Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ Salary To Get 50% Pay Bump To $3m In 2014

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Remember Qwikster? Wall Street doesn’t.

The AP is reporting this morning that Netflix CEO will get a healthy pay raise in 2014. According to a regulatory filing, Reed Hastings’s annual salary jumps to $ 3 million, up from the $ 2 million he earned this year. His annual stock option allowance also improves to $ 3 million from the current level of $ 1 million.

It’s hard to argue against the pay increase. Netflix had a great 2013. The stock price is up 296% on the year. It’s trading around an all time high of $ 365. The stock was the top performer in the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 this year.

The company isn’t raking in the profits, though. In its most recent quarterly report, Netflix only made $ 32 million. But Wall Street doesn’t seem to mind and so the company should stay the course raking in the subscribers and producing award-winning original content. Netflix just needs to remember to listen to their subscribers.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Meet Egg, A Smart Cat Toy That’s A Real Companion For Your Kitten

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Keeping cats interested in any one toy for any length of time can be difficult, at least in my experience. Plus, most of them require a lot of manual input on the owner’s part. The Egg is a Kickstarter project that aims to keep things interesting for the cat, and save energy for the owner, with a smart toy that moves on its own and can be programmed via a laptop.

The Egg looks like its namesake, but contained within its plastic enclosure, it holds an offset weight and gearmotor, along with a printed circuit board. The Egg can detect floor type and even obstacles, like a cat’s paw or person’s foot, and rotate its weight using the gearmotor to change direction. The result is a ball that can continuously roll and keep a cat’s interest without any human intervention.

Or, with limited human intervention, I should say. The Egg still needs to be charged up, using a microUSB port on its side, and it can be plugged into a computer to switch it to various interaction modes using a desktop software interface.

Speaking from experience using an iPhone-controlled Sphero robot, this seems like a design that will indeed appeal to furry friends. Egg’s creator Jason O’Mara says that it isn’t designed to withstand the rougher brand of abuse that can come from dogs, however, so limit the Egg to feline pals only. O’Mara is an electrical engineer based in Portland, Oregon who previously worked for electronics industry vet TDK, among others.

Egg has managed to get within spitting distance of its $ 15,000 Kickstarter funding goal, so it’s highly likely it’ll reach it before long. O’Mara anticipates shipping the first production run by June, 2014, and backers can secure a pre-order for $ 31. That’s a small price to pay for what could potentially provide eternal enjoyment for your bored domestic animal.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

The Bathys Atomic Watch Is Heading Towards A Crowdfunded Future

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Bathys, a boutique watchmaker based on Kauai, Hawaii and run by one determined man, first announced their wild Cesium 133 atomic watch in October. Now, a few months later, the company is nearly ready to hit the shoals of crowdfunding.

The company made a name for itself by building sturdy dive watches for the surfer set. We haven’t heard much from them, however, until recently when they announced plans to make a watch that will remain accurate until your children’s children jet off in their moon cars to Juno. It uses a Symmetricom SA.45s CSAC atomic clock on a chip to power a standard quartz face salvaged from an older Bathys model.

Created by John Patterson, the watch is still a work in progress but there is some talk of crowdfunding the product once it is ready for prime time. At this point ABlogToWatch estimates that the piece will cost $ 8,000 or so when complete with discounts offered to early adopters.

Obviously this thing is comically large and obviously battery life is an issue but this is the first standalone device that will be more accurate than some GPS units. Because it doesn’t depend on a satellite sync it will be accurate all the time and even far into the future. While you’re not going to wear this on your next surfing safari I don’t see why you couldn’t wear it stargazing or, barring that, while manning the tubes at the Large Hadron Collider.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

2013 Mac Pro Review: Apple’s New Desktop Boasts Dramatic Redesign, Dramatic Performance

Another angle. This is one of the FirePro AMD workstation GPUs.

Apple’s new Mac Pro is a sight to behold: In black aluminum with an eye-catching cylindrical design, there’s little chance you’ll ever mistake it for any other computer. The previous Mac Pro was iconic too, of course, but this one is also just slightly larger than a football and dimpled on the top with a recess like a jet engine. But the true power lies under the hood, and what’s contained therein will satisfy even the most pressing need for speed.

Video Review

Basics (as reviewed)

  • 3.7 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor
  • 16GB 1897 MHz DDR3 RAM
  • Dual AMD FirePro D300 graphics cards with 2GB of RAM each
  • 256GB SSD
  • 6 Thunderbolt 2.0 Ports, 4 USB 3.0
  • 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.0
  • MSRP: $ 2,999
  • Product info page

Pros

  • No faster Mac exists under the sun.
  • It’s like having an exhibit from an industrial design museum in your house.

Cons

  • It’s super expensive.
  • Bring your own screen/everything.

Design

Few would argue that Apple’s design for the Mac Pro isn’t unique. It’s been compared to Darth Vader’s iconic look from the original Star Wars movies, and in a less flattering light, called the “trash can” Mac. But when you actually have one sitting on your desk, it’s a very different story. The aluminum surface is cool to the touch, reflective without being shiny, and – somehow – astoundingly reassuring.

  1. Mac Pro With Case

    The new Mac Pro with its case removed, side by side with said case.
  2. The Mac Pro Without Case

    Underneath, the Mac Pro lays bare its circuit boards for all to see.
  3. Mac Pro Without Case

    Another angle. This is one of the FirePro AMD workstation GPUs.
  4. Mac Pro SSD

    Here you see the SSD module for the Mac Pro.
  5. Mac Pro Case

    This is the case, which is a solid piece of rigid aluminum.
  6. Mac Pro Vs. Mac Mini

    Here's the Mac Pro compared to the latest model Mac mini design.
  7. Mac Pro Ports

    This is a close-up of the I/O for the Mac Pro.
  8. Mac Pro Rear Panel

    Here's the locking switch mechanism that allows you to remove the lid.
  9. Mac Pro Rear

    Here's what the Mac Pro looks like when viewed from behind.
  10. Mac Pro Vents

    Here are the top vents on the Mac Pro, which channel air away from the "thermal core."

It’s the modern monolith of desktop computing, and indeed it does harken forward to a future age where the amazing engineering contained within is required for your everyday computing needs.

As it stands, of course, the computer housed within that sleek black shell will obliterate any task thrown at it by all but the most extreme and demanding of professionals. Apple might not be as fond of the so-called ‘moonshot’ as competitors like Google, but it gives great immediate futurism with the Mac Pro in terms of both design and performance.

The modularity of the new Mac Pro is not the same as it was with the older versions. You won’t be swapping 3.5mm HDDs out of bays, for instance. But the outer shell slides off easily once you’ve unlocked it, and you get full access to the RAM bays (upgradeable to a maximum of 64GB via four 16GB modules), as well as to the SSD units (which, while Apple-specific, are upgradeable too) and the GPUs (also theoretically replaceable with future Apple-specific hardware). But the real modularity comes via the external I/O: Thunderbolt 2 can theoretically display 4K video while simultaneously transferring it thanks to a unified 20 Gbit/s throughput rate, and there are six ports on the back, combined with four for USB 3.0.

This, combined with the unique thermal core Apple has created, makes for an incredibly small, quiet professional workstation machine. In testing, I couldn’t hear it unless I put my ear up close, and even then it’s a relatively quiet hum, not even close to the fracas my Retina MacBook Pro makes when it’s doing heavy lifting. It breathes a light exhaust of air through the top, too, which is actually a nice refresher if you’ve been slaving away in Final Cut Pro all day.

Performance

For the layperson or everyday computer user, the new Mac Pro will seem like a thought-based computer, where virtually every input action you can think of results in immediate response. Whether it’s the Xeon processor or the super-fast PCIe-based SSD or those dual workstation GPUs, everything seems slightly but impossibly faster than on any other Mac, even the most recent iMac and Retina MacBook Pros. To be honest, it’ll be hard to go back even for everyday tasks like browsing the web and importing pics to iPhoto.

But that’s not what the Mac Pro is for: It’s a professional machine designed to help filmmakers create elaborate graphics, 3D animations and feature-length films. It’s aimed at the most demanding photographers, working in extreme resolutions and doing batch processing on huge files. It’s for audio producers, creating the next hit album using Logic Pro X and low latency, high bandwidth I/O external devices.

For me, Final Cut Pro was bound to be the wrench that would otherwise throw my existing Mac setup some trouble. On the Mac Pro, FCP X ran like a dream, rendering and publishing in the blink of an eye. I had to pinch myself to prove that I wasn’t dreaming after it took fewer than 10 seconds to render and publish the final edit of a 1080p video a little over two minutes long. And again, nary a peep from the Mac Pro itself.

For the super nerdy, you can check out the Geekbench scores of the new Mac Pro we tested here and here. Remember, this is the baseline, entry-level version without any customization options, so it’s the bottom of what you can expect in terms of performance.

Features

The Mac Pro has some unique abilities that you won’t find in any other Mac, including the ability to power up to six Thunderbolt displays at once. I ran two Thunderbolt Displays plus a 21-inch iMac, as well as a Wacom 13HD through the HDMI port, and Apple’s premium machine didn’t even break a sweat. This is definitely the computer for the video producer who wants to be able to monitor output in real time while working on some raw video at the same time, or the information addict who feels they just aren’t getting enough with the two or three displays that represent the maximum possible output with a MacBook Pro or iMac.

Another great feature is the upgradeability, which ensures that, as futuristic and ahead-of-the-curve as this Mac already is, it’ll be even more future-proof thanks to the ability to swap out components down the road. Apple hasn’t revealed any details about later upgrade kits, but it’s reasonable to expect that RAM, SSDs and even GPUs will be available for those who feel they need even more out of their maxi Mac.

mac-pro-lit-portsOne final subtle but very nice feature is the auto-illumination of the ports that happens when you move the Mac tower itself. It’s extremely useful for helping you plug the right device into the right port when you’re looking to add new devices, and likewise when you’re looking to unplug something. This kind of attention to detail only reinforces that if you have $ 3K to spend on a Mac, your money’s in good hands with Apple.

Bottom Line

The Mac Pro is almost absurd in terms of its abilities. It’ll blow away any ordinary computer user, including one with even slightly advanced demands like myself (occasional video editing, plenty of Photoshop, some digital graphics and podcast production). But in reality, my Retina MacBook Pro wasn’t straining under the demand of my needs, either – the Mac Pro merely makes it all seem effortless.

That said, it’s rare that a computer is an investment; mostly these days, you buy one with the expectation that you’ll probably need another in two years’ time. The Mac Pro, somewhat like the iPhone 5s, is designed with the future in mind, so that video producers who aren’t working on 4K but will be expected to in a few years don’t have to reinvest.

For anyone who’s been looking forward to a replacement for their aging gray tower Mac Pro, and for anyone who has the money and is willing to spend it, the Mac Pro is a no-brainer, but for the rest of us, we needn’t reach quite so high to touch the sky when it comes to Apple’s line of OS X hardware.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

The Consumer Electronics Startup Show

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The size and scope of the Consumer Electronics Show is unfathomable for the uninitiated. CES has been called a cesspool. It’s been called a shitshow. And those descriptions are accurate. It’s a clusterfuck of consumer electronics companies, big and small, vying for attention. That’s why TechCrunch attends.

For the 2014 show, which is just two short weeks away, TechCrunch is, for the first time, breaking out its Startup Battlefield event from Disrupt. Called Hardware Battlefield, this startup competition has been tweaked and reworked to focus on, and celebrate, the brightest and most promising unlaunched hardware startups. And what better place to host it than CES?

CES is the largest startup show in the world, and to say that it takes over Las Vegas is not hyperbolic. The city is consumed by CES: Nearly every hotel room is booked; almost every conference room is used. For every Samsung and Microsoft, there are at least 100 smaller companies — the best and brightest of which often do not have an official spot on the CES show floor.

For years, CES has been held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This massive facility has four exhibition halls nearly large enough to hold air shows within. But in recent years, with the LVCC bursting at its seams, the show expanded next door to the Hilton, The Venetian and Palazzo. If that’s not enough, companies and startups often save a bunch of cash, forgoing the traditional CES experience and rent suites in other casinos. Then there are hackathons, press events, and more lame parties than one can possibly attend.

CES1

CES is not for us, the press or the average consumer. It’s a show for buyers and exhibitors. It’s a show for innovators and salespeople. It’s a show for the consumer electronics industry. Yet, year after year, the tech press shows up with trailers and broadcast booths, attempting to boil down this overly complex show to a consumable morsel.

TechCrunch attends CES not to reblog press releases and help Samsung announce its latest tablet. We attend the show to find the next big thing. For 2014′s show, we’re sending more writers, editors and video personnel than ever before. Our broadcast booth is bigger than last year’s. And I’ve created more CES planning spreadsheets than I would like to admit.

We’re even holding a startup competition this year.

Just like its Startup Battlefield counterpart, our Hardware Battlefield will pit startups against each other for a chance at a $ 50,000 cash prize. We have amazing judges and 16 companies from around the world. This happens twice a day at our broadcast booth. Show up to watch it in person (here’s our booth) or follow along live thanks to Ustream.

I predicted 2013′s show to be the year of the gadget startup. And I was dead-on. It was the first CES of the modern era without Microsoft. Nokia, Dell and HP were skipping the show. The year before that was the noisiest CES in recent memory. CES was headed into a wall. But startups saved the show.

Over the last few years gadget startups have risen in prominence. Once hampered by long development cycles and poor designs, thanks to crowdfunding and understanding venture capitalists, hardware startups can now operate nearly as lean as web-based companies.

Best yet, countless startups have risen out of the ashes of the consumer electronic wasteland to help consumers turn ideas into companies. As John explained, 2014′s CES will be the year of the maker.

ces

Planning this year’s CES was a daunting task. There are just so many companies within TechCrunch’s scope of coverage attending the show. Best of all was scanning the map of the show floor and spotting companies like GoPro and Parrot, once tiny companies, doing the show big with sizable booths in prominent locations.

If you or your company are headed to CES, we would love to talk. Stop by our booth in the LVCC Central Plaza to watch the live interviews, shows and competitions. We’re the booth circled in red here.

The folks behind CES, the CEA, fully understand that the show is on the cusp of turning into something different. They have made moves to make the show more accessible to smaller companies, creating special venues to better suit the needs of the startup. Of course adding more exhibit space does not address the bloated feeling of CES. As before, it will seem overwhelming and excessive but still exciting and magical in its own special way — especially to the startup attending CES for the first time.

[Photos via International CES]

TechCrunch » Gadgets