Amazon Will Launch New Echo Dot Kids Edition This Month

Amazon debuted a new version of its Echo Dot Kids Edition and several notable changes to its FreeTime Unlimited subscription service for children’s content. The new Echo Dot for children offers a new fabric case, including two colors — blue and rainbow stripes — both not available for the adult version. It is 70 percent louder than the first version, as is the new Echo Dot. The new Kids Edition will begin shipping June 26 for $69.99, $10 less than the first Kids Edition and will include access to FreeTime Unlimited for one year. Continue reading Amazon Will Launch New Echo Dot Kids Edition This Month

Deloitte: More Millennials Subscribe to Games Than Pay TV

According to Deloitte’s 13th annual digital media trends survey, more millennials in the U.S. currently subscribe to a game service than to a traditional pay TV service. Approximately 53 percent of those born 1983-1996 pay for gaming services, while 51 percent from the same age group pay for television. Last year, Deloitte found that 44 percent of U.S. millennials had paid subscriptions for video games and 52 percent for television. Results of the latest survey were revealed as new game services from the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Ubisoft and others have recently debuted or are planned to launch soon. Continue reading Deloitte: More Millennials Subscribe to Games Than Pay TV

Microsoft’s Next-Gen 8K Xbox Will Significantly Boost Power

Just ahead of this week’s E3 conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft announced that its next-gen Xbox console, dubbed Project Scarlett and slated for release Christmas 2020, will feature an AMD Ryzen processor that will make the console four times more powerful than today’s Xbox One X. The AMD processor features 120 fps operation, which means that latency for loading games will be greatly reduced. Project Scarlett will also feature 8K capability and will ship with a new version of “Halo.” Additionally, Microsoft’s xCloud streaming platform will debut in October, enabling users to stream games from their Xbox One to numerous devices. Continue reading Microsoft’s Next-Gen 8K Xbox Will Significantly Boost Power

Google and Microsoft to Intro Cloud-Based Gaming Services

Google and Microsoft are about to go mano-a-mano with new cloud-based gaming services. Google plans a limited launch in November of its Stadia service, which the company says will stream any title to any device. Microsoft, meanwhile, is building its Project xCloud on Azure, its own cloud network. Because every game on Xbox One, including Xbox 360 backward-compatible titles will be able to run on xCloud, the new service will debut with 3,500+ game titles. Microsoft said a beta version of its xCloud service will debut in October of this year. Continue reading Google and Microsoft to Intro Cloud-Based Gaming Services

Sony Unit to Produce Movies, TV Shows Based on Games

Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has launched PlayStation Productions to transform the company’s 100+ video games into film and television projects. The production company, headed by Asad Qizilbash, is at work on its first projects on Sony Pictures’ Culver City lot. SIE Worldwide Studios chair Shawn Layden, who also oversees the new production company, noted that, with 25 years developing games, the company believes “now is a good time to look at other media opportunities across streaming or film or television.” Continue reading Sony Unit to Produce Movies, TV Shows Based on Games

Microsoft, Sony Announce Partnership for Gaming Services

Facing new threats from video game rivals, Microsoft and Sony announced something that some might find surprising: they’re teaming up to work on cloud and game-streaming technologies together. Through the partnership, Sony will consider using Microsoft’s Azure cloud service for streaming its game content, acknowledging the need for a strong cloud solution for game makers. There’s also room within the agreement for a potential collaboration involving Microsoft’s artificial intelligence and Sony’s image sensor clips.
Continue reading Microsoft, Sony Announce Partnership for Gaming Services

Study: High-End VR Activity Increased Significantly in 2018

According to a new report from research firm IDC, consumer interest has waned recently for smartphone-dependent VR devices, while tethered and standalone models are growing more popular. IDC surveyed 1,643 VR users across France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and learned that the number of “high-performance” VR headsets increased 60 percent from 2017 to 3.9 million devices in 2018. The study identified different categories of users, based on their amount of time spent with VR devices, including a “hardcore” group (12 percent) that spent 16 or more hours monthly with VR. Continue reading Study: High-End VR Activity Increased Significantly in 2018

Amazon and Google Offering Ad-Supported Music Services

Spotify has new competition. Amazon just introduced an ad-supported version of Amazon Music available in the U.S. via Alexa devices. To jumpstart the service, Amazon has reportedly offered to pay some record labels per stream for music licenses, separate from ad sales. The catalog is limited, but listeners can access some of Amazon Music’s “top playlists.” Google also announced that YouTube Music will be free on Google Home smart speakers and Google Assistant devices in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and parts of Europe. Continue reading Amazon and Google Offering Ad-Supported Music Services

Sony, Microsoft Planning Advanced Digital Game Consoles

Sony’s next gaming console, dubbed the PlayStation 5, will not debut in 2019 — although Sony has stepped up deploying software development kits to video game creators. Still, it’s set to become the console that’s “more revolution than evolution,” featuring an eight-core CPU based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen line’s new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture. Sony’s PS5 will also be the first game console to offer ray tracing. Microsoft, meanwhile, will debut a console that completely eschews physical media. Continue reading Sony, Microsoft Planning Advanced Digital Game Consoles

Top 25 Game Companies Generated $107 Billion Last Year

The top 25 public game companies, which represent almost 80 percent of the $134.9 billion worldwide gaming market, generated $107.3 billion in revenue in 2018. According to researcher Newzoo’s Global Games Market Report, this marks the first time that the top 25 companies have surpassed $100 billion in a single year. China’s Tencent ($19.7 billion) took the No. 1 spot for the sixth consecutive year, followed by Sony ($14.2 billion), Microsoft ($9.8 billion), and Apple ($9.5 billion). Collectively, the top 10 companies experienced 19 percent growth last year. Continue reading Top 25 Game Companies Generated $107 Billion Last Year

Digital Agency Exec Details Why Set-Top Box Needs to Die

At an NAB 2019 panel moderated by the organization’s vice president of advanced technology So Vang, Jason Brush detailed the case for why today’s set-top box needs to die. Brush, who is the global EVP for experiences and innovation at WPP’s flagship digital agency known as POSSIBLE, has designed interfaces for set-top boxes (as well as the Sony PlayStation 4 game console and Sony Xperia X10 mobile phones among others). His perspective on the topic arose from an epiphany he had looking at his cable bill. Continue reading Digital Agency Exec Details Why Set-Top Box Needs to Die

MPAA Report Details Shifts in Home Entertainment Market

According to the MPAA’s annual Theatrical Home Entertainment Market Environment (THEME) Report, data from DEG and IHS Markit points to a significant reduction in the sales of video discs, including DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and Ultra HD Blu-ray. Global sales of video disc formats dropped from $25.2 billion in 2014 to $13.1 billion in 2018. However, global consumer spending on home entertainment increased 16 percent over 2017, thanks in part to the growing adoption of online subscription services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. The combined theatrical and home entertainment market increased 25 percent from five years ago. Continue reading MPAA Report Details Shifts in Home Entertainment Market

Amazon Taking Alexa Digital Assistant Mobile With Earbuds

Amazon is reportedly planning to release wireless earbuds with built-in Alexa support as early as this year, according to those with knowledge of the project. The new wearable will be similar to Apple’s popular AirPods, and fit inside the user’s ear without clips, but Amazon team members at the company’s Lab126 hardware division are working on improving the audio quality. Users will be able to interact with the earbuds via voice and summon the digital assistant by saying “Alexa.” Pricing has not been revealed, but AirPods run $159 to $199, and Amazon has consistently charged less than competitors for its hardware. Continue reading Amazon Taking Alexa Digital Assistant Mobile With Earbuds

THX and Cinionic to Debut Premium Large-Format Cinema

Premium large-format cinema projection platform IMAX will face new competition from THX, which plans to unveil its THX Ultimate Cinema this spring/summer at the Regency Westwood Village Theatre in Los Angeles. THX (founded by filmmaker George Lucas) is working with Cinionic, a cinema joint venture of Barco, CGS and ALPD. Cinionic offers a dual-Barco laser projection system that delivers 4K resolution images. Another competitor in the premium large format (PLF) space is Dolby Laboratories, which offers its Dolby Cinema experience. Continue reading THX and Cinionic to Debut Premium Large-Format Cinema

Valve Plans to Introduce its Valve Index VR Headset in May

In May, Valve Corporation will unveil a virtual reality headset, dubbed the Valve Index. In 2016, the company teamed up with HTC to launch the SteamVR headset. Valve, which has a dedicated website for the new VR headset, will only reveal that it features two sensors flanking the front and supports a 135-degree field of view (FOV), which is greater than HTC Vive and Oculus Rift’s 110-degree FOV. Valve doesn’t mention SteamVR Knuckles controllers, which it has promoted via developer outreach since 2016. Continue reading Valve Plans to Introduce its Valve Index VR Headset in May

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