The big rumor on the street about the next Xbox is that Microsoft will block used games from working with the console. Reports from sources have hit various news outlets saying that the new Xbox, which should launch later this year, will require mandatory game installs to the hard drive of the console, and will require an activation code in order to get them to play. Once the code is used, that game is activated for that console specifically (or, maybe, that specific Gamertag,) and won't work on other consoles, effectively killing the used game market.
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We recently reported on the Slacker Radio redesign, and the company is keeping the freshness going, debuting on the Xbox 360 today. You can download the Slacker app for free, and you've gotta be an Xbox Live Gold subscriber in the US or Canada for the privilege. You get the same overhauled color scheme, music guide, and Kinect voice controls. Head over to the Xbox Live Marketplace to grab the 116 MB download.
Slacker has been around for a few years as both a free and premium Internet radio service, and now the service has released a new redesign. The old black and gold interface is replaced with a newer, hipper, cleaner look on all platforms, including web, Xbox 360 app, and mobile apps. Slacker had to do something to take some attention away from Rdio, Spotify, Pandora, and the like, and we have to say that the new design makes things easier on the eyes, and thusly, easier to use.
Slacker pricing remains intact. You have the free version, Radio Plus for $3.99 per month, and then Slacker Premium for $9.99 per month. Updated Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10 versions are on the way as well.
Elgato has stepped into the game capture card market with its Game Capture HD device. Connecting through HDMI, high-definition video can be captured at up to 1080p (after a recent update) on either your Windows or Mac computer. One of the biggest draws to this product is that it’s a self-powered, external capture card allowing use a laptop to capture from the comfort of your living room.
The Game Capture HD was designed to be used with all of your favorite gaming consoles and has even been updated to work directly with the newly released Wii U. As an avid Playstation gamer, the only “issue” with in in Sony’s HDCP protection with HDMI connections. Elgato has us covered though and provides a special AV cable that runs into the PS3’s multi-port to capture HD gameplay and audio. While the Game Capture HD was created with game consoles in mind, any non-HDCP protected devices with HDMI outs can be captured, including iOS devices and computers.
Stereo headsets have been a part of computer gaming and theater experiences for years but they’ve recently started making the cross into the living room with gaming consoles. Turtle Beach has been a leader in the gaming headsets and have released a number of headsets that work with the Xbox 360 or the Playstation 3. The EAR FORCE PX5 is a wireless Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound headset that works with both.
Upon opening the PX5, I was surprised to see they had included not only the receiver, wireless surround sound headset, and detachable microphone, but also an optical cable and and others to get going. The included optical cable is very thin and feels a bit on the cheap side but the quality of sound it provides in my case was the same as a more expensive cable, but I do fear that moving it around too much may break the cable. The receiver includes an optical in and out port, standard red/white RCA jacks, a port for a wired headset in case you are playing with a friend and finally the DC power port.
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.
There’s no question that it’s been a momentous year at Microsoft. The company introduced the world to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, announced its family of Surface PCs, showcased a new version of Microsoft Office and released “Halo 4,” keeping up a steady rhythm of advancements across its most popular products for individuals and businesses throughout the year. - Microsoft
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We trust Google with a lot of things: we trust that it will be there for us when our memory fails and that it will find the best information for us. Can we trust it to predict the future for us too? Well, the future of consumer electronics at least.
Based on Google Trends searches, Microsoft's next generation system is poised to take down Sony's next Playstation console. Google Trends previously held the data that showed the winner of the high-def DVD race, as Blu-ray yielded more search results than HD DVD films. This time, news site Ludos Mundi used Google Trends to discover whose winning the next-gen popularity contest, and found users search "Xbox 720" about 60 percent of the time, compared to searches for "PS4" that occur 40 percent of the time.
You can use Google Trends yourself to see the data. Simply compare "Xbox 720" and "PS4" using the Forecast feature.
The Xbox Community Ambassador campaign now has five more tier levels added to it, which include awards ranging from free Avatar swag to the Xbox Live gamer spotlight. The Xbox Community Ambassador program rewards Xbox Live members who assist other members through chat or the forum, acting as a reputation system that awards XP that can be redeemed.
The new tiers are listed below:
- Level 11, gold star avatar t-shirt.
- Level 12, gold star avatar hat and 10 tickets for periodic ambassador sweepstakes.
- Level 13, gamer spotlight, ilomilo on Xbox Live Arcade.
- Level 14, one month Xbox Live subscription and 10 ambassador sweepstakes tickets.
- Level 15, avatar spacesuit, 800 Microsoft Points.
If you're interested in becoming an ambassaor, you can apply here.
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If Major Nelson's calculations are correct, the Xbox 360, a seven year-old console, has outsold the Wii U and Wii combined during the week of November 18th. The Wii U sold 400,000 units during its launch week, and the old Wii managed to still sell 300,000. The Xbox 360 sold 750,000. This is a remarkably high number for a console so late in it's life cycle, and it begs the question, do we need new hardware anytime soon?
The number of Xbox Live Gold subscriptions also increased more than 50 percent compared to last year's Black Friday week, with over 14 million people logged into Xbox Live on Sunday alone.
Sony hasn't revealed its numbers yet, but it looks like the Xbox 360 will end up being the best selling console in the US for November. You can pick one up on Amazon.