- The Washington Times - Monday, July 27, 2009

TOKYO | After losing its battle to make the HD-DVD the successor to the DVD, Toshiba Corp. is considering making products in the winning format, Blu-ray.

Although Blu-ray is backed by Toshiba competitors such as Sony Corp. and Panasonic Corp., Toshiba has little choice. It no longer makes recorders and players in HD-DVD. The Blu-ray alliance was more successful in wooing Hollywood studios.

The Yomiuri, Japan’s biggest newspaper, reported without identifying sources that Toshiba plans to enter the Blu-ray market. Toshiba spokeswoman Yuko Sugahara would not confirm the report.

The move would be reminiscent of Sony’s strategy after its Betamax videotape standard lost to Panasonic’s VHS in the 1980s. Sony ended up making VHS products.

Netgear helps consumers measure Internet use

NEW YORK | How many gigabytes do you consume per month?

Not many people can answer that question, complicating the efforts of Internet service providers to get their subscribers to stay below a certain amount of data per month.

In August, Netgear Inc. plans to introduce a $190 router that will provide the first easy way for users to get a grip on their Internet traffic.

Netgear said it will include the feature on future models, eventually making it a standard, and provide software upgrades for older devices.

Most Internet service providers set a limit for how much their subscribers are allowed to download each month. Those limits are mostly set high — it’s 250 gigabytes per month at Comcast Corp. But some ISPs, led by Time Warner Cable Inc., have tried to set low limits, then charge extra for each gigabyte beyond the cap.

That has met with a lot of opposition, not least because most consumers have no idea how many gigabytes they consume each month.

Time Warner Cable tried to educate its users by giving them a Web page where they could track their consumption. Netgear’s routers will give owners a way to monitor their usage independently.

Data-monitoring software already is available for PCs, but with game consoles, TV set-top boxes, iPhones and other devices now also connecting to the Internet, the PC software gives an incomplete picture of consumption in many households. Measuring at the router — through which all Internet traffic flows — captures it all.

Social network for gamers

NEW YORK | Raptr, a social network aimed at gamers, is hoping to make it easier to see what your friends are playing on a broad range of platforms such as the Xbox 360 and personal computers. And if you want, you can join them in the action.

On Wednesday, Raptr launched new software that integrates various instant-messaging services, as well as Twitter and Facebook, and automatically updates users’ status with the games they are currently playing.

It recognizes about 32,000 games, including such hard-core titles as Halo 3, such music games as Guitar Hero and such social games as Zynga’s YoVille on Facebook.

If your friend is in the middle of a multiplayer game, you can join in, provided that you’ve installed Raptr on your computer, for free.

“Most people prefer to play with friends … but finding friends and playing with them is hard,” CEO and founder Dennis Fong said.

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