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Free Streaming: Rdio, Spotify Duke It Out
January 17, 2014
Rdio announced Thursday that its Web users will have free, unlimited access to content, an update that came on the heels of similar news from Spotify. Spotify started offering free streaming music for iOS and Android mobile devices last month, and on Wednesday announced that it was eliminating time limits for all of its Web users. Less than a day after Spotify's update, Rdio followed suit.
InAiR Gives TV a Breath of Fresh AR
January 14, 2014
Forget second-screen TV viewing with a tablet or phone -- so-called second screens are a kludgy, old-school method of extending a show. What's new? SeeSpace InAiR: The World's 1st Augmented Television. InAiR is a Kickstarter project that intercepts your TV content stream, analyzes it, then reaches out to the Internet to grab relevant content, which it then displays in navigable layers on your HDTV screen.
Eye-Controlled Gaming May Be Closer Than It Appears
January 04, 2014
One of the biggest bugbears for gamers has long been the need to use a joystick to both track a target and control the motion of their avatar or weapons, but at International CES 2014 next week, Tobii Technology will demonstrate a new solution. Tobii has teamed up with SteelSeries, the companies announced Friday, to produce what they claim will be the first mass-market eye tracking peripheral for gamers.
There's a New Fair Use Law in Town
December 16, 2013
More than eight years ago, the Authors Guild filed a class action against Google on behalf of thousands of authors, claiming that Google infringed the authors' copyrights. The Authors Guild recently lost its case based on the fair use doctrine that's generally reserved for nonprofit use by academic institutions, libraries and the press.
All Things Appy: 5 Best Chrome Apps for Book Lovers
December 13, 2013
Books in a multimedia environment bring certain advantages not available on paper alone or via classic audiobooks. Among those advantages are audio accompaniment for text and cloud syncing of notes and highlights. Add to that the lower distribution costs of multimedia over paper and the browser becomes a good tool for books. You don't need an e-reader or a tablet.
Xbox One Edges Ahead in US Black Friday Sales
December 02, 2013
Sony's PlayStation 4 may have had a weeklong head start in building sales momentum, but on Black Friday, Microsoft's competing Xbox One appears to have edged out its rival -- at least in the United States. The new Xbox One -- along with the previous-generation Xbox 360 -- together accounted for 61 percent of console sales on Black Friday, compared with 30 percent for Sony's PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.
LG Promises to Shut Down TV Spy Ops
November 21, 2013
LG Electronics on Thursday said it is preparing a firmware update to address concerns over the discovery that some of its smart TVs have been monitoring users' viewing habits and sending the information back to the company without owners' consent. The issue was discovered when UK-based IT consultant Jason Huntley found that his LG smart TV had logged the channels he was watching and sent that data back to the company.
Xbox One Party's On
November 20, 2013
Just one week after its biggest rival hit the market, Microsoft's new console, the Xbox One, will go on sale with a series of splashy events to mark the launch. From the stroke of midnight on Nov. 22, a new war will be under way. While Sony is focusing on game play with the PlayStation 4, Microsoft is pitching the Xbox One as a home entertainment hub.
PlayStation 4 Launch Dampened by Dearth of Hot Games
November 15, 2013
Sony's first new console in seven years, the PlayStation 4, hit the market Friday, but the launch was not without its glitches. Among the reported hardware problems were some complete failures. Less catastrophic, some systems would not output a signal through HDMI. Some issues cropped up following installation of the Day 1 patch, intended to offer additional functionality.
New Netflix TV Look Clears Out the Clutter
November 13, 2013
Netflix has refreshed its user interface for game consoles, smart TVs, set-top boxes and Blu-ray players, striving toward a unified user experience across all devices. The company, which has more than 40 million subscribers, created the new look specifically for larger screens. The interface presents browsers with three large images for each movie and TV show, along with a snappy description.
Countdown Begins to PS4 Launch
November 13, 2013
After months of buildup, the launch of Sony's PlayStation 4 video game console is now just a day away. The $399 console will go on sale at 12 a.m. on Friday, and Sony predicts that sales will exceed 3 million by the end of the year. While preorders will likely dominate the first day transactions, Sony has announced that it is ready with a steady stream of systems to arrive at retail through the holidays.
Netflix, YouTube Hog Half the Internet
November 11, 2013
Netflix and YouTube together now account for more than half of all North American fixed network data traffic during peak hours, according to a Sandvine Internet traffic trends report published Monday. Netflix now accounts for 31.6 percent of downstream traffic in North America, while YouTube accounts for another 18.6 percent. Peer-to-peer file-sharing now accounts for less than 10 percent of total daily traffic.
Apps Lineup Promises Xbox One Entertainment Edge
November 08, 2013
Microsoft on Friday announced the first wave of entertainment apps for its upcoming Xbox One video game console, which will arrive in stores Nov. 22. In the United States, the announced apps for the Xbox One include streaming-video offerings from Amazon Instant Video, ESPN, Fox Now, Hulu Plus, Machinima, Netflix, Redbox Instant by Verizon, the NFL on Xbox One, and VUDU, among others.
Dish Swings Blockbuster Wrecking Ball
November 07, 2013
Dish Network on Wednesday announced that it will close its 300 remaining Blockbuster stores by early January and will end its Blockbuster By Mail service by mid-December. The company cited increased competition from digital and on-demand entertainment. Dish acquired Blockbuster in April 2011 for $320 million. At the time, it announced that it would keep 90 percent of the stores in operation.
RagTag Army Fights to Rescue America in New Call of Duty
November 05, 2013
Activision on Tuesday released Call of Duty: Ghosts for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U and PC. The game will be released later this month for the upcoming PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Ghosts is the latest arrival in the popular first-person franchise, which has generated billions of dollars in sales and has been an annual hit for the company.
Niantic Opens Ingress to AR Gamers Hot to Trot for Exotic Matter
November 05, 2013
Google's Niantic Labs on Monday announced that it was lifting the invitation-only restriction on its augmented reality game Ingress. The game launched in beta about a year ago, and interested players needed an invitation code to participate. Now all Android users can download the free massively multiplayer game from Google Play. The game will officially exit beta status on Dec. 14.
Tomahawk Music Player Takes Listening to a New High
October 31, 2013
The trick to designing an all-purpose music player is to make it work the way you want. The Tomahawk Music Player performs that trick very well. It could well be a better listening choice than any other cross-platform music player application. It runs on a variety of Linux distros, Microsoft Windows and the Apple OS platforms. This flexibility is important to me as a user because I work on all three.
New Disney Kids' Show to Get 1st Run on Tablets
October 30, 2013
Disney is giving one of its new children's shows a home on mobile devices before it broadcasts the program via its TV networks. Sheriff Callie's Wild West, the first Western for 2-to-7-year-olds, according to the company, will make its debut on Disney's Watch Disney Junior App on Nov. 24. It will also be available online to viewers who subscribe to certain TV providers' services.
Netflix Mulls Silver-Screen Debut
October 29, 2013
Netflix has already produced original content including Emmy-nominated House of Cards, but now it looks like the over-the-top streaming service may be interested in producing feature films destined for the silver screen as well. Specifically, instead of making made-for-TV features, Netflix hopes to make movies for theaters and show them on its service at the same time.
TiVo to Roamio Users: Roam if You Want To
October 24, 2013
TiVo was one of the first to enable consumers to time-shift their TV viewing via DVRs, and now it is targeting place-shifting capabilities as well with out-of-home streaming via the TiVo Roamio Pro and TiVo Roamio Plus DVRs. The two devices were launched earlier this year, but on Thursday the company announced that the functionality to stream to a mobile device is now available.
Netflix Takes Stomach-Churning Dive
October 22, 2013
Netflix beat expectations with Q3 revenue of $1.11 billion -- up from $905 million in the same quarter a year ago. At first, investors seemed energized -- they sent the stock soaring to a daily high of $389.16 on Tuesday. Going into Tuesday afternoon, though, the stock cooled, dropping 9 percent to close at 322.52. BofA analysts said the company's valuation was "difficult to justify."
Sony Gets Its Videogame Mojo Working
October 21, 2013
Sony's PlayStation 3 video game console showed in September that it still was able to pack a bit of a punch, dethroning Microsoft's Xbox 360, according to the NPD Group. The Xbox 360 had been the top-selling video console for 32 straight months since January 2011. The Xbox 360 also passed a significant milestone, though, with more than 80 million systems sold worldwide.
Facebook Gives Teens a Longer Leash
October 18, 2013
Facebook on Thursday made two seemingly contradictory changes to its settings for teen users. On one hand, it narrowed the audience that can see teens' posts by default; at the same time, however, it made it possible for the first time for teens to open up their posts to the public at large. Until now, the default audience for posts made by kids aged 13 through 17 was "friends of friends."
Netflix Is Thinking Inside the Cable Box
October 14, 2013
Netflix may be angling to provide streaming content to cable subscribers. It apparently is exploring deals with Comcast and Suddenlink Communications to launch an app for set-top boxes. Netflix streams its content through Web-connected TVs; media players such as Apple TV and Roku; video game consoles from Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony; and many Blu-ray players.

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