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Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  July 29, 2015 — Leave a comment

A stitch in time saves nine…

att-directv

I hate AT&T by Aaron Slater on Flickr.

Just a day or so after sealing the deal, new graphics have been pushed to DirecTV Genie boxes at warp speed to update bootup imagery and the screensaver with AT&T branding. Faster even than Verizon can drop DirecTV from their FiOS offerings. If only making NFL Sunday Ticket available to U-verse could be as efficient… (Thanks Joseph!)

While I’ve been expecting refreshed over-the-air TiVo hardware, given a simplistic repurposing of base Roamio hardware for OTA and the Aereo acquisition, I hadn’t anticipated anything imminent in digital cable… especially with the ongoing CableCARD and successor uncertainty. Heck, I’d even assumed the absurd TiVo Mega was dead. Yet, CableLabs just updated their self certification paperwork… with two new TiVo models.

  • Tivo 07/01/15 PNP SCV1113 Digital Only TCD849500 STB
  • Tivo 07/01/15 PNP SCV1114 Digital Only TCD849000 STB

Historically, we could determine TiVo hardware generation from the first half of the model number and capacity from the second half. I’m not so sure hard drive is still in play these days. Yet, all prior Roamio models begin with 84, so I’d guess these similarly denoted units must be closely related and still represent TiVo Series 5 hardware. As to what exactly they are, I haven’t the foggiest.

These probably don’t represent the TiVo Bolt, which sounds more like a service. But could they be Mega variants? Hopefully not, as I really hope that initiative is dead with engineering resources better detailed to mass market products. But I could still see TiVo moving upmarket in presentation, if not storage, and perhaps these represent 4k-capable Roamio units… and you can check out my previous Broadcom chipset speculation here. Lastly, one of TiVo’s biggest retail challenges remains pricing — so whatever they’re working on hopefully reduces the BOM, with savings passed on to customers. Continue Reading…

Wink Seeks White Knight

Dave Zatz —  July 25, 2015 — 11 Comments

Perhaps due to frustrating and unreliable home automation products that seemingly haven’t caught on combined with some bad bets by Quirky, Wink appears to be in dire straights – despite cash infusions from GE and a decent retail footprint. Amidst that backdrop, Michal Wolf wonders who might step in to pick up the pieces and walks us through a variety of large companies … that probably have zero interest.

Continue Reading…

Another day, another interesting trademark to mull over. And like TiVo Bolt, we don’t have much to go on here with Echostar AirTV.

Computer hardware and software for streaming audio and video content to a variety of network devices, namely, personal computers, mobile phones, tablet computers and stand-alone hardware decoders

So it sounds a lot like Miracast screensharing, versus Chromecast beam and control. Could this be something offered by sister company DISH Network or might there be some interplay here with Echostar’s very own Sling Media Slinbox group? Hm.

Disappointed that the ad-free Slingbox you purchased was suddenly inundated with banner ads and pre-roll video commercials? Well, you’re not alone. And two customers have taken these infractions to court via a class action suit.

“Sling Media failed to disclose that the use of the product would be contingent upon and subject the purchaser to unrequested advertising from Defendant. Since approximately March 17, 2015, Sling Media suddenly began broadcasting such unrequested spam advertisements to users of its Slingboxes. Slingbox has perpetuated a massive ‘bait and switch’ upon thousands of unsuspecting consumers […] who now need to watch the defendant’s ads to use their devices as promised.”

[…]

The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction against Sling Media to produce and stream future original advertising through Slingbox without prior consent from purchasers. They also seek restitution and disgorgement of all profits garnered from the allegedly misleading business practices and commandeering of the devices, as well as interest and attorneys’ fees.

Perhaps Echostar’s Sling Media knew this day was coming… due to the introduction of the Slingbox M2, which looks just like the M1 yet is described as ad-supported. In any event, I won’t need to join the “class” as, for the first time since 2005, I am Slingbox-less — partially due to these gross intrusions.

By way of the US Patent & Trademark office, we see that TiVo has submitted not one but four applications for a “TiVo Bolt” trademark. As their “late July” Aereo news announcement approaches (and assuming they’re still on schedule), I figured there was no way in hell TiVo could launch an online video subscription service to rival Sling TV as they target cordcutters… but, they seem to open that very door via verbiage found in the most interesting of the filings:

Subscription television broadcasting services; cable television transmission of personalized and interactive television programming

tivo-bolt

And the rest: Continue Reading…

For years, we’ve proclaimed FiOS to be the best home for TIVo owners. And I’ve put my money where my mouth is in that regard. Yet, with newly introduced copy restrictions, this may no longer be the case. As first discovered on the MythTV mailing list, and coming to my attention via Twitter, Verizon now flags Fox’s cable content with the CCI Byte as “Copy Once.”

For TiVo and/or CableLabs, copy once allows us to DVR a show… but that recording cannot not be streamed beyond our home networks or downloaded to computer by TiVoToGo clients. Also, given the unfinished TiVo Online experience, it’s quite likely these shows will similarly be out of reach for in-home browser-based streaming.

Continue Reading…