Talking tech since 2003

Happy Sunday! It’s time once again for the Weekend Wrap-Up, where we run down the top tech stories from the past week and get you up to speed. We have some pretty big stories to recount for this week’s edition, so let’s get to it.

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Amazon Unveils Fire TV, its Apple TV/Chromecast/Roku Competitor

Up until this past week, every major content ecosystem had its own device for streaming except one: Amazon’s. That changed with the introduction of the company’s newest product, Fire TV, which acts as both a streaming set-top box and a casual gaming console. The Fire TV gives Amazon a direct connection to the TV, allowing the company to sell its own content without sharing a cut with anyone else. It can also fully control the software experience on the device and perhaps tie it back to the full Amazon retail operation at some point. The device is on sale now for $99.

Microsoft Brings Back the Start Menu

windows-8-start-menuWindows 8.1 was a pretty significant update to Windows 8, and it looks like Update 1 for 8.1 will be significant in its own right. The major story is what the update is bringing back; the Start menu, which vanished with the introduction of Windows 8. It won’t just be the old-school Start menu you remember, though; you’ll also find Live Tiles worked into the space. It’s a sort of compromise between what Microsoft originally wanted and what customers wanted the company to go back to. How will it fare? We’ll have to wait and see.

Samsung Quietly Launches New Galaxy Tab Line

It’s not uncommon for company’s to update products without major launches; for example, Apple doesn’t always make a big deal out of a refresh. But a new yearly line of tablets? That probably deserves some press, and Samsung picked the worst day on the calendar to get some: April Fools Day. While no one was looking for real news, the company announced its new Galaxy Tab 4 line, which consists of three tablets — 7, 8, and 10.1 inches — that boast nearly identical specs. No prices have been announced yet, and there are no solid release dates for any of the tablets, though they’re expected to hit stores in Q2 of this year.

Google+ Adds View Counts to Profiles, Pages and Images

Google is determined to make Google+ a thing whether we like it or not. The company’s latest idea? Show us how many people are looking at our Google+ content so that we care more about what’s showamazon-firetving up. View counts are now present on Google+ profiles, as well as business pages and images that are uploaded to the service. If you’d rather not have that view count displayed on your profile, don’t worry; it can be turned off in Google’s account settings area.

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