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Tech on TV: A Little Realism Goes a Long Way
October 27, 2016
Watching TV shows often requires the suspension of disbelief -- that is, a willingness to press pause on one's critical faculties in order to believe the unbelievable. Realism often must be secondary to story, in other words. This very often is necessary when computers are used to advance plot lines, when programmers and hackers alike can produce tremendous results in seconds.
Battlefield 1: Big, Bombastic and Very Loosely Based
October 25, 2016
If filmmaker Michael Bay -- known for the Transformers and other over-the-top films -- were to decide to make a World War I movie, and if he chose to rely on comic books for research, the result would be very much like Electronic Arts' newly released video game Battlefield 1. This latest entry in the popular series moves the action from recent modern settings to the Great War.
AT&T, Time Warner Brace for Regulatory Firestorm
October 24, 2016
AT&T and Time Warner on Saturday announced they had reached a merger deal, setting off alarm bells across the industry. AT&T has agreed to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion. At least a year's worth of regulatory scrutiny, public hearings and political maneuvering is expected. The deal essentially would create the industry's first vertically integrated mobile provider of premium cable.
Rez Infinite Rocks Worlds
October 21, 2016
Rez Infinite this week earned praise from early reviewers for its graphics and immersing qualities. Sony announced the game -- an update of a remake -- last year. Featuring support for 1080p resolution graphics, along with 3D audio sound, Rez Infinite is designed for the PSVR, but it's also compatible with the regular PlayStation 4.
Nintendo Switches It Up
October 20, 2016
After months of speculation and buildup, Nintendo on Thursday officially unveiled its new gaming system, the Nintendo Switch. Previously known only by the codename "NX," rumors about this latest video game console began last year with a hint from Satoru Iwata, the company's late president. At the time Iwata suggested only that Nintendo was working on a new video game system.
Battlefield 1 Delivers Great War Action, Say Early Reviewers
October 18, 2016
Electronic Arts' new epic first-person shooter Battlefield 1 could be the war game to end all war games, based on the first wave of reviews published Monday. This latest title in the popular franchise from Swedish developer DICE is an action-packed, rip-roaring take on World War I. There's a single-player campaign that features a story worthy of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.
Amazon Music Unlimited Rolls Gently Down the Stream
October 13, 2016
Amazon on Wednesday rolled out its Music Unlimited cut-rate subscription streaming service, available on its Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap devices for as little as $4 a month for a single device. Setting a low-entry price point "is a logical move, given that the company has invested heavily into the AI and voice recognition powering Alexa," said IHS Markit analyst Paul Erickson.
Gadget Ogling: Google Embraces a Hardware Future
October 12, 2016
The first smartphones Google has made by itself, Pixel and Pixel XL, are the first to bear Android 7.1 and the first to have the impressive Google Assistant built in. The Pixel has a 5-inch HD screen, while the Pixel XL offers a 5.5-inch QHD display. The phones have a quad-core processor and 4 GB of RAM. I like that the fingerprint sensor is on the back.
Who's Riding the New TV Wave?
October 7, 2016
There is a generational shift occurring in the television industry. Traditional cable TV, which dominated the last several decades, is going away. Companies like Comcast, Charter and Cox are facing something new: new technological innovation and competition. Which companies will survive, and which will not? Traditional cable TV is on the verge of an extinction event.
Gadget Ogling: Streaming Merrily, Snapping Happily, and Listening My Way
October 1, 2016
Roku has refreshed its lineup of media players with lower prices, so bringing streaming video to every screen in your home just got a little more accessible. At the lower end, the Roku Express costs $30. The lineup includes $40, $50, $80 and $100 models with a variety of feature combinations. At $130, the Roku Ultra, pictured here, is the feature-loaded top-of-the-line option.
Early Reviews Fuel High Hopes for Civilization VI
September 29, 2016
Early hands-on previews of Civilization VI came out Thursday, and those who had a chance to partake in the turn-based PC game found that it successfully built on the foundation of the past versions, while bringing some fresh changes to the experience. It has been 25 years since the classic debuted to great acclaim, and it seemed that Firaxis would have to pull out all the stops.
Music Industry Rebounds on Streaming Subscription Surge
September 23, 2016
The music industry is showing its best surge in revenue in nearly two decades, led by a major shift toward streaming subscription services by Apple, Spotify and others firms, according to a new mid-year report the RIAA released this week. The report shows an 8.1 percent gain in retail revenue to $3.4 billion during the first half of 2016, the strongest growth since the late 1990s.
New Apple Products Have the Right Gaming Stuff
September 17, 2016
Apple wants to attract gaming fans to the more powerful graphics and processing power embedded in its new iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 products. The iPhone 7 features the new A10 Fusion chip -- the most powerful ever in a smartphone, according to the company. The CPU fuses two high-performance cores that run twice as fast as the iPhone 6 with much more efficient use of battery power.
Pandora Plus Trades Ad Views for Extra Features
September 16, 2016
Pandora on Thursday launched Pandora Plus, a replacement for its $5-a-month Pandora One streaming music service. The 4 million Pandora One subscribers will be switched over to Plus, which will continue to offer ad-free listening at the same price. However, Pandora Plus also offers an opt-in video advertising feature that lets users skip or replay songs. Plus also has an offline mode.
Sony's PS4 Pro Gets the Jump on 4K, HDR TVs
September 8, 2016
Sony on Wednesday officially unveiled the powered-up PlayStation 4 Pro, which features smoother graphics, thanks to higher frame rates. This new version of Sony's bestselling video game console includes support for 4K resolution and high dynamic range, making it fully compatible with 4K/UHD displays. Some developers will add PS4 Pro support to existing games, as well as upcoming releases.
It's Time for Comcast to Get Off the Wireless Fence
September 8, 2016
Comcast tried to give wireless a go several years ago. It failed. It pulled out of wireless, sold its spectrum and was done. Now, wireless has expanded and changed, and competitors like AT&T's U-verse and DirecTV are using wireless to deliver television programming. I'll bet Comcast now wishes it never sold off its wireless spectrum. So, what can we expect from the company going forward?
Echo Owners May Get Their Own Kind of Music
September 1, 2016
Amazon is planning two music subscription services, according to rumors that began circulating last week. One is a $10 a month offering that is similar to Spotify and Apple Music, and the other is a $4-$5 a month cut-rate service available only on Amazon's Echo device. Amazon reportedly wants to launch both in September, but it has yet to finalize deals with major music labels and publishers.
Intel's Kaby Lake Chip Promises Deeper Internet Immersion
August 31, 2016
Facing a shrinking market for personal computers and a stalled market for tablets, Intel on Tuesday unveiled its 7th-generation processors, code-named "Kaby Lake," which deliver more speed and power than its 6th-generation chipsets, while improving battery efficiency. Intel has positioned the new Kaby Lake chipsets as ideal for the immersive Internet.
Sony Tips PS4 Slim Standard Strategy
August 22, 2016
Sony reportedly plans to roll out a slimmed-down standard version of its popular PlayStation 4 video game console next month. The news follows the company's announcement earlier this year that it would introduce a higher-end version of the console with enhanced graphics, aimed at hard-core gamers. The new PS4 standard model could be Sony's way of attracting more casual users.
Intel's Project Alloy Tosses Reality Into a Blender
August 17, 2016
Intel on Tuesday presented its virtual reality vision -- a vision that mixes virtual and real worlds into a kind of merged reality -- to developers attending a conference in San Francisco. Mixing reality and unreality sometimes can be a recipe for disaster, but Intel thinks it will be a formula for success. At the center of Intel's vision is its Project Alloy mobile headset and its cutting edge RealSense software.
Microsoft to Add Beam's Live-Streaming Skills to Xbox
August 16, 2016
Microsoft last week announced a deal to acquire live-streaming startup Beam. It plans to use Beam's interactive technology to enhance the Xbox Live experience. Beam, which was the winner of Techcrunch Disrupt earlier this year, has attracted a number of top investors, including Techstars, Courtside Ventures and Ore Ventures. The deal is designed to help make Xbox Live more social and fun.
Is This the Beginning of the End for the Set-Top Box?
August 12, 2016
C Spire started out as a privately owned wireless competitor in Mississippi. Since then, it has expanded in several directions. Its focus last year was on installing high-speed Internet in a few Mississippi cities. Now it is partnering with MobiTV to offer a new television service for the home. The service will not use the set-top boxes common with cable TV.
No Man's Sky: The Universe So Far Feels Good
August 10, 2016
One of the most highly anticipated gaming titles ever, No Man's Sky from indie developer Hello Games, has arrived -- and it could have a major impact on the resurgent gaming world this season. The title made its PS4 debut on Tuesday in North America. It will be available for the PC on Friday. The long-awaited game takes players on a mind-bending journey of space exploration.
Time Warner Cable Really Doesn't Like Me
August 9, 2016
After surviving well over a year as a cord-cutter, I recently returned to the cable fold -- and after less than a month, I'm having major regrets. The problem isn't with the service itself or even with the pricing. The problem is with the lies. I wasn't entirely happy with my cord-cutting solution, but I wasn't eager to go back to a high-priced cable service either.
Apple Might Need to Think Different About TV
August 5, 2016
Apple's tough negotiating stance apparently has hobbled its efforts to bring entertainment industry companies on board with its planned streaming TV service. Talks with Disney, 21st Century Fox and CBS reportedly have fallen through. Had the entertainment and cable TV industry given in, Apple's demands would have turned current practices topsy-turvy.
Nintendo Investors' Futile Hunt for Pokémon Go Profits
August 4, 2016
Nintendo investors who thought they would score big returns after the successful launch of Pokémon Go found that actual profits were more elusive than the colorful characters. Nintendo last week made it painfully clear that The Pokémon Co. and Niantic were far better positioned than it was to reap financial rewards. Much of that revenue potential lies in a wealth of in-app purchases.
Time Warner Bets Heavily on Hulu
August 4, 2016
Time Warner on Wednesday announced it has entered an agreement to buy a 10 percent stake in online-streaming service Hulu, in a bid to leverage its lineup of television and film content on multiple viewing platforms. With the new investment, Time Warner will join a joint venture that includes some of the nation's largest media companies, including The Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox and Comcast.
Nintendo's Q1 Reflects Struggles Unrelated to Pokemon Go Success
July 27, 2016
Nintendo shares fell sharply in Tokyo on Wednesday, following its release of a first-quarter earnings report that disappointed analyst expectations. The company reported a drop of 31 percent in net sales and an operating loss of about $48 million, which it attributed to growing strength in the Japanese yen but which likely had more to do with dismal sales of the Wii U, which it is phasing out.
KickassTorrents Owner Faces 20-Plus Years in Stir
July 26, 2016
Polish authorities last week arrested the alleged owner of pirate website KickassTorrents, or KAT, 30-year-old Artem Vauln of Kharkiv, Ukraine. Vaulin faces charges in the United States of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Conspiracy to commit money laundering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Netflix Shares Fall as Subscriber Growth Hits a Wall
July 20, 2016
Shares of Netflix fell sharply Tuesday after it reported lower-than-expected second quarter earnings, which the company blamed on subscriber growth that fell short of forecasts. Netflix added 1.7 million subscribers in the quarter, pushing its total membership to more than 83 million, the company told shareholders. However, that growth was far less than the 2.5 million it had projected.
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Genesys Forrester Wave
What's your alarm level over cyberattacks on the Internet's infrastructure?
Red: A deadly cyberwar will occur -- It's when, not if.
Orange: A big one could be costly and threaten public safety.
Yellow: We need to improve cybersecurity at a faster pace.
Blue: Regional outages will become more frequent and more annoying.
Green: There's no way anyone could take out the entire Internet.