Forget about the fight between DVD and Blu-ray, Playboy has decided to leave physical media behind altogether. Instead, the company best known for its articles (you do read Playboy for the articles, right?) will focus solely on digital distribution, according to the company's regulatory filing. The move is expected to save Playboy about $12 million a year in expenses.
Shedding its DVD operation will result in the loss of 80 jobs an $2 million in restructuring charges. Combined with an additional $4 million taken against archival materials and a receivable, Playboy expects to take a total of $6 million in charges against operating income resulting in a net loss for the third quarter.
Despite the initial net loss, Christie Hefner, the company's chairman and chief executive, wrote in a memo to all Playboy employees that the goal is to return the company to profitability in 2009. In addition to migrating to digital distribution, savings will come from cutting overtime, travel, and entertainment.
Almost makes you not want to work at Playboy. Almost.
Back in August there was quite a commotion over the discovery that Apple had included a “kill switch” in the iPhone, functionality that allowed them to remotely remove applications from the device without the user’s consent. Now, in the Android Market terms of service, Google has revealed that Android has its own kill switch.
To Google’s credit, they’re not attempting to hide the kill switch. They say, in the terms of service “Google may discover a product that violates the developer distribution agreement … in such an instance, Google retains the right to remotely remove those applications from your device at its sole discretion.” Apple, on the other hand, didn’t say a word about their remote removal function until a developer called them out on it.
Further, Android’s kill switch only applies to programs downloaded through the Android Market, meaning that if users really want some verboten app, they still have the option of getting it from the developer, or through other channels, unlike the iPhone. Also, Google says that it will try to refund the purchase price of any app bought through the Market that it has to disable.
What do you think of the kill switch? Will it help keep malware off your G1, or should that be left up to the user? Tell us after the jump.
"Do you want to touch (yeah), do you want to touch (yeah), do you want to touch me there-ere, where-ere?" Recognize those lyrics? If so, you've either just dated yourself, or you caught a glimpse of HP's latest commercial featuring its TouchSmart PC. And yes, we want to touch.
But HP isn't stopping at the desktop. According to The Wall Street Journal, HP will come out with a touchscreen notebook by the end of the year, and that's only the beginning. An upcoming line of touch-based cellphones is expected to follow sometime afterward, with even more devices on the horizon. What those devices might be remains to be seen, but an HP spokeswoman did acknowledge the company is "building a whole family of touch" gadgets for future release.
Leading the charge into touchscreen technology is Phil McKinney, CTO of HP's PC division. McKinney has been working on software that works with and on top of Windows. He's also enlisted the help of design company Frog Design to come up with new touch software and hardware. If done right, HP could conceivably do for PCs what Apple has done for cellphones.
Gateway made quite a splash in the mobile gaming community this past summer when it released its P-7811 FX notebook. Packed with gaming goodies usually reserved for high priced boutique OEM offerings, Gateway managed to cram a full blown desktop replacement into a sub-$1500 package (at one point, Best Buy was selling the FX notebook on sale for $1249 plus a free game). Having reintroduced itself back into the enthusiast sector, Gateway this time is focusing on the desktop market with a pair of new models, the FX6710 and LX6200.
The copper color trimmed FX6710-01 ships with an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400 processor clocked at 2.66GHz with 6MB of L2 cache on a 1333MHz frontside bus. Not often seen on a value priced desktop (if ever), the new FX boasts 6GB of DDR2 memory. A 750GB SATA II hard drive rounds out the non-volatile storage duties, and an ATI HD 4850 videocard with a 512MB frame buffer provides pixel pushing power on the gaming front. Other specs include an 18x DVD burner, 15-in-1 media card reader, 6 USB 2.0 ports, eSATA port, 2 Firewire ports, 7.1 onboard sound, and Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit.
On the AMD side of the fence, Gateway's LX6200-01 comes configured with a Phenom X4 9500 quad core processor clocked at 2.2GHz with 2MB of L3 cache. The LX boasts a little more DDR2 RAM at 8GB, while the videocard gets downgraded an integrated ATI HD 3200 graphics.
Both the FX6710 and LX6200 are available now with an MSRP of $1200 and $780 respectively.
Nvidia scored a much needed win for its mobile graphics with the release of the 9400M GPU, which Apple has chosen to use in its refreshed MacBook line. Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave credit to the 9400M for offering better performance in the new MacBooks, ultimately leading the company to choose Nvidia over Intel.
One could argue that vendor confidence in Nvidia had been more than a little rattled after it came to light that the company's 8M series might have a more serious design flaw than initially thought. What started off as a bad batch of GPUs quickly turned into speculation that the problem could be widespread among Nvidia's silicon, affecting not only mobile parts but desktop solutions as well. But Apple could be just what Nvidia needs to turn this perception around.
In case you haven't been paying attention, the netbook sector is one of the hottest areas in the PC market. Demand has been so high that, despite a weakening global economy, mini-notebooks have played a large role in worldwide PC shipments reaching 80.6 million units in the third quarter of 2008. That's a 15 percent jump from this same time last year. Ironically enough, economic woes might be exactly the reason why sales have been so good.
"In the North America market, the economic crunch created more interest in the sub-$500 segment," noted Mika Kitagawa, principal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group. "Because the mini-notebook is still a new segment, it is too early to determine if the emerging segment created new market opportunities, or if it cannibalized lower priced systems."
Gartner notes that Asus and Acer have been two of the bigger beneficiaries of the emerging mini-notebook sector, as both companies "had a strong focus and acted quickly." As a result, other vendors are playing catch-up, but it might prove difficult to reach the same level of market expansion that Asus and Acer have been able to reach. Acer especially had a good third quarter, recording a 47 percent growth in worldwide PC unit shipments from Q3 2007.
It seems as though many enthusiasts are biding their time with Vista and have already begun looking forward to Windows 7. In some respects, so has Microsoft, who doesn't need much coaxing to talk about the new OS, whether it be about the refined UAC experience or explaining where the Windows 7 naming scheme comes from. But that doesn't mean Vista's being kicked to the curb.
On the contrary, it looks as though Vista's second Service Pack will make a debut before Windows 7, suggests ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley. According to Foley, select hardware and software partners have already received a beta of SP2, and while the murmurs are unusually quiet regarding what the new Service Pack will bring, Foley's sources have indicated that Microsoft's goal is to deliver SP2 before Windows 7 in an attempt to lessen confusion among users mulling whether to deploy Vista or wait for the new OS. And what does Microsoft have to say on the matter?
"Microsoft is working on a second Windows Vista Service Pack (Windows Vista SP2) and will share more details in the coming months," a Vista spokesperson wrote.
Hit the jump and let us know what you're most looking forward to: Windows 7 or Vista SP2.
The decision of whether or not to pick up a Blu-ray player at the same time an HDTV is purchased may soon get a little easier, as the two are poised to come together in a single package. As of next month, Sharp will become the first company to offer an LCD HDTV with a built-in Blu-ray player and recorder.
32" LC-32DX1 (1366x768)
37" LC-37DX1 (1366x768)
42" LC-42DX1 (1920x1080)
46" LC-46DX1 (1920x1080)
52" LC-52DX2 (1920x1080)
Sharp's new Aquos DX series will allow viewers to watch a program on one channel while recording on another at the same time. By supporting H.264/MPEG4 AVC encoding, Sharp says its built-in recorder will be able to hold up to 11 hours of high-definition video in 720p on a single 25GB Blu-ray disc.
Pricing will start at about $1700 for the 26-inch model and run up to $5000 for the 52-inch set. Japan gets first crack at the new sets starting on November 20, with U.S. availability by the end of the year.
"Fallout 3, Far Cry 2, Fable 2... uh, LittleBigPlanet," I nonchalantly listed, sliding my scroll bar up and down a ludicrously large list of games that'll begin hogging shelf space next week. Instantly, a deafening shout of "OH! LittleBigPlanet!" flew straight and true, right into my unsuspecting ears, from the other side of a view-obscuring television. "You're so buying LittleBigPlanet!" My friend's voice continued, registering at somewhere around War-crime on the decibel scale.
Yeah, LittleBigPlanet's kind of a big deal around the gaming scene's more console-y bits, but what's it mean for PC gamers? Well, in these parts it's not quite a revolution, but it's pretty damn close.
Over the past couple years, "user-created content" has crept onto many game developers' billowing lists of PR-friendly buzz words, and with good reason. Whether it's Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's character creation system or Spore's, well, everything, people love to spill their creative frustrations onto videogaming's canvas. (And drawing new Mega Man levels on graph paper is so nineties.)
Now stop! Take your finger off the scroll wheel; the comments section isn't going anywhere. Yes, PC gaming gospel states that we must fling ourselves into Internet forums, kissing the ground, and praising mods -- and games like Oblivion and Spore did not invent user-created content -- but guess what? Mods are old news, no matter how crazy-awesome they might potentially be.
Why? Consoles. Consoles. Consoles. Like it or not, aside from a few shining examples, game design has parked its heart in simpler interfaces and ease-of-use. PC gaming, its cash cow now six feet under for a number of reasons, simply isn't worth the effort these days. As a result, real mod support -- sloppily attempted in only a single console game -- watched its bungee cord snap as it plummeted right off developers' priority lists. After all, mod tools don't just appear out of thin air; they siphon extra time and cash away from other areas of development. When simple user-creation tools can offer a menagerie of similar (but less versatile) powers to a wider range of people, mod tools sadly get kicked to the curb.
Continue reading to find out why this trend might not be as awful as it sounds.
Xbox Evolved -- a site claiming to have first broken the news that the Xbox 360's hard drive would be optional, way back in 2004 -- has heard from "incredibly reliable" sources that the Xbox 360's all-too-quickly approaching successor will be forward-compatible.
"Forward-compatible," the avant garde cousin of "backward-compatible," apparently refers to the Xbox 361-plus-infinity-plus-one's ability to act as a performance-enhancer for Xbox 360 games.
"This isn’t a side effect of textures being cleaner and upscaled resolution, this is a new animal completely," reads the article. "Imagine playing Gears of War 3 on your Xbox 360 it looks and plays good right? Well imagine that the year after it comes out you go out to buy the next Xbox and it looks even better, it plays even better. Features in the new controller are utilized with the game, the graphics do not only look sharper, but the draw distance is better, the speed is better, framerate, and there are even new features, perhaps even levels via DLC for the game on the third-generation Xbox."
"GoW3 is of course an example of what this could mean, past the forward-compatibility information, Xbox Evolved has not been given any other information about the next generation of Xbox."
So yeah, it's just like a PC. Get a new machine? Old Game X gets a new coat of paint. And while we certainly think this sounds like an interesting feature, we hope Microsoft doesn't get too caught up in new features to remember little things like focus-testing.