Amid layoffs Microsoft announces closure of original content wing of Xbox
On top of the 18,000 layoffs and shifting company structure, Microsoft will be closing the Xbox Entertainment Studios in the coming months. The studio was launched to add Microsoft to the original content race on the Internet, with shows based on some hit Xbox franchises such as Halo. Xbox head Phil Spencer issued an internal memo thanking the team for their work, as well as what to expect. Microsoft issued a statement to Joystiq confirming that existing projects would carry on.
Customers can submit for pro-rata refund after update through August 31
Customers that have paid an Xbox Live Gold subscription for media streaming services on either the Xbox 360 or Xbox One have some recourse in June when entertainment apps no longer require an active subscription. Microsoft has issued an update to their frequently asked questions that addresses possible refunds for those that no longer need the service.
May also liaison with MLB for Passbook, app integration
The assistant general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays is leaving the organization to join Apple as an executive with responsibility for managing the Sports and Entertainment sections of the App Store, according to reports. Jay Sartori has been with the team since 2010 and will be leaving next month for the new job. His exact duties at Apple haven't been revealed, but the company has been working closely with Major League Baseball to enhance its apps' integration with other Apple technologies.
Tablet will offer on-demand viewing of 100 of the latest movies and shows
US-based Hawaiian Airlines is set to offer the Apple iPad mini to passengers on its 767-300 fleet. The initiative equips 14 planes with the technology by September 1, with 1,400 tablets being distributed to cover the hub routes from Honolulu to the American mainland, along with other locations in the South Pacific on 14 routes.
UK's Yo! Sushi uses iPad quadracopters as drone servers
Daily Mail reports that London's sushi chain, Yo! Sushi, has employed a new, unorthodox method of food service. Yo! Sushi now delivers its patrons' meals to their tables by way of iPad-controlled quadracopters, aptly named iTrays. The devices are made of light-weight carbon fibre, and fly trays of food to tables up to 50 yards away from the kitchen at up to 25 mile an hour. The chain's Soho branch in central London is trialling the high-tech service style, and if proved successful, it could be carried out to all 64 of Yo! Sushi's UK restaurants next year. The drones join the chain's other novelty tech services offered, such as conveyor belt service, and speaking robot drink carts.
HD signal 300m on Cat-5
Connectivity solutions company Gefen recently introduced three new systems integrators for audio/video systems using the component video format. The new products allow a full HD signal to be carried on a CAT-5 cable distances up to 300 meters. This is ideal for large scale home entertainment systems, digital signage applications and high profile audio/video installations. All three products perform two functions from a single box, reducing the need for extra equipment.
Epson Ensemble cinemas
Epson today announced it released two complete home entertainment systems, with the Ensemble HD 720 and Ensemble HD 1080 systems. Either is capable of throwing up high definition images on a 100-inch motorized screen that is part of each package courtesy of Epson's PowerLite 3LCD three-chip HD projector. As the product names suggest, the projectors are the main difference between the two packages, with the former capable of 720p (1280x720) HD images, the latter of 1920x1080 (1080p) resolution video.
iBar venue using Surface
Microsoft and Harrah's Operating Company on Wednesday announced the first deployment of the former company's surface technology at the iBar in the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. The move represents the first official setup located in an entertainment scenario, having already been deployed at AT&T stores as interactive product demonstration centers. The Surfaces include a number of custom-designed applications for patrons to use, as well as a few Microsoft-supplied apps, customized for the lounge.
ASUS PX24 Full HD PC
ASUS on Monday revealed its Mini PC Nova Lite PX24, a computer it claims is the world's smallest to offer 1080p, or full HD, playback capability thanks to a dedicated graphics card. Combined with its compact 9.5 by 7.2 by 2 inch size, low 26dB sound levels and touch-button interface, ASUS hopes the PX24 will find its way into living rooms as a high-performance home entertainment center in a small package.
Pioneer Elite BD players
Pioneer USA on Wednesday announced the Elite BDP-05FD and Pioneer BDP-51FD BonusView Blu-ray Disc players have been added to its line-up. Both receivers are said to offer the next generation in Blu-ray playback quality, with HDMI 1.3 technology, four Wolfson Professional Audio 12-bit digital-to-analog converters, and 1080p / True 24fps output. The players are designed to complement Pioneer's other home theater products, including the KURO line of plasma HDTVs and Elite receivers, to bring users a movie-theater like entertainment experience.
Steps to ousting Apple
Two research firms -- Park Associates and Entertainment Technology Center at USC -- have released a document urging Hollywood to use Apple's own tactics of offering low-cost TV shows and feature films for mobile media devices in an effort to reap profits on their own, cutting the Cupertino-based company out of the equation. "Hollywood shouldn't let Apple make all the money, especially since they are the ones making the movies," said John Barrett, director of research at Parks Associates. "Judicious use of free mobile content can help drive ticket and DVD sales." The white paper specifically details steps to achieve profitable distribution of mobile content on mobile platforms and devices, without Apple's help.
Unreal Tournament 3
MacSoft today announced that Unreal Tournament 3 for Mac is coming early next year. Licensed by Midway Home Entertainment and developed by Epic Games, Unreal Tournament 3 delivers "the most frantic gameplay and stunning visuals yet in the award-winning Unreal series," as well as new vehicles, new weapons, and the deepest single-player campaign in the series to date. The title is being developed on the industry's leading engine, the Unreal Engine 3, and is scheduled for shipment in early 2008.
Miglia ships TVMini+
Miglia has released the TVMini+, a device that aims to offer complete digital entertainment with Miglia TV software in an ultra-portable format. The device plugs into a USB 2.0 port, thus enabling users to watch and record analog as well as digital terrestrial television. Supported by the DVB-T standard, the TVMini+ combines a 10-bit analog-to-digital converter and a video decoder for improved reception, according to Miglia. TVMini+ is available for $175, and comes with a 2-year warranty. [updated with proper images]
Chocolatier 2 released
Tuscon, Arizona-based PlayFirst has introduced Chocolatier 2: Secret Ingredients, the followup to its successful game that maintained a Top 20 position on several casual game sites for approximately five months. The sequel again puts players in touch with the Baumeister family 40 years after the events in the original game. Players must assist Evangeline Baumeister's rebellious granddaughter with reforming the Baumeister chocolate empire by traveling the world and finding new recipes. PlayFirst is offering Mac users a 60-minute trial of the game, and sells the full version for $20 from its online store as a digital download.