posted 7 days ago on ars technica
Radius Citizenfour is filmmaker Laura Poitras' account of the first meetings between herself, Glenn Greenwald, and Edward Snowden. It was first shown publicly last Friday, and it will open in theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on Oct. 24. For those who have followed the news around the Snowden documents, even in small doses, Citizenfour isn't full of revelations (though there are a few surprises). But for viewers interested in surveillance, or the future of the internet, or journalism—it won't matter. The film is riveting, and its power is in its source material. Poitras filmed Snowden for 20 hours over eight days in his Hong Kong hotel, and her film has now given the world an unfiltered portrait of the man who, in the course of the year, became the West’s most wanted dissident. Read 29 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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How could I refuse? A few days ago, my wife messaged me a photo from a thrift shop with the question, "You want?" The picture was of a box of software still in shrinkwrap—SPRY Inc.'s Internet in a Box for Windows 95. The answer was an obvious "OMG YES." I reviewed Internet in a Box back in 1993 when it was first released as an early adopter of independent local Internet dialup (using David Troy's Toad.Net). I spent endless hours connected with the software and my very first laptop PC, pulling down Hubble Telescope images from the Space Telescope Science Institute's Gopher server and raging at Usenet posts. Just the sight of the logo caused a wave of nostalgia to wash over me. It was a simpler time, a somewhat less user-friendly time. CompuServe was still a thing. This particular box of software was, however, especially endearing. I used version 1.0 for several years before Toad.Net partnered with Covad and ran one of Baltimore's very first DSL connections into my house—allowing me to give up the dual ISDN connection I had for my connection to my employer. This was a bundle designed to bring the masses to the Internet, along with their photos, in 1995. Attached to the box was a Seattle FilmWorks one-use 35mm film camera, emblazoned with the CompuServe logo. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Cyber attacks on large US companies result in an average of $12.7 million in annual damages, an increase of 9.7 percent from the previous year, according to the fifth Cost of Cybercrime report published by the Ponemon Institute on Wednesday. The report, sponsored this year by Hewlett Packard’s Enterprise Security division, found that business disruption and information loss account for nearly three-quarters of the cost of cybercrime incidents. The study also confirmed that companies that make security a priority have lower costs associated with security incidents during the year. In particular, companies that use technology that helps flag potential intrusions into critical systems have lower costs, by an average of $2.6 million. “Business disruption, information loss and the time it takes to detect a breach collectively represented the highest cost to organizations experiencing a breach,” Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, said in a statement. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Conal O'Rourke remains frustrated and baffled at his year-long saga with Comcast, which resulted in his losing his job. Cyrus Farivar The California man who publicly accused Comcast of getting him fired from his job at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) after he complained to the highest levels of Comcast about his year’s worth of billing errors, has made good on his threat to sue his former ISP. Among other accusations, Conal O’Rourke is suing Comcast on allegations of violating the Cable Communications Act by disclosing his personal information to his employer, defamation, breach of contract, emotional distress, and unfair business practices. “We don’t normally comment on pending litigation and as we have said, there were clear deficiencies in the customer service that we delivered to Mr. O’Rourke," Jenni Moyer, a Comcast spokesperson, told Ars in a statement. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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What greets you at the Onward Internet website (no mention of any telecom ties though...) This piece originally appeared in Pro Publica. This story has been updated to include a comment from the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. On a recent Monday evening, two bearded young men in skinny jeans came to a parklet in San Francisco's trendy Hayes Valley neighborhood and mounted what looked like an art installation. It was a bright blue, oversized "suggestion box" for the Internet. Read 29 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Google Have you ever heard the expression, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket"? It's a saying that extolls the virtues of diversification—always have a "Plan B." Judging by Google's messy and often-confusing product line, it's something the company takes to heart. Google likes to have multiple, competing products that go after the same user base. That way, if one product doesn't work out, hopefully the other one will. The most extreme case of this has been Google's instant messaging solutions. At one point there were four different ways to send a text message on Android: Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, Messaging (Android's SMS app), and Google Voice. Google Hangouts came along and eventually merged everything into a single instant messaging platform. Mercifully, Google has a single, unified instant messaging program now, and all further IM efforts will be poured into this, right? Wrong. A report from The Economic Times of India says that Google is working on a fifth instant messaging program. This one reportedly won't require a Google account and will be aimed at Whatsapp. The unified Hangouts update also added a second dialer app to Android, so now there is the main Google Dialer that was introduced in KitKat and a new Hangouts Dialer that makes VOIP calls. Users went from needing IM unity, having it, then chaotically clamoring for dialer unity. Read 32 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
On Thursday, the Guardian reported that the developers of Whisper, an social media platform that allows individuals to post anonymous messages that can be seen by others based on a number of factors, isn’t all that anonymous after all. Whisper, which is advertised as “the safest place on the Internet,” tracks geolocation data of posters, and uses their location data for a number of purposes—including censorship and reporting of posts from military bases to the Department of Defense. Whisper’s chief technology officer took to YCombinator’s Hacker News to defend the company against the report, but his explanation was torn apart by security and privacy experts in the discussion that followed. Much like its competitor Secret, Whisper allows individuals to post anonymous messages overlaid on images or photos to share with others for comment. The application uses geolocation data to determine where the poster is and who should be able to see its contents.  It has become popular with a number of communities, including members of the military. The Guardian was exploring a potential editorial relationship with Whisper, and staff from the news organization spent three days at Whisper’s offices in Los Angeles. While there, the Guardian team witnessed Whisper employees using an in-house geolocation tool to track posts made from various locations, and found that the company is tracking specific Whisper users believed to be “potentially newsworthy,” including members of the military, government employees, and employees of companies such as Disney and Yahoo. The company also shares information about posters and their locations with the Defense Department, FBI and the UK’s MI5, the Guardian’s Paul Lewis and Dominic Rushe reported. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The "Apple SIM" allows AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or EE support without switching SIM cards. Andrew Cunningham Apple's iPad announcements today focused overwhelmingly on the iPad Air 2's thickness, its screen, and its internals, but it and the iPad Mini 3 got some other quieter upgrades too. One such upgrade is a new "Apple SIM," a nano SIM card that allows the cellular models to switch between multiple mobile carriers without changing the actual card. At launch the card supports AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and UK carrier EE. Though Apple is still selling Verizon-compatible iPads, the US' biggest carrier remains conspicuously (though perhaps not surprisingly) absent from the list. One thing Apple is emphasizing with the SIM is that it can be used to secure short-term data commitments, rather than the regular monthly charges most cellular tablets generally assume. In theory, you can jump between carriers based on the one that's offering the data you need for the price you want, and you never have to swap out the SIM card to do it. Apple is also playing up the ability to buy data from international carriers when traveling, though obviously the carrier list will need to expand before this is practical. Though the Apple SIM is launching in the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3, we would expect it to start showing up in other Apple products eventually. Simplifying the product line instead of shipping carrier-specific versions of iPhones and iPads seems like the right move for Apple to make; let's hope carriers continue to climb on board. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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The expanding options for communicating over the Internet and the increasing adoption of encryption technologies could leave law enforcement agents “in the dark” and unable to collect evidence against criminals, the Director of the FBI said in a speech on Thursday. In a post-Snowden plea for a policy more permissive of spying, FBI Director James B. Comey raised the specters of child predators, violent criminals, and crafty terrorists to argue that companies should build surveillance capabilities into the design of their products and allow lawful interception of communications. In his speech given at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC, Comey listed four cases where having access to a mobile phone or laptop proved crucial to an investigation and another case where such access was critical to exonerating wrongly accused teens. All of that will go away, or at least become much harder, if the current trend continues, he argued. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
These days, most patent lawsuits are filed by so-called "patent trolls," which can't be counter-sued because they have no business other than litigation. When a company files a patent lawsuit against a competitor, it can expect to be met with a counter-suit. That's exactly what happened when Sprint used 12 VoIP patents to sue Comcast in 2011. Yesterday, Comcast's counter-punch landed, hard. Sprint got slapped with a $7.5 million jury verdict (PDF) for infringing three Comcast patents, after a Delaware trial ended. That's less than the $16.5 million Comcast lawyers had asked for, but simply by sticking it out through trial and winning, Comcast's point has surely been made: we're not an easy target, and we will hit back. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Quick-snap! Now, Kinect-less Xbox One owners can do a few more cool system functions on the fly. Microsoft's near-monthly streak of Xbox One updates continued on Wednesday with a substantial October update. The console maker had already teased the update's most intriguing feature in August when it announced a media-player app set to handle a staggering number of codecs—particularly the MKV container—and DLNA streaming from other devices on a home network. XB1's new media player, like the system's Blu-ray player, must be loaded as a separate app. We were able to test it during a beta period, and it worked as advertised, meaning it allowed us to watch all of our favorite, legitimately acquired TV shows and films in crisp MKV format. The update's other major addition, a quick-snap menu, can be accessed with a double-tap of the controller's home button. It focuses largely on functions that were formerly locked to voice control, including quick loads of previous games and apps and the ability to record your last 30 seconds of gameplay—which should make it easier for players who snapped up a cheaper, Kinect-less XB1 to multitask with the system. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Microsoft is replacing a whole set of its IT-oriented conferences—TechEd, Management Summit, Exchange Conference, SharePoint Conference, Project Conference, and Lync Conference—with one new event: Ignite. The first Ignite conference will be a five-day event in Chicago, running May 4-8, 2015. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will give the keynote speech with Brad Anderson (CVP Enterprise Client & Mobility), Joe Belfiore (CVP Operating Systems Group), Dave Campbell (CTO), Peggy Johnson (EVP Business Development), Chris Jones (VP), Julie Larson Green (Chief Experience Officer of "My Life and Work"), Gurdeep Singh Pall (VP Skype), and others. With the announcement of Ignite, Microsoft has announced its full set of major 2015 conferences. The year will kick off with business event Convergence in Atlanta, March 16-19. Next is Build, once again in San Francisco, April 29-May 1. After Ignite, the final event will be Worldwide Partner Summit in Orlando, July 12-16. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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Two activist groups have filed an appeal in their lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to access one week’s worth of license plate reader data. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) lost their case before a Los Angeles Superior Court judge last month. In May 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the law enforcement agencies in an attempt to compel the agencies to release a week’s worth of LPR data from a particular week in August 2012. The judge in the lower court ruling found that the law enforcement agencies could withhold such license plate reader (LPR) records through a particular exemption under the California Public Records Act that allows investigatory records to be kept private. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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CUPERTINO, CA—Apple’s media event today was light on surprises. Apple really didn’t show anything that hadn’t already been leaked by the rumor mill (or by Apple itself), but that doesn’t mean that the upgrades to the iPad and Mac lineups are unwelcome. We spent some quality time with the hardware after the announcement, and our impressions are below. As for the software, you can already grab OS X Yosemite for yourself now, and iOS 8.1 and Apple Pay will follow on Monday (at least for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners). The Retina iMac Andrew Cunningham The new Retina iMac. 3 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } The new iMac is the result of a simple equation: Current 27-inch iMac plus Retina display equals Retina 5K iMac. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Even in the download-only era, it's easy to make yourself offline OS X install media. Andrew Cunningham It was 2009 when Apple last released a new operating system on physical media. Things have proceeded remarkably smoothly since version 10.7 switched to download-only installers, but there are still good reasons to want an old, reliable USB stick. For instance, if you find yourself doing multiple installs, a USB drive may be faster than multiple downloads (especially if you use a USB 3.0 drive). Or maybe you need a recovery disk for older Macs that don't support the Internet Recovery feature. Whatever the reason, you're in luck, because it's not hard to make one. As with last year, there are two ways to get it done. There's the super easy way with the graphical user interface and the only slightly less easy way that requires some light Terminal use. Here's what you need to get started. A Mac, duh. We've created Yosemite USB from both Mavericks and Yosemite, but your experience with other versions may vary. An 8GB or larger USB flash drive or an 8GB or larger partition on some other kind of external drive. For newer Macs, use a USB 3.0 drive—it makes things significantly faster. The OS X 10.10 Yosemite installer from the Mac App Store in your Applications folder. The installer will delete itself when you install the operating system, but it can be re-downloaded if necessary. If you want a GUI, you need the latest version of Diskmaker X app—we wrote this article based on version 4 beta 2, but if a "final" version is released alongside Yosemite we'll update the article. This app is free to download, but the creator accepts donations if you want to support his efforts. An administrator account on the Mac you're using to create the disk. The easy way Diskmaker X remains the easiest, most user-friendly way to get this done. Andrew Cunningham Once you've obtained all of the necessary materials, connect the USB drive to your Mac and run the Diskmaker X app. The app will offer to make installers for OS X 10.8, 10.9, and 10.10, but we're only interested in Yosemite today. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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CN.dart.call("xrailTop", {sz:"300x250", kws:["top"], collapse: true});John Siracusa's gigantic review of OS X Yosemite tells you everything you need to know about the new operating system. The biggest, most noticeable change is the revised user interface, which has been redesigned in the image of iOS 7 even though it remains distinctly Mac-like. When the first Yosemite Public Beta was released, we ran through a bunch of apps and compared them side-by-side with their Mavericks iterations to show just what had changed, and by how much. Apple continued to tweak the look of the interface throughout the beta period, addressing a few of our initial gripes. Below is a comprehensive visual tour of Yosemite's new changes. Many of these screenshots are similar to what shipped with the Public Beta, so we'll be sure to highlight those elements that have changed significantly since then. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock When the book is finally closed on the product line known as OS X, last year’s release of OS X 10.9 Mavericks may end up getting short shrift. Sure, it brought tangible energy saving benefits to Mac laptop owners, but such gains are quickly taken for granted; internal changes and new frameworks are not as memorable to customers as they may be to developers and technophiles. And while Mavericks included many new user-visible features, and even new bundled applications, the cumulative effect was that of a pleasant upgrade, not a blockbuster. But for all its timidity and awkwardness, Mavericks marked a turning point for OS X—and in more than just naming scheme. It was the first OS X release from the newly unified, post-Forstall Apple. If iOS 7 was the explosive release of Jony Ive’s pent-up software design ethos, then Mavericks was the embodiment of Craig Federighi’s patient engineering discipline. Or maybe Mavericks was just a victim of time constraints and priorities. Either way, in last year’s OS X release, Apple tore down the old. This year, finally, Apple is ready with the new. To signal the Mac’s newfound confidence, Apple has traded 10.9’s obscure surfing location for one of the best known and most beautiful national parks: Yosemite. The new OS’s headline feature is one that’s sure to make for a noteworthy chapter in the annals of OS X: an all-new user interface appearance. Of course, this change comes a year after iOS got its extreme makeover. Read 405 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Andrew Cunningham Apple announced a new generation of its tiny Mac mini desktop computer today at an event in Cupertino, California. The new version includes a Haswell CPU and PCI-e flash-based storage, among other features. The 4th-gen Intel processors will have Intel Iris and HD 5000 GPUs, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and two Thunderbolt 2 ports. Apple referred to the Mac mini as "the world's most energy efficient desktop." The base model includes a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel i5 processor, and the top-end end model can be specced with up to a 3.0GHz dual-core Intel i7 processor. By default, the new Mac mini models are equipped with Apple's Fusion Drives, but customers can upgrade to fully-flash-based PCIe drives for a price. The company has not updated the Mac mini since late 2012, when it added USB 3.0 ports (the new model retains 4 of these, in addition to Thunderbolt 2). The new machines will retain the design of the 2012 model. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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CUPERTINO, CA—On Thursday, Apple followed its announcement of the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 with price drops across the board for older models in those lines, which will continue to be produced alongside today's newest models. "Our lineup has the lowest price point ever for iPad," Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller said while standing in front of a slide revealing the price points. The original iPad Mini price has dropped to $249 at its smallest memory configuration of 16GB, followed by the iPad Mini 2 at $299 and the iPad Air at $399 (also set at 16GB). Each of those price drops is $100. In terms of competitive pricing, the original iPad Mini now costs only $50 more than Amazon's Kindle HDX 7 without advertising offers and Google's Nexus 7. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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One of the big "tentpole" announcements from Apple’s event this morning was the long-awaited arrival of iMacs with "retina" displays. The flagship 27-inch iMac form factor has been updated with a high-resolution, high-DPI screen, and it's now known as the "iMac with Retina Display." It runs at a resolution of 5120x2880. The updated iMac with Retina Display keeps the same external form factor as the existing iMacs, so externally, things are unchanged. However, the new internals include an updated LED backlight, an updated oxide TFT display panel, and an updated timing controller to push around the display's 14.7 million pixels. Apple also says that although the display is brighter and denser than the 27-inch 2560x1440 panel on older 27-inch iMacs, the panel uses 30% less power thanks to the efficient LED design. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Andrew Cunningham CUPERTINO, CA—Apple has officially announced its next iPad Air 2 at today's media event on its campus at 1 Infinite Loop. The iPad Air 2 was inadvertently outed yesterday in an iBooks listing for the iPad user guide. The new device is only 6.1 mm thin, and it boasts an A8X chip and a GPU that Apple says is 180 times faster than the original iPad. The company said that the iPad Air 2 has a 10 hour battery life. The device will also benefit from the addition of a TouchID fingerprint sensor, a feature that was first introduced in the iPhone 5S last year. TouchID can be used to unlock devices and confirm App Store purchases and, as of iOS 8, it's also available to third-party developers to use when their apps require authentication. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Yosemite is here. Apple CUPERTINO, CA—Today at a product event, Apple announced that it would be releasing OS X Yosemite to the public. The eleventh major release of OS X was announced back in June at WWDC, and Apple began sending public beta builds to interested parties in July. Though it includes other new features, the operating system's most noticeable change is its redesigned user interface, which echoes the overhaul Apple gave iOS 7 last year. Yosemite's brighter, flatter applications and icons, its heavy use of translucency, and its switch to Helvetica Neue will be familiar to anyone with an iPhone or iPad, but as we saw in our coverage of the first public beta, Apple has been careful to preserve shadows and depth in many places throughout the OS. Along with the design overhaul, Yosemite also ushers in newly redesigned versions of OS X staple apps like Safari and iTunes. Yosemite will be available as a free download from the Mac App Store later today, and it can be installed on any supported Mac running OS X 10.6 or later. If your Mac can run either Mountain Lion (version 10.8) or Mavericks (version 10.9), then it can run Yosemite. The full list of supported machines is as follows: Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Apple Pay is the most important thing to launch with iOS 8.1. Apple Apple has just released iOS 8.1, the first major update to iOS 8. The majority of the update's new features have already been announced, but for one reason or another weren't ready to be included in iOS 8 when it shipped last month. In the update, Apple plans to add back the "Camera Roll" album in iOS 8 with 8.1 to help users find their recently taken shots. The new version will also include a beta of iCloud Photo Library. iCloud Photo Library offers users the option of either backing up their photos to iCloud or using the service as primary storage to clear up space on their devices, only downloading photos when necessary. 8.1 will also mark the formal release of Apple Pay, the contactless payment system Apple teased when it unveiled the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in September. The new iPhones can store credit card data locally in what Apple calls the "Secure Element," which also contains a Device Account Number unique to each phone. Stored cards can then be used to make purchases by using TouchID to authenticate and NFC to transmit the data. The Device Account Number and randomly generated per-transaction codes are used to obfuscate your credit card data, which isn't exposed directly to retailers or to Apple. App developers can also integrate Apple Pay buttons into their apps to be used in lieu of credit card numbers. Apple stated that it plans to roll out Apple Pay in November. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Greetings, Arsians! Our partners from LogicBuy are back with a ton of new deals for this week. At the top is this deal for a 24" Dell UltraSharp IPS monitor with a 1920x1200 for $279.99. Featured dealLast Day for 30% Off UltraSharp Sale! Dell U2415 24" UltraSharp 1920x1200 IPS Monitor w/ 3-year warranty for $279.99 plus free shipping (list price $399.99) Monitors Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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When the console is smaller than the controller, it has really earned the term "microconsole." We didn’t have a chance to evaluate the PlayStation TV before its North American release Tuesday, but we have now picked up a retail unit and put it through its paces for a few hours over a couple of days. What we've found so far is a device that's perfectly fine when it works as intended, but quite a few important limitations get in the way of its advertised functionality. For those who may have missed the previous announcements, the PlayStation TV can be best thought of as a $100 PlayStation Vita without the screen. The microconsole hooks up to a TV via HDMI to let you play Vita games (originally designed for portable play) on the big screen. In addition, PSTV supports many downloadable PSOne and PSP classics, PS3 games streamed via the PlayStation Now service, and remote play off a PS4 connected to the same network. Basically, it’s the PlayStation ecosystem’s version of the Ouya or a cheap Steam streamer box—a cheap, low-power device designed for smaller titles and remote play of bulkier titles running elsewhere. Right out of the box, it’s striking just how small the PlayStation TV is. If you have room for a deck of playing cards under your TV, you have room for its tiny, rounded plastic form. Setup was a painless process. Plug the box into the wall and to the TV via HDMI, then sync a Dualshock 3 or Dualshock 4 controller via USB (you can unplug it afterwards), and you’re off and running. Going through initial menus to set things like the time, the Wi-Fi connection, and my PSN account took about five minutes. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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