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For all the money people spend on technology gadgets, it’s about time they got something without spending a cent. In this week’s column, I’ve compiled a cheat sheet to some of the most popular free digital content that isn’t always easy to find. This includes books, music, movies, TV shows, catalogs, magazines and apps, available on mobile devices as well as computer desktops.
This guide is divided into the four major content companies you’re likely to buy from: Apple, Amazon, Google and Barnes & Noble. The free offerings include content people will actually want to download, such as songs from new and established music artists and hit TV shows. I also included some broader-based websites that aim to help people sort through vast collections of free content.Apple
Apple’s iTunes Store has been a hit from the start, simplifying the process of buying music with a click of the mouse and saved credit-card information. But these clicks can add up quickly if you aren’t careful.
Every Tuesday, starting around 12 a.m. Eastern Time, Apple offers a free Single of the Week on its iTunes store. This week it’s “Déjà Vu” by Coco Jones. In addition, Free Songs are offered every so often on a case-by-case basis, like on Feb. 19 when “The Clock” by the View was offered. Once in a while, albums are available to stream for free about a week before they’re available for purchase in the iTunes Store. This week, I listened free of charge to Justin Timberlake’s entire new album, “The 20/20 Experience,” which can be preordered now for $ 10.99. (The free listening offer ends March 19.)
One spot on the iTunes Store houses all free content in one place, including music, movie featurettes (short clips of films or Q&As with a cast), featured TV shows, apps, books and podcasts. You can find the Free on iTunes page at http://tinyurl.com/boxckdn.Amazon
Owners of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader are constantly on the lookout for new reading material, especially if it’s free. A helpful summary page that lists all of Amazon’s free book options can be found at http://tinyurl.com/aaq5yd6. People who pay $ 79 a year for Amazon Prime membership and who own Kindles can borrow books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. This library represents just 300,000 books of Amazon’s 1.8 million total, but it’s a plus that these books are borrowed for free without due dates.
Amazon’s MP3 Store offers a free music playlist for the month. An Artists on the Rise page highlights and allows free downloads of songs by these new artists. The list of March songs includes 12 tracks; all can be previewed or downloaded for free.
Prime Instant Video, Amazon’s video-subscription model that comes with the $ 79 annual Prime fee, lets people stream over 38,000 movies and TV episodes.
Amazon tries to promote a different paid app for free each day. These daily deals can be accessed via the Amazon Appstore for Android on the Kindle Fire, mobile devices, Android tablets or PCs. Past examples include Quickoffice Pro, SwiftKey X and Angry Birds Rio.Google
Google’s Play Store is big on free stuff. Each day, a Free Song of the Day is given away and this can be found on the store’s Music home page about halfway down, or at http://tinyurl.com/cqdhj9a. Like Amazon, Google promotes a playlist of free music each month, called “Antenna.” Random sales appear in the Play Store every so often, like a global-dance-tracks sale that is going on right now, including 12 free songs.
Free episodes of TV shows can be downloaded from the Play Store. Current shows include “Revenge,” “Once Upon A Time” and “Red Widow.” The Play Store often has sales on collections of shows. For the past week it offered 85 free TV show pilots.
The Play Store carries free public-domain books and ranks the Top Free books in a list, including “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells. These are found on the store’s Books home page. Digital versions of over 115 magazine titles can be tried free for 14 or 30 days at a Free Trials page.Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble’s Free Fridays program offers its Nook users a different paid book and app for free every Friday. (Last Friday, the free app was OfficeSuite Professional 7, which costs $ 14.99.) Users can download these free books and apps via the store at Nook.com. There are also thousands of free books and apps available at the Nook store when customers type “free books” into the search bar.
Free 14-day trials for over 700 magazine titles are available for Nooks as well is access to 60 free catalogs.Work-For-You Websites
If you’re an Amazon customer and don’t want to bother hunting through Amazon’s website for free content, numerous websites compile lists of free books for users. FreeBookSifter.com is bare-bones, but has 26 categories on the left side, including its useful top category, Added Today.
OneHundredFreeBooks.com is a visually pleasing site that includes categories like handpicked and newest. It even lets you sign up via email to receive free book suggestions in your inbox.
ManyBooks.net sorts books by new titles, popular and recommended; it also includes a search box at the top.
If you’re tired of seeing a chunk of your credit-card bill go toward digital content each month, take advantage of these free digital options.
Write to Katherine Boehret at email@example.com.Related Posts:
Microsoft is making a big push to bring more content to Xbox and some of the more recognizable names in entertainment have responded by building apps for the console, bringing their services into your living room. Two weeks ago, ESPN arrived on Xbox with WatchESPN, allowing anyone who has a cable subscription with Time Warner, Bright House, Verizon FiOS, XFINITY (Comcast) or Midcontinent to access ESPN and all of its properties on their Xbox.
Microsoft is further adding to its catalog, as a handful of new apps will begin rolling out today worldwide, including Rhapsody, Blip.TV, IGN, LOVEFiLM, RTL XL and TOU.TV.
Rhapsody first announced its availability to Xbox 360 users yesterday afternoon, bringing its on-demand music service to Xbox LIVE. The company tells us that the new app comes with a UI designed specifically for the platform, which takes advantage of HD displays and integrates voice commands and gestures for Kinect. The app is available now on Xbox LIVE and is free for current Rhapsody members and Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers.
Similar to the company’s apps for LG, Panasonic and Samsung smart TVs, the new Xbox app allows users to quickly find and play their favorite music from Rhapsody’s catalog of one million-plus songs. Radio play, popular albums, new releases and playlists are also featured prominently, along with featured editorial stations picked by Rhapsody’s staffers. The app is initially launching for U.S. subscribers and will roll out worldwide in the coming months.
Blip.TV also launches on Xbox today for U.S. subscribers, allowing users to discover, watch and share original web series from both up-and-coming and professional content producers. Blip works with production companies (and is probably best known for its work with those in the gaming world) to bring comedies, sports, arts and dramatic series to users through its content and distribution network. The new app has a familiar layout to users of Blip’s web interface, offering an experience and dashboard that’s similar to its Windows 8 UI. It’s simple and straightforward, focusing on smooth playback, and enables users to login directly or via Facebook authentication.
IGN’s new app is now available to subscribers in Canada, and brings the company’s original video content, reviews, live streams and shows like Pro League, Daily Fix and Strategize to Xbox LIVE. Users can watch reviews, previews, news and demos of popular games and easily navigate directly to those games for download. IGN’s app also integrates with Kinect so that you can play, rewind and pause that content with voice and gestural commands.
LOVEFiLM, the international Netflix competitor, is today updating its Xbox app for users in the U.K. and bringing its app for the first time to those in Germany. This means that subscribers can now watch thousands of films, streaming them directly to their Xbox. Subscribers who pay LOVEFiLM’s $ 7 fee can check out movies instantly and get access to what the company claims is the U.K.’s “largest selection of DVDs and Xbox games.” For those already using the service, the new Xbox packages comes as part of the subscription, meaning it’s free.
As part of the content roll-out, RTL XL will also be launching its programs on the Xbox, beginning in the Netherlands, and TOU.TV (the French-language entertainment service) will be launching in Canada to give users access to 2,000 hours of fre video content (serial dramas, documentaries, soap operas and web series, etc.) from the French-speaking world.
Now that both Netflix and LOVEFiLM are on Xbox 360, it will be interesting to see if Rhapsody’s arrival will encourage Spotify to push onto the Xbox platform. Rhapsody is an old hand in the on-demand, streaming music world (after all, it acquired Napster) and has been quietly moving out across platforms. While Spotify has become one of the most popular music streaming services out there over the last year, it’s been lagging behind a bit in this regard. And no doubt there are more than a few Xbox users who are eager to get access to Spotify in their living room.
More on the announcement here.
Windows 8 slates are riding a wave of 40 Xbox titles into an October launch, and now Microsoft has laid the foundation to deliver more games with a brand new studio focused on tablet development. The currently unnamed, London-based outfit will be headed by former Rare Production Director Lee Schuneman, who has shepherded Kinect Sports titles, the Xbox 360 Avatars, Fable: The Journey and the Xbox’s Sky TV app to completion. Slabs running Richmond’s latest OS won’t see a project from the team for a while, however, as the studio is still looking for new hires and won’t open its doors until November.
Ever wonder what the robots will watch after they’ve conquered humanity and just want to relax at the theater on a Friday night? “Human gladiator fights.” Jesus, you’re probably right. But this is a synchronized quadrocopter light show recently put on by KMel Robotics (of ‘quadrocopters play the James Bond theme‘ fame) at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The quadrocopters are all decked out with LEDs as well as bottom-mounted mirrors so they can blink AND reflect the spotlights shone from below. Not gonna lie, I was really hoping for a mid-air collision. Also, a disclaimer that the video was all CG and robots can’t actually do this. We’re f***ing dead.
Hit the jump for the robotic entertainment shitshow.
Most laptops are all the same these days, with very few exceptions. But when those exceptions creep up, we can’t help but take a closer look. So is the case with Toshiba’s Satellite U845W, which oddly sports a display aspect ratio of 21:9 on a 14.4-inch display. Now, this means that movie buffs will be able to watch 2.35:1 movies on this puppy without any black bars. So it’s clear right off the bat: this thing is built for entertainment.
But is it comfortable when you’re doing everything else?
We went hands-on with the laptop earlier this month and found a few features that make such a fat, stodgy screen a little more usable. For example, there’s a split-screen type feature built in that allows you to arrange windows based on pre-determined tiles, or custom tiles if you have the time to personalize a bit. So you drag and drop a Firefox window into one tile, and it automatically sizes it to cover the right-hand third of your screen, while maybe a movie plays in the left-hand two-thirds of your screen.
The issue is that you basically need to buy these new movies, download them (in whatever way you see fit) or watch YouTube. Most of our other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu don’t yet support the ratio. However, you can still watch a movie on Netflix in the standard 16:9 ratio with enough room for a little light browsing on the remaining real estate of the display. And certain programs like TweetDeck give you the most comprehensive view you’ve ever experienced, displaying 7 columns at once.
The notebook is powered by Intel’s 3rd gen Ivy Bridge processor, and promises at least 7.5 hours of battery life, complete with backlit keyboards and either 32GB SSD or 256GB SSD. It sports a display resolution of 1792×768 and comes equipped with Ethernet, HDMI, and 3 USB 3.0 ports, plus a sleep and charge port, meaning you can power up your smartphone or whatever else while the laptop is closed and asleep.
It’s a tad heavier than most everything on the market right now, at 3.5 lbs, but with that texturized rubber finish it is certainly comfortable in the hand. This is clearly a niche notebook but an interesting approach for Toshiba to take in a land of monotony.
The Satellite U845W will be available for purchase on July 15, 2012 starting at $ 999.99
Question by : Does Microsoft Kinect Work Better On An Entertainment Stand, Or On Top Of The TV? I want my Kinect to work the best, which is better… Kinect on the Entertainment Stand…, Or Kinect on top of the TV. If on top of the TV is best, could I use VELCRO to secure it to my flat screen skinny TV?
Answer by A friendNeither the kinect sucks. Go get a ps3.
What do you think? Answer below!Related Posts:
Similar to last year’s airing of Microsoft’s E3 keynote, Spike TV’s once again offering gamers who won’t be making the trip to Los Angeles a quick way to enjoy a little bit of the show. The famed Major Nelson revealed the news that Spike TV will be showing the entire 90-minute Xbox: Entertainment Evolved event live on its network, which takes place on June 4th at 12:30PM Eastern time — of course, we’ll be there covering it. Unlike in 2011, though, now you’ll also be able to check out whatever Redmond has in store for us straight from your console via Xbox Live. Sadly, we know that won’t be some new Xbox hardware…
Continue reading Spike TV airing Microsoft’s ‘Xbox: Entertainment Evolved’ from E3, also coming to Xbox Live
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It was just a few days ago that news of a mysterious home-oriented Google device was being prepped for testing in the homes of 252 company employees, but the associated FCC filing left most of the specifics up in the air. Now, if a new report from the Wall Street Journal holds true, Google’s next foray into the hardware space could be all about pumping up those jams.
According to WSJ’s sources, the device in development is a “home entertainment system” that can wirelessly stream music throughout users’ homes. Google has attempted to make inroads into the living room before with initiatives like Google TV, but this would mark the first time the search giant would be developing and selling products under their own name rather than relying on external hardware vendors.
The pieces we have at this point certainly seem to line up. In their FCC application, Google representatives noted that the at-home beta test was meant to accomplishing the following:
Testing throughput and stability of home WiFi networks using an entertainment device. Testing will include functional testing of all subsystems, including WiFi and Bluetooth radio. Users will connect their device to home WiFi networks and use Bluetooth to connect to other home electronics equipment.
WiFi support seems like a no-brainer when it comes to streaming content, but the inclusion of a Bluetooth radio (commonly seen on phones of all stripes) hints at the possibility of a close connection between the box in question and mobile devices.
The mysterious entertainment device is reportedly the result of years of work from Google’s Android team, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. With movies and more recently music being introduced into the Android Market, it was only natural that the device in question would be able to capitalize on all that content. WSJ’s sources acknowledge that notion, as they note that the Google Mystery Box may be able to stream content other than just music.
Still, media/hardware ventures like Google TV haven’t been as strong a performer in the marketplace as Google would have hoped, so it’s a bit surprising to see that another media-oriented device seems so close to fruition. Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise though — Google chairman Eric Schmidt reaffirmed himself as being a proponent of a highly-connected home life while at this year’s CES.
One of the bigger questions that this whole situation raises is whether or not the entertainment box will ever actually see the light of day. At first glance, the answer seems obvious — why put a petition for testing that much new hardware outside of the lab in front of a federal body if it’ll never see the light of day? WSJ’s sources seem to confirm that the device isn’t just vaporware and that it will launch later this year, but a lot could happen between now and then.
If it is real though, and Google can churn out reliable — and preferably cheap — units, they stand a chance at yanking the rug out from under a major competitor: Apple and its $ 99 Apple TV.
The latest update for Sony’s PlayStation 3 is live and available for download from via your PlayStation Netw…oops, Sony Entertainment Network account. While we get used to the new branding (nothing we could see in the system UI has actually changed at all), there’s a few tweaks included in v4.10, like some sorely needed upgrades for the web browser and the ability to set the time and date automatically upon each sign-in. A scan of the forums reveals a few who noticed problems with Netflix post-update (which may or may not be update related, deleting Netflix data from the Game Data utility section and/or installing the newest version seems to fix the issue), however most are just seeing significantly better scores in browser benchmarks like Acid3 and HTML5 Test, better compatibility with most webpages and improved YouTube playback (still 240p). Let us know if you notice any other changes, the system should prompt you the next time you log on for a quick round of Final Fantasy XIII-2.
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It’s a little bit behind schedule, but the Ceton InfiniTV 4 USB has finally begun shipping, nearly ten months after it was first unveiled. Originally scheduled to ship on September 19th, this external CableCARD TV tuner is now available from Amazon, New Egg and other retailers for $ 300. For that price, you’ll be able to record four HD shows at once, stream live shows to your PC or TV and access all your photos, music and Netflix account from a single device. Interested? Hit up the coverage link below to grab one for yourself.
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