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Amazon Free Video Could Hook Non-Prime Audience
November 24, 2014
Amazon reportedly plans to introduce a new ad-supported streaming video service early next year. The new service will be separate from Amazon's Prime membership offering, which already includes a video-streaming component. That Amazon already has a presence in the streaming video market is almost beside the point. The growth projections for this type of service are very high.
Gadget Ogling: A Creepy Echo, Clever Home Connections, Bizarre Smartphones and Flexible 3D Printing
November 15, 2014
Echo, Amazon's newest attempt at a smart personal assistant, is set to take pride of place in your home. The black tower is voice-activated and can play music, as well as provide information and news updates. It's from Amazon, so it also can update your shopping list. It's always on, so it's continually listening to you, wherever you are in a room. That's just more than a little unsettling.
Ubisoft Under Siege for Glitch-Filled Assassin's Creed
November 14, 2014
Ubisoft on Friday released a second patch for Assassin's Creed: Unity, in an effort to quell the uproar that has arisen over problems with the game. The first patch was released earlier this week. Ubisoft has been the target of harsh criticism from gamers and game reviewers alike for releasing Assassin's Creed: Unity with numerous bugs and glitches.
Nvidia Flips Grid's Game-Streaming Switch
November 13, 2014
Nvidia on Thursday officially launched its Grid on-demand game-streaming service. Due to become available on Nov. 18 in North America, Grid will be free through June 30, 2015, for users of Nvidia Shield tablets and portable devices. "We intend to build Grid into a premium cloud gaming service, and the best global service," said Nvidia spokesperson Brian Burke.
Microsoft Spiffs Up Xbox One
November 10, 2014
Microsoft on Monday announced that it had begun rolling out its Xbox One November Systems Update, which will be its final major update for the console for 2014. The improvements will deliver new ways for owners to watch TV, personalize the game system, and interact with the Xbox Live gaming community, as well as provide new integration with Xbox One Store and Microsoft's SmartGlass platform.
Amazon's Echo Plays Hard to Get
November 07, 2014
Amazon on Thursday announced Echo, a speaker with a built-in voice-activated personal digital assistant. Think of a cylindrical Bose SoundLink Mini married to Siri, Cortana or Google Voice -- or heck, living in sin with all three. Echo can conduct Web searches, add items to your to-do list, let you play streaming music, and give you news and weather reports, among other things.
YouTube Warms to Subscription Model
October 30, 2014
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki this week said that her team was in the early stages of exploring a new subscription business model. Wojcicki didn't offer any specific details, but she did suggest that one option might include an ad-free service. That would be a big change from YouTube's current advertising-only approach. At some point, people won't want to see ads, Wojcicki said.
Battered Aereo Takes a Couple More Blows
October 28, 2014
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan last week granted broadcasters' request for a temporary restraining order against Aereo. This is the latest setback for the would-be cable-killer service, which was suspended following a Supreme Court ruling this summer. Aereo had utilized small dime-sized antennas to capture over-the-air TV signals and stream the content to subscribers over the Internet.
Amazon Sticks It to Google Chromecast
October 27, 2014
Amazon on Monday introduced the Fire TV Stick, a new streaming-media device that can connect to an HDTV's HDMI port and deliver video content from Amazon Prime Instant Video, as well as Netflix, Hulu Plus, ESPN, YouTube, Spotify, Vevo, Pandora and A&E. It also can be used to play games. New and existing Amazon Prime customers can pre-order the Fire TV Stick for $19 through Tuesday.
Gadget Ogling: Apple vs. Google, a Bossy Activity Tracker, and Feeling Your Path
October 18, 2014
There was plenty of focus on the cameras at Apple's presentation, as it tries to promote the tablet as an ideal viewfinder for taking high-quality images, while adding iPhone features like time-lapse and burst mode. However, the new push of iPad photography is just encouraging even more people to look foolish by taking photos with their tablet in public. This is a plague.
Netflix Drives Into a Ditch
October 17, 2014
Netflix stock closed Friday at $357, up slightly from the depths it plummeted to earlier this week. Shares fell almost 25 percent in premarket trading on Thursday -- more than $110 a share -- to $338. The plunge followed news of weak subscriber growth in its third quarter. Netflix reported $1.2 billion in Q3 revenue, which was up 38 percent from the same period a year prior.
Netflix Falls in Punch-Drunk Love With Adam Sandler
October 02, 2014
Netflix on Thursday announced that it will be the exclusive home for four original feature films starring Adam Sandler. Netflix will work with Sandler's Happy Madison Productions to develop the films and premiere them exclusively on its service. "This is an interesting development and one that demonstrates that Netflix hasn't forgotten its movie roots," said IDC analyst Greg Ireland.
Gadget Ogling: Smart Wine, Wooly Sound and a Clever Light Bulb
September 27, 2014
I give LG a little flak for constantly releasing new smartphones, but here's one with a twist. LG is pegging the Wine Smart as its first flip-style smartphone. Yes, the compact style is back, only this time its fuel is Android, instead of whatever arcane OS manufacturers might dream up. I suspect this is more about style than function, outside of a dedicated button for opening an IM app.
Amazon Takes a Leap of Faith With 'Transparent'
September 26, 2014
With the launch on Friday of its latest original series, Transparent, Amazon may be signaling its intention to challenge Netflix in the streaming video market. Amazon already has earned praise for its original programming, but it hasn't reached the critical or audience success of Netflix offerings such as House of Cards or Orange Is the New Black.
Comcast Blasts TWC Merger Foes
September 25, 2014
Comcast on Tuesday lashed out at critics of its $45.2 billion bid for TWC, accusing Discovery Communications of making "extortionate demands." Netflix also drew Comcast's ire. The proposed merger is in the public interest, Comcast maintained. "It is not extortion to demand that Comcast provide its own customers the broadband speeds they've paid for," said Netflix spokesperson Cliff Edwards.
Will the Beats Go On?
September 23, 2014
Apple appears to be planning changes for the Beats Music streaming service, following its $3 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics in May. Information from sources supposedly in the know indicated the company was planning to discontinue the service, according to one report, but Apple indicated the rumor was "not true." It's possible that Apple is planning to rebrand the service, however.
Sony's PlayStation TV Could Be a Busy Little Gadget
September 22, 2014
Sony Computer Entertainment on Monday confirmed that nearly 700 games will be available for its PlayStation TV system when it launches in North America on Oct. 14. They will include popular and classic franchises such as Killzone: Mercenary, Final Fantasy, Twisted Metal and Metal Gear Solid. The PS TV is a non-portable variant of the PlayStation Vita.
Harmony Takes Control of Home Sweet Automated Home
September 18, 2014
Logitech has announced four new products for the smart home in its Harmony family that let users control TVs, set-top boxes, speakers, lighting, thermostats, door locks, window shades and more. Users can trigger activities such as dimming the house lights in several ways: by pressing a button on their remote; passing a sensor; using the Harmony mobile app; or by setting up an automatic schedule.
Nintendo Blows Some Minds With Hyrule Warriors
September 17, 2014
Nintendo's Hyrule Warriors, which was released in Japan last month and will arrive in North America on Sept. 26, is a very different kind of game. Nintendo called in help from two outside studios: Team Ninja; and Omega Force, the creators of Dynasty Warriors. The result is a game that looks a lot like The Legend of Zelda but doesn't play like it at all.
Destiny Teams Race to Vault of Glass Finish Line
September 16, 2014
Bungie's second special Destiny event, dubbed "Vault of Glass," went live early Tuesday. Bungie calls it "the most elaborate mission" it has ever created. Only gamers who have reached Level 26 will qualify. Attempts to complete the Raid are being streamed live on Twitch. After months of hype and anticipation, Destiny, the latest video game from Bungie, finally arrived last week.
Minecraft May Help Microsoft Build Its Mobile Strategy
September 15, 2014
Microsoft on Monday announced it has agreed to acquire Mojang, the software developer that created the popular Minecraft video game. Although it's subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory review, the deal is expected to be finalized by the end of this year. Microsoft will pay $2.5 billion for Mojang and gain full control of the iconic Minecraft franchise.
Verizon May Launch Have-It-Your-Way Internet TV
September 12, 2014
Verizon in the first half of next year will launch an Internet TV service that offers a selection of custom channels as well as a bundle of content from the Big Four networks, according to reports. Represented in the mobile-minded bundle will be not only content from ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, but also millennials-focused programming from DreamWorks Animation's Awesomeness TV.
Will Ferrell Calls On Gamers to Launch Cancer Assault
September 10, 2014
Comedian Will Ferrell on Wednesday announced an effort to battle cancer by giving gamers a chance to participate in a two-hour gaming event with him. The Indiegogo initiative aims to raise $375,000 for nonprofit organizations Cancer for College and DonateGames, by asking gamers to contribute at least $10. One randomly selected giver will win the opportunity to play games with Ferrell on Oct. 26.
Apple Brings It
September 09, 2014
Apple on Tuesday rebuilt its iPhone foundation by introducing two new models with Retina HD displays: the iPhone 6 at 4.5 inches, and the iPhone 6 Plus at 5.5 inches. It launched Apple Pay, which promises to become the catalyst NFC mobile payment technology needs to become mainstream. Plus, it introduced the drool-worthy Apple Watch in two sizes, three style collections, and six choices of straps.

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