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UHD TV - What's the Damage?
November 25, 2015
TV manufacturers could have a very good holiday season. Sales of Ultra High Definition TV sets will exceed 330 million units by the end of 2019, according to Parks Associates. However, while the price of those sets has fallen sharply, a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council contended that UHD models use 30 percent more energy than their HD predecessors.
Is This VR's Mainstream Moment?
November 24, 2015
Samsung last week began fulfilling orders for its Oculus-power Gear VR headset, giving U.S. consumers their first taste of Oculus VR's brand of virtual reality. International preorders have opened as well. It won't be until early next year that Oculus VR begins shipping its full-featured Oculus Rift headset, but as a Gear VR collaborator, it has been touting Samsung's mobile-driven headset.
NY AG Subpoenas Yahoo in Daily Fantasy Sports Battle
November 21, 2015
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman this week sought an injunction to keep DraftKings and FanDuel from operating in the state, according to press reports. He also subpoenaed Yahoo as part of his effort to end the operation of daily fantasy sports platforms in New York, press reports said. If he's successful, it could tip the dominoes in other states.
Nvidia Updates Shield Tablet, Shaves $100 Off Price
November 20, 2015
Nvidia this week revealed a refreshed Shield Tablet K1 and indicated that it isn't done updating the gaming slate. One of the biggest parts of the refresh is a cut of $100 off the price of the 16-GB tablet. The original Shield Tablet was available in a $299 16-GB version and a $399 32-GB variant. A new battery replaces the fire-prone cells that caused a recall of the original Shield Tablets.
Halo Makes Month for Xbox One
November 18, 2015
The NPD Group last week announced that Halo 5: Guardians set atop the gaming charts for October, despite its Xbox One exclusivity. The latest installment of the long-standing sci-fi shooter has given the Xbox One a much-needed boost, but Microsoft's latest console is still well behind rival Sony's PlayStation 4. Overall, the console market saw marginal gains in October.
Microsoft Gives Gamers a New Xbox One Experience
November 16, 2015
Microsoft on Thursday began rolling out the New Xbox One Experience, delivering backward compatibility for Xbox 360 games and updating the user interface to a Windows 10 foundation. Support for legacy Xbox games is the headliner, but the roughly 1.15-GB update includes new social elements baked into a reworked interface. The refreshed interface is faster and more social, the company said.
Microsoft Pulls the Plug on Zune
November 16, 2015
Microsoft on Sunday announced that it would retire the service for its Zune digital media players beginning immediately, and users will no longer able to stream or download content to the device from the Zune music service. The device will continue to function as a music player, and any downloaded content will remain on the device. Users can transfer music to and from the device.
Valve's Steam Gaming Hardware Hits Home
November 13, 2015
Valve this week rolled out the hardware phase of its road map from bedrooms and basements to living rooms and lounge areas with its long-awaited video game controller, PC link box and Steam boxes. Valve's road map to the living room began with Big Picture mode in 2011, continued with in-home streaming in 2014, and now includes the new Steam hardware.
T-Mobile Opens Streaming-Video Buffet
November 12, 2015
T-Mobile on Wednesday announced Binge On, a plan that lets qualified customers Netflix and chill as much as they want. It's the type of move meant to shake up the wireless industry and to cultivate more T-Mobile loyalists. Beginning this Sunday, certain customers can consume streaming content from several popular services without having it count against their data plans.
Xbox Gamers Get to Replay 104 Older Titles on Xbox One
November 9, 2015
Microsoft on Monday announced that 104 catalog titles for the Xbox 360 will be fully compatible and playable on its "new" Xbox One video game system, which hit store shelves two years ago. The list of Xbox One backward-compatible games includes notable hits such as the complete Gears of Wars catalog, Assassin's Creed II, Fallout 3 and Borderlands.
Lytro's VR Camera System Promises Unprecedented Immersion
November 9, 2015
Lytro last week announced its Immerge concept, a virtual reality camera system that promises to plop people right in the center of an experience the company calls "six degrees of freedom." Lytro's Immerge harnesses the potential of light field technology. Light field enables Immerge to capture data from all points, and viewpoints, inside any given volume of space.
Now Facebook Users Can Tell Their Music Stories
November 6, 2015
Facebook on Thursday announced Music Stories, a feature in its iPhone app that lets users post links to music they like with comments. Clicking the link will launch a 30-second preview of the music, which is streamed from either Apple Music or Spotify. Listeners then can purchase the music from the service or save it to their account there.
Circle With Disney Lets Parents Unglue Kids From Media
November 5, 2015
Circle Media and Disney Interactive on Wednesday launched Circle With Disney, a device that gives parents greater control over the management of their children's online activities. Circle With Disney provides curated Disney content through a licensing agreement. Paired with a companion iOS app, it allows users to limit and filter content streaming to a variety of devices.
Live-Action Trailer Hypes Fallout 4 Release
November 5, 2015
Bethesda on Thursday released a preview trailer for its postapocalyptic video game Fallout 4. The game will be released worldwide next week for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One as well as the Sony PlayStation 4. Despite the title, it's actually the fifth major installment in the series. Bethesda has pulled out all the stops, including cross promotions, to build excitement for the release.
Activision Welcomes King Into Its Court
November 5, 2015
The deal isn't done, but Activision Blizzard already was calling itself a "crowned leader" earlier this week, as it anticipated acquiring Candy Crush publisher King Digital Interactive. Both companies' boards of directors are on board with the acquisition, and the two sides have signed a "definitive agreement" that entails Activision Blizzard picking up King's outstanding shares.
Film Industry Claims Victory in Shutdown of Major Piracy Sites
November 4, 2015
The Motion Picture Association of America ran a victory lap after announcing the shutdown of movie and television torrent sites Popcorn Time and YTS. The shutdowns resulted from major legal wins in Canada and New Zealand. The MPAA last month obtained injunctions against the sites in those countries, effectively blocking them from further operation.
Using Tech to Fix the Horrid US Political Debates
November 2, 2015
I watched with interest last week's Republican debate and realized very quickly that whatever that was on my TV, it sure as hell wasn't an actual debate. The idea is for us to be able to compare the qualifications and positions of a variety of candidates and then make a more informed choice -- but if every candidate is asked a different question, then how do we compare the answers?
T-Mobile Rumored to Roll Out Unlimited Video
October 30, 2015
Rumors that T-Mobile plans to introduce an unlimited data plan for streaming video services circulated Thursday following a Twitter post from journalist Evan Blass, who tweets under the handle @evleaks. The company would allow unlimited high-speed data to be used to watch select streaming from services such as Netflix and HBO under its "Uncarrier 10" campaign, he suggested.
Apple TV Reviews: Kinda Buggy, Kinda Great
October 29, 2015
The latest version of Apple's streaming media set-top box has gathered a bundle of mixed early reviews. Some reviewers saw great potential in the $149 diminutive black box designed to pump movies, TV shows, games and apps from the Internet to a television set. Others found plenty to criticize. "I was a little shocked to see how buggy it was," wrote David Pogue.
Nintendo's Miitomo Smartphone 'Game' Fails to Charm Investors
October 29, 2015
Nintendo shares dropped 9 percent on Thursday, and partner DeNA's stock dropped 15 percent after Nintendo announced that it would wade into the mobile waters next year with social mobile app Miitomo. Based on the Mii digital avatars made popular by the Wii, Miitomo will seek to connect players through trivia, Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima reportedly said.
Sony Talks VR and 2016 Games in Paris
October 29, 2015
While Microsoft has been driving home the potential hits it has for the holidays, Sony has sat silent. That changed this week at Paris Games Week, when Sony set the tone for the next year or so by touting 21 games poised to redefine the PlayStation 4 experience. It put on a console-selling show that evidenced the potential of the latest PlayStation and the upcoming PlayStation VR headset.
SXSW May Put Online Harassment in the Spotlight
October 28, 2015
SXSW Interactive reportedly might include a daylong event on combating online harassment. The news followed SXSW's cancellation of two planned panels that were expected to focus on opposite ends of the Gamergate debate. Threats of on-site violence spurred the decision to cancel both panels, according to SXSW officials. However, that decision immediately drew fire.
Apple Fans to Get Their Hands on New Apple TV This Week
October 27, 2015
Apple on Monday opened up advanced orders for the next generation of Apple TV. The set-top boxes are expected to hit homes between Oct. 30 and Nov. 3. It's offering two versions: A 32-GB version is priced at $149 and a 64-GB model is $50 more. With Apple TV losing ground to newcomers to the streaming hardware market, the company has given its set-top box a booster shot: a syringe containing Siri.
Dish Network to Automate TV Ad Sales
October 26, 2015
Dish Network on Monday launched Dish Media Sales, an automated marketplace that will let advertisers buy TV spots the same way they can buy ads online. With the initiative, Dish will give advertisers the ability to purchase targeted, linear TV ads, impression by impression, using real-time bidding technology -- similar to the way online ads are purchased.
YouTube Red Offers Paying Customers Ad-Free PewDiePie
October 22, 2015
YouTube on Wednesday introduced YouTube Red, a $10 a month ad-free channel. Membership extends across devices, and consumers can access the service from other YouTube channels or apps, including YouTube Gaming. Subscribers to YouTube Red will get a twofer -- it automatically provides access to Google Play Music, which also carries a $10 subscription tag.
Apple Music Converts 6.5 Million to Paid Subscribers
October 20, 2015
CEO Tim Cook has revealed that Apple had signed up 6.5 million customers willing to pay for its Apple Music streaming service. Another 8.5 million users currently are giving the service a look-see during a free three-month trial period. Cook unveiled the hard numbers of paid subscribers for the first time, as the industry waited to hear whether Apple would be able to make inroads against Spotify.
NX Leaks Hint at Nintendo Comeback
October 20, 2015
Nintendo reportedly has started to distribute software development kits for its next game console. The company hasn't laid out in detail the ecosystem of third-party software that it plans to build around its upcoming console, code-named "NX," but it plans to integrate it with a digital platform for smartphones, tablets, PCs and its own hardware. The NX will employ "industry-leading chips."
Nintendo, Video Game Industry Rescuer, Turns 30
October 19, 2015
The Nintendo Entertainment System turned 30 years old on Sunday, and though it no longer leads the console pack, the entire video game industry owes a lot to its three decades of development. Its predecessor, introduced in Japan two years earlier as the Famicom, or Family Computer, was massively successful there. However, retailers in North America were leery of introducing a new gaming console.
Ingress Maker Niantic Scores $20 Million for AR Gaming
October 16, 2015
Niantic on Thursday announced that it was the beneficiary of a big bet pooled together by benefactors Google, Nintendo and The Pokémon Co. Niantic, which develops augmented reality games, will receive $20 million in the Series A funding round and could receive another $10 million if it realizes certain undisclosed goals. The company was founded by Google Earth cocreator John Hanke.
Fantasy Sports: Socializing Betting
October 16, 2015
It passes through the channels of federal laws, spills across state lines and even bleeds into the protected realm of college sports. The multibillion-dollar industry that is fantasy sports has stood up to legal challenges so far, but the surging sector still battles problems with perception and faces questions about its future. Allegations of insider trading recently aren't the only issue.
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I plan to do my holiday shopping…
Online only -- I like the convenience and comfort.
Online only -- I'd shop in stores if their stock weren't so limited.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I like to see what I'm getting.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I enjoy the holiday shopping atmosphere.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I want to support local merchants.
Online and in stores -- I want the best of both worlds.
I'm not planning on doing any holiday shopping.