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September 2, 2015


Microsoft adds Netflix, NBC, Universal videos to Xbox Live Marketplace

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 14th 2008 3:27PM
Microsoft has announced plans to expand the internet video content available to Xbox Live users. Probably the most exciting new feature (although also the most predictable) is a partnership with Netflix that will let Netflix customers stream video using an Xbox 360 starting this fall.

Netflix currently lets users stream selected content using a web browser or a dedicated set top box developed by Roku. You won't need to pay any additional fees to watch Netflix videos. But you will need a Netflix subscription. Microsoft says the Xbox 360 will be the only video game console to support Netflix videos, but I wouldn't be surprised if what Microsoft is really saying is that the Xbox 360 will be the first video game console with Netflix support.

Microsoft has also announced that customers will be able to purchase and download videos from NBC and Universal. Titles will include Battlestar Galactica, The Office, Monk, The Mummy, and the Bourne Supremacy. The videos will be available in high definition. Microsoft says there are now over 10,000 movies and TV shows available through the Xbox Live marketplace.

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Media Center Extender shootout, courtesy of EngadgetHD

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 19th 2008 4:57PM
When Windows Vista was released, Microsoft proudly highlighted the inclusion of media center functionality in Vista Home Premium and Vista Ultimate - the two most widely used consumer versions of the operating system. And one of the coolest features is support for media extenders, or relatively cheap computer-like boxes that you can connect to your home network to access your media throughout the house.

But when Vista launched, the only media center extender available was the Xbox 360. Now that Linksys, D-Link, and HP have all put extenders on the market, EngadgetHD's Ben Drawbaugh decided to throw three extenders together in a cage match.

So if three enter and only one can leave, who wins and who gets beaten into a bloody pulp? We'll let you click through to the full review to find out. But here are some of the highlights of the battle between the Linskys, D-Link and Xbox 360 extenders:
  • Picture and sound quality is pretty decent on all three boxes, but the Xbox 360 does the best job of showing photos
  • The Linksys extender boots up way faster than the others
  • The Linksys extender is the cheapest, but all three devices cost between $240 and $300
  • The Xbox 360 has the noisiest fan and overall operation
  • The D-Link and Linksys extenders support several video codecs that the Xbox 360 does not.
  • The Xbox 360 plays games, the other extenders don't (unless you count games designed for Windows Media Center)
Do you have a media extender? What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments.

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BBC explains why iPlayer is headed to the Wii, not Xbox 360 or PS3

by Brad Linder, posted Apr 11th 2008 2:59PM
As reported earlier this week, the BBC plans to develop a Nintendo Wii version of its iPlayer online TV viewing software. The announcement left me scratching my head a bit. After all, aren't Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's Playstation3 more obvious choices? Both video game consoles are already designed to be multimedia devices, with optical disc drives and access to online media.

Now the BBC is explaining why it decided to go with the Nintendo Wii. The Wii supports branded channels. In other words, if the BBC wanted to make video content available on the other platforms, the software interface would have to look pretty much like all the other Xbox 360 or PS3 channels. Nintendo, on the other hand, is offering the BBC a dedicated channel which will mimic the iPlayer interface already available through a web browser.

[via Joystiq]

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Is Microsoft planning a new Xbox 360 with an HDTV tuner?

by Brad Linder, posted Oct 21st 2007 3:00PM
Xbox 360It's no secret that Sony and Microsoft have big plans for their Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles. As video game systems, both consoles are already in millions of homes. But they each contain plenty of advanced features that make them good building blocks for complete home entertainment systems.

Sony has already announced plant to launch a TV-tuner add-on for the PS3 that will turn the system into a PVR complete with a hard drive, electronic program guide, and the ability to watch and record live TV. Now it looks like there's talk that Microsoft may issue an updated version of the Xbox 360 with an HDTV tuner as well.

The new unit would reportedly have an HD-DVD drive built in. Right now you need to buy an external device if you want to use your Xbox 360 to watch HD-DVD movies. Sony's PS3 has an internal Blu-Ray drive, which is one of the reasons the video game system launched at a significantly higher price than the Xbox 360 (or any other video game console in history). But with the cost of next generation DVD players coming down, it's getting cheaper to build HD video support directly into a gaming console.

Maybe one day we'll stop calling them game consoles and begin referring to them as entertainment systems. Even though I don't play games very often, for the right price, I'd be willing to buy a single box that can watch and record TV, play music, movies, internet video, and video games.

[via Slashdot]

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Linksys announces new media center extenders

by Brad Linder, posted Sep 26th 2007 1:03PM
Linksys DMA 2100 and 2200A few weeks after Niveus showed off its first "V2" media center extender, Linksys is following suit with its DMA 2100/2200 devices for Windows Vista Media Center users.

While Windows Vista has been around since the start of the year (and even earlier if you were in on the beta), so far the only media center extender released that works with Vista has been the Xbox 360. If you didn't want to buy an expensive video game console just so you could watch content from your office PC in your living room, you were out of luck.

But with Niveus, Linksys, and several other companies set to offer new extenders, things are looking up. We're expecting a few more product announcements during Microsoft's keynote tomorrow at the Digital Life Expo.

As for the Linksys boxes, the DMA 2200 includes an upscaling DVD player, which could make it a nice all-in-one box to stick in your TV cabinet. Both the DMA 2100 and 2200 will be available in November for an undisclosed price.

[via Engadget and Big Screen Blog]

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ITC One: This is what $20,000 in A/V components looks like

by Brad Linder, posted Sep 12th 2007 5:30PM
theater in a boxEver think about the home theater/home automation system you'd set up if you had $20,000 burning a hole in your pocket. Odds are your dream system involves an awful lot of wiring components together until your living room is more fire hazard than theater.

But the SE2 Labs ITC One is a single box with pretty much anything you could ever need. That includes:
  • An Xbox 360
  • An Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive
  • An iPod dock
  • AMX automation
  • Cable and satellite TV tuners
  • A surround sound reciever/preamp/amplifier
  • PVR with had drive
The whole thing weighs in at 100 to 125 pounds and measures less than 2 feet heigh and about a foot and a half deep. It's like a rack mount system without the rack, although you can mount the entire unit if you really want.

The ITC One is filled with top end components, making the $20,000 starting price a bargain. But we can't help but feel that if you're wiling to get slightly inferior products you could set up a home theater with all the same functionality for a lot less money. Especially considering there's no Blu-Ray deck in there.

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