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.
Microsoft also announced a significant number of related content partnerships, bringing most major services to the Xbox platform this week or by early 2012. On Dec. 6, Starting Dec. 6, a free Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone will let also let users find, learn more about and control content from popular entertainment services on Xbox LIVE.
Shortly after midnight on Sunday night, Microsoft said that the "Bing on Xbox" update would arrive on U.S. consoles beginning "tomorrow," and roll out to U.S. console owners over the coming weeks. Those without a Kinect peripheral will be able to search using Bing text search.
The voice search capability, first revealed in June, will work with both the Xbox Live Marketplace, Zune Video, and selected content partners. On Dec. 6, presumably the date of the update, Microsoft plans to add content from new entertainment partners, including apps, from EPIX, ESPN, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and MSNBC's Today.
Microsoft's vision for the Xbox platform, including voice search via Kinect, probably was more significant six months ago before Apple's Siri began dominating headlines with its ability to naturally search and interact with the user and a variety of apps. Nevertheless, it allows users to interact with a growing sea of content as simply as possible.
The next major Xbox 360 dashboard update happens on December 6th, and we’ve got a look at all the new changes and additions in this episode of Bleeding Edge TV. The Fall 2011 Xbox 360 Dashboard Update is the official name of this release, and we show you the update process, and then walk you through the new interface. We give you a look at new features like Bing, Cloud Storage for games and profiles, the new Social, Games, Movies, and Music channels, and more. Expect good things from Microsoft's latest update, including full Kinect integration. This is a big update that brings another big redesign to the Xbox 360, similar to what they did a couple years ago with the New Xbox Experience. Things are a lot more flat...even boxy. It's somewhat similar to the Metro UI that you’d find on Windows Phone 7 devices or Windows 8, and the synergy is understandable…plus, it makes things a lot more user-friendly as it pertains to Kinect.
Big thank you to GoToMeeting and JackThreads for sponsoring the show - be sure to check them out! As for JackThreads, we've got exclusive invite codes that give you $5 to use towards anything you'd like.
This morning Barnes and Noble unleashed their answer to the Kindle Fire, and it's the Nook Tablet. The Nook Tablet focuses on multimedia consumption, and keeps true to its e-reader roots with a great book and magazine reading experience. It's got a 7-inch display with Wi-Fi built-in and 16 GB of storage as well. It's thinner and lighter than the Nook Color, with a much faster 1 GHz dual-core processor as well.
The Nook Tablet also has 1 GB of RAM, and weighs in at under a pound. B&N says you should expect 11.5 hours of battery life from the device, which runs a customized version of Android 2.3. That customization, by the way, means that this isn't the type of Android tablet that you can just take and do your will with. It's geared towards things like reading books/magazines/periodicals, email, Internet browsing, video streaming, etc. In fact, a partnership with Netflix means you'll have deep integration of the platform on this tablet, with suggestions showing up on your home screen. Expect games, music services like Pandora, and other entertainment options (like Hulu) as well.
The Nook Tablet ships on November 18th, and can be pre-ordered now.
It's Halloween, and with that, Redbox responds to the trick-or-treat question with a 20% price increase at its 34,000 movie rental kiosks that starts today.
So what's the reason for the 20-cent price hike?
Congress. Specifically, Coinstar cites the recent passage of the Durbin Amendment as the reason why it has to jump its rates (in addition to any other increased operating expenses the company's faced). For those uninformed, the Durbin Amendment comes with two major provisions with which consumers have likely come into contact.
The first provision slapped a limit on the interchange fees that banks are allowed to charge – essentially, the money that they make from retailers whenever a consumer uses a debit card to make a purchase. In response, banks have started to scramble to cover the lost revenue, including going so far as to tell customers that they will soon be assessed a fee for using their debit cards to purchase items.
This morning Netflix announced that, due to overwhelming feedback from its members, the company would no longer move forward with plans to separate and spin off the DVD business. Instead, it will stay as it has always been, as one service that offers both DVD rentals by mail and instant streaming of content as well. The DVD and streaming plans will still be billed separately, and there's not yet any word on if Netflix will still move forward with the planned video game rentals that would have been part of Qwikster.
Netflix has officially expanded its business into Latin America: Brazil's the first country to receive the company's streaming movies and television shows, and Netflix plans to roll its service out to a total of 43 different countries in Latin American and the Caribbean over the next week.
Just looking at the numbers, Netflix will be able to bolster its current user count of around 23 million people –only consisting of American and Canadian viewers up until today – by the percentage of Latin America's roughly 205 million Internet users that could potentially tune in to their new streaming service. It's a big audience with potentially big rewards for Netflix, which is perhaps why the company spent so much time performing its due diligence to determine just how its Latin American audience views movies and TV shows.
"We've licensed thousands and thousands of hours of feature films, classic favorites, gripping telenovelas, documentaries and kids shows we know you'll enjoy," wrote Rochelle King, Netflix vice president of user experience and design, on the company's blog.
Starz Entertainment has ended contract negotiations with Netflix and will pull its content from the Watch Instantly platform effective February 28, the company announced Thursday.
"This decision is a result of our strategy to protect the premium nature of our brand by preserving the appropriate pricing and packaging of our exclusive and highly valuable content," Starz said in a statement. "With our current studio rights and growing original programming presence, the network is in an excellent position to evaluate new opportunities and expand its overall business."
In a statement, Netflix downplayed the current impact of the Starz partnership and said its content accounts for 8 percent of domestic viewing. As Netflix adds more movies and TV shows in the first quarter, it expects Starz viewing to drop to about 5-6 percent next year before the content is pulled.
We told you that Netflix had secured Mad Men for a July 27th debut on Watch Instantly, and now we're here to remind you that the first four seasons of the hit show will be available to instantly stream starting tomorrow. Now that Netflix Watch Instantly is a $7.99 per month product, it's good to see some quality content appearing on the service, right?
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