Xbox gets new entertainment options

xbox live logoMicrosoft may be planning to unveil its next Xbox console in the near future, but that has not stopped the company from continuing to update its current 360 version of the device.

The Xbox 360 may sometimes be thought of as a gaming box, but it has long since exited that pigeon hole. Microsoft wants to use the console to take over your living room and it has been moving steadily in that direction for some time. The company has been adding more and more entertainment content and now it has announced the next wave.

Larry Hryb, better known as Major Nelson, announced the next set of updates, which are rolling out right now and include a load of new entertainment options for customers.

Updates:

  • Xbox SmartGlass for Game of Thrones Season 3
  • MLB.TV Refresh
  • IndieFlix
  • Revision 3
  • PopcornFlix
  • Toys “R” Us Movies

If you have an Xbox 360 then you should be receiving these updates at any moment. If you do not yet have one of the consoles then you may just want to wait and find out what gets announced at the upcoming E3 show.

Enhance the Movie Experience

Movie & Meal DealEver since the motion picture first burst onto the silver screen, people have wanted to enhance the cinematic experience. From 3D and IMAX to Smell-O-vision, just about every trick in the book has been used to make you feel part of the film, rather than an outside observer. To this fine canon of techniques, UK retailer Tesco and on-line movie service blinkbox are adding….food.

For their “Movie & Meal Deal“, Tesco and blinkbox commissioned top neuroscientist, Dr. Jack Lewis, to study the effects of active ingredients on people’s brains and then suggest food types that complement the movie-watching experience. His findings gave Tesco and blinkbox the perfect, if somewhat unusual, combinations for the ultimate movie night in.

Dr. Lewis reckons these foods match the movie genres.

  • Action – Sun-dried tomatoes coated in cocoa powder will raise noradrenaline which is instrumental to sensations of excitement
  • Comedy –  Fresh fish stuffed with beetroot and coleslaw to supplement the nitric oxide system and improve dopamine availability in the pleasure pathways of your brain
  • Drama – Chopped lemon, lime and mint sandwich drizzled with chilli sauce on wholewheat bread to trigger the RAS (reticular activating system) to remain alert and focused.
  • Horror – Chicken marinated in freshly brewed coffee will take you out of your comfort zone and raise levels of anxiety
  • Romance – Curl up with a spicy curry (not chocolate!) to top up your libido-stoking testosterone levels

Everyone knows that certain drugs can change the way you feel, but the chemicals we take into our bodies through our diet can also have an effect on our mood,” says Dr. Jack Lewis “Choosing to eat certain foods, whilst leaving others out, regulates the availability of ‘raw materials’ that the brain’s chemical messengers are created from. This means that you can tailor your meals to create the perfect mood for a movie night in, no matter what the genre.

The “Move & Meal Deal” is a partnership between Tesco and blinkbox: buy a variety of food and drinks from Tesco and then rent a blinkbox new release movie for just £2 instead of the usual price of £3.49.

Me, I think I’ll stick to popcorn.

Xfinity on Demand on the Xbox and Net Neutrality

ComcastIf you have an Xbox Gold Member and are a Xfinity (aka Comcast) subscriber you may have noticed a couple of additions to the Xbox app store, MLB, HBO Go and Xfinity on Demand. However if you try to log into HBO Go you will find yourself blocked, because HBO Go is not available on the Xbox if you get your Internet through Comcast. Just in case you think this is a plot against Xbox users by either Comcast or HBO Go, it isn’t HBO Go is also not available on the Roku for Comcast subscribers, although it is available on the iPad. I am sure this makes sense to someone at either Comcast or HBO Go, but I can’t think of a good reason other than someone wants more money, never mind, I just answered my own question.

Which means if you are a Comcast subscriber you can now watch Xfinity on Demand and MLB through your Xbox. (MLB does require a subscription) The difference is any content you watch on the Xbox through the Xfinity on Demand app does not count against the data cap. Comcast says this because it is being streamed through a private network. This has net neutrality advocates crying foul, since all other services including MLB do count against the data cap. Comcast says since they are treating all services that are on the public network equally they are still observing net neutrality. I find this argument difficult to swallow, if we follow their argument on I can see a future where there are two Internets, one for companies who can afford to pay for private networks and offer fast service and another for those who are relegated to the slower public network. Unless Xfinity on Demand because it is a part of the Comcast service takes a different private path to my residence and that path can only be followed by services owned directly by Comcast. If this isn’t true, then a packet coming from Xfinity on Demand is no different from one coming from MLB and uses the same bandwidth ( assuming all other things being equal). It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

However for now the biggest problem for many Xbox users seems to be even connecting to Xfinity on Demand through the Xbox. Many people are receiving error messages, when they try to connect. Are you a Comcast subscriber and an Xbox owner, what do you think of Xfinity on Demand on the Xbox can you even get into it. Does it bother you that its is being treated differently when it comes to your data cap.

GNC-2012-03-26 #753 Privacy Soapbox Time!

Feeling a 100% better and it is time to have a serious discussion about privacy and actions in the internet and public space. Looking for your feedback in a big way on these issues. Lots of great tech stories to share with you tonight as well.

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The New Line of Turtlebeach Headphones

Turtlebeach, famous for their audio products, has a new line of headphones designed for use with tablets and smartphones, and geared specifically towards mobile gaming. They had the whole lineup on display recently at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and Scott Ertz of F5 Live and The Tech Podcast Network got a tour.

The M3, for instance, is super portable because it is so flexible and foldable.  It will retail for $39.95.  The M5 is slightly larger, but has the same sleek design and will cost the user $49.95.  There is also a pair of full-size gaming headphones, the X32 and X42,both of which are compatible with the Xbox 360 and are now dual-band, unlike their predecessors.  Both will operate in the 2.4 and 5 GHz range.  There is also a new X300 and X400 line.  You can check them all out in the video below and also visit Turtlebeach for more information.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live.

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AikenLabs Immersive Motion Accessory System

AikenLabs Immersive Motion Desktop Starter KitAikenLabs Immersive Motion Accessory System is a body-worn motion controller that takes real world actions and puts them into video games. Andy checks out some moves with Ethan from AikenLabs.

The Immersive Motion Accessory System comprises small black boxes worn on bands that connect wirelessly to a master controller which in turn, is connected to PC or game console via USB. Each box has an accelerometer, a magnometer and  gyroscope to accurately track motion. No optical sensor or camera is needed.

Once the boxes are in place on the player’s head, arms, legs or plastic sword, actions such as hitting, pushing or kicking in the real-world get translated into similar actions in the game. Cleverly, the system converts the gestures into standard game controllers actions such as button presses or joystick moves. Consequently the system can be used with nearly any game console straightaway; there’s no need to wait for developer support.

Interview by Andy Smith of Geocaching World.

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GNC-2012-01-27 #737 Shame on Hawaii Legislature!

Going to be implementing some Studio upgrades in the next couple of weeks should be fun. I go after a couple of my state legislatures pretty hard tonight on two idiotic bills that they introduced. Also hope I was not to punchy on the last show notes. I am feeling much better by the way and although the voice is not a 100% I feel a 100% better.

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GNC-2012-12-05 #726 In Austin!

Many thanks to the Ohana that stepped up to the plate this weekend and donated towards our fundraising for our support folks at CES 2012. Trying out a new recording computer here in Austin looking for feedback on the Audio quality.

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Netflix Kills Qwikster, DVD by Mail Still Netflix. Suffers $200 Dollar a Share Loss.

netflix logoMaybe it was the weird spelling, the fact it was too close to Qwikstar (the Amway rebrand) or the twitter is owned by the Pot Smoking Elmo. Nonetheless, Netflix announced today they will not be seperating the company into two. Netflix DVD rental will still be $8 (with an additional $8 for streaming).

How Netflix Screwed themselves in the last 3 Months.

In July, Netflix came to the realization their service was not priced efficiently for the company to make a profit. Therefore, they announced by Sept 1st, they would be changing price plans.

The service separated the streaming from the DVD rental. For $8, you could get one DVD at a time. Add another $8 and you could get Netflix streaming. It was a move that happened too fast, so people lashed back.

Last month, Netflix’ CEO Reed Hastings outlined plans to separate the DVD by mail business and give it’s own name – Qwikster. People started speculating Netflix was planning to sell the DVD mail side and focus more on streaming. Within 14 days, Netflix saw a major decline of customers (Some calling the idea “Qwikstupid”) .

Netflix stock dropped almost $100 a share from Septembers’ announcement, and over $200 a share from July. Netflix lost millions of dollars in the last 90 days with these changes. Needless to say, this is not a great business plan.

What Netflix Needs to Do to Recoup this Large Deficit.

First of all, it would be a VERY GOOD idea to offer at least 1 free month to current customers (although 3 months would be better). After all, these are the people that stuck through it all. Next – cut the service price for DVD rental and streaming. Meet in the middle – $12 a month for 1 DVD at a time and streaming.

Reed Hastings also needs to put together a very big public apology. I don’t think it’s time for him to pass the CEO reigns just yet, but maybe Netflix needs to shake up the board a bit. This was a horrible idea that was ultimately agreed upon by the directors.

Will You Go Back to Netflix?

This is the biggest question. After all these bad decisions, would you choose to go back to Netflix? They do have the most coverage in streaming options, being on most Over the top TV solutions and game consoles. Still, loosing 1/3 of their operating share makes you wonder if they can ever get back to the $300 / share peak they enjoyed back in July.

I personally use the Netflix streaming service – I abandoned DVD rentals simply because they sat on the coffee table for weeks at a time. With new additions in AMC’s Walking Dead and Discovery’s Mythbusters to streaming, I have a month’s worth of shows to watch. Tron Legacy also showed up this month, which gives me more of what I really crave – top movies that are only a year old.

TMS-2011-10-08 #36 Jobs and Tech

Today’s show was held in a Google Hangout and we had one of the best discussions ever on the Satuday Morning Tech show. Enjoy the show and please send me feedback on the format @ geeknews@gmail.com

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