Appreciating the Apple TV

Christopher Breen Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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With one or more autumnal Apple events on the horizon we turn our thoughts not only to what Cupertino has in mind for the iPhone and iPad, but the direction the next generation Apple TV might take. We’ve already issued some ideas on what a future Apple TV might be in regard to a content delivery system as well as a HomeKit hub, but as much fun as it is to play guessing games with Apple’s engineers, it’s also worthwhile to stop and appreciate what advantages the Apple TV offers now over another set top box such as the Roku 3. While I have each device, I see areas where the Apple TV outpaces the other.

AirPlay

Although the Apple TV offers solid sound (sometimes solid 5.1 surround sound, depending on the source content) via its HDMI or Optical Audio ports, you’re not confined to playing sound through the system wired to it. With Apple’s AirPlay technology built in, you can stream its audio to any AirPlay-compatible device (though, regrettably, not to multiple devices).

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Amazon puts the power to greenlight pilots back in your hands

James Careless , TechHive

James Careless has been covering the Internet since the days of 1200 baud modems. His credits include Business Week, KM World, Network World, PCWorld, and Streaming Media.
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If you’ve ever been watching TV and thought that you could pick better shows than the ones that made it to the airwaves, Amazon is giving you another shot. The company has just debuted its third pilot season, when it rolls out new Amazon Originals and lets viewers vote on which ones become full-season series.

You can watch the five latest pilots online or through the Amazon Instant Video app on iOS and assorted Amazon mobile devices as well as Roku and gaming consoles such as the PlayStation, Xbox, or Wii. Amazon started asking viewers for their input in 2013, as it looks to caputre some of the mindshare around original programming currently enjoyed by Netflix and Hulu.

Using Amazon’s wonderfully pithy blurbs, here’s what you’ve got to choose from when you cast your vote:

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Samsung tips Amazon 4K video streaming for October

Jared Newman , TechHive Follow me on Google+

Jared writes for PCWorld and TechHive from his remote outpost in Cincinnati.
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Amazon will start streaming its original shows in 4K resolution in October, at least according to Samsung.

Samsung revealed the timeframe in an announcement about expanded 4K content on the company's Ultra HD televisions. Amazon has been promsing 4K streaming for its original series since last year, but hadn't said when it would actually happen.

Netflix, meanwhile, has been streaming House of Cards and some nature documentaries in 4K since May. Breaking Bad joined the 4K roster in June, and Netflix plans to add more of its original productions later this year.

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Spotify's Chromecast-like Spotify Connect feature coming to smart TVs

Ian Paul ian@ianpaul.net, TechHive Follow me on Google+

Ian is an independent writer based in Tel Aviv, Israel. His current focus is on all things tech including mobile devices, desktop and laptop computers, software, social networks, Web apps, tech-related legislation and corporate tech news.
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When Spotify Connect debuted last September it was aimed at integrating the music streaming service with wireless speakers and home audio systems. Now, Spotify Connect's reach is moving beyond home audio to smart TVs.

Late Wednesday, Spotify announced the company's first television partnership with Philips, which will offer Connect on its Android-powered sets. Spotify says Philips is the first of many smart TV partnerships coming in the near future.

Spotify Connect is a feature for premium subscribers and is very similar to Chromecast. You start by choosing music on your smartphone and tablet. Then you send your musical selection to a Connect-compatible hardware, which starts streaming the music independent of your mobile device. You can then use your smartphone or tablet as a remote control. In the case of Philips, you'll also be able to control Spotify with your TV remote.

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Rhapsody unRadio is no Pandora One killer but it's free (for some)

Christopher Breen Senior Editor, TechHive Follow me on Google+

Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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In June, Rhapsody and T-Mobile announced Rhapsody unRadio, a subscription streaming music service. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen such an arrangement. Mobile carriers and music streaming services are increasingly getting together in this one-hand-washes-the-other kind of way (as evidenced by the relationships between AT&T and Beats Music and Sprint and Spotify). Getting free or less-expensive music streaming is a perk that might attract customers to a particular carrier, and pre-packaging the services with specific data plans increases the services’ visibility.

Similar to Pandora One, unRadio lets you create and tune into stations rather than select specific tracks or albums that you’d like to listen to, as you can with Spotify, Beats Music, and Rhapsody’s own $10-a-month Rhapsody Premiere. You can skip an unlimited number of songs and the service is ad-free. And you can “tune” your music preferences by assigning a thumbs-up or thumbs-down rating to a track.

unradio browser

unRadio as seen through a web browser. (Click to enlarge.)

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T-Mobile's 'Music Freedom' adds Songza, Rdio, promises Google Play Music soon

Derek Walter , Greenbot Follow me on Google+

Derek Walter is a freelance technology writer based in Northern California. He is the author of Learning MIT App Inventor, a hands-on guide to building your own Android apps.
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T-Mobile is adding six new music services to its "Music Freedom" program, allowing you to stream music from them at 4G LTE speeds without it counting against your monthly LTE data limits. Songza, Rdio, AccuRadio, Black Planet, Grooveshark, and Radio Paradise are now members of the program. 

The notable exception is Google Play Music, which was the most-requested choice among T-Mobile subscribers in a recent social poll. 

CEO John Legere took to Twitter to reassure customers that Google's music service would soon join others on the magenta network.

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GOG.com and indie filmmakers dare Hollywood to ditch DRM

Susie Ochs Senior Editor, TechHive Follow me on Google+

Susie is a proud Mac geek, as well as a writer, editor, snowboarder, and mom.
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Everyone hates DRM except the movie studios who fear the scourge of piracy so much that they’re willing to treat their paying customers like criminals by applying DRM that real criminals find a way to get around anyhow. GOG.com, a digital store that sells DRM-free PC games, is adding movies to its catalogue, but when GOG approached some Hollywood studios to offer classic movies and TV shows without DRM, naturally the studios balked.

Guillaume Rambourg, GOG’s VP for North America, explains in a statement: “In our first round of talks, the response was largely, ’We do not want to be the first ones. We will gladly follow, but until somebody else does it first, we do not want to take the risk.” Rambourg even said that the studios “were quick to add that the lawyers would not allow them” to sell content without DRM. As if the studios are working for the lawyers and not the other way around.

indie game the movie poster
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