Xbox Live services to go free from April 19-23
In an attempt to get some more users hooked on its premium Xbox Live subscription service, Microsoft will offer it for free for five days, commencing on Thursday, April 19, and running until Monday, April 23. Partners like Hulu Plus, Netflix, and EPIX will also open their doors for free during the same time period. Depending on where users are, however, they will get various amounts of free app access during those five days.
Microsoft outlines launch plans for X360 live TV
In sync with the fall Xbox 360 Dashboard update, Microsoft has provided a listing of TV providers that will be ready to go this week. Along with existing access to ESPN, Hulu, and Netflix, the December 6 update will also bring EPIX authenticated video in the US, Lovefilm in the UK, MediaSet's Premium Play in Italy, Sky Go in Austria and Germany, Telefonica Espańa's Movistar Imagenio, and MSNBC's Today in the US.
WD TV Live carries Spotify Music and more
Western Digital on Tuesday brought out its next-generation WD TV Live media box and companion WD TV Live Hub. The new version has a revamped, tray-based interface and now has Spotify music. Listeners with a Spotify Premium account can stream at the full 320Kbps with support for making playlists, sharing, and getting access to others' content through profiles and the song inbox.
Facebook music and video sharing unveiled at f8
Facebook continued its string of news at f8 by detailing its media sharing. Part of a new system of verbs that replace the generic Like, it focuses most on music: users can spot someone listening to a song in the live ticker and start listening to the same track. Services will still need to launch the separate app if it exists, but the method will let anyone listen to similar content if it exists in a subscription service.
Orange to buy 49 percent of DailyMotion stock
French telecommunications provider Orange has began negotiations with online video hosting company DailyMotion in order to purchase a 49 percent interest for 58.8 million euros (about $80 million). The deal, which is expected to close within a few months, also gives Orange the option of buying the remaining stake in 2013.
Euro providers want Apple, more to pay for traffic
European cellular carriers have reiterated calls for content providers like Facebook and device makers like Apple to shoulder the costs of traffic on their networks. The CEO of Orange's parent company France Telecom, Stephane Richard, recapped his view at the LeWeb conference today that it was unfair carriers had to pay for investments to handle the load for the iPhone or a website but wasn't collecting any extra revenue from the traffic. Heavy data use was "good news" but has prompted questions about business models, including the decision to cap bandwidth, Richard said with Bloomberg in attendance.
Sony Netbox brings Netflix, YouTube to TVs
Sony tonight leapt into the streaming media hub field with the Netbox. The hub acts as a portal for the features that would normally be available only through a Bravia TV, such as Netflix and Qriocity movies, DailyMotion and YouTube videos, and locally available media. While it has its own remote, the hardware is uncommonly linked with smartphone apps and will have both Android and iPhone controllers.
Sony intros Bloggie pocket cameras at CES
At its press conference at CES, Sony introduced new pocket cameras it calls bloggie, which are meant to produce and quickly upload Internet videos for quick sharing. Similar in concept to the Flip Video cameras that arguably pioneered the category, but has features more inline with the company's latest Ultra HD digital camera, Sony's bloggie cameras record 1920x1080 high-definition MP4 format videos and capture 5-megapixel images. The content can then be quickly uploaded to PCs and the Internet thanks to a built-in USB connection that flips out of the body. This USB will also charge the internal battery.
Launches follow complaints against Apple
As planned, French video sharing site Dailymotion has released its first iPhone application. Two versions are available: first is free but ad-supported, whereas a version without ads costs $6. Users of either can search for videos, browse channels, and see popular or featured highlights. iPhone 3GS owners have the further option of recording and uploading their own clips.
Controversy surrounds H.264 on iPhone
Apple is not playing fair in terms of supporting video hosting services beyond YouTube, claims the chief technical officer of Dailymotion. Olivier Poitrey comments that the iPhone edition of Safari relies on a special plug-in for YouTube videos, allowing it to jump straight to H.264-encoded copies. Because of Apple's battery and processor worries, Flash is not supported in any form on iPhones or iPod touches.
Widget Bazaar now out
Subscribers to Verizon's fiber optic Internet and cable service, FiOS, now have access to the Widget Bazaar, which lets them check out Twitter apps and log onto Facebook right on their TVs. Users won't be able to post Twitter updates or view their friends' pages, as the young version of the app only allows users to get updates on what they're watching and standard community Twitter updates. The Twitter app remains on the screen as a vertical ticker, even when users are watching TV.
Sony BRAVIA Gets Netflix
Sony today said its Internet-aware BRAVIA TVs now have access to Netflix. Both newer sets with support built-in, as well as older sets using the add-on Internet Video Link, can access (but not add to) the Watch Instantly queue and stream movies or TV shows directly to the set. Whether or not it's capable of HD footage isn't clear.
Google's primary video site YouTube is quietly increasing the quality of its videos, viewers have found over the weekend. The Flash-based site has begun re-encoding the web versions of its videos when possible, increasing their resolution from 320x240 to 480x360. Audio quality has also improved to include stereo AAC audio versus the lower bitrate mono sound of before, users note. The improvement primarily applies to newly uploaded videos, which are automatically produced in both the regular and high-quality versions, but is also being applied to older videos. The extra quality currently remains optional and must be activated by adding a tag to the address of the improved videos.
HD on Web and YouTube
DailyMotion on Monday added HD content to its web video service, becoming one of the first general-purpose web video sites to do so in the more universal Flash format. The France-based service now allows users to both upload and play back up to 720p video without the downsampling that often occurs at these sites. While the feature will generally require a fast single-core or average dual-core processor, a site algorithm can automatically determine whether a video can play at the full resolution or will scale back to standard definition. A 1.6Mbps Internet connection or faster is also required for steady playback regardless of the system's speed, DailyMotion says.