Alan Buckingham

YouTube Music Key joins the streaming battle

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The battle for your hard earned money in the music streaming business is heating up, which seems to be a statement I make regularly these days. This time, the offering comes from an unexpected source. While YouTube is a go-to for music videos, it isn't generally thought of for a streaming music source. Or perhaps I'm old.

YouTube is unveiling its new service, Music Key. "You’ve asked us for ways to listen to music without ads, to keep playing music videos even if you lock the screen or start using another app, and to play music even if you’re not connected to the Internet. That’s why today we're introducing YouTube Music Key beta, a monthly subscription service".

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Amazon Fire HD 7 tablet -- Is it worth the upgrade? [Review]

amazon-fire-hd-7

Amazon has been producing its Fire tablets for the past few years, and the devices have remained among the retailer's top selling items. For one reason, they are always good solid products, but for another, Amazon sells them at a good price and frequently discounts the devices. Now the company has released its latest iteration of the tablet, but what new features does it bring along?

In all honesty, there are not a lot of big changes, but many minor updates to both the operating system and the hardware have been made. The new tablet comes in both six and seven inch models, though there is also a new 8.9, which retains the HDX name used for last year's models of both 7 and 8.9 devices.

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Netflix unveils October Speed Index Report, Comcast still middle of the pack

Netflix

Every month streaming video provider Netflix announces its speed results for the biggest ISPs in the US and other nations. The report is aimed to let customers know why their video may be dodgy and also to praise those that get it right. The order tends to vary each and every time, but there is some relative consistency seen in the results.

This time around, the October report reveals that Verizon Fios remains in the top spot. Comcast also retained its position, though sixth is still not great given the provider is getting paid by Netflix to provide the best service. In between those positions you will find Cablevision, Bright House, Cox and Charter.

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Deal alert: Toshiba Encore Windows tablet on sale for $99

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The Windows tablet market isn't a danger to Android or iPad, but it isn't doing horribly either. Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 seems to be a hit and others are on the market as well, with makers like Dell and Toshiba jumping on board. But in case you haven't yet taken the bait, Microsoft wishes to add a bit more enticement with a sale on one of them.

Between now and November 21st the company is offering the Toshiba Encore Mini WT7-C16MS Signature Edition for a steal of a price. The tablet is a seven inch model and it comes with an Intel Atom Z3735G processor, one GB of memory, 16 GB of storage, front and rear cameras and promises up to seven hours of battery life.

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It's NFL season and the Moto X now has football leather

Moto X Leather

We've reached the midway point of football season. Races are shaping up between NFL teams that are battling for a playoff berth, while others have fallen by the wayside -- I won't name those, to spare the poor fans. But sometimes sports meets technology, and it does so at an increasingly high rate. That happens today as Motorola joins the club of "NFL fans".

The Moto X has gained notoriety, partially because of its functionality, and largely with its customized backs. Perhaps not everyone wants a phone with a wood back, but apparently some do. Now Motorola is going a bit further, adding a "football back". In other words, it has the look and texture of a game ball.

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Spotify gets mobile to PC remote access update

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Despite a little spat with Taylor Swift, Spotify seems to be mostly improving all the time, adding updates and content on a regular basis. The latest update aims to marry your computers to your mobile devices via new, and rather unique, remote app.

The company is announcing a new feature for Premium subscribers, allowing users to access Spotify on their computer using remote control from the phone or tablet.

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Just in time for a new season the NBA hits Android TV

nba

The basketball season is freshly underway in the US and NBA fans are waiting to see how their respective teams do. While many have a general idea of which will be good and which may just not pan out, there are always surprises.

For those NBA fans who are eying an Android TV device like the Nexus Player then Google has sweetened the offerings a bit. Folks will now get access to live basketball games on the set-top box, though a subscription is obviously required.

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Taylor Swift pulling her music from Spotify is equivalent to thumbing her nose at the fans

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Music streaming has become the norm. When did you last buy a CD or, gasp, cassette or album? And we will not even discuss the 8-track tapes. That made yesterday's news cycle a bit baffling. Artists should be falling over themselves for ubiquity, not heading towards obscurity. But some apparently simply don't get it.

It has been revealed that Taylor Swift, a vastly popular singer, has pulled her music from Spotify. The artist seems to be worried about piracy, something that seems of little concern to most musicians today.

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Amazon Prime members can now store unlimited photos in the cloud

photographer

For those with tons of family photos, and probably the occasional selfie, safe storage can be an issue. Phones get lost and stolen and computer hard drives have a nasty tendency to die. Having a backup to a cloud service is a good option, and there's no shortage of solutions for it, with Amazon being one of them.

That option just got a whole lot simpler and cheaper. The online retailer is announcing that its cloud storage will take on the task of unlimited photo storage for Prime members, adding one more benefit to the growing list already available.

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Roku gets Google Play, watch your movies now

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Google has just announced the Nexus Player, bringing the extensive Play store content to the living room. But Google's new set-top box isn't the only device on the market. There is plenty of competition in the arena from Apple, Roku and Amazon, to name only three. Now it appears Google intends to compete with itself in this crowded space.

Roku, perhaps the leader in this area, is announcing that it will now include the Play store for video content. "Today, we're thrilled to announce that Google Play Movies & TV has been added to our expansive Channel Store in the US, UK, Ireland and Canada. With the addition of Google Play Movies & TV, you now have more options than ever to watch the entertainment you love on your Roku player", the company states.

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Is Google Now creepy or cool?

business man spying

The other day my colleague Brian Fagioli posted a story about Cortana advancements for the Windows Phone crowd. It got me thinking because he stated that "quite frankly, Google Now is so good at learning about you, that at first, it can seem a bit creepy". He isn't far off the mark, as it is creepy, but it works. And it works to an almost scarily good degree, when it comes to figuring its user out. TV? Travel? Packages ordered? It will have you covered. But is all of this a good or bad thing?

The answer will depend on the person, as I know the privacy advocates will chime in and disagree with my assessment. Am I worried about this invasion to my personal life? The answer is a resounding NO. Google Now alerts me to all sorts of events, some are just useful, some are things I'd likely have forgot without the help of the search giant.

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Xbox One set to go on sale for the holidays, bundles included

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Microsoft has struggled a bit recently with Xbox One sales, at least in comparison to rival Sony's PS4, though strides are being made. So what to do to combat this problem? For starters the company recently began selling a cheaper model that comes without the Kinect. But things will heat up even more this holiday shopping season, which is fast approaching.

Beginning November 2nd, the Xbox One will be available for $349 -- $50 off the regular non-Kinect price. That price will only be available in the US. And it's not the only discounted offer coming to the gaming platform next month.

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Cambridge Audio Bluetone 100 -- not your average Bluetooth speaker [Review]

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As Bluetooth speakers go, most tend to be small devices, easily transportable and charged via a micro USB port. That is largely what has made the peripherals popular -- portability and convenience. But there are manufacturers that take these things a bit more seriously.

Cambridge Audio aims to change perceptions of Bluetooth speakers, turning those small portable gadgets into something that is more home theater gear. One of its offerings is called the Bluetone 100 and, though it doesn't come cheap, it may satisfy the audiophiles out there by offering a bit more than average.

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Amazon rolling out Fire OS 4.1.1 to its tablets

Fire_HD_7-Colors

Amazon recently released a new line of Kindle products, featuring two new tablets and readers respectively. With the release came an update to the retailer's version of Android, known as Fire OS. It's a highly customized take on Google's mobile platform -- almost unrecognizable, in fact.

Now Amazon is rolling out an update to it, bringing the system to version 4.1.1. The update doesn't seem to have hit the 2013 models yet, but those with the latest tablet should be seeing it now, or at least very soon.

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Forget Facebook, Microsoft now has a 'share with Yammer' button

Yammer-Share

Okay, that may be a bit over the top. I doubt most users will be forgetting Facebook anytime soon, but it isn't the only social network. Don't forget Microsoft owns Yammer, which is geared more towards business than personal use. That doesn't mean it should be left out of the equation though.

In an effort to cash in on the social sharing craze, Microsoft is bringing Yammer to web sites. Yes, the business network will be included with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the rest of the set, allowing users to share stories.

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