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Celebrating Cable TV and All the Wonders That Followed
August 17, 2018
One of my reporting beats is TV technology. In my lifetime I've seen some of the most significant advances in television, and unlike many who take it for granted, I have a very deep respect for TV. My actual birthday is in January, but Aug. 21 is a date that is much more momentous to me. Back in 1980, it was the date on which my family was first connected to cable TV.
Alexa and Cortana: Two AI Heads May Be Better Than One
August 16, 2018
Microsoft and Amazon have released a public preview of the integration of their Cortana and Alexa voice assistants. Cortana will be available on amazon Echo devices, while Alexa will be available on Windows 10 devices and on Harman Kardon Invoke speakers. "Our ongoing goal has been to make Cortana your intelligent assistant, wherever you need assistance," a Microsoft spokesperson said.
Galaxy Note9 Is Front and Center in Samsung's Connected World
August 10, 2018
Samsung unveiled its much-anticipated Galaxy Note9 Thursday at its Unpacked event in New York City. The company made several other announcements as well, as it presented its vision for a seamlessly connected world. "We are creating a galaxy of experiences that span not just devices and locations but platforms and brands," said DJ Koh, CEO of Samsung Electronics, at the event.
E-Sports Pioneers Are Making It Up as They Go
August 3, 2018
A major "sporting event" aired on ESPN, Disney XD and ABC last weekend. It wasn't the recently completed FIFA World Cup, the finale of the Tour de France or the MLB All-Star Game. It was the Overwatch League Grand Finals -- the biggest e-sports championship to date. Much of the competition was "broadcast" via the online service Twitch, but on July 11 the Overwatch League announced a new deal.
7 Ways to Supercharge Your Netflix Experience
August 2, 2018
We've all been there: scrolling through a seemingly never-ending carousel of shows and movies available on Netflix, trying to find the one thing we might want to sit down and enjoy. Except we often end up spending more time looking for something to kick back and view than actually watching the thing itself. But fear not! You too can optimize your Netflix viewing experience.
AI and the Future of Your Job
July 30, 2018
I just finished The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity, and it was one hell of a read. A lot of us are concerned about the coming of robots that arguably will be substantially smarter and more capable than we are. This book likely will make some feel a tad more comfortable about the future, but others will have to brace for change.
Who's Your Buddy? The Evolution of OTT Video Partnerships
July 21, 2018
Buddy movies have been an entertainment staple for years. Like Felix and Oscar in The Odd Couple or Murtaugh and Riggs in Lethal Weapon, the buddy film genre shows how two people can overcome obstacles, and each other, to produce a happy ending. Today, we are seeing over-the-top video services buddy up with others in the market to find their own happy endings.
New Roku Speakers Offer Sophisticated Audio for Smart TVs
July 17, 2018
Roku has earned a reputation for making streaming TV products that are easy to set up and use, and that deliver above-average quality at affordable prices -- and that's the approach it has taken with its new Roku TV Wireless Speakers. The company unveiled the speakers on Monday, and expects to start shipping them in October, when they will sell for $199.99.
Hits, Misses and Drama at E3 2018
June 15, 2018
E3 had the usual hits and misses this year, and more drama than most of the games on the screens. With a strong lineup of first-party titles plus better third-party support, Nintendo is the comeback king. However, the battle for hardcore gamer dollars continues to be fought between Microsoft and Sony. With no new hardware news from the companies, this was another year about the games.
Nintendo Leans on Fan Favorites and Fortnite
June 14, 2018
Nintendo called in fan favorites, including Mario and Smash Bros., at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. Super Mario Party will be heading to the Nintendo Switch this October, joined by Fire Emblem: Three Houses and the giant robot combat game Daemon x Machina. However, it was Fortnite that arguably stole Nintendo's E3 Direct show.
Sony Trains Spotlight on a Few Good Games
June 13, 2018
Sony gave PlayStation fans a hefty sampling of what's coming to its gaming consoles this year at E3. It gave them a long look at a relatively few offerings -- a marked contrast from Microsoft's deluge of titles. "Sony's E3 event was a break with tradition, an experiment to test the way it could present its first-party output to the media," said Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games at IHS Technology.
Microsoft Goes All-In With Gaming
June 12, 2018
Microsoft made a big splash at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles with its announcement of more than 50 games for its Xbox One gaming console. Among the games unveiled by the company were 18 designed to run exclusively on Xbox, including Forza Horizon 4, Halo Infinite, Gears 5, Session, Below and Ashen.
Battlefield V May Give Players a More Realistic View of WWII
May 26, 2018
The popular first-person shooter video game franchise Battlefield, which made its debut almost 16 years ago, will return to its World War II roots this summer. Battlefield V was unveiled this week in an online presentation hosted by comedian Trevor Noah, who sat down with the game's development team and discussed what gamers can expect when the title arrives this fall.
New Xbox Controller Could Open Whole New World to Gamers With Disabilities
May 18, 2018
Microsoft has introduced its new Xbox Adaptive Controller, designed specifically for gamers with disabilities. The new hardware can be used for game play with an Xbox One console or Windows 10 PC, and it offers Bluetooth plug-and-play compatibility. It supports Xbox Wireless Controller features such as button remapping, and it connects to external buttons, switches, joysticks and mounts.
Spotify's New Anti-Hate Policy Muzzles R. Kelly
May 12, 2018
Spotify has announced a new policy governing hate content and hateful conduct. The service identified as hate content anything that expressly and principally promotes, advocates or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual, based on characteristics including race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status or disability.
Amazon, Best Buy Unite on Smart TV Strategy
April 19, 2018
Best Buy will be the exclusive retailer for Amazon's next generation of Fire TV Edition smart TVs in the U.S. and Canada, under a new multiyear partnership. Best Buy will carry more than 10 4K and HD Fire TV Edition models starting this summer. The new smart TVs will feature the Fire TV experience built-in, allowing viewers to enjoy live TV programming as well as streaming content.
Disney Debuts ESPN+ Streaming Sports Service
April 13, 2018
Disney has introduced EPSN+, an all-in-one, direct-to-consumer premium streaming service that offers thousands of live sporting events as well as original series and films. ESPN+ is the first such premium service from The Walt Disney Company's Direct-To-Consumer and International Group through a partnership with ESPN. The release of ESPN+ coincides with the release of the free ESPN App.
Are Smart TV Designs Taking Home Security for Granted?
February 15, 2018
Millions of smart TVs from Samsung and some streaming devices from Roku recently were found to be vulnerable to cyberattacks, allowing intruders to take control and remotely change channels and volume settings, among other things, according to Consumer Reports research. Vulnerabilities were discovered not only in Samsung televisions, but also in TVs from TCL and other Roku-compatible brands.
Intel's Fake 5G Olympic Hail Mary
February 12, 2018
If there ever were a time when perception Trumped reality, this would be it. So much of what we see these days that looks real just isn't. I can connect a lot of this back to Steve Jobs, who was the master at this in the tech world. However, I'm worried that too many people don't realize that there were several times Steve missed jail by the skin of his teeth, largely because he did amazing work under pressure.
With 4K HDR, Olympics May Be More Colorful Than Ever
February 8, 2018
The parade of Olympic athletes entering Pyeongchang could be quite colorful for a few reasons. Athletes from North and South Korea will enter together for the first time in more than a decade, and viewers at home will be able to see the ceremony and some events like never before. NBCUniversal has decided to make the XXIII Olympic Winter games available to cable and satellite partners in 4K HDR.
Critics Love HomePod's Sound but Rap Its Smarts
February 7, 2018
Critics have begun weighing in on Apple's HomePod smart speaker, and they're loving the device's sound but don't have much affection for its smarts. The HomePod's sound outclassed top-shelf competitor SonosOne, according to Matthew Panzarino. "The HomePod was the 'best' sounding. It's nuanced and subtle with great separation and clarity across all kinds of music," he wrote.
Apple's HomePod Set to Barge Into Hot Speaker Market
January 24, 2018
HomePod, Apple's long-awaited entry into the torrid smart speaker market, will be available Feb. 9. The HomePod will be offered in white and space gray. It can be pre-ordered at Apple's website for $349 starting Friday. Unlike other smart speakers, which support a variety of music services out of the gate, HomePod will support the Apple Music subscription service exclusively.
Nintendo Unveils Labo, a DIY Cardboard Kit for the Switch
January 19, 2018
Nintendo, riding high off of record-shattering sales of its Switch gaming console, on Wednesday announced an out-of-the-box addition to the family, Nintendo Labo. With its Toy-Con creations, Labo could rewrite the script on the way gaming companies expand their audience to the children's market. Nintendo Labo, a do-it-yourself cardboard kit, offers five different Toy-Con projects kids can use to learn and interact with the Switch.
CES 2018: Spare Human Bodies, a $54K HTC Simulator and Intel's People-Chopping Cuisinart
January 15, 2018
OK, I hate CES. It really is a horrible event, largely because of the timing -- and particularly this year, Las Vegas making it a nightmare to get around -- but man did they have cool stuff at the show. Among presentation highlights were Nvidia showcasing a whopping 65-inch gaming monitor TV. Lowlights included Intel showcasing a human-carrying drone as something out of a horror movie.
Top 5 Data-Driven Mobile Services for a Competitive Edge
January 12, 2018
The mobile data market has been approaching saturation in major industrialized nations. Mobile data consumption has increased steadily over the past several years, but consumers have found new ways to avoid paying extra for services they don't need or use -- and intense competition among mobile carriers has allowed consumers to switch from fixed-data to unlimited plans and pay less in the process.
Nintendo to Roll Out Marquee Titles for Switch
January 11, 2018
Nintendo on Thursday revealed its upcoming Switch games for 2018 via a Nintendo Direct Mini video. Riding high after its major comeback last year, Nintendo announced a number of game titles that will be released in the first half of the year, including Mario Tennis Aces, Dark Souls, Donkey Kong Country and Kirby Star Allies, plus a new mode for Super Mario Odyssey.
CES 2018: Artificial Intelligence at Home and Behind the Wheel
January 9, 2018
Artificial intelligence dominated CES 2018 in a big way on Monday with major announcements on connected car advances and home system technologies. Google all but declared war on Amazon with its Google Assistant voice technology making its presence known at nearly every turn on the showroom floor. LG rolled out a new lineup of high-end AI OLED and Super UHD televisions infused with its ThinQ AI technology and Alpha 9 technology.
Roku Takes a Different Angle on Voice-Controlled Home Entertainment
January 4, 2018
Roku on Wednesday announced new software and a licensing agreement for OEMs to develop smart speakers, soundbars and multiroom audio systems that will allow customers to control their home entertainment devices with simple voice commands. The company also introduced Roku Entertainment Assistant, a new smart speaker technology that allows customers to use voice commands on supported Roku-enabled devices.
Ready Player One and the Troubled Future of VR
December 25, 2017
One of the issues with virtual reality is that expectations have been overset massively with TV shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation, which promised an artificial reality indistinguishable from reality. VR failed. It didn't have to -- there is a pattern to bringing out successful technology that is repeatable. You create a complete experience regardless of cost, then cost-reduce it.
Amazon Denies Rumored Plans for Ad-Supported Prime Video Service
November 14, 2017
Amazon has denied a report that it has been working on a free, ad-supported video platform to complement its subscription-based Amazon Prime Video service. Amazon has been in talks with various television networks, movie studios and other media entities about providing content to the site, according to the Monday report. Such a service would place Amazon in direct competition with Apple.
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