20th Century Fox Home Entertainment apparently seeks to punish movie renters. Beginning the end of this month, the movies
"Marley & Me" and
"Slumdog Millionaire" will come in two different classes, a premium version with bonus material and a film only version for rental stores. The Slumdog rental Blu-ray has bonus features but no digital copy.
While retail rental stores can purchase a premium version for customers, we are somewhat mystified by the plan. Anyone who streams or subscribes to Netflix sometimes miss those extras unless they ask for the second disc, but often they are largely composed of previews and deleted scenes. We figure if the director didn't think enough of them to include them in the movie, we don't really care either.
Philips' Pronto Home Control Panel Universal Remote does about everything but vacuum. Manage your music, entertainment equipment and even your lighting on the TSU9600. ProntoEdit Professional can store and manage codes, a built-in Channel Wizard has simplified usage and WAV file compatibility for linking spoken instructions. Optional software can even integrate your Windows MCE from your PC. With a "soft feel" ergonomic grip, connecting your home network doesn't get much easier. Suggested retail is $1,499.00, but we found one for about half that price.
Samsung is always at the top of the list when it comes to Blu-ray and they seem to have done it again. Their new
BD-P1600 with BD-Live 2.0 is controlled with a simple remote. Stream from Netflix or Pandora and get full HD 1080p resolution. At a size of 17 x 2.13 x 7.83" and a weight of a mere 4.85 lbs., It has a built-in Ethernet connection for downloading firmware upgrades and 1.3 1.3 HDMI output. Get yours for less than $300.00.
Netflix announced last week that they now have 10 million subscribers. VP Steve Swasey posted a thank you on their official blog to all. Perhaps this is the reason that Blockbuster is now testing video game downloads with their Total Access plan. We know that they are not doing as well as the renting giant, so perhaps this will be their saving grace. The service is available for a $5.00 surcharge and the company is hoping that it will be available for all by the end of the year.
Microsoft and Netflix has announced that more than a million Xbox Live Gold members downloaded the Watch Instantly application since it was launched in November and have viewed about 1.5 billion minutes of TV and movies. Their streaming library is already up to 12,000 titles with more HD being added. The press release also states that Video Marketplace downloads have grown 174 % from December 2008 to January 2009. We don't know if the deal that Amazon has with a less expensive subscription to Xbox Live Gold helped those figures but it certainly didn't hurt.
Last week, engadget decided to compare Netflix streaming devices and went into incredible depth in their assessment. They included:
LG BD300. The winner? Although they like the Samsung for picture quality, there were no losers. They suggest newbies start off with the Samsung or LG to play your discs and the Roku for its lower price. You can read the entire review on the link below.
What better way to start the week than with a super deal. For $38.99 you can have 13 months of Xbox 360 Live Gold, a service that usually goes for $50.00 for a year. This means you get multi-player games online, voice/video chat, and of course the Xbox 360 Video Markeplace with movies (including Netflix if you have that,) TV shows and music videos. Better take advantage of this one now before they decide to retract the generous offer.
When the switch to HDTV is complete, maybe it will be time to get rid of cable. Neuros' Link Open Source Media PC, our Freakin' Friday pick of the week, runs on Ubuntu Linux and connects to your TV via HDMI. The built-in software makes it simple to type in the show you want to watch, then finds streaming sources. Get content from such sites as Hulu or one of the networks, or use the preloaded Bit Torrent. Connect an external hard drive preloaded with DVDs and AVI files and those will play, too. The Link also streams audio and photos and, get ready, you can tweak it to your personal need. The $299.99 price includes a no-questions-asked 4 month return policy.
Neuros is so excited about their new PC that they are offering money to those who can improve on their software. If you have link coding ability to make it work with Netflix, get iTunes to run on it, create a configuration wizard or enable Move Networks Plug-in, you can make up to $2,500.00, depending on the project.
We remember blacklisting Blockbuster a few years ago when they got carried away. We thought our local retailer would go bust. We went as far to cut up our BB card in exchange for a couple of free indy and foreign flicks. Ever greedy, Blockbuster has decided to offer a computer-based movie streaming service a la Netflix. Subscribers will be pay-per-view for now ($3.99 per new title,) but we know that's not going to last. We will stick to our Netflix, thank you very much.