F8: Consumers Can Purchase Oculus Rift VR Headset in 2015

During Facebook’s F8 developer conference this week, an Oculus VR spokesperson said the company would likely release its Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets commercially next year. While there is no official word yet on a price tag or release date for the consumer version of Oculus Rift, the headset will require an ecosystem of games and entertainment. The Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 is presently on sale for $350, and is scheduled to begin shipping in July. Continue reading F8: Consumers Can Purchase Oculus Rift VR Headset in 2015

FCC Chairman Explains Next Steps to Protect an Open Internet

In a blog post yesterday, FCC Chairman and former telecom lobbyist Tom Wheeler wrote that he is “a strong believer in the importance of an Open Internet.” In response to what Wheeler views as “misinformed” commentaries regarding the Open Internet Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) currently before the FCC, he offers two points of clarification: 1) This is not a final decision, but a formal request for input on the proposal, and 2) “all options for protecting and promoting an Open Internet are on the table.” Continue reading FCC Chairman Explains Next Steps to Protect an Open Internet

Netflix Passes 34 Million Subscribers, Previews Price Increase

Netflix announced on Monday that it plans to raise the price of its streaming video service for new members by a dollar or two per month. The service, which now has more than 34 million paid U.S. subscribers, is justifying the rate increase based on its continued investment in original programs, including series such as “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black.” In addition to its first-quarter earnings report yesterday, Netflix announced opposition to Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Continue reading Netflix Passes 34 Million Subscribers, Previews Price Increase

Ourscreen Helps Movie Fans Organize Their Own Screenings

Ourscreen is a service that allows groups of people to arrange private or public film screenings at their local cinema for movies that do not have a regular listing. It is similar to Groupon, in that a showing can be booked (by selecting a film, participating theater, and date/time), but is only confirmed once a certain number of people buy in. You can also search screenings that have been proposed by others and invite your friends. The larger the crowd for a given screening, the more affordable become the ticket prices. Continue reading Ourscreen Helps Movie Fans Organize Their Own Screenings

Internet Ad Revenues Surpass Broadcast TV for First Time

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), interactive advertising revenues for 2013 hit an all-time high of $42.8 billion in the U.S. The report indicates that the figure represents a 17 percent jump from the previous year’s landmark revenues of $36.6 billion. Notably, the 2013 total also marks the first time that Internet ad revenues exceeded those of broadcast television advertising ($40.1 billion). In addition, mobile experienced triple-digit growth for the third year in a row. Continue reading Internet Ad Revenues Surpass Broadcast TV for First Time

Study Predicts 4K Adoption Will Be Faster Than That of HDTV

New research by Parks Associates suggests that 4K televisions will trace a similar trajectory in terms of price and consumer adoption that played out with HDTVs over the last 15 years. However, the study’s findings point to a slightly quicker progression for 4K. While HDTVs took about 15 years to achieve a certain level of affordability and ubiquity, Parks predicts that 4K will reach mass market prices within two to three years and exceed 80 percent penetration of households in 10-12 years. Continue reading Study Predicts 4K Adoption Will Be Faster Than That of HDTV

Amazon Announces Six New Shows After Another Pilot Season

Amazon.com announced yesterday that it has picked up two dramas, two comedies and two kids shows from the batch of 10 television pilots it was testing with viewers. Amazon considered feedback and ratings submitted by users, as it did with an earlier pilot season. However, this time twice as many viewers (more than two million) were involved with the process. While Amazon’s streaming service normally does not include ads, the pilots were sponsored by Geico so they could be available to all users, not just Prime subscribers. Continue reading Amazon Announces Six New Shows After Another Pilot Season

Gartner Report Forecasts Increase in Global Device Shipments

A new report from Gartner forecasts that combined global shipments of PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones will reach 2.5 billion units in 2014, a 6.9 percent jump from the previous year (device shipments increased 4.8 percent in 2013). Gartner also predicts that the drop in sales of traditional PCs will continue to impact overall growth of devices, and the trend of substituting tablets for PCs will decline. As device saturation reaches a new high, pressure on margins is expected to lead to declining prices and emphasis on new features. Continue reading Gartner Report Forecasts Increase in Global Device Shipments

AT&T Will Lower Internet Prices if FCC Ends Net Neutrality

At the FCC’s “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet” proceeding on Friday, AT&T said it will lower its Internet prices if the FCC allows Internet service providers to charge websites such as Netflix for faster delivery of content. In the wake of a court decision vacating the FCC’s net neutrality rules against charging for preferential treatment, the Commission opened a proceeding with hopes of writing new rules that achieve similar goals. AT&T is asking for rules that explicitly allow ISPs to charge for special access.

Continue reading AT&T Will Lower Internet Prices if FCC Ends Net Neutrality

Samsung Unveils Pricing, Availability of Upcoming Ultra HDTVs

Samsung announced details regarding its 2014 lineup of Ultra HDTVs and a new 4K video collection. The entry level U8550 flat panel line, starting at $2,500 for the 50-inch model, will launch this month with a 55-inch set and four other sizes in May. The curved U8700 series is expected by late spring in 55-inch and 65-inch screen sizes. And the flagship line, the U9000 curved sets with proprietary Auto Depth Enhancer, will be available in 55-, 65- and 75-inch models, priced at $4,000, $5,000, and $8,000 respectively. Continue reading Samsung Unveils Pricing, Availability of Upcoming Ultra HDTVs

Online Book Subscriptions Aim to Save the Publishing Industry

As the book industry struggles with plunging prices and a decrease in demand, some publishers are turning to magazines to save their businesses. At SXSW in Austin this week, San Francisco-based literary startup Plympton launched Rooster, a subscription-only online fiction service. The service is an example of the new alternative in packaging books like magazines. A similar service is Plympton’s Daily Lit, which emails customers five-minute installments of classic literature. Continue reading Online Book Subscriptions Aim to Save the Publishing Industry

Comcast Uses Chicago Cable Service to Launch Wi-Fi Hot Spots

Comcast has started to use hundreds of thousands of homes in the Chicago area to create more hotspots for its publicly accessible wireless network. The company will continue to roll out this service to more areas in the next few months. The service will use Comcast-issued home equipment, and separate the Wi-Fi signal to allow anyone within range to get Internet reception. Comcast claims that since the two services are separated, the Comcast users’ signals will not be disturbed. Continue reading Comcast Uses Chicago Cable Service to Launch Wi-Fi Hot Spots

Digital Video Content Not a Replacement for TV Programming

According to a new Consumer Electronics Association study, 79 percent of online U.S. adults obtain the video content they watch from traditional TV providers, although a significant number of viewers are turning to other sources. Online video streaming is most common with consumers ages 18-34. However, traditional TV viewing remains consistent for most age groups, suggesting that online services are being used as a supplement rather than a replacement of traditional programming. Continue reading Digital Video Content Not a Replacement for TV Programming

Samsung Gear 2 Smartwatches Switch from Android to Tizen

Samsung recently announced it will make two follow-up smartwatches to the Galaxy Gear. The new Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo will be available just five months after the release of their predecessor. While most of the key specs are similar to the first Gear, the new models will have a 1.0GHz dual-core SoC of unspecified make, in contrast to the 800MHz single-core chip in the first Gear. The new battery will last twice as long, and most importantly, the next-gen smartwatches will run on Tizen rather than Android. Continue reading Samsung Gear 2 Smartwatches Switch from Android to Tizen

Avegant Glyph: Virtual Reality Headset Gets Positive Review

Avegant’s virtual reality headset Glyph features a visually stunning, immersive, 3D retinal display. The $499 Glyph does not have a screen like many of its competitors, including the Oculus Rift. Instead, it uses a projection method emitting light from a low-power LED that reflects light on both eyes’ retinas with lenses and about two million mirrors, so as not to cause eye fatigue. While many people are impressed, there are concerns regarding the headset’s size and cost. Continue reading Avegant Glyph: Virtual Reality Headset Gets Positive Review

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