Following recent reports that Microsoft will soon be killing off its Zune suite of entertainment services and replacing them with a new offering, All About Microsoft has uncovered what may end up being Microsoft’s Zune successor. The blog’s tipsters claim knowledge of a new set of services currently being developed by Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices division. These services, codenamed “Ventura,” are said to be focused on media discovery and consumption — much like Zune. To help firm up the report, All About Microsoft also reveals a Microsoft job posting that references Ventura. “The Ventura Media Services team is looking for a highly motivated Software Development Engineer to help drive some great new service innovation,” the job description reads. It goes on to say, “In this position you will have the chance to help choose direction and drive innovation on some of the most cutting edge media services. Think large scale. Think Azure. Being a web and services group, our goal is to release early and often while maintaining high quality.” More →
Sony Ericsson might not be ready to unveil the highly anticipated Xperia Play at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, but the world is most definitely ready to see this little guy get official. Perhaps in an effort to appease the masses of anxious mobile gamers waiting impatiently to get their mits on the upcoming PlayStation-branded Gingerbread phone, Chinese enthusiast blog IT168 has issued an extensive preview of the device. And when we say extensive, we mean it. Details found within the preview include confirmation of a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, a Qualcomm Adreno 205 graphics processor, a 4-inch 854 x 480-pixel display, an 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, a 1,500 mAh battery, microSDHC support and 512 MB each of RAM and ROM. The blog also ran some benchmark tests and, well, the results were pretty impressive — the forthcoming Xperia phone scored 1,733 in Quadrant. Hit the jump for some solid Xperia porn and then hit the read link for a gigantic, poorly translated preview. More →
Courtesy of T-Mobile and its newly announced G-Slate tablet by LG, several videos showing off Google’s new tablet-only OS have surfaced. Honeycomb will power the next generation of Android tablets, and it appears to offer some huge benefits over previous versions of the OS, which were designed with smartphones in mind. We really like what we’ve seen from Honeycomb so far, and we can’t wait to see more on the show floor. In the meantime, hit the jump for a handful of great videos that really give us a taste of what’s in store from Android 3.0 Honeycomb. More →
In an interview with Forbes on Thursday, HTC’s head of User Experience Drew Bamford provided some insight into where the company’s Sense product is headed in the near future. Sense started as a UI overlay placed atop various platforms on HTC devices. While the UI aspects of the product remain a central focus, HTC will continue to expand Sense in several areas off the device. The recently launched HTCSense.com portal is one example of Sense’s departure from phones, though it remains underutilized and confined to just two devices for the time being. Bramford says several services are on their way to Sense, however, including music and video content services as well as access to newspapers, magazines and eBooks. HTC already launched an eBook service in Europe that it plans to expand to other regions in 2011. HTC also plans to launch its own video chat service akin to Apple’s FaceTime, along with several services that focus on home entertainment. These and other services will be made possible by the continued transition to faster 4G cellular data networks. “At some point, you can imagine replacing your home Internet service with your 4G phone,” Bramford said. “I think we’re on the cusp of that transformation where mobile products and living room life collide.” More →
Today, Apple introduced its next generation Apple TV that focuses on streaming media and HD content. The new box is one-quarter the size of its predecessor and is sleek, black, and fairly nondescript. The device has power, HDMI, optical audio, and ethernet ports on its rear; Wi-Fi b/g/n is built into the device. The new Apple TV will provide Netflix, YouTube, Flickr, Podcast and MobileMe streaming to its owners as well as several iTunes rental options. First-run HD movies can be rented from the iTunes Store for $4.99 (prices will go down as the movie ages) and HD TV shows from ABC and Fox will be available for $0.99 per episode. Just like the previous ATV, pictures and videos can be streamed from your iPhoto library to your connected television. A new feature included on iPads, iPod Touches, and iPhones, titled AirPlay, will allow videos bought or stored on your iDevice to be streamed directly to the AppleTV and ultimately your connected TV. The device will launch in five countries, will be available for pre-order today, and will retail for $99. More →
Google has launched a new “Movies” category on its streaming-video site YouTube. The videos, which range from bizarre to obscure, are full-length films (we’re not sure some of them were ever in theaters) and are completely free. YouTube’s head of video partnerships, Donagh O’Malley, was quoted by The Guardian as saying: “This is one of many efforts to ensure that people can find all the different kinds of video they want to see, from bedroom vlogs and citizen journalism reports to full-length films and TV shows.” You can browse the catalog by heading over to youtube.com/movies; there seems to be an abundance of Jackie Chan and Three Stooges flicks. O’Malley continued, “We hope film lovers enjoy the range of titles in this free library, whether catching up on a mainstream hit or delving into the vast archive of classic films from decades past.” More →
Sunday, users of Google’s video service YouTube were exposed to a cross-site scripting vulnerability that put the cookies of those visiting affected video pages at risk. Those employing the scripting vulnerability targeted videos of popular teen singer Justin Bieber, as some visitors saw: “tasteless messages pop up about the teen star, and were also redirected to external sites with adult content,” according to blog NetworkWorld. Google released a statement saying: “Comments were temporarily hidden by default within an hour, and we released a complete fix for the issue in about two hours. We’re continuing to study the vulnerability to help prevent similar issues in the future.” Google was also quick to point out that the compromised YouTube cookies did not provide unauthorized third-parties with access to users Google Accounts. More →
Roku customers that are also patrons of Netfix have a reason to jump for joy this spring evening as the two companies have released a video showing off an upcoming redesign of the Roku-Netflix experience. Due out in June as a free software update, users will not only have a shiny new interface to stare at but will be able to browse, search and play everything in Netflix’s instant streaming catalog as well as add movies and TV shows to a queue for watching at a later time. We’ve got the teaser video lined up for you after the jump, so don’t forget to click through the jump and check it out. More →
As it turns out, this weekend’s rumored Zune HD preview at Best Buy was the real deal. Tens or even dozens of anxious soon-to-be Zune HD owners (we kid; we want it now) gathered to see the sexy new PMP first hand and one of them even managed to snap an extremely blurry shot of a curious menu item. Mmmm, “Apps”. The attendee tried to access the mysterious menu but lack of Wi-Fi rendered his attempts fruitless. Word on the street is that the Apps menu will be home to various games at launch but we’re still not sure what else will find its way there — certainly something however, lest the menu heading read “Games”. Also of note, one preview attendee claims that the host of this event confirmed the existence of a Zune SDK. This is definitely rumor status right now but it would certainly go a long way to support the inevitable arrival of a Zune app store of sorts.
We wouldn’t go as far as to call Microsoft’s upcoming Zune refresh a PMP hail mary, but it’s pretty clear that a lot is riding on Redmond’s upcoming players. So far we really like what we’ve seen of the Zune HD — and that statement is now expanded to include pricing. Last night some Best Buy inventory screen caps revealed the Zune HD’s price points and as of this morning we can consider them confirmed thanks to Amazon. App Store aside, we’re looking at a device far more capable and exciting compared to Apple’s iPod touch, and according to Amazon’s pre-order page, the 16GB will launch at $219.99 (compared to $299 for the 16GB iPod touch) and the 32GB model will hit the streets at $289.99 (compared to $399 for the 32GB iPod touch). Yeah, that’s no typo — you’ll be able to get a 32GB Zune HD for $9.01 less than a 16GB iPod touch. The Best Buy screenshots also add weight to the previously rumored September 8th launch date so it looks like we’ve got less than a month until lift off. The only question is whether or not Apple’s impending iPod touch refresh will tout enough bells and whistles at launch to overshadow Microsoft’s new gem. Hit the jump for the Best Buy images.
We’ve been wondering how long it would take Microsoft to kick things up a notch with its responses to Apple’s I’m a Mac smear series. Times are tough these days and it looks like Microsoft is finally starting to target cost with its latest TV ad. Titled Windows Laptop Hunters, the spot features a young woman named Lauren tasked with finding a laptop that meets her requirements — “speed, a comfortable keyboard and a 17-inch screen” — for under $1,000. If she finds one, be it a Mac or a PC, Microsoft will buy it for her. You know as well as we do that the only way anyone is scoring a new Mac laptop with a 17-inch for under $1,000 is armed robbery, so you can imagine how the commercial plays out. Forgetting the fact that the Best Buy she was shopping in apparently doesn’t charge a sales tax, Lauren ends up with an HP Pavilion for $699.99; a price even the most modest MacBook can’t come close to touching. The model she walked with features a 2.1GHz AMD Turion X2 with 4GB of DDR2 RAM, 320GB hard drive, DVD-RW drive and of course a 1440×900 17-inch display — definitely a solid system.
No, we haven’t quite stooped to the level of a local politician’s attack campaign quite yet, but it’s good to see Microsoft finally showing a little spunk with its response ads. Considering the times, we imagine there are plenty more value-centric ads from Redmond on the way; at least, we hope there are. Hit the jump to watch the full commercial.
Most of you have noticed by now that YouTube has made some dramatic changes to its site. The video screen now accommodates widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio for HD) and the “Watch in high quality” links will also include “Watch in HD.” This is pretty good news in terms of the direction the site is heading in since competing video sites like Hulu are also showing videos in high definition. YouTube says upcoming filtering options will include the ability to search HD videos so users don’t have to rummage through search results for them. In addition to HD videos and the ability to filter them, YouTube will be adding three new landing pages: youtube.com/music, youtube.com/news and youtube.com/movies, making categorization and search that much easier. In all, the Internet’s leading video sharing site is only getting better and hopefully it will start monetizing its content a bit more efficiently to appease investors who have been bugging Google since it acquired YouTube in back October 2006.
As if Google-owned YouTube wasn’t making enough money in ad revenue, they’ve decided to start peddling music and games for a little monetary boost. For now, it’s an experimental project and they’ll be attempting to sell music, videos, TV shows… wait, iTunes, anyone? Actually, it seems YouTube will be partner with iTunes and Amazon so that YouTube users will be able to clink on links that will take them directly to the iTunes or Amazon store where they can purchase all those goodies including video games and e-books. Google acquired YouTube back in October of ’06 and ever since, investors have been haggling Google about making some real money off the broadcast-yourself-site. So far, the majority of revenue comes from advertising and we all know how annoying that can get – especially since they’ve been throwing up those pop up ads that come on during videos. Pre-roll ads, the ads that play for 10 to 30 seconds before a video starts, have also been considered but they’re holding back as a last resort (those are the most painfully annoying thus far). We’ll see where this goes and if it takes off and hope it removes some of the more annoying ads from YouTube.