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EzeeCube review – CNET

The Good EzeeCube ably serves as a media center and easy backup option for your photos and videos. It offers expandable storage and other optional add-ons with a sleek, stackable design. It operates on the versatile Kodi platform.

The Bad The base unit and add-ons are expensive. It’s not 4K capable and is sometimes tricky to use. The remote is infrared instead of Wi-Fi, which means you can’t tuck the unit away.

The Bottom Line The innovative EzeeCube personal cloud storage device and media player offers plenty of good features, but they don’t come cheap.

There are plenty of media players and backup devices out there, but EzeeCube offers something quite different: the ability to stack up additional modules on top of the base unit. You can add more storage, a Blu-ray drive, and other new add-ons are likely to come in the future. If that sounds cool, it is.

Adding additional hard disk space is as simple as putting the new module on top of the EzeeCube base player. And if you add on the Blu-ray drive, a feature that lets you rip DVDs is also enabled automatically. However, the additional modules don’t come cheap, costing $199 (£150 or AU$260) for either a 2TB drive or the Blu-ray drive. The base unit itself will set you back a cool $499 (£380 or AU$660) for the 2TB version. A cheaper 1TB option is available for $399 (£300, AU$525).

EzeeCube stacks up to offer more features
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That said, you’re not just paying for a normal backup device. The EzeeCube is also a fully functional media player. It uses Kodi as its operating system (formerly known as XBMC) but skinned with a much nicer design, and features a personal cloud service that syncs with your iOS or Android device. You’re able to backup your videos and photos and access them from anywhere without having to worry about your phone’s limited amount of space or pay extra for cloud storage. On the other hand, if the hard drive of the EzeeCube crashes, you’re out of luck.

While it sounds simple on paper, I did find the EzeeCube a tad frustrating to learn how to use, compared to the ease of plug and play devices such as the Roku 4. Kodi is pretty flexible and lets you do a lot of things, but its various options can be overwhelming for a first time user looking for something simple.

The EzeeCube easily played all the video formats I threw at it without a hitch. But it can’t play 4K video — unlike the much less expensive Nvidia Shield, which also supports Kodi, Plex and external/networked hard drives for storage. EzeeCube can download add-ons for watching YouTube or live Twitch streams, for example, but the selection of apps can’t compete with that of the Roku or Nvidia Shield.

The EzeeCube is quite the swiss army knife of home media centers, and its expandable tech is very cool, but its audience is limited given its expensive retail price.

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Aloysius Low/CNET


Sony Xperia X Performance and XA are now available in the U.S.

Should you be waiting for Sony to launch the Xperia X Performance or Xperia XA in the U.S., you’re in luck as the two handsets are now available for purchase at participating retailers. Amazon, Best Buy, and Regan Wireless are among the supporting partners who will stock the new Sony hardware in the U.S.


As an added bonus, both smartphones come with a free microSD card. The Xperia XA has a MediaTek Helio P10 processor, an octa-core chip using ARM’s low-power Cortex-A53 cores. It’s also packing 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, 2,300mAh battery, and a 13-MP rear shooter. As for the X Performance, Sony has packed in a Snapdragon 820, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, 23-MP rear camera, and a 2700mAh battery.

Here are the Amazon links for both the Sony Xperia X Performance and Xperia XA to get you started:

  • Buy the Sony Xperia X Performance at Amazon
  • Buy the Sony Xperia XA at Amazon

Where to buy the Sony Xperia XA and X Performance in the U.S.


Snapchat adds support for adding Bitmoji in chat or photos

Snapchat has announced a new partnership with Bitmoji that will allow users of the popular personalized emoji app to use it in chats or images in Snapchat.

Snapchat also confirmed today previous rumors that it has acquired Bitstrips, the company behind Bitmoji. Its official blog revealed the acquisition, and the integration of Bitmoji with Snapchat, in a Bitmoji-based comic strip. The specific financial details of the acquisition were not revealed.


The comic reveals that people who download the Bitmoji app and create their own personal accounts can now be linked in Snapchat. The personal Bitmoji can then be used within Snapchat. If any Snapchat friends have Bitmoji, users can “‘Friendmoji’” and use their personal emoji as well.


These are the best iPhone photos of 2016: Look what your phone is capable of

The winners of the 2016 iPhone Photography Award have been announced and here are the winners. They showcase incredible smartphone photography from around the world over the last year.

Curated by IPPA founder Kenan Aktülün, there were 61 winning photos in total, 4 overall top winners, and first, second and third prize category winners.

The Grand Prize Winner Photographer of the Year Award went to Siyuan Niu of China for his entry “The Man and the Eagle”.

According to an interview with TIME magazine, Niu, who is based in the Xinjiang Province, was photographing the snowy landscape when the man came towards him on horse with the eagle on his right arm.

“The eagle must have noticed me as it started flapping its wings and screeching, very agitated and vigilant,” Niu said. “The old man used his hand and his voice to calm it down. They were touching face-to-face. With my iPhone in hand, I took the shot.”

Shot with an iPhone 5s, Niu used no lens attachments or other gadgets. He only post-processed the winning picture on Snapseed, applying a VSCO filter.

First, second and third place Photographer of the Year Awards go to Patryk Kuleta of Poland for his image from the series “Modern Cathedrals”, Robin Robertis of the United States for her entry “She Bends with the Wind”, and Carolyn Mara Borlenghi, also from the US, for the image as part of her series “Wonderland”.

Robin Robertis

“I was on an iPhone workshop and reunion with a friend and teacher in Cape Cod,” said Robertis. “We all went out to photograph the the perfect sunset. I tend to bring a few things when I travel, one being this wonderful red umbrella. When others shoot the sunsets and beautiful scenery, I like to photograph some human aspects in these scenes.”

You can see their photos and the rest of the competition winners by flicking through our gallery above.

There were 19 categories in total: abstract, animals, architecture, children, flowers, food, landscape, lifestyle, nature, news-events, panorama, people, portrait, seasons, sunset, and trees.

Thousands of entries were submitted by iPhone photographers from 139 countries around the world.

To qualify, their photos had to be shot on an iPhone or iPad. They could not be altered in Photoshop or any desktop image processing program.

The Grand Prize Winner Photographer of the Year Award winner received an iPad Pro. The first, second and third Place Photographer of the Year Award winners each won an Apple Watch Sport. The first place winner in each category was awarded a gold bar and the second and third place winners got a palladium bar from the most recognisable private gold mint in the world.


Samsung Odyssey is company’s rival to Oculus Rift

It has been thought for a while that, as well as refresh its Gear VR headset with a new USB-C model, Samsung is working on a standalone device to rival Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR.

Now more details on it have emerged, including a name: Samsung Odyssey.

According to brand trademark and logo registration applications that were submitted by Samsung in Korea, the company is looking to secure the name Odyssey for a product. One of the applications is also for a logo around the letters “VR”, which more than suggests that virtual reality will be in the mix.

Another looks boxy, even like the visor of a VR headset perhaps.

  • Samsung Gear VR 2 tipped for Galaxy Note 7 launch
  • Samsung Gear VR Consumer Edition review: The stepping-stone to Oculus proper
  • Best Samsung Gear VR Oculus apps 2016
  • Best VR headsets to buy in 2016, whatever your budget

The fact that they were all filed within a two-day period last week is a good indication that they are all related.


The Samsung Odyssey headset is believed to be of its own manufacturer and not part of the deal with Oculus. Oculus designed the current Gear VR models and is thought to be involved in the latest Gear VR 2 as well.

However, it would seem strange that the Facebook-owned firm would be happy to build a direct rival to its own device for another brand.

We will have to wait and see though. It is unlikely this will be part of Samsung’s 2 August launch for the Note 7, even though the Gear VR 2 is expected to debut that day too.


ICYMI: Reinvented wheel and drones that can evade

ICYMI: Reinvented wheel and drones that can evade

Today on In Case You Missed It: Stanford is teaching drones how to avoid either existing obstacles or ones that come in the form of an attacking human. It all works in real-time, which is why the video of the technology in action shows a fencer sparring with the drone. German students have created a wheel that works like a robotic bicycle chain, morphing its shape from round to triangular — whatever is needed to get over obstacles in its path.

Please watch the video from YouTuber Useless Duck Company for a Nintendo laugh. As always, please share any interesting tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.


Snapchat debuts ‘Bitmoji’ stickers for your messages

Back in March, reports surfaced that Snapchat shelled out $100 million for Bitstrips, a company that makes personalized comic strips based on your personal avatar. As you might expect, those illustrations were destined for the ephemeral messaging service and today they’re making the debut. The technical term for the cartoonish chararcters is actually Bitmoji, and to make yours, you’ll need to download an app by the same name.

Once you do so, you’re free to create that comic book version of yourself to use in your snaps. Link your account with Snapchat and you’re free to use the images with the social photo and video app. What’s more, if the person you’re sending the message to also cartooned themselves, you’ll be able to use theirs as well. The Bitmoji are available for use in chats, too. Now there’s one more way to spice up those disappearing messages with some personal flair.

Source: Snapchat


The Tinder movie no one asked for is happening

Tinder has been used to market movies like Ex Machina before, but we can’t think of any with plots that revolve around the app. That’s about to change with Warner Bros.’ Worst Tinder Date Ever, a movie from the Friends with Benefits writers Keith Merryman and David A. Newman, according to THR. The story from revolves around a Tinder date that turns into a disaster that (of course) draws the main characters together by the end. So, it’s like a modern take on You’ve Got Mail, if the Hanks/Ryan characters just wanted to have sex.
Tinder itself doesn’t appear to be involved with the film, and there’s no word on whether it will be R-rated, as the right-swiping app itself is now verboten to under-18 users. Considering that there’s a movie coming about emojis, it’s hard to believe that there’s not already a Tinder-based movie, which is ripe as a plot contrivance and used by millions of people. There will no doubt be keen interest in the casting.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter


Government requests for Google data reached new highs in 2015

Governments around the world sent Google 40,677 requests for user data in the second half of 2015, the highest figure the search company has ever posted in its Transparency Report. That’s also a significant jump from the 35,365 requests Google saw during the first half of last year (January through June). Similarly, user accounts the company was asked to provide data on reached a record high, 81,311, compared to 68,908 in the first part of 2015. Google was one of the first companies to provide a transparency report around government data requests, starting in 2009, and since then it’s spurred others to do the same.

“We’re pleased with some of the improvements we’ve seen in surveillance laws,” Google’s Richard Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security, wrote in a blog post. “The European Commission and the United States recently agreed on the Privacy Shield agreement, which includes new undertakings covering procedural protections for surveillance efforts. Earlier this year, President Obama signed the Judicial Redress Act into law, which Google strongly supported.”

While the number of data requests has steadily risen over the years, Google has actually reduced the amount of data it’s given out for those requests. In the second half of 2010, the company provided data for 76 percent of requests, but it’s held steady at around 64 percent since 2012.

Not surprisingly, the United States led the pack in terms of data requests, with 12,523 made during the second half of 2015. Google provided data for 79 percent of those requests, across 27,152 accounts. Germany was in second place with 7,491 requests, and France came in third with 4,174.

Source: Google Transparency Report, Google


NBA announces two original shows that will stream on Twitter

Earlier this month, a Recode report indicated that Twitter was in talks with the NBA and Turner to bring more sports video to the social platform. Today, the league announced the deal what will bring two “live original programs,” or TV-style shows, to Twitter, video content that will be exclusive to the social network. Details are scarce for now, but the first will be a weekly pre-game show while all the NBA is saying about the second “to-be-determined show” is that you’ll only be able to watch it on Twitter. If you were hoping for live game action, you’ll certainly be disappointed… for now.

In addition to the original programming, the deal also includes more video on the whole for Twitter, Vine and Periscope from the NBA. What it doesn’t offer is the key piece that most basketball fans want: live games. Recode reports that Twitter was interested in streaming game action, but it looks like it couldn’t get a deal done with the league and Turner (who owns the rights to NBA games) that included the activity on the hardwood. Another interesting tidbit is that you won’t have to be logged in to watch the streams when they make their debut. We’d surmise the premiere of both will coincide with the new season that begins in October.

It’s also unclear who will produce the new shows, but as Recode points out, Turner lends a hand with the league’s digital content, including apps and the web. The outlet also reports that Twitter isn’t paying the NBA for the shows, and instead the two will share ad revenue from the videos. This isn’t the first time the two sides have worked together though, as Twitter debuted 360-degree video during the NBA Finals. The social network also has an agreement with the NFL what will allow it to stream Thursday Night Football games this fall.

Via: Recode

Source: NBA

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