Following last week's news that Xbox Live members broke the record of hours logged for a week, with 442 million from November 6th through 13th, some rumors leave the Redmond office this week. If the rumors are true, it would surely put any doubt to rest that
Xbox really is synonymous with entertainment. Word on the street is that there is an Xbox TV coming, that would directly compete with traditional set-top boxes, as well as the Apple TV, Roku, Boxee Box and others. Sources say that it will be a watered-down iteration of the existing Xbox 360 that would be completely designed with a focus to play all types of media using the same frame that Windows 8 operates on. If all goes according to plan, reports are saying we should see the Xbox TV hit stores right before holiday 2013, along with the Xbox 3, or whatever you'd like to call it.
Putting aside if a year from now is too little, too late for Microsoft, moving into this space makes sense. Xbox Live already delivers a ton of content, and now with the addition of Windows 8/Windows Phone 8, your Windows experience is able to be carried from your PC, to your gaming console, to your smartphone. While
SmartGlass may enhance the second-screen experience for movies and TV shows on the 360, it doesn't really replace your existing cable or satellite subscription. Xbox TV could be the thing that allows consumers to finally have their entire digital life revolve around Microsoft manufactured-products.
I'd also like to point out a rather interesting thing we're expecting to see in the next family of Xbox's. It appears that the next-gen Microsoft systems will be "always on," in that the company will be including a chipset that will allow fast startup times, as well as the ability to come out of sleep mode in an instant to allow users to access their TV and other media content as quick as possible.
Microsoft was asked to comment on plans for an Xbox TV or set-top box, to which they replied,
Xbox 360 has found new ways to extend the console lifecycle by introducing controller-free experiences with Kinect and re-inventing the console with a new dashboard and new entertainment content partnerships. We are always thinking about what is next for our platform and how to continue to defy the lifecycle convention.
So now with that question not answered and out of the way, the only question is how much would Microsoft charge for Xbox TV? Google and Apple have both priced their boxes at $99, while Roku and Boxee play around in the $79 to $129 range depending on the day. Because of this, it would be natural for Microsoft to not overprice their product, especially against Apple. All I know for now is that the rumor mill is spinning and if this comes true, I'd love to cut my cord and go the way of Xbox TV, as Xbox Live already lets FiOS, Comcast and U-Verse customers connect to their entertainment without the need for another box in the living room.
Aaron Sorkin, creator of and The West Wing and writer of The Newsroom has a new project underway and it will probably be his most controversial topic to date - Steve Jobs. He has the task of turning Walter Isaacson's biography of the co-founder of Apple Inc into a motion picture, which is not an easy task. From random bouts of crying to calls with the President of The United States, there is a lot of content to bring to life on the screen.
The Social Network
Sorkin, however, does not like a project that is not a challenge. With
The Social Network he made it clear that Zuckerberg was a creative guy but a real jerk. With this film, however, there is a lot more jerk than there is creativity. So, how does Sorkin plan to bring the man's story to life for those who didn't know him personally? Sorkin explained at The Daily Beast's Hero Summit,
This entire movie is going to be three scenes, and three scenes only, that all take place in real time. Each of these scenes is going to take place backstage before a product launch-the first one being the Mac, the second one being NeXT, and the third one being the iPod.
So, we will completely blow off the original success of Apple, jump right to one of the failures of the company, jump to the company he founded after being fired from Apple and the come back to the product that brought Apple out of bankruptcy in 2001. Each of the 3 scenes will take place in 30-minute segments highlighting the behind-the-scenes prep for the individual product launches. If there is something Sorkin knows how to write, it's "behind-the-scenes" stories (a sports show, the White House, a sketch comedy show and a cable news network, plus Facebook so far in his career).
His biggest problem here will be his unusual focus on realism and comedy. If he shows Jobs to be the person he really was, who would throw engineers out of his office for bringing him the wrong shade of white for the iPhone or crying because Woz's father believed he wasn't doing enough work in the company, it could possibly alienate Apple customers who, through some sort of
Apple-delusion, have come to believe that he was a kind genius, neither term really describes him.
I don't know about you, but I am looking forward to seeing Sorkin's take on Jobs. Are you excited to see what others really saw of the Apple co-founder? Let us know in the comments.
If you've been to Disney World lately and have ventured to Epcot to check out the infamous Test Track, you were probably greeted with some signage that said this,
Test Track is temporarily closed for refurbishment-with the Grand Re-Opening scheduled for December 6, 2012.
Doing some research would lead you to Disney's site, telling you about a new partnership with Chevrolet that would revamp the Test Track, but the details behind the transformation were few and far between. That is, until this week, where GM let us in on what Chevrolet designers and Walt Disney Imagineers have teamed up to create.
Just over 18 months ago, the two companies had a meeting of the minds in a design session that left the two wanting to create a brand new ride experience with Test Track that brought back the "future-focused" and "optimistic" feelings that were once associated with TomorrowLand and Disney as a whole. The two teams have met over the past year-and-a-half numerous times, at both the GM Design studio in Warren, Michigan, as well as the Test Track in Epcot to bring people the "greatest level of innovation yet" from Disney with a "first of its kind" multi-sensory virtual experience in what goes on during the design process of vehicles. GM Design manager, Jeff Mylenek said,
At Chevrolet, the diversity of talent on our team allows us to consistently produce sophisticated, refined and detailed design - but we don't typically design through the eyes of a 12-year-old. Working with Walt Disney Imagineering, we were inspired to see our brand story from a more youthful perspective and really opened the parameters on how to approach this design challenge.
So what will we see in the updated Test Track? GM broke down the details for us.
Visual cues inspired by Chevrolet's expressive vehicle design language throughout the architectural elements in the space as well as in the interactive displays; speed forms and concept vehicle displays, like EN-V and Miray, provide a glimpse into the future of Chevrolet design. Advanced computer technology - similar to that used by Chevrolet designers every day - powers the guest design experience, while radio frequency technology allows them to take their unique vehicle design with them through the entire ride. A thrill-ride that provides the test experience where each guest's vehicle design is evaluated. Social media sharing extends the experience beyond the day at the park. Test Track Presented by Chevrolet offers Disney guests a three-part experience: First, guests will have the opportunity to design their own vehicle - car, truck or crossover - with some helpful hints from the Chevrolet designers built into the process. Next, they will have the chance to test drive their vehicle design, through the ride, on track surfaces that simulate the actual vehicle validation process that Chevrolet engineers use to ensure every new vehicle meets the highest performance standards. Each guest's vehicle design will be evaluated and scored based on how well their design balanced the core attributes. Finally, guests have the opportunity to race their vehicle over changing terrain and extreme conditions on a digital driving table, produce and share a TV commercial starring their custom vehicle and pose for action shots in front of their design.
On December 6th, we will see all of this happen at the brand new Test Track. From a concept standpoint, I think this could be something that brings a new group of guests to the attraction, especially the younger ones who would like to design, build and then test and race their creations with others. Would you give the new Test Track a spin? Let us know in the comments. And if you get out there before I do, let me know how the experience was for you? Perhaps even the older generation would enjoy the experience as well.
This was just too crazy not to mention. Those of you lucky enough to be running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, with all of its cool new features and all, may not be so lucky for now. Things like Photo Sphere, gesture typing, the new "Daydream" screensaver (does it really save your screen?), WiDi technology and other enhancements may seem nice, however some essential things don't seem to exist in the new version of Android. You know, like the month of December.
Those with the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4 or Nexus 7 first reported that the month of December is actually missing from the People app, and now the problem has been recognized to exist on Android 4.2 as a whole. It appears that some savvy tech heads have been able to pinpoint the problem, which doesn't appear in the Google Calendar app, only in the People app. One user said that there is a "problem with the API (particularly android.widget.NumberPicker) rather than the DatePicker widget being used in the contacts app."
So what happens now? Until Google pushes out a 4.2.1 update or even a minor refresh fix to address the issue, your year, according to Google, only has eleven months. This is perfect for those thinking the world would end in December, as you need not even worry about the month as a whole. Do you think maybe Google decided that the only important date in December was Christmas? All you need to do is go buy more Android devices for you and your friends, and don't concern yourself with the other thirty days in the month. They're simply not important.
I'd like to know how this got missed in testing, when previous versions, like 4.1 and 4.0 seem to have no issues. We'll keep you posted if we see or hear of any other strange quirks with this somewhat salty version of Jelly Bean.
While there has been a lot of concern about the viability of Nintendo's next console, the
Wii U, releasing tomorrow in the US, maybe it is all for naught. GameStop has reported that their pre-order numbers for Wii U software titles has topped 1 million. While that might not be the impressive sales day that Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 had, closing at $500 million, is still adds up to some $50 million in pre-orders alone.
Pre-orders, of course, never tell the whole story. There are many people who pay the $5 to pre-order a game at GameStop and never pick it up, and there are people like myself who both do not like to give GameStop any money and do not bother to pre-order any titles. In modern times, the latter seems to highly out-weigh the prior, especially as consoles, including the Wii U, move to a more digital distribution system for games.
In addition to the software titles, GameStop also has reserves for 500,000 consoles in the US, meaning there is more than a 2:1 ratio, which is exactly what
Nintendo was hoping for, even if the exact numbers are lower than they might have hoped for. Again, to be fair, I have never reserved a console, and yet I do seem to have almost every console ever released.
That being said, launch day looks like it will be decent for Nintendo - a lot better than the
3DS launch. Do you have a Wii U reserved at GameStop or anywhere else? If so, how many games do you have reserved to go with it? Let us know in the comments section.