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All posts tagged "xbox"

Friday, March 18, 2011

NetFlix to Compete with TV Networks? Bidding on Content.

Posted by Steven McPherson in "Digital Home News" @ 08:30 AM

"Netflix may be known for offering some of our favorite TV and movie streams, but the company is about to step up its game and begin offering original content. Netflix has allegedly outbid a number of major cable networks for a new drama series produced by and starring Kevin Spacey..."

Ars Techica is reporting that NetFlix will begin competing with network television in the near future with content of their own. Who doesn't love streaming movies from NetFlix to their Xbox 360, Wii or a myriad of smartphone devices. Netflix is reportedly bidding on new content to be delivered through the same content delivery system as the movies and TV programs you stream today.

I'd love to see Netflix become a key player in this space. As network television owns the airwaves (so to speak) its reasonable to assume that NetFlix and Blockbuster have a strong foothold on the streaming content market. The next place for them to evolve is into the original content that they bid on like any other network. It'll be interesting to watch this one unfold.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gigaom Asks: Will Microsoft’s Living-Room Quest Finally Pay Off?

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Talk" @ 05:00 AM

"Most of the digerati remain skeptical about Microsoft's long journey to becoming a key player in the digital home. I can't really blame them, given that the sheer number of swings and misses the company has undergone over the past decade may only be second to that of its hometown baseball team. But recently the company has been swinging a hot bat, not only with its Xbox 360, which has been picking up momentum, but also with a legitimate holiday hit in the Kinect. A few months of resurgence doesn't excuse a decade of lost opportunity. But the Kinect, the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live do illustrate that, while Apple and Google are often seen as much more innovative and nimble when it comes to the digital home, Microsoft actually does offer compelling innovations that, every once in a while, it actually executes on. And execution, of course, is key when it comes to staying relevant."

An interesting article was posted on Gigaom discussing Microsofts position in the digital home and how they have succeed or failed with various products such as Media Center, Windows Home Server, and Xbox. The Kinect is proving to be a massive hit I wonder if Microsoft will focus on this the Xbox, and start to push this as the core of the Digital Home, possibly integrating those earlier technologies such as Media Center, and Web TV. However, as we have seen with Microsoft, so often, they get a good idea but never seem to realise the full potential of it

Monday, December 6, 2010

Choosing the Right Console

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Game consoles traditionally have a five-to-10-year shelf life, and we’re right in the middle of that span now. That means the current generation of game boxes from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have all been out awhile, and you shouldn’t expect major upgrades any time soon."

What do you mean you do not have a gaming console yet? The next thing you will tell me is that you do not have a Facebook account, or use Twitter. Consoles are great forms of entertainment and much more than gaming machines. Streaming videos, music and even exercise buddies. Being the gift giving season, if you know of a friend or relative who does not have a console, now might be a good time to pick one out for them so they are no longer laughed at. Wired has a handy, if not simple summary of all of the cosoles, but take my advice, if you intend on getting one, ask the giftee which one they want. While many share similar games, some games are exclusive to particular consoles, and while the giftee might appreciate you getting them a Wii, they will not be able to play Halo on it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Welcome to Microsoft TV!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

"Microsoft's partnership with ESPN to bring streaming sports to the Xbox 360 may be the tip of a streaming video iceberg. According to sources speaking to Reuters, the company is working on deals to launch a subscription service to stream video content to Windows PCs or devices such as the Xbox 360."

Boxee, Apple, Google and now Microsoft seems to be getting into the streaming business. We have all heard the word "convergence" tossed around for the past decade, if not longer, and it seems that the pieces are slowly fitting together. Xbox Live has had several streaming services for it for quite some time, so it is no surprise that Microsoft wants to, and has the capability to offer additional streaming services. Microsoft, along with Sony and its PS3, could eventually become credible competitors to the cable and satellite companies. With the install base that Microsoft has, it certainly has a greater chance than many of the other companies.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Behind Every Natal is a PrimeSense

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"The short, the setup is built around three major components: PrimeSense's PS1080 SoC (described as the 'brain'), a CMOS sensor and an infrared light source. The infrared (invisible to the human eye) covers the nearby area in an IR Light Coding image which is picked up by the CMOS sensor and the SoC turns it into a 3D map. To enhance accuracy Microsoft adds in a further colour camera which the SoC uses to compile a second image and combine the two."

Gaming sure has changed since I was a kid. Back then, you either had a joystick with a single button, or a paddle which either had a turning knob or a lever. Now, led by the Wii, games are moving into motion based technologies. While it probably will not completely replace the controller, it does allow for a much wider range of games and opens things up to a greater audience. Project Natal looks really interesting, and I wonder how it is able to differentiate between different people and recognize who is giving a command, but I actually would love to see this kind of technology integrated into more than just an entertainment center. On a personal level, I could see this being wonderful for home automation and control.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Could Microsoft Be Ditching the Points System?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 04:00 PM

"Xbox Live deserves praise as a service, but being the standard for which other online gaming services are judged means its flaws come under repeated scrutiny -- for good reason. It's why I always find myself asking Microsoft executives a couple of the same questions whenever I'm given the opportunity to sit down with them: why is there a friends cap on Xbox Live and when will the entire service allow me to pay for content in real-world dollar amounts, rather than confusing Microsoft Points?"

Where do you guys stand on the issue of points? I'm not as negative on them as some people - I'm fine paying 800 points for an Xbox Arcade game, largely because I have no frame of reference for the cost. Interestingly, I found points to be very frustrating when deciding to rent SD and HD video downloads - I know how much a DVD or Blu-ray rental costs at my local video store, so having to fire up a Web browser to calculate how much a video downloads costs ticked me off. I like the idea of micro-transactions for game content, but think that it could co-exist alongside all the other content (songs, videos, games) being in dollar amounts. Any changes made to Xbox Live would rippled down to the Zune Marketplace. What's your take?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Look at the New Xbox Experience (NXE)

Posted by Darius Wey in "Digital Home Software" @ 10:15 AM

It's been three years since Microsoft released the Xbox 360, and with the release of new hardware and new services, huge gaming announcements, and price drops, suffice it to say that it's come a long way since then. But with all that was introduced, one thing that remained stale was the Blades interface. It actually was and still is a solid interface, but in an age where online content rules, Blades certainly could have used a few tweaks to give it a little more shine. Microsoft went one better, though. In the early hours of yesterday morning (Pacific time), a switch was flicked and the highly-anticipated New Xbox Experience (NXE) was made available to each and every Xbox 360 owner.

I had the pleasure of using NXE before its release, and used that opportunity to explore it in its entirety. This article focuses on some of the key features NXE brings to the table, so if you're interested in learning more, read on!


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Purchase Microsoft Points With Your Phone... In Japan

Posted by Darius Wey in "Digital Home News" @ 10:30 AM

What if filling up on Microsoft Points was as easy as picking up your phone and having the cost added to your phone bill? That's how it is for NTT DoCoMo users in Japan, and hopefully, that's just a starting point.

If Microsoft is working with other carriers to make this available around the world, great. If not, they probably should. A vast majority of Xbox Live Marketplace and Zune Marketplace users probably have a mobile device of some sort - some have their reasons against directly linking their Windows Live ID and credit card together, while others don't always want to make the trek to their local store to pick up one of the many Microsoft Points cards on offer, so this third option makes a lot of sense.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

3-Way Movie Box Battlemodo

Posted by Jeremy Charette in "Smartphone Articles & Resources" @ 03:00 PM

"A few weeks back, I wrote up a piece on Vudu's high-definition video falling short of my expectations. Today I bring you a more thorough report of the three most compelling set-top boxes and their video-download capabilities. Apple TV, Vudu and Xbox 360 all have a lot going for them, but by looking at them side-by-side, you can see how their makers are all taking different paths to get to the ultimate desired end. Dive into the chart, then have a look at the screengrabs from three movies, to really get a feel for the progress, or lack of progress, in the world of HD downloads."

Interesting comparison, though in the end, there's no clear winner. I find myself a bit more opinionated though. The Xbox 360 is a very capable media player and the best Media Center Extender on the market. In both my experience and in detailed technical comparisons, downloaded HD video from Xbox Live Marketplace is very nearly comparable to HD DVD or Blu-Ray. VUDU and Apple TV don't hold a candle. Unfortunately the Xbox 360 has one huge hurdle to get past: perception. Consumers think of it as a game console first, a media player a distant second. If only Microsoft would do a better job marketing all that the 360 is capable of.

Tags: xbox, 360, hd, apple tv, vudu

HD DVD Fire Sale

Posted by Jeremy Charette in "Digital Home Talk" @ 08:00 AM

Well, the format war's over. To the victor goes the spoils. Or rather, to the consumer goes the spoils! As in cheap HD DVD discs and players. Deals abound lately, and I've been taking advantage of a number of them myself. is selling a number of HD DVD movies for $9.99, and has movies starting at $9.11, though when I checked most of them seem to be on backorder. I picked up 7 HD DVDs from for less than $11 each, shipped; and they came just a few days later. I also managed to snag a copy of Planet Earth on HD DVD at the Discovery Channel store for $29.99, although they now appear to be sold out. Hollywood Video also appears to be liquidating stock of HD DVDs, blowing them out for 2 for $20 or 2 for $14.99, depending on which coupons you find and use instore. is lowering prices on HD DVDs daily, with movies starting at $8.95. There's a few good deals to be had, including the Blade Runner 5-Disc Collector's Edition for $23.95, and the Matrix HD DVD Collection for $41.95.
On the player side, Tiger Direct has the 720p HD-A3 for $79.99, and the HD-A30 can be found at a variety of stores for $160. Microsoft's Xbox 360 HD DVD player has dropped to an MSRP of $49.99, and works great with Windows PCs. The next few weeks are sure to see prices drop even further, so keep an eye out for any movies you may want to snag on HD DVD. No, they won't work in a Blu-Ray player, but they'll look just as good as Blu-Ray does, and for alot less money. I plan to stock up, how about you?

Tags: xbox, deals, hd dvd

Monday, January 21, 2008

There's More to HD Than Bit Rates and Resolution

Posted by Jeremy Charette in "Digital Home Talk" @ 07:00 AM

Over on EngadgetHD I've been having a discussion about bit rates with George Ou of ZDNet. George argues that unless the content you are watching is at least 28 mbps 1080p, it's "fake HD". Nevermind that the HD spec. includes resolutions from 1024x768 up to 3840x2160, and that it doesn't specify a bit rate (or rates). He goes on to say that Xbox Live Video Marketplace downloads in HD are "slightly better than DVD but nowhere near 1080i over-the-air HD broadcast quality."

Unfortunately George's argument is so narrow that he is ignoring several other factors that are for more significant. The real world considerations go far beyond bit rate and resolution. The per pixel bit rate for 720p XBLVM downloads is nearly identical to a 1080i OTA broadcast, and even identical to real world HD DVD bit rates. Granted, the resolution is lower, but the you won't see any added compression artifacts over 1080p HD discs. As it turns out, resolution is a non-issue for most people:

Almost every HDTV in homes today is 720p, not 1080p. The extra resolution available on HD DVD and Blu-Ray is wasted on most people. What's more, to take advantage of that extra resolution, you'd need:

  • 1080p native source (many lower end HD players can only to 1080i or 720p)
  • A 1080p HDTV that can display full resolution with 1:1 pixel mapping
  • Screen size larger than 50"
  • To be sitting closer than 10 feet

So who can tell the difference given these conditions? Maybe a tenth of a percent of all HDTV owners? A hundredth? Less? Yes, HD DVD and Blu-Ray are better than XBLVM downloads under theoretically ideal circumstances, but the vast majority of people will never notice the difference.

Then there's the issue of compression algorithms. DVD is encoded in MPEG-2, whereas most HD content is encoded in h.264 or VC-1. To hear George tell it, you'd think they were equals. Fact is the newer codecs result in smaller file sizes, fewer artifacts, and better picture quality. Next thing you know George will be arguing that JPEG should be abolished and all cameras should shoot in RAW.

It really irks me when people focus on minutiae, rather than taking the big picture into account. Full 1080p video downloads aren't yet practical. There isn't enough bandwidth to make it work. Most of the HDTV sets out there are 720p. In the real world, Xbox Live downloads are just as good as HD discs. Better yet, you don't have to make a trip to the store to pick one up.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Post CES: State of The Format War

Posted by Jeremy Charette in "Digital Home Talk" @ 09:00 AM

The past week sure has been interesting. Before CES even opened, Warner Home Video fired a shot across the bow of HD DVD by declaring that they would be going Blu-Ray Exclusive in mid-2008. New Line Cinema followed suit shortly thereafter, along with HBO. Even adult film studio Digital Playground went Blu this week. Meanwhile some are saying that Universal's HD DVD exclusivity contract has expired, and they may be soon going Blu-Ray exclusive, which they have categorically denied. Further speculation says that Paramount may be looking to use an out-clause to leave HD DVD for Blu-Ray as well, which they have also denied. CEOs from the major big box retailers see the format coming to an end soon, but still plan to support and sell both formats for the near future.

So where does this leave us, the consumers? Well, no better off really. The stalemate continues. Two major studios are still supporting HD DVD, as well as countless porn studios (for whatever that's worth). Michael Bay is still shooting his mouth off about things he doesn't understand. Ironically enough, BOTH formats are still losing to Xbox Live Video Marketplace, which this week signed ABC and MGM to its roster of over 35 studios and networks. This already includes Disney and Warner, which are Blu-Ray exclusive. So either way, HD DVD or Blu-Ray, Microsoft still wins. Me, I'm hoping HD DVD pulls out the win in the end. Lowest cost, most stable spec, and just as good technically as Blu-Ray. Though even I gotta admit, that's looking less and less likely. What do you think?

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