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The rumor mill was calling for a new Microsoft tablet to be announced today, and thats exactly what happened. Just a few minutes ago, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the Microsoft Surface tablet. The Microsoft Surface is a companion to Windows 8, with Microsoft saying that it's "a tablet that's a great PC, and a PC that's a great tablet." The hardware is 9.3mm thin with edges beveled at 22 degrees. The casing is all magnesium, which is a first for a computer, making the Surface weigh in at 1.5 pounds. Oh, and it's also got a 10.6-inch display, so it's here to compete with the big boys. As you'd expect, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are present, as is a built-in kickstand, Gorilla Glass, and an amazingly thin 3mm cover that also doubles as a keyboard for touch typing.
Surface will be available in the model we just detailed, as well as a Pro model that supports a higher resolution display. It's got the same chassis, same kickstand, and supports the same accessories, but this model wuns full Windows 8 Pro rather than just Windows RT. It also supports digital ink by way of a stylus. When the Surface detects the pen, it stops accepting touch input, making it easy to write on. The upgraded model also has a DisplayPort, allowing you to plug it in to a larger monitor, this giving you the regular, full PC experience.
If you thought Nintendo wasn't serious about bringing more than just video games over to the Wii U console, think again. This morning during its E3 Media Briefing, Nintendo announced four popular streaming video options that'll be available on Wii U at launch: Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Instant Video. That's not all, though. While you'll be able to watch content from these four service, Nintendo also announced plans for a dual-screen experience with each one. Imagine, for example, that while watching a movie on Netflix, you could pull up all sorts of related content, facts, maps, and other information about that movie on the Wii U GamePad when it launches later this year. Could be interesting, and it sounds a lot like Xbox SmartGlass.
Apple has just released Apple TV software version 5.0.1, which looks to solve a few niggles that we've actually been complaining about lately. Owners of the second and third generation Apple TV can get the updates right away by heading into the software update area under Settings. What's changed? Well, iTunes TV and movie previews are now high definition, AirPlay is fixed for iOS apps, Home Sharing connections should no longer be as fickle as they've been lately, and Netflix integration gets tightened up a bit. You can pick up an Apple TV for $99.
You're now able to skip forward and backwards during play, allowing users to quickly change between movies and TV episodes. Users now will be able to zoom during play, turning letterboxed displays into full screen, and there are now contrast settings that allow you to tweak things to make colors more vivid, and blacks purer. For users outside the States, you’ll now have expanded and improved Facebook functionality connected via Facebook. The social functionality allows others to see what you watched and how you rated the shows.
If you’re wondering how to get the update, signing into your Xbox Live account and fire up your current Netflix app. You should get a notification that an update is available right away. If you’re not a Netflix user, when you decide the time is right to try Netflix, the most up-to-date software will be downloaded when you sign-up. Keep in mind in order to access Netflix through the Xbox 360, you need an Xbox Live Gold Account, broadband Internet, and an active Netflix membership.
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In this episode of Unboxing Live, we give you a look at the new 2012 Apple TV. The main feature of the updated Apple TV is that it can display 1080p content. iTunes has been updated to support the 1080p resolution as well, which makes renting and buying content from iTunes at the highest quality look great on the new Apple TV and the new iPad as well. Netflix has also been updated to stream 1080p with the new device, which is powered by a single-core A5 processor. You can pick up the new Apple TV for $99.
Ahh Nintendo, rarely an innovator, often an imitator. At least that can be said about the company’s next online “innovative” venture. The company is looking to various media service providers in order to kick off the Wii U release later this year with a bang. Like the Xbox 360, Nintendo has every intention of collecting as many service providers as it can in order to try to replace your cable or satellite box with the console. Nintendo is currently in talks with several ‘top content’ companies, possibly including Comcast, to become a cable TV provider alongside or after the Wii U launch.
Currently there are no official statements from Nintendo as to what content we can expect to see with the Wii U. What we do know is that Nintendo has announced that the Wii will soon be receiving Hulu compatibility.
Good news for everyone owning a Kindle Fire and subscribed to Amazon Prime (as well as owners of any other media streaming device with Prime compatibility,) as Amazon has announced that it will now offer its subscribers increased instant streaming of videos to supported devices. The press release states that users will be able to stream TV shows from MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, TV Land, Spike, VH1, BET, CMT and Logo.
All of this is made possible due to Amazon recently making a deal with Viacom, bringing the total number of available streaming offerings to over 15,000, all of which are supported on over 300 devices. Between Netflix, the Redbox-Verizon deal, and Amazon Prime, the streaming video subscription space is heating up!
As Netflix continues to bleed customers (although that trend seems to have slowed down considerably,) Redbox has stepped in to save the day, well so we hope. The rental kiosk service will be taking a stab at video streaming options. With the success they’ve had with rentals, it was only a matter of time until the company jumped into on demand streaming. Set to be released later this year, Redbox will be available on your nearest handheld device.
Redbox will be partnering with Verizon to stream their video selection, and it appears that Verizon will be managing their service and streaming content. Though there are no set details as to how the service will work, what it will cost, or when it will launch. This is definitely an interesting one though, so we will be keeping our eye on this one.
We're back with another edition of Ask Andru - this time we're focusing on the wildly popular Kinect add-on, and how useful it might be for Xbox 360 owners who primarily use their consoles for watching streaming video. On to the question:
My family has an Xbox 360 but we end up using it primarily for Netflix, not games. I've read that the recent Xbox Live update added more ways to navigate menus and content using voice and gestures with Kinect. Is it worth buying a Kinect just for those controls, if we don't use it to play games? Is talking and waving at the TV better than using the controller?
It's true--Microsoft recently released an update for the Xbox 360, known as the Fall 2011 Dashboard Update, that has fully optimized the console's interface for use alongside the Kinect add-on. Many early adopters of Kinect complained about how clunky and tacked on the experience felt when trying to navigate menus while using the Xbox 360 outside of gaming, and the update pretty much solved all of those problems. Now, it's easy to "grab" something on screen, swipe through menus, and make selections using hand gestures. Even cooler, though, is that the dashboard is now pretty much fully navigable using just your voice. Simply say "Xbox" and all your options for where you can go are displayed on the screen. If you can see it, you can pretty much say it. Here's a video I made that looks at the features you'll find in the latest update:
Barnes & Noble on Monday rolled out what it said was the biggest software update yet for its Nook Color e-reader, including the addition of Netflix streaming, Nook Comics, and more customized reading options.
The retailer has added 100 new features to the Nook Color, including access to movies and TV shows via Netflix and Flixster apps. Thanks to the Ultraviolet standard, which provides users with a digital copy of physical media, Flixster will allow movie access on-the-go.
On the comics front, Nook Color customers will now have access to high-resolution comics, graphic novels, and kids' comics. Barnes & Noble promised the "largest digital collection of Marvel's graphic novels available through a third party – including Halo Uprising and other Marvel greats like Ultimate Spider-Man, The Astonishing X-Men, and Hulk: Planet Hulk, among others."
A new feature known as PagePerfect looks to preserve the look and feel of image-heavy books like cookbooks, craft, and art books, and allows users to zoom in and fluidly scroll through a book's pages.
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