The UpStream

The VCR is Dead in Japan

posted Sunday Feb 19, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

The VCR is Dead in Japan

This week, we learned of an interesting story that is on the same strange level as that of Brazil arriving late to the PS2 party. Panasonic has announced that it has stopped producing VCRs in Japan. I had no clue they were still making them, but it is assuring to hear they have halted production of their antiquated effort. I suppose the realization of video content being streamed over the Internet or being stored on a DVR device has finally hit them. There aren't many places that even source the blank tapes anymore.

It should be noted that they have stopped production on the tape-playing machines in the domestic market at the end of 2011. Until inventory depletes, sales will continue on VCRs in Japan. However, Panasonic still does manufacture VCRs in China and Slovakia and they do still have plans to sell VCRs in other smaller countries, depending on the market environment.

This now puts the VCR to rest just like the Walkman and the 8-track. JVC had stopped production of the VCR back in 2006 and stopped selling them altogether shortly thereafter. Panasonic has not released sales numbers for their VCRs, and the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITIA) doesn't even track shipments of the devices, although it does track the car stereo cassette deck sales.

In the end, though, the VCR is now deceased. Rewind In Peace 1977-2012.

Nintendo Wii Gets Hulu Plus Now, 3DS Later This Year

posted Sunday Feb 19, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Nintendo Wii Gets Hulu Plus Now, 3DS Later This Year

First there was Wii Motion Plus and now Hulu Plus. On February 16th, Nintendo inked a partnership with Hulu that will finally allow the Wii to stream movies and TV shows using Hulu Plus through the console. It took a while, but the good news is that the Wii now has the same popular lineup as that of the PS3 and the Xbox 360.

While it may be a little late in the game for the console platform, the 3DS will certainly get a boost with this move as consumers should expect Hulu Plus to hit the devices later this year.

Foxconn's Apple Facility Investigation Could Be Over Before It Starts

posted Sunday Feb 19, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Foxconn's Apple Facility Investigation Could Be Over Before It Starts

What happens after you post record profits and then your production facility's documents were hacked because people are starting to learn about the downright awful working conditions of the employees? If you're Apple, you are investigated and audited to make sure these allegations aren't true, even though reports of suicides and other deaths have been coming out of the Foxconn production plant for almost a year now.

The Fair Labor Association (FLA) has taken on the task of auditing Foxconn's Apple manufacturing facility this week. Instead of actually going through a process and conduct a complete investigation, however, the head of the organization has already stated that things are probably fine inside the workplace and the injuries are more than likely due to "boredom" and not anything else.

We have all of the details on the absurdity after the break.

Sony Exec Expects the PS Vita to Dominate in the US

posted Sunday Feb 19, 2012 by Jon Wurm

Sony Exec Expects the PS Vita to Dominate in the US

It has been about 9 months since E3 2011 when Sony proudly showed off the new and improved PS Vita but only Japan had yet to see it on store shelves, until this week, and in the hands of core gamers. According to Shuhei Yoshida, who is in charge of all the games produced internally for Sony platforms, the mobile gaming market in Japan is healthy and actually larger than the console market. He also mentioned that sales were good but nothing to get ecstatic over, in an interview with Dean Takahashi of Venture Beat. Sony fans outside of Japan remember the disappointment of having the release date pushed back to February 22nd 2012 (unless you preordered) from an original 2011 holiday season release. So why is Yoshida remaining optimistic about the PS Vita's US launch?

As it turns out, Yoshida believes the success of their US launch will be based on three factors. The first one is at the core of how Sony traditionally looks at improving their devices, add a lot more power and make the graphics look really great. The PS Vita certainly lives up to those expectations, given it's production specs. The second factor plays to the PS Vita's new array of innovations like the touchscreen, back touch, camera, 6 axis, accelerometer and revamped operating system. These additions open up how gamers experience a portable gaming device in a way that is truly unique from the PlayStation 3 and 3DS. At E3 2011 Uncharted: Golden Abyss stole the show when it came to showing off the Vita's new functionality and how it could be implemented in games.

The third thing Yoshida feels will seal the deal for a great US release has to do with ditching the old XCrossMediaBar in favor of a new and improved Android-based operating system. Find out why after the break.

India Is Invaded Again, This Time By Microsoft Store Hackers

posted Sunday Feb 19, 2012 by Jon Wurm

India Is Invaded Again, This Time By Microsoft Store Hackers

The last time anything from Microsoft was reported as being hacked goes back to November 2010 when a developer reportedly "hacked" the Kinect for Xbox 360 and just recently the Microsoft Store for India, operated for Microsoft by Quasar Media, was temporarily taken offline in response to attacks from the group Evil Shadow. This adds the Microsoft Store to a long list of other companies that have been hacked over the past 2 years such as Sony's PlayStation Network (now the Sony Entertainment Network), Sega Pass Online, Electronic Arts and Activision's Call of Duty Elite service.

On Monday the 13th, Microsoft decided to take their India store offline after realizing that it's customer database might have been compromised. In a blog post, someone calling themselves 7zl and the organization Evil Shadow, took credit for the attack. They also released usernames and passwords to accounts that Microsoft had kept stored in plain text. In most cases, retailers only secure the minimum amount of information required by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard which only really entails encrypting payment processing information. As bad as this is for customers, it's still a step up from Twitter employees storing usernames and passwords in plain text in their gmail accounts. Microsoft released a generic statement saying that they are dealing with the situation.

The store customers have already been sent guidance on the issue and suggested immediate actions. We are diligently working to remedy the issue and keep our customers protected.

In 2030 Sony Plans to Give Consumers Power Over Electricity

posted Sunday Feb 19, 2012 by Jon Wurm

In 2030 Sony Plans to Give Consumers Power Over Electricity

Sony recently tipped their hand a little by showing us how they see the future of power distribution in the year 2030 with their prototype power outlets. About 18 years from now we will no longer be slaves to the power companies' monopoly on our lives and the pay-as-you-go way of life will have infiltrated more than just mobile communications service providers and charging stations for your electric cars and e-bikes.

The outlets themselves will be outfitted with FeliCa transmitters which are an RFID (radio frequency identification) technology that works over existing power lines. This is meant to allow the user to be identified and payment to be processed based on a pay-as-you-go-basis where the user can simply swipe a card across the outlet or automatically get charged based on the payment information on file with Sony. They would also give the user a choice from energy sources currently available so if your house just so happens to have solar panels and batteries or perhaps a personal nuclear reactor, you might feel better about having more control over power.

Leveraging this conceptual technology to make the world a better place has some major dependencies to contend with. Check out Sony's concept movie below and see just how bright and white Sony thinks the future will be.

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