Archive for February, 2008

From "Alfred Hitchcock" to the "A-Team", where to find classic TV on the Web

alfred hitchcockToday you can surf the Web to find, and watch, shows you’ve recently missed on television. You can also surf, find, and watch shows you didn’t know you miss.

Shows from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. Shows like “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, “Emergency!”, “The A-Team”, “MacGyver”, “The Twilight Zone”, “Hawaii Five-O”, “Good Times”, “Munsters”, “F Troop”, “I Spy”, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, “My Favorite Martian”, and so many, many more.

Classic TV has made the jump from cable and satellite TV to the Web, where you can find full episodes and entire seasons of shows you’ve probably forgotten about — but watched when you were a kid. These programs are free and play in the same ad-supported media players the networks use for their current offerings.

The Classic TV trend really became apparent in February when two leading networks, NBC and CBS, put some of their old shows on the Web, joining other retro programs we didn’t know were even there.

nbc way back wednesdaysWe haven’t paid much attention to classic TV on the Web because these programs are already available on TV, somewhere in the dead-of-night cable-sphere, or on DVD re-issue boxed sets. Even so, NBC and CBS are creating branded retro channels — NBC’s is “Way Back Wednesdays” — and putting considerable resources into their efforts, giving new life to Mr. T and Danno.

last100 took a look at what classics are available — there’s a bunch — and what the networks are doing with their old content on the Web.

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iPhone's future coming into focus: SDK = iPhone 1.5, 3G networks = iPhone 2.0

iphoneThe future of the iPhone is coming into focus, even if it is a bit abstract at the moment.

Reports are beginning to surface that Infineon, a German chipmaker, will provide Apple with a new chip set for the next-generation iPhone — let’s call it iPhone 2.0.

According to analysts from the investment bank UBS, iPhone 2.0 is set to launch mid-year, which means we may actually see it sometime in late summer or early Fall. The new chip set is expected to bring faster 3G network capabilities to the iPhone, a much-anticipated upgrade.

In the meantime, Apple announced the other day it will release “the iPhone software roadmap” on March 6. Many around the Web believe this will be the much-anticipated software developer kit (SDK), although there is speculation that it might be just a roadmap and that the actual SDK won’t be released until later in the Spring.

No matter when it’s released, the SDK is important because it will allow third-party developers to write specific applications for the phone, essentially giving it a “new” feeling — let’s call this one iPhone 1.5.

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Video: GPhone Android demonstration

Video: GPhone in action (Android)The BBC was recently given a guided tour of Google’s Android mobile OS – the so-called GPhone – by Google’s Director of Mobile Platforms Andy Rubin.

The Android “software stack” is currently an Alpha, meaning that the software is still in the very early stages of development, and was shown running on a prototype 3G-capable touchscreen phone developed by one of Google’s hardware partners.

Rubin started by demonstrating the GPhone’s Web browser (based on the same WebKit source code as Apple’s Safari), which, although very iPhone-like, doesn’t zoom by double-tapping or “pinching” but instead a “tap and hold” brings up an overlay menu with zoom controls.

Next up, Rubin showed off the “first person shooter” Quake, which ran with the help of a separate 3D graphic chip included in this particular GPhone reference design.

Finally, Rubin demonstrated Google Maps Street View, which gives panoramic views of locations found on Google Maps, something that isn’t currently available on any other mobile version of the software.

Video after the jump…

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Hulu expected to add content from Warner Bros., new "networks" continue to emerge

hulu wbThe Silicon Alley Insider reported late today — in the headline “Confirmed! Warner Bros. TV in on — that, well, the Warner Bros. Television Group will be providing content for the NBC-Fox joint venture Hulu.

But then SAI, and others, soft-pedaled the details. “It looks like … “

It doesn’t really matter now. This deal has been rumored for months (Valleywag), and Warner Bros. TV President Bruce Rosenblum last week said the Hulu deal was “imminent,” according to Communications Daily. Also, Warner Bros., half owner of The CW with CBS, already makes its vast TV library available to AOL’s In2TV.

So the imminent deal means that there will be Warner content — like the CW show “Pussycat Dolls” and Warner-produced “ER” — coming to Hulu, making the online video service an even better place to catch up on TV shows from a variety of networks.

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iTunes overtakes Best Buy to become No.2 music retailer in U.S.

Bye bye Best Buy.

Apple put out a rather self-congratulatory press release today announcing that the company’s iTunes Store is now the number two music retailer in the U.S. And who are we not to repeat the news?

Previously holding the number three spot (having overtaken Amazon last June), iTunes has now knocked Best Buy out of its way, leaving only Wal-Mart out ahead. However, the boasting doesn’t stop there.

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Since when did Sony become 'pirate'-friendly?

No copy-protection on Sony’s PS3 DVR, PlayTV

Since when did Sony become 'pirate'-friendly?First, to everyone’s surprise, Sony introduces DivX support to the PlayStation 3, and now we learn that PlayTV, the company’s yet-to-be-released digital TV tuner and recorder, won’t be employing copy-protection. As a result, television programs can be transfered off of the PS3 onto any device that supports MPEG2, including a PC where they could be re-encoded and shared on the Internet.

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DivX to shut down online video service Stage6; "wild ride" is over

stage6 logoTom, aka Spinner, ends his explanation of why DivX is shutting down its online video service Stage6 by saying, “It’s been a wild ride.”

Yes, it has, for all online video services.

DivX, a digital media company, announced today it is closing Stage6 by Thursday to focus its resources on the company’s core DivX technology/licensing business. Stage6 members cannot upload any more video to the site and only will be able to access content for three more days.

The reason given for shutting down Stage6 is obvious, something faced by all online video sites. “The continued operation of Stage6 is a very expensive enterprise that requires an enormous amount of attention and resources that we are not in a position to continue to provide,” wrote Tom, an employee of DivX, at the Stage6 blog.

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Hands-on: Nokia's N810 Internet Tablet

Hands-on: Nokia’s N810 Internet TabletIntel calls it the Mobile Internet Device (MID); Nokia calls it the Internet Tablet; Apple calls it an iPod (or the “first mainstream Wi-Fi mobile platform“). And that’s before we factor in so-called Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs) based on Microsoft Windows or low-cost Linux alternatives. In 2008 it seems that there is no shortage of companies (beyond smart phone makers) wanting to put the “Internet in your pocket”.

Over the Christmas holidays I got to play with one such product: Nokia’s N810, the third device in the company’s relatively new Internet Tablet lineup. But before I get to my hands-on impressions of the N810, I want to make a few observations about the product category in general.

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Weekly wrapup, 18-22 Feb 2008

Here’s a summary of the week’s digital lifestyle action on last100. Note that you can subscribe to the weekly wrapups, either via the special weekly wrapup RSS feed or by email.

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Top digital lifestyle news

In a post titled ‘Blu-ray wins format war – much longer HD download battle lies ahead‘ we reported on the news this week that Toshiba is to cease production of HD DVD players and recorders, meaning that the next generation DVD format war is over and Blu-ray wins. “However, a much longer battle lies ahead – HD downloads – leading some to argue that the next-gen DVD format war is irrelevant. In the future consumers won’t buy physical media, they’ll purchase and download it over the Internet. True but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.”

In Apple-related news this week, BBC Worldwide (the commercial arm of the UK public broadcaster) has started selling television shows on iTunes UK. The BBC has also confirmed that a version of its UK-only TV catch-up service, iPlayer, will be coming to the iPhone and iPod Touch within weeks.

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Apple promotes movie rental business with 99-cent "Weekend Movie Picks"

the hours itunes movie downloadIn an effort to spur its movie rental business, Apple is now offering “Weekend Movie Picks” on iTunes. For now, Apple will offer one film per week at a discounted price of 99 cents, $3 off the normal rental fee.

A new movie will become available at the special price every Thursday, good until the following Monday. Once rented, you will have the standard 30 days to watch it in a 24-hour time period.

This week’s film: “The Hours”, starring Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, and a bunch of other A-list actors.

While “The Hours” is a major studio release, it’s no power draw like “Michael Clayton”, “Superbad”, or “3:10 to Yuma.” It will be interesting to see how Apple develops “Weekend Movie Picks.” Will it offer the best new releases, movies like “Live Free or Die Hard” that have been out for a while, or ones from the vault like “Dances With Wolves”?

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