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Roku has sold over 10 million players, but is that enough?

September 15, 2014 - 9:01pm

Tonight Roku is announcing that over 10 million of its tiny media streamers have sold, dating back to when they were first introduced in 2008. That's good news, and shows sales are continuing to pick up after it crossed 5 million just last spring and eight million at the beginning of the year. Just as ever, the company has a solid product that we like at a reasonable price, and a library of smart TV apps that's second to none. The only bad news? The competition is getting stronger too. Sales of the Apple TV have exploded along with the iPad and it was up to 20 million at last count, while Google is readying another Android TV attack and Amazon is pushing its own Fire TV media box. In response, Roku is expanding by putting its software directly into Smart TVs and using its partnership with Sky TV in the UK to get cheaper hardware on the shelves. Roku's infographic (here) cites stats suggesting customers like it better, and use it more, than the competition, and claims it has more than 1,000 more channels than options like the Chromecast.

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Source: Roku Blog

What's on your HDTV: 'Godzilla', 'Ghostbusters' and 'New Girl'

September 15, 2014 - 4:46pm

It didn't get the best reception in theaters, but this year's new Godzilla flick is coming home this week on Blu-ray, along with a re-release of Ghostbusters 1 & 2. We're also getting our first taste of fall TV, as Fox lines up The Mindy Project and The New Girl (season three will be on Netflix if you haven't seen it) on Tuesday night. If you don't have Amazon Prime but want to watch Alpha House, the first season of that series is also on Blu-ray. Hit the gallery or just look after the break to check out each day's highlights, including trailers and let us know what you think (or what we missed). %Gallery-slideshow222824%

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You can now send Spotify tunes to Amazon's Fire TV

September 15, 2014 - 8:53am

Amazon's Fire TV hasn't had a lot of choices for on-demand music; for the most part, you've been stuck with either the company's own music service or Vevo. As of today, though, you can add Spotify to the list. The set-top box now serves as a Spotify Connect target, letting you send songs to the Fire TV using your mobile devices as remote controls. You'll still need a Spotify Premium subscription to get those streams going, but that may be a small price to pay if you're hoping to use your TV as a jukebox.

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Source: Spotify

Microsoft is buying 'Minecraft' and its development studio for $2.5 billion

September 15, 2014 - 6:03am

Microsoft confirmed this morning that it's buying massively popular game Minecraft and the studio behind it, Mojang. The purchase amount is $2.5 billion. Don't panic: Microsoft says it "plans to continue to make Minecraft available across all the platforms on which it is available today: PC, iOS, Android, Xbox and PlayStation." Though Microsoft is purchasing the Minecraft intellectual property -- game, licensing, and any other rights involved -- it isn't getting the game's creator, Markus "Notch" Persson. A note from the Mojang team says, "Notch, Carl, and Jakob are leaving. We don't know what they're planning. It won't be Minecraft-related but it will probably be cool" (Carl Manneh is Mojang's CEO and Jakob Porser is a co-founder).

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Source: Mojang, Microsoft, Microsoft (2), Notch

Chromebook-to-Chromecast video? Yes, with Google Drive

September 14, 2014 - 9:02pm

As if Android apps hitting Google's Chrome OS wasn't enough excitement for Mountain View's operating system for one week. Now, you can play movies stored in Google Drive via the OS' video player app on your Chromecast. According to Googler François Beaufort, doing so is pretty easy too: simply open the Files app, select a video clip from Drive and hit the sparkly new Cast icon. Voila, cloud-stored videos are now viewable on the biggest screen in your house and even more media functionality for your Chromebook. Of course, since this is in the developer channel there might be a few bugs here and there -- if you spot 'em be sure to let the Chromium team know.

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Source: François Beaufort (Google+)

When 'Super Smash Bros.' hits Wii U, you'll be able to control it with a 3DS

September 13, 2014 - 7:36am

If you need another method of controlling Super Smash Bros whenever it actually releases for Wii U, Nintendo apparently has you covered. Spotted by a Japanese gamer on Twitter and IGN (the handheld version is already out in the East), the 3DS version offers the option to connect the portable to Nintendo's HD console to exchange customized characters. What's more, there's a menu saying that you "can use it as a controller," too -- perfect for any future couch-based tournaments, we'd imagine. Granted, you'll almost assuredly have to own the game on both platforms for this to happen, but what Nintendo fan wouldn't anyway? We've reached out to Nintendo for confirmation on the matter and will update this post should we hear back.

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Via: IGN

Source: Kyle McLain (Twitter)

Apple CEO Tim Cook talks to Charlie Rose about TV and why he bought Beats

September 12, 2014 - 4:09pm

Need to hear more from Tim Cook after this week's new iPhone and Watch event? Charlie Rose will air a two-part interview with the Apple CEO tonight and Monday, and excerpts posted to YouTube point to a few popular topics about the company. Cook discusses his company's purchase of Beats by pointing out the brand Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre were able to build, and their recognition of the human element in putting together playlists. In another clip, he continues the longstanding tradition of pointing out how ancient and backwards the TV experience still is, and that Apple is interested in it (we'll reference our advice from 2012 on how to handle these rumors) -- without revealing anything about plans to actually enter the market or adjust the approach of its Apple TV box. You can view the clips embedded after the break, and the first part of the interview tonight (likely at 11PM) on your local PBS affiliate.

Update: The full episode is embedded after the break via Hulu Plus, and pt. 2 will air Monday night, again probably at 11PM on your local PBS affiliate. In part two Tim Cook will talk a bit about privacy and the NSA, there's also a clip of that below.

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Source: Charlie Rose (YouTube)

Sony, the catch-up king

September 12, 2014 - 10:31am

Sony's not making PCs any more. It recently announced it wouldn't be making new e-readers, either. The company's also taking a long hard look at the TV business that it dominated for decades. In the '90s, its TVs stood up alongside the Discman, Walkman and even that new games console that could play CDs. Sony was cool; it had cachet. But a narrow focus on proprietary technology and its slowness to adapt to the dizzying speed of consumer tech in the last two decades have taken their toll. While it's created a new department solely dedicated to making the next big thing, it remains to be seen if the company can bounce back from decades of failures.

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Watch this: the first Formula E race is tomorrow in Beijing

September 12, 2014 - 9:32am

After a couple years of careful planning, the inaugural Formula E season is set to hit the track this weekend. Tomorrow's race is set for 3:30 AM ET in Beijing on a circuit that's laid out on around the iconic Bird's Nest venue from the 2008 Olympics. Anxious at-home spectators in the US can catch the action on Fox Sports 1 while UK viewers can tune in via ITV4. The Spark-Renault cars carry McLaren 200kW electric motors, systems and transmissions that equate to 0-60 MPH (0-100 km/h) in three seconds with a top speed of 150 MPH (225 km/h). During the first season, the 10-race schedule features stops in the States, Argentina and Monaco before wrapping up with the London ePrix in June 2015.

Update: Qualifying is over, and e.dams-Renault driver Nicolas Prost has snagged the first-ever Formula E pole with a 1.42.200 lap around the Beijing circuit.

[Photo credit: GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images]%Gallery-slideshow83605%

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Source: Formula E

Virgin Media's TiVo UI is getting a welcome makeover

September 12, 2014 - 7:53am

If you were one of Virgin Media's early TiVo adopters, you won't have noticed the user interface change much over the last four years. Well, Virgin's decided it's high time for a significant redesign (with TiVo doing much of the legwork), and it'll begin hitting several thousand set-top boxes next week, with a wider rollout starting late October. We were treated to a preview of the update today, and the visual differences are immediately obvious. The red background has been ousted by a new "plum" colour (that's purple, to you and me), and is joined by a new font and minimalist logo that's part of Virgin Media's ongoing rebrand. The whole menu system is displayed in a higher-resolution than before, too, but it's not just a reskin, and should be quicker and slicker to navigate.

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Source: Virgin Media

Oculus co-founders donate $35 million to erect computer science wing at University of Maryland

September 12, 2014 - 7:47am

New York City is a town of names: Rockefeller, Astor, Trump. Legacies of the vast wealth held by dynastic families in early 20th century New York City. America's college campuses are littered with the same convention; wealthy alumni donate large sums to expand a university, and subsequently name that expansion after themselves. The University of Maryland, for instance, is getting a $35 million computer science wing from two of Oculus VR's co-founders. And what's it named? "The Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation," apparently, after Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe. Oculus chief software architect (and co-founder) Michael Antonov is footing another $4 million.

The new facility is planned to "feature state-of-the-art maker spaces," says UMD's Jayanth Banavar. Iribe describes it as, "designed for hackers, makers and engineers, which will help give rise to future breakthroughs, products and startups that will transform the way we live and interact with the world around us." More bluntly, the space is being built to educate the next generation of virtual reality and other future computing platforms. "This gift positions Maryland to be one of the leading institutions for virtual reality in the world," Iribe says.

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Source: University of Maryland

'Grand Theft Auto V' coming to PS4 and Xbox One November 18th, PC version delayed until 2015

September 12, 2014 - 5:58am

Great news next-gen (well, guess that would be "current-gen" now, wouldn't it) console owners -- you'll be able to snag Grand Theft Auto V for either the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One on November 18th. Along with the usual slew of graphical improvements, the enhanced version of GTA will feature new weapons, vehicles, activities and mani interesting furry animals. Not to mention new songs, denser traffic and a completely new foliage system! PC players will get all the same perks, but they'll sadly have to wait until January 27th of 2015 to get their hands on it. On the plus side, if you already own GTA V for Xbox 360 or PS3 you can easily transfer your online character.

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Via: Joystiq

Source: Take-Two

'Virtual Reality Camera System' uses 6 Red Dragons to make 360-degree video magic

September 11, 2014 - 5:33pm

Oculus/Facebook, Samsung, Sony, Google. We're about to be flooded with virtual reality hardware, but what about content? While John Carmack works on the gaming side, the folks at NextVR (formerly Next3D) have been developing camera rigs to record live video in full surround that will let VR units put you anywhere in the world you want to go, and here's the latest one. Red Camera's Jarred Land spilled the beans, posting pics of this "Virtual Reality Camera System" which links six of his company's 6K Dragon cameras together in a rather monstrous-looking array. There should be demo footage on display at the IBC conference, but based on what we've seen from NextVR already, the potential is high. There aren't any cameras pointing up (or down) but previous systems from NextVR have used fisheye lenses to expand their range, and we expect something similar would be in store for this. NextVR is providing video to go along with Samsung's Gear VR headset when it launches and it's working with Oculus too. Judging by this setup more video experiences -- whether live streamed or recorded -- will be coming to the VR space soon.%Gallery-slideshow222222%

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Source: Reduser.net, NextVR

You can buy those excavated 'E.T.' cartridges at auction soon

September 11, 2014 - 4:32pm

It would seem that the saga of Atari's video-game mass grave in New Mexico is coming to a close. The Alamogordo City council has voted unanimously to auction off half of the recovered cartridges (around 800 of 'em, according to Reuters). Interested in owning a piece of history? Eurogamer says that we should see the items -- a likely majority of which will be E.T. -- pop up on eBay and the council's website within the next few weeks. Of the remaining carts, the city plans to keep 500 of them and the rest will be donated to museums. If you still can't get enough of the tale, there's always the upcoming Microsoft-backed documentary and our own interview with E.T.'s sole developer, Howard Scott Warshaw. The move to sell these to the highest bidder instead of at a fixed price is a pretty clear indication that city is being a bit opportunistic and taking advantage of nostalgia, if you ask us -- something that probably rubbed off from Atari itself.

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Via: Eurogamer

Source: Reuters

Bang & Olufsen's 85-inch 4K TV is competitively priced (for millionaires)

September 11, 2014 - 2:04pm

Bang & Olufsen advertised the Avant 55, its first 4K TV, with the phrase "the one that moves." By the same logic, the Avant 85 should be titled "the, er, bigger one that also moves." Naturally, the colossal set comes with the usual Danish video trickery, including three-channel stereo, the BeoRemote One universal remote control and direct-type LED with 2D local backlight dimming (nope, us neither). The Avant 85 is priced at an, ahem, "competitive" £16,595 (around $27,000), but if you want the thing to move as well, you'll pay upwards of £1,095 (around $1,780) for the various motorized mounting brackets or stands

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Netflix's 3D printing documentary streams September 26th

September 11, 2014 - 1:33pm

The rise of 3D printing has graced headlines for quite some time, and now Netflix brings its documentary chronicling the last several years to its streaming lineup. Starting September 26th, Print the Legend will be available for viewing. The red-hued video service nabbed the film after it earned a SXSW award, and will host theater showings in Los Angeles and New York. Influential 3D-printing outfits like MakerBot, Formlabs, Stratasys and 3D Systems are all included, as is Cody Wilson, who released plans for printing guns last year. If you're looking for a preview, there trailer awaits just past the break.

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Source: Deadline Hollywood

SlingTV arrives with an update for Slingbox 500 set-top boxes in tow

September 11, 2014 - 12:01pm

Back in July, Sling announced that one of its first new offerings in almost two years would largely be a software refresh. The out-of-home TV-streaming outfit revealed that, in addition to a new $150 WiFi-equipped M1 option, the familiar-looking SlingTV would replace the pricier Slingbox 500. Well, the time has come, and the new wedge-shaped set-top box that's nearly identical to the 500 on the outside delivers that retooled UI as it goes on sale today. If you'll recall, part of the redesign includes "excitement ratings" from Thuuz that let you know when you should switch over to the big game based on score changes, momentum swings and analysis of the matchup. In addition to the new $300 device, folks who have already splurged for the Slingbox 500 will be privy to a software update that will bring all of the new features to their living rooms -- which includes a remote refresh that's coming to iPhone and Android apps next week.

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Verizon eyes 2015 launch for internet TV service, chats à la carte options

September 11, 2014 - 10:33am

If you've been champing at the bit to hear more about Verizon's upcoming television offerings, CEO Lowell McAdam has spilled a few more details. During remarks at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York, the chief executive said that the launch of the wireless company's online TV service would arrive "probably late in the first half of 2015." What's more, McAdam also explained that the days of bundled channels could soon be over, saying "nobody wants to have 300 channels on their wireless device." This could lead to a transition towards a more à la carte line-up including "customized channels" that target specific groups of viewers -- much like DreamWorks Animation's AwesomenessTV.

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Via: The Verge

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline Hollywood, Seeking Alpha

Your dorm room, upgraded

September 11, 2014 - 9:30am

It's autumn once more and that means you're back at school. The car-load of Craigslist-sourced furniture is unpacked, you've already had the first (of likely many) arguments with your roommate about a spilled bowl of ramen. Not to mention, you've probably already been through a glut of syllabus readings and awkward around-the-room introductions. So, you have the essentials for the next two semesters covered. But, financial aid disbursements are direct-depositing their way into bank accounts everywhere right about now. You've already bought your books, so what're you going to do with the rest of that "free" money? Make your dorm the envy of everyone on your floor, that's what -- and we've a few suggestions of kit to help do just that from sun up to sun down.

[Image credit: Jeff Dlouhy/Flickr]

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LG's superwide 105-inch 4K TV is $100,000, but there are cheaper options

September 11, 2014 - 9:05am

Remember that massive 105-inch Ultra HD TV LG brought to CES earlier this year? Today at the custom installer show CEDIA LG has revealed it's going on sale (next to two 4K OLED TVs), but fitting it into your budget will be tougher than squeezing one into your house. That's because this giant will cost $100,000 when it ships in November. Prefer mild over wild? You can get the 98-inch version (which still stretches more than 8 feet diagonally) for a mere $40,000 around the same time. For the rest of us, LG is introducing three new series of 4K TVs, with the 40-inch 40UB8000 available as the cheapest model for just $1,000.%Gallery-slideshow222034%

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Source: LG