Pulp: First exclusive film on the Xbox live platform

Xbox live film Pulp

It might not seem that significant, but then again, it might be part of a much bigger picture. Microsoft just  released their first exclusive Xbox live film. It’s a British comedy called Pulp and you can buy it for 1120 Microsoft Points (USD 14.75) for the SD version or 1420 Microsoft Points (USD 17.75) for the HD one.

In view of the introduction of the much rumoured new Xbox 720 and of course the success of Netflix’s House of Cards and their USD 300 million budget for creating own content this might be interesting. First of all, I wrote that this is the first exclusive film for Xbox live. Now that is an assumption. It can be that this turns out to be a one-off. But I think there will be more. It would not surprise me that together with the launch of a new Xbox, Microsoft will bring a lot of content into the ecosystem. A lot of that will be recycled films and series, so to stand out they will have to bring more. This could mean more exclusive produced for Xbox live. And as the new Xbox will be an integral part of the Windows 8 family, this content will be available on your desktop, Surface and mobile phone too.

Samsung HomeSync, the new Android mediahub

Samsung HomeSync

Samsung is not only selling a lot of Smart TV’s and smartphones, as of now, you can also get a media hub from the Korean consumer electronics giant. With this box, it’s completing their hardware ecosystem by creating an Apple TV competitor.

The HomeSync is an Android powered device that can stream films, series and games and it allows owners of a Samsung smartphone to beam content on their phones onto the television. Indeed, just like Apple TV does with AirPlay. But there are also many other ways to connect to the HomeSync. It comes with a USB 3.0, Micro USB and optical audio connection and it supports WiFi 802.11n and bluetooth 4.0

To operate the Samsung HomeSync, there is a Jelly Bean Media player and since it is an Android device, Google Play store can be accessed for extra apps.

Users (up to eight separate accounts can be set-up) will have the ability to store content encrypted.

Under the hood is a 1.7GHz dual-core processor, 8GB flash and a 1TB hard drive.

Sony updates Google TV player NSZ-GS7

Sony NSZ-GS7 Google TV

Sony is one the of most important consumer electronics companies pushing Google TV. With their NSZ-GS7 player they created their own version of a Smart TV box based on the Google TV platform. And now they have updated their software.

The updated version comes with a new user interface, the PrimeTime app and via the  Google Play store  the Amazon Video on Demand and the new YouTube app can be downloaded and installed.

Sony has also updated their remote control, the Sony NSG-MR7U, with voice activations commands. So now you can talk to your remote instead of using the keypad. The remote itself is almost a little computer itself with a backlit QWERTY keyboard on the backside and a big touchpad on the front.

IGN opens a channel on Roku, more gaming to come?

IGN Entertainment

IGN Entertainment (formerly known as Imagine Games Network) is the home for many gamers. It’s an entertainment portal with lot’s of news, reviews and trailers of games on popular platforms like Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC and 3DS. But it’s not only about games, there is also a lot of information about films and series, mostly sci-fi, fantasy, action etc.

Today they announced to have their on channel on Roku. This seems not such a big news event, but come to think of it, Xbox started of as a gaming platform and is trying to become an entertainment hub with streaming video as an important part. Just like Roku. And although the most recent rumours about Apple releasing a SDK for Apple TV next month proved to be (again) just a rumour, Apple is expected to release it at some point. Maybe sooner than later, and when that happens, game developers will be among the first to develop for the new platform. And eventually kill competing platforms like Xbox 360, Playstation and Wii U. Or as former Xbox creator Nat Brown states it at his blog:

“Apple is already a games competitor broadly, even if Apple-TV isn’t yet a game platform or a console. Mobile generally and iPad specifically have grown the total hours of game play and grown the overall game market. Only in the last 18-24mo has that overall growth turned from a segment-expanding rising tide to a tsunami swamping the console game vendor profit boats hitched to the docks. It is accelerating. Apple, if it chooses to do so, will simply kill Playstation, Wii-U and xBox by introducing an open 30%-cut app/game ecosystem for Apple-TV. I already make a lot of money on iOS – I will be the first to write apps for Apple-TV when I can, and I know I’ll make money. I would for xBox if I could and I knew I would make money. ”

So maybe this channel is a first step for Roku to do more with games. Clearly games and films are growing closer with all the films and series based on computer games and vice versa. And gamers are always looking for new and better ways to enjoy games and their favorite content. Bringing games to a set-top box or media player seems like the inevitable thing to do.

 

Apple TV, the latest rumours and developments.

Apple TV

The game is on. With big competitors like Microsoft (the new Xbox 720 is supposed to be coming soon and a Windows 8 based ecosystem), Amazon (Kindle, Amazon Prime Instant Video but also golden oldy IMDB), Google (Google TV, Android) and since yesterday even Intel but also the smaller ones like Netflix, Dijit and Roku, Apple must feel the pressure building up. And clearly CEO Tim Cook could use a success of his own. This could be the iWatch, it could be Apple iTV or even both. Whilst the continuous stream of rumours seem to indicate that something is bound to happen, it is time to sum up the most recent stories.

Techcrunch writes about an analyst note suggesting that an event around Apple TV will be organised in March. At this event, an offical SDK (Software Development Kit) is to be introduced. The quoted analyst Peter Misek also suggest the introduction of an Apple Television set somewhere in September or October.
If there is going to be a real television, this could be based on technology from Loewe. Stocks of the German hardware manufacturer jumped initially more than 40% on the rumour that Apple is about to launch a bid of 4 euro per share for the troubled company. Obviously all parties decline comment or simply deny but that is part of the game. Interesting to know also, is that Apple allegedly invested heavily in supplier Sharp last year in order to secure continued supply of displays for their telephones. But Sharp also builds televisions and owns 28% of the stocks of Loewe.

The big issue in the end however, will probably not whether or not Apple can build a television. The success of adding a TV set to the ecosystem will probably depend on content. MIT Technology Review wrote a good read on the Apple TV and, amongst others, also stresses this point. Where the music industry had not much choice working together with Apple and allowing them to sell songs instead of albums, the producers of films and series are in a completely different positions. And so far they are exploring new ways to distribute content to the livingroom whereas the only thing the music industry did was taking legal action in an effort to stop progress. Getting the major media companies on board and / or buying libraries and / or creating their own content (like Netflix and Amazon are doing) will be key to the success of any kind of Apple TV or iTV.

 

Intel is building a TV service and a set-top box

Intel Media TV Set-top box

Erik Huggers, corporate vice president at Intel Media, confirmed at the D: Dive Into Media event that Intel is indeed building both a TV service and a set-top box, writes AllthingsD. A year ago, a new division with new people was set-up specifically to develop an internet television platform.

It does make sense that Intel is trying to secure a position in this new market as they completely missed the mobile handset market and the tablet market. Since TV is probably going to be the next big thing, they need to have a position. Especially since their cornerstone, the Windows PC (remember de the days everybody was talking about Wintel), is losing it’s dominance.

According to the article at AllthingsD, Intel will introduce the set-top box as a new consumer product brand with it’s own name and customers will be buying it directly from Intel.

New Roku in the making?

Roku

According to Engdaget, the arrival of the new Roku is imminent. Details from FCC databases suggest a new series called 4200x is going to hit the market. Not much detail was found apart from smaller dimensions and Dual Band Wifi (2 and 5 Ghz). Hopefully there will me more news or even a launch in the coming weeks.

Free Hulu Plus and Netflix access on XBOX Live this weekend

Netflix House of Cards

Normally a subscription for XBOX Live Gold is needed for watching streaming content from Netflix or Hulu Plus on the Microsoft XBOX 360, but this weekend it’s all free. At least for Hulu, for Netflix is a paid Netflix account is of course still needed.

Netflix is airing it’s new and self produced series House of Cards this weekend, so that might have something to do with it. Creating own content is a very interesting step and seems to be of strategic value for the the streaming and rental giant as it suggested more investments in that field during the last presentation of their financial results.

The reason that Hulu will be available for free has to do with the Super Bowl this weekend. Hulu will grant users of Hulu AdZone a preview of Super Bowl teaser ad’s from companies like Toyota, Taco Bell, Coca-Cola, GoDaddy.com en Cars.com. Fans can also vote for their favorite commercial here. See Hulu’s promo below