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Xbox Almost Ready to Launch Digital Preloading of Games

posted Sunday Jul 27, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Xbox Almost Ready to Launch Digital Preloading of Games

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, has taken to the media again to announce that the company is still committed to the Xbox One and that the Xbox hasn't completely lost its vision. With that in mind, Spencer said we'll see some of the true "next-gen" promised additions in the coming months.

We've talked about rounds of updates for the Xbox One in the past, and we harp on it because of the fact that the updates were merely things we were promised at launch before Microsoft backtracked on everything. So it is with great pleasure that I can say that Mr. Phil Spencer himself promised the gaming community that we'll see digital pre-orders making their way to the console. This means that you'll soon be able to pre-purchase a game before it's launched and will be able to play it as soon as it releases, without having to go to the store or wait for a download to finish after midnight. Instead, the Xbox One, just like a PC, will be able to download the full game ahead of time, and will be ready for 12:01 AM.

Of course, this is a big deal and something that I've wanted to see on these current generation consoles since November, and the PlayStation 4 already had this feature. How do we know this is coming to the Xbox One? Well, a Twitter user asked Spencer,

Will the digital preorder system become available on the next xbox preview update or anytime soon would love to start preordering!

And succinctly, @XboxP3 (Phil Spencer's account) responded with, "Stay tuned on this. Not long."

We probably won't see this in the August update though. Last week, Major Nelson pretty much laid out those expectations, however Microsoft is known to throw in a few surprises from time to time. It would be nice to see digital pre-ordering made available before this fall's sports titles hit stores. The ability to play NHL or FIFA right at midnight would be something I'd personally appreciate.

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Verizon Wireless to Start Throttling Heavy Users of 4G LTE Data on Old Unlimited Plans

posted Sunday Jul 27, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Verizon Wireless to Start Throttling Heavy Users of 4G LTE Data on Old Unlimited Plans

Verizon seems to be in a throttling mood when it comes to your Internet. There's the infamous Watching Netflix on FiOS through VPN video floating around, which affects the majority of FiOS users in the country. Now, Verizon Wireless will be throttling 4G LTE data on your smartphones. The good news is that for this instance, it's only for the heavy users on an old plan.

About one-fifth of all Verizon Wireless customers are still on a grandfathered plan that contains unlimited data. And until now, those customers have been lucky little ducks, able to stream and download to their heart's content without a care in the world. In sticking with the theme for the company's 3G data in 2011, beginning October 1st, VZW will now be throttling back the speed on the network's heavy users of 4G LTE data.

For now, only the top five percent of users will experience this slowdown, and to be affected by it, you'll have to use about 4.7GB of data a month. Plus, you'll only be throttled if you're on a tower that is undergoing heavy demand. While that doesn't seem like too bad of a deal, you really don't get a choice of which tower you connect to. So if you're in, say, New York City, you might have a better chance of being slowed down than if you were in a city like Topeka.

It should be noted that you must hit all three of those criteria before Verizon puts pressure on you. And it's also important to point out that this is only for those on the unlimited plans from back in the day. Those who are on a MORE Everything or other usage-based plan are not subject to what Verizon is calling (in a very Aperture Science way) Network Optimization.

Lastly, if you do experience Network Optimization, you will undergo that duress for the remainder of the current month, plus the following month, which is kind of a downer. Verizon also won't be nice enough to inform you on which towers or areas will have high demand.

There are many variables that can contribute to a cell site experiencing high demand including, but not limited to, the number of active users and the type of applications being used on that site. While we work to ensure we have the most reliable network for every location, these variables combined with other environmental factors determine whether or not a particular cell site experiences high demand at any particular time.

Does this affect you? Will it convince you to change your plan or will you just deal with it? As a reminder, always keep tabs on your data usage with Verizon's built-in monitoring tools.

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Bose Files Lawsuit Against Beats on Copyright Infringement

posted Sunday Jul 27, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Bose Files Lawsuit Against Beats on Copyright Infringement

Beats Electronics, the company Beats Audio, Beats Music and a $3 billion acquisition by Apple, is under fire by Bose for copyright infringement. Bose claims that the technology used in noise-canceling Beats headphones is infringing on patents owned by the company.

A lawsuit would probably not affect the Apple acquisition but it still is worth noting that these two companies have not come to legal blows until now. The headphones in question are the Beats Studio, Beats Studio Wireless and Beats pro, which all contain noise-canceling technology. In the filing of the lawsuit, Bose goes on to outline the long history of the company from 1978 and the use of the exact same technology it has patented and implemented in its headphones. The document even mentions a stint in 1991 where the US Air Force hires Bose to create in-flight headsets for military pilots. Bose specifically points out the QuietComfort array of headphones as a specific reference of identical technology.

In total, 27 US patents, 13 of them pending, are claimed to be infringed upon. Two of the patents include one for a "Method and

Apparatus for Minimizing Latency in Digital Signal Processing Systems" and one for a "Dynamically Configurable ANR Signal Processing Topology." Since the suit was filed late on Friday, we've not heard a response from Beats nor a retort from Bose on the matter. However the document does outline expectations from Bose. First, Bose wants the court to file an injunction to prevent all sales of Beats headphones that fall under their claimed infringement. Bose also is going after monetary damages for said infringement.

We'll have to see if this case has any merit and if the court finds Beats guilty of any type of copyright violation. If they do, injunctions and damages could be in order for the company. At any rate, considering the sound quality on most Beats headphones, it might not be a bad thing to see some models be pulled off the shelves.

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Some Comixology Titles Available DRM-Not-Included

posted Saturday Jul 26, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Some Comixology Titles Available DRM-Not-Included

If you are a fan of the digital comicbook marketplace Comixology, you are probably also aware of the highly limited nature of how you can interact with your purchases. That is all changing, sort of, now that Comixology is part of the Amazon family. Starting now, some titles will be available with a DRM-free backup, in both PDF and CBZ formats.

Unfortunately, the DRM-free copies will not be available for all publishers or all titles. The publishers can decide if they want to participate, and which titles they will offer this way. So far, the list of publishers is: Dynamite Entertainment, IDW Publishing, Image, Monkeybrain, Thrillbent, Top Shelf and Zenescope, with more to follow, according to Comixology. If you have purchased anything from one of these publishers that will be available DRM-free, you will receive an email informing you of your new capabilities.

So, what does this mean for consumers? It means that, instead of having to read your within the confines of the Comixology apps or website, you can now read these select titles whenever and wherever. For example, if you have a Windows Phone, your only option is to read your purchase on the web, as there is no app for the platform. This means that if you are without service on your device, you are totally out of luck. With the DRM-free download, you can read it right in the PDF viewer on your phone.

The topic of DRM is a sticky one, however. On the one hand it protects the content creators from pirating of content, enabling them to continue to create further works. On the other hand, especially in cases such as Comixology, it can greatly inconvenience legitimate customers; sometimes to the point of no longer being customers and, instead, looking for the pirated content. If you are so limited in your capabilities that you must interact with content you have purchased through a platform you might or might not have access to at any given point, it could certainly drive a legitimate customer to extreme means.

It will take a long while before the big guys, Marvel and DC, even consider DRM-free content. It might work out for the smaller publishers, though, as new customers might decide to check out their work simply because of the DRM-free nature of their publishing. It could be an interesting new day for comics.

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Amazon Stock Loses Huge After Poor Earnings

posted Saturday Jul 26, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Amazon Stock Loses Huge After Poor Earnings

It might just be time for Amazon to begin focusing its offerings. Since the company was originally founded as an online bookstore, the company's product and service offerings has grown tremendously. Whether you're looking to purchase books, shoes or flour, you can probably find it on Amazon.com.

Today the company also offers tablets and phones and streaming video and cloud computing - all very divergent from what made the company successful originally. The success of this divergence tactic is beginning to show up in their stock, and not in a way anybody would want.

After announcing a $126 million loss in the second quarter of 2014, the company's stock price dropped dramatically. How dramatically? Almost 11% in after hours trading. This is mostly due to a huge swing in operating profitability. Last year the company had a $79 million gain in for this quarter; this year they ran a $15 million loss. All of this on higher sales.

Now the company does not exactly breakdown where its profits and losses come from. In fact, Amazon has been very good at hiding their cloud numbers. This would certainly indicate that the company is having trouble making their AWS cloud services profitable.

How could this be? Microsoft Azure cloud services match Amazon prices almost penny for penny, yet Microsoft is seeing profit in the Azure division. Perhaps it has to do with what the companies are good at. While Microsoft is good at building enterprise development tools, Amazon is good at selling products to consumers. This could very well be a case of just because you can doesn't mean that you should.

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NVIDIA Launches Android-Powered Shield Tablet

posted Saturday Jul 26, 2014 by Scott Ertz

NVIDIA Launches Android-Powered Shield Tablet

NVIDIA really wants to make something of its SHIELD line of Android-powered gaming devices. First, the original handheld has received almost no consumer buy-in. Last week we learned about their plans for a television streaming device which will require a tremendous amount of costly hardware.

This week NVIDIA is launching its second product in the family, the SHIELD Tablet. This device appears to be designed to sit above the SHIELD Portable and this, as of now unannounced, streaming device. It is even possible that the Tablet is the unnamed streaming device.

As with the Portable you can play Android games and stream games from your PC. You also have the ability to connect the tablet to your television and play in console mode. Using the additional controller you can truly play any compatible game on your television. NVIDIA was even prepared for latency, using Wi-Fi Direct instead of Bluetooth for the controller. This decreases lag from 20 milliseconds to just 10.

As for the tablet itself the specs are pretty nice. 8-inch 1920x1200 full HD screen. Front facing stereo speakers. 16 or 32 GB of included memory with a micro SD slot that supports up to 128 GB. And last but not least NVIDIA's Tegra K1 mobile processor.

If you're in the market for a high end Android tablet, or you're looking for a way to stream some of your games from your PC to your television, this might be one to consider. If you're specifically in the market for Android gaming, this device might be overkill for you.

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