Google Play Music launches in Canada

- May 5th, 2014

Better fashionably late than never.

Google joins the digital music dance party in Canada with the launch today of Google Play Music, a streaming service that will give subscribers access to more than 25 million songs, from red-hot beats to mouldy oldies.

Available as of now, Google Play Music shoulders its way into an ever-crowded field of streaming music competitors, including Rdio, Slacker, Deezer, Sony Music Unlimited and Xbox Music, among others. Google seems to be aiming for an all-things-to-all-people approach, combining commonplace features like customized streaming radio stations with free cloud-based storage of up to 20,000 songs, and subscription features that include access to a catalogue of 25 million tracks.

Play Music - Nexus 5

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How to watch the Super Bowl ads

- February 5th, 2012

Honda's Super Bowl commercial has already racked up more than 11 million views online. Save Ferris!

There are a lot of great things about being Canadian. We’ve got universal health care, other countries tend to like us, we know the right way to spell “colour” and “neighbour”, easy access to poutine and good beer… the list goes on.

But every year when the Super Bowl rolls around, we’re reminded of one of the downsides of living in this great nation: We don’t get to watch the good commercials.

With airtime for the game selling for as much as $4 million US per 30-second spot, advertisers naturally bring out their big guns. Supermodels, special effects, celebrities, monkeys, laughs, tears… if only the Super Bowl itself could be this entertaining.

Problem is, even if you watch the game on a U.S. station, the feed will be subbed out for CTV’s own. Which means you’re getting commercials localized for our maple syrup-lovin’ market. Hey, did you know American Idol is on CTV? After the 15th promo spot airs during the game, you sure as heck will.

If you absolutely must see the Super Bowl commercials that our American cousins will enjoy today, here are some tech-savvy strategies that might help. None of which requires leaving the country. Whew!

Watch them now

Dozens of advertisers have already released their Super Bowl commercials online to capitalize on advance buzz, or to feature extended versions that won’t be aired on TV. (Honda’s salute to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the most-watched so far, with more than 11 million views.) They’re a bit scattered across the web, but you can find most of them at Adweek’s Super Bowl hub, or our own Canoe.ca.

Stream the game

This will be the first year the Super Bowl is streamed live online, through NBC Sports and some mobile phone providers. The catch is we’re not sure if they’ll be showing the TV commercials in the online stream (and the NBC online broadcast might be unavailable in Canada anyway.) While the U.S. Attorney General recently shut down a bunch of illegal sports streaming sites, user-driven video sharing websites such as Justin.tv and Ustream.tv will almost certainly do an end run around the law and have live streams from U.S. networks – including the commercials.

Get an antenna

If you live close enough to the U.S. border, you might be able to use an HDTV antenna to pick up a signal from an NBC station in the States, which will naturally feature the full roster of American commercials. As an added bonus, these over-the-air signals are in crystal clear, uncompressed (or at least less-compressed) high-definition. There are tons of antenna retailers out there, but Xtek.ca has a good selection of gear, as well as primers on how to set it all up. Of course if you don’t have one already, this might have to wait until next year’s Super Bowl. Not even FedEx does same-afternoon delivery.

Wait a little while

While some advertisers won’t reveal their commercials before the game, they invariably put them online moments after the ads air on TV. YouTube’s AdBlitz channel will round up all the commercials after the game is over, and there are even iPhone apps – like the $1.99 Super Ads app – that are updated with new commercials as soon as the ads hit the web. This means you can actually use the commercial breaks during the game for more important things, like fetching beer and going to the bathroom. These truly are enlightened times we live in.

Dell enters the Ultrabook fray

- January 10th, 2012

Available at the end of February, the XPS 13 will mark Dell's entry into the red-hot Ultrabook market.

With this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas playing host to a dozen or two new models of Ultrabooks – skinny, powerful, Windows-based laptop computers – it was a given that our buddies at Dell would be leaping into the fray eventually. And so they have, with the just-announced Dell XPS 13, the company’s first entry in what will be the hottest computer category of 2012.

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Win a Virgin Mobile Samsung Galaxy Nexus

- December 21st, 2011

Virgin Mobile Galaxy Nexus

In the last few weeks we’ve given away a tablet and a laptop, but we’re not done just yet! To wrap up the trifecta of portable computing goodness, our final freebie for the holidays is a Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone, courtesy of our friends at Virgin Mobile Canada.

The Galaxy Nexus is the top of the Google phone crop, with a 1.2 GHz dual core processor, a massive 4.65-inch high-def super AMOLED display, a 5-megapixel camera that shoots 1080p video and a boatload of other bells and whistles. It’s also the first smartphone running Android 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich, which introduces a bevy of new and useful features to the familiar Google experience.

And since the phone is on the Virgin Mobile network, the winner will get access to the full roster of Virgin Member Benefits, which includes deals on cool brands, access to exclusive events and the co-pilot seat on the first Virgin Galactic voyage into space. (OK, that’s not really a Virgin Member Benefit. But we’re going to appeal to Sir Richard Branson himself to make it one.)

By know you probably know the drill for giveaways here on the Canoe Tech Blog, but here’s the skinny just in case.

HOW TO ENTER TO WIN

To get your chance to make this powerful new smartphone your own, simply leave us a comment telling us why you want to win the Virgin Mobile Samsung Galaxy Nexus and how you would use it.

Fine Print:

Contest is open to any resident of Canada, 18 years or older, except residents of Quebec.

The contest begins at 12:01AM ET, Wednesday December 21st, 2011 and closes at 11:59PM ET Friday December 23rd, 2011. No purchase necessary, but reader must log in to post a comment.

Only one entry per person. We cannot be responsible for lost entries.

Winner will be drawn from eligible entries received and must answer a skill-testing question. Winner will be notified by email to the address supplied, within 24 hours and has 48 hours to respond. If no response, another winner may be selected.

Winner will receive a Virgin Mobile Samsung Galaxy Nexus with a retail value of $649.99, donated by Virgin Mobile Canada, and will also allow his or her name to be published.