Modern Warfare 2 joins 'Avatar' in ultra-elite $1 billion club

For an entertainment property to hit $1 billion in sales is a very rare feat. For two separate properties to pass the 10-figure mark at the same time may well be a first.

On Wednesday, Activision Blizzard announced that its mega-hit video game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, had crossed the billion-dollar mark, after just two months on store shelves--and the entertainment industry's single-day sales record. That milestone came shortly after it was announced that James Cameron's uber-blockbuster movie, "Avatar," had also reached that financial promised land.

To be sure, these are just round numbers, and don't have any formal meaning, but there's no arguing with the fact that it sure sounds good for the entertainment business to be sporting two separate billion-dollar titles at the same time, especially since they come from such different corners of the world.

In the history of video games, a billion-dollar hit is an extreme rarity. It's hard to tell precisely how many there have been, but it's possible that number is as small as two.… Read more

Hands on: Pocket BLU app serves up Blu-ray extras

Here's a neat idea: an app that links your iPhone or iPod Touch to whatever Blu-ray movie you're watching and serves up extra content, a remote control, a soundtrack listing, and even Facebook integration so you can tell friends about the movie.

Pocket BLU is that app. It's free, it works, and it's pretty cool--but it suffers from two major limitations.

The first is that it works only with Blu-ray players that have Wi-Fi. I can understand the need for a network connection, but what's wrong with Ethernet? Save for PlayStation 3s, few modern players … Read more

The 404 Podcast 496: Where all you need is a self-addressed stamped envelope

We've been promising you guys 404 stickers for the past year now, and we're happy to report that we finally have them in the office! We literally have 15,000 of them in boxes at our desks just waiting to ship out to our faithful listeners, so if you want a stack and a handful of 404 temporary tattoos, all you have to do is send a self-addressed stamped envelope with the appropriate postage to CNET NY (address in link), care of "The 404 Podcast - STICKERS.

A note to our international fans: we're happy to send stickers and tattoos out to wherever you live, but please make sure the postage on your envelope is correct, or they'll get lost in limbo somewhere. Thanks for your patience in advance, we prepare and seal each envelope ourselves so it might take a little time for them to get back to you.

It's our second day back in the office, but it's also the first time we're back together for a normal episode. There's a ton of voice mails to get to, but we get right back into our usual fare with the death of Spiderman 4. Sam Raimi just announced that he's pulled out of the directing role and some speculate that the studio will use James Cameron's screenplay for the next movie in the arachnid-superhero franchise. Speaking of movie news, we also check out the new A-Team movie trailer featuring Bradley Cooper, Liam Neeson, and Jessica Biel- oh my.

Big thanks to everyone who sent us happy new year voice mails over the break, and keep them coming. Now that we're back, we're anxious to play more on the air, so phone us up at 1-866-404-CNET and give us a piece of your mind! Stay tuned during the second half of today's show to learn about the back end technology behind JDate and other popular online dating Web sites.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone!

EPISODE 496 Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more

Return of the $99.99 Sony Blu-ray player

A sub-$100 Blu-ray player is no big deal these days, but it's still fairly rare to find one that offers BD-Live at that price point--especially a Sony model.

Last month, SonyStyle offered the refurbished BDP-S360 Blu-ray player for $99.99 shipped (plus sales tax where applicable). I'm happy to report that the deal is back.

Happy, but not ecstatic. See, I now think if you're going to buy a Blu-ray player, you should get a model that can stream Netflix movies. This one can't.

Also, because it's a refurb, the warranty expires after 90 … Read more

ViewSonic debuts new MovieBooks

LAS VEGAS--We all know of ViewSonic's display pedigree, but in this business, it pays to branch out. ViewSonic recently dipped its toe into the personal media player waters, or what it calls MovieBooks, and are continuing to support the format at CES 2010 with the debut of two new MovieBooks.

First, the VPD550T features a 5-inch 800x480-pixel high-resolution LCD touch screen, and can output video in 1080p to a supported source. The device, which includes 8GB of storage space, also supports the playing of music and viewing of photos. This is in addition to digital book support and voice … Read more

Quick video downloader

Ares Tube is a simple tool for downloading online videos. While it has a directionless layout, its results are strong enough to earn a recommendation.

The program's interface is a bit frustrating to use, since it provides no Help file or instructions. Luckily, there are so few command options that some experimenting yielded a fairly solid understanding of its basic operation. The program looks like a typical Web browser, but with a built-in queue for downloading videos. Ares Tube claims to work with more than a dozen video sites, including some of the most popular ones, like YouTube and … Read more

Malfunctioning movie maker

Portable Movie Maker is a simple program that allows users to edit video clips together into one movie. Although we like the interface and a lot of the features, certain parts of the program didn't work quite as well as they should have.

The program's interface is sleek and intuitive, making the potentially complicated process of editing a movie quite simple. The Collections tabs allows users to view all of the clips that they'll be working with, while the Tasks tabs includes such items as capturing video and editing and finishing the movie. Putting the clips together … Read more

Photo effects maker

SpiceFX for Movie Maker provides a simple set of photo effects. By creating a moving set of filters, it's an entirely different type of photo filter.

The program's helpful interface made it a cinch to operate. Thanks to its onscreen instructions and very visual layout, we never felt compelled to visit the online Help file for instructions. While the idea of applying various photographic masks and filters didn't initially sound like anything earthshaking, we were impressed by this program's collection. We could apply various shapes, fades, pans, zooms, and other effects with an impressive amount of … Read more

Box office sales outpace disc sales in 2009

It hasn't happened since 2002, but box office sales beat out disc sales in 2009, market research firm Adams Media Research said in a report released on Tuesday.

According to Adams, U.S. viewers weren't so keen on buying DVDs in 2009. While it found that consumers spent $250 million buying movies online in 2009, the firm found that physical disc sales dropped by 13 percent year over year, from $10.06 billion in 2008 to $8.73 billion in 2009. Those figures include Blu-ray Disc sales.

Adams said box office spending increased to $9.87 billion in … Read more

HD hero

With the advent of high-definition video, many people are finding that programs like Windows Media Player just aren't good enough anymore. HD video demands a player that can do it justice, and DivX 7 for Windows handles this task formidably.

DiVX 7 for Windows is actually a whole suite of utilities, including a player, converter, codec, Web player, and DirectShows filter. We put each of the applications through its paces and found them all to be intuitive and well designed. The player is specially designed to maximize the appearance and audio of high-definition video, and the converter allows users … Read more