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Google's Chromecast is already a very powerful HDMI streaming dongle, but today the inexpensive device gained support for three heavy hitters in the online media realm. Rdio, Crackle, and VUDU have all released apps for the device, and now allows users to stream music, watch internet videos, and stream movies from their VUDU digital collection straight from the Chromecast.
Rdio, VUDU, and Crackle have all released updated versions of their apps for iOS and Android to enable Chromecast support, making them the latest three content providers to join the Chromecast revolution. While Rdio and Crackle offer their normal services to casting, VUDU allows its users to stream HDX quality copies from the users digital collection as well as control playback, subtitles, and more, however, not all VUDU content is supported, and is based on each particular studio's licensing.
If recent reports are true, Apple is in talks with Comcast to bring a new On-Demand service to the next-generation of Apple TV. Some rumors state that this would be an app-based service, while others suggest that the upcoming fourth-gen Apple TV will function as a fully digital cable box when connected to a Comcast cable line.
We already know that the device will function very similar to other set-top boxes such as those offered by Roku, but the introduction of digital cable service could change the game for everyone, similar to how TiVO shook things up when it began being integrated into digital cable. The new Apple TV is said to feature an entirely new OS, as well as a complete UI redesign that will bring the device up to speed with current OS X and iOS visuals. Apple is expected to launch the new Apple TV sometime in the next few months, so I guess we will not have to wait for long to see if the Comcast rumor is true.
If you have been following technology and home theater gear long enough to remember the transition from SD to HD programming, you know that it took a while and no one wanted to spend the money on a new HDTV until there was a lot of content. The same thing is going on now with the migration to 4K content.
4K TVs are expensive, but the big issue is that people don't want to spend the money until there is content out there to watch. Samsung and 20th Century Fox have announced that they have teamed up on a new 4K UHD content ecosystem. The partnership will bring 4k content for Samsung fans to watch via the Samsung Smart Hub platform.
That Smart Hub platform will be available across the entire UHD TV line from Samsung. I would assume that the company would give access to the content system via some of its set top boxes, computers, and Blu-ray players as well.
Google's Chromecast is one of the better HDMI streaming dongle's to hit the market in the last year, and now our friends across the pond are going to be able to experience the awesomeness that is Chromecast! Today a new rumor has emerged that the Google will finally launch the Chromecast in the UK on Wednesday March, 19th.
If true, this launch will see an end to an eight month long delay that has seen the Chromecast waiting in the wings for its UK debut. In those eight months, Google has seen several competitors emerge and launch in the UK, including Roku's Streaming Stick. This could lead to less than stellar sells for the Chromecast in the UK, or it could some how boost sales with people who are curious as to what all the hype is over a $35 media dongle. Only time will tell, but I am putting my money on lower sales as a result of the delay.
Major airline company United Airlines plans to offer free in-flight streaming for passengers, with the service rolling out next month. The initial launch is for Apple iOS 6, so only iPhone and iPad owners will be able to stream content - but the airline promises a Google Android version will be released in the future.
United hopes to have the free movie and TV show service in all U.S. domestic flights by the end of 2014, with content streamed using an app directly to a passenger's mobile device. Using the United Airlines website or app, passengers will be able to check to see if their flight is supported with the new streaming software.
Travelers are increasingly finding in-flight Wi-Fi and other connectivity helpful to stay entertained or get work done while flying - and technology options are getting cheaper for airlines to test.
Today Plex made good on its promise to open up its Plex for Chromecast app to everyone, including those who are not PlexPass subscribers. Plex has been available for the Chromecast since the end of 2013, but has been limited to those who subscribe to the companies premium subscription called PlexPass. Today's announcement means that anyone can cast media straight from the Plex for Android or Plex for iOS applications as well as from their Mac or PC using the Plex web app.
Plex also added support for a new Camera Upload feature that will allow users to back up their smartphone's photos straight to their Plex Media Server. This positions the service to move into the personal cloud storage arena as well, making Plex Media Server a multi-position home storage solution the entire family can utilize. At the moment, the photo upload feature is limited only to the iOS app, but Android support wil come in the near future.
Pioneer Electronics has been making audio gear for years. The company has a full line of home theater receivers that run the gamut from entry-level models up to high-end offerings that can cost thousands of dollars. Pioneer has rolled out a new home theater receiver aimed at custom installers called the VSX-80.
This receiver will ship at the end of the month for $700. The VSX-80 has a lot to offer for the price. It features seven HDMI 2.0 ports allowing you to connect a lot of sources to the receiver. It is Roku Ready certified so all the user has to do is plug in a Streaming Stick to get access to all sorts of streaming content.
Pioneer built-in support for 4K UHD video pass through. The best feature if the VSX-80 is that it is able to upscale standard HD content to 4K resolution on-the-fly. Using the receiver, you can set up a 7.2 channel audio system or use a normal 5.1 set up with the other channels for multiroom audio.
Netflix dumped around $100 million on its award-winning House of Cards series, but it looks like Comcast subscribers will soon have access to the Kevin Spacey-starring political drama.
Comcast will reportedly be offering House of Cards through its Xfinity Store, because Netflix didn't cover the rights of allowing competitors of streaming its series. Media Rights Capital is the studio who paid the other part of the costs associated with House of Cards, and is handling distribution through Sony.
House of Cards is currently available on DVD, but is not available through any other streaming services. With the deal struck with Sony, Comcast will also receive a bunch of other movies and TV shows to offer its subscribers through Xfinity, which include Breaking Bad and American Hustle. Orange is the New Black will also be on offer for Xfinity subscribers on May 13.
The Last of Us was one of the biggest games released on the PlayStation 3 console, so it should come as no surprise that Sony is working on a movie based around the PS3 exclusive title.
Naughty Dog, the studio behind the game, has its Creative Director, Neil Druckmann, on board writing the script. Naughty Dog is heavily involved, pitting its co-presidents Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra, as well as Game Director Bruce Straley into the project. Sony will use it's own Screen Gems production company, the same one int uses for the Resident Evil movies.
Deadline is also reporting that Spider-Man director Sam Raimi is involved, along with his Ghost House Pictures company being attached to the movie. Wells talked about Screen Gems and Ghost House Pictures' involvement: "Since our game released last June, we've talked with many companies about making a film, but we couldn't have found better partners who share our creative vision and high standards".
This week, Roku unveiled a new version of its Streaming Stick, a major upgrade from the $99 model it released in late 2012. The major difference is that the new Roku Streaming Stick will work with any TV with a HDMI port instead of only working on models that are deemed "Roku Ready."
The Roku Streaming Stick works on the same principal as Google's Chromecast, and features both iOS and Android apps to control the device. Not everyone likes using their tablet or smartphone to control their TV though and Roku has included a remote for those who still like to use them. The stick is basically an HD version of the Roku 1 that fits into a package the size of a large USB thumb drive and has more than 1000 channels of video programming.
The Roku Streaming Stick retails for about $50 which is $15 more than the Chromecast, and it includes major players like Showtime, HBO, Netflix, Hulu Plus, PLEX, and many more. It is up to you to decide if the extra $15 is worth it to you or not, but with Google recently opening up its SDK for the Chromecast, there is bound to be a wealth of apps arriving for it as well.