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IFA is one of the largest consumer electronics trade shows in the world, and it's also one of the most unique. The annual show, held this week in Berlin, has a knack for announcing new washing machines, sewing machines and kitchen appliances alongside the latest smartphones, smartwatches and tablets. Here at Engadget, we're primarily focused on the latter (though who doesn't love a free fruit smoothie sample from time to time?), and there's a lot to cover. Let's head straight into what new gadgets and devices we can expect to see announced at this week's event.

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A new lower price alone may not have moved the Xbox One past the PS4 on the sales chart, but Microsoft is still keeping up with its quick update cycle. The August update preview is arriving for testers, and one of the areas getting a lot of attention is the friends list. Right on the home screen, gamers will be able to see what their friends have been playing and a Gamerscore leaderboard, and in the activity feed you can finally like or comment on activity. It seemed like an obvious feature for the feed from the beginning, so it's good to see it's here now. Also, after an update to the app it will be able to handle Blu-ray 3D -- something we asked Phil Spencer about, 5,644 of you requested, and something the PS4 still can't do. Check after the break to see what else is changing, plus a video demo of the new features.

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The set-top box market is currently flooded with many cheap Android boxes, but they tend to offer limited remote access plus expansion capability, so it's about time that something more exciting popped up. One such candidate is the EzeeCube, which aims to be an idiot-proof media hub with three main selling points: Auto-sync content across multiple platforms (Android, iOS, Windows and OS X); simple initial setup for accessing hub content from anywhere; and cable-free expansion that lets you stack up to four modules. We're talking about slapping on an extra hard drive, a Blu-ray drive, a TV tuner and even a retro gaming module that will bring your dusty SNES and Sega Mega Drive / Genesis cartridges back to life. No messy cables here.

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With the amount of updates that Microsoft is pushing out for the Xbox One (and its controller), it makes sense that Redmond would want to give those in the preview program a better way of testing new features before the general public. The update, as spotted by NeoGAF's unblinking eyes, allows for different ways of providing feedback for each new bit of functionality, be it a survey, a star rating or a single-question poll -- all without putting down your controller. Perhaps most interesting is the quest system, which at the moment gamifies test-driving tweaks to the console's live-TV viewing setup and achievement snapping. Apparently, the feedback you give will serve some greater purpose in the future -- all of your stats are tracked, naturally -- but it's anyone's guess what that means in the present. There's an option to invite friends too, so should you be one of the select few in this program, maybe spread the love a little so you and your Titanfall crew can solve this quandry together?

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Google Developers Event Held In San Francisco

Don't let its DevCon facade fool you: Google I/O has plenty of interesting stuff for everyone. Most of the company's big announcements come during the day one keynote, which we'll be liveblogging tomorrow morning. This year's theme is "Design, Develop, Distribute," a slogan that doesn't reveal any major clues about what we can expect (aside from the fact that Google is focused on new design, which we'll cover in more detail later). But that's what we're here for -- to figure it out! We've compiled a handy guide that discusses what to expect -- and not expect -- to see at San Francisco's Moscone Center this week. Your first order of business should be to bookmark this link and join us on Wednesday at 12PM ET as we liveblog I/O's opening keynote.

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We called the Xbox One a work in progress in our initial review, and to its credit, Microsoft has been hard at work addressing various software shortcomings (party system, friend notifications, Twitch streaming and so much more) over the last few months. One aspect that's remained mostly the same since launch -- besides some tweaks and a remote control accessory -- is its unique HDMI-passthrough TV experience and that's getting some much-needed attention in a new update preview test. Microsoft may be focused on gaming under Phil Spencer, but a big part of its strategy to win there is by controlling input 1 on your HDTV, and making the Xbox One more useful in other ways than as a Titanfall machine could help. Check after the break for a video preview of the new features plus a few more details on what they can do, and which countries are getting access to more TV listings and voice controls.

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DNP IFA 2013 preview what to expect

CES 2013 was a decidedly sleepy show by most accounts, but this year's IFA is shaping up to be anything but. Devices set for a reveal are still under proverbial lock and key, but chatter, teases and leaks have painted a fairly full picture of what we can expect to see in Germany: smartwatches and wearables, Haswell hardware and phones with 4K shooters. Join us past the break to get up to speed on what Berlin might dish out this week.

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Netflix now streaming 'House of Cards' season premiere at no cost, hopes you get hooked

Just as it had promised, Netflix today released its original series House of Cards to its many, many subscribers. There's more good news, however, as the the streaming giant's giving those without the necessary account credentials a chance to see what the show is all about, giving non-paid users access to the very first episode at no cost. Meanwhile, those who shell out the monthly fee will be able to catch all 13 episodes of House of Cards in one go, with Netflix obviously taking a different approach than what we're accustomed to seeing in new series from the likes of HBO or Showtime. Naturally, should folks like what they see from Kevin Spacey, Kate Mara and the rest of the cast, they'll have to sign up for the service in order to keep up with the story -- which, we'd say, is exactly what Netflix wishes for. Have some time to spare? Then hit that source link below to watch the House of Cards premiere (that's assuming you haven't done so already, of course).

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Distro Issue 72 The CES 2013 preview

After a week off to take advantage of the holidays, the Distro crew is back in action. In the latest issue of our tablet mag, we run down all of the major categories with a preview of what our editors expect to see -- or not see -- when CES cranks up in a few days. On top of that, Eyes-On has a look at a Lomography panoramic camera, Hands-On offers impressions on some of the latest gadgetry and tech writer Taylor Hatmaker drops by for the Q&A. Once the annual Las Vegas tech madness gets started next week, we'll be publishing daily issues of this e-publication beginning Tuesday, January 8th to keep you up to speed with all of the happenings in the desert. Arriving just in time for the events, our Windows 8 Distro app is now available and can be procured like its Android and iOS counterparts, via the download links below.

Distro Issue 72 PDF
Distro in the iTunes App Store
Distro in the Google Play Store

Distro in the Windows Store

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Engadget's CES 2013 Preview

The sudden rush of device announcements and hands-on posts that come with the advent of each CES can feel a bit overwhelming if you don't know what to expect. And while we can't predict what's to come with unfailing precision, we're more than happy to give you an idea of what's on our radar this time around. During the month of December, we'll bring you a series of CES preview posts, forecasting what you can expect when the news deluge begins. The road to CES 2013 starts here, so go on and click the available category links after the break and stay tuned for more.

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Distro Issue 61 Acer aims high with its Iconia W510 Windows 8 hybrid

With the release of Windows 8 just around the corner, the arrivals of tablets and hybrids that are decked out with the aforementioned OS are also imminent. Sure, we've already seen a number of these, but up until now, we've yet to spend any quality time with the announced hardware. In this week's edition of our tablet magazine, though, we finally get to take one back to Engadget HQ for a detailed preview. We offer our thoughts on Acer's Iconia W510 -- a laptop / tablet hybrid that sets its sights on the premium end of the Windows 8 gadget spectrum. On the regular review front, we put the Canon EOS M and the Samsung Galaxy Note II through their paces before serving up in-depth analysis of each. Eyes-On climbs aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, Visualized gets electrified and Nest's Matt Rogers tells all in the Q&A. The weekend won't last forever, so jump down below to snag the latest issue before settling in for a little weekend R&R.

Distro Issue 61 PDF
Distro in the iTunes App Store
Distro in the Google Play Store
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Amazon Instant Video streaming is now live on the Xbox 360

If Amazon's video store is going to compete with the other online sources like Hulu and Netflix, getting on as many platforms as possible is key and it made a major expansion today by launching on the Xbox 360. The app launched on the PS3 back in April, and just like that version, this one includes access to Amazon's video on-demand and Prime all-you-can-eat subscription based streaming. Unique to the Xbox 360 app is support for the console's Kinect peripheral and its ability to recognize control by gesture or voice, plus a brand new feature for Amazon -- a queue. The Watchlist (for now only available on the Xbox 360, Kindle Fire and via the web) lets customers preselect programming they're interested in for easy access on the devices later, just like Netflix's implementation, however Amazon's VOD store means access to newer and higher profile content is just a click away. There's more details in the press release and video after the break, or you can just check out the app on your console right now (if you're in the US and have Xbox Live Gold, of course -- even if you don't have Prime, there's a one month free trial offer).

Update: Major Nelson also posted availability of other apps and a free XBL Gold preview weekend, as Antena 3 launches in Spain, MLB.tv in Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Muzu.tv in Australia and New Zealand. June 1st through June 3rd, XBL Gold access will be "unlocked", letting Silver gamers in U.S., Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Chile play for free and access the Amazon, IGN, Manga Entertainment and Muzu.tv apps.

[Thanks, AtillaG!]

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Well actually, the Hobbit preview wasn't shaky, it was smooth -- maybe too smooth -- and that's the point. "It does take you a while to get used to," Peter Jackson has admitted, referring to the surprisingly fluid motion of his 48 fps movie footage. But is he right to think audiences will even give it a chance? The launch of high frame-rate (HFR) cinema is surrounded by publicity in the run-up to the Hobbit's debut on December 12th, but it equally has a lot going against it. For starters, the film's 48 fps preview wasn't exactly received warmly. On top of that, the video-style appearance of HFR has a long history of being disliked by movie-goers -- past attempts since the 1970s have all flamed out.

85 years after the first 24 fps movies, the same number of frames are still going stubbornly through the gate (digital or otherwise) each second, so that must be what "filmic" is, right? Or will we look back on 24fps as the bad old days? Read on to see if these new/old-fangled frame speeds might survive, and though a 48 fps Hobbit trailer isn't available, we've provided a couple of clips to help you judge what two-dimensional HFR looks like.

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We don't have 100 fingers -- theoretically the supported limit of Windows 8 on the 82-inch capacitive touchscreen display we just had a chance to go hands-on with at the company's latest OS demo at Mobile World Congress -- but things looked pretty impressive even with just 10. The display we saw is manufactured by a company called Perceptive Pixel, and it may even look familiar -- it's the same glass screen used by television news networks like CNN. But, unlike the giant touchscreens you've seen on TV, this guy is connected to a standard off-the-shelf PC running Windows 8 Consumer Preview. The glass panel is constructed of optically-bonded Gorilla Glass, so there's very little space between the picture and your hand, making for a much more realistic user experience. Naturally, this monitor is all about the visuals, so you really need to see it in action to get an accurate impression of just how slick the experience can be. Jump past the break for our hands-on.

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Samsung, expected to make a quiet showing at this year's Mobile World Congress due to the fact that it doesn't have a press conference scheduled today or tomorrow, is actually projecting to offer a bit more buzz than the Ace 2 or Mini 2. How? With a projector phone, of course! Sammy's latest phone announced for the show is the Galaxy Beam, a refreshed version of the projector phone, with a bit fancier specs. The device is packing a 4-inch WVGA display, dual-core ST-Ericsson U8500 Cortex A9 CPU, 768MB of RAM and a 2,000mAh battery. Of course, those aren't the important specs to consider here -- the projector is. Taking advantage of a nHD (640 x 360) resolution and 15 Lumen brightness, the 12.5mm thickness helps Samsung claim the title of "world's thinnest projector phone."

All in all, the phone felt very comfortable to hold, and the lump that incorporates the projector isn't an eyesore in the slightest -- in fact, Samsung managed to add it in a rather stylish manner. Our only concern? The projector itself is found on the very top of the device without any recession, which will likely make it a candidate for being a fingerprint magnet. We also liked the dedicated power button for the projector on the top right of the phone, just above the normal phone switch.

We're also expecting to see some docks become available for the phone (which itself should be available in select markets in Q2) that will help stabilize it and keep it from shaking, as well as amplify sound for watching movies or video presentations. We'll add in more pics and videos as they come.

Myriam Joire contributed to this report.

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