We're gathering just outside of Microsoft's HQ for what is looking like it'll be a day full of excitement, culminating in the "special unveiling" of a "New Generation." It'll be the next Xbox for sure, replacing the venerable Xbox 360 that has been giving us gaming joy (and occasionally frustration) since way back in 2005. Will this new unit be powerful enough to stay relevant for that long, too? Or, will this be the generation when Sony takes back the lead? Join us at the link below at 1:00pm ET tomorrow!
A day ahead of its hotly anticipated Xbox event, Microsoft has announced a new interactive TV series entitled The Music Room, exclusively on Xbox Live. As a part of Microsoft's drive to beef up Xbox's entertainment content, the two-part program will be available to Gold subscribers on May 29th at 8:30 BST (3:30 ET). Host Laura Jackson will be joined by special guest Carl Barât, formerly of the Libertines, and the lineup is set to include Everything Everything, Don Broco and Swim Deep. Viewers will be able to get in on the action by selecting from a list of options to determine what course the show will take, kind of like a musical choose-your-own-adventure. If indie British bands are your thing, you might want to check out the preview for The Music Room after the break.
Even though we don't yet know what the PlayStation 4 looks like or how much it will cost, one of the many details revealed at Sony's February event was that games will be playable even as they download. Now it turns out we won't have to wait for the new hardware to experience that feature on a console -- Steam, for example, does this on PCs with some games -- as The Last of Us leaders Bruce Straley and Neil Druckman told Game Informer the PS3 game will be available as a download the same day it arrives on discs, and is playable once the transfer is 50 percent complete. There's no word whether other developers will have access to the "magic" Naughty Dog worked out with Sony to make it happen, but as least there will be as little delay as possible before you begin exploring its post-apocalyptic landscape June 14th.
Source: Game Informer
TiVo, the company that made its fortune by making you forget about live television, is now attempting to revamp the traditional TV guide with a new content-discovery feature for its iPad app. The feature, called "What to Watch Now," is similar in concept to TiVo's existing Discovery Bar, though the layout is different. Here, you get seven columns of tiles showing what's currently airing or what you've previously recorded. So whether you're in the mood for sports, prime time, movies, kids programming or whatever happens to be playing on your favorite channel, you're a tap away from watching it on your TV -- or directly on the iPad if you have a TiVo Stream. And of course you don't have to watch it right now; you can just as easily schedule a recording or season pass and watch it later.
The new feature does seem handy, but configurable options are minimal. Basically, you're limited to rearranging the columns into a different order and filtering out specific sports you have little interest in -- no, you can't remove sports completely. Speaking of sports, thanks to TiVo's partnership with Thuuz, some sporting event tiles have a number between zero and a 100 assigned to them to help draw your attention to the most exciting matches currently in play. The new feature is available immediately via the App Store as an update to the existing TiVo application. Gallery: What to Watch Now
Gallery: What to Watch Now
Oh, how the times are a-changin'. Hot on the heels of ABC revealing its plans to start streaming live TV in some areas, Time Warner's now let it be known that it will be taking a similar route with its own TNT and TBS networks. According to the Los Angeles Times, Steve Koonin, head honcho of Turner Entertainment Networks, confirmed these online services are due to kick off this summer and will allow interested streamers to watch content "anytime, anywhere, on multiple devices." Just don't go thinking you can join the cord-cutting crowd, as you'll still need a proper cable subscription to enjoy TBS or TNT on the interwebs.
Source: Los Angeles Times
While still in beta, Redbox Instant is slowly increasing the number of devices it supports and has now announced its launch on LG's Smart TV platform (TVs only, not Blu-ray players, for now.) The hybrid disc / video on-demand / subscription streaming movie service has continued to push updates to its apps on Android and iOS since their debut, and has been posting promotions of its "disc + digital" approach. Its digital catalog is still more limited than competition like Netflix or Amazon Prime, but the disc aspect is an interesting hook, allowing users to pick up a brand new flick at the kiosk and stream catalog fare, all under one package. If you're in the beta then let us know how things are progressing in the comments, and if you're not then you can get a free month trial at the link below.
Source: Redbox Instant
Just as promised, Time Warner Cable has delivered a new version of its TWC TV app for Android users that includes access to live TV streams of certain channels while away from home. That new feature is accompanied by several other tweaks, including TV mini guide filtering and expanded device support for devices running Android 2.2 and higher. Out of home streaming is still more limited than that provided by solutions like Slingbox or Cablevision's Optimum, and streaming over cellular connections are restricted to Verizon only (for now.) Despite the restrictions, the app is out now and will hopefully see them loosened in the future, subscribers can grab it now at the link below.
Source: Google Play
14/05/2013 - Must See HDTV (May 13th - 19th)
The flood of season finales continues, and this week it even includes some notable series coming to an end. Doctor Who, Castle, and Arrow are among those taking off for the summer, but they will be back. Look below for the highlights this week, followed after the break by our weekly listing of what to look out for in TV, Blu-ray and videogames.
After nine seasons, this US adaptation of a British comedy is finally coming to an end. Some might say it's hung out for (at least) a season too long, but still we're sad to see it go. There's a retrospective running before the finale on Thursday, just in case you want to relive all that's happened since its debut in 2005.
(May 16th, NBC, 9PM)
Not that we need an excuse to watch this 80s flick, but this week's release is one of Sony's "Mastered in 4K" Blu-ray discs so there's an all-new high quality transfer and Ultraviolet digital copy. You probably don't have one of Sony's new 4K TVs and xvYCC-capable player to take advantage of the expanded color, but at $14.29, even if you're double dipping for the new release or just future proofing it won't cost much.
($14.29 on Amazon)
Look, we're well aware that you're already fantasizing about the PlayStation 4, but how do you think that makes your existing PS3 feel? (Hint: Not awesome.) For those still focused on remaining in the here and now, Netflix has issued an update for its PS3 Player that "is more consistent with the Netflix player on the web as well as [its] mobile and tablet applications." The key feature in this update is the ability to easily manage your audio and subtitle selections; before, you had to hop out of whatever you were watching in order to tweak those elements, but now you can make said changes while the content is still on screen. There have also been improvements made in the "trickplay" mode mode when scanning forward or reverse in play mode -- essentially, these images now load a lot faster, which ought to keep your blood pressure at a safe level. The update is out now for PS3 users, and should be hitting select Smart TVs and Blu-ray Disc players soon.
Rumors have been circulating for some time that Microsoft is prepping a streaming media box. The Xbox may have many of the same functions, but it's still primarily a gaming console. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that there are prototypes of a simpler, cheaper set-top device designed exclusively for consuming media floating around Redmond. Obviously, this would provide Microsoft a path to living rooms at a price that's much easier for consumers to swallow than the $199 Xbox 360. But, just as important, it could also offer a way to keep the Xbox brand separate and primarily gaming-focused. On the other hand, if a Roku competitor with Xbox branding were to hit shelves for $99, it would further broaden the scope of Microsoft's entertainment division. That wouldn't be terribly surprising, since some of the prototypes are reportedly designed to work with Kinect. Whether or not these devices will ever see the light of day is still anyone's guess, but it could provide a cheap way to get that Heroes reboot into people's living rooms.
Source: Wall Street Journal
Big Bird (or "Big Yellah," as we like to call him) and his Sesame Street cohorts are now available for streaming on your Roku box. Not just that, but his non-avian colleagues from PBS and PBS Kids are also making the trip, arriving today in new PBS and PBS Kids Roku channels. The two new channels offer more than the on-demand access to PBS programming you'd expect; PBS Digital Studios' work is also available to stream (we're quite fond of it, if you couldn't tell).
While it's not 100 percent clear what exactly is available at any given time, PBS' announcement says "hundreds of videos" can be accessed, which are pulled from the archives, from national and local daily programming, and include biggies like NOVA, Frontline, and American Experience (it stands to reason that heavy hitter Downtown Abbey won't be available, given its exclusive license with Amazon starting next month). PBS Kids is similarly well-stocked, with "more than 1,000 videos," which includes everything from Curious George to, yes, Sesame Street. There's a short teaser video of the service being used just below the break, should you not be able to contain yourself until you get home.
08/05/2013 - Nielsen includes Internet viewers for the first time, estimates that there are now 115.6 million TV homes in the US
Following a tweak in how Nielsen defines homes with TVs, it's noted a reversal in the two-year decline of TV household numbers. This adjustment has apparently increased Nielsen's estimate of TV homes by 1.2 percent, up to 115.6 million. The definition now extends to include viewers that take their TV through broadband internet, with qualifying households having both the high-speed connection and "at least one operable TV/monitor with the ability to deliver video." This new wording encompasses anyone who watches channels through their Xbox, Apple TV and other data-based services. Nielsen will begin including these extra homes in its sampling starting in September, but we're still waiting to see what it does with its wider metrics for both streaming viewers and social networks.
06/05/2013 - Hulu Plus comes to Windows Phone today
It was six months ago that Hulu Plus made its official debut on Windows 8 PCs and tablets. Now, Windows Phone users are about to suffer a similar loss of productivity. The WP8 app will be available today as a free download, featuring unlimited streaming and Live Tile support -- provided you're willing to fork out the standard $8 monthly subscription, that is. In any case, it should be available shortly, so keep a lookout. And as for all you Windows Phone naysayers, this means you now have one less reason to, well, say nay.
The concept of a movie launching online alongside its theatrical debut isn't new; we've seen a few (usually independent) movies reach iTunes that way, for example. Streaming service arrivals are still rare, however, and Vimeo On Demand just boosted its street cred with plans to carry Some Girl(s) on June 28th, the same day that the movie gets a wider theatrical release. Vimeo will be the exclusive online home of the Adam Brody and Kristen Bell picture, and production house Leeden Media takes a populist bent in explaining why: as with Bell's return to Veronica Mars, it wants to cut out the usual in-between distributors. We're sure that Vimeo's tinier-than-usual 10 percent revenue cut and relatively uncrowded marketplace play a part, too. There's no guarantee that other notable movies will follow suit, but it's an important coup for an online service that's not even two months old.
Source: Some Girl(s)
01/05/2013 - Engadget HD Podcast 347 - 04.30.13
This week we have a review of the ASUS Cube Google TV, rumors of an Amazon set-top box and Microsoft announcing when it will announce the next Xbox. LG has put its 55-inch curved OLED HDTV up for pre-orders in Korea with a price of about $13K, we'll take a look at the tech before diving into Netflix's "long term view" of the future. Finally, in a blend of traditional TV and modern second screen integration, NBC has announced a new game show with "unprecedented" viewer interaction -- consider us intrigued.
Producer: James Trew (@itstrew)
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Despite having recently introduced the likes of Hemlock Grove and House of Cards, Netflix isn't staying put and is now boosting its original content with yet another production: Orange is the New Black. The new comedic drama series, created by Weeds' own Jenji Kohan, is set to start streaming to worldwide Netflix subscribers beginning July 11th. Similar to Netflix's House of Cards, Orange is the New Black consists of thirteen episodes running at around 60 minutes -- however, the main story here won't be based on drama coming out of D.C., but rather a "world populated with unforgettable characters and no-holds-barred humor set against the backdrop of a women's prison." Be sure to peruse over the PR after the break, where you'll find more deets about the plot as well as the full cast.
Hulu's future ownership may be in question, but the video streaming site is apparently doing fairly brisk business on the paid subscription front. During an advertiser event this morning, the site announced that it has managed to double its Hulu Plus accounts in the past year, up to four million. The site's revenue also hit a record for the first quarter of the year, though Hulu's not giving out any numbers. As with rivals Netflix and Amazon, the company's making a big bet on original programming, with a number of exclusive series, including the animated The Awesomes and western Quick Draw.
Source: Hulu Blog
29/04/2013 - Must See HDTV (April 29th - May 5th)
This week the NHL joins the NBA in celebrating its postseason, with plenty of games on the schedule for each. There are a number of premieres and finales this week, as well as the debut of individual seasons of Friends on Blu-ray. Look below for the highlights this week, followed after the break by our weekly listing of what to look out for in TV, Blu-ray and videogames.
Star Trek: TNG S3 / The Best of Both Worlds
The third season of Star Trek The Next Generation comes home this week remastered in HD, and it should be a good for fans. If you can't live with its cliffhanger ending until the fourth season arrives, The Best of Both Worlds Part 1 & 2 are also being released, edited together as a single episode. either way you get it, judging by the first two seasons, the adjustments should be well-received.
($59.99 and $14.99 on Amazon)
FX's cold war spy drama closes out its first season this week. While it hasn't grabbed the mindshare of other popular cable series yet, the quality of the writing and acting is still there.
(May 1st, FX, 10PM)
Parks & Recreation
It appears that NBC's best remaining comedy will be renewed after this season, so this week's season finale will represent only the start of a vacation for the residents of Pawnee, IN. The Office finally getting yanked from the stage, 30 Rock calling it a series recently and Community... well. Let's just hope we have more PnR to look forward to this fall.
(May 2nd, NBC, 9:30PM)
23/04/2013 - Engadget HD Podcast 346 - 04.23.13
New remotes from Logitech and a slew of streaming video news from Netflix, Amazon and Microsoft lead off the podcast this week. Netflix finally has more customers than HBO in the US, so we'll dig into its Q4 numbers and see what's next for the streaming company. Cox, time Warner Cable and Sky all had updates for their mobile apps this week, which presents the question of Android vs. iOS for video streaming. Finally, another city is getting Google Fiber, and once again it's a place neither of us live in -- hopefully the NFL Draft will go better.
Producer: James Trew (@itstrew)
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22/04/2013 - Must See HDTV (April 22nd - 28th)
Welcome to your spring sporting season -- the NBA playoffs are underway, the NHL's postseason close to beginning and the NFL draft is this weekend. Jurassic Park is back in 3D, and Dead Island has returned to consoles with the Riptide edition. Don't like sports, or games? There's always Stonados (yes, that's tornadoes, with stones in them -- Stonados) on Syfy. Look below for the highlights this week, followed after the break by our weekly listing of what to look out for in TV, Blu-ray and videogames.
With most of the first round NBA playoff series manifesting blowouts and probably sweeps, this weekend's NFL draft is the most exciting thing on the schedule for sports fans (unless you think Chael Sonnen really has a shot against Jon Jones, of course). No matter how well your team performed (or disappointed) last year, there's always room for hope in the form of this year's draft pick. The first three rounds are again spread over two days in prime time, so you can watch large men in suits walk across the stage to shake hands with (or bear hug) the commissioner.
(Round 1 - April 25th, 7PM, ESPN & NFL Network)
Netflix has released an update to its iOS app, bringing a few subtle design tweaks in addition to a feature that wasn't available in version 3.0. Along with a redesigned audio menu and subtitle selector, the refreshed app includes a button for switching episodes within a series while an episode is playing. This is an essential feature if you, like us, occasionally forget where you left off in sagas like The West Wing. Check it out via the source link.
It may not be remembered quite as well as Arrested Development, but it looks like Microsoft is aiming to bring back another big network TV show on a service that's decidedly outside the bounds of traditional TV. According to TV Line, that show is Heroes, which was cancelled by NBC in 2010 after a four-year run, and the video service is MSN (itself part of Microsoft's broader push into original programming for Xbox). While the talks for Heroes are still said to be preliminary, the revived show would apparently focus on new characters and stories, with some of the original cast only making cameos in the new series. Of course, this wouldn't be the first time that Heroes found its way onto an Xbox 360: the show was one of the few series to be released on HD DVD, and briefly found its way into some bundles with Microsoft's HD DVD player add-on for the console.
Source: TV Line
16/04/2013 - Engadget HD Podcast 345 - 04.16.13
4K TVs for less than $1,500? That's the new world we live in, as we dive into Ultra HD, next Xbox rumors and more on this week's podcast. Meanwhile, news of the death of Panasonic plasma R&D program was apparently greatly exaggerated, so we'll figure out what to expect from the manufacturer in the future. Finally, we've got a fresh update in the always interesting news category of Dish Network Does Things.
Producer: James Trew (@itstrew)
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Due to Microsoft's confirmation that support for its Silverlight plugin will end and the rise of plugin-free browsers, Netflix will eventually need to stream to PCs using something other than the tech it's had in place since 2008.The company has already implemented one example of the technology for Samsung's ARM Chromebooks, and plans to bring it to Chrome on PCs and Macs eventually. Right now, it's waiting for several W3C initiatives it's been working on called the HTML5 Premium Video extensions that handle things like video quality and DRM support to be fully implemented. Once the last one (Web Cryptography API) is available, it can ditch the custom API plugin it's currently using and begin testing on PCs and Macs. Not mentioned, is any support for other platforms like Linux, although Netflix says it can't wait until the features are "implemented in all browsers!"
Source: Netflix Tech Blog
In a quiet announcement that's decidedly less exciting than last week's 4K pricing reveal, Sony's European arm shared news today that select W-series TVs are now available for customers to pre-order. A press release published in Europe lists several CES models, including the KDL-W905A, KDL-W805A, KDL-W650A and KDL-W600A, though only a few have made their way to the company's online store. In the UK, for example, you can pick up the W905 in 40-, 46- and 55-inch flavors for £1,299 (about $2,000), £1,699 (about $2,600), or £2,399 (about $3,700), respectively, with an estimated ship date in early May. The other aforementioned models have appeared with pricing across the pond, albeit without a pre-order link, so HD-hungry consumers will need to hold out for a bit before reserving one of those sets. With those W950 MSRPs approaching the top end for their class, though, we're tempted to hold out for Sony's 4K versions, which are set to ship for $5,000 and up beginning this very weekend.
Source: Sony Europe