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Netflix Newbies Hit With Steeper Price
May 09, 2014
Netflix is hiking subscription fees for new users of its streaming video service effective immediately, while current members will have a grace period before they must start paying the increased rates. Subscribers in the U.S. and Canada will fork over an extra dollar a month, with the fee jumping to $8.99. Existing subscribers will pay their current fees for two years.
Breaking Down the Crazy Apple-Buying-Beats Riff
May 09, 2014
The hottest -- and possibly craziest -- tech rumor of the week is, hands down, that Apple is in negotiations to acquire Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion. Based on a single report, the story has been fanned into a raging inferno faster than a wildfire on a hot August day. Unfortunately, the only cited source for the rumor is "people familiar with the deal."
Nintendo Won't Include Gay Characters in Sim Game
May 08, 2014
Nintendo won't include same-sex romantic activities in English editions of an upcoming life simulator game. The company has faced pressure, including a fan-fueled social media campaign, to let users have gay relationships in Tomodachi Life, a game whose characters are modeled after real people. The company never meant for the game to be a "social commentary," Nintendo of America said.
The Role of the UI in Video Discovery
April 28, 2014
As the competition around video services has increased across all global markets, a common theme has arisen among the various players in the market: The interface matters. For video services, particularly those offered online, the user interface is the face of the service to the consumer. For this reason, the focus on the user interface for video services is higher than at any time in the past.
HBO to Rerun Hit Shows on Amazon Prime
April 24, 2014
HBO and Amazon on Wednesday announced a content-sharing partnership that for the first time will allow viewers to see HBO shows on a different platform. Starting May 21, Amazon Prime Instant Video users will have access to some of HBO's hits that are now off the air, including The Sopranos, The Wire, Eastbound & Down, and Enlightened.
Stealthy Assassin Series Hitman GO Makes a Luscious Board Game
April 23, 2014
I can safely say that I never would have imagined turning the Hitman video game series into a luscious dioramic board game for iOS. Lucky for us, that's what Square Enix did with last week's Hitman GO release. Apple featured the game in the App Store, and for good reason: The graphical representation of the boards you play on is a visual feast.
PS4 Reigns Supreme in Huge Video Game Sales Month
April 18, 2014
Sony's PlayStation 4 remains top dog among the latest generation of consoles after March sales figures showed it continuing to outpace Microsoft's Xbox One. Sony revealed earlier this week it had sold more than 7 million PS4 units worldwide, while Microsoft said it had shipped 5 million Xbox Ones to retailers to date. The PlayStation 4 led hardware sales for the third month in a row in March.
Next iOS May Add Shazam Music Discovery
April 18, 2014
Have you ever heard a song you never heard before while you were out and about and wished you knew its title and artist? iOS soon may be able to tell you. Apple reportedly is working with Shazam Entertainment to incorporate into iOS 8 a feature that allows a song's title and artist to be identified from a sound grab through the microphone in an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
Zynga Heads Back to the FarmVille Trough
April 18, 2014
Zynga is once again plowing the furrow of its greatest success with the launch of FarmVille 2: Country Escape. The latest title from the casual gaming studio is a mobile-focused effort. Zynga has launched the game globally on iPhone, iPad and Android devices. FarmVille 2: Country Escape was crafted from the ground up as a new mobile experience.
Sonos Swings Into Google's Playground
April 10, 2014
A new partnership between Sonos and Google means that users of the Google Play Music app for Android now can stream music to their Sonos speakers directly from the app itself. Available in 25 countries, the new capability effectively eliminates the need to use Sonos' Controller app as an intermediary. It represents Sonos' first such integration partnership with a major music streaming service.
Which Screen Comes Second Now?
April 08, 2014
Which came first, the mobile device or the television? OK, that one is easy -- but which comes first now -- the mobile device or the television? The answer is probably television, but it's not quite as obvious, is it? Television is the dominant screen for most consumers today, but signs are growing that the mobile screen might well supercede it at some point.
Microsoft Adds Sci-Fi Series to Xbox Originals
April 08, 2014
Microsoft added to its list of original programming for its Xbox gaming system Monday with the announcement of a new science fiction series called Humans. Based on a hit TV series in Sweden, Humans is a cooperative effort of Xbox Entertainment Studios and UK broadcaster Channel 4. It is scheduled to air next year exclusively on the Xbox platform and Channel 4.
Courtroom Drama: Hollywood Sues Megaupload
April 08, 2014
Six Hollywood studios have banded together in a copyright infringement lawsuit against Megaupload, the wildly popular though now shuttered site that, in its heyday, was ground zero for file-sharing. The suit doesn't specify an amount of damages, but does say that the studios should be entitled to $150,000 per copyright infringement, as well as profits earned by Megaupload.
Amazon Fire TV Fails to Rage but Glows Hot
April 08, 2014
The Amazon Fire TV, available for $99 from Amazon, hasn't yet made any jaw-dropping leaps forward, but it is an excellent set-top box that, in some ways, breaks ahead of the Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Roku competition. There's a lot to explain here. First, the Amazon Fire TV isn't just another box that lets you stream movies and video to your living room HDTV. It's solid, svelte, sexy and fast.
Jaunt Wants to Put You in the Movies
April 04, 2014
Though the current incarnation of virtual reality entertainment has its roots in gaming, potential applications for the Oculus Rift and Sony's Project Morpheus extend far beyond video games. Jaunt is one company hoping to expand the possibilities of virtual reality through development of an end-to-end solution for creating cinema-quality VR experiences.
Record Labels Slam Russian Social Net With Piracy Suit
April 04, 2014
Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music on Thursday filed legal proceedings against vKontakte, or VK, charging that the Russian social network operates a music service that deliberately facilitates widespread copyright infringement. VK operates an unlicensed music service involving a large collection of copyright-infringing tracks, the companies charge.
How to Watch TV on Your Laptop
April 03, 2014
The big TV news this week is about hardware, with Amazon launching its Fire TV to rival Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast. Speculation had been hot and heavy that Amazon would launch its own pay-TV service, but that hasn't happened... yet. That's what the real TV wars likely will be fought over, though -- how content reaches consumers. A major battle will kick off this month in the Supreme Court.
Amazon Sets TV on Fire
April 02, 2014
Amazon on Wednesday put paid to the buzz circulating around its plans for a set-top box, announcing Amazon Fire TV at a New York event. The size of a CD box and just over half an inch thick, Fire TV takes on set-top boxes, the iPod, Apple TV and game consoles. It plugs into users' HDTVs to provide instant access to Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, Showtime and Amazon videos.
Amazon: And Now for Something Completely Different
April 02, 2014
Amazon is widely expected to reveal a new set-top video streaming device on Wednesday. It likely will introduce either a streaming stick like the HDMI Google Chromecast or a set-top box like the Apple Apple TV. Or, the company might produce both options -- like Roku's new Streaming Stick or more traditional Roku box. Like the Kindle Fire, Amazon's operating system will be Android-based.
Nvidia's ECS: Some Amazing Little Companies to Watch
March 31, 2014
Nvidia's Emerging Companies Summit, a place to check out some of the firms that could become the next breakout company, didn't disappoint this year. Among the highlights: A firm that could redefine advertising connected to Web pictures and videos; a company that could put your entire desktop and gaming experience in the cloud; and one that could help you actually hear that TV you see at a bar.

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