Archives For davez

TiVo, Now on Fire TV

Dave Zatz —  October 8, 2015 — 35 Comments


As promised (to me, personally;), the TiVo Fire TV app has arrived today … in “beta” form and without live television. Having only played with it about five minutes, my initial observation is that this was clearly designed for or tested against something other than a television given little thought to overscan. Without adjusting my Fire TV’s settings, elements in the lower left, upper left, and upper right were clipped on my television. Indeed, from Amazon’s design guidelines:

The amount of space a TV uses as overscan varies across manufacturers. That real estate is not available to your app. Although the Amazon Fire TV platform provides a way for the user to adjust for television overscan in the settings, for the safest possible behavior we recommend that you avoid placing any of your app’s UI elements within the outer 5% of any edge on the screen. The focused item and on-screen text, especially, should be fully within the inner 90% (the safe zone) of your user interface.

Continue Reading…

As Best Buy is wont to do, new inventory sometimes ends up on shelves and available for purchase before a manufacturer may have intended. As such, several have been tinkering with TiVo Bolt for a few days now. And, the good news is, internal hard drive replacements are a go.


While Bolt may only be offered with only a 2.5″ 500GB or 1TB WD drive, we can go larger and there’s enough clearance in the enclosure for models taller than 9.5mm. Having said that, I still worry about power consumption and heat dissipation given the new form factor … and would probably recommend this 2TB Samsung ($94) — it’s a proven product at a reasonable price point that will provide sufficient DVR storage for many. Continue Reading…

Roku 4, For Real This Time

Dave Zatz —  October 6, 2015 — 42 Comments

After weeks of leaks, the Roku 4 finally breaks cover. As expected, new 4K and 801.11ac capabilities receive top billing, Also, not too shabby is the additional of optical output, unlike the majority of its streaming competition. And the mystery of that top port or sensor is finally solved. It’s neither. But, rather, a remote finder button used in conjunction with a small speaker grill on the back of an updated remote. To contain the upgraded tech, including a new quad core processor, the iconic Roku puck is no more — replaced with something that resembles a hotplate.


On the app side, Roku boasts more 4K content than others — beyond the requisite Amazon and Netflix, the HDCP 2.2 platform will also bring Vudu and M-Go at launch. But these app updates could end up replicating what one finds natively on their 4K televisions. And why it pains me that Roku didn’t sneak an OTA tuner or HDMI pass-thru into the larger chassis this time around. They’ve got a pleasant and efficient user interface (that already includes television support) and could keep non-DVR folks pinned to Input 1. Perhaps they disagree on the value of unifying that OTA linear and over-the-top content, like a TiVo or Xbox. Or maybe they’ve got some sort of non-compete in place with their television partners. Another missed opportunity is cleaning up that remote. Roku’s top tier streamer breaks the $100 threshold for the first time, clocking in at $130 – $30 more than the 4k Fire TV. I’d think this flagship model could easily do away with the spam buttons. And one reason why I may never upgrade from my 2014 Roku 3.

Continue Reading…

TiVo-Roamio-OTA-dealThe new TiVonomics got you down? Fortunately for you, TiVo is blowing our select Roamio inventory post Bolt intro. And this Roamio OTA is bundled with Lifetime service for a very attractive $300. For comparison, the 4-tuner Bolt starts at the same $300 but, after year one, requires either $150/year for ongoing service or $600 for Lifetime. Granted, Bolt does 4k… but, with a limited selection of content, it’s likely not yet a motivating for most. The main thing you give up is the Bolt’s controversial new look and integrated stream capabilities. One is likely irrelevant and the other can be corrected with an even more capable $130 Stream accessory, should you so choose. But you better strike while the iron is hot as TiVo will run out of inventory at some point and will surely cease sales once the OTA-only Bolt is unveiled later this year to prevent cannibalization. (Thanks David!)

Continue Reading…

While Philips Hue HomeKit-compatible gear isn’t officially expected until October 6, the A19 Starter Kit has begun appearing at various retail locations. Indeed, I literally got my hands on the v2 hub bridge. It’s smaller and squarer than the existing model, with a nicer matte finish and generally more tasteful presentation… that is entirely irrelevant since you’ll be plugging it into your router somewhere out of sight. There are three indicators, plus a glowing ring that surrounds the much larger pairing button.

As Philips moves the line to HomeKit, pricing of Hue bundles looks to remain unchanged (in the US, anyway). What’s not yet clear, but should be revealed within the next 48 hours, is the cost of a standalone HomeKit bridge to retrofit the bazillions of Hue homes that sport iOS (like mine). Also unclear, as I’m pretty sure an App Store update is required, is the extent of Siri voice control. For example, will it best Amazon Echo’s existing but limited (tho useful) Hue interaction?

UPDATE: The HomeKit replacement hub has popped up on Amazon for $60… But I’m waiting to learn more about Siri’s capabilities before making my purchase.

As we continue to hunt the elusive Roku 4, a source has provided the below image… which, after a long absence, indicates the triumphant return of S/PDIF optical audio to the Roku platform. And what makes this detail even more compelling is that Amazon has dropped optical from their competing 4K Fire TV this generation, to the consternation of some.


Beyond these restored audio capabilities, which we’d expect from a flagship streamer, we know the Roku 4 serves up 4K video hand in hand with 802.11ac wireless for the first time. A previously disclosed full frontal photo (below) more clearly depicts a new elongated form (“the hotplate“) and from the FCC filing we know there’s a handy new finger-depressable reset button on the bottom. What we don’t know are specific 4k-specific details, like HDMI version or potential support for HDR. Plus, it’s unclear what that sensor or port on the top of the Roku is all about. Lastly, and possibly related, I’m hopeful Roku’s got some software surprises for us. Continue Reading…

Didn’t I tell you Best Buy would be the place to get Amazon’s 4k Fire TV ahead of the official October 5th release? Whereas I’d assumed in-store inventory was ripe for abuse, it turns out the advantage was gained via online sales. Folks who’d pre-ordered had units shipped early on 9/30. And, as you can clearly see from the imagery below, they’ve started arriving. This slip-up isn’t on par with, say, iPhones arriving ahead of official reviews, but I can still appreciate as a gadget agent of chaos.


Continue Reading…

tivo-hatBeyond TiVo VP Margret Schmidt operating well out of her lane to periodically chime in on the TiVo Community Forum, the site that TiVo once bankrolled hasn’t seen much company participation in recent years. That changed today with a marathon QA session handled by TiVo Chief Marketing Officer Ira Bahr. I appreciate his frank engagement with the community and his message (even if the Investor Relations group may not).

Ira provides quite a bit of insight into their market strategy with Bolt and intention to keep the hardcore happy with a more suitable product offering next year. I still think the Bolt has an uphill battle, as currently presented… but perhaps there’s time to deliver a more economical cord cutter-centric “Aereo Edition” this year or flip up pricing should they receive the lukewarm response I expect.

A sampling of the good stuff, chopped up and reassembled: Continue Reading…