Big news is breaking in the worlds of Xbox 360, Sirius XM and Rhapsody subscription music and tablet computers.
Microsoft "Bings" You In: Do you have an Xbox 360 with Kinect and Xbox Live service? Turn 'em on and update the Xbox Live dashboard today. You'll discover voice control from the Kinect system is now mashed with Microsoft's Bing search engine. As a consequence, you can go searching for video and music content by voice command: "Bing, find me Bill Murray movies."
That request will pull up content available from Zune and new Xbox 360 partners including EPIX (3,000 movies) and Hulu Plus (TV shows) if you have a subscription to either through Xbox or a participating cable company.
Also new on Xbox 360 today are apps connected to ESPN and the Today Show. Coming later in the month - iHeartRadio, TMZ, Vudu (WalMart's pay movie service) and instant access to a couple dozen basic channels (nothing fancy) for subscribers of Verizon FiOS TV.
Then early next year, Bing searches on the Xbox 360 also will pull up HBO Go, CinemaNow (another movie streaming service, backed by Best Buy) and. tah-dah, Comcast's Xfinity on Demand.
Sirius, Seriously?: Been thinking about renewing your subscription to Sirius XM? Time's running out to get an extended deal at current prices. as the monthly subscription rate will rise on January 1 from $12.95 to $14.49. To soften the blow, Sirius XM will be launching (come February) an improved 2.0 service adding 22 channels, including 12 aimed at the Hispanic market. But to get those new channels, subscribers will need to upgrade to a new 2.0 receiver like the just-announced Sirius XM 2.0 Lynx SXil ($249) spotted in "pre-order" status at Crutchfield.com.
On another music subscription front, former Napster streaming music subscribers who were involuntarily transitioned last week to Rhapsody (the latter bought out the former) can take heart. Rhapsody now promises to integrate the coolest "exclusive" feature of Napster - its relationship with Billboard and the operation's music charts which allowed users to find and call up the hottest music by year and season, stretching back to the late 1960s. Just turning 21 this month, and curious to know what was playing when you were born, or when mom and dad conceived you? Billboard searches on Napster could do that - revealing Winter 1990 hits like Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" (oh yes you did!)
Another Local Tablet Hits the Streets: Philadelphia-based Stream TV Networks yesterday put its newest tablet on sale via major retailers J&R and NewEgg.com (and coming tomorrow to ShopNBC.) Branded the eLocity A7+. the 7-inch touch screen Android 2.2 model is priced the same as the Barnes & Noble Nook and $30 more than the Amazon Fire, but argues advantages like a more powerful CPU (the dual core Tegra 2) and a full local browser "keeping your data private." (There's been some concern that Amazon is gathering information about users, to um, sell you more stuff.) The A7+ also boasts a front camera and microphone, HDMI and USB 2.0 ports - the latter supporting thumb drives up to 64GB - as well as a MicroSD slot supporting a 32 GB card. (There's 4GB "resident," same as on the Fire.) For more info, visit http://elocitynow.com