Netflix Is Getting More Expensive, Watch New Super Bowl Ads… [Tech News Digest]

A reminder that Netflix prices are going up, YouTube shows Super Bowl ads early, Microsoft recalls Surface Pro power cables, HBO is travelling to Spain, and a real-life lightsaber fight… kinda.

PSA: Netflix Prices Are Going Up

In May 2014, Netflix announced it was raising its prices from $7.99-per-month to $8.99-per-month. In October 2015, Netflix raised prices once again, from $8.99-per-month to $9.99-per month. However, the first price hike only applied to new users, and existing subscribers were rewarded for their loyalty with a two-year delay. Unfortunately, those two years are almost up.

As detailed in Netflix’ letter to shareholders [PDF], later this year, those grandfathered users will have a choice to make. They can either carry on paying $7.99-per-month but drop down to streaming in SD (Standard Definition) on just one screen, or start paying the $9.99-per-month the rest of us pay and keep streaming in HD on two screens. We suspect most people will take the $2 hit.

It’s important to note that this isn’t a new price hike, although we suspect Netflix is looking into raising its prices again in the future in order to finance more original content. While Netflix now has more than 75 million users, and the ability to add more in 190 countries, making television shows and movies isn’t cheap, so every penny counts.

YouTube Teases Super Bowl Ads

Super Bowl 50 isn’t happening for another couple of weeks, but that hasn’t stopped YouTube from launching a website and channel dedicated to new Super Bowl commercials. The AdBlitz website and AdBlitz channel are both filling up with teasers for Super Bowl 50 ads, with KFC and Wix taking the lead.

The popularity of Super Bowl ads is a strange phenomenon. After all, you’re meant to be watching the football, and yet many people tune in for the ads and/or the halftime show instead. YouTube has started capitalizing on this by featuring the best Super Bowl ads on its site, building anticipation ahead of the big day.

As reported by Digital Trends, in 2015 YouTube viewers watched the equivalent of 1,600 years of Super Bowl commercials on the Google-owned site, and 40 percent of those views happened ahead of game day. Which is why so many brands are happy to have their Super Bowl ads on YouTube before they’re even broadcast on TV. Especially as YouTube is a lot cheaper.

Microsoft Recalls Surface Pro Cables

Microsoft is set to recall the power cables sold with older models of its Surface Pro tablets due to a risk of them overheating. An official announcement is expected tomorrow (Jan 21), with the voluntary recall expected to affect the Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2, and Surface Pro 3 sold prior to July 2015.

A Microsoft spokesperson told ZDNet:

“As a result of damage caused by AC power cords being wound too tightly, twisted or pinched over an extended period of time, a very small proportion of Surface Pro customers have reported issues with their AC power cord. We will be releasing details of how customers can obtain a free replacement cable shortly”.

Microsoft will be issuing more guidance shortly, but it’s expected that those affected will be offered free power supply replacements. The risk of overheating is thought to be limited to power cords that have been sharply bent or repeatedly wrapped, damaging the internal components. So you may want to check now whether yours is in good condition.

[Update: The Surface Pro power cord recall is now live!]

HBO Expands Into Europe

HBO has its eyes on an expansion into mainland Europe, with Spain the next country on its agenda. According to Bloomberg, HBO plans to launch a standalone streaming service in Spain by the end of 2016, targeting the cord-cutters and cord-nevers living in the region. United States residents already have HBO Go and HBO Now to choose from.

The Spanish service is expected to be similar to HBO Nordic, a Web-only offering available in Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark since 2012. This offers HBO shows, as well as content from Showtime, Starz, and AMC. An HBO spokesperson said, “Spain is not the first and Spain is not the last,” hinting that further expansion is planned in the future.

The Closest Thing to a Real Lightsaber

And finally, while we can virtually guarantee you will never own a real lightsaber, because science, people will keep on trying regardless. And this is probably the best effort we have seen so far. Someone built it, and someone else was keen to try it out on a person. Cue the video!

As you can see this is a long way from being anywhere near as good as a laser sword as wielded by the Jedi and Sith. In fact, I could do more damage to someone using the plastic lightsaber I keep in my closet for special occasions. But still, it looks cool, which is really all that counts. [H/T Reddit]

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Will you be affected by the grandfathered Netflix price hike? Why are we all so fascinated by Super Bowl ads every year? Will you be affected by the Surface Pro recall? Would you subscribe to HBO Now if it was available in your country? How badly do you want to wield that lightsaber?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.

Image Credits: Orangefan_2011 via Flickr