Spotify to stream at CD quality


Last week we told you that Spotify was planning on a new range of services for its premium users. Well music lovers, the first of these services is being launched this week – CD quality streams.

Currently Spotify streams the songs in its catalogue at 160kb/s but this will be doubled to 320kb/s using an ogg vorbis q9 codec. Premium users need to change their preferences in order to benefit from this upgrade by ticking the box that says ‘enable high bitrate’ in their options menu.

To begin with the improved quality will only be available on the most popular tunes but will be rolled-out to the whole database within a few weeks. Spotify CEO and founder Daniel Ek says the upgrade means an “unparalleled listening experience” for premium users.

Spotify also claims that the upgrade means they will be offering “the highest streaming rate for any digital music service”.

It will be interesting to see how the market responds to this news. Will the amount of subscribers to Spotify’s premium service increase? Will you be upgrading your account?

Spotify to offer more paid for services


Spotify have responded to the news of Virgin Media’s team up with Universal Music by announcing that they are planning a whole bunch of new features to add value to its premium service.

Currently users who pay £9.99 a month (or 99p a day) can have ad-free access to the three million tracks that are available in the UK. The premium side of Spotify will be expanded to include:

  • Recommendations and ticketing
  • Bundled downloads
  • A social networking aspect to the service
  • Better quality audio streams than the current 160kb/s ogg vorbis q5 codec

Spotify’s UK MD Paul Brown said: “The idea is to have a service with more features and functionality that will draw people in.”

It isn’t clear yet whether there will be additional subscription packages or whether the new features will be included within the current £9.99 fee. Either way, along with the Virgin/Universal announcement, it’s an exciting time for digital music.

(via NMA)

Toshiba issues its second netbook – the Mini NB200


Not very hot on the heels of the Toshiba NB100 comes the second netbook in the range, the NB200. It’s not blowing any other netbooks out of the water, but it’s a solid improvement on the original.

A 10.1″ display at 1024 x 600 will be displaying Windows XP. Sadly there’s no Linux option, though you might want to try Windows 7 on it. There’s a 160GB hard drive, with ‘shock protection’, and a 1.66GHz Atom processor. A ‘premium edition’ comes with an isolation keyboard and 9-cell battery.

The NB200 will be out in May, and cost from £319 to £359. There’s a few different configurations available, so that price might wobble a bit, but it’s basically about £350. Worth it? We’ll get one in for review and let you know, but it looks good on paper.

(via Trusted Reviews)

Denon DVD-A1UD high-end universal Blu-ray player


Okay, I’ll have to admit I asked for this a bit. In my last post about Denon Blu-ray players I demanded to know what Denon would describe as ‘high-end’, after their ‘entry-level’ player cost £600.

Well, this is it. It’s the catchily-named DVD-A1UD, and it’ll play back Blu-ray discs, Super Audio CD (SACD), DVD-Audio, DVD-Video and plain old CDs. The DVD-A1UD is the replacement for the Denon’s previous universal DVD player – the DVD-A1XV. Full specs are over the jump.

It costs a massive £3,300. I can safely say that I don’t know anyone who’d splash out £3,300 on a DVD player, but someone must, or they wouldn’t make the damn thing. It’s going to show up across Europe in March 2009, in either a silver or black finish. Who knows, perhaps by then you’ll be rolling around in pots of money. Denon can only hope.

Denon announces 'entry-level' premium Blu-Ray player


If this is ‘entry-level’, then I’m mildly terrified to see what Denon would describe as ‘high-end’. Oh wait. Now I’m scared. Anyway, back to the DVD-1800-BD. It’s a Blu-Ray player. It’s got HDMI 1.3a, full bit stream output of Dolby and DTS-HD audio, and 1080p upscaling of DVDs and 2-channel audio. It’s also got a stereo output, if you want to use it as a very expensive CD player.

There’s an SD card slot, too, and it incorporates a secondary audio and video decoder for picture-in-picture functionality, if you can handle watching two things at once. It’s going to be available at the start of December, and cost a whopping ‘entry-level’ £600. It’ll be available in Black and Silver.


Related posts: Denon shows off super-high-end DVD-3800BD Blu-ray player | Denon DP-200USB turntable – the stylish way to turn your records into mp3s

Asus planning 12" S101 high-end ultra-thin laptop


Originally, the S101 wasn’t planned to be part of Asus’ Eee PC netbook range, but it was shoehorned in at the last minute because the company wanted a high-end Eee. The S101 features a 10.2″ screen, but it looks like the Taiwanese company are planning an ultra-thin 12″ model, too.

The new machine will have a 16:10 aspect ratio, and very similar specs to the S101. ‘Sources’ reckon that the machine could be out as soon as before the end of the year. Thankfully, though, the company aren’t planning to stick an Eee badge on this one – the company president has said that he won’t call anything with a larger-than-10″ screen a netbook.

Asus (via Digitimes)

Related posts: Kinda thin and kinda brown – the original S101 | Virus alert! Asus Eee Box ships in Japan with malware

Spotify – stream all the music you could ever want


Gosh. I can get a bit jaded with all the rubbish new music services I get bombarded with every day, which is why it’s such a breath of fresh air when something comes along that ticks every single box. For me, Spotify is that thing. Spotify is a streaming service. It just streams, but by golly does it do it well. It has three things that set it apart from other, similar offerings – catalogue, speed and social functions…

Pioneer launching premium Blu-ray players with full BonusView features


Pioneer has announced two new Blu-ray players — the Elite BDP-05FD and Pioneer BDP-51FD — both offering “premium” features and with full BonusView functionality.

Both players feature HDMI 1.3a with 12-bit Deep Colour, 1080p output, 24fps film mode, Wolfson Digital Audio Converters, handling of all audio bitstream formats, decoding of Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, and DTS HD Master (with a future firmware upgrade), 7.1-channel analogue output, and new graphical interface…