Netflix Charges More For Blu-ray Disc Rentals

Netflix has officially announced that they are adding a $1 per month charge to all users who rent Blu-ray discs from the service.

“Blu-ray movies are more expensive than standard definition movies,” Netflix said in a email sent to customers on Wednesday.

The fee will appear in November and anyone who does not want to be charged the extra dollar can opt out of receiving Blu-ray discs.

I’m not surprised by this at all, Netflix isn’t doing this to screw its customers because it actually does cost them more money to purchase Blu-ray discs. Let’s be honest though, it’s only $1 and it seems like just a few months ago when Netflix decided to lower the price of many of its plans (including mine, which went from about $19.50 per month to about $18.35).

I currently don’t receive Blu-ray discs from Netflix because I don’t have a Blu-ray player but I’m asking for one for Christmas and if Santa decides that I was good this year I’ll be happy to pay the extra $1 per month to get all the high-def discs I can eat (or play in a single month).

iPhone App “FlyCast” Streams Audio In the Background

One of the biggest gripes people have with the iPhone’s third party applications is that none of them can run in the background. The most frustrating genre of applications that this affects however are music applications. Pandora would be so much better on the iPhone if it could run in the background while I’m doing other things on the phone.

Well, at least one developer has come up with a solution to this problem. FlyCast is a free internet radio application with over 1,000 stations to choose from that are easily browsable by genre or by searching. FlyCast has one interesting feature that other audio streaming applications don’t have on the iPhone. FlyCast can not only play it’s audio streams in the application itself but you can also stream those same stations through MobileSafari.

Since MobileSafari is capable of streaming audio in the background you can open up FlyCast, pick a station to listen to, open it in Safari, and go about your business.

The downside of course is that you can’t browse the internet using Safari since it is busy streaming the audio but it is one heck of a large step in the right direction.

FlyCast
icon

Apple May Offer iTunes Subscription In Late September

Many Apple rumors sites have recently began reporting on the possibility of Apple offering an iTunes subscription option. Many other online music sites have been offering subscriptions for quite some time now but the big one (iTunes) hasn’t yet.

The rumor says that about half of the music currently available on the iTunes music store would be available to subscribers. The pricing would also be incredibly cheap (compared to some others which often charge $15 per month). How does $129.99 per year sound? How about $179.99 per year with MobileMe bundled in?

That comes out to roughly $11 per month for just the music subscription and about $15 a month for the MobileMe bundle. Many say that this subscription offering would be announced in late September, when they normally have their iPod event (and I would agree with them).

But, the question now is will it persuade those pirating music to go legit? My guess is that it wouldn’t. I’ve talked to many people I know that do pirate music and they have said that $10 is too much, they are already getting it for free and have absolutely no restrictions. I think the only way to persuade pirates is to give them MP3s for a low monthly price ($5-10).

I’ve said that a music subscription offering would be awesome but I just don’t know if I consume enough music for it to be economical for me. I am probably only interested in maybe 1 album per month, and since I can buy the CD for about $10 I don’t know why paying for a subscription would be worth it. On the other hand, paying for a subscription would allow me to try a lot more music that I might not have been interested in otherwise.

9 to 5 Mac

HDfury2 Strips HDCP From HDMI Connections

HDfury2 is a brand new adapter that allows users of displays without HDMI (or with HDMI that doesn’t support HDCP) to watch 1080p content via VGA or Component video.

The device has a built in deciphering converter that makes whatever HDMI box that you plug into it think that it has an HDCP connection with the display. There is also an audio jack that channels analog and digital optical formats.

It works with both PAL and NTSC and will cost $249 when it ships next month.

Curt Palme

Podcast Aggregator for the iPhone

10 days ago I wrote about the lack of a podcast aggregating appliction for the iPhone. At the end of the post I said “So developers get to work, podcast enthusiasts are waiting” and I guess there was at least one developer working on one.

The application is called Podcaster and it is from the maker of Podcaster.fm which is a web app that lets you aggregate podcasts (with obvious drawbacks). Podcaster.fm doesn’t allow you to listen to podcasts when you are offline but the native application Podcaster will allow you to download podcast episodes directly to the iPhone to listen to/watch while you are offline.

The application was still in beta testing last week and the last time I knew was going to be submitted to the App Store last Friday, which means hopefully it will be available to all some time this week.

The native podcaster streams] just like the web app but it also allows you to download podcasts and listen to them when your offline (iPod Touch) or on edge(Old iPhone).

The interface is broken out in 3 sections.
My Podcasts – Displays all your podcasts. This screen also allows you to refresh your podcast list to see if there are any new items.
Unplayed – Displays unplayed podcasts.
Downloads – This is where you can see all your downloaded items.

Initially all sections have no items. It is up to you to subscribe to podcasts. We have provided several ways to subscribe. The easiest of which is to search our Podcast Directory. You can search by podcast title. If you cant find what you are looking for, you can use 1 of the other 3 methods to subscribe. Import from podcaster.fm account. Import by feed url and import by opml url.

After you have setup your podcast list. You are ready to listen. Simply select the item you want and click play. The podcast starts streaming in the media player. You also have the option to download the podcast. We have put a max limit of 40 MB for this current release but that is temporary and will be lifted in future updates. You can download as many podcasts as will fit on your iPhone or iPod Touch. –almerica.blogspot.com

UneasySilence

Pandora Is Near Closing Down

Pandora is an internet radio service that uses the music genome project to give you personalized radio stations based on songs and artists that you like. You aren’t able to pick songs specifically but you can fine tune what the radio station plays by giving each song a thumbs up or thumbs down.

Pandora has also released an application for the iPhone that lets you listen to those internet radio stations on the go. The app is considered by many (and I) to be the best iPhone app out there.

But, even with its 1 million plus users Tim Westergren (founder) has stated that the service is approaching a “pull-the-plug kind of decision.” All of this is happening because last year internet radio stations were hit with incredibly high fees by a federal panel for every song played on their stations. At that time many internet radio stations just shut down, Pandora however has been able to hold on until now but who know what the future will hold for the service.

Rep. Howard L. Berman has been leading a fight that would arrange a few last minute deals between web radio stations and SoundExchange (the company that represents artists and record companies) that would reduce the fees and hopefully keep these internet radio stations in business. Westergren isn’t waiting forever though, saying “the moment we think this problem in Washington is not going to get solved, we have to pull the plug because all we’re doing is wasting money.”

There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot that we can do, the only things I would suggest one do to save Pandora, is visit SaveNetRadio.org (where they list several things you can do to help) and subscribe to Pandora, it only costs $36 a year and it will help them out immensely.

Pandora

Netflix Warning Users of ARccOS Copy Protected Discs

Netflix has began warning users of DVDs with the ARccOS copy protection. The copy protection was developed by Sony that intentionally puts corrupted sectors on the disc to prevent it from being copied. As a result of those bad sectors though many DVD players are unable to play the discs.

Netflix has been replacing their inventory of these discs with new ones that don’t have the terrible copy protection but their are still 13 discs left that are affected.

I’m glad that Netflix is warning their users about this but I still can’t believe that Sony did this. Especially since many of Sony’s own DVD players won’t play the discs back, the PS2 slim comes to mind.

I just can’t wait until the movie studios catch up with the music industry and start selling their content DRM free. I just have a feeling it’s going to take them a lot longer to come to their senses then it took the music industry.

I’ve copied the FAQ on this subject from Netflix’s site, you can find it after the jump.

Zatz Not Funny!

Published
Categorized as Media

How To Listen To Music On Your iPhone During iPhone Games -Update

One of the frustrations I’ve found with iPhone gaming is that you have to listen to the games music instead of what is currently playing in the iPod app. I’m sure you probably had a similar experience, you purchase your first game, turn on some music, open the game and your music fades out and pauses.

Well luckily there is a work around, it doesn’t work for all games but it does work with some of them.

  1. Make sure you have the iPod controls turned on when you double tap the home button.
  2. Start the music you’d like to listen to (or podcast, which is what I usually do).
  3. Open the game you would like to play.
  4. In the games settings turn off all sounds and set the volume sliders to as low as possible.
  5. Hit the lock button on the top of your iPhone.
  6. Double tap the home screen button for the iPod controls and hit play.
  7. Hit the lock button on the top once to turn the screen off and a second time to turn the screen back on.
  8. Slide to unlock and your game should show up on screen.

Now if this work around is usable on the game your playing the music should continue if not it will fade out, pause, and your out of luck.

I’ve found that it doesn’t work with Scrabble or Sudoku but does work with De Blob and Apple’s Texas Hold’em.

It doesn’t really make amy sense why the game makes the audio from the iPod app turn off unless the OS needs more memory for the game and tells the iPod app to quit. But, you would think there would be a way for developers to do some sort of check like if iPod music is playing mute gameplay audio, or something like that.

If you find another game that it does or doesn’t work with leave a comment and let us all know.

Update – GTS World racing actually has exactly what I want, it has the ability to disable game audio so that you can listen to your own audio from iPod.app. It’s amazing to me that their aren’t any more iPhone games that allow you to do this. I just wish it was as easy as writing a line of code that checks to see if iPod.app is playing, if so disable game audio.

Netflix Streaming on Xbox 360 Demoed on Video

After watching this video I compared the experience on the Xbox 360 compared to the experience on the Roku player and it seems that the Xbox 360 is much nicer.

The Roku player isn’t as nice looking as the Xbox 360 in terms of UI and although the Xbox 360 is loud it is mostly due to the disc drive and since Netflix streaming won’t be hitting the disc it should make for a great experience.

I have no need for the ability to watch a movie or TV show at the same time as a friend with a Netflix account and a Live Gold account, it seems pretty useless to me.


Xbox 360 Fanboy

Xbox 360 Getting Netflix Streaming This Fall

The Xbox 360 will be getting an update that will allow users who also have a Netflix account to stream movies and TV shows to their televisions through the Xbox 360.

Users with a Gold Xbox Live account will also be able to share your Netflix movies with friends via your Xbox Live party so you can watch a movie/TV show all together.

I’m not sure if this is going to hurt sales of the Netflix Roku player but I would assume that a lot of the people who would buy the Roku player probably already have an Xbox 360. I know I wouldn’t buy a Roku player now, but then again I don’t really want to buy an Xbox 360 either, I would much rather have a PS3 for the Blu-ray and backwards compatibility (if I spring for the $500 version) (I’ve owned a PS2 for a few years and have a number of games for it that I wouldn’t want to get rid of and getting rid of the PS2 would be nice).

So there you all go, the update is set to be released this Fall and hopefully Netflix will spend that time increasing the number of “Watch it Now” movies.

Gizmodo

Roku Releases Netflix Players Source Code

Roku has open sourced its Netflix player for all of you clever hackers and developers to play with. This means that you should be able to build your own applications built for the box, or modify the software on the box to do whatever you want it to.

This would be good enough news but Roku will be releasing a software update later this year that will add the ability to watch content from other big name providers. The first thought that came to my mind was the ability to stream Hulu videos (which would mean I would buy the Roku player instantly without even thinking about it) but my guess is that we will see YouTube first.

Roku
Forbes

Region Free Blu-Ray Players Now Available

A website is now selling what it claims to be region-free Blu-Ray players. The site wants €499 ($785), for the Panasonic DMP-BD30. The price for this player, unmodded, is around $475 so you’re paying quite the premium for the ability to play Blu-Ray discs from other regions.

If you’re good with a soldering iron you could purchase a mod kit and do it yourself, the kit is a much more reasonable €89 ($140).

I don’t necesarily doubt the fact that these are region free players but what I don’t know is whether or not you will be able to upgrade the players firmware later on or not. If you upgrade the player yourself you will surely void your warranty and although you probably won’t ever use it it’s still possible you may need it.

Bluraymods.com