theEweekly Wrap: free music, cheap computers and 3D gaming

By Rachel Hand topicIcon Manchester
Sony welcomes Spotify Rumours circulated this week that Spotify had signed a deal with Sony, thus inching closer to a US release. The music streaming service has over 10 million users in Europe, but has so far found it hard to break into the US due to record labels refusing to sign. If enough do, American users will be able to listen to hours of free music, or pay for the premium service to avoid advertisements, or splash out on the Spotify mobile app.

However, with only 750,000 of Spotify's European users currently paying, and reported losses of £16.6 million in 2009, it's easy to imagine why major labels may have reservations. If rumours of the deal are true, Sony has signed over the likes of Michael Jackson, Kings of Leon, Neil Diamond and Christina Aguilera to the on-demand music service.

The £98 PC The government scheme to get the UK online has begun, with £98 PCs being offered for 12 months. Race Online 2012 will also see subsidised net connections for as little as £9 per month through a dongle. Of the 9.2 million people in the UK who have never been online, it is estimated that 4 million are economically disadvantaged; the government hopes the £98 computer will remove that obstacle.

The machines are in fact refurbished or recycled computers assembled by Remploy, which helps disadvantaged people find work. They hope to sell 8,000 of them in 2011, through 60 centres across the UK, which will also offer training. Although the computers will have flat-screen monitors, Remploy save money by installing open-source software like Linux.

Search noise An opinion survey by US analysts Rasmussen Reports has found that although search engines are generally held in good favour, the problem of 'noise' is becoming a real concern. Of 740 Americans surveyed, 89 per cent rated search engine results excellent or good, while less than 1 per cent said they were poor.

However, when asked about problems afflicting search engines, the response was less positive. 13 per cent claimed they could not find what they needed, while a huge 70 per cent complained about the amount of irrelevant data – or 'noise' – resulting from a search. In other news, Search Engine Land reports that Google favours itself in search results just 19 per cent of the time. In one shocking example, typing 'search engine' into Google puts Google itself in 5th position.

Win-tendo The long-awaited Nintendo 3DS handheld console was unveiled in Amsterdam this week (ancestor pictured). The launch, hosted by Jonathan Ross, revealed the information UK gamers have been dying to hear: it will be launching here on 25 March 2011, for between £220 and £230. More than 30 games will also be released ready for the launch, although Wired magazine called them 'disappointing'.

Meanwhile, the capabilities of the new device itself were lauded across the web, such as the gyroscope and ability to connect with other 3DS units. Most impressive, however, are the two screens with glasses-free 3D displays. These can play 3D TV, with Sky and Eurosport offering to create programmes especially for Nintendo. BT will give 3DS users access to its Wi-Fi hotspots, while the twin cameras mean it can shoot 3D videos and read AR codes.