If you’re in the market for the next-gen consoles coming soon from Microsoft and Sony, I’ve got some unfortunate news for you. Perhaps the most highly anticipated launch title, Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs, has been delayed to spring 2014. The open world action-adventure stealth video game with the ability to hack into countless devices around you (think Person of Internet the video game) was supposed to be release alongside the Xbox One and PS4; now it won’t hit those consoles or the current gen systems until springtime. Ubisoft Communications manager Gary Steinman explained the reason behind the delay in a blog post:
Our ambition from the start with Watch Dogs has been to deliver something that embodies what we wanted to see in the next-generation of gaming. It is with this in mind that we’ve made the tough decision to delay the release until spring 2014.
We know a lot of you are probably wondering: Why now? We struggled with whether we would delay the game. But from the beginning, we have adopted the attitude that we will not compromise on quality. As we got closer to release, as all the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place in our last push before completion, it became clear to us that we needed to take the extra time to polish and fine tune each detail so we can deliver a truly memorable and exceptional experience.
Understandable, sure, but it still stings.
Speaking of launch title delays, Sony has one of their own. The PS4 exclusive racing game Driveclub is also being pushed to 2014 because the developer team “requires more time in order to deliver on their vision.” Driveclub was supposed to come free to all PlayStation Plus subscribers as part of the Instant Game Collection; it will still come free to subscribers when it eventually releases, but for now Plus members will get platformer Contrast along with one called Resogun.
Check out these inspired adverts for Samsung’s wearable technology Galaxy Gear. Though buzz for the company’s smartwatch is at a low hum, these promos invoke a great sense of nostalgia and can’t be missed. The spot embedded above features life-like designs of classic wrist communication devices from shows like Dick Tracy, The Jetsons, The Power Rangers, Night Rider, Inspector Gadget, and Star Trek. Another spot lies after the break and it features actual scenes from these shows all leading up to the introduction of Samsung’s new tech. They took a page out of Apple’s marketing playbook here and I say kudos. (Click here for more…)
Microsoft is updating its Surface tablets that showcase their redesigned operating system Windows 8. The Surface 2 is the successor to Surface for Windows RT; its 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD display now renders 1080p, it’s powered by the NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, and its battery life promises 10 hours for video playback. Its full-size USB port has been upgraded to USB 3.0 and its front and back-facing cameras have been upped to 3.5-megapixel and 5-megapixel, respectively; both can capture 1080p video and feature improved low-light performance. Preloaded with Office Home & Student 2013 RT and Outlook 2013 RT, the Surface 2 starts at $449 and will come in 32GB and 64GB configurations when it goes on sale October 22. Customers can choose from a black or white coat this time.
The Surface Pro 2 is the successor to Surface for Windows Pro; it packs the same 10.6-inch ClearType Full 1080p HD display as the Surface 2 but it’s faster as it’s powered by Intel’s fourth-generation 1.6GHz Core i5 processor. MSFT hypes a 75 percent longer battery life than Surface Pro thanks to the new processor and other internal enhancements. The device houses three USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0, a mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, and audio in/out. A two-stage kickstand, also featured on the Surface 2, gives users another angle to position their tablet. The Surface Pro 2 starts at $899 and will come in 64GB and 128GB configurations with 4GB of RAM and 256GB and 512GB configurations with 8GB of RAM when it, too, hits the market October 22.
New Surface owners will get one year of free international calling and Skype hotspot access, along with 200GB of SkyDrive storage that is free for two years.
The new tablets will sell alongside some new accessories. The Touch ($119.99) and Type ($129.99) Covers are getting updated with thinner and light-weight designs. A new Power Cover ($199.99, coming in early 2014), which features a Type Cover experience, will extend your Surface’s battery life by up to 50 percent. A Docking Station for Surface Pro ($199.99, also coming early next year) will allow owners to easily connect desktop peripherals to their tablets, “taking you from laptop to desktop in an instant.” A Music Cover gives amateur DJs a new way to dive into the art of music making and remixing; release date and price is still TBA on this one.
Check out the gallery below for a closer look at the new Surface tablets and accessories.
Apple released the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c on September 20 and just three days later it sold a record-breaking nine million of these new handsets. Also, more than 200 million iOS devices are now running Apple’s newly redesigned mobile operating system iOS 7, making it the fastest software upgrade in history.
“This is our best iPhone launch yet―more than nine million new iPhones sold―a new record for first weekend sales,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a statement. “The demand for the new iPhones has been incredible, and while we’ve sold out of our initial supply of iPhone 5s, stores continue to receive new iPhone shipments regularly. We appreciate everyone’s patience and are working hard to build enough new iPhones for everyone.”
Elsewhere, Apple has updated its iMac lineup with fourth generation Intel “Haswell” quad-core processors, new graphics, next generation WiFi, and faster PCIe flash storage options. The entry-level 21.5-inch iMac features a 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and new Iris Pro graphics for improved integrated graphics performance. The high-end 21.5-inch model and both 27-inch models feature quad-core Intel Core i5 processors up to 3.4 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce 700 series graphics with twice the video memory and up to 40 percent faster performance than the previous generation. Customers can also upgrade to quad-core Intel Core i7 processors up to 3.5 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M series graphics with up to 4GB of video memory. Also, the iMacs now support 802.11ac WiFi that promises performance that is up to three times faster than the previous generation. The iMacs also support speedier PCIe-based flash storage that makes Fusion Drive and all-flash storage options up to 50 percent faster than before.
“iMac continues to be the example that proves how beautiful, fast and fun a desktop computer can be,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior VP of Worldwide Marketing. “Inside its ultra-thin aluminum enclosure, the new iMac has the latest Intel processors, faster graphics, next generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi and faster PCIe flash storage.”
The latest installment in the lucrative video game franchise Grand Theft Auto is making headlines and I’m not talking about it’s near-perfect ratings. Today developer Rockstar Games announced in a press release that GTA V has surpassed more than $1 billion in worldwide retail sales in just three days. It went on sale on Tuesday and already it’s made more money than Man of Steel did during its opening weekend (the Zack Snyder directed superhero pic collected $800 million in the early days it debuted). It’s inevitable that the vid game title will surpass the highest grossing movie of the year Iron Man 3 sooner rather than later (the Robert Downey Jr. vehicle currently sits at a worldwide box office $1.2 billion gross). These are massive movies we’re talking about here. To compare this level of success to another fast-selling video game, Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II took 15 days to reach the $1 billion milestone. In its first 24 hours on the market CoD: BOII made $500 million; GTA V made $800 million in the same time.
“We believe this marks the fastest that any entertainment property, including video games and feature films, has reached this significant milestone,” says Rockstar in a congratulatory statement posted in full after the break.
A billion dollars in three days–that’s beyond incredible. At this pace GTA V is poised to become one of the most successful pieces of entertainment property spanning all the major industries, including film, just like the PR states. Hell, whether or not it ever overtakes Avatar‘s record-setting $2.7 billion gross, it already is.
I’ve got to say it: achievement unlocked. (Click here for more…)
On Tuesday Tim Cook hosted an Apple event in Cupertino that introduced not one but two new iPhones. Also, Apple’s next-gen mobile operating system iOS 7 now has a release date and the company’s productivity suite and creative apps are about to become even more popular. Let’s dive in, shall we? (Click here for more…)
Sony Computer Entertainment held a press conference in Japan today and although all the announcements pertain directly to the Japanese market it’s very likely that some of the announced hardware may make their way to the States and other parts of the world.
First up, Sony made it known that the PS4 will release in Japan on February 22, 2014, almost three full months after the console launches in North America. Yeah, that has got to sting, especially since Sony is based in JP. But remember, the PS3 had launched in Japan six days before it did in America…so…yeah.
Next let’s turn to hardware. Sony flashed a new PS Vita (WiFi only) that is 20 percent thinner and 15 percent lighter than the OG Vita and promises six hours of battery life. The design is mostly the same–you’ll noticed a slightly rounder look. Inside the LED screen has been swapped out for an OLED display, there’s now 1GB of onboard storage and a micro-USB has been added for syncing and charging. The new Vita will come in a bunch of colors such as black, white, lime green, light blue, pink and grey. The proprietary memory cards have fallen in price and a 64GB size has been introduced to the fold. The updated PS Vita releases in Japan October 10 for 18,980 yen (or about $190).
And now to the unexpected. Sony outed a new box to put in front of your television and it’s called the PS Vita TV. It looks like a mini console and allows gamers to play Vita titles on their TV. It comes complete with slots to insert Vita cartridges and memory cards and you control gameplay with a DualShock controller, not the Vita. The Vita TV will support 1,300 Vita games; in other words this “console” will launch with an impressive games lineup. Note, however, that it will not support all Vita titles; big ones like Gravity Rush, Wipeout, and Uncharted are not included on the compatible games list for some reason. In addition to playing games, the Vita TV will also act as a media streamer with access to Sony’s Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited services, Hulu, and more. And when the PS4 comes out, a software update will turn the Vita TV into a Remote Play device akin to how the Vita will become one as well. Vita TV comes to the Japanese market on November 14 with a 9,954 yen price tag. That converts to appox. $100. Should it enter the US market at some point it’d fare as a worthy competitor against Apple TV, Roku, and the like.
Pop into the gallery below to check out the updated PS Vita and the new PS Vita TV. Video after the break.
At last, Microsoft has revealed the launch date of their next-gen video game console. Xbox One will release on November 22, 2013 at $499. That is exactly one week after Sony drops PS4 on November 15 at $399, if you’re keeping score. On the 22nd, the One will launch in 13 markets: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, UK, and USA. More countries will follow in 2014.
In addition to announcing the date, Microsoft says the system is in full production and ready for showtime. Gamers will be happy to know that it will feature an improved clock speed for enhanced performance. Specifically, the CPU has jumped from the previously announced 1.6GHz speed to 1.75GHz marking roughly a 10 percent increase in CPU performance. And in case you didn’t know, the GPU’s speed was also increased by 6 percent. Watch Xbox’s Xbox’s Yusuf Mehdi discuss the news in a video posted after the break.
Now the countdown for next-gen can truly begin.
In 2011, Microsoft and Nokia entered into a “strategic alliance” that formally made Windows Phone Nokia’s “principal smartphone strategy.” Two years later, Microsoft is acquiring “substantially all of Nokia’s Devices & Services business, license Nokia’s patents, and license and use Nokia’s mapping services.” MSFT is ponying up 5.44 billion euros (or $7.2 billion) to gobble up virtually all that is Nokia: 3.79 billion euros ($4.99 billion) grants Microsoft Nokia’s business and another 1.65 billion euros ($2.18 billion) allows the Windows company access to Nokia’s patents.
Says Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (pictured above, left): ”It’s a bold step into the future – a win-win for employees, shareholders and consumers of both companies. Bringing these great teams together will accelerate Microsoft’s share and profits in phones, and strengthen the overall opportunities for both Microsoft and our partners across our entire family of devices and services. In addition to their innovation and strength in phones at all price points, Nokia brings proven capability and talent in critical areas such as hardware design and engineering, supply chain and manufacturing management, and hardware sales, marketing and distribution.”
It makes sense–Nokia has been hard at work pushing the Windows Phone mobile OS with their lineup of Lumia smartphones. Once this acquisition completes (it’s expected to sometime in 2014) their strategic alliance will grow into a full-blown marriage and the synergy between the two companies should result in a more streamlined product and services lineup.
Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop (pictured above, right) has stepped down from his post and is currently being vetted to take over as Microsoft’s head honcho when Ballmer exits next year.
First up, a price drop. The Wii U is shedding $50 and will sell for $299.99 starting September 20. This is the black-coated 32GB “deluxe” Wii U that’s seeing the price decrease. The white 8GB “standard” version remains at $300 but I wouldn’t be surprised if Ninty decided to discontinue what used to be the cheaper model soon. With an even more competitive price tag and an onslaught of anticipated first-party titles coming soon (see below) perhaps the time is nigh to finally pull the trigger and pick up Nintendo’s next-gen entry.
Also hitting shelves on the 20th of September is a limited-edition Wii U bundle packed with the anticipated Gamecube remake The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. At the same $299.99 price point you get the deluxe console, a code to download a digital copy of the Zelda title from the Nintendo eShop (the physical disc doesn’t hit retail until October 4), one GamePad controller adorned with Zelda-inspired gold lettering, and a digital copy of Hyrule Historia, a book that details the chronology, history, and artwork of The Legend of Zelda series.
Next up: new hardware. The Nintendo 3DS is getting a new sibling and its name is 2DS. At $40 less than the 3DS, the 2DS eliminates the ability to play games in eye-popping 3D. Dual screens, cameras, and touch input remain intact, but the original hinge design is replaced with a flat look. The 2DS plays all 3DS games in 2D and it’s backwards compatible with all DS games. When it comes out October 12 for $129.99 it’ll be available in two hues: black/red and black/blue. Watch an introductory video after the break.
Lastly, the house that built Mario is pimping its upcoming games lineup as we near the holiday season. In addition to the aforementioned Zelda title, also in the Wii U pipeline are Wii Party U (10/25), Super Mario 3D World (11/22), Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (12/6), and Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Coming soon to 3DS (and 2DS) are The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (11/22) and Mario Party: Island Tour (11/22). For a list of third party games coming soon to Ninty’s home console and handhelds, jump after the break. (Click here for more…)
This week Cologne, Germany played host to Gamescom, one of the largest video games trade shows in the world. With next-gen systems in the pipeline, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Microsoft and Sony had a major presence at the show. Since the console makers already revealed their hardware at E3 in June, Gamescom was all about the, ahem, games.
Microsoft officially unveiled Xbox One’s launch lineup. As of August 19, there are 50 announced titles coming to Xbox One, 23 of which are hitting the marketplace day-and-date with the console’s holiday season release. Click those provided links to scan the lists, or simply jump after the break to do so. In addition to revealing the One’s games, Microsoft also spent time hyping its ID@Xbox initiative, or Independent Developers @ Xbox. Simply put, Microsoft is committed to helping indie devs achieve their goals of making games for Xbox One and it is striving to make the process as quick and streamlined as possible by making powerful tools and services available.
While Microsoft wasn’t ready to nail down the Xbox One’s release date, Sony upstaged them (again) by announcing that the PlayStation 4 will drop on November 15, 2013 in North America and on November 29 in Europe and Latin America. In terms of games, Sony isn’t saying which ones will launch alongside the console but it promises that 33 games will release before the end of the year, 18 of which are digital-download titles only. A grand total of 180 games are currently in development for the PS4. Jump after the break to see the launch window lineup. Sony also expressed its commitment to fostering indie devs by titles like FEZ (Polytron Corporation), Rogue Legacy (Cellar Door Games), and Supermagical (Tama Games). Also, Twitch is coming to PS4 to serve as another way for gamers to live stream their gameplay in addition to Ustream; and movies are in the works based on Digital Polyphony’s Gran Turismo franchise and Ubisoft’s upcoming Watch Dogs (see in-game pic above). Elsewhere, the PS Vita is getting a $50 price drop to $199 and the portable’s memory cards are falling in price as well. Over 25 new games are coming to Vita over the next 12 months.
Now since Gamescon is based on Europe, Microsoft and Sony made some exciting announcements for that far-away land. For example, MSFT says all pre-ordered consoles will ship with a free copy of FIFA 2014 because we all know how much Europeans enjoy their “football.” And on Sony’s end, “Magma Red” and “Wave Blue” color variants of the DualShock 4 controller will ship first in Europe and Latin America before eventually making their way to the States later this year.
The last piece of the next-gen puzzle is the Xbox One’s release date. As we await word from Microsoft, kick back and browse the launch lineups for the One and PS4 after the break! (Click here for more…)
When Bill Gates stepped away from Microsoft in 2000 to pursue his humanitarian efforts, Steve Ballmer took over as CEO of the company. Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980 as the tech company’s 30th employee. In a letter sent to all Microsoft employees titled Moving forward, Ballmer eloquently writes, “There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time.” Though Ballmer’s reign oversaw the widely maligned OS known as Windows Vista and the choppy launch of Windows 8 and Windows Phone, he notes that he is proud of what the company has achieved during his tenure. “We have grown from $7.5 million to nearly $78 billion since I joined Microsoft, and we have grown from employing just over 30 people to almost 100,000. I feel good about playing a role in that success and having committed 100 percent emotionally all the way.” There is no arguing that. Not at all.
As Microsoft is starting to transition into a devices and services company, Ballmer understands that new leadership with a fresh set of eyes is best for the Windows maker to move forward successfully. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”
Ballmer is set to retire within 12 months. Official MSFT PR and his letter to employees rest after the break. (Click here for more…)
As we inch closer and closer to the launch of Grand Theft Auto V the game gets even more exciting in its scope. In July gamers were formally introduced to actual gameplay and it was revealed how they will juggle three separate protagonists. Now Rockstar Games sheds light on the title’s online component dubbed appropriately enough Grand Theft Auto Online. It “takes the fundamental Grand Theft Auto concepts of freedom, ambient activity and mission-based gameplay and makes them available to multiple players in an incredibly detailed and responsive online world,” says Rockstar. GTAO is described as “a dynamic and persistent online world for 16 players that begins by sharing gameplay features, geography and mechanics with Grand Theft Auto V, but will continue to expand and evolve after its launch with new content created by Rockstar Games and the Grand Theft Auto community.”
In a video preview embedded above, you can see just how awesome this prospect really is. Imagine jumping into the fictional city of Los Santos with your friends, building a virtual community together and teaming up as a crew to execute major heists and other crimes you couldn’t get away with in the real world. Plus, the ability to create, share, and play across the Internet–an idea pushed by Media Molecule in LittleBigPlanet–is always welcome as it promises new online experiences all the time. And if Rockstar holds up their promise of pushing out new content and missions GTAO has the potential to be loads of fun with much replayability.
Grand Theft Auto Online turns on October 1, two weeks after GTAV‘s September 17 launch on Xbox 360 and PS3. Access to it comes free with every copy of GTAV. Now even though GTAO takes advantage of GTAV‘s performance engine, Rockstar is pressing that it is its own entity that will “grow and evolve into its own thing.” The developer is even toying with the idea of introducing older GTA worlds into GTAO; might the future hold an updated version of Liberty City for online players to roam around?
Xbox’s Major Nelson unboxes Microsoft’s next-gen console for the first time in the video pasted here. Though the unboxing isn’t revelatory, the Xbox One and its many included accessories are beautiful pieces of tech to gander at.
Inside the packaging ravenous gamers will find the liquid black console, of course, along with one wireless controller (the limited edition “Day One” controller is embossed with “Day One 2013″ in its center and features a chrome D-pad), the new and improved Kinect sensor, a Chat Headset, the power
brick supply, and an HDMI cable (Category 2 rated for 1080P, 3D and 4K). The system boasts a 500GB hard drive, slot load Blu-ray drive, IR blaster port, HDMI input and output connectors, a S/PDIF interface, new Kinect sensor port, three USB 3.0 Super Speed ports, Wired and Wireless network support, and a Kensington security slot.
Fun fact: the Xbox One featured in this video is one of very few production units in existence–less than 20 have been made so far. But that’ll all change soon as we near the console’s November 2013 release.
Update (8/12): Major Nelson and Zulfi Alam, the general manager of Xbox’s accessory business, discuss the Xbox One’s controller in a video embedded after the break. The newly redesigned Xbox wireless controller packs over 40 improvements including an integrated battery pack, a screwless design, a better D-pad, and impulse triggers. For the full rundown, watch the 7+ minute examination below. (Click here for more…)
On top of the three new Droids detailed last week, Motorola–a Google company!–dropped another new smartphone into consumers’ laps. While the 2013 Droids are Verizon Wireless exclusives, the newly announced Moto X is coming to all major U.S. carriers. What also sets the Moto X apart from its cousins is that it’s highly customizable in the looks department. Motorola is developing a website called Moto Maker that will allow customers to personalize their handsets before ordering them. Specifically, prospective buyers will be able to select from a wide range of colors to paint the back plate and accents of the phone; Moto claims over 2,000 combinations are possible. The front plate, meanwhile, can be made black or white. Additionally you can add a signature to the back of the device. Internally, you can customize the memory (16GB or 32GB) and even set a personal wake-up message and wallpaper before it ships to your door. Before checkout, you can also choose a case, matching headphones by Sol Republic, and a wall charger featuring two USB ports to boot.
Sadly, yes, there is one catch. All of this exciting customization (as well as the option to upgrade memory to 32GB) through Moto Maker is exclusive to AT&T customers. Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular customers will have to choose from a stock black or white handset. Lame! Since Moto X’s specs and Android functionalities are so similar to that of the 2013 Droids’, the Moto Maker personalization is this device’s major selling point. The fact that it won’t be available to all carriers is downright disappointing.
The Moto X sports a 4.7 inch AMOLED 720p (316 ppi) display and is powered by Android 4.2.2 running on Motorola’s X8 mobile computing system. There’s a 10MP shooter on the rear and a 2MP front-facing one and they both support 1080p video capture. A 2200mAh battery promises “mixed usage” up to 24 hours. The most fascinating bit about the Moto X’s design is that it’s the first smartphone to be wholly manufactured in the United States. After you customize your phone through Moto Maker, it will be shipped to you within four days direct from an assembly line in Ft. Worth, Texas.
Software-wise, the latest version of Android Jelly Bean brings the following to Moto X: Touchless Control (say “Ok Google Now…” to wake up the device and perform a function), Active Display (the device will intermittently reveal important information (i.e. the time, new notifications) without you having to press to the wake up button), and Quick Capture (with two twists of your wrist you can access the camera to shoot stills or video).
Moto X is coming to the US, Canada, and Latin America in late August/early September at $199. AT&T subscribers can upgrade to a 32GB model for an extra $50. Click after the break to watch the Moto Maker experience and see the Moto X in action. (Click here for more…)
It’s been a long time coming and now the Netflix feature you’ve been waiting for (whether you realized it or not) is finally here: personal profiles.
So you’re a Netflix subscriber and you share your account with family and friends. Say you’re into action films like Thor and your little brother is high on animated comedies like Phineas and Ferb. Netflix will recommend both action movies and animated series aimed at children to you. Sure, it’s not the end of the world, but wouldn’t it be better and more efficient if the streaming service was able to compartmentalize the shows you watch and are into versus the other type of programming your younger sibling might be addicted to?
Now, Netflix subscribers can create his or her own profile (no extra fees required) to enable “a uniquely personalized experience based upon their individual watching habits, their personal favorite shows, and favorite genres, all driven by Netflix recommendation technology.” Up to five profiles can be created per account. When you log into your Netflix account, you can select which profile you’d like to jump into and you’ll be presented with recommendations based solely on the content you watch. Brilliant! Netflix posits that you can also set up profiles headlining various genres like “Date night” or “Hanging with the bros.” You even have the option to personalize your profile further with a fun profile picture; and if you choose to link your Facebook account to your Netflix profile your picture will automatically show up as your Facebook profile picture.
Netflix started rolling out this new feature on August 1 and the company says profiles will be accessible globally for all subscribers by August 15. New members will be notified about creating profiles during the sign up process; existing members can add profiles on Netflix.com and on the PS3 Netflix app. According to the company, “profiles can be accessed on most devices that support Netflix, including the Netflix website, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, iPad, iPhone, Apple TV and other iOS devices, and most smart TVs. Additional devices will be added over the coming months.” So if you don’t see it yet on your device, patience.
After the break, a video demonstration. (Click here for more…)
On Wednesday Google made a couple product announcements and what we’re doing now, we’re diving right in.
First up is Chromecast, a new way to wirelessly stream content from your personal devices to your big screen TV. The hardware itself resembles a small USB stick, except inside of plugging into a USB port it goes into an HDMI port located on your HDTV. After being plugged in, Chromecast requires two things to function: it needs power (using included cables you can either plug it into a standard wall socket or a USB port on your TV) and WiFi. Land on the correct TV input and blam, you’re connected and ready to go.
Chromecast doesn’t actually boast a user interface. Everything is streamed and controlled by your personal device. For example, if you want to stream an episode of Arrested Development from Netflix, you’d open the Netflix app on your computer, smartphone, or tablet and click the “cast” button to wirelessly stream the video content to your TV. Once the content is projected to the TV, the device you’re streaming it from becomes the remote control allowing you to play, pause, and scrub through whatever you’re watching.
In addition to Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music, and Chrome are currently compatible with Chromecast. In addition to streaming video and music with those apps, the inclusion of Chrome allows you to stream Tabs so you can browse the Internet on your TV. Google is letting developers get their hands on a Google Cast SDK preview so that more apps can become compatible with Chromecast. In the pipeline already is a new version of Pandora that will work with Chromecast with more promised on the way. And Chromecast works across a variety of devices; in addition to Android phones and tablets it also functions with Apple products like the iPhone and iPad, as well as Macs and PCs.
So why buy Chromecast, especially if you already own an Apple TV or Roku or the like? I can think of two reasons right off the bat: one, it costs $35. Yeah, that’s it. You’ll want to own this thing just because you can. And then there’s ease of portability. Sure, you can unplug your Roku and bring it around the house, TV to TV, whenever you like. But can’t you imagine how simpler it’d be to transport something as small as a USB stick to get the job done? The only issue here, of course, is that Chromecast doesn’t support Hulu and Amazon Instant Video and all the other video streaming services out there. Yet. But once it does, Chromecast has the potential to shake things up in the entertainment space. For now, though, see it as an extremely portable and affordable way to bring Netflix, YouTube, and other Google services with you provided an HDMI slot is available to play.
Hop after the break to learn about Google’s other product announcement, if you dare. (Click here for more…)
Meet the Droid Mini, Droid Ultra, and Droid Maxx.
The Mini, as its name makes obvious, is the smallest of the bunch sporting an edge-to-edge 4.3-inch TFT display with an HD resolution of 1280 x 720. Inside there’s a Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System (that is a 1.7GHz dual-core processor with a 400MHz quad-core GPU, natural language processor, and contextual computing processor), 2GB of RAM, 16GB of onboard storage, a 10-megapixel camera with 1080p video capture, and a 2000mAh Li–Ion battery for up to 28 hours of usage or up to 14 days of standby time.
Verizon is calling the Ultra “thinnest 4G LTE smartphone available” measuring 7.18mm thin. It rocks a 5-inch Super AMOLED display with an HD rez of 1280 x 720. It packs a Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System inside (that is a 1.7GHz dual-core processor with a 400MHz quad-core GPU, natural language processor, and contextual computing processor). 2GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard memory is standard here, too, as is a 10MP shooter with HD video capture and the 2130mAh battery (up to 28 hours usage or up to 13 days standby time).
And then there’s the Maxx. Its specs are nearly identical to the Ultra’s expect for its heftier size thanks to an extremely large battery. The non-removable 3500mAh battery promises up to 48 hours of usage (that’s two days!) or 25 days standby. Also, the Maxx has double the internal memory at 32GB. The Maxx also touts built-in wireless charging compatible with a charging pad sold separately.
All the new Droids are made with DuPont Kevlar fiber unibody design and Corning Gorilla Glass. The 4G LTE enabled phones run the latest version of Android, that is 4.2 Jelly Bean, featuring new software enhancements including Droid Command Center (an exclusive homescreen widget for users to easily access notifications for text messages, missed calls, battery level and weather), Droid Zap (a new way to share pictures with nearby Droid users), hands-free voice activation (Droid users can wake up their phones by saying “OK Google Now” and telling it what to do next), and Wireless Display (users can mirror what’s on the screen onto a Miracast-enabled HDTV).
The three Droids by Motorola are up for preorder today. After signing a two-year contract with Verizon Wireless, the Droid Mini can be yours for $99.99, available August 29. The Droid Ultra (made in black and red) and Droid Maxx both go on sale August 20 at $199.99 and $299.99, respectively. Pix in the gallery below. PR after the break.
On July 23 Apple reported its third quarter financial results. Apple posted a $6.9 billion profit on $35.3 billion in revenue. Compare this to one year ago, that’s down from a profit of $8.8 billion and slightly up on $38 billion in revenue. Says CEO Tim Cook: “We are especially proud of our record June quarter iPhone sales of over 31 million and the strong growth in revenue from iTunes, Software and Services. We are really excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, and we are laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products that we will introduce in the fall and across 2014.”
Now let’s break it down by product category. Apple sold 31.2 million iPhones in the quarter (compared to 26 million in the year-ago quarter); 14.6 million iPads (compared to 17 million); 3.8 million Macs (compared to 4 million); and iPod sales dropped 32 percent year-over-year.
Looking ahead to the fourth fiscal quarter of 2013, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer expects revenue between $34 billion and $37 billion.
Up to this point gamers have only been privy to tantalizing trailers for Rockstar’s next game in the lucrative Grand Theft Auto franchise. That all changes now with this nearly five minute look at actual gameplay featured in GTA V. In addition to meeting the game’s three playable protagonists in Michael, Franklin, and Trevor, you will soon discover all kinds of innovative and intuitive gameplay that takes advantage of having three perspectives set inside the world of Los Santos.
GTA V comes to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 17.