Archives For davez

Sonos 5.3 Beta

Within the last few days, a new APK for the Sonos Android app popped up online. And, throwing caution to the wind, I went ahead and installed the 5.3 beta. While I’m not privy to the release notes, and therefore not necessarily aware of all changes, it seems likely that massive usability enhancements headline this release.

Upon opening the app, we’re presented with our Sonos Favorites (which I now have reason to flesh out). Further, certain functionality like switching zones or enabling timers is more apparent, while requiring fewer clicks, as Sonos more sensibly surfaces these features. And beyond the new raft of top-level contextual menuing, the now playing bar gains new functionality in rating, where appropriate – like I Heart Radio and Pandora music streaming services. Continue Reading…

What a long strange trip it’s been. Vudu initially launched in 2006 as a $400 dedicated movie streaming box. The requisite price cuts and pivots followed, including serving up apps like Flickr and then feeding smart televisions, before Walmart swooped in. Since then, the video service has focused on its own mobile and set-top video streaming app … that’s landed on a whole host of set-tops and mobile platforms. And, here we are again, back to a dedicated piece of hardware in the new Vudu Spark. Having launched in Walmart stores just a few weeks ago, at $25, of course I had to pick one up. Continue Reading…

Jan 19

samsung-spam

Like many of you, I’ve questioned the value of a “smart” TV. On one hand, quick access to online apps like Netflix courtesy “Input 1″ ~with no additional equipment~ is quite appealing. However, despite advances in performance and functionality, we’re not going to replace our televisions at the same rate we might be compelled to pick up the latest and greatest streaming solutions. Not to mention reboots and advertising further diminish the value prop.

Sadly, to get the very best panels and processing these days, whatever new set one acquires will likely be saddled with an Internet platform. And no one abuses that connectivity and customer goodwill as effectively as Samsung. What they and Delivery Agent call a “Solution” the rest of us will call a “problem” … as David Chartier and the Boston Globe point to a newly introduced overlay that drops a (Dunkin’ Donuts) ad unit on top of a possibly related commercial. They presumably use metadata markers, as TiVo has, to determine when to hit you with an ad. But really the technical intricacies are secondary to the compromised user experience and disruption. Continue Reading…

tivo-angelAt one point, it seemed a Series 6 TiVo might be off the table. Yet, given my perception of minimal MSO interest in their network DVR and often anemic specs from hardware set-top partners, TiVo regrouped to begin developing a 4k reference design … that was initially unveiled (behind closed doors) back in September at IBC. Indeed, TiVo’s go-to chip supplier Broadcom announced that they’d selected the high-end, quad-core BCM7445 to power an Ultra HD STB. And, just last week at CES 2015, once again privately demoed at least one 4k solution – where TiVo Vice President Jim Denney provided Fierice Wireless a glimpse into the company’s thought process:

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Two Weeks With Roku TV

Dave Zatz —  January 12, 2015 — 9 Comments

I wasn’t the only member of the Zatz family that picked up a new television this season. And, unlike my Vizio experience, Mom has been quite pleased with the two TCL Roku TVs I chose for her. Of course, her expectations and tolerances in this realm are far more, uh, relaxed than most of our regulars – so context is indeed important.

Upon moving from Florida to Virginia in 2013, I had Mom unload her truly crappy living room television while hanging onto her 32″ bedroom Vizio with an understanding that we’d come up with a more modern solution once she furnished her NoVA condo. As the furnishing have now (mostly) arrived, it was time to identify new televisions for the bedroom and the living room, with the Vizio earmarked for the den/office. I originally thought a pair of 42″ HDTVs might do the trick and figured she’d benefit from the same manufacturer, remote, and interface. With that in mind, my original thought for practicality was to pick up whatever Vizio model Costco had on the floor. She’d had good luck with her original Vizio and Costco includes a stellar warranty and technical support.

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10 Days With Vizio M Series

Dave Zatz —  January 11, 2015 — 32 Comments

m-series-vizio

Cue the sad panda. I had high hopes for a new 65″ Vizio M Series. But, after 10 days, Best Buy has reclaimed it. The M Series was notable for providing a solid picture at a reasonable price. And, when the 65″ dropped to $1000 during promotional holiday pricing, we pulled the trigger. Beyond “bang for buck” in regards to size and pq, Vizio is one of the few manufacturers that passes 5.1 audio — which could be a major selling point for those with a Sonos Playbar or Vizio 5.1 solution of limited inputs and prefer to use the TV as an HDMI switch. It was for me. Continue Reading…