Sony kills its laptop and e-book business

CNET Update says sayonara to Vaio:

In this episode of Update:

- Bid farewell to Sony's Vaio laptops, as the company is selling its PC business. Sony is also closing the Reader e-book business in North America.

- Catch up on the drama over Apple removing the Blockchain app from the App Store. Blockchain is one of the most popular Bitcoin wallet apps.

- Get excited for Amazon's console gaming plans, now that the company bought the studio Double Helix Games.

- Make your own Coca-Cola soda drinks at home with a future Keurig Cold home brewing machine. … Read more

Mobile puzzle game Threes is a design marvel worth your time

The image of the emblematic smartphone game has not been held in high regard of late. Certainly not with titles like Flappy Bird seemingly taking over the world, earning $50,000 a day off our meaningless compulsions and further cementing the well of condescension "hardcore" gamers have for the mobile platform and its capacity.

That's where Threes comes in. Released Wednesday as a universal iPhone and iPad app, the $1.99 title -- a simple math-based puzzler with gorgeous design and catchy music -- is what an overtly refreshing, downright fantastic mobile game should be.

It's … Read more

What gaming drought? 7 great games you should be playing right now

I've been hearing it since the new year: "There are no games to play!"

Sure, we seem to have found ourselves in a bit of a lull when it comes to the big blockbuster video game. When I posted what I felt were 2014's most anticipated titles, I may have overlooked the fact that the beginning of 2014 was a bit on the light side for games.

Wrought with guilt that I may have in someway performed a disservice to you fine people, I felt compelled to compile a short list of interactive software worthy of your hard-earned income. The best part? Most of these titles are significantly cheaper than the $60 you're probably used to paying for a shiny new game.… Read more

Amazon acquires game studio Double Helix Games

Amazon has acquired independent game studio Double Helix Games, adding to speculation that the Internet retailer is preparing to enter game console space sometime this year.

Representatives for Amazon and Double Helix Games confirmed the acquisition for CNET after an initial report by TechCrunch. Terms of the deal were not revealed.

"Amazon has acquired Double Helix as part of our ongoing commitment to build innovative games for customers," Amazon said in a statement.

Founded in 2007 through the merger of two Foundation 9 studios -- The Collective and Shiny Entertainment.-- the Irvine, Calif.-based company has about … Read more

Smartphone surprise success Flappy Bird earns $50K per day

Flappy Bird, the newest and most savagely addicting smartphone game to have taken the mobile market by storm, is earning $50,000 in ad revenue each day, Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen revealed Wednesday in an interview with The Verge.

While that's nothing compared with the insane $850,000 Candy Crush Saga -- the App Store's longtime leader in the top grossing charts -- earns UK developer King per day, it's certainly nothing to scoff at for a non-freemium game that was uploaded in May 2013, last updated in September, and remained virtually invisible for months. Flappy Bird … Read more

If 'Game of Thrones' took place in feudal Japan

Taking a page from the book of "Ukiyo-e Heroes" -- Jed Henry's series of traditionally crafted woodblock prints of video game characters in the style of ukiyo-e -- artist Seiji has given us a glimpse of what "Game of Thrones" might look like in set in feudal Japan.

He has reimagined eight standout scenes and characters from the series and placed them in context of Japanese traditions and mythology. Hodor, for example, is drawn with oni-like features to indicate that he may not be all human, and the heart tree is hung with a … Read more

Game controller for quadriplegics responds to mouth movements

Gaming can be a great equalizer. A 13-year-old girl can take on a 72-year-old grandfather online and never know it because they're both just characters inside a game world. All they have to do is pick up a controller and play. Quadriplegics and people with limited use of their arms and hands, however, have a greater challenge. The QuadStick on Kickstarter hopes to be a gaming gateway for folks who need a different kind of controller.

The QuadStick was inspired by the work of Ken Yankelvitz, a pioneer in building mouth-controlled joysticks and other adaptive devices. Yankelvitz is currently not taking orders for new devices due to health reasons, leaving a gap in the market for gamers who can't use traditional controllers.… Read more

Xbox One updates to improve Kinect, multiplayer features

Xbox One users can expect two major updates to hit their consoles over the coming weeks.

Revealed by Xbox Corporate Vice President Marc Whitten in a blog on Wednesday, the first update will launch on February 11 with several fixes and features. Whitten promises improvements to the Kinect's voice recognition so it can better respond to your commands. Unspecified stability and product updates are also part of the package, as are behind-the-scenes enhancements for developers.

More specifically, Xbox One users will be able to view and manage their storage space, choose the order in which certain content loads, and … Read more

Name your own price for a Sid Meier game bundle

I hope you have a lot of free time.

Sid Meier's simulation games are known not just for their awesomeness, but also for their ability to obliterate evenings, weekends, and relationships. (But in a good way!)

And here's your chance to get a bundle of them for pennies on the dollar. The Humble Sid Meier Bundle lets you name your own price for five games, with bonuses available if you hit certain tiers.

Here's what you get for a buck or more: Sid Meier's Civilization III Complete, Sid Meier's Civilization IV: The Complete Edition, Sid … Read more

Virtual-reality Skyrim rocks treadmill, Oculus, Wiimote

Only the geekiest among us will remember the short-lived 1995 television series "VR.5," an ode to virtual reality that was part Max Headroom, part fever dream, and oh-so-awesome at the time. Nearly 20 years later, the promise of VR has yet to be realized, but at least we're getting closer, as evidenced by a demo video from gaming treadmill maker Cyberith.

The Cyberith Virtualizer is an omnidirectional treadmill that is a direct competitor to the Virtuix Omni. The demo video shows the Virtualizer used in conjunction with an Oculus Rift headset and a Wiimote.… Read more