Archive for August, 2009

Sony PlayStation video store coming to the UK, France, Germany and Spain this November

While the U.S. version launched all the way back in July 08, it’s been a long wait for users across the pond. Along with announcing a new slimmer version of the PS3 and a bunch of other service enhancements, yesterday Sony revealed that the PlayStation video store will be opening its doors to parts of Europe from November this year.


Film companies Lionsgate, Paramount, MGM, Walt Disney, Fox, Universal and Warner Bros have been signed up by Sony, which will result in the delivery of “hundreds of movies straight to your PS3 and PSP,” Sony’s Andrew House has confirmed at the Gamescom Sony press conference in Cologne. These films will be purchasable using the usual wallet system, and the store will be rolled out in other territories throughout 2010.

While Sony will get there in the end — the company was already playing catchup in the games console delivered online video space even in the U.S. — the hold up is likely to be the usual issue of content licensing. Striking deals in one territory doesn’t guarantee speedy success in another.

In related news, Sony also announced that in the UK, the version of the BBC’s iPlayer TV catchup service for the PlayStation 3 will be promoted through the console’s ‘What’s new’ section being introduced as part of a new firmware update.

Palm invites developers to begin submitting their paid-for WebOS apps

I’m finding it increasingly hard to comment on the Palm Pre and supporting WebOS, since I’ve yet to get my hands on the company’s ‘second coming‘ smartphone. The device is due to launch here in the UK exclusively on carrier 02 (strangely sharing the limelight with Apple’s iPhone) sometime in Q4.

Nonetheless, news comes today that Palm is to begin accepting applications from developers who want to charge for their Palm Pre WebOS apps, with the pending launch of the company’s Palm App Catalog e-commerce beta program in mid-September. Attracting developers to Palm’s new platform will be key to the Pre’s success and future handsets released by the company running on its shiny new WebOS.

On that note, on par with Apple and Google (Android), developers who charge for their apps will get the better part of a 70/30 split with Palm. More information about the developer program can be found here.

Download the complete Pirate Bay torrent index, if you dare

I personally wouldn’t go anywhere near this. The occasional ‘ilegal’ torrent at a time, such as a missed episode of Mad Men, may carry a little risk, but try justifying the complete Pirate Bay torrent index sitting on your hard drive — all 21 GB of it — and well I wish you good luck.

That’s exactly what you’re now able to do thanks to a helpful user of the world’s most famous file sharing site, reports ReadWriteWeb.

It looks as if an anonymous user uploaded the entire site’s archive in order to ensure that multiple backups exist in case torrents are removed post-purchase. Users who would like to download an archival copy of the site, can access it as a massive 21.3 gigabyte download for free.

“Post-purchase” refers to the pending sale of Pirate Bay to Global Gaming Factory X (GGF), a publicly listed company in Sweden. See our recent report: ‘The Pirate Bay sold, plans to go legit. Users urged to become capitalists.

VidZone, Sony PS3's on-demand music video service, is a hit with… record labels

vidzoneI was so underwhelmed with VidZone, the PlayStation 3’s on-demand music video service, that I couldn’t bring myself to review it. The UI is clunky and videos stream in a 4:3 aspect ratio, even for recent releases, so that they don’t fill up the whole screen on my High Def telly.

However, it seems that I’m in the minority, if the company behind VidZone is to be believed. The service is a hit with the major record labels, meaning that it’s presumably resonating with consumers too, its co-founders tell

After starting off by having to persuade the major labels to license their music videos to the service, VidZone says that the music industry is now knocking at their door.

Continue reading »

Samsung opens up its TouchWhiz homescreen; widgets let developers target all three screens

When I reviewed Samsung’s touch screen feature phone, the Tocco SGH-F480, I described the home screen widgets, part of the company’s “TouchWhiz” user interface, as “a fun but under developed feature”. At the time, the Tocco only offered seven widgets, including a clock, calendar, birthday reminder, photo browser and music player, and I bemoaned the fact that third-party developers were unable to create more.

That was almost a year ago, and today Samsung announced that it’s finally opening up the TouchWhiz widget platform, which exists across many of the company’s touch screen phones running Symbian, Windows Mobile, and the handset maker’s proprietary operating system. Third party developers will be able to build their own home screen widgets using familiar web standards – HTML, JavaScript and CSS – similar to Nokia’s WRT or, on a more ambitious scale, the Palm Pre’s WebOS, or indeed any widget platform whether it be targeting mobile, the PC or the television.

Continue reading »

Can I survive on half a QWERTY? Nokia E55 in the house

Nokia E55Regular readers of this blog – and anybody who’ll listen – will know that I’m a big fan of physical QWERTY keyboards on mobile phones. I’m much less fond of virtual ones, such as that found on the iPhone or my Android-powered HTC Magic.

My current day-to-day phone is a Nokia E71, which I’ve found to have the best QWERTY to-date, but my love affair with mobile QWERTYs started way back when I bought my first Palm Treo (see my GDGT profile, if you’re interested in my gadget history).

I was therefore intrigued when Nokia announced the E55 with a keyboard that the company describes as a compact-QWERTY. Similar to BackBerry’s sure-type layout, each key houses two letters. The option of predictive text helps to smooth over this obvious compromise but then on the other hand you get the advantage of a candy bar form factor, and in the E55’s case, a very slender one too.

Over the next few weeks I intend to put the Nokia E55 through its paces and see how well I do on half a QWERTY. Watch this space.

Why Sony is embracing the 'open' ePub eBook standard (Hint: Amazon)

I’ve argued before that with regards to eBooks and the Kindle, Amazon doesn’t view itself as a hardware company. Unlike the iTunes ecosystem designed to shift more iPods and iPhones, for Amazon it’s actually about selling digital content — the eBooks themselves — as demonstrated by the release of the iPhone ‘Kindle’ eBook reader and the company’s work-around to keep Apple away from any iPhone-generated eBook revenue.

The Kindle hardware exists to kick start and accelerate the uptake of eBooks, and as well as creating Kindle reader software for other mobile platforms, similar to what the company has already done on the iPhone, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Amazon one day license its Kindle platform to competing hardware eBook readers. As I said, it’s clearly about shifting content, and to achieve this, owning the eBook ‘standard’ and therefore default store.

Continue reading »

Roku set-top box adds Major League Baseball streaming (MLB.TV)

mlb-tv-rokuRoku’s cheap but increasingly versatile set-top box has added another feather to its bow.

Joining both Netflix and Amazon-On-Demand, the $99 Roku Video Player can now stream live ‘out of market’ and archived baseball matches — in 720p HD no less — courtesy of MLB.TV (US-only).

Fans will of course still have to pony up for a season pass ($35) but that doesn’t seem like such as bad deal now that you can easily pipe that content to a wide-screen TV, and especially if you’re already an owner of Roku’s cheap ‘n’ cheerful little box.

(Also see Dave Zatz’s five suggestions for how to improve Roku’s offering.)

Zatz Not Funny: 5 suggestions for Roku, Netflix coming to iPhone and Wii?, Of course Apple’s anti-competitive, and more

A periodic roundup of relevant news from our friends at Zatz Not Funny


What’s next for Roku? 5 suggestions

Dave Zatz: At $99 the Roku’s in impulse purchase territory – it’s hard to go wrong. Having said that, as an owner and a guy who follows this space, I’ve got a few suggestions for the Roku team (and their partners). Enable some of these, and I’ll pick up a box for every room.

Netflix Streaming to iPhone & Wii?

Dave Zatz: We’ve seen the Wii pop up as a potential Netflix streaming video destination on a few occasions – what we don’t know is the period of gaming platform exclusivity Microsoft currently enjoys with the Xbox 360.

Continue reading »

INQ's mass market 'Twitter phone' takes aim at overpriced QWERTY touting smartphones

inq-chat-3gI pretty much had this one pegged. Hutchison-owned INQ have announced the follow up to the award winning INQ1 — dubbed the Facebook phone — with a QWERTY-touting handset that, amongst other things, targets users of Twitter.

The BlackBerry-esque device, called the INQ Chat 3G, pitches a host of messaging capabilities to end users, including ‘push’ email (via Gmail), Facebook access, Instant Messaging through Windows Live Messenger, Skype, and a Twitter client that provides ‘always-on’ connectivity to the micro-messaging social network so that updates are pushed ‘straight to the homescreen’.

“Consumers can send tweets and retweet via the internet rather than using SMS”, boasts the press release.

Continue reading »