HTC and Valve have teamed-up for their thing, but the one making us really giddy is Sony’s Morpheus VR set. Coupled with the PS4, this could make for some mindblowingly great and daft games.
And, the good news is that it will be launched properly in early 2016, according to Sony bigwig Shuhei Yoshida.
The improved Morpheus has an OLED display with 1080p resolution, which can notch up 120 frames per second, which is twice as good as the one shown off last year. There’s less than 18 millisecond latency too, which is thought to be indistinguishable from the way you move and react in the real world.
With Facebook buying Oculus Rift, the race for VR is well and truly on.
Yoshida said: “Over the last year we have all seen the virtual reality world explode. Whether it’s Morpheus, Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR, an increasing number of people are looking at moving virtual reality from the realm of science fiction into our living rooms.”
Sony have shown off a number of game demos, with The London Heist showing off some gangster shoot-’em-up action, as well as a ‘street luge’ game. There’s also Keep Talking And Nobody Explode, a bomb-disposal affair too.
Yoshida continued: “VR is a new medium: the demos that we have been creating are just the beginning. We will deliver a VR experience that pushes boundaries of play, and ignites a passion in players. Creativity is thriving in this industry.”
Here’s some gameplay involving a shark. We can’t wait!
MPs have said that it is hard to justify the TV licence fee as it stands, and it turns out that the BBC agree, with boss Tony Hall saying the Auntie is at “a crossroads”, with the licence fee in need of being updated.
The people of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee said that, instead of a licence that you have to buy and renew, there should be a universal household levy, which means that everyone pays for the BBC whether they watch TV or not. That’ll be controversial.
Hall says: ”We’ve always said that the licence fee should be updated to reflect changing times. I welcome the committee’s endorsement of our proposal to make people pay the licence fee even if they only watch catch-up television.”
“The committee has suggested another route to modernising the licence fee – a universal household levy. Both proposals have the same goal in mind: adapting the licence fee for the internet age. This is vital. Because I believe we need and we will need what the licence fee – in whatever form – makes happen more than ever.”
The MPs report said that the licence fee needs to include the fact that iPlayer exists, which you don’t need a licence for. It said: “The German model of a broadcasting levy on all households is our preferred alternative to the TV licence. Such a levy on all households would obviate the need to identify evaders and would be a fairer way of ensuring those people who use only BBC radio and online services contribute to their costs.”
“A broadcasting levy which applied to all households regardless of whether or not householders watched live television would help support the use of a small proportion of the revenue raised for funding public service content and services by others, enhancing plurality.”
So for those who resent paying the licence fee at all, would now possibly have it taken straight from their wages. Presumably, they’d prefer a subscription based model, as seen in North America with cable channels and the like.
If the licence fee is changing, it looks like it is going to become mandatory, whether you like it or not.
Are you one of those people who just can’t work out the lyrics to things and forever singing stupid stuff on night’s out, much to the amusement of your friends? Have you been singing “if I gotta love Eda, honey!” to ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’? Have you been thinking The Beatles were singing about taking a chicken for a ride?
Well, help is at hand as Spotify are adding a new thing into their desktop app in the shape of a button where you can get all the lyrics to your favourite songs!
This is because Spotify have now integrated the Musixmatch service, who reckon that they’re the world’s largest lyrics catalogue.
The feature will be extra handy to those of you who have heard a song on the radio or in a club, and can remember the refrain, but didn’t catch the song title as you’ll be able to search for songs with the lyrics. When you don’t have time or battery to whip Shazam out, this could be priceless. Although, Google’s search engine does exist too.
Nice that Spotify are doing something new with the desktop app, as they’ve been largely focused on getting people to use the mobile app mostly. And now, you’ll never have to sing the wrong words again!
The licence fee is a bugbear for many and again, it is coming under attack, this time with the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee saying that, as it stands, the current subscription system isn’t really justifiable.
As you’ll know, it is mandatory for anyone who has a TV to have a TV licence if you’re going watch live broadcasts, and it costs you £145.50 every year. You’ll also know that loads of people don’t pay it on principal, for a whole host of reasons.
The MPs have knocked their heads together and said that the way we pay for the BBC is likely to change in the next 15 years.
“In the short term, there appears to be no realistic alternative to the licence fee, but that model is becoming harder and harder to justify and sustain,” said committee chairman John Whittingdale.
It looks like this notion has come about thanks to the change in attitudes to the way people watch things, with more people utilising subscription services like Netflix and Amazon TV. With catch-up TV services, you don’t really need a TV licence to watch them. That means we could see the BBC having shows behind paywalls.
The report also suggested that it might be an idea to change legislation so that it is no longer a criminal offence if you don’t have a TV licence. ”We recommend that as a minimum the licence fee must be amended to cover catch-up television as soon as possible,” added the report. Maybe the BBC could move toward a HBO model, as seen in the States? Either way, it looks like things are getting shaken up with licence fee.
Well, after the Big Brother TV Sets debacle with Samsung, we now hear of one of their smart TVs inserting commercials into a video that were stored locally on a Plex media server. The Reddit user in question complained that a Pepsi ad played while they were watching shows and movies on his Samsung television.
Of course, this could well be a look into the future as advertisers try and get their wares into as many platforms as possible. However, in this case, it looks like it was an error Samsung’s part, with a bit of faulty programming.
It seems a few people have had this problem and it isn’t happening on sets made by anyone else. A recent software update seems to be the cause of this particular irritant.
The way to stop this happening, if you’re the owner of a Samsung TV set, is to click “disagree with the Yahoo Privacy Notice” in the options in your Samsung’s Smart Hub options.
However, this does appear to be something Samsung are interested in, as in 2014, the company said that they were looking at “interactive experiences” which will be offered to people on an ‘opt-in’ basis.
Both issues are have a similarity though – it appears that Samsung are treating your data with a reasonable amount of recklessness and, if they don’t get these problems sorted, they might find that customers are going to lose all confidence in them.
They’ll be showing 168 live matches a year in a deal that as part of the £5bn deal that totals £5.136bn. Back in 1992, broadcasters were paying £663,000 per game. Now they’re paying £1,887 per second, so you can see how much football means to broadcasters with the ever increasing hikes.
However, while this is all very impressive/sickening [delete as applicable], the main concern for us is how much this is going to affect those who want to buy a Sky subscription.
Firstly, if Sky are throwing all that money at football, there’s a chance you’ve had it if you’re getting a subscription for dramas and movies, as they might have to cut back on those to get the money back from the football. However, this is such a large amount of money, that cutting costs probably won’t recoup the cash.
So the only real option is to raise prices.
You know the money is getting silly when Premier League chief exec, Richard Scudamore, finds himself being surprised at how much money is coming their way. He said: “I continue to be surprised by every TV deal because of the numbers… but then you look at who’s at play here. [BT and Sky are] both successful companies.”
So while Sky are coughing up billions, BT bagged themselves 42 matches for £320million a season.
While BT offer their football as an add-on bonus for those who sign-up to use their broadband, Sky attract viewers with the lure of football. Sky subscribers who get the full package pay upward of £800 a year, which could well increase over the next couple of years to somewhere around the £900 mark.
Sky boss Jeremy Darroch is certain that this can all be balanced out, saying: “We have a clear plan to absorb the cost of the new Premier League deal while delivering our financial plans. This is a good result and confirms that Sky is the unrivalled choice for sports fans. We are pleased to have secured the rights that we wanted.”
Everyone was shrieking in horror yesterday when it turned out that Samsung’s new TVs were voice-activated and it would listen to your voice and store it in some evil word-server at Samsung HQ.
Today, Samsung are trying to calm everyone down and downplay the idea that they’re Big Brother, putting eavesdropping televisions in your house and listening to you while you do dirty phone calls or shout obscenities while playing video games online.
As a reminder, the policy said: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to the third party.”
Naturally, Samsung aren’t the only people doing this. Most voice activated stuff is problematic when it comes to personal privacy. In fact, back in 2013, LG had a similar problem with their smart TVs, regarding the data they gathered while people were watching telly.
In a statement, Samsung said with the utmost gravity, that they take privacy issues “very seriously” and have put in place a number of safeguards to stop unauthorised use of your data.
The statement pointed out that the voice recognition feature on their smart TVs was an option and could simply be switched off and that: “Should consumers enable the voice recognition capability, the voice data consists of TV commands, or search sentences, only.”
Feel better now? While you might be able to forgive them for these snooping television sets, no-one should ever forget the time they did that awful, awful rap song.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to upload videos, or indeed, are a band that likes new technology, then YouTube are looking at ways where you can upload multiple camera angles for your films. When viewers watch your wares, they’ll be able to flick between various angles, which is nice and interactive.
Dirty buggers will be hoping for upskirt shots no doubt.
Initially, it’ll only be available on the desktop version and is being tested in the USofA, but you can have a go on it right now, as there’s a video for an artist called Madilyn Bailey which is up, where you can choose between four angles, while she sings and a man with a bumbag shouts too much.
It doesn’t look too pretty at the moment, looking like a normal YouTube video with four clunky thumbnails at the side of it. It is very straightforward though – you click play and then you hit the thumbnails to look at the different sides of a young singer’s head.
That said, this feature could be really very good if you’re watching a full concert or sporting event or some such. Smarter people will come up with all manner of things that should keep us entertained with it, no question.
YouTube spokesperson Matt McLernon said: “We want to give artists as many ways to connect with their fans as possible, and this experimental feature brings fans even further into creating the experience they want.”
But alas, no more, as rumours are getting very loud about Apple and Beats and what they plan to do.
It looks like there’s going to be a launch for a new subscription-based music service which will be Apple-made, but powered by Beats technology and music content. This won’t be a mere installing of the Beats app into iDevices, but rather, Apple things will integrate Beats ‘deeply’ into the iOS mobile operating system, iTunes and Apple TV.
According to reports, the service will cost $7.99 per month, which crucially, makes this cheaper than Spotify’s $9.99-a-month. It’ll also be cheaper than Google’s music offerings, as well as Rhapsody and Rdio. It’ll be more expensive than Pandora though. Not that anyone cares as this is a three-way dogfight between Google, Spotify and Apple.
Apple should really get a wriggle on with this, as there was a lot of fanfare when they bought Beats for $3 billion last year. It looks like they’ll be rolling something out this Summer, with mutterings pointing at a June release.
However, we’re all too long-in-the-tooth and cynical to believe that by merely embedding something as standard into a device, it’ll be a success. Anyone who owns a Samsung phone will tell you about the huge amount of entertainment apps that just sit in devices, taking up space and being unused.
Either way, Apple will be pushing on, and it has been suggested that this new service will focus on cloud streaming that is centred on what’s already in your music library.
No wonder Sky are throwing their money around, looking at getting into the mobile market - they’ve had their fastest customer growth since 2005.
So what’s been the cause of this upsurge? Well, the company themselves say it is thanks to their ‘pay-light’ TV services which saw 204,000 new customers joining them in the three months to December, a lot of whom are on the streaming service Now TV.
Sky’s Jeremy Darroch said the company’s approach to “segmenting the market with the complementary Sky and Now TV brands is working”. They also noticed healthy growth in Italy and Germany too, with the latter seeing their customer base grow by 214,000 in the quarter.
One of the things that are working in Sky’s favour is a huge reduction in ‘churn’, or plainly speaking, the percentage of customers who have cancelled their Sky subscriptions.
However, this is no time for Sky to rest easy and get complacent, because they’re still facing a big challenge from the likes of Amazon Prime, BT Sport and Netflix, who are all between them, looking at chipping away at Sky subscription dominance.
Either way, Sky’s shares went up by 2% in their early trading, to 962p which is the highest they’ve had it for well over a decade.
Sky also added 106,000 broadband customers, which is slightly behind BT’s 119,000. For a little bit of tension, both companies are going to be going toe-to-toe on Friday, when the auction for Premier League rights kicks-off.
The Ellesmere Port branch in Cheshire has been forced to remove padded envelopes off the shelves after they realised that crooks were using them for a sneaky but genius bit of wrongdoing.
While it wasn’t the entire area doing it, Asda said it had narrowed it down to a small number of customers.
Asda was alerted to the scheme last month but it did not come to light until a baffled shopper questioned why envelopes had been moved from the other side of the shop to where the in store Post Office was.
In store staff confirmed the issue with one customer, who then shared it with the whole world via Facebook “It’s because people used to pick them off the shelves, stuff DVDs and such like into them from the store, then post it back to themselves..”
“So, stealing without taking anything out of the store. The Post Office then takes it away without you going through the alarm gate. You’ve got to hand it to the crims in the port, it was worth all the hassle just to hear that story!!” he added.
Asda remain unamused, commenting that they will be getting the police involved too. So there. “We take shoplifting very seriously and work with the local police to ensure this doesn’t happen in our stores,” a spokesperson said. “This allows us to continue to offer the low prices that customers expect from Asda.”
Sony are getting rid of their Music Unlimited service.
The streaming service is going in favour of a new deal that Sony have conjured up with Spotify, which will be streamable to consoles, smartphones and tablet devices.
Spotify will become the exclusive partner for a new service called PlayStation Music, which is heading this way in the Spring and hitting 41 countries.
Music Unlimited breathes its last on March 29th after an unremarkable five years since its launch in 2010.
Sony customers paying for Spotify through PlayStation Music will be able to access the streaming service across their various devices, browsing its catalogue of 30m songs, creating and listening to playlists, and streaming music while playing games.
Spotify’s chief executive Daniel Ek said: “As a gamer and PlayStation 4 user myself, I’m super excited to be able to soundtrack my FIFA 15 Arsenal matches later this spring.”
Sony Computer Entertainment boss Andrew House chipped in with: “This partnership represents the best in music and the best in gaming coming together, which will benefit the vibrant and passionate communities of both Spotify and PlayStation Network.”
The challenge now is Spotify’s and see if they can woo the 64 million active users of the PlayStation network, and rinse them for subscriptions. The companies are not announcing how much a Spotify subscription through PlayStation Music will cost or whether Sony will be subsidising part of the £9.99 monthly price.
The online retailer was the key victor in physical sales of music, games and DVD products, with a 25.6% of the market. Get that! Over a quarter of all sales! Amazon must be thrilled.
They beat Tesco with 14.7% and HMV with a measly 13.9%, according to figures from Kantar Worldpanel.
However, what makes these figures interesting is that shoppers still buy the bulk of their entertainment products on the high street, in the few remaining vendors that cater for them, and Black Friday had an effect too, with heavily discounted promotions tempting the weak inside.
Fiona Keenan, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “While consumers’ average online spend increased by 6% this Christmas, they still spent less than they did when shopping in physical stores as retailers struggled to get them to shop impulsively online.”
“A third of in-store purchases were bought purely on impulse, creating an additional £119m for the industry, but when shopping online this proportion halved. Retailers need to identify ways to encourage impulse purchasing in an online environment, particularly as so much of our spend goes through this channel.”
Asda, however, fared less well in the game and music sales area, falling 3.4%, to 9.5% of the market. But such is the way of these things, as Asda and Tesco both cut back on the CD and DVD offerings in many of their larger stores.
Game Digital also did rather well, 1.4 percentage points, but it has issued a profit warning after selling too many games too cheaply on Black Friday. The buffoons.
The Sky Broadband Shield internet filter will help protect the nippers from any adult content, and will be rolled out to all their users on an opt-out type scene.
The company have already been emailing their customers about the modesty blanket, saying that they’re getting it whether they like it or not, regardless of whether children are on hand to be alarmed by the likes of gunfire, screaming and baps.
The Sky Broadband Shield internet filter blocks sites deemed inappropriate for kids under the age of 13 during daytime hours, when they should be at school anyway, rather than seeking out wangs on xtube.
Lyssa McGowan, brand director of communications products at Sky, said about the Sky Broadband Shield internet filter: “We’re all aware that cyberspace can present security risks, and that the internet isn’t universally suitable for children. At Sky, when it comes to online safety for all, we take our responsibility very seriously and we want what is best for our customers.”
“What we’re doing now is simply making sure that the automatic position of Sky Broadband Shield is the safest one for all – that’s ‘on’, unless customers choose otherwise.”
So, keep an ear out for people ringing Sky’s customers services and saying “Why yes… I’d like to watch dirty films with my internet connection…”
Well, more nudged ahead in terms of physical music product sales, not completely destroyed them in a fight to the death or owt.
Sales of vinyl went up by 170% – which in real talk terms means 350,000 – as it seems people don’t just like the feel of the stuff, they want to hold those inches it in their hand and feel special, and carry it around like some head from the early ’70s with their Dark Side of the Moon racket or something.
This is all very encouraging for HMV, seeing as they were on Deathwatch a couple of years ago and gradually evaporated out of our towns.
CDs were up by 1.5% even though they’ve declined in general by 4.9%. Part of this may also be down to the supermarkets cutting back on selling CDs unless they’re like a guaranteed biggie like a Now! album.
Paul McGowan, CEO of HMV’s owner Hilco Capital said: “HMV has captured more and more market share in a year when major new movie releases have been scarce and there have been only a few major album successes.”
This is good news for physical formats, which have been under siege from downloads for more than a decade and, more recently, streaming services like Spotify, who now count towards chart figures, where something like that Clean Bandit number ‘Rather Be’ was streamed about a billion times.
CD sales have halved since 2009, and even the biggest selling acts like Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith only just broke a million sales of their efforts in 2014, but the rest of the best sellers of the year dropped off quite sharply as regards physical.
But it’s all good news. Whether you’re trying to locate a copy of that Paranoid London vinyl only affair, or trolling around Amazon’s marketplace for ancient Now albums, Music literally is the winner.
So, hurrah then, for the slightly up and down world of pop music!