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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.
High Price Undercuts Microsoft's Xbox One X Mic Drop
November 8, 2017
Microsoft has released its long-anticipated and much-hyped Xbox One X console, promising to push the boundaries of modern gaming and video entertainment. It is the most powerful console in the world, with up to 40 percent more power than existing devices on the market, the company claimed. Xbox One X gamers can choose from 1,300 gaming titles -- the largest lineup in company history.
Call of Duty WWII Kicks Off Holiday Season With a Bang
November 4, 2017
Activision's Call of Duty WWII has made its long-awaited debut with a splash, kicking off what is expected to be a robust holiday season for the gaming industry. The most anticipated multiplatform title of the season, based on the Nielsen Game Rank, Call of Duty WWII latest installment reaches back to the iconic gaming franchise's origins.
Razer Debuts Cutting-Edge Mobile Gaming Phone
November 3, 2017
Razer has unveiled its Razer Phone, a handset that clearly targets gamers. It boasts the world's first 120 Hz Ultramotion display, which has the potential to deliver fast refresh rates and provide the smoothest graphics available on a mobile smartphone. "It's common knowledge that I'm obsessed with my smartphones. I play a ton of games on them," said Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan.
Fake News: Amazon Wants a Key to Your House
October 30, 2017
I'm getting tired of headlines that present something you might want to do as something you'd have to be crazy to do. Last week was a case in point: Headline after headline shouted out that Amazon wanted to get a key to your house. The initial reaction was hell no -- but the reality is far more nuanced. You see, there are a lot of folks who live in places where their front entrance isn't secure.
Harman Kardon's Cortana-Powered Smart Speaker Underwhelms
October 21, 2017
Early reviews of the Harman Kardon Invoke with Cortana -- the smart speaker that features Microsoft's personal assistant -- have been lukewarm at best. The speaker will be available in the U.S. starting Sunday. Like Amazon's Echo line and Google's Home speakers, Invoke lets users play music, manage calendars, set reminders, check traffic, get news reports, and control other smart home devices.
Google Assistant Shines in Pint-Sized Home Mini
October 12, 2017
The first wave of reviews touting Google's Home Mini smart speaker surfaced this week, following reports that the company had to quash a top touch function to prevent the device from accidentally activating and recording conversations without users' knowledge. Google has promised to update the device by Oct. 15. The Home Mini can provide reports on weather, traffic, news, sports and more.
New Kindle Oasis E-Reader Can Take a Dunking
October 12, 2017
Amazon on Wednesday pulled the wraps off a new premium e-reader that's waterproof and has a sharp 300 pixels-per-inch display. The Kindle Oasis has a 7-inch Paperwhite display and sports an aluminum back and ergonomic shape that makes it easier to read for prolonged periods. It has a battery life measured in weeks, and it can charge from zero to full power in two hours.
Apple Releases Retro Version of iTunes
October 11, 2017
Apple has made a retro version of iTunes available, 12.6.3, reviving features removed by the mammoth 12.7 overhaul it released last month. News of the release surfaced Monday in a post on Reddit by user vista980622. Apple was low key about the release, saying in an online post dated Sept. 23 that the retro version was for business partners who needed iTunes to mass deploy apps on iOS devices.
Gadget Ogling: Same Old Apple
October 6, 2017
Watching Apple's product announcement showcase is a bit like celebrating New Year's. People from all over the world are drawn to this annual event with the promise of something new and exciting, a vision of tomorrow and untold promise. Yet the more it comes around, the more disappointed we are. That promised kiss from a stranger at midnight is a dud. Our best intentions fall by the wayside.
Roku Sets Up New Streaming Player Buffet
October 4, 2017
Roku has introduced five new streaming media players designed to provide viewers with new and improved ways to connect to content. The five players range in price from $29.99 to $99.99, and offer a variety of features and functionality. The introductory-level Roku Express targets new cord cutters who want to stream TV content, or those who want to extend their Roku experience throughout the house.
Amazon Deploys Army of Echoes Against Oncoming Threats
September 29, 2017
Amazon has unveiled five new Echo products that raise the bar in the automated home market. Among other things, Amazon has improved the sound quality in its second-generation Echo speaker to compete with several new competitors in the high-end audio segment. The new Echo, which is more compact and comes in a variety of shell colors and finishes, offers more immersive sound.
Google Assistant Goes to Work for Nvidia's Shield TV
September 29, 2017
Nvidia on Thursday announced that its Shield TV now includes Google Assistant as part of its Shield Experience Upgrade 6.0 update. The update also lets the Shield device work as a SmartThings Hub when paired with a SmartThinks Link. The SmartThings Link, which can be used to connect Shield TV as a SmartThings Hub, will be released in the coming months with a promotional launch price of $14.99.
Behind-the-Scenes Cryptocurrency Mining Discovered on Showtime Sites
September 27, 2017
Showtime Networks apparently has mined the websites of online viewers using the same Coinhive technology that The Pirate Bay recently used in a test run on its site. A subsidiary of CBS, Showtime is a premium television network that offers professional boxing, feature films, original scripted television shows like Ray Donovan and other programming.
Is Packaged Entertainment Media Really on the Way Out?
September 19, 2017
As home video viewing patterns continue to evolve, one common prediction is that packaged media is on its last legs. Streaming services have been gaining market share. In fact, streaming media sales eclipsed sales of DVDs and Blu-ray discs for the first time in Q4 2016 -- with discs accounting for $5.4 billion in annual U.S. sales compared to the $6.2 billion haul for SVOD providers.
Apple Unveils Highly Secure, High-Priced iPhones
September 12, 2017
Apple has made its long-awaited iPhone splash, accompanied by announcements of major upgrades to Apple Watch and Apple TV. The company launched two new generations of mobile phones -- iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and iPhone X -- with enhancements in photography and device security in all models. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are built for durability with a new glass back design.
Alexa Can Make Music Echo All Through the House
August 31, 2017
Alexa has a new musical talent, Amazon announced Tuesday. "Today, we're making Alexa even smarter with an all-new feature that lets you play music synchronized on multiple Echo devices to provide room-filling music throughout your home," said Amazon Alexa Vice President Toni Reid. Setting up the syncing is easy. Using the Alexa app, you give a group of devices a name, such as "first floor."
Apple to Sate iPhone Curiosity Sept. 12
August 29, 2017
Apple plans to refresh its iPhone, TV and watch lines at an event scheduled Sept. 12. In addition to upgrading its iPhone 7 models, the company is expected to debut the "iPhone 8" to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the brand. It reportedly will have an OLED display with barely any bezel, a fingerprint scanner at the rear of the phone, and support for facial recognition and wireless charging.
Report: Apple to Funnel Megabucks Into Original TV Content Development
August 17, 2017
Apple reportedly has decided to put more than $1 billion toward the acquisition and development of original programming, part of a long-awaited rollout of a new television and film experience. The investment will leverage Apple's thus far underwhelming Apple TV business, bolstering its core video and music library to fulfill the promise of disrupting traditional television and film studios.
What's Next in the Volatile Pay-TV Services Market?
June 26, 2017
There recently has been an erosion in penetration of pay-TV subscriptions in the United States. They have fallen from a high of 86 percent in 2014 to 83 percent in early 2017, based on Parks Associates recent consumer research. Despite signs in late 2015 and early 2016 that the U.S. cable TV industry finally had reversed years of subscriber losses, the numbers declined again.
Verizon Makes New Oath
June 19, 2017
Verizon last week completed its US$4.5 billion acquisition of Yahoo's operating business assets, merging it with its existing AOL business to create Oath. The new subsidiary encompasses more than 50 media and technology brands -- including HuffPost; Yahoo Sports, Finance and Mail; AOL.com; Makers; Tumblr; TechCrunch; Flickr; and Build Studios.
Nintendo's New Lineup Electrifies E3
June 16, 2017
Nintendo previewed an impressive lineup of gaming content at E3 2017 this week, by many accounts. Its collection of new titles and targeted versions of some of the industry's hottest third-party content seemed to validate surprisingly strong sales of the Nintendo Switch console. Moving easily from a living room big screen to a mobile gaming device, the Switch already has gained a significant following.
Art, History and 3D Printing
June 15, 2017
The Tech Museum of Innovation last month debuted an exhibit that includes numerous installations with an interactive component. Visitors can don Occulus VR headsets to appreciate classical works of art in virtual reality -- a completely new museum experience. There long has been a debate on what constitutes "art" -- and opinions have differed as to how music, film, radio and TV fit in.
Xbox One X: More Speed, More Muscle
June 14, 2017
Microsoft earlier this week announced the next version of its Xbox line of gaming consoles, ahead of E3 2017, now ongoing in Los Angeles. The new Xbox One X, which goes on sale Nov. 7 for $499, is slimmer than previous models and packed with power. With a 6-teraflop Scorpio engine, the One X has 40 percent faster graphics performance than its chief rival, Sony's PS4 Pro.
Gadget Ogling: Apple at Home
June 12, 2017
The battle for your home just got a little more intense as Apple pulled back the curtain on HomePod, its smart speaker that seeks to hold dominion over your home empire and all the gadgets that reside within. HomePod holds a 4-inch woofer and seven tweeters, and it has six microphones to pick up your voice commands for Siri, wherever you happen to be in the room.
'Arms' Could Help Nintendo Fight Its Way Back Into the Ring
June 9, 2017
Arms, the highly anticipated fighting game for Nintendo's Switch, will be available next Friday, and based on the early reviews, the company just may have found the magic bullet. Nintendo's Switch console, launched earlier this year, has been something of a surprise success. Prior to its launch, it seemed like a risky play for the company, which has been bobbing and weaving in recent years.
E3 2017: Enhancements, Expectations and Perhaps Excitement
June 8, 2017
All of the major video game developers, publishers and console hardware makers, as well as many retail buyers and the gaming press, will descend on Los Angeles for E3 2017 next week. The annual event -- a showcase for computer, video and mobile games and related products -- will kick off officially on Tuesday and run through Thursday at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Plex Advances Cord-Cutting Case With Live OTA TV
June 2, 2017
Video streaming service Plex on Thursday announced the availability of a beta version of its Plex Live TV. The live-TV streaming launch follows last year's introduction of the Plex DVR, which provides users with free over-the-air access to 86 of Nielsen's 100 most watched shows in the United States. Plex Live TV currently is available only on Android TV and iOS devices.
Facebook's Original Programming Plans Take Shape
May 31, 2017
Facebook last week signed agreements with several content firms -- among them Vox, Buzzfeed, ATTN and Group Nine Media, according to reports. The deals are widely viewed as part of the company's strategy to attract millennials to its live-streaming Web content. Facebook will offer multi-tiered programming, according to a report that cited sources familiar with the plans.
Microsoft's Mixer Could Shake Up the Streaming Game
May 25, 2017
Microsoft on Thursday announced Mixer, a rebranded version of its game-streaming service previously known as "Beam." In addition to the name change, the service will include a number of new features designed to attract more gamers. The added features will unlock new possibilities for social streaming, while also helping viewers find specific content across the service, according to Microsoft.
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Which form of smartphone security do you rely on most?
Face ID or Fingerprint
Strong Password
App Locks
Storage Encryption
VPN with Public WiFi
I don't use any smartphone security tech.