Alan Buckingham

Happy first birthday BitTorrent Sync

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It's hard to believe that it has been one year since BitTorrent released its Sync app. I was among the first testers when it was in private alpha, and it came at a welcome time, as Microsoft had announced it was killing Live Mesh, an app I used between my desktop and laptop.

Since then, Sync has gone to beta and then final release. It even released a Kindle Fire app just recently, adding even more integration with your home. It was already available for Windows, Mac, iOS, FreeBSD, Android and NAS.

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Amazon Prime gets exclusive deal for HBO content

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Amazon has been continuously adding video content to its Prime service, and now with its Fire TV on the market, this becomes a bit more important. Granted you can get Prime video on other set-top boxes, but the Amazon offering takes the integration to a new level.

Now the retailer announces a new exclusive deal, this time with HBO. Titles include "The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, Big Love, Deadwood, Eastbound & Down, Family Tree, Enlightened, Treme, early seasons of Boardwalk Empire and True Blood, as well as mini-series like Band of BrothersJohn Adams and more. Seasons of Girls, The Newsroom and Veep will also become available throughout the multiyear deal", Amazon says. Game of Thrones is the big missing piece of the puzzle here, though that isn't really surprising.

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Google wants to fund your solar panel installation

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Earth Day might be over but Google has announced another eco-friendly program to go along with yesterday’s news of a renewable energy purchase. This time, the company is partnering with SunPower Corporation for a new deal intended for homeowners.

"Together with SunPower Corporation we’re creating a new $250 million fund to help finance the purchase of residential rooftop solar systems -- making it easier for thousands of households across the US to go solar", says Google’s Rob Parker.

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YouTube channel finally arrives on Roku devices

youtube-roku

Despite countless channels included on Roku, one has been missing since its inception. Now that problem has been rectified, just in time to keep the device a few paces ahead of its latest rival.

Today the set-top box maker announces that it has finally integrated YouTube across all of its devices -- or at least those released since July 2011. This includes "Roku LT, Roku 1, Roku 2, Roku 2 HD, Roku 2 XD, Roku 2XS, Roku 3, the Roku Streaming Stick (both HDMI and Roku Ready versions) and the Roku HD model #2500", says Roku's Ed Lee.

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Amazon Fire TV, Roku 3 and Google TV -- which is right for you?

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I have just recently finished my review of the new Amazon Fire TV, a box I found tremendously likable and easy to use. However, that doesn't mean it's for everyone. Not all of us utilize Prime for our video content.

However, it’s not the only game in town. Other companies are making competitive boxes, though I can't say I've had occasion to try them all. For instance, I do not have, nor have I used, the offerings from both WD and Apple. However, for the three I have used, I have some early impressions to share that could, hopefully, serve as a bit of a guide towards your next purchase.

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Amazon Fire TV -- the one box to rule your entertainment center? [Review]

amazon-fire-tv

The set-top box market recently grew a bit more crowded, as Amazon unveiled its offering, taking on stiff competition from Apple, Roku and Google. However, with a strong ecosystem for content, the retailer seems up to the challenge.

Like its Kindle Fire tablet line, the little box runs a highly customized version of Android, but don’t let that fool you into thinking the Play store will be there -- it isn't. You are living in the Amazon universe now, but the company doesn't force it wares on you, as there are other services you can also use.

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

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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

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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

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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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