04/12/2013 - Award-winning Netflix original series House of Cards returns on Valentine's Day 2014 with a second season
In what we can only hope will be a dog murder-free second season, Netflix announced this morning that original series House of Cards returns on February 14th, 2014. Apparently Netflix is big on releasing original programming alongside holidays -- smart, considering the binge-viewing around said time periods. It's a big date for the Kevin Spacey vehicle, with the entire 13-episode season launching on Netflix at once in all territories Netflix is available (the US, Canada, the UK, Latin America and Ireland).
The show received a smattering of Emmy nominations earlier this year -- HoC is one of several major plays Netflix is making into original programming. Both Orange is the New Black and Arrested Development's revival led the Netflix initiative in 2013, and it looks like the same series that popularized original Netflix content will continue that push in 2014.
A new teaser popped up today alongside the Valentine's Day launch news, featuring Claire in a not uncommon place: smoking a cigarette by the window. See it for yourself below!
After dedicating a lot of focus to its streaming subscription services, Sky is finally showing some love for those who like to rent movies. Originally only available to its TV customers, the broadcasting giant has opened the Sky Store to all in the UK, allowing anyone with a browser, Now TV, Roku or YouView box to rent any of its 1,200 movies. While Now TV attempts to conquer the UK streaming market, Sky's Store expansion will provide a firm footing for it to take on Apple's iTunes and Google's Play Store in the fight over à la carte movie downloads. For latest releases, the Sky Store charges £3.49 (around $6) per rental, with older movies available for between 99p and £1.99. You will, of course, still be able to access the Sky Store via your Sky+ box, but if you've decided to make cut the cord, today's announcement may help if you've watched everything in your Netflix or Lovefilm queue.
Via: Sky Press
Source: Sky Store
03/12/2013 - Sony says it sold 2.1 million PS4s in November
One million units in a day was a pretty good start, and SCE's Andrew House has just announced that the company's now sold 2.1 million PlayStation 4s as of December 1st. That combines sales from the US, Europe and parts of Asia, although the Sony console hasn't reached every corner of the globe just yet. Perhaps everyone's read our recommendation...
We already knew Microsoft was working to bring its Xbox Video service to the web, and today it's finally live. If you go to video.xbox.com, you'll be able to watch TV shows and movies, including items you may have already purchased from another Windows device. The only catch is that you won't be able to stream in HD, as you can with the Windows 8.1 and Xbox One versions of the app. (Note: the forthcoming Windows Phone 8 app won't support HD either.) Check it out now at the source link below -- and remember that you'll need to have the Silverlight plug-in installed before you start streaming.
Via: The Verge
Source: Xbox Video
Vizio already has soundbars designed for smaller TVs (and medium-sized ones too), and now it's back with a flagship model built for bigger screens. This new 54-inch model, available today, brings 103-decibel sound, complete with three channels and a 4-inch deep bass module. Like the smaller models, it also features Bluetooth streaming, and uses DTS audio processing to level out the volume so that you're not jolted off the couch when shows cut to a loud commercial break. It's available today for $300 on Vizio's website, though if you wait a few weeks, you should see it popping up in retail stores, likely with some lower prices in tow.
Additionally, the company is teasing a 55-inch entry-level E-series TV with full-array LED backlighting and local dimming technology, which should allow for both deeper blacks as well as easier viewing in darkened rooms. As it happens, this technology isn't new and in fact, Vizio already sells some entry-level models with full-array backlighting and local dimming. In this case, though, Vizio is touting more dimming zones, as well as newer, more effective version of the dimming technology. Unfortunately, though, the company isn't doing demos right now, so we can't really speak to the difference in quality. What's more, Vizio also hasn't mentioned pricing or availability. So, we'll have to leave this as a tease for now, but we'll follow up when we eventually learn more.%Gallery-slideshow123186%
Faced with an influx of living-room livestreamers and the risqué content that follows, Twitch has begun a crackdown on PlayStation 4 streams. The company has taken to its Twitter account to remind users that broadcasting via the console's Playroom feature, which uses Sony's PlayStation Eye camera to stream to Twitch and uStream, must have a gaming focus or risk having their account suspended. Most users, including the husband and wife team behind The Spartan Show, have kept within Twitch's terms of service, but others have decided the console provides the perfect platform to broadcast sexual content and host non-gaming shows. While Sony already offers the broadcasting service, Xbox One owners will have to wait until "early 2014" to stream their games -- either way, Twitch will have quite the job on its hands as gamers test the limits of their new all-seeing consoles.
23/11/2013 - Xbox One crosses million sold mark in under 24 hours
Microsoft's Xbox One launch has seen some bumps in the road but the company has announced it's already sold more than a million consoles worldwide. Last week, Sony announced the PS4 sold more than one million units in the US and Canada in less than a day, but at this point, Microsoft has not made any such regional distinctions. Still, the "biggest launch in Xbox history" is well under way and already outpacing its predecessor's initial numbers -- download and all -- so let us know if you're one of the 1 million strong, or if you're looking elsewhere for gaming right now.
Source: Xbox News
Today is the day: Xbox One is available in at least 13 territories. The PlayStation 4 launched last Friday to massive sales. The next-gen is officially on, having kicked off last year with Nintendo's Wii U. Don't believe us? We even reviewed all three!
Of course, Nintendo's not playing the same game that Microsoft and Sony are. The latter two are pushing serious horsepower and attempting to woo gamers with the promise of very pretty games and gameplay streaming, while Nintendo's pursing a second-screen input approach. As such, it's Microsoft and Sony's new consoles that we're here to examine today -- the two big console makers that are taking each other on directly in the decades-long battle for the living room.
21/11/2013 - How the internet ruined game consoles
The time it took for my brother to get our new Super Nintendo out of the box and connected to our television couldn't have been more than five minutes. I'm pretty sure we used the same coaxial cable connector that the NES before it used, though it's possible he was bold enough to forge a new connection dedicated to the SNES. The time between when he arrived home with the console box and a copy of Super Mario World, and when we saw Mario's astonishing level of detail, was extremely short. Open game console box, plug in game console, insert game, play game -- pretty simple. I'll never forget the yellow on Mario's cape!
Today's kids don't have it so easy. The anticipation while waiting for holidays or birthdays or while saving enough allowance has turned into anticipation during firmware updates or software patches or mandatory installs, and all manner of nonsense. Even for those of us who grew up with PCs, the state of modern game consoles is a sad one when it comes to what's inside the packaging representing what the outside says.
This is all the internet's fault, as most things are. I'm joking! Partially, anyway. It's really internet ubiquity that's to blame for game publishers and console makers leaning on day one updates. With most buyers living in places with relatively strong connectivity, games can launch without, say, multiplayer, and consoles can launch without the ability to even play games. It might sound nuts, but it's the story of the now-current generation of game consoles.
Even though California startup Kateeva demonstrated it could print OLED displays way back in 2010, the printer it used was a prototype meant strictly for show and tell. The age of printed OLED TVs might finally be upon us however, as the company recently unveiled the YIELDJet, a machine it's calling the "world's first inkjet printer engineered from the ground up for OLED mass production." The machine is quite an impressive affair, comprising a shifting slab capable of handling glass or plastic sheets big enough for six 55-inch displays along with custom print heads designed to emit teeny tiny OLED pixels.
Why is this a big deal? Due to the oxygen and moisture-hating nature of OLED ingredients, current OLED televisions are built with tricky vacuum evaporation and shadow masking techniques that are too inefficient and wasteful to be inexpensive. The YIELDJet, on the other hand, prints the LEDs in a pure nitrogen chamber to avoid those problems, plus it promises better film coating uniformity as well. This, Kateeva said, will hopefully result in OLED TVs that won't cost an arm and a leg yet still look stunning when hung on your living room wall. Combined with Sony and Panasonic's separate efforts to mass-produce the stellar-looking sets, we certainly hope that day comes sooner rather than later.
Filed under: HD
The reviews are out, and the PlayStation 4 is, in fact, much of what we'd hoped it'd be: a fabulous gaming machine with a social personality. It has lived up to it's next-gen label, thus far. But there's another aspect to the PS4 that may prove to be equally as important to the console's long-term success against its main rival from Microsoft. I'm talking about video and music services.
Your new running shoes have WiFi, but there are still -- still! -- no flying cars. We've got mini-supercomputers in our pockets, but where's the kitchen machine that materializes beef bourguignon? It's not quite the future we predicted, at least as far as Back to the Future 2 and The Jetsons informed us, but it's the future we've got. Something as basic as, say, turning on electronics using your voice is still novel. Microsoft's Xbox One is representative of just such a novelty, pairing old tech like IR and HDMI passthrough with brand-new 1080p video capture and voice control -- all to impressive effect. When you turn on your Xbox One and TV in one fell "Xbox: On!" grandpa's gonna be wowed, as will little Suzie. Guaranteed. The deeply integrated fantasy sports and ESPN apps will no doubt get pigskin-obsessed Aunt Linda interested.
But it's not the expensive camera and sports partnerships that makes Microsoft's proposition impressive to the hardcore gaming faithful. The Xbox One is a beast of a games console, capable of running beautiful games. But can it serve two masters? It's not quite the game box we would've predicted, but it's the one we've got.
20/11/2013 - Comcast's Xfinity TV Store brings movies, TV shows you can keep to its cable boxes and apps
First revealed in rumors last week, the Comcast Xfinity TV Store is now available, selling movies and TV shows. Until now the cable company has offered its traditional video subscriptions, PPV and video on-demand rentals, but now it's offering more transactions of a more permanent nature. Pricing and content is similar to that of other digital sores like Amazon VOD, iTunes and Vudu, but it has the extra edge of working with user's existing cable TV set-top boxes for viewing on TV, just like Verizon's Flex View. Of course, most of us have one (or three, or five) boxes ready to access digital content but that may not be true for everyone, and any of the millions of customers with access to Comcast VOD should be able to use this.
On other platforms, the videos also stream to PCs via the Xfinity Purchases website, and the apps for iOS and Android have already landed. One of our main questions concerned what would happen if a customer leaves Comcast, and while the content will still work, they'll need to complete an account transfer within 60 days to keep access. There's a demo video showing how this all works (embedded after the break) and all the online moving parts appear to be live, for those interested. In the end however, its very typical pricing, DRM and content means that while the studios will be happy with another storefront, we're not expecting it to shake things up anytime soon.
Filed under: HD
As the ancient proverb goes: a next-gen console ain't no next-gen console without next-gen mobile apps. We can't remember who said that exactly, but it's impossible to forget what's built into the new Xbox One SmartGlass app. After all, Microsoft's been hyping everything you'll be able to do with that second screen for months now. In preparation for the One's launch later this week, the companion app has (unsurprisingly) landed first in the Windows Phone store. As you'd imagine, it's basically useless, but you can still download it, sign in and poke around the limited UI should you wish. We expect the new version to show up in the App and Play stores in due course, but perhaps this debut appearance will remind Sony that Windows Phone users like apps, too.
Source: Windows Phone store
19/11/2013 - Must See HDTV (November 18th - 24th)
Last week it was the PS4's turn, and this week the Xbox One ships for eager gamers, bringing along its own slew of titles including exclusives like Forza Motorsport 5, Dead Rising 3, Ryse and Killer Instinct. We'll have our review of Microsoft's new box tomorrow, but another major highlight this weekend is a Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special. The Day of the Doctor will air at 2:50PM ET on BBC America, simultaneous with other broadcasts around the world. Also key for Whovians is the Adventure in Space & Time film that will air Friday night, looking back at the beginning of the phenomenon, and The Night of The Doctor mini-episode -- the film's trailer and the entire mini-ep can be found after the break.
Amazon will premiere the first three episodes of its second original series, Betas, on Friday morning, and on Blu-ray we're looking forward to Star Trek:TNG season five, Aubrey Plaza in The To Do List and Lilyhammer season one arriving ahead of its season two Netflix debut. Race fans should also keep an eye out, as the Formula 1 series wraps up its season in Brazil Sunday morning. Look after the break for our weekly listing of what to look out for in TV, Blu-ray and gaming.
18/11/2013 - Sling overhauls its TV-streaming app for iOS, adds Roku channel; Windows 8.1 app planned for December
Sling only refreshes its TV-streaming set-top boxes once every few years, and indeed, the current models only came out 13 months ago. So, it's a bit early for new hardware, but the company has at least been busy making over its family of apps. Today, Sling released an overhauled version of its iOS app (SlingPlayer 3.0), along with a brand new Sling channel for Roku players. Additionally, the company says it's coming out with a Windows 8.1 app, but that won't arrive until December.
Starting with SlingPlayer 3.0, it ushers in a redesigned, split-screen UI, with various filters for finding the shows you want. There's also a bigger emphasis on sports this time out. For starters, it should be easier to figure out what channel a game in on; once you do, you can pull up stats, real-time scores and other factoids you might find interesting as you're following along. You'll also notice some deeper social media integration throughout the app, allowing you to post to Twitter and Facebook as they're watching TV. (Where was this feature when the finale of Breaking Bad aired?) Also, though you could watch shows on your iPad's display, you can also fling it to a TV and use your device as a remote control instead. %Gallery-slideshow122017%
16/11/2013 - Netflix saves The Killing one more time, six-episode final season will be a streaming exclusive
Netflix already pulled whodunnit The Killing from the scrap pile once, working out a deal with AMC to produce a third season for airing and subsequent streaming, and now it's done it again. The Killing will see a fourth and final six-episode season (when is still up in the air), produced by Fox, which Netflix will stream exclusively in the areas where it provides service. This, along with continued hints of more Arrested Development in the works will probably get fans of other canceled/about-to-be canceled series excited, although we'll have to wait and see how many refurb projects Netflix is ready to put next to its original content.
Source: Netflix (Twitter)
15/11/2013 - PlayStation 4 teardown voids the warranty so you don't have to (update: quite repairable)
Not content with Sony's official teardown of the PlayStation 4, iFixit has started work on its own thorough analysis of the console's internals. The dissection isn't complete yet, but early evidence shows that Sony is using standard measures to deter modders and tinkerers, including security screws and lengthy passages in the user guide about how "analysis" of the PS4's components is "not authorized." (With the replaceable hard drive being an awkward exception.) Now, this happens to be exactly the sort of language that gets up iFixit's nose, and it could well hurt the PS4's score for repairability and recyclability. The site also reports a potential issue with the HDMI port, spotted earlier by Kotaku, in which a small metal obstruction in front of the port on some units could potentially stop video output if you're not careful when you first plug in your cable (although the HDMI pins can apparently be bent back into position). In any case, we'll update this post as soon as the experts have splayed everything out and come to a verdict.
Update: Though you might expect a low repairability score from a gaming console -- especially in a smallish case like Sony's Playstation 4 -- iFixit gave it eight out of 10. All things considered, that's an excellent mark, which the teardown site chalked up to the absence of adhesives and a non-proprietary, user-replaceable hard drive. Security screws and tamper seals put a slight damper on things, but the biggest markdown came from a sharp mid-plane which resulted in a cut finger. Naturally, the site included a pic of said wound, adding that "we wear our repair scars with pride."
15/11/2013 - Uncharted for PlayStation 4 announced with a brief teaser trailer, new DLC for TLoU (video)
Sony didn't waste any time at its PlayStation 4 launch event, coming right out of the gate with news from Naughty Dog about two of the biggest franchises. Uncharted is coming to the PlayStation 4, and while not much information has been revealed, there is a short teaser trailer complete with vengeful voiceover and treasure map for you to watch. For your PS3 gaming needs, the developer also showed off new "Left Behind" single player DLC coming to its hit The Last of Us, with Ellie apparently taking over the lead role. There's a video for that one too, check out both embedded after the break, or head straight for the live stream to see what else is coming up.
Source: PlayStation (Twitter)
Sure, it's not a new gaming console, but a remote is still a very essential part of most everyone's living room -- at least for the time being. With that in mind, TiVo has announced the successor to its Slide Remote, adequately dubbing it the Slide Pro Remote. The company's quick to point out its freshly minted slide-out QWERTY remote is more than just a prettier face: it features backlit keys, a more powerful signal thanks to RF support, search and back buttons, plus the ability to learn multiple commands (i.e. input, power, volume and more). TiVo's Slide Pro Remote is not only compatible with the Roamio, but also the Premiere and Mini DVRs. Better yet, it's available now for a mere $50, which, by the way, is about $40 cheaper than its predecessor was way back when.
14/11/2013 - Sony PlayStation 4 review: fast, powerful, worth it
Every day, a new phone. A new tablet. A new laptop that doubles as a blender -- and it has Android! Video game consoles, thankfully, aren't quite so prolific. In 18 years of PlayStation's existence, we're only just this week reaching number four -- a massive difference from the likes of Apple's iPhone or Nokia's (ridiculously populous) Lumia line. This Friday, the PlayStation brand enters the "next generation" once more with the PlayStation 4, and the world is significantly different than the last time around: HD is now standard, online multiplayer an expectation and multitasking a given.
Beyond interesting, great-looking game experiences, gamers in 2013 expect a multitalented, speedy game console that's as fast and powerful as the ever-surging wave of bleeding edge electronics that are standard in modern life. Let's find out if the PlayStation 4 lives up to our lofty expectations.%Gallery-slideshow121735%
As much as we love Netflix, we've always found it a bit odd that the browsing experience is fragmented between platforms. Jumping between PS3, Xbox and Roku devices can be a jarring experience, each offering its own spin on the Netflix queue with an inconsistent distribution of the service's best features. Even Netflix is put off by the mixed ecosystem: which is why it's launching a new, unified television experience today.
"About a year and half ago we took a step back to think about Netflix's television experience across devices," explains company director of innovation Chris Jaffe. "What we saw was a mismatch in how Netflix worked relative to how regular TV works, where you just turn it on and things are happening." Jaffe explained that compared to the active browsing experience of traditional channel surfing, Netflix seemed static. "We also looked at the devices and realized that while we've got a great experience on the PS3 and some smart TVs, we've got an Xbox 360 experience that's very different." Fixing these problems required the company to rethink its interface from the ground up. We met up with Netflix to see the results.
Source: Netflix Blog
Two months have passed since we last saw an update to the Raspberry Pi port of XBMC, but the tail end of September finally delivered some fresh code. Chief among the changes is a speed boost that makes browsing media libraries on Raspbmc much smoother and snappier. With the new software onboard, boxes now have a bevy of bugs fixed, boast support for Windows Media Center PVR and have a Wake On LAN feature for flipping on remote hardware before XBMC starts. Creator Sam Nazarko notes that folks who rely on AirPlay shouldn't upgrade to iOS 7, as it could introduce some hiccups. Visit the source for the full changelog, or restart your machine to snatch the latest release. If you're wondering just how much pep your Raspberry Pi will get, hit the break for a demo video.
Manufacturing of the aging Wii game console will end "soon," Nintendo of Japan says. Kotaku spotted the note on a product page for the Wii on Nintendo's website, which reads "Manufacturing is scheduled to end soon." It's unclear if this affects worldwide production or just Japan, but we've asked Nintendo for more info.
The news doesn't come as a huge surprise, though, as Nintendo's new game console comes with the ability to play Wii games built-in. A recent update even added the ability to play said Wii games directly on the Wii U gamepad screen -- the main selling point of owning a Wii U. It also doesn't hurt that tens of millions of Wiis are already out there in the world, Nintendo having finally sated the years-long demand for the seven year old console.
Source: Nintendo of Japan
01/10/2013 - Must See HDTV (September 30th - October 6th)
As we begin to experience the post-Breaking Bad era, there are a few other options to check out on TV this week, including the start of Major League Baseball playoff games. That said, the series finale was good enough that we wouldn't argue if you just kept replaying it every night this week. It's fall premiere season, so new shows continue to arrive including CBS' We Are Men and The Millers as well as NBC's Ironside, Welcome to the Family and Sean Saves the World. Low Winter Sun wraps up its premiere season, along with finales for Hell on Wheels and The Bridge. Blu-ray and videogame highlights include NBA 2K14 for current-gen systems, The Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary Edition and This Is the End. The biggest name that's not on our list? GTA V's online features, which will debut tomorrow. Look after the break for our weekly listing of what to look out for in TV, Blu-ray and gaming.