Amazon has announced that it's Instant Video service has secured exclusive rights to Downton Abbey, the same day that Netflix exclusive House of Cards went live. Season 3 of the popular show will debut on Amazon Prime Instant Video on June 18th. The first two seasons are available on Hulu and Netflix, but will be removed later this year. Season 4 (and 5, if produced) will maintain Amazon exclusivity.
It's fun to sit back and observe the battle between Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, but we have to wonder what this does for customers. If you want to be able to watch shows that are exclusive to different services, then you need to be a subscriber to all of them. Not super-expensive at about $25 per month, but it's still a substantial jump over just choosing one service for $8 per month and sticking with it.
Read More | Amazon
For a number of years, the Logitech Harmony One has been recognized as the best universal remote control, and now the company is back with the Harmony Touch. What's changed? Well, the Harmony Touch controls are focused mainly on its capacitive touchscreen, which is front and center. A lot of the typical controls that you'd typically have hardware keys for are moved to the touchscreen, which supports taps and swipe gestures. The goal here is to make is super easy for those of you who have a bunch of devices connected to your television or receiver, allowing you to swap between each with ease. The question is, does it do it's job as expected, and is it better than the Harmony One? Follow along in our full Logitech Harmony Touch review as we explore these answers.
Samsung's latest audio line, revealed at CES, comes with a bold claim: it's are the first in the world to use a soundbar with a built-in vacuum tube amplifier, and Bluetooth to connect to your TV, ditching the wires if you use it alongside a 2013 Samsung television (or other Bluetooth-enabled TV, we'd imagine.) As you can see, it also has a subwoofer, making it a 2.1 solution.
This feat is apparently achieved by a wireless Bluetooth speaker (DA-F60) using the apt-X audio codec and NFC to connect to devices such as your TV. Furthermore, its 7.1 channel surround sound system should also please the home theater crowd, which will work with Samsung's 2013 television line-up. The system also uses a Gallium Nitride amplifier to enhance the sound quality.
Samsung also revealed a "premium" Blu-ray player capable of upscaling DVD content to 4K.
Read More | Samsung
We've declared our love for Sonos multiple times here on Gear Live, which is why we're excited about the prospect of the company bringing its product line into home theater. An FCC filing reveals that Sonos has indeed submitted documents related to a soundbar with integrated Wi-Fi (like all other Sonos products) that should play nicely with the Sonos SUB that was released earlier this year. Perhaps we'll get a look at this one at CES next week, pretty please?
2012 is set to come to a close in just a few hours, and we are just in time with our annual top 10 list of the most-watched Gear Live video episodes. Over the past year, as expected, there was a bunch of Apple gear that made the list, and it's dominated by smartphones and tablets, with the exception of two Monster headphones, a look at the Boeing 787, and a USB 3.0 hard drive.
If you're not familiar with the SmartGlass second-screen app for Microsoft's Xbox 360, it is an app that seeks to improve user viewing experience by connecting the 360 console to smartphones and tablets. Sports fans might be in for a new reason to download the app if they haven't already, as Microsoft is bringing SmartGlass functionality to it's ESPN and NBA Game Time apps, as well as a new Sports Picks app.
From the SmartGlass app for iOS, Android, and Windows, you will be able to navigate the content from the apps directly from the tablet or smartphone. SmartGlass also brings more interaction to the viewing experience, such as allowing competition between friends to see who is most knowledgeable about whatever they're watching, with the chance to be featured in a global leader board.
iOS devices like the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch will be big holiday gifts this year, make no mistake about it. The Apple TV is actually a fantastic complement to Apple's handhelds, worthy of being featured in our 2012 Holiday Gift Guide. A nice little device in its own right, the Apple TV gives you access to Apple's iTunes Store entertainment content right on your television. In addition, you get Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, sports networks, and plenty of other entertainment options. Connect it to your iTunes Home Share, and you can use your iOS devices as remote controls for the Apple TV. The best part, though, is AirPlay. You can beam audio and video content right to the Apple TV with ease from your iOS device, or your Mac. You can also mirror the display of these devices as well, all wireless over your home network.
You can pick up the Apple TV for $99, or $94.95 on Amazon.
Honorable Mention: Roku 2 XS Streaming Player
Read More | Apple TV
It's been a long time coming for patiently waiting Marvel fans, but the 10-disc Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One - Avengers Assembled Blu-ray collection set is finally slated for release on April 2nd. The collection had previously been delayed by lawsuit, leaving Amazon to pacify pre-orderers with free copies of The Avengers.
Originally, the collection was to come with a S.H.I.E.L.D. briefcase, but that has since been scrapped due to the aforementioned licensing issue. It will, however, come with a suitcase featuring a glowing Tesseract on the inside. Also, thanks to the delay, the collection will have a few new extras, such as an early Iron Man 3 preview and the second phase of films. But with extra content comes extra financial responsibility, as the price is now $219 at retail--but you can preorder it for $197.10 on Amazon, saving yourself 10%.
Read More | Marvel
Time Warner CEO, Jeff Bewkes, reiterates wishful sentiments from the cable company that Apple make their own branded television set, and shake up the entire industry, when the question was asked of him at a conference.
"I hope they do," he said, "I think Apple is a great device company."
The Time Warner CEO thinks that Apple can solve the go-to-market-strategy problem with the cable/content business.
"They bring good interface and navigation skills,"
Perhaps an à la carte hardware system is already in the making at the secretive Cupertino labs. Who knows, maybe television and content executives are already privy to the details while deals are being established. Gear Live has reported that Time Warner COO, Rob Marcos, stated that the cable company would be willing to cede control of user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) as long as they can still maintain a relationship with customers.
"It's really all about maximizing the capabilities to get Time Warner customers the best possible experience."
Read More | Business Insider
Rumor has it that Google is about to take on Apple's AirPlay with an open version of its own. So, it appears that DNLA and Miracast functionality is not enough for the Mountain View web search giant. No wonder, as both features are somewhat of a bag of hurt and have received lackluster reviews.
Google will attempt to get other venders to adopt its open streaming alternative and, perhaps, have the same huge success that AirPlay is having with customers. Apple has had vendors like Denon, Panasonic, JBL, Pioneer, Philips, Yamaha, Logitiech, iHome and Bower & Wilkins, to name a few, that have integrated AirPlay functionality into consumer products.
Read More | Gigaom
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