Nexus Player review: Google’s third attempt at TV is a fine first draft

Jared Newman , TechHive Follow me on Google+

Jared writes for PCWorld and TechHive from his remote outpost in Cincinnati.
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It didn’t take long for Google’s Nexus Player to realize I was hooked on the Food Network.

Within just a few days, the strip of recommendations on top of the screen ballooned from a single cooking show to three of them, all at the front of the queue. Each recommendation was a direct link into the Food Network’s app, which offers free episodes for many of the channel’s recent shows.

Google’s recommendation engine perfectly illustrates the potential of Android TV, the platform on which the $99 Nexus Player runs. When it works, it’s a speedy way to dive straight into something you’d actually want to watch instead of wandering aimlessly through apps. But like many other parts of Android TV, its appeal is dependent entirely on developer support, which is sorely lacking in these early days.

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RealPlayer Cloud heads to Xbox One to take on Plex's personal video streaming

Jared Newman , TechHive Follow me on Google+

Jared writes for PCWorld and TechHive from his remote outpost in Cincinnati.
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With RealPlayer Cloud, Xbox One users now have another option for streaming their personal video collections to the console.

The new app lets users access videos that they've uploaded to RealPlayer's cloud storage service, or have stored on other connected devices with RealPlayer Cloud installed. The app supports a wide range of file types, including FLV, WMV, MKV, DIVX, XVID, MOV, AVI, and MP4, and handles all the necessary formatting to ensure that videos will run on the console. Users can also share videos with other users, and if you have RealPlayer's app installed on other devices, it supports picking up on a video from where you left off.

The Xbox One version supports several of the console's unique features, such as Snap view, motion controls and Kinect voice commands. Later this fall, users will also be able to upload their recorded gameplay videos to RealPlayer Cloud, so they'll be instantly available through other devices.

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Internet TV services would get a massive boost from FCC's proposed rule changes

Jared Newman , TechHive Follow me on Google+

Jared writes for PCWorld and TechHive from his remote outpost in Cincinnati.
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New Internet TV services would have a much easier time getting off the ground under new rules proposed to the Federal Communications Commission.

The proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler would require broadcast TV stations and cable-owned channels to offer their content on Internet-based services, like the one Dish Network is trying to build. These services would effectively be regulated in the same way as cable, giving them the same negotiating power for basic channels like NBC and CBS.

Currently, broadcast stations and cable operators have no rules requiring them to negotiate with Internet-based services. That’s why Dish reportedly won’t include basic channels in its upcoming Internet TV service—to get them, users may instead have to install an antenna—and why Aereo can’t reboot as a direct provider of basic channels over the Internet. These are potentially disruptive services, so it’s no surprise that they’re getting the cold shoulder from major networks.

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YouTube considers ad-free video subscriptions, still working on music service

Jared Newman , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Jared writes for PCWorld and TechHive from his remote outpost in Cincinnati.
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For a price, YouTube users may never have to sit though another pre-roll video or swat at pesky pop-up banners.

The Google-owned video site is considering a subscription service that would remove all advertisements. “We’re thinking about how to give users options,” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said at Re/code's Code/Mobile conference this week. Still, Wojcicki didn't have any details on pricing or time frame. It's also unclear how revenue sharing with content creators might work.

Wojcicki also acknowledged that YouTube is “working on” a music subscription service, but wouldn't offer a timeline for that either. Rumors of a YouTube music service started popping up in early 2013, but the company is likely having trouble getting labels and artists on board. A report from this summer claimed that indie labels were outraged by YouTube's hardball tactics.

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Amazon fires a shot at Chromecast with $39 Fire TV Stick

Jared Newman , TechHive Follow me on Google+

Jared writes for PCWorld and TechHive from his remote outpost in Cincinnati.
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If you couldn't be swayed to buy Amazon's $99 Fire TV set-top box, perhaps you'd be interested in the company's new $39 Fire TV Stick instead.

Like other dongles such as Google's Chromecast and Roku's Streaming Stick, the Fire TV Stick plugs directly into an HDMI slot for streaming videos and music. But Amazon isn't shying away from comparisons, and claims that its TV dongle is much more powerful than the competition.

For instance, Amazon says the Fire TV Stick's dual-core processor is 50 percent more powerful than Chromecast, and its 1 GB of RAM is twice as generous. It also includes a remote control so users don't need to have a smartphone or tablet handy. And compared to Roku's dongle, the Fire TV has 32 times the storage at 8 GB. That means users can download and play games from Amazon's app store.

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The Binge Watch List: Amazon original Alpha House season 2 is live

Monty Ashley Writer, TechHive Follow me on Google+

Monty Ashley lives in Seattle, where he watches movies and television, reads books, and plays games. He's trying to learn Latin, for reasons known only to him. He has written for Wizards of the Coast, Television Without Pity, and Previously.TV, and podcasts with The Incomparable.
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As of today (October 24), the second season of Alpha House is available on Amazon Prime Instant Video for watching in big, several-episode gulps. Created by Doonesbury’s Garry Trudeau, Alpha House follows four senators who are roommates in Washington, DC. You might think that senators make enough money that they don’t have to quadruple up on housing, but you sometimes have to make some allowances for a show’s premise. You weren’t complaining when that nice monster family moved in at 1313 Mockingbird Lane, were you?

What’s it about?

Alpha House follows the adventures of four mismatched senators. You know John Goodman, right? He’s great. He plays Senator Gil John Biggs, the slob of the house. Gil John is the senator from North Carolina, who seems to have been elected mostly because he was once the basketball coach at the University of North Carolina. Next, there’s Senator Robert Bettencourt, played by Clark Johnson, who was Detective Meldrick Lewis on Homicide: Life on the Street and that implausibly saintly newspaper editor in the last season of The Wire. Senator Bettencourt is very nearly a normal person, although he spends a lot of time dealing with corruption charges. He sleeps in the same room as Gil John, because there’s no point in having roommates if you can’t work in some Odd Couple riffs.

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10 scary Halloween movies to stream on Netflix...if you dare

Jeffrey M. Anderson , TechHive

Jeffrey has been a working film critic for more than 14 years. He first fell in love with the movies at age six while watching "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" and served as staff critic for the San Francisco Examiner from 2000 through 2003.
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Halloween has changed over the years, but some things remain the same: pumpkins, trick-or-treating, costumes, and scary movies. We just love being creeped out, spooked, startled, and downright frightened, perhaps because the body craves sensations that life doesn’t dish out on a regular basis. Or maybe because it’s just fun. Here are 10 solid chillers culled from the dozens of horror films currently streaming on Netflix (and a bonus 10 at the end). Beware. Enter at your own risk. And Happy Halloween...

The Blair Witch Project

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