August 19, 2019

Three UK rolls out 5G home internet access in London

Yet another carrier is offering 5G in the UK -- although it's not on your phone. Three has launched 5G home broadband in parts of London, giving people "fibre-like speeds" (the carrier hasn't given specific numbers) without requiring a technician vi...
August 18, 2019

Sonos’ portable smart speaker leaks in greater detail

There might not be much of a surprise left by the time Sonos unveils its first portable speaker. The crew at WinFuture has obtained pictures and details that appear to offer much clearer idea of how the hybrid smart speaker will work -- inclu...
August 18, 2019

Don’t spend $100+ on a Logitech Harmony remote when Amazon’s best-selling universal remote is only $9

Logitech Harmony remotes are fantastic for people who love gadgets and need to have the latest and greatest tech within arm’s reach at all time. For the rest of us, however, there are other much less expensive options out there to control all of our home entertainment devices. The best-selling universal remote on Amazon’s site is the GE 33709 Universal Remote Control, and it’s a perfect example of a cheaper option. How much cheaper, you ask? It’s only $9, and an upgraded version with backlighting that controls six devices instead of four costs less than $16!

Here’s some key info from the product page:

  • MULTI-DEVICE CONTROL - Operate up to 4 different audio and video components such as TVs, Blu-Ray/DVD Players, Cable/Satellite Receivers, Roku boxes and other Streaming Media Players, Soundbars and More
  • BEST REMOTE CODE LIBRARY – This universal remote works with ALL MAJOR BRANDS and supports thousands of the latest audio/video equipment.
  • Does not work with Roku streaming stick, fire TV stick, or other RF streaming devices
  • SIMPLE SETUP – This remote comes pre-programmed for Roku and Samsung TVs and includes an easy to follow online setup video providing trouble-free setup, auto scan technology and a master volume control, allowing you to control the volume no matter what device you are operating
  • TRUSTED BRAND – GE is the leading brand in universal remote controls and is backed by free U.S.-based technical support. Call the experts at 800-654-8483 with any questions or issues about your purchase
August 18, 2019

Netflix’s cancellation bloodbath is a lie

We’ve still got a little more than four months left in 2019, and already Netflix has pulled the plug on two dozen shows this year -- everything from The OA to Tuca & Bertie, the latter of which only got one season and both of which have been the subject of an online effort to save them. Here’s the thing, though, according to new data from Bloomberg: Netflix’s decisions like these seem to attract outsized attention, partly because of the streamer’s high-profile space in the entertainment landscape. When, in fact, the reality is that Netflix -- with a 2019 content budget in excess of $14 billion -- is actually very comparable to competitors when it comes to the rate at which it cancels shows. Wait, what? How can that be? Surely the streamer is wielding its Grim Reaper scythe more often these days as new rivals like Disney+ begin to emerge. I mean, Tuca & Bertie was being talked about as one of the best TV shows of 2019 a few months ago before getting canceled. What’s going on? Well, per the Bloomberg data, it might come as a surprise that from 2013-2017, Netflix was actually pretty even with both CBS and HBO when it comes to the percentage of shows canceled before getting a fourth season. “Of the English-language scripted programs that debuted on Netflix from 2013 to 2017, about 19% lasted more than three seasons,” the report notes. “That puts the company squarely in between CBS, the most-watched U.S. TV network, and HBO, the most-popular premium cable network.” Almost half of Netflix’s shows actually got a third season, which Bloomberg notes is again on par with HBO. The frustration that has stuck to Netflix for a while now -- but which the streamer is incrementally moving away from -- is that it has been pretty much a black box in terms of the data it uses to make these kinds of decisions. For a number of reasons, the company has started to open the kimono a bit more than it used to, giving creators and others involved more insight into how a show is performing. Among that data is a metric that Netflix refers to internally as a show's efficiency score. It's basically a measure of how well a show is performing relative to how much it cost to make and to the company's subscriber numbers. Since the company puts a premium on bringing in new subscribers and retaining existing ones, especially those who might seem on the verge of canceling, it apparently becomes harder and harder to justify a show the longer it's on the air compared to its effect on subscribers. Is Netflix more likely to add subscribers by, to use a hypothetical example, giving Stranger Things 8 seasons versus 7? Seasons two and three of a series, in fact, seem to be a key dividing line and an important milestone moment for a show. According to the Bloomberg report, customers who subscribe to Netflix for a few years are statistically less likely to cancel their subscription than new subscribers, who could back out still at any moment (who haven't been "hooked" yet, in other words). This is why Netflix regards series that have already had a couple of seasons as having performed their function of "securing a long-term user." “We are being much more transparent with creators and increasingly with the public in terms of what’s being viewed on Netflix,’’ Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos told the news service earlier this month. “I think people use a lot of different inputs to figure out what they want to see, and popularity is definitely one of them.”
August 17, 2019

Lawmakers urge the FCC to seek public input on T-Mobile / Sprint merger

T-Mobile and Sprint found a powerful ally in FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who officially endorsed the merger after the DOJ's conditional approval in August. In fact, Pai asked the FCC's commissioners to vote in favor of the deal, and the two Republican mem...
August 17, 2019

YouTube Originals will be free to watch starting on September 24th

Earlier this year, YouTube promised to make its original shows -- exclusive to paying Premium members at the moment -- available to the public as ad-supported programming. Now, the Google subsidiary is staying true to its word and making all o...
August 17, 2019

Rocket Lab forced to push back launch due to weather

SpaceX might be the worldwide leader in commercial spaceflight — and get a whole lot of attention because of it — but it's not the only private company vying for a slice of the pie. Rocket Lab, which was founded back in 2006, offers commercial flights into space as well, and its Electron rocket has already delivered satellites into space for paying clients. It was scheduled to launch an Electron rocket again today, but the event was scrubbed at the last minute due to a less-than-cooperative Mother Nature. The launch, which would have been conducted from the company's launch facility in New Zealand, will be rescheduled. The launch was slated for a liftoff of 9:29 a.m. EDT, but a tweet from the company shortly before the scheduled departure announced the delay. The company notes that surface-level winds were approximately 30 percent higher than the upper threshold for a rocket launch. Had the launch proceeded as planned, it would have seen the Electron rocket deliver a total of four satellites into Earth orbit. Those satellites are part of contracts for clients Unseen Labs and Spaceflight, Inc. The company plans to move forward with the launch sooner rather than later, with additional launch opportunities lined up in the next few days. When the rocket is finally sent skyward it will be the eighth Electron launch for Rocket Lab. Unlike SpaceX, Rocket Lab doesn't currently recover and reuse its rockets, but that's going to change in the near future. The company recently announced a reusability roadmap for its Electron launch vehicles, which includes a mid-air recovery effort that will see a helicopter snag the first stage of the Electron rocket before it hits the ground, saving it from damage and allowing engineers to refurbish it for future launches.
August 17, 2019

Huawei Mate 30 Pro to be unveiled just before the iPhone 11 hits stores

We’re reasonably confident that the iPhone 11 will hit stores on September 20th, considering all the recent leaks, including a revelation that comes directly from Apple. But other leaks are now saying that one of the iPhone 11’s biggest rivals this fall will launch just a day before the iPhone 11 will hit stores. That’s Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro, the successor to the Mate 20 Pro, which was a handset well ahead of its late 2018 Android rivals last year. Just like previous Huawei flagships, the Mate 30 series might be launched in a major European city, and we already have an idea of what that city might be. According to the Tech Garage, the Huawei Mate 30 series of phones will be unveiled in Munich, Germany on September 19th. This isn’t the first time Huawei has hosted a media event in the Bavarian capital, as two of the Mate 30 Pro’s predecessors were also unveiled in Munich, including the Mate 9. The Mate 20 series, meanwhile, was announced in London last October. More interesting than Huawei’s return to Germany is the change of date. A mid-September launch means the Mate 30 Pro will hit stores several weeks earlier than its predecessor and could give Huawei a significant sales boost in the holiday quarter, at least when it comes to the European market. Also, Huawei would be in a better position to fight the latest iPhone by unveiling the new Mate 30 Pro just nine days after the September 10th iPhone event. That said, it’s unclear why Huawei is in a hurry to bring the device to market, assuming the September 19th press conference is real. Maybe Huawei does want to go head-to-head with Apple, something no other smartphone maker has attempted. There’s a reason why Samsung’s Galaxy Note launches moved to early August. One other plausible reason concerns the Huawei ban. The Chinese company may want to have its second flagship of the year in stores as fast as possible, to ensure that it doesn’t lose access to Google’s Android. Weeks ago, when news of the ban hit the company, Huawei told customers that all the devices available in stores would continue to receive regular Android updates regardless of whether Google will do business with Huawei or not.
August 17, 2019

Nintendo will replace a newly purchased Switch with newer model

Switch owners may be able to replace their consoles with the model that has better battery life if it's only been a month or less since they've purchased their device. According to some posts on Reddit, Nintendo of America has been telling customers...
August 16, 2019

YouTube is testing paid online hangs with influencers

Google is expertimenting with an events-focused crowdfunding service for YouTube creators, according to a recent report from Variety. The new effort, called Fundo, allows YouTubers to set up online meet and greet sessions and other events that...