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Archive for July, 2008

Outdoor theaters

Posted by lozenp on July 24, 2008

You might have noticed that there’s a big market for outdoor screens this year. Heck you can go to Wal Mart and get a 10-foot inflatable screen for around $200.

This brings me to my next piece for Electronic House.com. Everything you’d need to know about outdoor theaters.

Take a look

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Netflix finally comes to the 360

Posted by lozenp on July 15, 2008

Thanks Engadget

Credit: Engadget

After months of speculation, the much-rumored Netflix/Microsoft partnership has come to fruition. In it’s E3 press conference yesterday Microsoft announced that with the Fall Dashboard Update, Netflix streaming would come to Xbox Live Gold Members who have Netflix accounts. And to top it all off, it’s at no additional charge.

Here’s the specifics:

  • At launch, SD streaming only. A Microsoft rep told Engadget that it stands to reason that when Netflix starts streaming HD content, the Xbox would do so as well.
  • It looks like the interface will be the same as the Roku player and you will need to add films to your streaming cue from the browser and then head over to the Xbox and select them from there. This makes surfing Netflix for films a bit cumbersome since you’ll have to have a laptop with you, but spending a little bit of time before-hand setting up your streaming cue can make this very palatable.
  • There’s a shared viewing service available that will allow you to watch a Netflix selection with others via Xbox Live. This is much like the community viewing option that came with the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix HD DVD. The other person will need to be a Netflix and Xbox Live Gold subscriber.
  • The Xbox will have full access to the more than 10,000 titles currently available.

This is definately a big win for the consumer, and come fall my Netflix membership will be worth so much more than it is now. I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop, and would not be surprised at all if Netflix started to shift its subscription strategy as it adds more features. We’ve already heard Netflix say that it’s likely Blu-Ray memberships will get a price-jump. I wouldn’t be surprised to eventually see an additional charge to set up your account for extender streaming or for HD streaming. For now, I’m just going to sit back and wait for the update in the Fall.

Microsoft also announced that the Fall Update (no release date yet) would completely redesign the dashboard. Gone (at least from the main page, they will still live on somewhere else in the dashboard) will be the blades we’ve all grown accustomed to. In their place will be a new interface that emphasizes community, and yes, we’ll all get our own avatars now.

Engadget

Credit: Engadget

Honestly, I’m not crazy about it (see the gallery at Engadget). If I wanted a Wii, I’d get one, this seems a bit too much like jumping on a bandwagon. Sony has it’s “Home” interface and the Wii has it’s Mii avatars. The Xbox has made it’s mark being different from the other consoles, focusing on a complete entertainment package. I don’t see the need for this new look.

That being said, there’s some other dashboard updates that are pretty cool, among them:

  • Play games right from the hard drive. This isn’t really helpful to 20GB owners likemyself, but if you have a game you play all the time, it still might be of use. This allows you to dump the disc (although it still needs to be in to prove you own the game) and play right from the hard drive. No spinning disc and faster game loads are promised.
  • Dashboard parties, allowing you and up to seven other people to interact, chat, IM and more right from the dashboard. Currrently when my friends in Cleveland and my friends in Detroit want to watch a game featuring teams from the two cities and talk about it, we have to load up Halo and let a game just sit. Not anymore. Right from the dashboard we’ll be able to make fun of how bad the Lions are, or how the Cleveland area will never win a title again. Ever. Good times.

With the exception of the new look, I’d say A+ for all the updates announced yesterday. This is by far the biggest dashboard update the Xbox has seen will almost make it like a new console. Let’s see if Microsoft can learn from Apple’s iPhone disaster and make sure the servers are ready to go when this update hits.

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New Electronic House.com article – Surround Sound

Posted by lozenp on July 9, 2008

Quick post here, just to let everyone know I’ve got another article up on www.electronichouse.com. This one is a look at surround sound, how it’s created and makes its way to your speakers. Take a read here:

http://www.electronichouse.com/article/surround_sound_journey_from_soundtrack_to_speakers/C155

I’ve got a couple more in the hopper with them already as well.

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