Fluance today revealed its latest addition to its Fi series of portable Bluetooth speakers, the Fi50. If you need something for on the go, the Fi50 might be the solution, offering aptX enhanced audio that produced rich, concert-like sound.
The Fi50 is a two-way high performance speaker with a premium wooden design. It boasts of dual full-range 5″ woven woofers, coaxial tweeters, a 40 watt amp, all working together to produce unmatched clarity. It’s the perfect solution for any audiophile on the go.
On top there’s a touch control panel where you can control volume levels and equalizer settings. It features a 2.1A USB port for quick charging and your standard 3.5mm auxiliary port for those that would rather listen to music traditionally instead of over Bluetooth.
If you’re interested in the Fluance Fi50, it comes in Black Ash, Natural Walnut, or Lucky Bamboo for $199 straight from Fluance.
Come comment on this article: Fluance announces the Fi50, a new portable Bluetooth speaker
Are you among the group that decides who and what gets an Emmy? Didn’t think so. The people that do get to vote, however, are about to become very happy about the move to simplify the process. The Television Academy has signed a multi-year deal with Google to provide voters with a free Chromecast to view nominees.
Maury McIntyre, the Television Academy’s president and chief operating officer, boasted about the partnership with Google:
“This multi-year commitment with Google will provide a superior experience for viewing Emmy-nominated content. It also gives our members a great way to view programming across their devices year-around.”
Moving away from DVDs and packing materials is among the reasons for the Television Academy enlisting Google’s help. Not only will going digital assist reduce the Television Academy’s impact on the environment, but it will also reduce the risk of content being pirated. With Chromecast, Emmy voters can simply call upon content and Cast (or send) it to their televisions. Allowing Google to supply Emmy voters with Chromecasts will also reduce costs.
The Television Academy will announce the nominees for the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards on July 16. The ceremony will then take place on September 20 at the Nokia Theatre and broadcast on FOX.
Source: Television Academy
Come comment on this article: Television Academy providing Emmy voters with free Chromecasts
Comcast has partnered up with the giant video game publisher EA to bring some gaming titles to Comcast’s X1 platform. This partnership has lead to a new service called XFINITY Games that’s launching in beta today that will allow you to play video games on your TV using your phone or tablet.
The service streams games over the internet to X1 set-top boxes and utilizes smart devices as a controller, so customers won’t need any extra equipment.
As of right now, it looks only mobile EA games are available, so don’t expect to stream Dragon Age to your TV without a dedicated gaming machine. But for the casual gamer with a decent internet connection, it’s a pretty cool concept.
Come comment on this article: Comcast partners with EA to release XFINITY Games platform
Skype has updated their Android app today and with it brings a few bug fixes and a few new features. Battery use has been improved upon allowing you to leave Skype running all the time and not waste tons of battery while still being to sign in. However for those who still like to sign out it is now easier than ever because Skype always remembers your login details to make it easier to sign in next time.
Another improvement is the ability to preview web links just like you can on Mac or iOS. This allows you to get a small preview of the link you have been sent without needing to click on it. For example a YouTube video will show the thumbnail image within the Skype chat box.
Come comment on this article: Skype updated to 5.5 and brings new features and improvement
The update will be rolled OTA, and will also include camera improvements;
“HTC One (M9) AT&T Owners! We have received technical approval on Lollipop OS 5.1 which includes camera improvements. OTA to start on 7/15!!“
The update has already rolled out to Sprint users, and T-mobile and Verizon variants should be up next on July 20th.
Come comment on this article: AT&T HTC One M9 will receive Lollipop 5.1 update OTA with camera improvements on July 15th
I’ve never been a big fan of the stylus. Sure, I don’t really have a choice when I’m using Wacom’s Cintiq pen displays, but other than that, I don’t care much for styli. Adonit has a pair of them — the Jot Touch and Jot Script 2 — and they promise a more pen-like feel, so now seemed like as good a time as any to give the stylus another shot. Alas, though, after spending a few weeks getting to know these two gadgets, I can confidently say that I’m not ready to give up the ol’ pen and paper just yet.
Getting either of the two styli up and running is a breeze. For some apps, like Noteshelf, you fire up the mobile software to pair the accessory with your tablet (in my case, an iPad Mini). From the settings menu, you simply choose your brand of stylus from the list, whether or not you want palm rejection enabled and your writing style. That’s not always the method for pairing, though. For software like Evernote’s Penultimate, you tap the stylus menu and press and hold the gadget on screen for a few seconds to pair it. It’s similar to what I saw on Adobe’s Ink and Slide apps, and indeed, it shaves a few seconds off of the setup process. When it comes time to charge either the Jot Touch or Jot Script 2, they both come with a small USB dock. That diminutive charging station has a magnetic base, so when you get the stylus close, it locks into place.
The Jot Touch and Jot Script 2 are easy to tell apart. The Jot Touch is black with a rubber grip and two shortcut buttons. It’s also the bigger of the two, feeling a bit more like a Sharpie in the hand than a pen, and the tip is a bit wider, too. As for the Jot Script 2, its silver metal frame looks and feels more sophisticated, and the thinner body feels more like a real pen. It’s still a little larger than your traditional ballpoint — think of something along the lines of a fine-point Sharpie. In fact, that’s how I would describe the pen tip as well. Due to the smaller overall size and fine point, I found myself gravitating toward the Jot Script 2 most of the time — even if it meant giving up those built-in shortcut buttons. It just felt more comfortable. However, it really just depends on how you intend to use your stylus.
Let me explain what I mean. If you’re more of the note-taking type rather than an artist or illustrator, the Jot Script 2 is probably the choice for you. It’s meant for scribbling notes and marking up documents on a tablet — simple and straightforward. Don’t confuse that with boring, though; as I’ve said, it both looks and feels better in the hand. Just because it doesn’t pack in a ton of bells and whistles doesn’t mean this device is lacking. For example, my wife used the Jot Script 2 at work for a few days and she found it useful for adding notes to PDFs or pointing out key items on construction plans a contractor might overlook.
If you’re using a stylus for drawing or sketching, or if you plan on using design-focused apps, you’ll likely want to consider the Jot Touch. Those shortcut buttons come in handy for erasing and undoing, and the pen works well with Adobe’s Illustrator Line and Photoshop Sketch. It also packs in 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity (similar to Wacom’s offering), so when it comes to detail work with brushes, you’ll be able to handle that as well. Personally, I’d rather sketch on paper, and during my testing I primarily used a stylus for note taking; hence my preference for the Jot Touch.
The key reason I never cared much for a stylus was the stubby rubber tips. They worked, but most of the time, they didn’t glide across an iPad screen with ease. And when the time came to do some work with fine lines, the nib was thicker than the line on the screen. Far from an ideal situation. Adonit’s Jot Touch and Jot Script 2 employ a more pen-like plastic tip capable of finer lines and more control. It’s a slick plastic, though, so you don’t get the resistance of a pen on paper, but the line quality is much more in keeping with the real thing.
Yes, the resistance issue is a combination of the stylus tip and the glossy iPad screen, but if there were an option for using them with a matte display, they’d probably get higher marks from me. I like that feel of pen on paper, and while the difference may be subtle, it’s important to me. Call me a Luddite, but it’s probably more a product of my art school education than anything else. Carrying around a small sketchbook to jot down notes, create lists and catalog my doodles is a habit formed long ago. More importantly, it allows me to not look at a screen for a few minutes.
The Jot Script 2 is the least expensive of the two, priced at $75. It also comes with six months of Evernote Premium, so if you’ve been eyeing that and haven’t yet splurged, the add-on might be the extra nudge you needed. In fact, the model I tested was optimized for Evernote’s Penultimate. The Jot Touch costs $100 due to its added controls and pressure sensitivity. Perhaps the best part about either of these is that they work with a variety of apps, so you’re not locked into a limited selection due to compatibility. Don’t like Adobe’s drawing apps? Try Forge. Not a big fan of Penultimate? Give Noteshelf a shot. Offering a number of options means you can test-drive a few and find which works best for you. At the end of the day, Adonit has made one of the most compelling cases I’ve seen for going paperless with the Jot Script 2 and Jot Touch. I’m just not ready to take the leap.
Filed under: Peripherals
Sony wants you to want PS Now, its Netflix-like game-streaming service. The problem is, the company doesn’t seem to know how to build that desire. Though the recent app relaunch has seen the service’s user interface improve considerably, the same can’t be said for the user experience. I used PS Now on the PlayStation 4 almost exclusively for a week and by the time my seven-day trial was set to expire, I still couldn’t find a compelling reason to pay for the service — let alone recommend it to a friend. With Netflix, the value is apparent: $8 per month for on-demand access to thousands of movies and TV shows. Sure the visual and audio quality of that streaming library might not be on par with its Blu-ray counterparts, but the convenience outweighs any cons. For PS Now, that same trade-off isn’t quite worth it.
I typically get between 50 Mbps and 80 Mbps download speeds (with 25 – 46 ms ping) through Comcast on my home internet connection. It’s more than enough to stream House of Cards in 4K. But getting a 720p stream of The Last of Us (with a wired connection to the modem) on my 65-inch plasma to look like it didn’t have a film of Vaseline over it? Well, in my week of testing, that just wasn’t possible. And, yes, I realize that even getting the streaming-game tech to function at the level it does now is nothing short of a miracle. It’s just baffling to me that Sony’s charging between $15 and $20 per month for what, in all fairness, is an incredibly long beta test.
As I mentioned before, the new PS Now interface is a lot easier on the eyes, but it hasn’t changed how some key elements of the service function. Both before and after the video-on-demand-service-styled refresh, the split between a game actually launching without a hitch and it erroring out on me was about even.
General maintenance (or nefarious hackers) taking the PlayStation Network offline is one thing, but should that happen, you can at least still play disc-based or downloaded games. It’s an inconvenience, but not a total loss. The same can’t be said for PS Now. For example, one afternoon I went to the PS Store to look for the new subscription app, but since PSN was down for maintenance, I couldn’t. “No biggie,” I thought. “I can still race a few laps in Grid 2 before work.” Nope. PSN being offline naturally meant I couldn’t play any of my previously streamed PS Now games at all.
When I fired up The Last of Us on PS Now the other night, I wasn’t expecting to have to start over from the very beginning. I’d hoped that since my friends list had carried over from my PSN account, so too would my cloud-saved progress from my PS3 play-through of the game. Wrong again. Sure, I could start playing the streamed version on the TV in my living room and then continue playing from my bedroom on another Now-compatible device (even a PS Vita); the saves would carry over. But the same doesn’t apply to anything I’d created before subscribing to Now.
And sure, that stable of over 125 games available to PS Now subscribers sounds great on paper, but it seems that for every overlooked gem like El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron or Darksiders 2, there are duds like Dead Island Riptides. By and large, PS Now’s best games are those you’ve likely already played before, own or will be playing on PS4 very soon.
According to Sony, the PlayStation 4 and its 20 million-plus install base is where PS Now thrives at the moment. But remember when President of Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida said that HD remasters were the perfect way to appeal to the half of the PS4 user-base that didn’t own a PS3? Well, it seems that messaging hasn’t carried over to the greater PS Now staff. When I spoke with Jack Buser, PS Now’s senior director, and Robert Stevenson, chief product officer at Gaikai (the company Sony acquired for PS Now’s streaming tech), both repeatedly mentioned first-party titles like The Last of Us, and the Uncharted and God of War series as PS Now’s main attractions. But all three of those franchises share one common characteristic: They’ve either already been remastered for the PlayStation 4, or will be by year’s end. Surely, that HD availability would detract from the appeal of streaming those same games at a lesser quality on PS Now, right?
PS Now’s best games are those you’ve likely already played before, own or will be playing on PS4.
Apparently not. Stevenson said that introducing a new title to Now’s subscription lineup creates conversation around a game that then drives people to check it out. Average play-times for the service are reportedly around 45 minutes — a result of the library of games on offer. That sampling behavior’s also complementary to the forthcoming re-releases. “[Subscribers are] saying, ‘Wow, this is so awesome and I want to play the HD remastered version of it on my PS4,’” said Stevenson. But while PS4 might be the most popular platform for the service, it isn’t Sony’s target audience.
No, the company’s after lapsed gamers playing through a Sony Bravia or Samsung smart TV, not the PS4 console. It’s a demo that’s likely not worried that a streamed version of Batman: Arkham City may not look as good as it did on PS3. Buser said he knows there’s room for improvement in terms of PS Now’s audio and visual fidelity, but added that current customers are “extremely satisfied” with the quality of what’s on tap at the moment.
There’s another plus in going after that demo: People playing through an internet-connected TV don’t see Now as a form of backward compatibility; it’s just on-demand gaming. “We’re servicing a different audience with PlayStation Now,” Stevenson said. “The service is largely designed around making sure that this audience [lapsed gamers] can be satisfied with the experience.” In other words, it’s not necessarily designed as a replacement for people that previously owned PS3s, but sold them off to finance a PS4.
“There is going to be a difference in fidelity, especially to those who play a lot of games,” he said. “There’s probably some point in the future — five years, 10 years away. I don’t know … when it might be exactly the same or very similar [to a disc-based experience], but we’re always going to be dealing with a compressed stream over the wires to you and taking your input back.”
PS Now’s target audience might not see it as a natural addition to Sony’s premium-level online-gaming service, PlayStation Plus, either. But a bundle with the PlayStation-Vue streaming TV service under the Plus umbrella would likely make a lot of sense. The problem is that Vue costs between $50 and $70 per month and Now is a minimum of $15 per month when bought in a three-month subscription block. PlayStation Plus is $18 for three months or $50 for a year. Subscribing to all three of these services separately would be incredibly expensive for the average PlayStation user.
“There is going to be a difference in fidelity, especially to those who play a lot of games,” Stevenson said.
Though it seems logical Sony would bundle PS Now, PS Plus and PS Vue all together for one convenient subscription price, so far the company hasn’t. Buser said PS Now has its own sort of packaged offering that is different from the aforementioned services, and that while there weren’t any current plans to offer all of the subscription services at one rate, that could happen in the future.
But let’s bring it back to the present reality of Now.
See, there was a brief moment when I was testing the streaming version of Uncharted 3 where I thought to myself, “Hey, this is surprisingly pretty solid.” The game-engine cutscene had some compression here and there, sure, but like when it appears in most Netflix movies, the artifacting wasn’t enough to bother me. “It’s actually working,” I thought. Then the action kicked into gear. I had to start syncing button presses with onscreen prompts to defend myself from a crowd of British thugs and the game started to perform poorly. The lag wasn’t so bad as to make the game unplayable, but the experience wasn’t nearly as smooth as it would’ve been with the disc-based game on my PS3. In its PS Now incarnation, Uncharted had been robbed of some of its trademark cinematic flair. The streaming illusion had fallen to pieces. I was reminded that this was very much still a beta — and just when PS Now was starting to win me over.
Hideo Kojima revolutionized the stealth video game genre in 1987 with the release of the original Metal Gear, published by Konami. Under Kojima’s leadership, the Metal Gear franchise exploded in popularity, and it gained fame as a complex, quirky and endlessly innovative series. However, recent reports suggest that Kojima and Konami will sever ties after the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain in September. A new series of Phantom Pain box-art images add fuel to this claim: Konami’s initial mock-ups included a credit to Kojima, but new official images show the words “A Hideo Kojima Game” have been removed from the top of the box. Plus, the logo for Kojima’s studio, Kojima Productions (a subsidiary of Konami), is no longer on the front of the box.
Konami has made a few odd moves in recent months, first with the cancelation of Silent Hills, a much-hyped horror game from Kojima and famed filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro. Konami has also delisted itself from the New York Stock Exchange and pledged to focus heavily on mobile game development. And, of course, rumors of Kojima’s departure are a-flying. For a studio that knows stealth, removing Kojima from the Phantom Pain box is a fairly in-your-face move.
The Internet is unforgiving. Web search engines like Google neatly index the most embarrassing moments, traumatic histories and criminal activities. In May last year, the European Court of Justice asked the web giant to remove website links that were no longer relevant to people’s lives. The ruling recognized that archiving people’s lives often took their personal moments out of context, creating “detailed but selective profiles“. Since the sweeping decision did not exclude killers or even terrorists from the “right to be forgotten”, it was largely believed that the requests that poured in were from criminals or public figures looking to erase their pasts. But The Guardian recently discovered data in Google’s transparency report that was never meant to be public. An analysis of the source code reveals that 95 percent of the requests came in from ordinary people looking to delist personal information that is irrelevant or is just plain embarrassing.
So far, Google has received about 281,000 individual requests that add up to over one million links. Only a sliver of those requests came in from people looking to hide their horrid past activities. Most requests concerned social media posts, old dating profiles, health histories, personal tragedies and intimate images. Unsurprisingly, Facebook has had the most links removed, followed closely by YouTube.
The ruling doesn’t state that the source material needs to be erased. But it does empower people with the ability to request that certain snippets of their lives be delisted and de-prioritized on the search engine. Google, though bound by the ruling, chooses to accept or refuse those requests. It also interprets the ruling in a way that the information is removed only from its European sites. The company did not intend to let the public in on the specifics of the requests that have now been revealed. And ever since The Guardian’s accidental discovery, the source code has been modified to cover these details.
Source: The Guardian
Not happy with simply launching its Stream video service this week, Comcast announced the start of a beta test for Xfinity Games. A partnership with Electronic Arts (confirming Reuters rumor from last year), it’s not going to compete with PlayStation and Xbox, but is closer to what Roku, Amazon and Android are already doing for TV gaming. At least for now, the games offered are older and mobile-versions of games like Plants vs Zombies, Real Racing 2 or FIFA 13. There’s not a connection for a standard gamepad, so players control them with phones and tablets (right now the list appears to cover iOS, and mainly Samsung Galaxy phones/tablets on the Android side). The main requirement? Comcast’s X1 TV platform, so if you have it you can sign up to be a beta tester here. X1 isn’t ready to be a powerhouse gaming platform yet approaching the level of OnLive or PlayStation Now, but with this and home automation add-ons, it’s clear we’re not the only ones thinking of the cable box as a the center of your connected home. Now, let’s see if we can get Yu Suzuki to launch a Sega Channel Kickstarter.