March 27, 2009

Heading back to Vegas for CTIA; OnLive promises on-demand 3D gaming

Wait a minute, didn't I just come back from Las Vegas? Indeed, CES was just a couple of months ago, but now we've got CTIA Wireless on tap -- the biggest wireless show in the U.S. -- and of course, it's in Vegas. But hey ... all moaning aside, I'm actually looking forward to checking out the latest and greatest cell phones. Even better, I'm staying at one of the swankiest hotels in Vegas -- the Encore -- for barely $100 a night. I'll take it.

So that's next week, but what happened this week? For me, one of the biggest stories was OnLive, the new, on-demand 3D gaming service that promises to deliver cutting-edge games to entry-level PCs and Macs, as well as to a compact, paperback book-sized "micro-console." Pretty cool concept, if you ask me, although early impressions have been somewhat mixed, with bloggers complaining about blocky compression artifacts and lagginess. Still, looking forward to trying out OnLive (which is slated to launch before the end of the year) for myself.

Also: Apple announced June dates for its Worldwide Developers Conference, widely seen as the launchpad for the next iPhone; I reviewed Verizon Wireless' new femtocell, dubbed the Network Extender; and the tabloids breathlessly reported that Jennifer Aniston finally had it with John Mayer's Twitter obsession and dumped him. No official word on whether that last one's actually true, but whatever happened, Mayer is still tweeting away.

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March 20, 2009

Cut & paste, MMS finally coming to iPhone; Beatles kid wants more $$$

Another big week for Apple, which scored Tuesday by announcing that cut & paste and multimedia messaging -- two of the biggest missing features on the iPhone -- will finally arrive this summer in software update 3.0. No background apps, unfortunately, but push notification (which Steve Jobs promised almost a year ago) is on tap at last, along with Spotlight for iPhone, "peer-to-peer" connectivity for games and other apps, and "in app" purchases -- perfect for buying new levels in a game, or even newspaper and magazine subscriptions.

Also this week: March Madness tips off online and on the iPhone, Obama's nominee for the Department of Commerce pledges that there won't be any more DTV delays, rumors fly that the PlayStation 3 might get a long-overdue price cut, and George Harrison's son floats the idea of a Beatles-only digital music store, adding that "we don't agree" 99 cents a song is a fair price for the Fab Four's music.

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March 13, 2009

Apple grabs headlines with new Shuffle, netbook rumors

It was all Apple, all the time this week, with three big stories coming out of Cupertino in just a few days (well, besides Woz looking like "a teletubby gone mad" on "Dancing with the Stars").

First: Rumors fly that Apple is prepping a netbook -- or something -- for the second half of the year, with both the Dow Jones Newswire and Reuters piling on to the story. Next came the new, even tinier iPod Shuffle -- so tiny, in fact, that its playback controls now sit on the proprietary earbud cord, sparking yet another Apple headset controversy (remember the original iPhone?). Finally, Apple announces that it will offer a sneak peek at iPhone software 3.0 next Tuesday, setting off a round of speculation about which new features (MMS? Video capture? Laptop tethering?) might be included.

Also this week: Hulu marks its first anniversary (yes, I was skeptical at first, but the numbers don't lie), a new service offers to keep all your online logins and passwords safe until you die, and it turns out that TV viewers actually prefer their shows with the ads (go figure).

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March 07, 2009

"Snide" remark outrages "Marley & Me" fan

Well, now I've done it. My offhand comment about the Owen Wilson/Jennifer Aniston shaggy-dog flick "Marley & Me" in a recent post has rubbed at least one passionate fan the wrong way.

The offending comment:
Besides "Slumdog," which goes on sale March 31, other Fox rental DVDs to get the "no features" treatment include "Day the Earth Stood Still," "The Wrestler," and "Notorious," according to Variety. Don't worry, "Marley and Me" fans (all five of you)—apparently, you'll still get bonus features on the rental disc.
...and the barbed response, from "Ron":
Do you live under a rock or do you write snide comments just to be clever? In your article on FOX stripping extras from rental DVDs, you felt the need to add "all 5 of them" when talking about fans of the box office hit MARLEY & ME. You do realize that the movie made more than $150 million at the domestic box office and was also well reviewed by critics, right? So what's with your silly comment? If it was a joke, it's lame. If it was an attempt to marginalize the movie, you are way off base. MARLEY & ME will be a hit on both the rental and sell through charts. I've read your stuff before and it doesn't surprise me you'd make an inaccurate remark like this. Let's just say accuracy is not your strong suit. A real gadget guy would certainly know better.
Well, who knew -- one of the five fans of "Marley & Me" reads my blog! (Well, he used to.)

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March 06, 2009

Grim news from Circuit City, Blockbuster, Virgin; Bill Gates's "no iPhone" policy

Talk about a depressing week. Circuit City -- or its liquidators, anyway -- announced that its 500-odd remaining stores will close forever on March 8, while the last U.S. Virgin America stores will sell their final CDs this summer. Blockbuster is fighting off bankruptcy, and Palm's balance sheet is still soaked with red ink (let's hope the Pre gets a release date soon).

Oh boy ... but hey, at least there were a few fun items to report in the past week. Quake Live is a blast, and Killzone 2, while not quite the ground-breaker many had hoped for, is the best-looking PlayStation 3 title yet. Bill Gates doesn't allow iPhones or iPods under his roof (a post that generated a staggering two thousand-plus comments), and a start-up called ZillionTV has a new set-top box that'll deliver free TV shows and movies to your living room, although you'll only be able to get the box through your ISP. Last, but not least: Fox looks to boost sagging DVD sales by chopping the (often inane) special features from its rental DVDs. Good luck with that, Fox.

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