Sirius-XM Rates Increase Planned for March

After a lengthy merger approval process, Sirius-XM finally merged its channelacross both services in November 2008.  This was heralded as the signs of a new satellite radio service that would be beneficial to its subscribers.  However, rumors of the possibility of rate increases had been surfacing amidst these new changes.

As confirmed by its own respective websites,andsubscribers can expect an official rate increase beginning on March 11, 2009.  The reason stated by Sirius-XM is that its online audio stream will be upgrading to a 128 KB stream, which its claiming to be ‘near CD-Quality’.  This change will therefore cost subscribers $2.99 additional per month.

that can receive signals from both service’s satellites.  Sirius-XM is the only provider of commercial satellite radio in the U.S. and had$30.5 million of debt for 67 million common shares in 2008.  Reduced earnings and subscription numbers were blamed on the 27% drop in new vehicle sales in the U.S. last year.  Sirius-XM has $995 million in debt that will be due for repayment in 2009; its currently inwith its debtors on repayment terms.

The manufacturer will be shipping with a technology called ‘Duralock’, which guarantees power storage for at least 10 years.

To achieve the increase in storage duration, Duracell said that it uses 24 karat gold as ‘fuel’ for creating chemical power, protects the anode and cathode with a unique separator that limits power transfer when not in use, and applies ‘triple corrosion protection’ that surrounds the contents in an acid resistant. There is also a battery anti-corrosive exterior.

‘We know that consumers typically don’t spend a large amount of time thinking about batteries,” said Volker Kuhn, general manager for Duracell North America, in a prepared statement. “But with the demand for more battery power on the rise due to the large amount of battery-operated devices on the market, it’s important that Duracell is recognized as a power solution they can trust.’ Duracell said that the average household has about 20 devices that rely on batteries.

The company said that it will launch the new technology with the support of its ‘largest marketing campaign in [the company’s] history’. The new batteries are scheduled to be available in U.S. retail by late summer.

It’s been two years since Microsoft revamped its mobile efforts and introduced us to Windows Phone. Still, the company has a long way to go before it can stand up to the likes of Android in terms of apps. Back in October, Microsoft revealed that the Windows Phone marketplace now boasts 120,000 applications. In comparison, Google’s Play Store hit a milestone of 700,000 apps around the same time. Obviously, Android’s got a lot of apps that Windows Phone doesn’t. However, it seems one app in particular is being kept away from Windows Phone on purpose.

According to Microsoft, Google is preventing Microsoft from offering consumers a fully featured YouTube app for the Windows Phone. Redmond first complained about this back in 2010, claiming that Google refused to give Windows Phones the same access to YouTube metadata that was offered to Android and iOS devices. This meant Microsoft’s YouTube app was actually just a browser displaying the mobile version of YouTube. Microsoft actually went as far as to complain to the European Union and the FTC about Google’s conduct. This week, Microsoft raised the issue once again.

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Though Google may not have any interest in developing apps for Windows Phone (or Windows 8), refusing a competitor access to data that is made readily available to other competitors (in this case, Apple) isn’t exactly conducive to a level playing field, is it? Google has yet to comment on Microsoft’s allegations, but we’ll be sure to update if we hear anything.

We first heard about the PlayBook well over a year ago and the device was first shown off in September of last year. It’s been a long and winding road since then, but the device is finally available for purchase in U.S. and Canadian stores as of today.

The run-up to the availability of this RIM tablet has been peppered with unveiling of many similar (and some quite impressive) devices from competing companies. Of course, the iPad 2 has been out for a while, but customers in the market for a tablet will also be considering the Motorola Xoom, the not-yet-released Asus’ EeePad Transformer, the upcoming Galaxy Tab 10, the LG Optimus Pad, Acer’s new line of tablets, and a whole ream of other slates and tabs either already available or promised for the very near future. To say it’s up against some stiff competition would be a huge understatement.

The PlayBook has come under fire for the fact that it won’t be shipping with a native email, contacts or calendar applications. These features are available for users pairing their RIM device with their BlackBerry phone, but those without a BlackBerry will have to wait until RIM release native apps for these missing PIM functions.

Despite this, the Wall Street Journal cites retailers that say the device is seeing ‘steady’ sales. Sears in Toronto told the newspaper that though it didn’t compare to iPad frenzy, there were a handful of people waiting to buy the PlayBook at 7am this morning. Similarly a Best Buy in Boston also said people were waiting outside for the store to open. In the Stapes on Broadway in New York City, all 10 PlayBooks in stock were sold out within a couple of hours. A salesperson told the Wall Street Journal they were placing customer orders online. However, in Akron, Ohio, sales had yet to even start by late morning. Just before noon, a Best Buy situated there told WSJ that despite advance orders, they hadn’t sold a single unit.

Did you buy a BlackBerry PlayBook? Are you also a BlackBerry owner? Let us know in the comments below!

Further Reading

For those watching to keep their mobile data budgets trim, well, auto-playing videos are nothing but a a hindrance, not a convenience. You can still find a way around Facebook’s Auto-play feature, but Instagram sadly removed that ability from its current setting. This doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do to constrain your mobile data consumption.

Rather than merely auto-play videos, Instagram actually preloads videos so they’re ready to star instantly as you move through your Feed. While you can’t control the auto-playback option, you can control when the videos download.

Follow these steps to keep mobile data usage in check.

1. Enter your profile by tapping on the icon of a person at the bottom far right of Instagram’s home screen.

2. Tap the button with the three square bullets stacked on top of one another in Android to access options and settings. On iPhone, look for the gear button.

3. Look under settings for “Videos” in the Options screen and tap the button.

4. Choose preload on Wi-Fi only to keep your mobile broadband use to a minimum. As a bonus, adjust the slider at the top of the page to disable the automatic playback of sound. If you’re sneaking a look at Instagram while in a meeting, even if a video does auto-play, at least this way your covert activities won’t be given away.

AUSTIN, TX — At a moment where many cable subscribers are cutting the cord and looking for a new option, representatives from,andtook to the stage at SXSW to talk about the state of the over-the-top industry.

Even though,andwere conspicuous by their absence, Hulu’s Richard Irving (vice president of product management), Christian Oestlien (director of product management) and Kathy Payne (head of content acquisition management for Amazon Video Channels) provided insight into their services.

For starters, Irving explained his theory about ‘The Vicious Cycle of TV,’ saying that customers get tired of paying too much for bulky cable packages, ask for discounts, get those savings with bundled deals from providers which require more equipment, leave when their contracts are up and restart the pattern with a new vendor, when they’re available.

Irving also explained that even with its new live-TV service, the majority of content watched on Hulu (54 percent to be precise) is on-demand programming, and not live. Oestlien said that YouTube TV is the opposite, with more of their activity coming from live events, such as sports and news. Irving noted that pageantry also drives traffic for Hulu with the Thanksgiving Day and Tournament of Roses parades.

While both YouTube and Amazon broke into live TV recently, they came in from different angles. Consistently well-performing TV excerpts on YouTube told the streaming company that there was reason to expand, while Hulu’s audience told them that on-demand and original content isn’t enough, as watercooler moments come from events on live TV.

When the conversation turned to customers turning on streaming services some day for how many you need to get the content you want, Payne boasted that Amazon Channels service offers a purely a la carte method, where you buy individual channels you want, and avoid paying for any you don’t need. Channels’ Prime Membership requirement went unmentioned.

Oestlien piped up to mention that if you subscribe to YouTube TV before Tuesday (Mar. 13), you can avoid the $5 price bump that will go into effect. In terms of where this industry is going, Oestlien talked about how software could be written around TV, someday down the road.

Irving then highlighted a couple of ways Hulu is pushing things forward, starting with streamlining ESPN’s Megacast, the 5-channel blitz that spreads college football championship games across multiple networks. Hulu’s also just launched a new feature in its ads, where audiences can now buy movie tickets by tapping through the trailers playing in commercial breaks.

All messaging apps will eventually offer the same feature set, or at least that’s the vibe I’m starting to get. The latest copy-paste moment in this sector comes from Facebook Messenger, which just added live Instant Video sharing, just like Apple FaceTime, Snapchat and Google Duo, to its iOS and Android apps.

Facebook is rolling this feature out today (Sept. 1) as a background update, so you won’t have to download anything to access it. While it’s just as easy to use as the offerings from its competitors, some may not realize the option is even available, as Facebook does little to notify you of its addition.

First, while you’re in a message, tap the Video Camera icon in the top right corner, and tap OK if Messenger prompts you for permission to access the camera and the microphone. After your call is picked up, tap once on the screen and again on Messages in the top left corner to return to the chat. Facebook says you need to tap on the Microphone icon to hear the other person, but that wasn’t required when we tried it out.

The video from your call’s recipient will now appear in the top right corner, and you can make it go full-screen by tapping the video from the other person twice. To share the view from your rear lens, tap the Switch Cameras icon in the top right corner while in full-screen video mode.

While this is a great addition for Facebook Messenger users who love sharing video, it also feels like a general flattening of all the major apps out there. Nothing feels special or unique anymore, and everything looks the same. On the other hand, now that Messenger lets you send money to friends, order an Uber and speak to, it could become the only messaging app you need.

While many digital cameras these days can shoot 4K-resolution video, it’s a feature that often takes a back seat to still-photo features. But if you’re the type of photographer or filmmaker who tends to focus on video, you can spend thousands of dollars for a high-end professional, full-size camcorder, which will provide you with a lot of quality — but you may not have the budget for it. Aside from that, most stand-alone, camcorder-like models offer consumer-grade video that’s more low-end.

It’s one of the reasons Blackmagic introduced the, which is actually the successor to the company’s first ‘pocket’-type camera, which debuted in 2014. The new model targets those who want a very portable, relatively rugged, versatile camera (or device) that primarily shoots video.

To give you a sense of how the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K stands apart from other digital-imaging devices (or falls short of that goal), here’s what you need to know:

Is the Blackmagic a digital camera camcorder or some other type of device?

It’s a device that doesn’t easily fit into any one category. For many years, nearly all consumer-targeted camcorders and action cams have had fixed lenses, meaning that you couldn’t swap out lenses the way you can with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. The Blackmagic is an exception, since it can accept various mirrorless lenses.

But it’s not the first of its kind: Several years ago, Sony introduced the NEX-VG20, an interchangeable-lens Handycam camcorder, which accepted Sony mirrorless zoom and prime lenses (A-mount and E-mount lenses).

How portable is it, and who is this product for?

Blackmagic’s camera looks to be about the size of a large DSLR, which means it’s probably not what most consumers have in mind when they think of something that’s ‘portable.’ It definitely won’t fit in a pocket.  

However, enthusiast and prosumer filmmakers will probably put up with a little inconvenience, bulk and weight, if the camera captures high-quality video and has powerful, versatile features. They’re also the group who will pay extra for a pricey step-up camera like this. Blackmagic is targeting independent filmmakers, documentary photographers, fashion shooters, travel vloggers, and wedding and corporate videographers, as well as sports and event shooters.

What type of sensor does it have?

Blackmagic says it uses a full-size Four Thirds HDR sensor, which has a native 4096 x 2160 (4K) resolution-size sensor.

What type (or types) of lenses does it accept?

Here’s one way Blackmagic’s camera stands out from most interchangeable-lens cameras, although it’s questionable how valid the claim is. When you buy a Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic or Pentax camera, you are committed to that company’s lens mount. So, if you buy a Canon camera, you can only use lenses that fit a Canon mount. Likewise for Nikon, Sony and Pentax. Olympus and Panasonic use the same Micro 4/3rds mount, so they’re compatible with each other, but not the others.

According to Blackmagic, the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is compatible with MFT-mount lenses, which is ‘extremely flexible and allows for different lens adapters so customers can also use PL, C, EF and other types of lenses from manufacturers such as Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Leica and even Panavision.’ In most other cases, a manufacturer introducing a new camera doesn’t say that it’s compatible with other manufacturers’ lenses via an adapter. That’s because such adapters generally come with compromises, such as fewer autofocus options. It will be interesting to see how well this camera works when users are swapping out different lens brands.

Will MFT lenses have a crop factor?

What will be intriguing to see is how the MFT lenses from Panasonic and Olympus perform using a full-frame 4/3rds sensor. Most often, MFT lenses used on Panasonic and Olympus cameras have a 2x crop factor: That means that a 42mm lens is cropped so that it actually appears to function like an 84mm lens. That’s nice if you’re looking to use a telephoto lens, but if you want to shoot wide angle, your 24mm lens will be cropped and have a view of 48mm, which isn’t wide-angle at all.

However, on this Blackmagic model, a 14mm or 42mm will have no crop factor, in the same way a full-frame DSLR or mirrorless camera lack a crop factor.

What video resolutions and frame rates are supported by the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K?

The camera has three video shooting resolutions: two 4K settings; 4096 x 2160 (4K DCI) and 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD); and one full HD, at 1920 x 1080.

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It can also capture 4K at a top frame rate of 60 fps, which should yield smooth video. It can also capture HD video at 120 fps, which allows for slow-motion video (although it won’t be at 4K resolution).

Can the Blackmagic camera shoot still photos?

Yes, since it has a still-photo button control. However, technical specs were not yet available. It will probably be 4096 x 2160, or around an 8-MP photo.

How sensitive is the Blackmagic’s sensor?

The top ISO for the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is 25,600, which is quite high, and decent for a 4/3rds sensor. However, cameras such as the, a mirrorless camera that has very similar specs to the Blackmagic camera, can go up to ISO 51,200, and can be expanded up to ISO 204,800.

What kind of memory card does it accept?

The Blackmagic camera can record to SD memory cards as well as UHS-II cards or CFast 2.0 cards. (The latter two cards allow for more professional-level video capture.) However, what many filmmakers are excited about is the fact that you can hook up an external drive, like a solid-state drive (or SSD), and record your footage directly to those drives via a USB-C port. Blackmagic is also claiming that photographers can use the same drive they captured video footage on to do their video editing and post-production work.

Additionally, Blackmagic is claiming that there are no proprietary files, so it will work with all types of software. (In contrast, in still photography, all RAW files are proprietary — to use a Canon RAW file, you need to makes sure your software packages have the proper plug-in.)

How does it record audio?

Audio, one of the most underappreciated aspects in filmmaking, looks quite promising on the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. First of all, it includes four built-in microphones. But perhaps even more important is that it has a mini XLR input with 48 volts of phantom power. That means you can connect very good-quality, professional-grade mics, which will undoubtedly allow for compelling audio, from interviews to shooting street or on-location footage.

What’s the camera body made of, and what’s the LCD like?

According to the company, the body of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is made of a new, lightweight but-sturdy material: carbon fiber polycarbonate composite. The LCD is a very large, 5-inch touch-screen LCD.

Does it come with software?

Blackmagic is offering a full license for DaVinci Resolve Studio video editor (normally $299), for editing footage, adjusting color, adding visual effects and working with audio.

How much will the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K cost?

In its press release, Blackmagic priced this camera at $1,295.  

When will the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K be available?

Blackmagic hopes to make the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K available in September 2018.

Stay tuned for our full review later this year, when the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K becomes available, and we can put it through our battery of tests.

Credit: Blackmagic Design

What? Huh? There’s Bluetooth in my touchy little iPod Touch? It’s probably a given that many consumers had no idea the device has Bluetooth capabilities, remaining dormant… until now.

In all the hoopla regarding the iPhone and the upcoming 3.0 OS, it’s less-than-loaded half-twin, the iPod Touch 2G (second generation), sat just off stage, wishing it could chime in on some of the spotlight. But, instead of sulking and hanging its head low, the iPod Touch listened, waited, bid its time until someone caught on that the new OS update would unlock a secret treasure laying dormant within. No, it’s not an Alien embryo waiting to burst through the cavity of its slick, touchscreen surface. It’s another blue little demon altogether: the sacred Bluetooth.

For many consumers, the revelation of this feature is quite a pleasant surprise. But for tech-savvy fans who have kept up with the technology powering the device, they may already be aware of the Broadcom BCM4325 wireless communications chip planted within; it was discovered back in September 2008 in a hardware tear-down performed by. To be more specific, the uncovered Broadcom chip was found capable of single-band 2.4GHz 802.11b/g, dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11a/b/g.  Additionally, it had Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR support and an advanced FM receiver. Simply put, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities were already present in the iPod Touch, with the latter deactivated via software.

At the time, it was widely speculated that the chip was mainly used to communicate with the Nike+ iPod sensor puck accessory, however some believed that perhaps Apple had other sinister plans for the Bluetooth portion, and just wasn’t in the mood to share the Bluetooth goodness just yet. Evidently the speculators were correct, as it’s now official that the iPod Touch 2G is fully capable of Bluetooth audio and data transmission, able to carry out Bluetooth functions such as wireless streaming 2-channel audio with A2DP, wireless accessory control (perhaps for gaming), and peer-to-peer connections. The upcoming 3.0 OS will enable these features, costing consumers $9.95 to upgrade the current OS to 3.0.

It’s not uncommon to see device manufacturers stuff their products with deactivated components, or locking said components via firmware by the request of the supplier. Many Verizon subscribers have lashed out at the wireless provider, having ‘locked’ the built-in GPS chip in BlackBerry devices from 3rd-party navigational applications. Thus, Verizon Wireless customers must subscribe to its VZNavigator subscription service, shelling out an additional $10 per month just for it use alone (not including any data packages). As it stands, BlackBerry users on Verizon cannot use the real-time navigational features in other applications such Google Maps, Yahoo maps and so on, having to settle with triangulation options instead.

However, for a one-time fee of $10, the 3.0 OS upgrade for Apple’s iPod Touch seems to be worth every penny, offering not only the new Bluetooth features, but other vast improvements that will make the device that much more useful and fun to play. With peer-to-peer connections, gaming will become even more prominent on the device, offering local multiplayer support previously limited to Wi-Fi connections.

Look for the 3.0 OS upgrade sometime this summer.

Despiteout of respect to the recent passing of Steve Jobs, and its apparent surrender in the Australian front, Samsung continues to go after Apple where they live – no, really! 3 months after, they’ve finally delivered the adorable little guy, a new Galaxy tab that is basically an enlarged smartphone without phone capabilities. Call it Galaxypod Touch, or something that doesn’t risk another.

The 5-inch device retails in the UK for £162 (around $262.99) and will soon be followed by an even smaller 3-inch device selling for £146 (approx. $227.50). Both lil’ cuties run Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), ship with a 1GHZ processor, offer Bluetooth support and Wi-Fi, and allow for optional 8 and 16gb storage, but the 5-nch version has a better camera to go along with its bigger screen.

. Whether or not that happens, odds are 500 to 1 that their ongoing legal battle with Apple will soon open another front. Popcorn and rubbernecking will available to your right.