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July 17, 2008

Amazon tries out video streaming store

Amazon logo got into the Internet video business in 2006 with its Unbox video download store which, after a rocky start, had seemed to be perking along although achieving minimal success. However, it seems that Amazon has been rethinking the whole market and has now decided to give sales of streaming video a try: will introduce a new online store of TV shows and movies on Thursday, called Amazon Video on Demand.

Customers of Amazon’s new store will be able to start watching any of 40,000 movies and television programs immediately after ordering them because they stream, just like programs on a cable video-on-demand service. That is different from most Internet video stores, like Apple iTunes and the original incarnation of Amazon’s video store, which require users to endure lengthy waits as video files are downloaded to their hard drives.

The video store will be accessible through the Sony Bravia Internet Video link, a $300 tower-shaped device that funnels Web video directly to Sony’s high-definition televisions. That is an awkward extra expense, for now. But future Bravias are expected to have this capability embedded in the television, making it even easier to gain access to the full catalog of past and present TV shows and movies, over the Internet, using a television remote control.

Mr. Carr said Amazon would pursue similar deals with other makers of TVs and Internet devices. “We can support both streaming and downloading,” he said. “Our goal is to continue to establish partnerships with all companies who have a connected device.”

Amazon Video on Demand will be accessible to a limited number of invited customers on Thursday before it opens more broadly to other users later this summer.

One interesting touch is that once an item is "purchased" it is stored in "Your Video Library" and can be watched repeatedly, even from different locations and devices.

Frequent readers will know my mantra that Internet video won’t take off until it is dead simple for the average consumer to use. Amazon Video on Demand certainly fits the bill, but the not-unexpected expense of the intermediate box and its relative rarity is certainly going to slow acceptance. Moreover, details on the technical requirements for the customer’s Internet connection have not been revealed. It will be interesting to see how fat a pipe you have to have to your home to play.

Posted at 12:23 pm. Filed under Amazon, Brands, Bravia, Companies, Internet, Sony, Streaming video, Video on Demand

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July 16, 2008

Kindle 2.0 coming in the fall?

Amazon KindleJohn Biggs at CrunchGear has a rumor of two new and improved Amazon Kindle eBook readers on the way:

The first is an updated version with the same sized screen, a smaller form factor, and an improved interface. The source told us that Amazon has “skipped three or four generations,” comparing the old Kindle to the 1st gen iPod and the new version to something like the sexy iPod Mini.

The second new model, which is shaped like an 8 1/2 x 11-inch piece of paper, is considerably bigger than the current model and should be available next year.

The claim is that they’s also be available in multiple colors and the first one as soon as October. That’s the original Kindle e-book reader in the photo above.

Posted at 12:29 pm. Filed under Amazon, Books, Brands, Companies, eBook, Kindle

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Can you still you buy a new PC with Windows XP preinstalled?

Windows-XP Yes, you can still buy a new PC with Windows XP installed on it. Windows XP ceased to be available at retail on June 30, 2008 but there are a number of exceptions. The relevant exception for a consumer or a small business owner is that "OEMs can downgrade Vista Business or Vista Ultimate licenses to Windows XP Professional or Tablet PC versions for customers indefinitely," where OEMs are the large PC manufacturers.

However, there’s a difference between "can" and "will" or "will with no hassle" so Christopher Null at PC World tried to purchase a PC with XP from Dell, HP, Gateway, Toshiba, Acer, Fujitsu, Lenovo, and Asus and reports on the very mixed results. Hit the article for the full details on each, but the best bets for an machine with XP preinstalled are:

Consumer PC: Toshiba, Fujitsu, Lenovo

Business PC: HP, Fujitsu, Lenovo

If you are willing to pay extra or install XP from a CD, the choices are even more numerous. Also Asus has its line of Eee ultra low-cost PCs (ULPC) which come with XP under a different exemption in the rules.

Posted at 11:33 am. Filed under Acer, ASUS, Companies, Dell, Desktop PC, Fujitsu, Gateway, HP, Laptop, Lenovo, Notebook, Tablet PC, Toshiba, Windows XP

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