebook ad, and specifically target the type of person who might be interested in viewing or buying your home.

You can also post pictures or your virtual tour on Facebook, or any other relevant social media network. Make sure that you’re not over spamming people, however. When you are constantly hard-selling your friends, it can have the opposite impact that you desire. You may also want to talk with your agent for advice on how to properly showcase your home via your social networks.

About the author: Matthew Brennan is a marketing writer based in the Chicago area. He regularly writes about content marketing, blogging, and engaging with your audience. He has been published on ProBlogger, Soshable, and Business2Community. Connect with Matthew on his website, www.matthewlbrennan.com, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+.

photo by: Jason A. Howie

Office Technology Trends for 2014

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The Optimized Office – 2014

There is an ever-increasing array of office technology available for streamlining processes and providing quality data, much of which is faster and easier used than ever before. Some of it has been around, in one form or another, for a while now, unifying operations and impacting business decisions.

As office technology improves, we are beginning to see a new attitude emerging, moving away from ‘nice to have but not essential’ to ‘critical to operations’ school of thought.

Smaller businesses with tighter budgets are becoming able to access the technology to implement workflow processes and access data which was previously only available to large organizations and this access will be a real game-changer for them in 2014.

Amy Harris, Community Manager for business website Expert Market, discusses the top office technology trends for 2014.

Migration to Cloud Computing

Although cloud computing has increased in popularity over the last five years or so, 2014 will see more businesses adopt some form of the technology as owners become increasingly aware of the benefits.

The ability to lower costs associated with software upgrades and hardware components coupled with the numerous IT hours that can be saved are attractive benefits in themselves.

Combine these with the increased use of mobile devices and the cloud opens up a whole new range of effective working possibilities. Now you can have easy but secure access to data from a home office or on the move via smartphone or tablet.

Streamlining Processes & Eliminating Human Error

 

Automation of back office processes is set to grow in 2014. The integration of document management systems will go much further in creating a paperless office.

Easy access to precise information required by key personnel and the ability to locate and communicate with them, whatever they’re doing and wherever they are, will make tasks easier for them and increase productivity for the company.

The repetitive tasks and processes required in office work are well known to be the most prone to human error and can seriously damage an organization’s reputation and profits.

Automating office tasks is a collaborative measure rather than an attempt to take humans out of the equation, combining human direction with technological precision and control for consistently accurate results.

Big Data, Big Decisions

Buzzword Bingo: Big Data = Collection of large and complex data sets

Big data is a collection of data from traditional and digital sources. Never before has so much data been available to businesses, but it comes in all shapes and sizes.

Today marketers seek to enhance customer experience across numerous devices, web applications, social platforms and face-to-face interactions. If collecting and controlling this information seems impossible, it is – especially without an army of statistical analysts kept on staff to unravel it all and work out what it means for the business.

Now analyzing complex, multi-structured information can be automated and customized. Tracking such things as key performance indicators, trends in business spending and cash flow, customer experience and staff performance can now be cost effective to large and small business allowing innovation, expansion and planning as never before.

The Mobile Office

It’s becoming increasingly important to be able to work while mobile and although laptops will remain popular throughout 2014, tablet PCs are set to become important business accessories.

Developers will work to provide the necessary features including longer battery life, better screens, Internet access at all times and in all locations and the ability to connect with other devices.

Developers are already realizing the importance of using several devices and are creating cross-device software. Software providers will be forced to follow suit and allow their programs to be downloaded to multiple devices without charging more.

New Skills Required

Cutting edge technology will continue on its journey to reach new levels of ingenuity in 2014 but now it will no longer be seen as exclusive to big corporations.

The ability to customize performance to suit requirements and budgets is beginning to level the playing field. A company’s IT infrastructure will be seen as a crucial component of its competitive advantage, touching every aspect of day-to-day operations.

Those who try to continue with outmoded manual tasks, thinking them sufficient support for their most critical operations will find themselves lagging behind, and the longer they leave it the more difficult it will be to catch up.

Skills required for office staff will have to change in order to manage the new technology emerging. Likewise, new and ongoing training programs will be developed to accommodate.

Ultra HD – The Future of Television

Sony 4K Ultra HD TV event

Over the course of the last decade or so, demand for HD TVs and the ‘home cinema’ have rocketed. 2014 promises to be the year which takes it to the next level with the launch of Ultra HD. So what’s all the fuss about?

In recent years, the world has seen a rapid explosion of consumer based digital technology, in the shape of personal computers, mobile handsets and televisions. The increasing popularity of home cinema systems and games means there is a constant demand for improvements, hence the excitement surrounding the launch of Ultra HD.

Ultra HD boasts four times the resolution of HD TVs currently available on the market, thus promising to significantly improve your viewing experience. The technology, commonly referred to as 4K, enhances the resolution, colour and sharpness of the picture. And with 4K also available on computers and mobile handsets, 2014 could be the year in which image quality is revolutionised.

Check out our guide to everything you need to know about Ultra HD and the future of TV.

4K technology

The technical definition of Ultra HD is ‘a product with a minimum resolution of 3840 x2 160 pixels and an aspect ratio of 16:9′. For those unfamiliar with the intricacies of digital resolutions, it essentially means Ultra HD’s resolution is four times that of your standard HD TV.

So what is 4K? Well, it’s basically a digital cinema display measuring 4096 x 2160 pixels. Due to the unavailability of such a resolution on home televisions, however, it had to be downscaled and the result became known as Ultra HD.

The outcome will be a fundamental improvement in the quality of the picture, taking HD to the next level. You’ll need plenty of free space however, as the smallest possible screen size will be roughly 55 inches. Basically a bigger screen means better picture quality. Samsung’s 85 inch Ultra HD TV will please tech lovers with large living rooms. The £35,000 price tag may prove a stumbling block to some, however.

The future of TV

Several leading TV stations, film studios and technology companies are currently going through various stages of testing on Ultra HD. This despite the fact only a few models are currently available for purchase. So is it worth buying an Ultra HD television in 2014, or would it be advisable to hold off until market competition force prices down? Here’s a look at some key aspects relating to Ultra HD in 2014.

Price

With the cheapest units currently costing in the region of £3,000, it’s clear that Ultra HD can’t yet be classed as affordable. That being said, there’s no disputing the quality and potential of the product. As well as increased resolution, there is also a notable improvement on key factors such as texture, colour and the overall detail of the image.

Available content

As was the case when HD and 3D technology first emerged, purchasing the TV doesn’t necessarily bring immediate benefits. This is in part due to the relatively limited amount of content available. It took a while for TV companies to adapt to HD content, and the same will apply to Ultra HD. Although 4K is undoubtedly the way forward, with both Netflix and Amazon intending to produce 4K content this year, 2014 may only see a small amount of films and TV programmes available in Ultra HD.

In the UK, both Sky and the BBC are committed to Ultra HD, with the former having trialled the 4K technology at a live sports event last year. Hit US drama Breaking Bad, meanwhile, has also been shot in 4K.

Product availability

Until more UHD content is rolled out, pick-up in demand may be slow, thus doing little to bring down prices. As with any new technology however, the cost will eventually come down. The likes of Samsung, Sony and Phillips have released their initial models, whilst more affordable brands have recently entered the US market.

Samsung are also behind one of the first mobile handsets equipped with a camera capable of recording footage in Ultra HD. Products such as this could be the key to launching 4K, as not only will consumers be able to view video in Ultra HD, but they will also have the tools to record and create their own footage in finer quality than ever before.

Similarly, the latest computers can be adjusted in order to accommodate Ultra HD, although the necessary system upgrades and graphics cards remain costly.

Overall, however, 2014 promises to be a year in which great leaps are taken within the UHD market. Stay tuned…