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  • Razer Comms voice chat launches in open beta with an always-on overlay (video)

    Razer Comms launches in open beta with crossgame, alwayson voice chat

    Dedicated gamers are very familiar with loading chat apps like Teamspeak or Ventrilo to coordinate their multiplayer sessions, but such software usually sits in the background — it’s hard to tell who’s speaking without switching apps and losing focus. Razer’s new Comms open beta may just give players a chance to stay in touch without those rude interruptions. The Windows app provides the obligatory home for group voice and text chat, but its real standout is an on-screen game overlay that will keep the conversation going, either with a full window or a minimalist ticker that shows who’s speaking. Razer’s war on lag persists here, as well: Comms’ servers reportedly minimize delays and hiccups in the heat of battle. Not everyone will need the beta when many games already have chat baked in. Those that want a more consistent experience, however, can give Comms a spin today.

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    Source: Razer

  • Visualized: A walk through the Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo

    Visualized: A walk through the Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo

    We didn’t find much in the way of news at the Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo here in NYC (and, we’re sad to say, our press badges were just old-fashioned 2D printed), but there was plenty to look at, thankfully. Between the slew of business and consumer devices and the boatload of printed objects, the event was part business conference, part art show. And while the real star was the still-fresh world of desktop home printers, plenty of companies brought out their big-gun industrial devices (including at least one really sweet giant 3D scanner). Peep the gallery below to check out some of the eye candy from the event.

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  • Nest Energy Services link home cooling to utilities' cloud data

    Nest Energy Services link thermostats with utilities through the cloud

    As clever as the Nest Learning Thermostat can be, its intelligence only extends as far as the front door: it hasn’t really been aware of how neighbors or the seasons affect our power bills. Nest Labs is improving that connection to the outside world through Nest Energy Services, a new program that links its device to the collective, cloud-based knowledge of utility companies. When owners are with an Energy Services-aware provider, the thermostat will know when to brace for an energy “rush hour” and automatically limit its cooling during peak (read: expensive) periods. It also gives a heads-up for seasonal discounts that fine-tune the temperature schedule over the course of a few weeks. Unlike previous utility-guided approaches, Nest users can always retake control if they genuinely can’t stand the heat.

    Only Austin Energy, Green Mountain Energy, Reliant and Southern California Edison have lined up for the synced climate control so far, although Nest is sweetening the deal by expanding utility-based discounts for the thermostat itself. Customers of National Grid can get an immediate $100 rebate through Nest, while those who sign up with Reliant can still receive their thermostats for free with certain plans. The deals are calculated tradeoffs for companies likely to recoup their investment down the road, but they could represent big wins for homeowners still jittery about paying up front to save money later.

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    Source: Nest (1), (2), (3)

  • Netflix added 3 million subscribers worldwide in Q1, will offer a 4-stream $11.99 plan

    Netflix added 3 million subscribers worldwide in Q1,

    Netflix has reported its financial results for the first quarter of 2013, and in that period it’s added over three million customers worldwide. Domestically it added 2.03 million customers alone, pushing its total number over 30 million (including trial users) in the US. That means it’s passed HBO in paying subscribers for the first time ever, while notching $2.69 million in net profits on $1.02 billion in revenue for the quarter. Internationally there were over a million new sign-ups and it’s planning to launch in a new European market during the second half of this year, which we should hear more about on its Q2 earnings call in July.

    One change all users will notice is to its package of streaming plans, as CEO Reed Hastings mentioned an $11.99 per month option is incoming that will allow subscribers to stream as many four videos simultaneously, up from the current official limit of two. There’s some question over whether Netflix will begin to crack down harder on account sharing, but Hastings claims he expects less than one percent of users to opt for the new plan. The company is also continuing to test the personalized profiles we got a peek at during CES, and expects to roll them out “in the coming months.” Another major note is that as it expands its suite of original content, it’s shifting focus away from some of existing “bulk, nonexclusive” licensing deals and will let a major one from Viacom expire in May. specifically referenced is content from Nickelodeon, MTV and BET, although it’s negotiating for access to particular shows. In the future, it’s preferred option will be exclusive deals with the studios that product the shows, like the one it announced earlier this year with Warner. Check after the break for a few more details, including updates on the progress of some of its original series.

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    Source: Netflix Q1 Investors letter (PDF)

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