Hulu Plus Subscription Service Streams TV for $9.99 a Month

Hulu launched a preview of a new $9.99-a-month subscription service called Hulu Plus that streams TV content to Web-connected TVs and devices including the iPhone and iPad. The service supports 720p high-definition streaming, and will work across computers, TVs, mobile phones, and tablets.

Users can sign-up for a invitation to the Hulu Plus subscription preview at www.hulu.com/plus; the company has not said when to expect the service to go live in wide release, beyond a vague reference to it happening “in the coming months”. If you don’t get an invite, you can still try the service out using a limited number of free episodes and clips.

The appeal of Hulu, of course, is its wide selection of television content from major television production studios, broadcasters, and independent content creators. After more than two years on the Web, Hulu has grown its library and its usability dramatically since we first reviewed the site in a quest to find The Best TV on the Web. Now, Hulu aggregates content from 100 providers, including networks ABC, FOX, and NBC. The service is jointly owned by NBC Universal and The Walt Disney Company, among others.

Check out the rest of the story here…

Apple Tells Users to Hold iPhone Differently to Fix Reception

Apple Inc. responded to complaints about reception on its new iPhone by telling customers they should hold the device differently.

“Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas,” Apple said today in an e-mailed statement. “If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.”

Yesterday’s introduction of the iPhone 4 was marred by criticism that signal strength diminishes when users cover the bottom left corner of the phone with their palm. The iPhone, introduced in 2007, has become Apple’s top-selling product even after users reported glitches and dropped calls with previous versions of the device.

Check out the rest of the story here…

Hulu plans to charge, expand to devices: sources

Free video website Hulu plans to soon begin charging customers and is looking to expand its content to consumer devices like the Xbox and iPad, according to two sources, as the site’s media owners experiment with platforms beyond an ad-supported TV model.

Those sources and another with knowledge of the matter said that Hulu, the website for TV viewing owned by News Corp, General Electric’s NBC Universal and Walt Disney Co, was developing a subscription service to be rolled out on multiple devices in the next month or two. It was not clear if that service would be offered before Hulu is available on devices.

One of those devices is expected to be Microsoft Corp’s Xbox, which also features Netflix Inc’s movie streaming service, one of the sources said on Tuesday. Another one of the sources said Hulu was also working to offer its service on Apple Inc’s iPad.

Hulu, which generated an estimated $100 million in advertising revenue last year, will continue to offer newer episodes of shows like Fox’s “Glee” free of charge, but it will also charge viewers a monthly fee to see older episodes and other content, two of the sources said.

Hulu and Microsoft declined to comment.

Check out the rest of the story here…

Netflix for iPhone Is Coming, Subject to AT&T’s Data Caps

Apple and AT&T will let iPhone users watch movies rented from Netflix over AT&T’s 3G wireless data connections starting later this summer. But by doing so, they must  tap a finite resource: capped monthly data plans, which AT&T no longer sells in unlimited form.

Netflix and other iPhone apps require so much bandwidth that AT&T and/or Apple had to make a trade-off between restricting app features or restricting monthly bandwidth. It became even clearer during today’s announcement at WWDC in San Francisco that they’ve chosen the latter, having watched the viewing habits of Netflix-for-iPad users since April.

The upcoming Netflix iPhone app, slated for release later this summer, will let you stream movies from a Netflix account to Apple’s smartphone the same way it already streams to computers, television sets, iPads and supported smartphones, without losing your place if you switch screens. This time, you’ll be able to watch over the iPhone’s wireless 3G connection in addition to Wi-Fi, and movies have the potential to look particularly good on the new 4G iPhone’s higher-resolution display.

Check out the rest of the story here…

Kazaa, Skype Founders Launch Twitter-Like Music Service Rdio

Janus Friis with Niklas Zennström, who disrupted music distribution with the Kazaa file sharing service and phone companies with Skype, unveiled their Twitter-like version of a digital music service at the crack of midnight Thursday morning.

Rdio offers instant access to more than 5 million tracks from all the major labels and several indies to listeners in the United States and Canada through a web browser, downloadable software or mobile app. It’s available for free for three days and then for fees of $5 (web only) or $10 (web plus mobile).

The service enters a crowded field; Napster, Rhapsody, MOG, mSpot and others already charge similar prices to deliver the same music in the same ways in the United States. And Apple, Google and Spotify are waiting in the wings.

Along with leveraging experience from Kazaa and Skype (as well as their failed video service Joost), founders Friis and Zennström hope Rdio will distinguish itself from the field with features borrowed from Twitter and Facebook. It’ll let you see what people you trust are listening to, what they like and who they know, through real-time feeds, activity streams and profile pages that display the most-played music by a given user graphically with different-sized bubbles.

Check out the rest of the story here…

Sony PS3 3D Update Coming June 10

Ready, set, Sony’s 3D firmware update for the PlayStation 3 will go live in Japan next Monday, June 10, says Sony, with U.S. and other markets expected to follow shortly. The eagerly anticipated (and occasionally derided) eyeball-fakeout technology is finally set to invade home

According to Japanese news-watcher Andriasang, Sony will kick things off in the Land of the Rising Sun by adding 3D support to three downloadable games, including racer Wipeout HD, asteroid zapper Star Strike HD, and human-chucking catharsis engine Mr. Pain (the latter two are Japan-only titles at this time).

A fourth–international muscle-racer Motorstorm 2–will be available as an exclusive demo with the purchase of a 3D Sony Bravia TV.

We’ve heard nothing firm yet about U.S. release plans or launch titles, but with E3 just a few weeks away, those dates should be imminent.

Check out the rest of the story here…

Study: Pac-Man on Google wasted 4.8 million hours

It might not sound like a lot on first glance, but the 36 extra seconds that the average Google.com visitor spent there last Friday playing Pac-Man adds up to a massive 4.8 million of wasted hours.

According to a study by RescueTime, Pac-Man on Google–the playable version of the iconic game that the search giant replaced its home page logo with on Friday–cost the economy a total of 4,819,352 man-hours and a whopping $120,483,800 in lost productivity. As RescueTime put it, you could hire every single Google employee, including co-founders Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and CEO Eric Schmidt, and get them for six weeks for that much money.

Check out the rest of the story here…

DOJ inquires about Apple’s hold on digital music

The U.S. Department of Justice has begun asking questions about Apple’s role in the recent scaling back of special music discounts and promotions at Amazon, according to two high level music industry sources.

The sources said investigators have begun speaking to a number of digital music retailers and top record labels about Apple’s response to the “MP3 Daily Deal,” an Amazon promotion that involved slashing prices on specific titles and pushing them heavily the day they were released. Amazon sometimes negotiated with the labels to get exclusive access to the music for a day, and the labels and their artists would often support the Daily Deal by promoting it on their Web sites.

Apple managers had informed the labels that any music included in Amazon’s promotion would receive no promotion at iTunes, music industry sources told CNET in April. In one case, an industry source said then, Apple complained to Sony Music Entertainment after seeing material from Alicia Keys touted as part of the Daily Deal.

Check out the rest of the story here…

Best Buy to Start Planned Online Movie-Sales Service

Best Buy Co., the largest consumer- electronics retailer, will start its planned online service selling movies and television shows this month, jumping into a market that includes Apple Inc.’s iTunes and Amazon.com Inc.

The service, called CinemaNow, is part of a partnership announced in November with technology provider Sonic Solutions Inc., Richfield, Minnesota-based Best Buy said in a statement. Sales will start through LG Electronics Inc. Blu-ray players and expand to other Web-enabled electronics.

Best Buy is tying Web-delivered entertainment to electronic devices sold in its stores as demand for physical DVDs declines. The service will start with a la carte, on-demand purchases and may later become a subscription service like Netflix Inc., Chris Homeister, senior vice president of entertainment, said in an interview.

Check out the rest of the story here…