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Must See HDTV for the week of April 8th: Desolation of Smaug, Mad Men and Justified

EngadgetHD - April 8, 2014 - 2:24pm

Now that the men's NCAA basketball tournament is over, it's back to the post-March Madness grind. The second Hobbit movie is out on Blu-ray this week, but TV viewers will be waiting until Sunday for the premiere of the final season of Mad Men. Tonight though, we're tuning in to the season finale of Justified as our favorite Elmore Leonard character stomps around the hills and valleys of Kentucky doing his U.S. Marshal thing. Today is also the day the world is introduced to Titanfall on Xbox 360. Check after the break for trailers plus our weekly listing of what to look out for in TV, Blu-ray and gaming.

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Researchers "buzz" the brain to speed up learning

Reuters Technology - April 8, 2014 - 1:06pm
April 8 - Researchers at Vanderbilt University are developing technology that could increase the speed at which we learn. In trials, they ran mild electric current through the brains of volunteers and say the results demonstrated an increase in the rate at which they were able to learn. Ben Gruber reports.

Amazon claims it streams more instant video than Hulu or Apple

EngadgetHD - April 8, 2014 - 12:41pm
All gaming aspirations aside, Amazon says it has a good reason for building its new Fire TV set-top box: People really like its streaming video content. The company is claiming that its instant video usage has tripled year over year, surpassing both Apple's and Hulu's instant video numbers. So, what sparked all the growth? Amazon doesn't say specifically, but the press release dedicates a considerable portion of text to lauding its exclusive Prime Instant Video content, its original series and its large catalog of titles available for digital purchase and rental. All well and good, but the announcement is clearly a thinly veiled advertisement for its new hardware -- which is fine, but it does leave us wondering by what margin Amazon is leading its competition. After all, Netflix's standing is conspicuously absent from the reported line-up.

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Source: Amazon

The Weather Channel comes back to DirecTV, but now with less reality TV

EngadgetHD - April 8, 2014 - 12:19pm

After dragging on for months, a standoff between DirecTV and The Weather Channel has ended and the winner is pretty clear. In mid-January TWC went dark on the satellite service and DirecTV started pushing the three people left who don't get their weather info from the internet to another channel, WeatherNation. There hadn't been any movement since, but after news a few days ago that DirecTV signed a multiyear deal with WeatherNation, it appears The Weather Channel finally blinked.

A statement announcing the deal includes an apology to DirecTV and its customers from Weather Company CEO David Kenny, plus a promise to cut TWC's reality TV programming by half on weekdays (Deadliest Space Weather is a real show). Other throw ins include the return of instant local weather and letting DirecTV subscribers stream The Weather Channel's video feed to other devices over the internet no matter where they are. Now that this long national nightmare is over (DirecTV is still duking it out with the Dodgers, PAC-12 and CSN Houston networks), we're hoping they go back and add a line ending TWC's silly new practice of naming winter storms -- that's not a thing, stop it.

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Source: DirecTV

Bionic kangaroo demonstrates big leap in robotics

Reuters Technology - April 8, 2014 - 11:12am
April 8 - German engineering company Festo has unveiled its latest animal-inspired robot - a kangaroo that looks and behaves eerily like the real thing. The company has gained a reputation as a leader in proof-of-concept robotics modeled on the animal world but the bionic kangaroo is among its most sophisticated creations yet. Jim Drury reports.

Orbitcom to offer Astra Connect in Germany

BroadbandTVNews - April 8, 2014 - 10:15am

SES Broadband Services, the internet via satellite subsidiary of satellite operator SES, has signed an agreement with German internet service provider Orbitcom to market its Astra Connect service in Germany. Read the story »

ProSiebenSat.1 channels go live at Zattoo

BroadbandTVNews - April 8, 2014 - 9:41am

Internet TV platform Zattoo has commenced distribution of the free-to-air channels of German TV group ProSiebenSat.1 as live-streams, but increased the prices in return. Read the story »

Comcast and Time Warner Cable on why their merger is a good thing: 'Big isn't bad'

EngadgetHD - April 8, 2014 - 9:32am

The day before their executives go in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comcast and Time Warner Cable have filed joint FCC applications for their merger. Available as a blog post from Comcast EVP David Cohen or a 180 page Public Interest Statement, it carefully explains why two giants in the TV and internet business joining to become one, bigger, giant, works in everyone's best interest. It's worth a read, especially if you want to hear good things about anyone who competes with Comcast or Time Warner Cable. While we didn't spot a direct reference to Reed Hasting's issues with "weak" net neutrality, the Netflix CEO is quoted for praising Comcast's X1 platform.

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Source: Comcast / TWC Public Interest Statement (PDF), Comcast Voices Blog

Netflix begins 4K streaming with House of Cards, if you have the right TV

EngadgetHD - April 8, 2014 - 9:16am

If you're prone to skipping the intro on House of Cards, you might want to ease off the fast-forward controls in the future. Why? Because finally you can enjoy that scenic tour of Washington DC in glorious 4K (you have a 4K TV, right?). Actually, it's not quite that simple, as TVs will reportedly need to have HEVC/H.265 decoding. While season two of Frank Underwood's evil scheming can already be enjoyed (as promised earlier this year) in the higher resolution, there's no word on what content will be next to get upgraded (though there are some wildlife documentaries to enjoy also). Some reviewers apparently got a first look at Frank's sharp(er) suit on the weekend, but the rest of us mortals might have to wait a little longer.

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Source: Multichannel

How to turn Sky's £10 Now TV box into a networked media player with Plex

EngadgetHD - April 8, 2014 - 8:00am

At just £10, Sky's Now TV box is pretty good value for money as is. The idea, of course, is that cash continues to flow in Sky's direction by means of the film, TV and sport subscription packages, but there's nothing to stop you from forking out the hardware fee and using it simply as a window to BBC iPlayer, 4OD and other free services. Understandably, the selection of channels is limited -- Sky would prefer you use the box for its paid content -- but with only a few minutes of tinkering, you can easily turn your Now TV into a robust network media player capable of pulling video and audio from your personal network and several internet sources. You see, Sky's hardware is basically a re-branded Roku LT player with a heavily curated app store, but as long as you have the correct file, you can push apps to a Now TV box that otherwise shouldn't be there. Being able to run software like Plex immediately makes the cheap set-top box an even more compelling proposition, and better yet, side-loading apps couldn't be much easier.

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Via: Plex forums (1), (2), MediaBrowser forums, Digiex

Engadget giveaway: win a V.I.O. Stream Battery System HD camera!

EngadgetHD - April 8, 2014 - 8:00am

We can't help you with the lights or the action, but the professional video folks at V.I.O. will provide the camera for one lucky Engadget reader this week. We have one V.I.O. Stream Battery System, which is a seriously rugged little POV shooter capable of capturing and streaming 1080p HD video using the Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP). It's waterproof, dustproof and shockproof (earning it an IP67 environmental standard rating), so it can handle all the extreme action you want to throw at it. And the battery add-on, which is included in this model, lets you roam free and capture footage for up to two and a half hours on a charge without any wired entanglements. Whether its documenting base jumps, birthday parties or kickstarting a budding film career, this HD video camera is up to the task. All you need to do is head on down to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to three chances at winning this V.I.O. Stream Battery System.

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Opera makes smart TV publishing easy

BroadbandTVNews - April 8, 2014 - 6:31am

MIPTV 2014 – CANNES. Opera has simplified the publishing process for getting content on smart TVs powered with the Opera TV Store. Read the story »

Lagardère Entertainment creates LED

BroadbandTVNews - April 8, 2014 - 6:30am

MIPTV 2014 – CANNES.Lagardère Entertainment, a subsidiary of Lagardère Active, has created a division at the convergence of two worlds: television and new media. Read the story »

YouTube live streaming comes to the Chromecast

EngadgetHD - April 8, 2014 - 4:18am

It seems that Google is quietly trimming back the restrictions around sending YouTube videos to your Chromecast. In addition to being able to share private videos, you can now push live streams from your desktop to the cheapie streaming stick. According to Android Police, the feature isn't active on Android devices, only desktops, but that's a small price to pay to get live hummingbird videos on your box 24/7.

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Source: Android Police

Sky looks to fibre-optic networks to bring you TV without the dish

EngadgetHD - April 8, 2014 - 4:15am

Sure, Sky's been quick to embrace streaming, but the broadcasting giant has relied upon the humble satellite dish to bring TV to your home for almost two decades. However, there may soon be a conspicuous absence of those little black dishes in some parts of the UK after the company confirmed it'll soon start using fibre-optic networks to deliver its TV, broadband and telephone services. To facilitate this, Sky's teamed up with British network provider GTC to integrate its service into new-build homes, opening access to its TV packages, landline phone service and up to 300Mbps broadband in the process.

The deal takes Sky into Virgin Media territory, where its rival offers similar packages over cable networks. It could end up stifling Virgin's own expansion plans in those areas, although the reach of Sky's commandeered fibre-optic network will be relatively small. Sky can't seem to shake it's reliance on traditional over-the-air broadcasting though, as the TV signal is actually being fed from a large, centralised satellite receiver. Right now, Sky taps BT's fibre-optic infrastructure to deliver super-fast broadband to homes across the UK, but limits TV content to online on-demand services like Sky Go and Now TV. Does this mean Sky is about to drop the satellite dish in favour of super-fast fibre for the whole of the UK? Not just yet, but one thing's for sure, Virgin Media will be watching with a keen interest.

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Source: GTC

‘Networked Society’ on the horizon

BroadbandTVNews - April 8, 2014 - 3:50am

The vision of the ‘Networked Society’ is likely to be realised within the next few years, with more than 50 billion connected devices, of which more than 15 billion will be video-enabled, in use by 2020. Read the story »

ER Telecom adds HD services

BroadbandTVNews - April 8, 2014 - 3:27am

ER Telecom has reinforced its position as the leading distributor of HD channels in the Russian pay-TV market. Read the story »

Arqiva secures Eutelsat capacity

BroadbandTVNews - April 8, 2014 - 3:19am

Arqiva has entered into a long-term contact with Eutelsat for satellite capacity to serve the UK’s DTH market. Read the story »

i24News eager to expand fast

BroadbandTVNews - April 8, 2014 - 3:00am

“We are like a ‘start-up company’ and hope to keep the dynamism of our operations,” said Frank Melloul, CEO of Israeli news channel i24News. Read the story »

Gamific.TV powers games with HbbTV

BroadbandTVNews - April 8, 2014 - 2:58am

MIPTV 2014 – CANNES. French interactive TV developer Gamific.TV is showcasing two games using the HbbTV standard. Read the story »

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