Alan Buckingham

Amazon Fire TV ups the voice search ante, adds Hulu Plus and more

amazon-fire-tv

Amazon's Fire TV, a previously much-rumored device, is now officially on the market, with reviews cropping up around the web -- our own will be coming shortly. One known issue that seems to pop up is that the voice search only encompasses Amazon. But that landscape is already beginning to change.

Today, the retailer announces new partners in this endeavor. Hulu Plus, Crackle and Showtime, which were already present on the tiny set-top box, will now be included in search, starting this summer (a rather vague time frame).

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Sony's new PS4 update makes it easier for gamers to edit and share videos

ps4

At GDC last month Sony announced update 1.70 for the PlayStation 4 gaming console. Now some details are beginning to trickle out about what customers can expect from the update, the biggest of which seems to be a new method for editing and sharing gaming videos.

Known as SHAREfactory, the service will let gamers edit and customize these clips before sharing them with everyone. This isn't just simple editing either, it will allow the customer to utilize filters, transitions, and even add text and stickers.

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Logitech Harmony Smart Keyboard now controls Amazon Fire TV

logitech-harmony-smart-keyboard

It's been a busy couple of weeks in the home theater market, with a few major releases, including the Roku streaming stick, but also Amazon's much anticipated Fire TV and the latest offering from Harmony. The Logitech-owned company offers a number of smart remotes, but now also has the Smart Keyboard, designed to control your home theater.

The introduction of Amazon's Android-based box seemed to offer a challenge, as the remote is Bluetooth, but Harmony has stepped up and made it work.

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BitTorrent joins forces with Netgear, brings Sync to NAS

bittorrent logo

BitTorrent has been busily updating its Sync ever since the service first debuted. The organization bills this as having no cloud involved, describing it as "being more private and secure than the public cloud".

Now BitTorrent is joining forces with Netgear for the first NAS integration of its Sync program. "NetGear is our first partner to launch a native BitTorrent Sync app, which can be accessed from the ReadyNAS Add Ons page today", says Erik Pounds.

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Roku search rolls out to Android, iOS apps

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Roku is one of the primary reasons that people feel empowered these days to make the move away from cable and satellite. Now the company has enhanced its offerings for the 1,500 channels of video and music already available, making it easier to find what you want.

"Starting today and over the next week a software update will roll out to Roku 3 players so customers can also use Roku Search via the Roku mobile app for Android and iOS mobile devices", says Roku’s Matthew Anderson.

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Amazon holding another Fire sale on tablets

kindle fire hdx

It seems Amazon is almost continuously holding sales on its Fire line of tablets. Honestly, the price means little to the retailer, as it simply wants you to join the ecosystem. We've seen this most recently with the Fire TV, which aims to control the living room with media and games.

The latest deal sees prices on the tablet lineup getting substantial discounts -- or at least three out of the four, anyway. Both HD and HDX models are included in the deal.

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Dropbox expands into the Asia Pacific market with new office

cloud

Cloud storage darling Dropbox began in San Francisco, home to many tech start-ups, but has since spread, opening offices in Austin, Texas and New York City. The overseas reach expanded when the company launched a Dublin location, but one market where it was absent was the Asia Pacific area.

Now that changes, as a new office in Sydney, Australia is announced. "In Australia, we’re focusing on expanding Dropbox for Business and making Dropbox a delightful part of people’s personal and work lives", writes Tony Huie and Oliver Jay of Dropbox.

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Netflix releases monthly ISP speed test, Comcast improves

TV cat Netflix

Last month there was a bit of controversy over a deal between Comcast and Netflix. Many, but not all, thought it unfair to force the streaming service to pay up in an effort to provide reasonable service to its customers. The entire net-neutrality issue reared its head, as it appeared to some that Comcast was intentionally slowing traffic to the service in an effort to extract extra money.

Regardless of your feelings on this, Netflix paid to play, and Comcast's speed for streaming media miraculously improved.

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New study claims 1 in 10 pay TV subscribers plan to cut the cord this year

watching tv

Not long ago, I conducted a rather unscientific survey, asking readers if they planned to cut the cord in 2014. There was no voting, it simply relied on comments, as I wished to know your thoughts. A number of you had already taken the plunge, but we are dealing with a tech-oriented crowd. This isn't something my mom and dad will be doing -- they’d think I spoke a foreign language if I used the word Roku.

Morgan Stanley, who we don't tend to think of when it comes to media, went a bit further, taking a more scientific approach and collating the results into a nice graphic format.

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Windows XP user survey shows little hope for change

Windows XP

Last week was the much talked about XPocalypse, meaning support came to an official end for XP, despite a large number of users, both home and business, still running the operating system. It seems that this setback isn't doing much to daunt those users, either.

Security firm Avast has released a survey it conducted just before April 8th, and results will be disappointing to Microsoft. Many customers plan to stick it out with the aging platform.

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Amazon Prime announces new 90’s TV show lineup

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For those of a particular age, the 90's may be nostalgic for TV memories. I suppose that's the case with many decades, as each has its memorable moments -- from the final episode of MASH in 1983 to the debut of Seinfeld in 1989, even the premiere of Lost in 2004.

Now Amazon Prime is bringing back that old 90's feel with a selection of classic shows, including programs from kid-friendly Nickelodeon.

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As Windows XP expires, Google urges Chromebook adoption

HP Chromebook 11

Support for Windows XP comes to an end today. Despite that, there are still a fair number of customers continuing to run the aging operating system. While those customers may be a bit sad about the demise, not everyone is.

On the heels of my colleague Joe Wilcox touting Chromebook, Google does the same. The company is taking advantage of this situation to lure current Windows XP users over to its Chromebook platform. In fact, the search giant is using the company's own PR against it, stating "even Microsoft admits: it's time for a change". That statement is followed by an image of an aged computer, complete with CRT monitor.

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Fire TV tops Chromecast as best-selling electronics product on Amazon

amazon-fire-tv

Google’s Chromecast has been getting a lot of media attention in tech circles, mostly due to the ever-evolving number of services and websites throwing support behind the little HDMI dongle. Price also plays a part of it -- retail is a mere $35, and Amazon offers it for a hair under $30.

All of this attention has kept the product at the top of the best-seller list in the electronics category for sometime now. But last week Amazon disrupted the market by announcing Fire TV -- a small set-top box designed to compete with Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV and the like.

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Grace Digital Encore -- a powerful standalone internet radio [Review]

grace-digital-encore

Internet radio has become quite popular, with an ever growing number of services, including favorites like Pandora and Spotify, as well newcomers such as Beats Music. For the most part customers use these services on smartphones and computers -- thanks to Google Music All Access and a Bluetooth speaker on my desk, my Nexus phone gets me through the day.

But there are also stand-alone products designed just for this purpose. Grace Digital is one of the leaders in the field and the Encore is one of the top-of-the-line offerings from the company.

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For HTPC folks, XBMC recommends an upgrade from Windows XP to Linux

xbmc-eden-home-screen

It's doubtful there are many people out there at this point that don't already know that support for Windows XP will come to an end tomorrow, April 8th. Despite that, a number of individuals and businesses will continue to run the operating system.

This doesn't likely apply to those maintaining an HTPC, as this tends to be a more geek-savvy set, but no doubt a few are out there. For those users, XBMC has passed its judgment, and the verdict is Linux.

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