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Apple Terminates Kickstarter Project With Licensing

posted Friday Dec 21, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Apple Terminates Kickstarter Project With Licensing

Apple is such a caring company. They love their customers and their product ecosystem so much that they feel they need to protect their ecosystem FROM their customers. I think it is a lot like loving two dogs but knowing you need to keep them apart so they don't eat each other's food. With that mentality in mind, Apple has ensured around $140,000 was given to a group of people to protect them from Apple's products.

POP Station, which is a portable power station with 26,000 mAH worth of charging power, was a Kickstarter project pitched by Junior Edison, the manufacturer. The charger has 4 retractable cables, each with the capability to charge either micro-USB or Apple's Lightning charger. Obviously this is a very sought-after product, with 1,000 backers willing to pay to back the project.

Unfortunately, Junior Edison never checked the licensing agreement with Apple for use of the Lightning connector. According to CEO Jamie Siminoff,

After applying to Apple (which is now required for Lightning), we learned that they are no longer willing to approve a product that uses the Lightning charger alongside any other charger (including their own 30-pin - seriously). Just like that, POP could no longer fulfill its true promise.

Because of that, this little product was destroyed before it ever got off the ground. At least some people got their money back, right? Thanks, Apple!

Check out their launch video after the break.

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Valve Goes Into the New Year with Big News on Three Fronts

posted Thursday Dec 20, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Valve Goes Into the New Year with Big News on Three Fronts

While Gabe Newell, Valve's co-founder and managing director, may be a bit extremely crazy at times, there's no doubt that the company's distribution and game platform, Steam, has been wildly successful. From innovative decision-making to exclusive and massively popular game franchises, Steam has been the service to model after, as we see with services like EA's Origin, among others. On top of that, Valve has also managed to come up with new and interesting ways to market their products and brands to amass an almost cult-like following behind them. This week, Valve was in the news a lot, with their highly-anticipated Steam Holiday Sale starting, introducing new DLC for Team Fortress 2, licensing branding rights to tech companies.

Steam's annual Holiday Sale

Starting December 20th and running through January 5th, new deals each day show up on the Steam-powered store, with some games discounted as much as 75 percent. Valve is also bundling some publisher packs together, where you can get the entire Valve collection for only $49.99, for instance. The best part is that the community can also join in on voting which titles they'd like to see on sale next. Plus, if you don't see the game you want, you can sign up for a wishlist notification, in which Valve will email you or notify you via its mobile app if the game shows up on the deals list. Right now, the app is only available via Android. The big name deals expire as new ones show up so check early and often to grab the best games on the cheap.

Adult Swim and Team Fortress

The subtitle should be enough to tell you that this is just an awesome duo that we should see more of. Adult Swim has partnered up again with TF2 to bring even more humor to the game in the form of DLC.

Adult Swim and Team Fortress are combining again to bring you even more amazing virtual gear. Brush back Brock's flowing mane, before you shoot your friend in the face. Get ready to put Carl's flip flops up that annoying guy's ass. Or become the Minion you've always wanted to be. The Adult Swim store is coming soon to Steam with a boatload of new Adult Swim DLC to buy.

Of course, you have to head into the game to pick these skins and add-ons up, but there are 360-degree previews available on Adult Swim's website right now. The Heavy, Soldier, Scout and Pyro are currently the only classes that have Adult Swim antics added to them, with more to come later.

Valve gives Plantronics license to use game logos

Plantronics has been making a slow comeback in gaming headsets and communications headsets in general. To further progress their reaffirmation into the space, and to appeal to hardcore gamers, Plantronics has acquired the rights to release four Valve-official branded gaming headsets. Dota 2, Counter-Strike, Mann Co. from Team Fortress 2 and the beloved Aperture Laboratories logo will be displayed across the headband of the Plantronics Commander and 780 series of gaming headsets. The 780 set will run you $80, while the Commander line costs $300, and even though they won't make it in time for Christmas if you order one now, I'm sure they'll be completely accepted as a belated present.

So, are you excited about any of this news? It sure beats having to explain why PCs in the living room won't work. Let me know what games you'll be picking up from the Steam sale in the comments below.

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Dell Giving Up on Android After Failed Streak Tablet Series

posted Sunday Dec 16, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Dell Giving Up on Android After Failed Streak Tablet Series

Dell seems to have recognized the disaster that was their Streak line of tablets. Even though the five-inch model was a perfect introduction to a phone-tablet hybrid, having outdated Android software - let alone Android as a whole - left the devices fighting to gain market share from launch. Newer operating systems were available on older, less expensive devices, and it seems that Dell didn't seem to mind lagging behind. At least, until this week. After discontinuing the Streak tablets during holiday season last year, Dell's vice chairman, Jeff Clarke, made an announcement we've been expecting to hear for a while. Clarke officially went on record at Dell's World Conference in Austin to say that the company is parting ways with Android completely on its phones and tablets.

He went on to say that,

It's a content play with Android... Amazon is selling books and Google is making it up with search. So far we couldn't find a way to build a business on Android... It (Android) needs a lot of investments to really be successful.

So, Dell is completely unhappy with its performance on the Android platform. Granted, half of the fault lies on their own devices and inability to keep up with the times while still managing to set a trend, but the company is deciding to blame Android, which I suppose is fine in my book. Now Dell is shifting its focus strictly to Windows 8 devices, which we've already seen in the Inspiron 10 and their all-in-one touchscreen PCs. However, we've heard them say before that they were done with Windows, so it's only a matter of time until Dell's self-proven method of constantly changing their business model has them coming up with a new decision in another twelve months. For now, though, you can enjoy all of the Windows 8 devices they put out, as they will be supported no matter if Dell chooses to only build Chromebooks next year. But if that happens, you can be sure the company won't be around much longer.

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Xbox Live Adding 40 More Apps by Spring, Starting This Week

posted Sunday Dec 16, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Xbox Live Adding 40 More Apps by Spring, Starting This Week

Just last week, we saw the end of the last batch of apps that were added to the Xbox 360. Naturally, that means it's time to announce a new lineup of media partners and content that will be added to the platform. It was announced that Xbox Live will feature 40 new global entertainment partners, including some that have already showed up on consoles everywhere.

We also learned that the time frame for this set will be between now and the spring of 2013. At least they're giving the launch dates some time, unlike the botched launch of three from the past list of apps.

Here's what's on the docket until spring:

  • All3M (United Kingdom, United States)
  • Ameba TV (Canada, United States)
  • ARTE (Germany, France)
  • Azteca (Mexico)
  • Canalplay Infinity (France)
  • CBC's Hockey Night (Canada)
  • CrunchyRoll (Majority of LIVE Regions)
  • Deezer (Majority of LIVE Regions)
  • Eredivisie Live (Netherlands)
  • Fightbox (Austria, Germany, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom)
  • Flixster (United States)
  • GameTrailers (Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, United Kingdom, United States)
  • Globosat Muu (Brazil)
  • Gulli Replay (France)
  • HBO Nordics (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden)
  • IndieFlix (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States)
  • Livesport.tv (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, United Kingdom)
  • Machinima (Majority of LIVE Regions)
  • Maxim (United States)
  • MTV (United States)
  • MyTF1 (France)
  • MyTF1VOD (France)
  • Napster (Germany, United Kingdom)
  • Pathe Thuis (Netherlands)
  • PBS (United States)
  • PopcornFlix (United States)
  • Rai TV (Italy)
  • Sainsbury (United Kingdom)
  • Saraiva (Brazil)
  • SBS (Netherlands)
  • SF Anytime (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden)
  • Slacker Radio (Canada, United States)
  • SPORT1 (Austria, Germany)
  • The CW Network (United States)
  • Televisa (Mexico)
  • TV3 (Spain)
  • Viaplay (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden)
  • Vidéo à la Demande d'Orange (France)
  • Vimeo (United States)
  • VIVO Play (Brazil)
  • Zattoo (Germany)
  • Ziggo (Netherlands)
Out of that list, we saw more than a handful of apps go live this week as well. Here's the rundown.

ARTE (Germany, France)

With the ARTE app on Xbox LIVE, you can watch an exciting mix of content from the Cultural TV station including documentaries, concerts and movies.

CinemaNow (Expanding to Canada)

CinemaNow is an Authenticated Video on Demand (AVOD) application providing customers with access to TV and Movie content previously purchased on CinemaNow.com.

CNET (United States, Canada)

CNET offers all the product reviews, technology shows and event coverage you love, now on Xbox LIVE. CNET helps you use technology to enhance and enrich your life. From specially curated content to advice, it's everything you need to buy and get the most out of tech that's right for you. Get the best in technology, right where you want it.

Karaoke (All LIVE regions, excluding Japan and United Arab Emirates)

Karaoke provides access to more than 8,000 songs from the latest hits to the oldies but goodies, available on Xbox LIVE. Your avatar will go on stage and sing with a full complement of stage props and back band. Use SmartGlass to play/stop/pause, browse the database and lyrics or to add songs to the playlist. Songs don't require any download and will playback immediately via streaming for a robust karaoke experience.

Maxim (United States)

Maxim delivers what guys want - beautiful women, cool gear and funny videos - to Xbox 360! From behind-the-scenes of Maxim's sexiest photo shoots to hilarious comedy originals to high-octane sports, it's the #1 destination for couch-bound men looking for a good time.

Napster (Germany, United Kingdom)

With your Xbox and Napster Unlimited plus Mobile, you can play millions of songs instantly. Listen to millions of songs in various genres, play as much as you want, enjoy hours of expertly programmed music. Discover new releases, charts and much more.

SkyDrive (All LIVE regions)

SkyDrive is the place to store your files so you can access them from virtually any device. With SkyDrive for Xbox, you can easily view your photos and videos on your TV. You can also play slideshows and view photos and videos shared with you. For more information, visit the Inside SkyDrive blog.

SPORT1 (Austria, Germany)

Enter the world of sports through your Xbox. The SPORT1 app provides Video-Sport-News, Livescores, Livestreams of popular sport events and access to Pay-TV Sports channel SPORT1+.

VEVO (Expanding to Spain, Italy & France)

With over 45,000 videos by 11,000 artists, VEVO is the world's leading all-premium music video and entertainment platform. Stream live concerts, watch exclusive programming and queue up all your favorite videos. VEVO is available in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. The VEVO app for Xbox includes high-quality on demand music videos free to the user and allows social interactions between fans, VEVO, and users.

Zattoo (Germany)

The Zattoo app gives you access to free Live TV across 55 channels and an Electronic Program Guide. HiQ accounts feature quick, ad-free channel switches and higher quality streams (including HD), starting at 3.75 EUR per month. Additional premium TV channels, including Sports, Documentary, Kids, Music channels, and International packages are also available.

Have you used any of the apps already? Are there any on the list that you're excited for? For me, I'm already using the SkyDrive app, as I use it on almost every one of my PCs and laptops already. I also love the fact that the app as actually created from scratch by a team of six Microsoft interns, who created this complete piece of software over the summer, which was then handed off to Microsoft devs to touch up. Impressive. Anyway, we'll keep you posted as to what apps launch and when, and like I mentioned, we'll update everyone if we have another Manga mishap.

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Ellen McLain to Revive GLaDOS as a Different Robot in Pacific Rim

posted Friday Dec 14, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Ellen McLain to Revive GLaDOS as a Different Robot in <i>Pacific Rim</i>

It appears that the worlds of nerd fandom and moviegoer have come together in the best way possible. This week, a trailer, screenshots and artwork was released for Pacific Rim, Warner Bros. new movie directed by Guillermo del Toro. Here's the synopsis for those who don't haven't heard about this movie yet.

When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity's resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes - a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi) - who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind's last hope against the mounting apocalypse.

So it seems like this is Cloverfield meets District 9 meets War of the Worlds, or something like that. Judging from the description and the trailer (after the break below), it's definitely something I'm interested in. Unfortunately, the movie is only be officially announced in the UK for the summer of 2013, leaving Americans everywhere left out. For now. I think after we learned a bit more about the movie this week, that we'll see it show up State-side, one way or another. Del Toro, being such a fan of Valve's work, specifically the Portal series, sought out Ellen McLain to voice a robot AI in the movie. While that is great, it gets better. Del Toro was so in love with her work as GLaDOS, that he asked her to use that same voice in his movie. So, McLain will be portraying GLaDOS as a different robot AI in Pacific Rim, with the same electronic filters we've come to know and love. On his love for Valve, del Toro said,

I'm a big fan of Valve. Portal and Left 4 Dead have been instrumental family experiences at my house.

Oh, and I forgot to mention this: the monster enters Earth from a portal at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. You heard right, a portal. If that doesn't say that del Toro is in love with the series, I don't know what does. Anyway, you need to check out the trailer after the break and hear GLaDOS for yourself. It's only a small clip, but you get the gist of what's going to be her role. I can't wait for more.

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Gabe Newell Says Steam Box Will Compete with Consoles for Living Room Entertainment

posted Sunday Dec 9, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Gabe Newell Says Steam Box Will Compete with Consoles for Living Room Entertainment

Gabe Newell, Valve's co-founder and managing director, has officially taken one too many medications. Either that, or he's finally snapped. I say this because he's been on a bit of a tear lately. First, Valve accidentally leaked some news about a rumored Steam Box, which is unusual for them, only for Gabe to turn around and deny it all. Then, Gabe said plainly that there would be no announcements at E3, only for the company to announce Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Since it happened the day before E3 officially started, we'll chalk that one up to a technicality. Lastly, he flat-out bashed the Windows 8 operating system during the Consumer Preview for being so different from Windows 7 that everything that was developed in the past five years would be time wasted. As an aside, earlier today I played Garry's Mod, Star Trek Online and Team Fortress 2 all on my upgraded Windows 8 Pro PC, via Steam, without any issues. Well, this week, he finally went overboard as Valve announced the nonexistant Steam Box, but also said that a PC is what everyone wants in their living room and it would take over consoles for both gaming and entertainment. Mr. Newell, I believe the Xbox 360 would first like to talk with you on being the center for all family gaming and entertainment, and they have NPD numbers to prove it.

It turns out that Gabe took the time at the Video Game Awards to officially say that the Steam Box hardware will be coming out and he believes it will be in every living room around the country. He also gives some interesting opinion as to why.

I think in general that most customers and most developers are gonna find that (the PC is) a better environment for them. Cause they won't have to split the world into thinking about 'why are my friends in the living room, why are my video sources in the living room different from everyone else?' So in a sense we hopefully are gonna unify those environments.

Well certainly our hardware will be a very controlled environment. If you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general purpose PC. For people who want a more turnkey solution, that's what some people are really gonna want for their living room.

Okay, so clearly Gabe has become so disconnected from reality for such a long time that he is stuck in the past. Lately, the push has been to get away from having to have a computer in the living room. At the very most, consumers were getting by with their laptop, using WiDi (wireless display technology), to connect it to a TV to play their movies or show off some pictures. More and more often, however, we're seeing products being introduced at the International CES that allow that same user to use their smartphone or Xbox 360/PS3 to accomplish the same goal, cable and adapter free. Having to put another piece of hardware in an already crowded entertainment center, in this day in age, just seems like a waste of time and space unless you're a business person. And that's not who this box is for.

This box is for the gamer. Perhaps the hardcore ones would put it in their living room, so long as they own the house or apartment, because we know moms and dads won't let the 12 hour League of Legends session occur in place of primetime TV. At any rate, though, I suppose we should talk details. What we know is that we should see something around late June of next year, which will have the term "Steam Box," or something similar, be more of a certification of hardware than a Valve-created machine, although we'll see that, too. Third party manufacturers will have to design a rig that meets Valve's design and technical specifications, and will come with Steam pre-loaded. I wonder what operating system they will decide to load on it, since Gabe now despises Windows so much. I heard Steam on a Mac works just as well, with about 10% of the game catalog available, so that should be perfect for Windows gamers everywhere.

For the actual tech specs, Valve, per usual, kept that under wraps. I'm sure it will be something more powerful than current-gen consoles and probably a step more than what we'll see in the PS4 or Xbox 3 (I refuse to call it the 720, because that's dumb). Either way, I doubt we'll see it put an end to console gaming, which is what everybody seems to think. Console gaming is gaining more popularity because it's easier to do and there's no upkeep or upgrading involved in the process. You turn on the console, everyone has the same specs, and you play. There's no viruses, no upgrading every six months to a year and no difference in the machine itself. I think that will be what keeps console gaming strong and growing each month. However, I do know that I will still be purchasing SimCity in March and we won't be seeing that on any Xbox or PlayStation for some time.

What do you think? Will this kill off consoles? I'd love to hear someone factually defend the other side. Drop some knowledge in the comments below.

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