Netflix had a big year in 2013 with award-winning original content, new features and millions of new customers. Now, the company's fourth quarter report reveals it wrapped up last year with over 44 million customers worldwide. Interestingly, an entire section of the letter to investors is related to the recent appeals court ruling that struck down key parts of net neutrality. CEO Reed Hastings doesn't appear overly worried however, and says the most likely case is that ISPs "will avoid this consumer unfriendly path of discrimination," like extra fees or tiers for access to streaming video. If they do go that route however, the company will protest on its own behalf, and encourage customers to join in. In the US Netflix now counts over 33 million customers, and it predicts that by the end of the current quarter, it will be over 35 million, with 48 million total worldwide.

Another segment deals with its recent pricing tests, which Netflix says it hopes to boil down to "three simple options to fit everyone's taste." That said, it's not ruling out pricing changes for new members, but promises (in bold type) "existing members would get generous grandfathering of their existing plans and prices." We'll see if bold type is enough to quell the customer unrest that happened the last time Netflix shifted around its plans.

Speaking of those old plans, Netflix still maintains 6.9 million DVD subscribers, and plans to advertise the direct link to its disc business with dvd.netflix.com branding. Unlike its last address, Netflix also found time to shout to the competition, referencing Hulu's 3 CEOs in the last year and impressive growth, recent moves by Verizon -- it bought Intel's OnCue IPTV platform, a content delivery network and a streaming software firm -- the rise of Aereo and Sony's IPTV plans. Strong words from the company that's diving into 4K to maintain the perception that it's a leader in streaming -- Hastings and the rest of the team will take questions live on YouTube in a few minutes, check after the break for more details.

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No matter how pixel-packed your iThing's display is, watching video clips on a bigger screen is usually way more comfortable. Pocket has added AirPlay and Apple TV support to its free bookmarking app with just that in mind. That would be pretty cool on its own, but the outfit has also tailored the application to keep broadcasting video even if you exit it -- you know, to check Facebook or bang out an email. If you have a stack of unwatched Vimeos (or perhaps that Kristen Bell flick), this could be the perfect time to finally start watching 'em.

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Engadget HD Podcast 378 - 12.11.13

It's that time of year again, CES is fading from memory, football season is wrapping up and Ben is tempted to cut the cable cord with less of his favorite sports programming on the air. The lull in pigskin-based TV probably doesn't have much to do with reports of declining subscribers for premium channels, but with content like Netflix's oscar-nominated documentary The Square, streaming services are proving to be tough competition. All this and more is packed into this week's episode; simply head to the streaming links below for another edition of the Engadget HD Podcast.

Hosts: Richard Lawler, Ben Drawbaugh

Producer: Jon Turi

Hear the podcast:

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Windows 8.1 Update 1 leak

Microsoft started blurring the lines between the modern Windows interface and the classic desktop with Windows 8.1, and there are now signs that it's ready to mix things up a little more. WZor has posted screenshots of a leaked Windows 8.1 update that would let users pin Windows Store apps to the desktop's taskbar, saving them the trouble of visiting the Start screen. There aren't any hints that these apps would run on the desktop. However, it may be easier to return to the traditional Windows environment. SuperSite for Windows' Paul Thurrott hears from sources that the upgrade may also add a desktop-like close button -- you wouldn't have to remember gestures or keyboard shortcuts to quit a Store app. There aren't any clues as to when this OS update would arrive, although we wouldn't be surprised if there's some news by the time Microsoft's Build developer conference kicks off in early April.

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Google Chrome users are no strangers to speech recognition software -- heck, the internet browser has "Ok Google!" voice recognition built right into its URL navigation bar. But that recognition is triggered to "listen" only when you've opened a new tab or navigate to Google's homepage, and the expectation is that the browser isn't able to listen in otherwise. Not so, says speech recognition program developer Tal Ater, who discovered an exploit in Chrome's speech recognition that enabled unscrupulous websites with speech recognition software to listen in when users aren't expecting.

First, you have to give permission to a website to allow speech recognition to work. After that, however, the website may open a pop-under window with the intent of secretly continuing to listen -- even if you've closed the tab and moved on. Google Chrome must remain running, and you have to miss seeing the pop-under, but it's certainly an issue.

Moreover, Google knows of the problem and has yet to fix it...despite a fix existing. Ater describes reporting the issue to Google, finding out it was fixed by the company soon after, and that fix not being implemented in subsequent updates. Google confirmed that to Engadget with the following statement:

"The security of our users is a top priority, and this feature was designed with security and privacy in mind. We've re-investigated and this is not eligible for a reward, since a user must first enable speech recognition for each site that requests it. The feature is in compliance with the current W3C specification, and we continue to work on improvements."

Given Google's compliance with speech recognition standards, it sounds like Mountain View isn't changing the way Chrome's speech software works just yet, though we'd be surprised if some form of visual indication of recording wasn't included in a future build. A video of Ater demonstrating the exploit is just below.

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We're all about the sentiment in Intel's education-focused tablet and PC reference designs, aimed at providing a template for other tablet and PC makers in the education space. That's all fine and good. Our side that cares about electronics evolving over time is less enthused, as this year's Intel reference designs for educational tablets and PCs are basically last year's models.

The same Intel education software suite is incorporated, the same Android and Windows bases (respectively) and roughly the same specs sit inside each (head below for the full list for both). In fact, the biggest difference we're seeing here is a more "ruggedized" exterior (read: more rubber edges). If it's not broken, don't fix it, right? That's apparently the tactic Intel's employing here: If it works for education, then why change it, right? Agreed, though we can't help but wonder what else Intel could do to push the field here beyond making kid-proof devices with education software installed. Perhaps we'll find out in 2015. An HP version of the Classmate reference goes on sale later this month, no word on tablet makers.

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BT still has a long way to go until it connects all of Britain's homes to its fiber-optic network, but that hasn't stopped the company from exploring new ways to squeeze some extra speed out of it while it does. With a little help from friends at Alcatel-Lucent, BT boffins have created what they believe is the fastest-ever "real-world" internet connection, clocking speeds of 1.4 terabits per second using readily available hardware. If you're wondering how fast that is, the telecom giant says the network can transmit 44 uncompressed HD movies in a single second. While the project currently exists purely as a speed test, BT and Alcatel-Lucent are already talking up the possibilities of improving existing services like Infinity without having to dig up roads, potentially delivering broadband that can handle an influx of Ultra HD content on Netflix with less chance of suffering connection issues.

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Sony's VPLVW500ES projector brings 4K within reach of rich cinephiles

It's nice that 4K streaming is coming to match the onslaught of Ultra HD screens, but most media is still encoded with a "measly" 8 bits per color channel, rendering around 16 million colors. That might sound fine, but so-called deep color (10, 12 or 16 bits per color) can drastically improve images by eliminating nasty color banding -- and many new HD projectors, high-end TVs and monitors already support it. Now, a company called Folded Space wants to bring the media in line, too. It's developed algorithms to encode 12-bit Blu-ray discs with billions of colors, while keeping them backwards compatible with existing players -- and holding files to nearly the same size. For all that to happen, studios would need to adopt the encoding tech and manufacturers would also have to incorporate it into new Blu-ray players. Those are pretty big "ifs," but the company is offering the tech free to content creators to get the ball rolling -- meaning you might soon get full fidelity in shows that actually merit it.

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PRIP for iPhone

Sprint's iDEN network shutdown may have quashed hopes for an iPhone with native push-to-talk support, but that won't matter much now that Motorola and NII Holdings have brought Prip's service to iOS. The new app lets American iOS 7 users instantly speak to both fellow Prip members as well as NII's Nextel subscribers in Latin America. Many of the features will be familiar to those who tried the Android version, although the cross-platform launch introduces universal sign-ins and web-based account control; you're no longer tied to Google Play. Whether you're chatting with a friend or a whole company, you can grab Prip from the App Store today.

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We've been telling you about the Avegant Glyph for awhile, but now you can finally plunk down some bills to get one yourself. Thanks to Kickstarter, beta-testing the device for its designer isn't without its own set of perks. For instance, 500 of the earliest backers at the $500 tier can snag a unit with their choice of colors for the device's LED ring and HDMI cable. If you miss that limited window, however, you'll still have your choice of three colors for the headset itself at the same price -- just not the accessories. Unlike the versions we've demoed up to this point, Avegant promises that the unit you receive will be lighter and more comfortable overall. Sadly, the battery life is still pegged at around three hours.

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