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  • Rumors of an assault on Europe have circled for quite some time, but today BSkyB has finally made a move to expand its pay-TV empire outside of the UK. The company today announced it has agreed to pay 21st Century Fox a total of £4.9 billion ($8.33 billion) to acquire Sky Italia and buy the majority share (57 percent) of Sky Deutschland. If the deal is given the green light by regulators, the newly-formed Sky Europe would emerge with almost 20 million European customers.

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    Source: Sky (PDF)

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  • Despite the popularity of its music service, Spotify's presence on connected TV platforms is still spotty. It's on Apple TV via AirPlay, Roku, LG and Samsung, but not Xbox, PlayStation or Chromecast (officially). We can add on one more today, as Vizio says it's coming to their VIA Plus enabled TVs. The only bad news? That list is currently limited to just a few models consisting of the 2014 E- and M-series TVs, and you'll need Spotify Premium to tune in. If you don't have Spotify Premium you can try it free for 48 hours -- check out some favorites from our editors if you need musical suggestions.

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    Source: Vizio Blog

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  • YouTube comments typically fill one with shame and disappointment in the human race, but here's one that just might make you cry. Below a video from PBS about video games as spiritual experiences, a user going by the online handle 00WARTHERAPY00 has written a touching story about the time they spent gaming with their dad. 'THERAPY00 says that when he or she was four years old, they'd play Xbox with his or her father and had tons of fun up until a few years later when their dad passed away. It was ten years before the commenter could bring him/herself to boot Microsoft's first game console and when they did, there was a surprise waiting for them. Rally racer Rallisport Challenge features a function that records the best lap-time for a given circuit with an apparition-like version of the car used. Meaning that, quite literally, there was a ghost of 00WARTHERAPY00's father waiting to compete against him or her.

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    Via: Yahoo! Autos

    Source: YouTube

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  • Back at this year's E3 we learned that Halo: Nightfall would tell the origin story for a new character in Halo's sci-fi universe, and we're finally getting to see some of the show in motion. And, well, there are a couple of instances where it looks pretty similar to the Alien not-a-prequel, Prometheus. That almost assuredly isn't a coincidence given the fact that Prometheus' director Ridley Scott is serving as executive producer for the show. It's hard to tell exactly how the episodic series is going to turn out based on a teaser trailer (embedded after the break), but we can tell you that in its 74 seconds there's a distinct lack of Master Chief and a whole lot of talk about an element that "selectively kills humans." How's that for mystery? You'll be able to check out the exploits of Agent Locke and his crew after Halo: The Master Chief Collection releases this November.

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    Source: Xbox Wire, YouTube

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  • Let's say you wanted to give Bungie's latest shooter, Destiny, a go before the game comes out in September, but the idea of pre-ordering video games goes against the very core of your being. Well, Bungie's just announced that it's opening the floodgates on the test-phase for the game and is letting everyone get in on the fun. At 7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific, you'll be able to head to the digital marketplace on your gaming platform of choice (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One) and grab the multi-gigabyte file for yourself and see what everyone's been raving about. And remember, on Saturday at 5 p.m. Eastern, 2 p.m. Pacific, Bungie is promising a special reward for whoever is playing, and that it'll carry over to the game's final version come September.

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    Source: Bungie (1), (2)

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  • What's the internet's most popular game-streaming service worth? About $1 billion, if VentureBeat sources have their story straight. Earlier this year, Variety and the Wall Street Journal reported that Google was in talks to acquire Twitch, but conceded that the two companies were only just starting negotiations. Now, sources familiar with the deal say an agreement has been reached, though its unclear when the reported acquisition will be officially announced. Naturally, there are some concerns that a Google acquisition of Twitch would stifle competition for rival services, but the tried and true platform could certainly bolster Mountain View's own streaming efforts. If nothing else, perhaps the deal will validate emerging market shared gameplay in the eyes of its doubters. Both Google and Twitch have declined to comment on the report.

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    Source: VentureBeat

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  • Apple's set-top hobby has come a long way since its major refresh in 2010, thanks largely to a variety of services bringing different content to the platform. When it comes to gaming, however, the Apple TV isn't exactly a powerhouse, despite being able to support it through AirPlay features -- something similar to what Real Racing has done in the past. Another developer that's made use of this particular second-screen kind of experience is Rolocule Games, and it just announced a new free title (with in-app purchases) dubbed Dance Party.

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    Source: App Store

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  • When a broadcaster logs off for dinner or puts down the controller for some shut-eye, Twitch now lets them keep the game streaming going with its new Host Mode. The function keeps a channel's chat up and running, but embeds a video of the action from another user's session or event while the host takes a breather, or a nap, or goes outside. Viewing stats are still compiled for the original broadcaster and the option can be triggered with a simple chat command. For now though, Host Mode is only available via the web interface.

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    Source: Twitch

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  • It seems as if this week is a good one to get stuff on the cheap or even for free. First, Marvel announced a promo yesterday which gave access to its Unlimited comics service for 99 cents, and now EA has quietly revealed that it's giving away copies of The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection. You'll need to have Origin, EA's software distribution platform, installed on your machine to take advantage of this deal, but it's as easy as entering a code for old and new users alike. Just don't expect EA to keep supporting the classic game after you install it, since the publisher brought closure to that a few days ago. The Windows download on Origin will be available until July 31st at 1:00AM ET, which means there's plenty of time to let it all sink in and cancel whatever you had planned for the weekend.

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    Source: EA

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  • It's hard to believe that it's been a year single Google's streaming dongle arrived on the backs of TVs, bringing easy streaming chops to the masses. As a proper celebration, the folks in Mountain View are thanking both current and new Chromecasters with three free months of Google Play Music All Access -- starting today through September 30th. The company has been keen on adding new features to the accessory regularly, and in the festive announcement teased the ability to beam content while away from your WiFi and customizable homescreens as upcoming additions. Heck, with that bit of subscription savings, you'll almost have enough for a second unit.

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    Source: Google Chrome Blog

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  • We're not sure how many of the new Oculus Rift VR kits have shipped out to developers already, but it looks like a healthy amount are in San Diego right now. That's where Comic-Con is happening this week and, following the X-Men VR demo we already heard about, Legendary Pictures and Oculus have teamed up for Pacific Rim: Jaeger Pilot. It lets attendees take control of the 250-foot tall Jaeger "Gipsy Danger" (no drift connection necessary) and do battle in a virtual reality combat simulator against the kaiju Knifehead (the first one you see in the movie). The whole experience is built in Unreal Engine 4 using the same assets Industrial Light & Magic worked with for the movie. Sure, you've seen the movie, and maybe even in IMAX 3D, but we're pretty sure even Guillermo del Toro's directing tricks can't add up to feeling like you're there, fighting an 8,700 ton monster off the coast of Alaska. It's all in Legendary's booth #3920 for all four days the show is open, from Thursday through Sunday. Don't have a ticket? There's a video preview embedded after the break, but it can't compare to diving into a VR world with Oculus -- maybe we'll be able to enjoy it at home by April 2017 when Pacific Rim 2 arrives.

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    Source: Legendary Pictures (YouTube), Legendary.com

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  • A couple of months back, Sky revealed that it was working to bring Now TV to Sony and Microsoft's latest consoles. Today, it finally started that rollout with the PlayStation 4, ensuring Sony fans have all of their bases covered in the process. Although the Xbox One app is still in development, the broadcaster notes that it will become available in the coming weeks. Neither the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One require a subscription to access the Now TV app, meaning you'll only need to put money down for Sky's movie, entertainment or sports packages to get streaming.

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  • We were expecting to see the new iteration of the Oculus Rift arrive on developer's doorsteps earlier this month, but unfortunately it hit a couple of delays. Road to VR points out a Reddit thread where pre-orderers confirmed their credit cards have been charged ahead of shipping. Community manager cyberreality confirmed in the thread that it's happening, and the "DK2" hardware we (and Mark Zuckerberg) were so impressed by is ready to roll. The initial production run is only supposed to cover some 10,000 of the 45,000 units ordered, so for some your wait is just beginning (until next month). In the meantime, you can check out our hands-on video of the latest and greatest in virtual reality after the break (or the new X-Men related Comic-Con demo) -- hopefully Sony's Project Morpheus team responds to this as quickly as they did on Blu-ray 3D.%Gallery-slideshow184814%

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    Via: Road to VR

    Source: Reddit

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  • That was fast. After Microsoft announced the Xbox One is going to get Blu-ray 3D support in an update soon, Sony's PlayStation Europe arm has responded by finally revealing the same feature is coming to the PS4. There's no word yet on any other other home theater related features we'd love to see make the jump from PS3 to PS4 (Bluetooth remote, DLNA, MP3 playback), or a specific release date, but software update 1.75 is the one we're looking forward to. It's hard to say which is the bigger coincidence -- that this feature is confirmed just days after the XB1 or that it comes as we're finding out about the PSN outage settlement. Hey, at least it's not another stability update.

    Update: The PlayStation US Twitter account has chimed in and done one better -- mentioning that firmware 1.75 will arrive next week. Still no word on any other changes, but that will probably put it ahead of the Xbox One, and give you enough time to order Gravity in 3D from Amazon.

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    Source: PlayStation Europe (Twitter), PlayStation US (Twitter)

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  • Way back in 2011, PlayStation Network services and websites went dark due to "an external intrusion." Anonymous claimed responsibility, names, passwords and possible payment information was lost in a data breach, and everybody in general had a bad time. Sony apologized for the fiasco with a "Welcome Back" package, handing out free (older) games to anybody willing to turn their PlayStation back on -- but that wasn't the end of it. The company still had to face a class action lawsuit for losses caused by identity thefts and the needs of gamers who failed to participate in its apology giveaway before it closed. Now the company has reached a $15 million settlement. The short version? More free stuff.

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    Via: Polygon

    Source: Washington Examiner

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  • It's understandable if having a homicidal alien stab you in the chest isn't your cup of tea, so, thankfully, there are more than a few examples of virtual reality that aren't nearly as gruesome. Take The Shoebox Diorama, for example. It's a series of interactive illustrations for the Oculus Rift, each with a different theme; the latest is about sitting atop a tower of chairs, called The Great Gottlieb. As Kill Screen notes, developer Daniel Ernst describes its premise thusly: this mountain of seats was built by the greatest circus acrobat who ever lived because he wanted a little peace of mind. While seated you can even reach out and grab for a star in the 3D sky, like the kid up above is doing. Sounds pretty tranquil, no? To complete the effect, a recent installation was erected (there's a video of it embedded below), where players sat atop a real stack of chairs and had a fan blowing at the back of their head.

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    Via: Kill Screen, Kotaku

    Source: The Shoebox Diorama (YouTube)

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  • Denon AVR-X5200W reciever with Dolby Atmos

    If you're wondering just when you can envelop yourself in Dolby Atmos sound at home, Denon is more than happy to tell you. The home theater firm says it will launch two Atmos-equipped AV receivers, the X4100W and X5200W, in the US this October. Neither will be cheap, as the bleeding-edge tech implies. For $1,399, the X4100W delivers Dolby's all-encompassing audio in up to a 7.1.2-channel setup (seven regular speakers, one subwoofer, two overhead); splurge on the $1,999 X5200W and you can add two extra speakers to the mix, whether they're on the ground or the ceiling. Either will bring the media support you'd expect for that kind of outlay, including 4K video processing and media sharing over AirPlay or DLNA. That's a lot of cash to shell out to add an extra dimension to your surround sound, but Denon is undoubtedly targeting very high-end living room setups -- if you didn't flinch at buying an expensive 4K TV, these receivers are for you.

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    Source: Denon

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  • Cable Modem

    If you're like me, you've paid for a certain speed from you internet provider only to get a fraction of the promised bandwidth. The FCC is reminding those who control access to the interwebs to be honest and forthcoming with their advertised data with the Open Internet Transparency Rule. The decree requires providers to give you every bit of data on their broadband services needed to make "informed choices." It also requires the disclosures to be "accurate and truthful," covering network management (handling congestion, etc.), performance, terms of service, plan descriptions, pricing and fees. You know, to eliminate surprises down the road. Of course, spilling data on expected and actual speed figures are part of the lot as well. And the Commission urges you to keep a watchful eye on your service, reporting any discrepancies with advertised numbers. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's full statement on the matter awaits after the break.

    [Photo credit: Sh4rp_i/Flickr]

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    Source: FCC

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  • If you've every wanted to try X-Men-style telepathic brainwave amplification, Cerebro isn't real (yet) -- but the Oculus Rift is a damn good surrogate. 20th Century Fox will let you step into Charles Xavier's mind and don the futuristic headgear (the Rift, that is) at Comic-Con in San Diego, starting tonight. Each participant will be immersed in a three minute, panoramic VR presentation on a quest to find nudest of all mutants, Mystique, with the best reactions recorded on a GoPro for Facebook posterity. On top of the VR experience, Fox is offering a limited-edition, thousand-run of X-Men: The Cerebro Collection in a replica Cerebro helmet on pre-order for $80, or $90 with X-Men: Days of Future Past. The latter will also be up for pre-order at $23 alone and both will arrive October 14th, with the Digital HD version set to come on September 23rd. %Gallery-slideshow209137%

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  • When you start chugging a series, it's hard to stop, even for trips to the bathroom, or going to work, or catching up on sleep. It's a problem that Netflix loves to exploit, only giving you a few seconds before offering up the next episode of whatever series you're currently immersed in. For some reason, however, this post-play feature didn't work on the Apple TV, until it suddenly did a few days ago, without warning. The Roku-rival has even popped up on Netflix's list of supported devices, so never again will you have the option of stopping House of Cards after a single episode. Well, unless you disable it, of course.

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    Via: Cult of Mac

    Source: Netflix

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  • Remember when LG announced that it had managed to create a rollable 18-inch display? Well, here's the proof: a very much flexible OLED display. The resolution might not be there yet (1,200 x 810, alas) but the hopes and dreams of a picnic-blanket TV set -- they're getting more real every day.

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    Via: OLED Display

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  • There were so many TVs on display back at CES, that you'd be forgiven if they all blended together. So allow us to give you a recap: The Samsung UN105S9W was, in the company's own words, the "world's first, largest and most curved 105-inch curved UHD TV." Well then! Sounds like an expensive piece of kit, huh? You have no idea. Sammy just put its flagship TV up for pre-order and it's kind of a doozy. The whole thing costs $120,000 -- also known as a mortgage. For the money, you get 5,120 x 2,160 resolution on an unusually large screen, with an unusually wide aspect ratio of 21:9. Additionally, you'll receive a visit from one of Samsung's "Field Engineers" to walk you through all the features, if that's any consolation. It's also a Smart TV, with all the usual built-in apps, and the ability to separate the screen into four quadrants for watching live TV and surfing the web at once. Honestly, though, we'd be offended if a TV this expensive didn't do that. You can pre-order now if you like, but let's be real: Most of you are probably saving $120,000 for your future child's college tuition.

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    Source: Samsung

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  • "If I had a hole in New Mexico, maybe that one [the Project Runway game] would have made it there."

    Todd Shallbetter, Atari's chief operating officer, is just joking of course. He's referencing the company's infamous 1983 move to bury countless amounts of unsold gaming hardware and E.T. game cartridges under a slab of cement in the desert. Shallbetter doesn't deny his company's rocky legacy. On the contrary, he embraces it, using its failures as a counterpoint for a new version of Atari he's helping to build. To push the company past the €31.7 million (about $42 million) in revenues it earned in the 2011-2012 fiscal year (PDF), Shallbetter is targeting markets that most companies would rather ignore; markets that represent hundreds of billions of dollars. Atari is going after gays and gamblers.

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  • Earns Comast

    Even as cable giant Comcast tries to get bigger by absorbing Time Warner Cable, its own revenue grew in the last quarter to $16.8 billion, up 3.5 percent from last year, and net income hit $1.99 billion. The most important number for a subscription business though is how many customers it has, and through a traditionally slow quarter, it managed to slow the loss of total "customer relationships" to 25,000 from 66,000 for the same period last year -- although my friend Ryan Block recently found out how difficult ending that relationship can be. More of the customers that remain are picking up internet and phone services, as it has over 21 million high speed internet subscribers alone. You can check out the numbers yourself right here, I'll be tuning in for the earnings call in a few minutes to find out if it has any new response to the recent customer service controversy, net neutrality and its battle with Netflix, or an update on the $45 billion TWC acquisition.

    [Image credit: Associated Press]

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    Source: Comcast

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  • While a bunch of the hype surrounding the Destiny beta is how great developer Bungie's latest shooter looks running on the PlayStation 4, gamers on last-gen hardware have been playing through the weekend too. Based on the video that Digital Foundry put together (embedded below), the PlayStation 3 version expectedly doesn't stack up next to its current-gen counterpart, but it doesn't look terrible, either. If I were to describe it in one word, it'd be "softer." The tech-centric outlet notes that while the levels themselves remain the same the overall shape and size, set dressing like foliage and rocks are less dense (and in some cases, completely missing), and lighting is less complex as well. Most impactful, possibly, is the PS3 game's native resolution. While the PS4 version runs at a native 1920x1080, or 1080p, Destiny on Sony's previous console is running at 1024x624 (sub-720p) -- roughly 30 percent the total pixel count of its current-gen cousin.

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    Via: Eurogamer

    Source: YouTube

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