The UpStream

Dozens of PlayStation 4 Issues Plague Financially Successful Launch (Editorial)

posted Sunday Nov 17, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Dozens of PlayStation 4 Issues Plague Financially Successful Launch (Editorial)

It's time to talk about something nobody else is talking about: The PlayStation 4 launch. Wait, what I mean to say is that we're going to be talking about some of the major problems that have already plagued the console's launch successes, despite the units being in hands of consumers for less than a week. From the time we witnessed the announcement of the $400 price point at E3, we predicted that Sony was going to have to cut corners in order to not only stay competitive against Microsoft, but to not lose a tremendous amount of money on the console, like they did with the PS3. However, I wouldn't have imagined that the PS4, while feeling sturdy in the hands at 6.1 pounds, would fall apart like a cheaply made plastic box. I should point out though, that the lack of any disclosed improvement to the PlayStation Network servers does seem to correlate with the online and connectivity problems that the PS4 is already facing.

The hardware itself seems to be causing problems right from the start. Even before units were released to the public, there were reports of PS4s freezing, crashing and overheating. Some consoles are also pulsing with a blue light on the indicator, which has been documented in many places. Now, after official launch, many customers are still reporting that their devices are exceeding temperatures than the whole new iPad processor.

More hardware problems also come from the actual ports used on the console. In some consoles, a piece of metal in the HDMI port that is normally level with the bottom of the port actually points upward instead, causing the HDMI cable to not sit right in the slot. As a result, the system won't send a proper signal through the cable and no picture shows up on your TV or monitor. For some reason, several websites make this out to be a problem that can be overlooked, saying that the fix is "simple and easy." For me, this is not the case, seeing that something as important as the HDMI port - the only video output on the console - should be tested and working on any unit that leaves the manufacturing plant. This is especially pertinent to the review units that go out to press, which I've personally been in front of three different PS4s that have all had this problem. We do have some good news, too. If you contact Sony and make them aware of the problem, the company will offer to swap the unit out for you, but I haven't heard any official stances on the issue other than that Sony is "closely monitoring for additional reports, but (we) think these are isolated incidents and are on track for a great launch."

And, the problems don't stop there. Electronic Arts had to issue an official statement on Sony's 1.5 firmware update, pretty much saying that any EA game that crashed, froze or didn't work on the PS4 was Sony's fault. It read,

Sony has released a firmware update for the PlayStation 4 that is required for many features on the console. However, this update also results in stability issues while playing games on the system. This affects all games on the PS4, including EA titles, causing crashing/freezing and non-responsive connections between the player's console and their TV Screen.

Since then, EA has retracted its statement, with the website now saying that the message was posted in error. But for a company as large as EA to post something like that, it speaks volumes for some of the complications that have come out of this next-gen launch.

Then there's the online connectivity issues. At the strike of midnight, more than 100,000 people flocked to their favorite electronic stores, picked up their PS4 and headed home, only to find they could not connect to the PlayStation Network. Sony's response was that,

PSN seeing very high volume, some gamers may experience difficulty connecting, thanks for your patience. If you're getting a network error on the PS4, please sit tight. As you can imagine, we're seeing heavy traffic tonight.

To me it sounded like, "Can't connect? Just wait more." Obviously it had to do with the day-one update to firmware 1.5, which unlocked a lot of features of the PS4 that were unavailable prior to the update. To circumvent the issues, users could have downloaded the update to the USB device before launch night, however it's apparent not many people chose to do this. To add to the online problems, hundreds of posts on the PS4 support forums have indicated users experiencing error codes when logging in to the PlayStation Network, so many that Sony had to issue a statement on two error codes in particular.

Sadly, this is all just the tip of the iceberg, but before you say it, I know that all mass-produced pieces of hardware will have a defect. In fact, I know that the Xbox 360 had problems, the PS3 had problems and the Xbox One will probably have problems, too. This is more of an awareness thing, and an attempt to bring back unbiased takes on products when they hit the market. At no point should a problem be overlooked because it's stemming from a particular device from a particular brand. And at no point should we as consumers accept anything less than what was promised from the companies we hand our money to. Just to point out, there's still no fix for the blue pulsing light of death, either, and that's probably due to not enough people standing up and demanding a fix.

So even though I'm an avid Xbox fan, I'll stand up for you. Sony, time to address the problems and not avoid them like the SimCity or Diablo III launches. Fix your hardware that's $100 cheaper than your competitor; it's too soon to offer up a 2.0 version of the PS4.

Verizon Survey Shows 1 in 3 Would Give Up Their Car for Next-gen Game System

posted Saturday Nov 16, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Verizon Survey Shows 1 in 3 Would Give Up Their Car for Next-gen Game System

Verizon FiOS took a survey, of hardcore gamers (dubbed Tech Fans on the survey) and normal people (General Population), on whether or not the group would want video streaming, a next-gen console and other things. Turns out, a third of the 900-plus people polled said they would be willing to sacrifice their car for six months in order to be one of the first people to put their hands on an Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

These results were shared at the Engadget Expand conference and presented by Chris Melissinos, from business strategy and development of Verizon.

This time of year has historically been great for generations of gamers from the debut of the home version of Pong in 1975, to the release of the PS4 and Xbox One. Gaming and technology continue to spread deeper into society and are becoming a bigger part of our lives. So we wanted to reveal how people feel about the technology they love and what they want to see in their connected homes, which even in today's mobile world remain the hub of their digital lifestyles.

Here's some facts that oppose a good majority of the Internet saying that they do not want to watch video content through their video game console, and that game console are meant for just gaming. 69 percent of Tech Fans would want to stream video from a game console, and 58 percent of the General Population agreed. 43 percent of the total group also said they wouldn't mind shopping from their console and almost half said they would prefer to stream music from their game devices. Talk about a console doing things other than just gaming.

And I wouldn't be covering a game console survey if I didn't flame the console war a bit. 50 percent of Tech Fans said they'd purchase an Xbox One when it comes out, meaning the other half said the same about a PS4. For the General Population group, 44 percent said they'd want an Xbox One and 50 percent wanted a PS4. So there actually isn't that much of a disparity between the two sides, regardless of the slanted views you may run across online. Moving into the cloud-based side of gaming, 54 percent of the General Population said they'd prefer to download video games online or play them from the cloud instead of buying the disc. 59 percent said they'd prefer to play games in the cloud and not worry about storage on the console. This all ties into the infrastructure that is cloud gaming and that 300,000 new servers may prove beneficial over the long haul, especially when Sony has not disclosed if they've upgraded servers after purchasing Gaikai.

There's some other interesting results as well, and you can check those out in the source link below, but the main thing here is a lot of people really do want their next-gen consoles to excel at more than just gaming, and an overwhelming amount of regular people want to consume content on the devices. This seems lines up perfectly with the Xbox campaign of making sure it's the center of all your family entertainment, supported by set-top box pass-through. It also lines up with the PS3 being the number one device for Netflix streaming, so there's a lot of pros on both sides of the fence. What are your thoughts on all of this? Do you really want a game device to just game, having to switch inputs to accomplish simple tasks? Sound off in the comments section, but please don't just yell "PC MASTER RACE," because we all know more wires in the living room is really just a pain.

CES Unveiled New York Delivers Big Announcements for the International CES 2014

posted Saturday Nov 16, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

CES Unveiled New York Delivers Big Announcements for the International CES 2014

While the morning of CES Unveiled New York was filled with four intense and information-packed sessions on UltraHD, that didn't stop the Consumer Electronics Association from announcing some big things ahead of the International Consumer Electronics Show 2014 in January. From speakers and concerts to brand new TechZones, the CEA, led by Gary Shapiro, made sure you wanted to be at CES this year.

In keeping with the "monstrous" theme, Monster Cable announced that Fleetwood Mac would be headlining this year's Monster 2014 Retailer Awards. With the awards beginning at 8:45 PM in the Paris Ballroom at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas on Wednesday, January 8th, the iconic rock band will take the stage at around 10 PM and will be playing all of their greatest hits from the beginning until now. Fleetwood Mac follows up a superb performance by Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter, Alicia Keys, who owned the stage in her headlining performance last year.

On top of the all-new Gaming Showcase TechZone that was already announced to be at CES this year, there was another TechZone to be announced at Unveiled. The Hi-Res Audio Experience will take place at the Venetian's Bellini Ballroom and will be anchored by digital music company HD Tracks. Also featured in the group will be Acoustic Sounds Super HiRez Store, Blue Coast Music, Mytek Digital and Native DSD.

CEA's research shows people want better audio and are ready to move away from cheap earbuds and low-quality MP3 tracks.

The research indicates that the appeal of high quality audio electronics extends beyond enthusiasts and that the appeal of hi-res audio extends far beyond higher quality audio devices. CEA finds four in ten (39 percent) of consumers with a moderate interest in audio indicate they are willing to pay more for high quality audio electronics devices and that nearly six out of ten (60%) of consumers with a moderate interest in audio are willing to pay more for higher quality digital music. Nine in ten consumers say sound quality is the most important component of a quality audio experience.

Attendees will be able to put their hands on everything from high-end audio tracks played through personal headphones attached to sound amplifiers, all the way to THX-certified listening experiences that fill a room with sound. Coupled with the TechZone will be three conference sessions to educate people on the importance of this new hi-res digital age. Welcome to the Hi-Res Music World will take place from 1-2 PM on Jan 7, Meet the Hi-Res Music Creators from 3-4 PM on Jan 7 and Hi-Res Audio for Every Lifestyle from 1-2 PM on Jan 8. While I won't be able to make the sessions due to our hectic schedule at CES, rest assured I'll be at the TechZone trying out all the new gadgets and experiencing hi-res audio.

Lastly, Gary Shapiro himself announced two powerful speakers that will be added to the Tech Titans keynote series at CES. First, Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers will be presenting a keynote on Jan 7 at 4:30 PM in the Venetian Palazzo Ballroom. He will be discussing Cisco's vision for the "Internet of Everything," which connects people with data, devices and everything else. On Chambers presenting at CES, Shapiro said,

The Internet of Everything is changing everything, creating greater opportunities for organizations, individuals, communities and countries than we saw with the first wave of the Internet. John Chambers is an industry visionary, and we are excited to welcome him back to the CES stage to share Cisco's strategy for innovation to drive this market transition and create value as 'everything' comes online.

The keynote from one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people will coincide with the Internet of Everything TechZone in Central Hall, which products from all different categories will be on display. Cisco representatives will be on-hand to demonstrate how systems and devices can all integrate and live in one single, harmonious tech world.

Mr. Shapiro also took the stage to announce one final speaker for the Tech Titans keynote series, and this is the one I'm most excited for. Former Google exec and new CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, will deliver a keynote from the LVH Theater on Jan 7 at 1 PM. Truly a "rock star" in the technology world right now, Mayer fits right in with the direction of the series for the CEA.

As a defining innovator making waves in the online and mobile space and a fresh breath for the industry, Marissa Mayer is a perfect addition to our Tech Titans keynote series. We're thrilled to welcome her to the CES stage to share her strategic vision for the evolving tech landscape.

All of this goes down Jan 7-10 in Las Vegas during CES 2014. Of course, you can follow along with us right here at or at We'll be live-streaming all week long and will also be bringing you show floor coverage, along with the after-hours conventions like Digital Experience, Show Stoppers and all of the private parties and events. You won't want to miss out!

DISH Network Stops Blockbuster Rentals

posted Sunday Nov 10, 2013 by Scott Ertz

DISH Network Stops Blockbuster Rentals

This one was inevitable. Ever since purchasing Blockbuster Video, we knew DISH Network would treat it like HP treated Palm.This week it was announced that the remaining 300 stores would go the way of the previous 500 stores, closing this weekend.

Yesterday, Saturday Nov 9, was the final day to rent a DVD from a corporate-owned Blockbuster retail store. The remaining locations closed last night and will reopen shortly to begin the liquidation process. At that point, based upon what we have seen of liquidations of the past, you will be able to purchase anything from movies and games to store fixtures and signage.

If you were hoping to continue renting movies through Blockbuster's DVD By Mail Service, you will need to prepare to sign-up for Netflix, because DISH will also be shutting down that service in mid-December.

So, why would DISH Network have purchased Blockbuster, just to shut it down? Was it just a terrible decision, like HP buying Palm? Well, there are still some brands left in the Blockbuster family that DISH feels could be profitable.

DISH will retain licensing rights to the Blockbuster brand, and key assets, including the company's significant video library. DISH will focus on delivering the Blockbuster @Home service to DISH customers, and on its transactional streaming service for the general market, Blockbuster On Demand.

The Blockbuster @Home service offers over 15 movie channels including STARZ® Cinema, EPIX®, Sony Movie Channel, and Hallmark Movie Channel, plus over 20,000 movies and TV shows streamed to TVs, computers or iPads®. The service includes access to the Blockbuster @Home 'app' currently available to the millions of TVs served by DISH's Hopper® Whole-Home HD DVR set-top box.

Available to anyone, Blockbuster On Demand is a transactional streaming video service offering thousands of movies viewable on connected devices including PCs, tablets, smartphones, Slingbox, Roku and select Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players. Consumers can learn more at

So, it seems a lot like Netflix trying to spin off DVDs, hoping that streaming would be enough to keep them going. As it turned out, people revolted and Netflix reversed directions. The difference here is that Blockbuster has not been able to gain any traction on their DVD rental service, being taken down by RedBox and Netflix. Perhaps not having the overhead of retail stores and the DVD rental service will increase profits for the brand.

Apple's Releases Transparency Report, Faces Government Limitation

posted Sunday Nov 10, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Apple's Releases Transparency Report, Faces Government Limitation

Another week, another transparency report. These are fun for me to read about and report because it really puts things into perspective on what companies are forced to do and what companies try to do to protect our information. With Microsoft and Yahoo among a bunch of companies reporting, it's only fitting Apple has stepped up and delivery its report this week.

For Apple's report spanning January 1st to June 30th, the company reported data requests for both account information and device information. Apple also mentions that it "has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us."

So here's the numbers. Obviously the US ranks at the top of the list, with Germany in second and interestingly enough Singapore in third for device information requests; Australia and the UK round of the to five. For the US, 3,542 requests were made for 8,605 devices and Apple provided data to 88 percent of those requests. While the number of devices seems high, Apple includes stolen shipments into this list, so that may skew some of the results.

The number of affected accounts and devices is often larger than the number of requests because law enforcement may seek information related to multiple accounts or devices. For example, some device requests related to the theft of a shipment may involve hundreds of serial numbers. In cases where no data was disclosed, Apple may have objected to a government request for legal reasons or searched our records and discovered that we have no relevant information. This category includes multiple scenarios in which no

data was disclosed.

For account information requests, the US topples over all of the other countries' requests combined, coming in at 1000-2000 requests for 2000-3000 accounts. Apparently the government won't allow Apple to disclose the real numbers, with Apple saying that,

The U.S. government has given us permission to

share only a limited amount of information about these orders, with the requirement that we combine national security orders with account-based law enforcement requests and report only a consolidated range in increments of 1000.

Again, these requests include robberies, thefts and other crimes, so the numbers may be a bit stretched. However, the fact that the US accounts for more requests than all other countries put together is quite staggering. And, since the government has restricted true disclosure on the accounts, we don't know exactly how many accounts were disclosed against how many Apple objected. Either way, the numbers are a lot lower than some from Yahoo or Microsoft, by the tens of thousands, which is very interesting considering how powerful the company's perception is.

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