Staying Connected On The Go

Dave Zatz —  December 18, 2014 — 18 Comments

Since first adding a Palm V modem to my tech arsenal about 15 years ago to access Mindspring dial-up email on business travel, I’ve remained Internet-connected when mobile (and have even used “mobile” connectivity to power the home). The last few years, I’ve done my best to stay off public WiFi — the level of exposure and ease of interception exceeds my comfort levels. I wouldn’t say I’m paranoid and it’s not like I dabble in state secrets, but I’d rather not make my personal data any more accessible than it probably is. (Remember that time someone tweeted as me via Southwest Air WiFi?) Not to mention, those wireless networks (free or otherwise) often don’t perform so well – either by (poor or upsell) design or due to saturation.

With that in mind, I’ve been a huge fan of mobile phone tethering — which was fully ensconced within my workflow by 2006, when I kept my laptop online via a USB-connected 3G Sprint PPC-6700 while riding Amtrak to a NYC eventContinue Reading…

As I begin a reexamination of Plex, TiVo may suddenly become a whole lot more interesting to folks hosting media repositories.

Since launching about a year ago, the Opera TV Store apps on TiVo are mostly throwaways and rarely worth the time they require to open. But with Plex on deck and the newer ability to pin favorite apps, the math could suddenly, and perhaps dramatically, change. Especially given TiVo’s apparent disinterest in bringing the sort of DLNA access that Xbox and Playstation provide along with an abandonment of TiVo Desktop to pass music and photos to our DVRs.

Right now, only Sony and Swisscom devices are Plex-capable. But it seems quite clear other Opera TV Stores will ultimately receive updates that bring support. Hopefully TiVo will be one of them and more timely than usual.

From the private Plex Pass forums:

You may have heard the news today that Plex is coming to devices running the Opera TV Store! We’re excited that Plex will be available on even more devices for our users. Some things to note:

  • The app is currently in a preview period and does require a Plex Pass subscription to use during that period
  • You can find a list of supported devices on the Opera site. Devices may require an update by the manufacturer before Plex will show up as available.
  • We’re working with Opera to ensure the list remains up-to-date as support becomes available on any more devices

(Thanks Russell!) 

slingbox-fire-tv

Without a hint of marketing muscle, SlingPlayer for Amazon Fire TV was quietly introduced a day or so ago. As you’d expect, the app allows you to pipe Slingbox video to another television in the home or really anywhere in the world. Or so their new TV Everywhere campaign proclaims. While I’m not prepared to pass judgement after only a few minutes of steaming TiVo > Fire TV Stick, it does indeed work as advertised (although only Slingbox 350, M1, and SlingTV/500 models are supported).

Interestingly, unlike recent Chromecast and Roku clients, this particular Slingbox presentation does not require a $15 mobile app in the mix… and harks back to the days of the Logitech Revue and WDTV Slingplayer. However, the fee-free sensation may be short-lived given the recently introduced and persistent banner ads now found in the web player… along with pre-roll video advertisements now being injected into our streams?!

(Via our pal Arne in Munich)

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Back in September, Wink announced the addition of Relay to their ever growing lineup of home automation products. The Relay is a wall mounted touch screen device that connects to your Wink home automation system and is powered by an Android variant. It features Wifi, Zigbee, and Bluetooth communication protocols, but missing are the Z-Wave and Lutron ClearConnect capabilities included in the original Wink Hub. For $300, you might reasonably expect that that the Relay could replace the Wink Hub. Alas, not. Continue Reading…

dish-hopper-binge

While TiVo focuses their resources on serving smaller and international television providers, as retail customers defect, the larger US cable and satellite companies continue to crank away on their own compelling in-house DVR services.

Although DISH may have given up some ground in the Hopper’s ability to, you know, actually hop (over commercials) they just completed a nationwide software update that brings one-button access to Closed Captioning and the ability to watch an in-progress “live” show from the beginning should you have gotten a late start and the programming is resident within the On Demand catalog. But way more interesting, given our collective shift in scripted television viewing patterns, is the new Binge Bar (as shown above). Once you’ve finished watching an episode, any remaining episodes on your DVR or in the VOD catalog are presented – as pioneered by Netflix and similar to Comcast’s X1 “Next Episode Suggestion.”

tivo-twitter-x1

Speaking of Comcast, TiVo has felt free to publicly bash their so-called partner… despite upcoming improvements to that Xfinity X1 HTML5 platform — including deeper Pandora and other “web site integration,” along with a few other features TiVo doesn’t possess. From the Donohue Report:

Its Share2TV app will allow X1 subscribers to stream personal videos recorded on mobile devices with any X1 subscriber in the country. Comcast is also developing an app called Family Point which will allow subscribers to view the locations of family members on TV by tracking smartphones that are connected to X1, and family members will also be able to leave messages through “sticky notes” that will be displayed when a television is turned on.

Surge on the wrist

Intro

Late in October, Fitbit announced three new activity trackers: Charge ($130), Charge HR ($150), and Surge ($250). Each offers different features depending upon your need. At the base, the Charge provides step activity, floors climbed, calories burned, automatic sleep tracking, call notifications, and silent alarms. Moving up to the Charge HR, Fitbit includes an optical heart rate monitor (PurePulse) that uses light to track your pulse throughout the day and during workouts. The idea being that included heart rate data will provide a better measure of calories burned (more on that in a bit). The top of the line Surge includes everything from the Charge HR, but also adds a larger screen and GPS to the mix. This means you are able to log walks/runs even when you don’t have your phone on you.

Last week, Fitbit sent out a special limited release email to those who showed interest in the new Charge HR and Surge products. As these products were not supposed to be released until early 2015, it was a nice surprise. Fitbit provided a one time code to purchase the new trackers and I was lucky enough to receive an email for the Surge. Order was placed Thursday night, and on Monday the Surge was delivered. Continue Reading…

fios-bonus

As the story goes, I renewed Verizon FiOS services in August after several years of stellar performance (at two addresses) and in light of the potential disruption an Xfinity install might bring along with Comcast’s ongoing HBO GO Roku blockade. After Tech of the Hub received a pretty fantabulous FiOS renewal offer that effectively comps two years of premium channels, including HBO and Showtime, I popped into my account to see if renewing our two-year contract just 4 months in might yield similar goodness. And, indeed, I had the option to re-up my exact same bundle… for even less money. At only $75/mo for 50/50Mbps Internet, plus a healthy selection of cable television content and the all locals (without an aerial antenna), it’s extremely hard to consider cutting the cord.