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A lot of discussions were sparked when Intel first announced that its upcoming set-top box would feature facial recognition technology. The company came under fire from privacy rights advocates, as well as those who fear that this would lead to a subscription-based model where each individual in the home would have to purchase a subscription just to watch content from the device.
This morning, a new report is suggesting that Intel has decided to drop this feature entirely and that the set-top box would be shipped without the imaging camera. Intel Media's Eric Huggers says that the decision to drop the facial recognition features is due to the camera's performance in low light situations, as well as the numerous privacy concerns voiced by prospective customers. The moral of the story here is that some companies will listen if enough of their customer base speaks out.
Google's Chromecast is making huge waves in the home theater market, and with the device completely selling out everywhere in less than 1 week, other companies are taking notice in a big way. This morning, we are hearing world that three of the biggest names in video streaming are voicing their interest in the device.
On Monday, GigaOM reported that Vimeo, the HD video streaming giant, has tossed its hat into the ring with the company's VP of mobile, Nick Alt, confirming interest in Chromcast. "We're excited about the emerging opportunities bridging mobile to Connected TV and we look forward to offering Chromecast support in our products." he said. Additionally, Redbox Instant says that they would love to bring their service to Chromecast. My favorite media server / media client Plex has also voiced its intentions to develop an app for the device.
Google has said that Pandora, AOL, and The Washington Post are all working on dedicated apps for Chromecast and that HBO is also looking into bringing its HBO Go service onto the device. Currently, Google's Chromecast streams content from Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, and Webpages, but if today's news is any indication, things are about to explode for Chromecast!
A recent report by PC World is suggesting that Dell has recently started beta testing thumb drive sized Android mini PCs that could give Google's recent Chromecast a run for its money. Dubbed project Ophelia, the device is said to be similarly sized to the Chromecast but would feature much more functionality as it will run a full version of Android instead of a slimmed down version of Chrome OS like the Chromecast does.
Project Ophelia features the same style direct HDMI connectivity that Chromecast does and is said to feature a full version of the Google Play Store that would allow users to download the full complement of apps, games, movies, and books that other Android devices use. It will feature both Bluetooth 4.0 and and Wi-Fi, so wireless keyboards, mice, and the various Android-to-Android Wi-Fi-based remote apps that are growing so popular should work well.
Sources say that project Ophelia should retail for around $100, but for now, only beta testers are getting there hands on Ophelia, and we don't expect a release until sometime during the next fiscal quarter which could be as late as October. While the $100 price tag is a bit on the high-end in my opinion, this little device could spell big trouble for companies like Pivos, producer of the Xios DS Android-based set-top box that is one of the leading sellers for Android HTPCs.
Not even a week ago we reported that Netflix secured themselves an addition 630,000 more subscribers thanks to the fourth season of Arrested Development , but now we have series creator Mitch Hurwitz saying that it is "definitely" coming back.
We've been hearing whispers of a fifth season, but when the series' creator comes out and talks about it, it gives us more confidence. It looks like they're ready to either pull the trigger on an Arrested Development movie, or a fifth series of the cult show. The news comes from a Q&A at the Just for Laughs comedy conference in Montreal last week.
Netflix chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, asked the question himself: "are we going to do more" to which Hurwitz replied with "definitely". Hurwitz talked about multiple possibilities, with the movie being first, and then a fifth season. Maybe we might end up with a three-part episode before the fifth season begins. Hurwitz asked Sarandos: "are you game for that" with Sarandos replying with "absolutely, in any form".
It looks like the future of Arrested Development isn't looking so blue after all...
When Google first announced Chromecast, I instantly knew it was going to be big. The $35 media streaming dongle has become an instant hit among technophiles everywhere in the US. When originally launched, Google offered the device for $35 and included three months of Netflix for free, which essentially made the device cost a total of $11 if you are already a Netflix subscriber.
Today, we found out that device has sold out on every online outlet it was being offered at. In just 36 hours, so many units were sold on the Google Play Store that shipping times were eventually listed as 6 to 8 weeks. Amazon and Best Buy's online store have both sold out, but Best Buy says that they still have some units available in-store.
I placed my order for the Chromecast just an hour or so after it was announced and selected two-day shipping, but Google has still not sent any shipping info to me, so tonight I'm going to head to my local Best Buy and see if they have any units in stock so I can bring all of you readers a wonderful review the first of next week.
Chromecast may just be the kick in the pants that Google TV needs. According to one employee, Google will be providing Google TV support for Chromecast. With all the talk of a new Google TV set-top box being readied for launch, this could mean that you would be able to plug your Chromecast into this new box, or it could mean that Google is bringing a Google TV app to Chromecast.
Warren Rehman, an employee of Google said that "Google TV isn't dead" and went on to confirm that Google will be integrating Chromecast into Google TV in some form. Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that earlier this year at CES, they got a closed doors, private demo of Google's upcoming set-top box. The new Google TV box is said to feature a built-in camera, motion sensor, and have support for Google Hangouts.
This seems to be the week for cheap home theater streaming devices. Two days ago, Google launched its Chromecast in the US and today, the UK's Sky TV has announced their own low-cost set-top box. Dubbed the NOW TV, the set-top box is essentially a rebranded Roku 2 XS with modified software that allows it to stream content from Sky's IPTV platform.
The device also features built-in apps for iPlayer, Demand Five, Spotify, Facebook, and several other Sky channels. From what we can tell, users are not able to add any additional apps, and there is no app store in which you can buy new apps. For some, this may not be that big of a deal as the low cost of entry--about 10 euros--offsets the lack of features and apps.
What if Superman punched you? Other than it destroying you, you'd be surprised at the science behind it
There has been a lot of discussion about the destruction of Metropolis in Zack Snyder's reboot of Superman, Man of Steel. Sure, there's insane amounts of destruction, but when two God-like (fictional) beings fight each other in an otherwise realistic portrayal of a city, what do you think would happen? Other than it causing an estimated $700 billion worth of damage, it would be an intense few nanoseconds.
The video above goes into the science of what would happen if Superman punched you, and has so many numbers and facts that it'll make you laugh out loud at how ridiculous it would be if Superman really did punch someone in real life. The punch itself would be so quick, you wouldn't even see it for one. Secondly, it would have so much force it would create a 1km deep crater in the ground.
It would take just a few nanoseconds for it to happen, before a blast radius of several kilometers engulfed into fury and flames. So, what we see in Man of Steel is more 'realistic', but it could've been so much worse. I loved the destruction in Man of Steel, and thought it was one of the more realistic superhero movies to depict God-like beings fighting in a city.
Ever since Google's Chromecast media streaming dongle was announced yesterday, I have been curious as to what hardware lies inside. I am after all, one of the type of people who enjoy taking things apart to see how it ticks. Thanks to the FCC and Anandtech I do not have to wait for my Chromecast to arrive. The FCC Chromecast documents have been released and they contain images of the naked Chromecast PCB.
Powering the device is a Marvell DE3005 chip while AzurWare silicon handles the Wi-Fi duties. For those interested, you can view the full FCC documentation along with the photos and even the devices user manual by visiting Source #3 below. I placed an order for a Chromecast unit shortly after the announcement yesterday. No shipping info has been provided yet, but we are hoping to have our unity by Monday or Tuesday and will have a full review up shortly thereafter.
For years, most have been wondering when we'd start properly hearing about James Cameron's sequel to Avatar. Well, James' partner, Jon Landau, took the stage of SIGGRAPH, showing the public their first test footage for the upcoming movie.
The test footage unveiled a "noticeable improvement" in their virtual camera techniques, with a much higher quality output in a scene that involved a human and a Na'vi walking around on the surface of Pandora. The presentation happened at the Autodesk Users Group event during SIGGRAPH, with Landau stressing that this test footage was from several months ago, and it isn't at the point that they'd like to be.
There's much more to read about the test footage at SIGGRAPH at The Hollywood Reporter. I'm hoping for a huge leap in special effects, considering the entire movie pretty much happens inside of a 'virtual world'.