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NetZero Brought Back to Life as 4G ISP, Signs Deals with Verizon Wireless and Sprint

posted Sunday Aug 11, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

NetZero Brought Back to Life as 4G ISP, Signs Deals with Verizon Wireless and Sprint

Last year, United Online, the company which was the result of the merger between NetZero and Juno, decided to rejuvenate the NetZero brand by offering up some 4G hotspots and as you'd expect, there was a free option. However the prices were too high if you actually used any data above email browsing, and the network availability was really inconsistent, even in major metropolitan areas. The good news is that last year's announcements were just a piece of a bigger picture. NetZero will continue to be a 4G Internet service provider but will also come complete with deals signed with both Verizon Wireless and Sprint.

During a financial report this week, CEO Mark Goldston announced the new plan for NetZero.

We are pleased to announce two agreements that will significantly expand the coverage and enhance the offerings of our NetZero Mobile Broadband service. We have signed a three-year agreement with Verizon to offer the NetZero Mobile Broadband service on Verizon's nationwide 3G network. When the service is launched, we expect NetZero Mobile Broadband will be available in approximately 500 markets and cover more than 300 million people, or approximately 95% of the entire U.S. population. Also, we have signed a five-year agreement with Sprint to offer the NetZero Mobile Broadband service via Sprint's 4G LTE and 3G networks. This agreement will allow us to expand our NetZero Mobile Broadband coverage to a projected 200 million people in 2014 on the Sprint 4G LTE network.

So, while 3G service may be the only option available for many customers at this point in time, NetZero is definitely looking forward to the future. The past 4G hotspot by NetZero was on Sprint/Clearwire's 4G WiMAX network, a service which, in certain areas, was spotty at best and was merely to hold Sprint customers over until their rollout of 4G LTE late last year. Now, NetZero has a chance to really cover a lot of people, with a range of networks, inevitably ending with full 4G LTE coverage by Sprint for the next five years.

Unfortunately, prices are still a bit high if you're looking to use this for anything beyond an emergency modem. Of course, 200MB will be served up for free, similar to FreedomPop (which will still be on WiMAX for the foreseeable future), but jumping into 500MB will cost you $10 per month, and a 4GB package will run a whopping $50 per month. Luckily if you're interested, NetZero is currently doubling data for those who sign up as a new customer. In the end, NetZero seems to be a good option over some of these "freemium" competitors out there, with the service provider using three different networks to allow for the most reliable and consistent coverage for its customers.

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OUYA Issues Apology to Kickstarter Backers Who Still Haven't Received Console (Editorial)

posted Sunday Aug 11, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

OUYA Issues Apology to Kickstarter Backers Who Still Haven't Received Console (Editorial)

To continue the OUYA craze this week, the company is handing out credits to their backers on Kickstarter for not shipping out a console to each of them who pre-ordered one, even though the game system is already on shelves in retail stores. For those not aware, OUYA is an Android gaming system that only runs you $99, and I've never quite understood it. It doesn't have the same power as NVIDIA's SHIELD and appears to have been made to appease all of the gamers who are mad at corporations for putting DRM on their games to protect them from piracy, or something like that.

Regardless, the OUYA is Android powered so all of the games you'd want to play, DRM free, aren't included on the system, hence the reason none of it has ever made sense to me. To further that, you could imagine the type of mentality a company like this would have. The company wanted to "stick it to the man" by not appearing in an official capacity at E3, and instead elected to rent out a parking lot outside of the convention center and converted it into a booth. Naturally, this prompted E3 to call the cops and have the booth shut down, outraging fanboys everywhere. The ESA (which runs E3) then proceeded to place semi-trucks in that space, and the back-and-forth commenced for the entire length of the convention. Because of all this, it doesn't really surprise me that OUYA is having shipping issues to make good on the pre-orders that were supposed to be delivered over a month ago.

In a letter sent out by CEO Julie Urhman, the company apologizes for the delay.

To our beloved backers,

It's been 11 months and 26 days (360 days for those who prefer a more exact count) since we left the gates of Kickstarter and set out to turn our vision into a reality.

It wasn't OK that some of you-our most loyal supporters-didn't get your OUYA until after it was on store shelves. Others had an issue with our still-new customer service. Despite your frustrations, you've played on, putting up with our bumps and bugs as we work to get better every day.

That being the case, we want to do more than tell you how much we appreciate you-we want to show it.

If you feel you've had any kind of less-than-OUYA experience with us (a polite way of saying at any time you felt pissed at us for whatever the reason: late shipment, missing controllers, a delayed response to a CS ticket you opened), we'd like to give you a store credit of $13.37 to use toward any purchase(s) on DISCOVER.

If you are annoyed with us, we hope this is a first step to winning back your <3.

And for those loving on us, love on.

We've learned a lot over the past year and we're going to continue making Ouya better every day!

Play on,

Julie

The letter not only highlights the fact that shipping the pre-orders has been a disaster, but that there are other problems, like the system lacking a controller, a seemingly integral part of the gaming experience. Urhman continues on by saying that the company has "learned a lot over the past year" and that their "still-new" customer service couldn't appease customers. It sounds like OUYA is saying, "Hey we're a new company and are so busy trying to not be oppressed by the man that we forgot we're a business and ended up treating our backers exactly like the companies you guys are so mad at. Our bad."

To top it all off, OUYA is offering an extremely clever credit of $13.37 to use at their DISCOVER store, in an effort to apologize for their issues. Now, I'm not an OUYA backer, but if I was spending my money on something in order to be an early adopter, an apologetic and partial credit should only be offered if the company or product I invested in was bought by another company and then the product was suddenly discontinued (see: HP Touchpad). The credit, at this point, just seems like a slap in the face when the console should've just been delivered on time, simple as that. We, as gamers, hold these big companies to such a high standard, yet let these startups treat their customer base the same exact way and have no reaction.

If there are any backers of this system out there, I'd love to know your take. How do you feel about all of this? Is the "leet" credit enough to keep you on the OUYA ship? Or would you rather just cut your losses and pick up an Android tablet or something better? Sound off in the comments section below.

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Nvidia to Enter the Tablet Business Next [Rumor]

posted Saturday Aug 10, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Nvidia to Enter the Tablet Business Next [Rumor]

On the heels of the recent launch of the SHIELD, Nvidia is making the rounds on the rumor mill with the possibility of a tablet. The Tegra Tab, as it is expected to be called from a trademark filing, is a pretty reasonable and expected next step for the company.

The company reported earnings that were higher than predictions, but revenues that were not. They also reported a massive drop in the Tegra division, despite powering a number of high profile tablets, including the Surface RT. In fact, the next generation Surface RT was accidentally tipped by Nvidia's CEO, mentioning that they will, once again, be spearheaded by the company.

Developing a Tegra-branded tablet could help the company in a similar way to how Microsoft used the Surface. Creating a tablet that specifically shows off a particular feature, in Microsoft's case a new Windows form factor and in Nvidia's case a processor, could help build manufacturer interest in the product.

Challenging the industry can often lead to good things, so Nvidia showing the industry what can be done will hopefully encourage manufacturers to use their processor instead of the collection from Qualcomm and other ARM architecture procs.

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Micro Vlogging has a New Contender: MixBit

posted Saturday Aug 10, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Micro Vlogging has a New Contender: MixBit

In a trend that I have had no luck understanding, micro vlogging has become a popular business. Between Twitter's Vine and Instagram video, there is no shortage of videos so short they cannot get across a point.

Well, if those two services were not enough for you, I have good news: the founders of YouTube, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, have launched a competitor. Named MixBit, the service allows users to record and upload 16 seconds, a full second longer than Instagram.

The difference here is the ability to edit and mix videos together. One feature is to combine 256 of these 16 second clips together into a single, 1-hour video. You can also import videos to be edited together, allowing an even greater number of "Best of Vine" type videos to be uploaded.

Chad Hurley described the service, saying,

The whole purpose of MixBit is to reuse the content within the system. I really want to focus on great stories that people can tell.

I, obviously, do not understand the value of a 16 second video service. That could have a lot to do with the fact that I have lived a large portion of my life in news rooms producing 30 to 60 minute episodes and having trouble keeping the broadcast that short, so the use of 16 seconds is out of my experience. The people who do understand the micro vlogging community should be happy about this, however. Competition breeds innovation, and new ideas in an industry are always good.

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Yahoo! to Complete Company Transition with Logo Change

posted Saturday Aug 10, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Yahoo! to Complete Company Transition with Logo Change

It was only a matter of time before this happened. Since taking over the company, Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer has been changing everything about the company. She has closed up unproductive products and purchased companies she thought were a good fit, such as Tumblr and Rockmelt. She even decided to try and revive Flickr.

The only thing left of the old company at this point is the well-recognized and incredibly childish purple logo. Well, according to an announcement of the company's official Tumblr page, that is all about to change. Well, according to what we have seen so far, some of that is about to change. Over the next 30 days, leading up to September 4, the company will unveil another logo candidate, ending with the unveiling of the official logo on that date.

As of now, which is only day 4, all of the published candidates have maintained 2 things: the weird purple color and the exclamation point, both of which are features I would have enjoyed being dismissed. If you would like to see the logos, you can visit the daily logo site, or, if you would like to see the logos in context, they will be maintaining the candidates on all of the major pages each day.

A refresh of the brand image is a good idea for a company trying to reinvent itself as the place to get relevant information. Hopefully the final version of the logo will be better looking that the 4 logos we have seen thus far, as they are all pretty iffy. Yahoo could certainly use a visual makeover right now.

Hit the break for the preview video to see a brief look at a number of the candidates.

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Microsoft Unveils New Xbox One Details

posted Saturday Aug 10, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Microsoft Unveils New Xbox One Details

This has been a big week for information on Microsoft's upcoming Xbox One console. First, an updated version of the Xbox Live Gold features listing has shown some of the advertised features of the new console that will only be available to Gold subscribers.

As anyone who has ever used an Xbox product would have guessed, the list includes Skype, SmartMatch and OneGuide. Since Skype is replacing Windows Live Messenger, which was shut down in favor of Skype overall, it was logical that it would maintain the same placement that its predecessor did. SmartMatch is an online gaming feature, which requires Gold, so we will skip that one. OneGuide is a media-related feature, most of which already require Gold, so we will skip that one, too.

The feature that seems to have people confused is the Game DVR. The feature, which was shown off in-depth at this year's E3 press conference, has been one of great focus for the so-called gaming media. That focus has changed with this announcement, however. Somehow, people who claim to be professional gaming journalists are surprised that a feature to engage socially via recorded gameplay will require Gold.

Now, on the Xbox 360, to use Facebook and Twitter, you must be a Gold subscriber. Being as the sharing of game video is a social activity, it would seem that anyone would have expected this move, but alas, you would be wrong. If you guessed that Sony would pounce and tell people that their version wouldn't require PS+, you would be right, however.

In other, non-Gold news, Major Nelson showed off the console in its first ever unboxing video. Finally, the answer to a lot of questions have been answered. Most notable is the inclusion of a headset with the console, something that the rumor mill had attempted to suggest Microsoft would not include in the box. Luckily that rumor is now dead.

Hit the break to check out Major Nelson's unboxing video and let us know what you think about the Gold subscriptions.

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