Archive | April 25, 2011

YouTube to launch enhanced movie rental store, prices between $0.99 and $3.99

This is real breaking news folks, YouTube who launched a movie rental service and store a while ago, is now ready to take on Apple iTunes, Amazon VoD, VUDU, CinemaNow and other rental services. The store has been live for more than a year offers a large set of movies from Scary Movie 4 to 3:10 to Yuma and lord of War (all of these for $2) but there is more to the story.

According to the website The Wrap, YouTube already signed distribution deals with major movie studios including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Brothers and Universal together with several independent studios as  Lionsgate. At this point, there are thousands of movies available to rent on YouTube with many more projected to arrive once all the distribution deals are completed. It has to be noted that Paramount and Fox decided to stay out of the deal for now, according to the same The Wrap entertainment website.

The news is important on several levels: YouTube which is owned by Google already has 130 million users and could give other services a run for their money, and could also inject some life force in the Google TV systems which proved unpopular both due to the high price of the hardware as well as lack of content – which now may change. What also needs to change is the $3.99 price many movies are renting for – at this price Google doesn’t really bring anything new in the equation (especially considering $0.99 rentals from Redbox). To be an important player, we need cheap 1080p content. Otherwise, YouTube will just be another average movie provider. Another aspect that needs to change is a larger availability of YouTube clients on various media streamers beside Google TV. Renting movies to play on your PC gets us back to 2008.

Head out to YouTube store for more information and see the movies currently available for rent.

PSN Outage extends, hurts my TV watching

Now entering in the 5th consecutive day of Playstation Network outage, we are starting to feel a little worried. Worried because Sony is rather mum on the subject, save some half baked blog posts mentioning a breach and promising to fix it soon. But more worried because the PSN shutdown affected my family’s TV watching habits. We belong to the category of users that cut the cable cord a while ago and rely on streaming for our TV watching, including VUDU, Hulu Plus and Netflix.

While most of the standalone media streamer boxes are not dependent of the manufacture’s online service to access Netflix and Hulu Plus, PS3 for some reason requires you to be logged-in to PSN (Playstation Network), displaying now the super annoying “you must first sign into the PlayStation network to sign into Netflix”. If you persist, you’ll eventually be able to use Netflix but not Hulu (error message “PlayStation Network is currently undergoing maintenance” or even MLB.TV.

This is not specifically described anywhere and adds a layer of unnecessary issues to your TV watching experience – you won’t only be affected by Netflix / Hulu outages but by Sony’s outages as well, including this particularly bad one. Not sure if this reliance on PSN to watch Netflix / Hulu Plus is a crappy design architecture issue or Sony’s way to gather data on our TV watching habits, but either way is equally annoying.

Now, it could be much worse, at least for me. I am reviewing a large number of media streamer boxes and my house is full of them. I can get Read More…

B&N Nook Color spring update 1.2 released, adds Froyo, Flash, Market as promised

If you read our article on Friday, you knew today is the big day and, the rumors were true: Nook Color long awaited update is here and brings a lot of goodies. First of all, Nook Color runs Android Froyo (Android 2.2) and because Froyo supports Flash B&N added Flash as well. Along with the new OS features, an app market is also available, but because Barnes and Noble want to keep the experience coherent, Nook Color did not got the official Google Android Market but the B&N version of it, with applications built around an SDK provided by B&N, again, to keep the user interface and experience coherent with B&N own interface.
Another interesting addition is the beta version of Nook Friends that allows social interaction and book shopping / recommendation and the books for kids got some advanced interactive functionality as well including the addition of some mini-games while they are reading. A new e-mail client supporting Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail and AOL is also included and copy/paste for text fields now works.

A welcome tweak brings landscape support to the native eReader (I really wanted that) and the books can include videos and animations – Read More…