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Amazon Offers Binge-Friendly Monthly Prime Subscriptions
April 18, 2016
Amazon on Monday began offering Prime Video as a standalone service with a monthly subscription option. Prime Video previously was offered only as part of a bundle with Amazon Prime, which is available for $99 a year. Amazon also offers a monthly Prime membership plan for $10.99, which includes all the benefits that come with the yearly Prime plan, including two-day free shipping.
ESPN Adds Drone Racing to Its Summer Schedule
April 14, 2016
The International Drone Racing Association and ESPN on Wednesday announced a multiyear international media distribution deal. Under the partnership, the network will showcase the 2016 U.S. National Drone Racing Championships, which will be held on Governors Island in New York City this summer. The national championships and the 2016 World Drone Racing Championships will be streamed live on ESPN3.
Gadget Ogling: Smarter Notes, Livelier Virtual Reality, and Bigger In-Flight Movies
April 14, 2016
We've for some time had Moleskine's Smart Notebooks, which allow you to jot down your thoughts and upload them to Evernote through an app. The new Smart Writing Set takes that idea and elevates it to a new plane, letting you quickly turn scrawled notes or doodles into digital files you can edit using a computer or any mobile app -- no smartphone camera required.
Facebook Entices VR Content Creators With Open Source Surround Cam
April 13, 2016
Facebook on Tuesday unveiled a high-quality 360-degree 3D camera suitable for creating virtual reality content. The Facebook Surround 360 system, which made its debut at the F8 developers conference, includes a production-ready camera -- which costs about $30,000 to build and looks like a flying saucer from a science fiction movie -- and software for controlling the camera and for stitching and rendering what the camera captures.
Twitter Upsets Rivals to Win Thursday Night Football Streaming Rights
April 6, 2016
The National Football League on Monday named Twitter its exclusive global partner to live-stream 10 Thursday Night Football games during the 2016 season. Twitter reportedly beat out some of the top content and social media providers. It will live-stream the games for free to more than 800 million registered and unregistered users over mobile phones, tablets, connected TV sets and PCs.
Oculus' Controversial ToS a Stark Reminder of Its Facebook Parentage
April 4, 2016
Oculus last week updated its terms of service to accompany the release of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, raising privacy and content ownership concerns. Software will be installed to monitor how the device is used, and the usage data will be sent back to Oculus and its parent company, Facebook, according to the terms of service. Collected data could be shared with third parties.
The Hololens Academy: How I Became a Novice Wizard
April 4, 2016
At last week's Microsoft Build conference, I attended the Hololens Academy -- a whirlwind effort to turn me into a master programmer able to create things out of thin air. It failed. Apparently it takes longer than an hour to teach someone who hasn't coded in decades to be a master programmer -- go figure. However, by the end of the class I was gleefully throwing fireballs.
For Many Users, Instagram Algorithm Is Not a Pretty Picture
March 30, 2016
Instagram on Monday moved to calm concerns among some users about a proposed change in the way content appears in their feeds. Celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Cindy Crawford fueled the anxiety by urging their followers to enable a feature on their mobile devices that would notify them whenever those celebrities post to Instagram. The company assured users that their feed weren't changing yet.
FCC Commissioner Sounds Alarm Over Netflix Throttling
March 30, 2016
FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly on Tuesday suggested the government should investigate Netflix's practice of throttling video content delivery to customers using mobile devices. However, Netflix's video throttling was not a violation of the FCC's Net neutrality rules, O'Rielly also said. Netflix last week announced plans to offer a data saver feature for mobile apps beginning in May.
Oculus Rift Offers the Best VR Experience Yet, Reviewers Say
March 28, 2016
The first reviews of the Oculus Rift surfaced Monday, and reviewers praised the potential of the virtual reality system while pointing out some obvious concerns. The headset display is well-crafted, but drawbacks include the cost and the fact that it requires a powerful gaming system to run it, according to some reviews. "It has the potential to change the world," Devindra Hardawar wrote.
Dish Networks' Hopper 3 Takes a Leap and a Bound
March 26, 2016
Dish Network continues to up its game with its whole-home TV set-top box and accompanying devices. Since introducing its Sling-based TV-anywhere solution and whole-home DVR three years ago, Dish has remained one hop ahead of the competition. Since its launch, the Hopper has featured Sling technology that allowed for the streaming of content from the living room to almost anywhere.
Apple Loses Video Over IP Patent Scuffle in Germany
March 18, 2016
A German court on Wednesday determined that Apple had infringed a patent owned by the Kudelski Group's OpenTV division. Apple products sold in Germany can't use streaming technology that infringes OpenTV's patents, the court reportedly ruled. The suit was brought in 2014 in Düsseldorf District Court over three patents held by OpenTV and its sister company, Nagra.
Xbox Signals It's Ready to Rumble
March 16, 2016
Microsoft this week announced that it would support cross-network play between its latest gaming console and other platforms. Cross-network support would allow Xbox One players to engage in multiplayer gaming with friends and randoms on platforms such as Steam and the PlayStation Network. It will be up to developers to support cross-platform games, however.
USA Today to Experiment With Virtual Reality News Show
March 14, 2016
The USA Today Network last week announced VRtually There, a virtual reality news program that will evolve alongside the nascent VR sector. Set to launch this spring, VRtually There will air an assortment of regularly scheduled programming, according to the Gannett-owned company. It will lean on the network's newsrooms to deliver original reporting for the VR platform.
One of Amazon Echo's Babies Might Outshine the Parent
March 7, 2016
Amazon launched two new versions of Echo last week: the Echo Dot and the Amazon Tap. I've actually had the chance to look at both, and they flesh out the line nicely -- but I think the Dot actually could outshine the original Echo. I'll share some of my reactions to both devices and speculate about what could come next as Amazon expands this product line.
No Man's Sky Cleared for June 21 Launch
March 4, 2016
Hello Games on Thursday began taking preorders for No Man's Sky, its procedurally generated journey to the center of the universe. No Man's Sky will become available for PlayStation 4 and PC on June 21 in North America, and on June 22 in Europe, priced at $60 per unit. In addition to digital versions, physical releases will be available for consoles.
Gadget Ogling: Playful Projectors, Star Wars Sounds, and Spotify-to-Go
March 1, 2016
Sony's Xperia Projector Concept turns any surface into an interactive display. One can, for instance, check the latest temperature, play games, edit documents, or make video calls. It is a self-contained system, and it does not need to connect to a smartphone or a computer to operate. It seems that Sony has designs on turning this into a portable device as well.
AT&T Jumps Into the 5G Race
February 13, 2016
AT&T on Friday announced plans to start testing 5G technology, with a possible limited commercial rollout before the end of 2016. 5G offers the promise of besting the speeds of today's fastest wireless networks by a factor of 10 to 100, through the use of millimeter waves, network function virtualization, and software-defined networking. AT&T is collaborating with Ericsson and Intel on the effort.
Amazon Opens Lumberyard to Game Devs
February 11, 2016
Amazon on Tuesday announced that it has widened its footprint in the game industry, complementing its development studio with the Lumberyard 3D game engine. Based on core components of Crytek's CryEngine, Lumberyard will support development for PCs and consoles (Xbox One and PlayStation 4). Amazon plans to add support for mobile devices and virtual reality gear soon.
Yahoo May Have Found a Lifeline
February 11, 2016
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdams last week confirmed that his company was exploring an acquisition of some of Yahoo's assets, which would be placed under the corporate umbrella of Verizon's AOL unit. McAdams discussed Verizon's interest in an interview with Mad Money host Jim Cramer. Giving AOL CEO Tim Armstrong control of some of Yahoo's assets would be good for investors.
The Pirate Bay Is Now Streaming
February 10, 2016
The Pirate Bay may be vying to become the world's largest streaming site. It recently began testing a plug-in that turns browsers into torrent-streaming clients. Having returned from its latest exile, The Pirate Bay now is using the Torrents Time plugin to deliver an illegal answer to Netflix. Users can access a wealth of movies and TV shows without paying a cent to the copyright holders.
Amazon Echo: Get Your Uber Rides, Pizza Pies and Hit Music Here
February 9, 2016
Amazon last week added Uber calling, Spotify listening and Domino's pizza ordering to its growing list of functions available to Echo's voice-activated speakers and Alexa software. Users need only to ask Alexa to call an Uber or an UberX, which is one of the various levels of the Uber private car service, to get a ride. New Uber users can get $15 off their first ride by using the 15Alexa discount code.
Twitter Clobbered Over Timeline Algorithm Plans
February 9, 2016
Twitter plans to introduce an algorithmic timeline, possibly this week, according to a report last week. The algorithm would organize tweets based on relevancy. Twitter users criticized the idea using the hashtag #RIPTwitter, prompting CEO Jack Dorsey to respond: "Regarding #RIPTwitter: I want you all to know we're always listening. We never planned to reorder timelines next week."
T-Mobile's Binge On May Run Afoul of Net Neutrality Rules
January 29, 2016
T-Mobile's Binge On streaming video service violates Net neutrality rules, according to a report authored by Barbara van Schewick, director of The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. Among the reasons the Binge On service may be problematic: It doesn't offer unlimited video streaming, raising transparency concerns; and it gives participants a competitive advantage.
Report: Amazon Primes Spotify Alternative
January 29, 2016
Amazon has been in licensing talks with music industry executives as it prepares a rival to Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming music services, according to a news report Wednesday. It's targeting a fall launch. Amazon already offers 1 million tracks through its Prime Music service, but that pales in comparison to Spotify's 30 million-strong collection.
GoPro Shooters Can Send Live Streams Up Periscope
January 27, 2016
GoPro on Monday announced an integration with Twitter's Periscope app that allows live streaming from a GoPro Hero4 camera. Periscope users can switch between broadcasting from their iPhone's camera to their GoPro directly from the phone screen with the touch of a button, GoPro said. The feature allows GoPro shooters to use the Periscope interface like a production switchboard.
Sony's Gaming Biz Coming to America
January 27, 2016
Sony on Tuesday announced plans to merge its PlayStation operations in a new company to be headquartered in the U.S. Sony Interactive Entertainment will open for business on April 1, starting with $2 million in operating capital. The new California-based firm will merge the operations of Japan-based Sony Network Entertainment International and Sony Computer Entertainment.
Facebook Opens Sports Stadium
January 22, 2016
Facebook on Thursday announced its new Sports Stadium -- built with no taxpayer dollars or city leases required. About 650 million sports fans already make Facebook the world's largest stadium, the company reasoned. The new hub will compile and chronologize game-related content in real time so that fans can feel they're watching the action with friends.
ESPN Boss Sees Significant Role for Sling TV
January 21, 2016
Streaming media services, including Dish Network-owned Sling TV, could help make up for losses in traditional pay TV subscribers, ESPN President John Skipper said an interview with The Wall Street Journal published Tuesday. Sports remains a growth business, he said. It would be foolish to predict that sports rights -- and therefore prices -- would decline in the near future.
Netflix Cracks Down on Overseas Proxy Access
January 19, 2016
Netflix last week announced it will crack down on members using proxies or unblockers to access titles from overseas. That follows the company's announcement at CES 2016 earlier this month of a global rollout that has it offering streaming content in 190 countries. The problem is that not all of Netflix's content is available globally, said Netflix's David Fullagar.
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Google just announced Home, a voice-activated speaker similar to Amazon's Echo. What do you think of these devices?
I have an Echo and I love it.
I have an Echo but rarely use it.
I plan to buy an Echo or Home.
Google's Home will be much better than Echo.
They're expensive novelties.
They're intrusive and creepy.