Archives For Gaming

amazon-bluetooth-controller1

By way of an overseas regulatory agency, similar to our very own FCC, we continue to hone in on the elusive Amazon media streamer. And it’s looking to be something far more substantial than a Roku or Chromecast competitor. As the story goes, an Amazon fall set-top box launch was delayed with the potential Apple TV competitor now looking quite likely for a March or April delivery. Netflix and Hulu appear to be confirmed, along does a forked Android build – similar to what Amazon has done with their line of Kindle Fire tablets. Which makes gaming out of the box quite likely.

The uncovered wireless Bluetooth controller features a gaggle of controls, including both shoulder buttons and triggers, in addition to media playback transport controls – ideal for the aforementioned streaming services in addition to Amazon Instant, of course. And we give Amazon credit for using Android-esque iconography for home, menu, and back. Additionally, the central radioactive-looking button presumably taps into Amazon’s GameCircle – perhaps to evolve beyond merely a gaming app hub and into something more full featured akin to Apple’s Game Center or Xbox Live. A LED array is used as an indicator for both battery levels and Bluetooth connectivity. Lastly, we expect the controller, powered by a pair of double As, would be sold as an accessory and ultimately also designed to work with Amazon’s line of tablets to close the circle. Won’t be long now…

wiiu-tivo-scheduling

As Wii U sales plummet, despite price cuts, it appears the Japanese gaming pioneer may finally be ready to embrace third-party hardware. From Nintendo President Satoru Iwata:

If we stay in one place, we will become outdated. We are thinking about a new business structure. Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business.

While Nintendo has produced all sorts of compelling hardware (Virtualboy!) over the years, they haven’t always found sales success and aren’t nearly as relevant as Microsoft and Sony in the console space… which I attribute to their slow embrace of HD. Continue Reading…

Next Gen: Xbox One vs PS4

Dave Zatz —  November 20, 2013

xboxone-vs-ps4

The next generation gaming consoles have arrived. And, while the enclosures are more subtle this time around, it certainly appears that Sony engineers have schooled Microsoft on hardware design with the PS4 featuring a substantially more compact and elegant form… that doesn’t, yet again, require a massive power brick as the Xbox One does. However, initial skin-deep impressions may be irrelevant, given these devices ultimate home within a TV stand (assuming the Xbone will fit — in mine, it certainly will not.) Of course, both units feature beefed up hardware and a focus on gaming. Yet also offer so much more – particularly the Xbox One that comes bundled with Kinect 2.0 and an intent to own “Input One” of our living room televisions with HDMI pass-thru, including a TV guide overlay (of questionable value to TiVo owners). Also, this time around, both consoles require an annual fee for online, multiplayer access ($50-$60). Which is probably why I picked up a fee-free PS3 Super Slim two weeks ago for my modest gaming and Blu-ray playback needs…

I imagine I’ll be more interested down the line, after the requisite bug-squashing updates and price drops hit. But what about you – is 2013 the year, which platform and why?

atv-itunes-radio

For a few short hours last week, Apple TV software update 6.0 was available. However, due to a variety of glitches, had been pulled. The patched software has made its triumphant return today, featuring iTunes Radio along with a few playback and synchronization enhancements. While iTunes Radio is frequently compared to Pandora, it feels more like a platform to merely sell tracks – given prices displayed all over the place. And if I wanted to listen to music through my TV, I’d head over to the way more visually stimulating VEVO — MTV for the digital age. Of course, Airplay remains unrivaled… although Google’s $35 DIAL-powered Chromecast dongle looks real promising. But I’m still holding out hope for a more powerful aTV, sporting a full fledged app store and the ability to take advantage of iOS’ new gaming controller API – I think you know where I’m going here. Folders for ‘My Apps’ versus the current Roku-esque clutter would also be an appreciated enhancement.

From the release notes: Continue Reading…

Breaking down the PS Vita TV: Why Sony's $100 set-top box is more than a consolation prize

allyoucanarcade

Long time readers may have noticed ZNF contributor and TiVo fan Davis Freeberg has gone silent. Well, I’m stoked to share that he’s been putting his free time to better use in launching a Bay Area startup… and unlike so many others, we’re not talking Web 2.0 and Ruby — Davis is taking on the real world with what I like to refer to as the Netflix of Arcade Games. No, not Xbox One or PS4, rather classic gaming cabinets (as you might have gathered from the photograph above). For $75/month, All You Can Arcade offers:

  • Keep your games as long as you want or pick a different one each month.
  • No delivery or pick up fees
  • Unlimited gaming without breaking your piggy bank. All of our arcade games are set to free play.
  • No late fees or long term commitments, cancel your membership at any time.
  • Wide selection of adventure, racing, sports, shooters and RPG games to choose from.

While I have to admit I had some doubts early on, Davis seems to be having the adventure of the lifetime (although the shipping container in the backyard filled with game components, along with every room of the house, is a little out of control). And the coverage (AP, SF Chronicle) has been overwhelmingly positive. We wish Davis all the best and although we miss his TiVo and Netflix coverage, he’s resumed blogging… about arcade games, without the pen name, over at All You Can Arcade.

Apple TV with iOS 7

Everyone’s on the lookout for the debut of iOS 7 at Apple’s big press conference scheduled for next week. But GigaOM is reporting that, based on available shipping data from an analytics company called Panjiva, a new Apple TV set-top may also be in the cards.

According to the report, Apple received shipments labeled “Set Top Box with Communication Function” from a company called BYD Precision Manufacture based in Shenzhen, China on August 11th, 18th, and 25th. Panjiva is postulating that since Apple’s last set-top shipment was from a different company, Hon Hai, these latest devices are a new product altogether.

Aside from the timing of the set-top shipments, some of the new features in Apple’s mobile OS update also tie nicely with the idea of an upgraded TV product. For one thing, Apple will support device-to-device connections in iOS 7, which would allow a set-top to communicate directly with other gadgets (including gaming controllers!) without the need for an Internet connection. Continue Reading…

mediaroom

After failing to gain traction in the US, beyond AT&T (U-verse), or meaningful integration with other business components, Microsoft has decided to simply jettison their Mediaroom IPTV unit:

Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) has reached an agreement with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) to acquire its TV solution Mediaroom business. This will make Ericsson the leading provider of IPTV and multi-screen solutions with a market share of over 25%. Closing expected during the second half of 2013. Mediaroom is situated in Mountain View, California and employs more than 400 people worldwide.

At this point in the game, unloading Mediaroom is the right move for Microsoft…. as the opportunity to merge their IPTV, Media Center, and Xbox platforms came and went years ago. And Microsoft’s current content distribution focus is clearly the Xbox.