Amazon Video introduces new feature for Prime members

Amazon Video introduces new feature for Prime membersAmazon launched today a new feature for Prime members – its Streaming Partners Program which allows Prime customers to add television networks at a nominal monthly fee.

At first glance, this appears to be another one of those “skinny” packages wherein consumers only pay for the channels they want. And while the list of channels isn’t too extensive at the moment, any Prime member who’s interested in the new feature can pay $8.99 a month to add networks like Showtime and Starz, as well as about 20 other “streaming partners” such as the Lifetime Movie Club, Ring TV Boxing, and Comedy Central’s Standup+ Service.

“The way people watch TV is changing, and customers need an easier way to subscribe to and enjoy multiple streaming subscriptions,” said Amazon VP of digital video Michael Paull in a statement prepared for the launch. “With the Streaming Partners Program, we’re making it easy for video providers to reach highly engaged Prime members, many of whom are already frequent streamers, and we’re making it easier for viewers to watch their favorite shows and channels.”

Aside from Amazon, other companies are offering such a feature, which some industry experts are referring to as “rebundling.” Hulu, for example, has something similar, though the difference is that there’s only one network included – Showtime – where customers can pay a monthly fee to add the channel to their packages. Amazon will take care of the actual channel streaming framework, payment processing, and payment handling, though it’s not sure what the exact terms of the retailer’s agreements with streaming partners are.

Report – Final Fantasy VII remake might be episodic

Report - Final Fantasy VII remake might be episodicThe much talked-about remake of Final Fantasy VII is going to be episodic, and according to developer Square Enix, it’s more than just a remake. This game has been getting lots of hype due to all the nostalgia involved, and it goes without saying that gamers everywhere are excited for its eventual release.

“From the beginning, we thought a Final Fantasy VII remake would be bigger than a single release,” said director Yoshinori Kitase, who was interviewed by Dengeki Online and quoted in a recent Kotaku report.  He added that due to the intensity of some of the game’s areas, remaking everything from the original at newer, higher quality would make it impossible to get everything on a single release.

Kitase was seconded by Final Fantasy VII character designer Tetsuya Nomura, who said that a single release would require some things to be relegated to a “shortened” compilation.  “Since we thought there would be stuff we would probably have to pare down and supplemental things we probably couldn’t add, we decided to divide it up, concluding that we have to do a remake that’s fully packed with content,” Nomura added.

Kitase clarified that as the FFVII team won’t be dividing the game itself, the original story and its substance will remain, while Square Enix can work on a bona fide remake. This all lends credence to previous statements from Square Enix that suggested that the Final Fantasy VII remake will be similar to the original, but not exactly the same.

Best Buy announces deals for Cyber Monday

Best Buy announces deals for Cyber MondayShoppers who missed out on Black Friday still have at least one more day to enjoy big savings on products, especially tech gadgets. And while Best Buy’s Cyber Monday deals, as shown on its recently released ad, aren’t as exciting as its Black Friday deals, you’ll still have more than enough to choose from when it comes to popular mobile gadgets, laptops, and other tech items.

Best Buy has lightened up on its iPad deals for Cyber Monday, but you can still save $50 off the price of the first-generation iPad Air. Other than that, the deals are largely limited to budget tablets like the 7-inch DigiLand Android tablet, which costs $39.99, and the Insignia 10-inch Android tablet, which comes straight to us from Best Buy itself and costs just $129.99, a dirt-cheap price on a tablet that large. And while it’s more of a hybrid device than a pure tablet, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 configuration with Intel Core i3 processor and 128GB storage is selling for only $699.99.

While we’re still in the 2-in-1 tablet category the Surface is a part of, you can also save some money on devices like the 11.6-inch Toshiba Satellite Radius, which comes with an Intel Pentium processor, 4GB RAM, and a 500GB hard drive – that’s only going to cost you $399.99. The HP Pavilion X2 10 is also discounted, with the 32GB version selling for $229.99, and the 64GB version costing $279.99. Both variants are powered by an Intel Atom processor and run on Windows 10.

2-in-1 laptop deals include a Dell laptop with 13.3-inch Full HD display, Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 128GB SSD for $649.99, an Acer sporting a 14-inch Full HD display, Intel Core i5/8GB RAM power, and a 256GB SSD, also for the same price. And if you’re willing to pay more than that, Dell has another 2-in-1 laptop with 15.6-inch, 4K display, Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB RAM, and 1TB hard drive – this configuration costs $929.99, and is probably best recommended for so-called “power users.”

Apple’s MacBook line of laptops is also part of Best Buy’s Cyber Monday push, as some configurations can be purchased for $100 less than full retail, but the retailer somehow doesn’t mention which models are discounted on its advertisement. That also applies to its iMac all-in-one line. You may, however, want to check out the retailer’s traditional Windows laptop and desktop deals.

These Windows laptop specials include a 15.6-inch Lenovo configuration with AMD A8 chip, 8GB RAM, and a 1TB hard drive ($299.99), a Toshiba config with 15.6-inch display, Intel Core i3 chip, 6GB RAM, and 1TB hard drive ($369.99), and a 13.3-inch Asus touchscreen laptop with Core i3 processor, 6GB RAM, and 500GB hard drive ($499.99).

Finally, in the Windows desktop category, Best Buy’s Cyber Monday ad shows products such as an HP all-in-one with 23-inch touchscreen monitor, Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB RAM, and 1TB hard drive. That will set you back by $649.99. Alternately, you can opt for a Lenovo desktop with 23.8-inch touchscreen, Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, and 1TB hard drive. This option will cost you $999.99 despite having similar specs to the former desktop, save for the more powerful CPU.

Fitbit bands get auto exercise tracking through new update

Fitbit bands get auto exercise tracking through new updateThe latest Fitbit update now allows users to track their exercise activities faster and better than before.

Both the Fitbit Charge HR and Surge fitness bands now come with the Smart Track feature, which automatically senses when a user begins exercising. It will even sense what type of exercise you had started – in other words, if you’re running, biking, walking, playing certain sports, or even taking Zumba classes, your Fitbit band will know exactly what you’re doing. All information is sent back to your Fitbit app, may it be the smartphone app or PC/laptop program, without requiring you to go through menus.

A second new feature for the Android and iOS versions of the Fitbit app is Exercise Goals. This allows users to set weekly targets and get daily updates on their progress. So if you’re on a specific training schedule or have a certain amount of weight you want to lose by a certain point in the year, your Fitbit will remind you about that and help you effectively set your goals.

The update also comes with a revamped version of PurePulse, which allows for better heart rate monitoring during intensive workouts. This should help users in determining whether they’re doing the right exercise at the right level of intensity.

T-Mobile Black Friday initiative – switch from Sprint, get $200 credit

T-Mobile Black Friday initiative – switch from Sprint, get $200 creditThe Black Friday deals recently announced by T-Mobile not only offer customers some nice savings to start off the holiday season, but also allow switchers to get a generous credit to join the Uncarrier’s fold.

T-Mobile announced Wednesday that it will be allowing any Sprint customer, or anyone previously with Sprint’s prepaid Boost Mobile or Virgin Mobile brands, to switch over to T-Mobile and get a $200 credit to their bills. This adds to the $650 T-Mobile has promised to pay for early termination and other related fees associated with switching from one carrier to another. And this time, customers won’t have to turn in their old phones in order to take advantage of the offer.

“I cannot think of any wireless customers in more desperate need of some holiday cheer than those Sprint customers still hanging on over there,” said T-Mobile CEO John Legere in one of his trademark rival-bashing statements. “Those poor people have put up with the nation’s slowest and smallest LTE network.”

The above offer is just one way T-Mobile is celebrating Black Friday, but the carrier’s Uncarrier Unwrapped campaign also includes three months of free 4G LTE for qualifying Simple Choice customers, with this deal running effectively from December 1, 2015 through March 1, 2016. You won’t have to pay either for the Alcatel OneTouch Pixi 7 tablet or the Samsung Galaxy S6 with 32GB storage, though there are catches to these deals; for the first, you need to be on a qualifying data plan, and for the second, you need to trade-in an eligible device.

Additionally, Uncarrier Unwrapped will allow buyers to save $100 off on the cost of any Samsung tablet in the form of a prepaid MasterCard from the company, and save $100 off the price of a UE Boom Bluetooth speaker, which will see its price slashed to $99.

Did ISS’ Scott Kelly spot a UFO? Experts say he did

Did ISS' Scott Kelly spot a UFO? Experts say he didA new photo tweeted by International Space Center astronaut Scott Kelly has been getting quite the buzz as of late, and it’s because of what might be in the photo, emphasis on might.

Kelly’s photo, tweeted on Thursday, shows what many have been claiming could be an unidentified flying object moving on the upper right side. “In the upper right of the photo you can clearly see a large object with two lights on each end,” claims UFO hunter and YouTuber sonofmabarker. “It also appears to be very large and constructed.”  But he’s not alone in thinking that he may have seen some sort of ship, as another self-styled enthusiast chimed in with his own observations, complete with measurements.

Scott Waring of UFO Sightings Daily also believes that the strange object could be what many people think it is. “Scott Kelly likes to send out photos of the view from the windows of the space station … and they look cool,” said Waring. “This one however has a cigar shaped glowing UFO with a metallic body in it.” He claims that the object measures about 82 feet long, and may have been between 492 and 981 feet away, and that Kelly was “trying to hint at the existence of aliens.”

This comes on the heels of another purported UFO sighting, as several Los Angeles residents claimed earlier this month that they had spotted such an object. Navy representatives, however, clarified that they had actually been running a test flight for a deactivated missile, which caused most, but not all of the buzz to die down; some people still believe that their sighting was actually that of a UFO.

Then again, Kelly’s “sighting” could merely be a piece of space debris that hasn’t been cleaned up yet. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, after all, had made a recent statement saying that more efforts should be made to clean up space debris.

Apple Unveils The iPhone 6s, Its Newest Smartphone

iphone-6s

Slightly less than a year since the release of its iPhone 6 smartphone, on September 9, Apple has unveiled its successor, the iPhone 6S. The much-awaited iPhone 6S became available for pre-order in the U.S. starting on September 12, and will be in physical stores on September 25.

While the exterior design and size of the new smartphone is the same as that of the previous model, the 6S is made from a higher grade aluminum alloy and has a more resilient glass screen. Its most exciting improvements are inside the case, however. Internally, both the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6S Plus sport a 64-bit A9 processor, an M9 motion co-processor, as well as a new and improved 12-megapixel camera which can take high definition video at 30 frames per second and capture stunning 63 megapixel panoramas. The camera on the iPhone 6S comes with an additional shooting mode called Live Photos, which captures 1.5 seconds of video before and after a photo has been taken, turning still life photos into short videos.

But possibly the new model’s most striking innovations are those having to do with the interaction between the user and the phone itself. Its second-generation Touch ID detects fingerprints twice as fast, while the touch screen comes with a feature called 3D Touch. This impressive capability detects the differential pressure applied by the user’s finger, in effect adding an extra dimension to the level of control over the touch screen. This new multi-touch capability is complemented by a redesigned haptic feedback system, the Taptic Engine, generating the device’s responses to 3D Touch gestures.

The connectivity abilities of the iPhone 6S also represent a major leap as compared to those of its predecessor. The new model’s LTE Advanced technology allows it speeds of up to 300 Mb/s on LTE, which makes the 6S twice as fast as the older model. The Wi-Fi speeds of the iPhone 6S are also twice those of the iPhone 6, at a blazing 866 Mb/s.

The new smartphone comes in a selection of 16, 64, and 128 GB of memory and four finishes: Silver, Gold, Space Gray, and the new Rose Gold.

Pricing in the U.S. varies as follows: with a two-year carrier contract, the iPhone 6S can be purchased for $199, $299, and $399 for a 16, 64, or 128 GB model, respectively. Without a contract, the iPhone 6S will set the buyer back $649, $749, or $849 for those respective models. For the iPhone 6S Plus, the numbers increase by $100 across the board from those of the iPhone 6S for all options.

The iPhone 6S comes powered by Apple’s iOS 9 operating system, also available for download by the general public as of September 16.

Pirate Bay Trolls the Courts with New Logo Design

Pirate Bay Trolls the Courts with New Logo DesignDespite all the controversy, as well as the recent raid by Swedish officials, The Pirate Bay is still alive and kicking.  That applies even if you consider that authorities did also shut down piratebay.s         e, the torrent site’s hometown domain.  And with that address having been shut down recently, it looks like The Pirate Bay wants to troll some authorities, having debuted a new logo this week.

If you visit the Pirate Bay website now, you’ll see a many-headed hydra serving as the new logo.  The symbolism of the hydra is the myth that it can’t be killed, no matter how hard you try.  And if you look closely, the hydra’s “heads” have domain extensions next to them – these are .am (Armenia), .gd (Grenada), .la (Laos), .mn (Mongolia), and .gs (South Georgia – neither the state nor the country, but a British territory).

Meanwhile, a ruling from a Stockholm court provided more damning evidence against Pirate Bay.  “The District Court’s conclusion is that the domain names are property that can be forfeited,” read the ruling. “(Co-founder) Fredrik Neij has participated in the [copyright infringement] crimes that have been identified and he is the actual holder of the domain names. It is therefore no obstacle to confiscate domain names from him. The prosecutor’s primary claim with respect to Fredrik Neij should be upheld and domain names should be confiscated from him in accordance with the Copyright Act.”

After Five Months, Bungie Releases New Destiny DLC House of Wolves

After Five Months, Bungie Releases New Destiny DLC House of WolvesIt’s been a long wait, but Bungie today released The House of Wolves, the second significant downloadable content package for Destiny since the original game’s release in September 2014.

Five months in between DLC is quite a while when it comes to major IP such as Destiny, but one should go back to the first DLC package, The Dark Below.  That was released in the winter of 2014, but unfortunately, it didn’t get the best of reviews.  That’s probably the reason why Bungie waited so long – simply wanting to make sure that it releases the best product possible when time comes to roll out the new DLC offering.

A review from Forbes explained the changes Bungie made on House of Wolves, and one of the most significant things the company did differently had nothing to do with the gameplay itself.  That was the way Bungie promoted House of Wolves, as it had three live announcements featuring content from the DLC.  And one of those separate reveals was centered on the new gear upgrading system, a big improvement from Dark Below and a common complaint gamers and reviewers alike had with that package.

Still, reviewer Paul Tassi of Forbes did stress that a lot of what Bungie did right didn’t relate in any way to House of Wolves’ gameplay.  The company launched over the weekend a bounty-hunting Queen’s Wrath event that offered players encrypted engrams, giving them incentive to purchase House of Wolves as they turn them in starting today and access their item collections.  Players also got a chance to win prizes for completing the bounty-hunting activities.

Relating his first-hand experience with the promotional engrams, Tassi talked about how he went to the Reef social space to turn in about 100 engrams across three characters – for his efforts, he got two legendary weapons and two new increased light armor pieces.  “Turning in a literal truckload of engrams is probably one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done in Destiny, and even the chest farming that yielded that collection is patched (it probably should be), it was a hell of a weekend,” said Tassi. “But after decrypting and vaulting and dismantling, the real fun begins.”

Destiny has gotten a lot of flak for its storytelling, which Tassi believes “has only (gotten) worse in time.”  However, he was pleased with how Bungie changed things around with House of Wolves’ storyline.  Granted, storytelling was still a problem, but Tassi felt more satisfied by the new DLC’s story, where players can play five different missions, “almost none of which feel scarce in the least.”  He didn’t like the fact that Bungie went with voiceover narration, but gave the thumbs-up to the company’s decision to use simple, more straightforward language instead of resorting to sci-fi jargon.  The armor and weapon format was another strong point cited on the review.

So far, this is one of the very few reviews we’ve come across so far for Destiny‘s new House of Wolves DLC.  But reports do seem encouraging, even for those who were critical of the original game.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Launched at Belle Isle – A Pony Car for Today’s Changed Times

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Launched at Belle Isle - A Pony Car for Today’s Changed Times

c/o The Verge

General Motors unveiled on Saturday the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, the first sixth-generation model, and arguably one of the most different Camaros ever launched.  The car made its debut at a press event held in Belle Isle, in downtown Detroit.

Back in the day, it was “go big or go home” if you were a muscle car aficionado – the bigger and more powerful the engine, the better your ride was.  That was very seldom the case with the Chevrolet Camaro, though this General Motors entry to the pony car sweepstakes typically came with V8 base engines.  Today’s Camaro, however, is a radically different one, with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine serving as the base power plant.  GM claims that version will be capable of going over 30 mpg in highway driving.  Still, buyers can choose the Camaro SS trim, which comes with a 6.2-liter V8 engine that makes 455 horses.

Aside from the new fuel economy-centric powertrain selections, the 2016 Camaro is also substantially lighter than its predecessor, weighing 200 pounds less despite being longer and wider.  Its design, as teased in several promotional photos and Friday’s leaks, is both a tribute to the Camaros of the late ‘60s, and a more contemporary take on an iconic pony car.  Pricing has yet to be announced, but the outgoing model carries a base price of $24,700.

Indeed, it’s been decades since the original heyday of the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, Dodge Charger/Challenger, and other muscle cars and pony cars.  But despite the changing times, these cars still remain relevant, throwing back to the past but looking and feeling modern enough in more than a few ways.