Archives For davez

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As ZNF regulars are well-aware, I run both Nest and ecobee smart thermostats in my home… and we far prefer the ecobee3 for a number of reasons. The most significant benefit of ecobee, over Nest, is the bundled remote sensor along with the ability to add many more. This opens up all sorts of scenarios in regards to intelligently balancing temperature, accurately identifying presence, and the like.

Well, based on a pulled Home Depot product page, doing away with those capabilities may be the key to lowering the price of entry via a new ecobee3 Lite model.

Having perused the FCC filing last month, I’d assumed remote sensors were still in play while Apple HomeKit licensing (and processing overhead) or the touchscreen might be on the chopping block as likely candidates to drive down manufacturing expenses. However, if the Home Depot page (and supporting product documentation) is any indication, both of those could remain. Should the $169 ecobee3 Lite pricing and presumed functionality line up with reality, I could also see the full-fledged ecobee3 receive a small price drop from $249 to something like $229.

2016 Roku Buying Advice

Dave Zatz —  September 26, 2016 — 19 Comments

After busting out several dozen new Rokus today, I wanted to chime in with some initial purchasing advice.

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2015 Roku 3 (~$80)
If you’re not yet on the 4K bandwagon, but want a great balance of streamer performance with a tricked out remote capable of voice recognition and headphones, I actually suggest you look for a deal on last year’s Roku 3 model.

2016 Roku Streaming Stick ($50)
If a more compact form with snappier quad-core performance interest you and you don’t mind giving up the advanced remote control, the Roku Streaming Stick provide a great balance of pricing and performance. Although a new Amazon Fire TV Stick is expected any day now…

Roku Express ($30)
This will no doubt be one of the top selling stocking stuffers of 2016 and I’d absolutely recommend the Roku Express for family members new to the fold… or to gift yourself in tertiary rooms in the home. It’s dirt cheap and the interface is simplistic enough for most.

The 4K Conundrum
On the 4K front, the situation is a bit tricker and I’d suggest waiting for some real world reviews. Barring that, if you don’t have an HDR-capable set, you may as well save a few bucks with the Premiere ($80). The Premiere+ at $20 more gets you HDR, the RF headphone remote, and Ethernet, whereas the $50 more Ultra builds upon that with voice remote, optical out, and a remote finder. Even fully loaded at $130, the Roku Ultra will surely clock in less ($$$) than the 4K Apple TV that must be in the pipeline.

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If you needed a bit more confirmation of Roku’s all-new 2016 lineup, the streaming pioneer just published a support note confirming three of the five incoming models: the Premiere, Premiere+, and Ultra. They’ve also confirmed HDR will be available on a subset of devices and kindly explains why compatible 4K television set owners should care.

HDR (High Dynamic Range) improves picture quality by expanding the range of both color and contrast of any image.  In more simple terms, in any scene, details that are typically lost in the brightest and darkest areas in a scene will have more details. Wide Color Gamut goes further to expand the number of shades for each color to provide richer color depth, resulting in colors that are more true-to-life.

As to the flavor of HDR, Roku indicates they’re going with the Sony- and Samsung-backed HDR10 over Dolby Vision.

The new Roku Premiere+ and Roku Ultra models support HDR-10 standard. Your existing High Speed HDMI®cable that is working will continue to work However, you will need to connect the Roku Premiere+ and Roku Ultra into the HDMI 2.0a port for HDCP 2.2.

Unfortunately, Roku appears to contradict themselves… So, while it seems 100% likely that the Premiere+ (Roku 3-equiv) and Ultra (Roku 4-eqiv) will render HDR video, it’s not clear if the Premiere (Roku 2-quiv) will. In any event, with the publication of this support note, we must be getting real close to an official reveal.

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As revealed just a few weeks back, Roku’s finally moving on from their repetitive numerical naming conventions with all-new models… possibly corresponding to a significant software refresh (which seems to suffer from early compatibility issues). While not all details have yet been revealed, we know HDR is on the docket and a treasure trove of product photography recently landed in my mailbox to whet our appetites until the official announcement drops.

Roku Express

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Replacing the existing entry-level Roku 1 in the streaming company’s lineup are the diminutive Roku Express (3700) and Express Plus (3710)… that visually represents half a streamer. As to what’s new and the differentiation between models, I’m not entirely certain. However, it’s reasonable to assume the 2016 Roku 1 would feature a more capable processor and, if the distinction between the Premiere and Premiere Plus models (below) is any indication, perhaps the Roku Express Plus model features additional ports or that desirable headphone+voice control remote. I’m hopeful that at least one model will retain RCA composite outputs to support older televisions.

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Via Cord Cutters News

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From TiVo CMO Ira Bahr, 10/2015:

We probably could’ve delivered a BOLT with two more tuners and a larger HDD and called it a family, but we knew that the market–and especially our loyalists–deserved much more. Look for something new next year, right on our normal three year cycle.

From TiVo press release, 9/2016:

TiVo Announces 4K TiVo BOLT+ at CEDIA 2016 | Latest Addition to the TiVo BOLT® Family Creates the Ultimate Multi-Room Video Experience with Six Tuners, 3TB of Recording Capacity, and New Black Chassis

I’d sure love to know what had been in the pipeline. Alas, TiVo is a for-profit entity and the retail (CableCARD) market has remained challenging for a whole host of factors ZNF regulars are well aware of. At least we can take comfort in TiVo providing something more substantial than the Bolt. And the $500 Plus should meet the needs of many looking to expand or upgrade without TiVo, Inc investing or risking much – especially with the limited, but appropriately targeted, distribution channels.

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From a European tradeshow, TiVo has dropped a brand-spanking-new user interface. And personalization features prominently in this dramatic, dual-axis, re-envisioning of the TiVo experience. From a user-customizable quick menu in the upper left to an expanded Discovery Bar that surfaces relevant content, TiVo “designed this UX so the viewer spends less time searching channel guides and opening apps and more time enjoying their favorite shows.”

Some highlights:

  • Predictions – Beyond traditional recommendations, TiVo’s innovative new Prediction technology takes a user’s actual viewing habits and predicts the shows they most likely want to watch at that moment.
  • Customizable shortcuts – Users now have more control over their viewing experience with customizable shortcuts on the Home screen and the ability to favorite the apps they most frequently visit, giving them quick access to their content across platforms and providers.

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TiVo 3.0 Arrives

Dave Zatz —  September 8, 2016 — 19 Comments

With Rovi’s acquisition, TiVo 3.0 has arrived. In the short term, we know there will be hundreds of (unfortunate) layoffs in the name of “corporate synergy” and shareholder value. Yet, while the current iteration of TiVo begins today, we won’t entirely know what this newly merged company is all about for another 12-18 months. Sadly, for ZNF regulars, there are indications that retail hardware will once again be deemphasized given stagnant sales and an uncertain (cable) landscape.