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PlayStation (Games)

Mark Cerny, Chief PlayStation Architect, Explains the PS4 Pro ( 52

Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro, which launches next month on November 10th, is the company's most powerful console that will be capable of outputting 4K and HDR content, including movies, TV shows and games. In an effort to find out how developers will make use of the console and whether or not the PS4 Pro will in any way undermine the audience of the current PS4, The Verge sat down with Mark Cerny, Sony's chief PlayStation architect, and asked him some questions. The Verge reports: The PS4 Pro is 2.28 times more powerful than its predecessor, but not everything will run in native 4K
Instead of using an entirely new GPU, Cerny said the PS4 Pro is using a "double-sauced one." In effect, the new console has a second, identical GPU configured next to the original, more than doubling the processing power of the Pro. While the standard PS4 produces 1.8 teraflops, the PS4 Pro achieves 4.2 teraflops. This is how the device can achieve native 4K and, in some cases, what Cerny said are results "extremely close to 4K." For select software, including games like adventure title Horizon Zero Dawn and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, the PS4 Pro will use a crafty technique called checkerboard rendering to achieve 2160p resolution. Checkboard rendering changes the formation of pixels to achieve higher-fidelity graphics.

Standard PS4 games will play just the same unless devs patch them
For the more than 700 or so existing PS4 games, Cerny said the goal was to ensure those titles played smoothly no matter what. That's why the Pro incorporates an identical GPU. Because the new console has "the old GPU next to a mirror version of itself," Sony can support existing games with a simple trick: "We just turn off the second GPU," he said. Developers can patch these titles to boost graphics and performance in very subtle ways. But unless you have a 4K television, the difference will not be substantial.

Sony says it doesn't want games released solely for the PS4 Pro
When asked whether Sony would ever let a game run exclusively on the PS4 Pro, Cerny was blunt. "We're putting a very high premium on not splitting the user base in that fashion," he said. That doesn't rule out the possibility that, two or even three years down the line, a game comes out that relies so heavily on the hardware improvements of the Pro that it becomes unplayable on the standard PS4. Cerny wouldn't really speak much to that scenario, saying that Sony is asking developers to take advantage of the new console without leaving older hardware behind.
You can also watch Mark Cerny chat with PlayStation Blog's Sid Shuman about the creation of the PS4 Pro here on YouTube.

Television Needs To Be Reinvented, Says Apple SVP ( 169

Eddy Cue, Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Service at Apple, isn't happy with the current state of how people watch TV. He said we currently live with a "glorified VCR," the interface of our current TV is the problem and we need to reinvent it. Cue pointed out a number of other issues he has with today's TV:"It's really hard to use [a cable box or satellite TV]. Setting something to record, if you didn't watch something last night, if you didn't set it to record, it's hard to find, it may not be available. There may be some rights issues," Cue said. "It's great to be able to tell your device, 'I wanna watch the Duke basketball game, I don't care what channel it's on.' I just want to watch the Duke basketball game. Today you got to bring in the TV, go through the guide, find which sports programs or whatever -- it's just hard to do."

All the Good Netflix Movies Are in Canada and Brazil ( 86

Netflix's movie library has declined over the last two years when cross referenced with IMDB's 250 movies list. Earlier this month, we learned that if you were in the United States, Netflix only had 31 of the 250 movies listed on the holy-grail of all movie databases. Gizmodo today reports that if you were in Brazil or Canada, that same library looks a lot better. From the report: According to analysis by both The Streaming Observer and AddonHQ, Canada and Brazil have the best content ecosystems, when it comes to movies on Netflix. But when it comes to good movies, Brazil is tops. The Streaming Observer found that Brazil had 85 movies from IMDb's Top 250 in its library. The site also put together a ridiculously huge chart if you want to see exactly which movies are available on each service. It's worth checking out. Brazil has movies that those of us in America could only dream of streaming, like The Godfather Part II, Fight Club, and The Empire Strikes Back. Mexico and Sweden have solid showings too, with 73 and 70 movies from the IMDb's Top 250 in their respective libraries.

Nintendo Unveils 'Switch', Its New Gaming Console and Tablet Hybrid ( 235

And finally, we know what's Nintendo's next gaming console will look like. The company today released a "preview trailer" of the Nintendo Switch, or "Project NX" as we liked to call it before today. Engadget adds: Like the countless rumors previously asserted, it's indeed a hybrid mobile and home console with a tablet element and detachable controllers. The tablet itself (which Nintendo calls "the Switch Console" is thin and pretty attractive. It looks to have a screen measuring around 7 inches, of unspecified resolution. At home, it'll plug into the "Switch Dock," which in turn plugs into your TV. In the trailer, a gamer plugs in what looks to be an SD Card-style cartridge, meaning games are likely to be distributed both digitally and physically. It's powered by an unspecified custom Nvidia Tegra processor.Nintendo said it intends to launch the Switch in March of 2017.

Google To Launch Streaming TV Service In Early 2017 ( 21

It looks like the internet search giant is expected to beat Apple to the punch by releasing its streaming TV service early next year. The Wall Street Journal notes that CBS has agreed to bring content to the service, while 21st Century Fox and Walt Disney are in the final stages of talks to add their content to the service. What's more is that the service is expected to be "housed under the YouTube brand." Karl Bode for DSLReports writes: The service, to be called "Unplugged," aims to be a "low-cost option targeting customers who either have resisted subscribing to traditional pay-TV or cut the cord due to rising costs." While Google sells traditional TV service in its Google Fiber footprint, subscriber numbers have been low for the service. An over the top service might be well received by the general public, but it also might provide promising if bundled with Google FIber's existing broadband offerings. Google is looking to offer a "skinny" bundle of live TV channels with a price in the range of $25 to $40 a month, states the Journal. The report also notes that the service will be entirely separate from YouTube Red, a subscription service ($10 or $13 for iOS users) that offers ad-free YouTube video viewing.

LeEco Who? Chinese Tech Giant Tries Its Luck In the US With 'More Products Than You've Ever Seen' ( 58

LeEco is often called the Netflix of China. Which is funny for two reasons: LeEco is bigger than Netflix, and it has been around for longer than the American on-demand movies and TV shows streaming service. Besides, LeEco runs a fleet of other businesses, including ecommerce portal, smartphones, TVs, and even an autonomous cars. A company executive said this month that this would be a better description of LeEco, "If you were to take Apple, Amazon, Paramount Pictures, Tesla, Uber and Netflix and combine all of those companies, you get what LeEco does in China" But you may not have heard much about LeEco, the company which was until earlier this year known as LeTv. But you will now, because the company today announced a range of products for the U.S. market. TechCrunch adds: Perhaps predictably, one of the first US-based offerings from the company often referred to as "the Netflix of China" will be a content platform. And, as with just about everything else at today's event, LeEco's coming out swinging. The list of partners for LeEco Live includes MGM, Lionsgate, Vice, Showtime, Sling and Magnolia Pictures, along with publication partners like Cosmopolitan and Esquire, to name but a few. From another CNET report, which lists the other things that LeEco announced today: UMax 85 TV is LeEco's flagship 4K smart television. It's 85 inches, comes with 4GB in RAM and 64GB in storage and supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision. It will cost $4,999. Super4 X65 TV is LeEco's second biggest 4K smart television at 65 inches and comes with most of the same features as the UMax 85. Super4 X55 TV is a 55-inch 4K smart television and comes with most of the same features as the UMax 85. Super4 X43 Pro TV is 43-inch 4K smart television and comes with most of the same features as the UMax 85. LeEco has an upcoming prototype VR headset; it will have a gyroscope, bluetooth headphones and USB Type-C. LeSee Pro is LeEco's self-driving concept car. It will be fully autonomous and will have a connected interior to let people stream movies, music and work documents. LeSee is LeEco's semi-autonomous vehicle (level 3). It is internet-connected and has streaming content in rear seats. LeEco first unveiled this car in April.
The Almighty Buck

Plaintiffs From Seven States Sue Comcast For Misleading, Hidden Fees ( 79

An anonymous reader quotes a report from DSLReports: Back in 2013 Comcast began charging customers what it called the "Broadcast TV Fee." The fee, which began at $1.25 per month, has jumped to $6.50 (depending on your market) in just three years. As consumers began to complain about yet another glorified rate hike, the company in 2014 issued a statement proclaiming it was simply being "transparent," and passing on the cost of soaring programmer retransmission fees on to consumers. There's several problems with Comcast's explanation. One, however pricey broadcaster retransmission fees have become (and keep in mind Comcast is a broadcaster), programming costs are simply the cost of doing business for a cable company, and should be included in the overall price. Comcast doesn't include this fee in the overall price because sticking it below the line let's the company falsely advertise a lower rate. Inspired by the banking sector, this misleading practice has now become commonplace in the broadband and cable industry. Whether it's CenturyLink's $2 per month "Internet Cost Recovery Fee" or Fairpoint's $3 per month "Broadband Cost Recovery Fee," these fees are utterly nonsensical, and inarguably false advertising. And while the FCC can't be bothered to take aim at such misleading business practices, Federal class action lawsuit filed this week in California is trying to hold Comcast accountable for the practice. Plaintiffs from seven states -- including New Jersey, Illinois, California, Washington, Colorado, Florida and Ohio -- have sued Comcast alleging consumer fraud, unfair competition, unjust enrichment and breach of contract. What's more, the fee has consistently skyrocketed, notes the lawsuit. Comcast initially charged $1.50 when the fee first appeared back in 2013, but now charges upwards of $6.50 more per month in many markets -- a 333% increase in just three years.

Netflix's Big Bet on Original Shows Finally Seen Paying Off ( 90

Netflix shares jumped as much as 20 percent on Tuesday, after the company added 50 percent more subscribers than expected in the third quarter. Reuters adds: At least 10 brokerages, including Goldman Sachs and RBC Capital Markets, raised their price targets on the stock, praising the company's focus on developing original content. The video streaming company also said it was getting ready to spend $6 billion on content next year, up $1 billion from 2016. "The benefits of Netflix-produced original content including attractive economics and greater control are clear and we believe returns on original spend are high," J.P. Morgan Securities analyst Doug Anmuth said in a research note. Strong subscriber additions after two quarters of disappointing growth helped Netflix post a 31.7 percent jump in third-quarter revenue. Anmuth said he believed Netflix was on track toward 60 million plus subscribers in the United States and about 100 million internationally by 2020.A study by IHS Markit this month noted that both Netflix and Amazon are challenging major networks by upping spending on original shows. The study noted that Amazon and Netflix both had doubled spending on new shows in the last two years. Amazon dropped $1.22 billion in 2013 and spent $2.67 billion in 2015. Netflix's spending on original content rose from $2.38 billion to $4.91 billion over the same period.

The Linux Foundation Helps Launch the JS Foundation ( 34

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: Today, the Linux Foundation announced the creation of a new entity named the JS Foundation that will serve as an umbrella project and guiding force for various open-source utilities at the heart of the JavaScript ecosystem. The JS Foundation is actually the jQuery Foundation, which was expanded with the help of companies such as IBM and Samsung. With jQuery slowly bowing out to newer tools, the jQuery Foundation's members and their unmatched expertise will most likely be put to good use in managing the slew of new tools making up today's JavaScript landscape. The list of JS Foundation founding members includes Bocoup, IBM, Ripple, Samsung, Sauce Labs, Sense Tecnic Systems, SitePen, StackPath, University of Westminster and WebsiteSetup. In alphabetical order, the JS Foundation's initial projects are Appium, Chassis, Dojo Toolkit, ESLint, Esprima, Globalize, Grunt, Interledger.js, Intern, Jed, JerryScript, jQuery, jQuery Mobile, jQuery UI, Lodash, Mocha, Moment, Node-RED, PEP, QUnit, RequireJS, Sizzle, and webpack. "Using jQuery can constitute the use of a sledgehammer for putting small nails into an Ikea TV stand; however, as a piece of engineering, it really is a thing of beauty," says A. M. Douglas, British freelance web developer. "[T]he word 'jQuery' has become synonymous with 'JavaScript' for many. As of today, jQuery's days as a relevant tool are indeed numbered, but I think jQuery's source code will always have relevance, as it is a brilliant example to study for anybody seeking to learn and master JavaScript," Douglas also adds.

Russia Today: NatWest To Close Russian Channel's UK Bank Accounts ( 130

According to the editor-in-chief of state-run broadcaster Russia Today (RT), NatWest bank froze its account. Margarita Simonyan said, "They've closed our accounts in Britain. All our accounts. 'The decision is not subject to review.' Praise be to freedom of speech!" The Guardian adds: Russia has angrily accused Britain of trampling on freedom of speech after NatWest said it was closing down the bank accounts of the Kremlin TV channel Russia Today (RT). Russian MPs, the foreign ministry and human rights officials all condemned the move, and said the UK government was guilty of violating press freedom and of double standards. Simonyan said she had received a letter out of the blue from NatWest saying that it was pulling the plug on the broadcaster's accounts from mid-December. "We have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities," it said.
The Internet

Netflix Is 12x As Popular As Its Streaming Competitors Among Younger Viewers, Says Survey ( 44

Investment bank Piper Jaffray released a survey Friday that reveals just how much U.S. teens love Netflix. Out of the 10,000 U.S. teens surveyed, 37% of them watched Netflix every single day, while only 3% of them watched Amazon Prime Video and Hulu each day, respectively. That means Netflix is over 12 times as popular in terms of daily use. Business Insider reports: At the top of the pack for general video consumption, after Netflix, came YouTube (26%), which inched over cable TV (25%). This continued an upward trend for YouTube and a downward one for cable. Last month, analysts at UBS said Amazon and Hulu were closing the gap with Netflix in overall consumer satisfaction in the U.S. Amazon and Netflix were in a dead heat at 58% and 59% respectively. Hulu still lagged a bit, but was close to Netflix at 53% of people "very satisfied."

Facebook Now Lets You Use Google Cast or AirPlay To Stream Video On Your TV ( 31

Facebook has made it a high priority over the years to improve its video platform so that it can better compete with the monolithic video service that is YouTube. Today, the company has added another feature, one that allows users to stream Facebook video content to the Apple TV via AirPlay and to various Google Cast-enabled devices. Digital Trends reports: The feature is available on the Facebook iOS app and, according to Facebook, it will be available on Android soon. The best thing about it, however, is how easy it is to use. Simply find a video you want to watch, then tap the TV button and select which device the app should stream to. Another highlight of the feature is that it is truly built for Facebook -- that is to say, when you are watching a video on the big screen, your phone is not on lockdown until the video is over. Instead, you can keep scrolling through the News Feed, treating your TV as more of a second screen than simply a mirror of your phone.

Ken Bone May Have Violated FTC Guidelines With Uber Tweet ( 95

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VICE News: In a lot of ways, unlikely presidential debate star Ken Bone is a marketer's dream. He is undecided on his political leanings (for now), inoffensive, instantly recognizable, and affable on TV and social media. So it makes sense that Uber asked him to send a promotional tweet for this week's launch of Uber's black car uberSELECT service in St. Louis, site of the debate Sunday night that launched him to fame. But there's one problem: Bone may have violated Federal Trade Commission guidelines for advertising on social media by not marking his tweet as an ad or mentioning that Uber paid him for making the tweet. "[The tweet] needs to disclose that he was compensated," said lawyer Rick Kurnit, of Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein + Salz PC. "He and Uber are in violation of FTC guidelines, because Uber is also responsible for what their influencers do." The guidelines that Kurnit is referencing are pretty straightforward, and the FTC offers specific advice for how to craft sponsored posts on Twitter. "The FTC isn't mandating the specific wording of disclosures," an FTC guidelines FAQ states. "However the words 'Sponsored' and 'Promotion' use only 9 characters. 'Paid ad' only uses 7 characters. Starting a tweet with 'Ad:' or '#ad' -- which takes only 3 characters -- would likely be effective." Kurnit added that while the FTC "doesn't like" using simple hashtags for disclosures, he agrees that it might have sufficed. When VICE News initially reached out to Uber asking whether Bone was paid for the tweet, a spokesperson said the company is "providing him with Uber credit for his role in the launch." And although Bone and Uber wouldn't be fined for violating the FTC Act (Section 5 of which prohibits "deceptive advertising"), the guidelines say that "law enforcement actions can result in orders requiring the defendants in the case to give up money they received from their violations."

Viewers Only Watch 10% of Pay-TV Channels: Nielsen ( 198

Chances are if you have cable, satellite or telco-delivered TV service, you aren't watching all the channels in your package. Heck, you probably aren't even watching half of the channels you pay for. Global information and measurement company Nielsen has conducted some research and found that viewers are actually watching, on average, only about 20 of the 200 channels they pay for. What this means is that a majority of us watch less than 10% of the channels we pay our cable, satellite or other provider for. USA Today reports: Back in May 2014, viewers watched 10.6% of the 197 channels they said they paid for, Nielsen's TV Audience Report found. A year later, viewers watched 9.6% of the 208 channels they got. This year, viewers also watched 9.6% of the 206 channels on their pay-TV service. That doesn't mean customers are unhappy with their service. "There is a jump between 'I'm not watching all the channels I pay for' to 'I'm not going to pay for more channels than I watch,'" says Glenn Enoch, senior vice president of audience insights for Nielsen. "What we do know is that people who have skinny bundles are lower-income than the average, so this is more about household income than viewing behavior." Pay-TV companies need to experiment, for sure, because other consumer behaviors in the Nielsen report suggest traditional TV viewing by those under 35 continues to fall, says Colin Dixon, analyst and founder of nScreenMedia.

Comcast Fined $2.3 Million by FCC For 'Negative Option Billing' Practices ( 116

An anonymous reader shares an ArsTechnica report:The FCC announced a $2.3 million fine against Comcast on Tuesday after confirming that the company had been billing customers for products and services they had never ordered. After calling the fine "the largest civil penalty assessed from a cable operator by the FCC," the federal agency's announcement detailed exactly how Comcast bilked customers -- and new company practices that must be put into place as a result. According to the FCC's Office of Media Relations, the agency had received "numerous complaints from consumers" about the issue of "negative option billing" -- meaning, receiving charges for items that the customers had never affirmatively requested. (The FCC reminds readers that in the telecom world, this practice is known as "cramming.") The listed complaints revolve specifically around items related to cable TV service, including "premium channels, set-top boxes, and DVRs."

Sharp Unveils 27-inch 8K 120Hz IGZO Monitor With HDR ( 105

Sharp has unveiled a next-gen monitor that is an absolute mouthful. It measures in at 27-inches and features a 8K resolution (7,680 x 4,320), HDR (high dynamic range), and a 120Hz refresh rate. Monitornerds reports: Sharp says that the IGZO name is an acronym for the semiconductor materials used in the monitor's backplane. It is comprised of indium, gallium, zinc, and oxygen. This material can also be utilized with several types of panels such as IPS, TN, and even OLED. The IGZO technology has benefits compared to standard silicon semiconductors in which the electron mobility is 20 to 50 times higher which translates to higher frame rates. It also uses smaller transistors, which translates to higher pixel density as well as lower power consumption. The panel which is show at the Sharp exhibit is a 27-inch model with a very notable pixel density of 326ppi: double in comparison to the average 150ppi of 4K monitors. It has a stunning 33 million pixels under its belt as well as HDR technology which promises that this monitor can deliver stunning images with ease. Sharp didn't disclose a price for the television, nor did they say whether or not the unit will be mass produced. However, we can imagine the monitor will cost a pretty penny if it ever makes it to the market.

Netflix CEO: Movie Theaters Are 'Strangling the Movie Business'' ( 342

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings thinks the state of film is a "real tragedy" and that movie theaters are "strangling the movie business," he said at The New Yorker's Tech Fest on Friday. From a Business Insider report:On Friday, Hastings came down hard on these theater owners, saying there had been no innovation in the movie theater business in recent years, even as TV has been shaped by the rise of cable and internet networks. "Money" and "innovation" has flooded to the TV industry, Hastings said. Not so with film. The movie theater business has seen flatline revenue, Hastings said. Part of the problem is that small movies, such as many Netflix has snagged from places like Sundance, would be better distributed both at home and in theaters. That's a convenient position for Netflix to take, but Hastings said the movie studios feel the same way. Each movie studio would like to "break the oligopoly" of the theaters, but "they don't know how," he continued. If they collude to face the theaters, it's anti-trust, but if they are the ones to take the first step, their films will get killed. That means they just go along with the status quo.

Google Refreshes Its Streaming Dongle: Unveils $69 Chromecast Ultra With 4K and HDR Capabilities ( 51

On the sidelines of Pixel smartphones announcement and $79 Daydream View VR headset, Google also announced a refresh for its streaming dongle. Called the Chromecast Ultra, the dongle offers 4K and HDR capabilities. The Chromecast Ultra, the company says, is the fastest Chromecast it has event made (it can load videos about 1.8 times faster than the standard Chromecast (all thanks to improved Wi-Fi connectivity). The Chromecast Ultra also includes an Ethernet port on the power adapter. Engadget adds: It's still a svelte puck like the earlier models, but it has a bit of a stealth bomber aesthetic. And at $69, it's far more expensive than the current $35 Chromecast. Still, it comes in $10 less than Roku's cheapest 4K player, and will be useful for anyone who wants to quickly stream high-res video to their new 4K TV.

Netflix Goes Down, People Freak Out and Discover Real Life 88

Facing issues with Netflix? You're not alone. Beginning at 3pm ET, users worldwide started to report connectivity issues with the on-demand movie and TV shows streaming service. Downdetector, a website which monitors outage also confirmed the outage with more than 7,000 user complaints. Netflix confirmed the outage in a tweet a few minutes ago, saying it was "aware of streaming issues and we are working quickly to solve them. We will update you when they are solved." Though the company hasn't offered an explanation for this outage, its servers could be seeing an unusual spike in traffic from people trying to binge watch Luke Cage, which was made available this weekend.

Anyone here uses Netflix and facing the issue too?

AT&T To End Targeted Ads Program, Give All Users Lowest Available Price 44

AT&T has confirmed to ArsTechnica that it is getting rid of Internet Preferences, a controversial program that analyzed home internet customers' web browsing habits in order to serve some targeted ads. From the report:"To simplify our offering for our customers, we plan to end the optional Internet Preferences advertising program related to our fastest Internet speed tiers," an AT&T spokesperson said. "As a result, all customers on these tiers will receive the best rate we have available for their speed tier in their area. We'll begin communicating this update to customers early next week." Data collection and targeted ads will be shut off, AT&T also confirmed. Since AT&T introduced Internet Preferences for its GigaPower fiber Internet service in 2013, customers had to opt into the traffic scanning program in order to receive the lowest available rate. Customers who wanted more privacy had to pay another $29 a month for standalone Internet access; bundles including TV or phone service could cost more than $60 extra when customers didn't opt in.

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