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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Nintendo cuts price of Wii U game console by $50

So if you were in the market for a Wii U, I guess you have to like the news that it'll cost you $300 instead of $350. You have to wonder, however, about the potential for Nintendo to stay relevant, with casual gamers moving to smartphone games and the hardcore crowd favoring Xbox and Playstation consoles.

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New York Times website experiences outages; Twitter also

This today from the Associated Press:

Readers who tried to click on the New York Times' website got nothing but error messages for several hours during the site's second major disruption this month, and people also had trouble accessing Twitter. A hacker group calling itself the "Syrian Electronic Army" claimed responsibility. …Full Story

Exploring Google Glass through eyes of early users

Google Glass contest winner Sarah Hill of Columbia, Mo., tries out the device in New York. "This is like having the Internet in your eye socket," she says. "But it's less intrusive than I thought it would be. I can totally see how this would still let you still be in the moment with the people around you."

Associated Press

Google Glass contest winner Sarah Hill of Columbia, Mo., tries out the device in New York. "This is like having the Internet in your eye socket," she says. "But it's less intrusive than I thought it would be. I can totally see how this would still let you still be in the moment with the people around you."

The AP talked to three of the 10,000 people selected in a contest to try out an early version of Google Glass, the tech giant's gadget eyeglasses that work like a smartphone. "Although it looks like a prop from a science fiction movie," AP says, "the device is capturing imaginations beyond the realm of nerds."

The writer talked to three early adopters — a former TV broadcaster and current military veterans advocate, a hiking enthusiast and small business owner and a stay-at-home mom. The pros? The hands-free camera for stills and video. Also the ability to surf the Internet via Glass' screen, a tiny LCD that overs in front of the left eye. The cons? Short battery life, especially when recording video, and hard-to-hear sound.Full Story

Thinking about buying a new iPhone? Or iPad?

Apple's current iPhone models: the iPhone 4S, left, and the iPhone 5 in white and black.

Apple Inc.

Apple's current iPhone models: the iPhone 4S, left, and the iPhone 5 in white and black.

Maybe you're thinking about finally taking the plunge and upgrading to the latest iPhone 5, or getting that new iPad now that school has started. Not a bad idea — but this might not be the right time.

Apple updates its hardware on a pretty regular schedule, and it's not hard to make a pretty accurate guess at when the next version of its hardware is about to come out. In the case of the iPhone, it's even more clear-cut. Apple has scheduled a media event for Sept. 10, and folks who claim to know what they're talking about are all but certain that new iPhones will make their first appearance. (Most expect a new top-of-the-line iPhone 5S and possibly a first-time economy model in colorful plastic, expected to be named the iPhone 5C.) So that new iPhone 5 you take home today could be one step closer to obsolete in just a few weeks.

On the other hand, the weeks after that Sept. 10 announcement could be the perfect time to buy that soon-to-be-previous-generation iPhone 5. Since it won't be the latest and greatest model, it might be easy to find it at a discount.

Just don't pay full price before then. …

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iOS users: Add 1GB of storage to your Dropbox account for free

Dropbox offers an easy, free way to move files around between multiple computers, phones and tablets. Save something in your Dropbox folder in one place and it's instantly (well, almost instantly) available everywhere else.

Of course, there's a good chance you already know all that — dropbox crossed the 100 million user mark back in November.

At any rate, a gigabyte of free cloud storage for your photos or files is always worth investigating, and thenextweb.com discovered "a nice little Easter egg" that requires minimal effort. All you need to do is install Dropbox's Mailbox email client, add a free Gmail account and sync it to your Dropbox account. (If you're an existing Mailbox user and you've already synced it to your Dropbox account, the site says, all you need to do is unlink the services and reconnect them to get your free gig.)

That's it. You ought to be able to get through that in less than five minutes. No further app updates or hassles required. If you have no interest in Mailbox (although it's a nifty little Gmail client), you can go right back to ignoring it and enjoying the extra space in your Dropbox.

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New TiVo Roamio promises something extra for iPhone, iPad owners

The Roamio is the TiVo's first new hardware upgrade in years.

TiVo Inc.

The Roamio is the TiVo's first new hardware upgrade in years.

When I think about getting a DVR, it's TiVo that gets my attention; I've never been that impressed by the models my cable company offers. And I've daydreamed about having a Slingbox to stream live video from my cable subscription to my iPhone, too, and watching sports without having to pay the NFL or MLB for the privilege. Doing all that would mean putting two more plastic boxes — each of them pretty expensive — on my bookshelf, though, so it's never happened.

But TiVo is promising they can handle all that and more for $200. That gets my attention.

Things have been pretty quiet on the TiVo front for a while now, but the company announced its first new hardware in years today — the Roamio, named for an emphasis on allowing users access to their TV shows from anywhere. And if you, too, aren't thrilled by the DVR options your cable company offers, it might be worth checking out. …

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Facebook to test mobile payments service

The Associated Press reported Thursday on Facebook's plans to start testing a service that would allow users to complete checkout forms on mobile apps using their Facebook accounts.

The company called it a "very small test," and said there is no set schedule for widespread availability.

Is that bad news for PayPal? It seems unclear. Read the full report here.

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Netflix to start rolling out multiuser accounts for iPads, iPhones, Apple TV, etc.

Netflix

One of the problems with the personalized suggestions offered in Netflix's video streaming service has always been that they're based on everything your family watches. In my family, for example, my wife, two children and I share one account — so when I sign on I'm told I can continue watching any of the eight or so cartoons the kids have started but haven't finished or a movie that's similar to one of the period pieces my wife likes. The Walking Dead episodes that I want to watch? Buried.

But all that might soon change. Netflix has announced it is rolling out a new feature that will allow up to five users to set up their own profiles for each subscription. Each user will get their own suggestions based on what they've watched and how they rated it, as well as their own Instant Queue and Recently Watched lists. (AppleInsider.com has a pretty good walkthrough of the new feature.)

Good news. It sounds like it'll be a huge help for families who share an account (although I'm sure being able to track individual users will be useful to Netflix, too), but it's likely to stop short of giving parents' a tool to lock R-rated content away from their children's eyes. …

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