12/02/2014 - Two-thirds of Americans now have smartphones
The US has officially become a smartphone nation -- at least, if you ask Nielsen. The research group's latest Digital Consumer Report estimates that 65 percent of all Americans owned one of the devices in 2013. That's a big step up from 44 percent in 2011, and smartphones are now more common than game consoles (46 percent) and digital cable (54 percent). Americans are also increasingly tech-laden, with an average of four devices per person; 29 percent of them have a tablet versus just 5 percent two years ago.
That shift toward mobile is affecting how many spend their free time. Americans spent an average of 34 hours per month using mobile apps and browsers in 2013; that's more time than they spent online with their PCs, which chewed up 27 hours. Social networking use is declining on the desktop, too, while it's surging in mobile. Smartphones aren't as ubiquitous as TVs at this stage, but they've clearly taken hold of the public consciousness.
30/01/2014 - The National Football League announces NFL Now, a new digital network launching in July
Super Bowl XLVIII is just around the corner, and the NFL's taking advantage of the week leading up to it by using it as a platform to reveal its next venture: NFL Now. Today, at a press event in New York City, the National Football League introduced a newly created digital network, dubbed NFL Now, which it says will focus on delivering a "personalized stream of content" to fans of the sport. While the online service won't be streaming football games live -- not at the time of launch, at least -- it will have full on-demand clashes to offer, as well as highlights and other content produced by teams across the league. In addition to all of this, there's also going to be an abundance of extra video from across other NFL properties, including NFL.com, NFL Network and NFL Films. And, better yet, it will be free.
However, don't expect Now to act only as a hub for all that aforementioned stuff: The NFL says we can anticipate a ton of original programming to be available as well -- though it hasn't gone into detail about what type exactly. Once it actually gets rolling, we're told the user experience on NFL Now is set to be extremely personalized and easily customizable. For example, users can select from a number of preferences, like favorite team and fantasy players, and NFL Now will show a stream of content based on those choices. "Eventually, no two users should get the same experience on NFL Now," a league representative said to us. NFL Now is set to have applications on iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, Xbox One and "across select consoles and streaming devices."
Back at Gamescom 2013, Sony made it known that select cross-generational games, like Call of Duty: Ghosts, purchased for the PlayStation 3 would be upgradeable for its forthcoming PS4. At the time, Sony kept general pricing details for the program under wraps, although Activision did announce its qualifying CoD title would set PS4 users back $10 bucks for the next-gen upgrade privilege. Now, Sony's coming clean with the full spate of its limited run upgrade program, adding Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, Battlefield 4 and Watch Dogs to the list -- all for $10.
So how does it work? Well, for those gamers that insist on purchasing a physical copy of any of the above games, they'll receive a redeemable pack-in code which they can enter into the PlayStation Network for a digital copy of the PS4 version. That's not all though. In order to unlock that next-gen copy, the physical disc has to be in the console to activate it. The process is much simpler for those that opt for the all-digital route, as a PS3 purchase made on PSN will automatically qualify gamers for the discount, at which point the game will be available for download. You have to hand it Sony: with news of this expanded upgrade program and the PS4's Gaikai-powered PS3 backwards compatibility, it seems the company's well learned from the lessons of the previous gen's past.
Source: PlayStation Blog
"You're asking me to... predict the future. I'm supposed to plan for the future." That's the non-answer GameStop president Tony Bartel spit out when I prodded him about the company's digital strategy here at its annual consumer-facing EXPO in Las Vegas. And it's clearly a touchy subject. It's not that Bartel refuses to acknowledge and embrace a download-only world -- indeed, he believes "things are going to go [fully] digital" -- but in his own estimation, that shift isn't tied to the next-gen of consoles. For a retailer built upon the buy/sell/trade business model for videogames and hardware, GameStop doesn't appear to have a well-laid digital strategy in the works, nor does it necessarily need to at the moment. With both Sony and Microsoft committing to a friendly used disc-based games policy for their respective black boxes, GameStop's been given a temporary buffer from the inevitable, allowing it additional time to feel out the digital way forward with a serendipitous mobile crutch.
Sony's PlayStation 4 isn't the only next-gen console that claims to offer near-instant access to digital games -- Microsoft's Xbox One apparently does as well, according to a statement issue by Redmond to Engadget today. "Consumers will be able to sign on to any Xbox One console and have access to all their digital games. Once the required data -- a fraction of the entire game -- is on their hard drive, they can jump into the action while the rest of the game finishes downloading in the background," the statement reads. It also notes that you can already enjoy much of that proposed functionality on the Xbox 360, though it requires significantly more effort than we're hoping will be required on the Xbox One.
The Xbox One supports similar functionality with disc-based games, allowing you to immediately jump in and play while the game is installed to the HDD. Of course, you'll still need the disc in the drive for it to play; at least that's the case now, after Microsoft walked back its Xbox One DRM strategy. Microsoft also teased today's news in its original Xbox One announcement PR: "Unleashing the virtually unlimited power of the cloud makes everything more convenient and accessible, from allowing games to be installed in segments so that gameplay can start quickly to updates downloading in the background."
We've yet to see Sony or Microsoft's play while you download functionality in action on their respective next-gen game consoles, but we've got a smattering of major press events sprinkled across the next several months leading up to this holiday when the consoles launch. But hey, we understand your suspicion -- if we don't get a chance to see it in action soon, then we'll start to worry.
The digital games you buy on your PlayStation 4 will apparently travel with you, virtually, when you move from console to console. Sony R&D senior team leader Neil Brown detailed as much at Develop today. "You can visit your friend's house you can log into your account and play any game from your digital library," he said. Paired with the console's "Play As You Download" functionality, Brown promised that users will be able to instantly jump into their full library of digital games from any PS4 after signing in with their PSN ID. "This makes a digital library a practical option in the real world," he added.
PlayStation 4 games are planned for digital launch alongside physical, thus making an all-digital game library a more possible goal. Should you purchase a physical copy, you can take the Blu-ray with you from console to console; the game will automatically install on the console's HDD, though you'll still need its disc in the tray for the game to play.
Source: Official PlayStation Magazine UK
It took some time to work out the bugs, but Vudu is finally removing the beta badge from its home-based disc-to-digital service. The idea and the price are still the same as when the beta launched, but what's new is support for OS X, plus an improved user experience and disc identification powered by Gracenote. We gave it a try and found the process couldn't be any easier or more straight forward. To get others to try it out, Vudu is giving away the first conversion on the house and if you're willing to convert ten or more movies then you'll get a 50 percent discount. After converting a DVD to HDX we were instantly able to turn around and start watching it, far faster than any disc ripping software we've used. Add in the newfound ability to download movies to iOS and Android devices and UltraViolet is really shaping up -- though we're still waiting for that common file format to move copies between devices easily and single sign-on to fix the login mess.
Source: Vudu Blog
The Wii U's launch was a bit rocky, to say the least. Missing features, promised TV services and slow-loading, day-one firmware updates left Nintendo fans frustrated and disappointed. The company is still cleaning up the mess too, announcing that it will push two additional software updates to fix the console's slogging load times. A quicker console will certainly be welcome, but the Wii U spring updates are missing an opportunity to close a rift that divides Nintendo from its loving customer base: how it handles digital content ownership.
Ever buy an Xbox Live game? You probably know that purchase is tied to your Xbox Live account, and will be available on any subsequent Xbox you purchase. Not in Nintendo's world; Kyoto's digital sales are tied to the gaming hardware, not the user's account. It's been a sore spot for Nintendo gamers for some time now, and the Wii U was the company's chance to make amends -- except it didn't. Like its predecessors, the new console locks content to the device it was originally purchased on, imprisoning digital purchases in a physical cage. The Wii U takes content confinement a step further with its support for legacy software, providing a near-perfect example of the folly of Nintendo's content ownership philosophy: the isolated sandbox of its backwards-compatible Wii Menu.
07/01/2013 - Vudu and Walmart bring disc-to-digital conversions home, iOS app adds offline viewing next month
Walmart Entertainment launched its in-store disc-to-digital Ultraviolet conversion early last year, and now it's making the process a bit simpler by letting customers do it by themselves at home. Powered by the Vudu To Go app for Mac and Windows PCs that already lets viewers stream or download movies in up to 1080p, they can search for previously-purchased movies from participating studios (DreamWorks Animation, Lionsgate, MGM Studios, Paramount Home Media Distribution, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment) and then convert them: DVD to SD or Blu-ray to HD for $2, DVD to HD for $5. Like the beta feature recently launched by Best Buy's CinemaNow, the app authorizes the copy and then you can watch it through any of the numerous Vudu / Ultraviolet-ready devices and services merely by logging in.
One other new feature on the way is the ability for Vudu users on iOS to download copies to their devices for viewing offline. We first saw the feature on mobiles when its Android tablet app launched last month, and it will come to the Apple family of hardware in mid-February. One other note as Walmart attempts to expand its "Entertainment" brand is a Facebook app that will let its fans read and submit reviews and also vote on which movies will be offered for sale in-store and online. Still need a reason to give UltraViolet a try? Vudu is tossing new users 10 free pre-selected movies just for linking their account or signing up. Check out the full list of details in the press release after the break or hit the source link to see if it's live.
Source: Walmart Entertainment
All those digital games you've purchased on your "Deluxe" 32GB Nintendo Wii U have been accruing virtual points, and now you can cash out those virtual points for some virtual currency, as Nintendo's "Deluxe Digital Promotion" website is now live. All you've gotta do is sign in with your Nintendo Network ID on this website, click through some terms of service agreement business, and you're in like Flynn. The breakdown of dollars to points is 1 to 10 -- a game that costs you $14.99, for instance, equates to 149 points. For every 500 points, you can cash out for $5 / £5 / €5, which spits out an activation code you can then apply directly on the Wii U's eShop. Might we suggest using those points for Little Inferno?
As our superfriends at Joystiq point out, points won't collect for games downloaded through the original Wii Shop Channel (even when accessed via Wii U), nor on 3DS digital games, nor on season passes / digital subscriptions (such as Call of Duty Elite). Bummer! Of course, it seems likely that 3DS digital titles will eventually be added to that list when the handheld gets access to Nintendo Network IDs. Whether those points will retroactively apply is another question altogether; we're gonna go out on a limb here and call that possibility doubtful.
It would be a shame if Sharp kept that giant 90-inch AQUOS TV confined to living rooms, wouldn't it? The company is inclined enough to agree that it's building an industrial version, the PN-R903, for digital signs. Its 1080p resolution and local-dimming LEDs are as familiar as a well-worn pair of shoes, but that 6-foot, 8-inch width lets Sharp claim a record for public spaces: the R903 is supposedly the first LCD sign with its technology that can display average humans at real size when tilted to a portrait view, making it an ideal fit for fashion or most anything where one-for-one scale matters. The 700cd/m2 brightness helps by keeping the picture visible in harsher lighting. If you're not quite ready for the uncanny valley, you'll be glad to know that the R903 won't ship until January 28th, when it goes on sale with open pricing. Those who'd still prefer something less imposing can buy a 60-inch PN-R603 at the same time or wait for the 70-inch PN-R703 to grace storefronts on February 25th.
14/11/2012 - Dish Network's Hopper gets an off-air digital TV tuner, software update packing new features
If recording satellite television using one of Dish Network's Hopper systems left you longing for something a little more terrestrial, there's good news: the firm just unveiled an off-air digital tuner that's compatible with its marsupial-themed hardware. For those eager to record broadcasts picked up with an antenna, the OTA dongle is already available for $30 from Dish's online store. A freshly released software update not only adds support for the hardware, but also brings a raft of new features to the Hopper. With the update, users can now pair Bluetooth audio devices with the DVR, gaze at album art on SiriusXM channels and recover deleted recordings from a recycle bin that saves nixed footage for 48 hours. The box's "Prime Time Anytime" feature now supports standard definition local channels, and a new "What's Hot" section clues users into what other folks are watching locally and nationwide. For nitty gritty details, screenshots and impressions of the OTA module, tap the source links below.
Dish Network's Hopper gets an off-air digital TV tuner, software update packing new features originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 14 Nov 2012 05:02:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | SatelliteGuys (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6) | Email this | Comments
We got a peek at DirecTV's Genie system just a few weeks ago with promises of a system that would both suggest related shows and optionally record them unbidden. It's here, and it's being joined by some rebranding. The company's flagship HR34 DVR has been relabeled as the Genie and makes the new software its centerpiece, with those five tuners letting even the chronically uncommitted take new recommendations as seriously as they like. As before, simultaneous viewing is otherwise the biggest angle: there's support for up to eight RVU-capable TVs hooked up at once, two shows playing on one TV and up to four TVs watching the same show. You'll have to be a new subscriber to get the video recorder under the Genie moniker, although we don't see too many existing customers dropping everything to get that symbolic distinction.
DirecTV Genie DVR and interface launch with advice for the indecisive originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 11 Oct 2012 22:42:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | DirecTV | Email this | Comments
Europeans who have been pining for a(nother) way to bring Spotify into their living rooms can rest easy, now that Samsung is on the case. The pair have teamed up to bring 18 million tracks to Sammy's 2012 E-Series Smart TVs with a new app designed for the platform. The software will arrive later this year, with existing Premium users finding their playlists already syncing, while those new to the service will be offered a short free trial to coax them into signing up. If you've yet to make an investment in one of the displays, the company is also planning to add the functionality onto its Blu-Ray players and Home Theater systems in short order.
Samsung partners with Spotify, brings streaming music to its 2012 Smart TVs in Europe originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 09 Oct 2012 20:01:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | | Email this | Comments
Alongside its Super Hi-Vision TV demonstrations, Japan's national broadcaster had some 3D goggles also taking advantage of that 8K resolution. With 16 times the pixels of typical 1080p content, these prototype binoculars provide the same multiple of zoom from an 8K feed -- that is 16x zoom without losing any of original data. We got to grips with a the master model here at CEATEC, and were able to pan up and down, as well as manipulate a lever to close in on views of both Mount Fuji and Tokyo's very recent Skytree tower. NHK mentions that it could see the devices being used to show off other sightseeing spots in the future, but we don't expect home installations any time soon.
NHK demonstrates 8K 3D digital binoculars: 16x 'lossless' zoom at 1080p (hands-on) originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 03 Oct 2012 08:32:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | | Email this | Comments
Media provider 7digital has mostly been making news on the Windows front recently, making its music offerings available for Windows Phone earlier this year and serving up 20 million tracks through its preview version for Windows 8. Now the digital media company is branching out to Toshiba televisions as well, inking a deal to be the European music partner for the Toshiba Places platform. The agreement, which represents 7digital's first foray into the connected TV market, will allow consumers with a Toshiba Places account to browse through the content provider's music catalogue, create playlists and stream music directly through the television. The company says the feature should be compatible with televisions equipped with Toshiba Places since May 2011. Five countries -- the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain -- are slated to get first crack when the service goes live in Europe in September. For more details about the service, feel free to peruse the company PR after the break.
7digital named European music partner for Toshiba connected TVs originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 01 Sep 2012 03:25:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink The Next Web | 7digital | Email this | Comments
DreamWorks Animation has signed up with Walmart's VUDU-powered disc to digital service. From today, you can take any of the studio's movies (such as Shrek or Kung-Fu Panda) and have them converted to standard quality video for $2 or a HD version for $5. There's no word on if DreamWorks proper would sign up, but given the complex nature of its ownership, we won't hold our breath.
Dreamworks Animation joins Walmart's disc to digital program originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 16 Apr 2012 13:59:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | | Email this | Comments
Nielsen estimates show first drop in TV ownership in 20 years, Mayans nod approvingly originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 03 May 2011 14:52:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Prima Cinema plans to offer $500 first-run movie downloads, with a mere $20k setup fee originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 08 Dec 2010 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Digital Cowboy announces Xtreamer Pro NAS / media streamer originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 30 Aug 2010 04:46:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
TiVo Premiere to receive yet another performance and stability update originally appeared on Engadget HD on Thu, 08 Jul 2010 22:13:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Mark's response tackles Netflix head on, and points out that the company's rapid growth is about to start working against it, with movie studios and other content providers likely to jack up prices and demand further concessions from the streaming service as it turns into a real competitor to cable companies. According to him, Netflix is presently getting its content at prices that are unsustainable, and his prognostication is that content owners seeking bigger levies -- together with the expansion of VOD choice, which he sees as foolproof compared to the overwhelming complexity that web streaming entails -- will lead to Netflix passing costs on to the consumers and losing out to cable operators. Irrespective of whether you agree with him, the whole exchange is well worth a read. Use the links below to get filled in.
Mark Cuban foretells Netflix demise, sees a future filled with on-demand video originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 07 May 2010 10:09:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Digital distribution is the real winner of Warner/Netflix deal originally appeared on Engadget HD on Tue, 19 Jan 2010 14:46:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments