Archives For mari

Google Chromecast apps

Given how stupidly easy it is to use the Chromecast device with supported apps, it should come as no surprise that Google wants to encourage further integration with third-party software. While the company locked down its streaming stick a while back, there are several signs that the restraints are about to be lifted.

1. Official Chromecast Hackathon – Google hosted a hackathon this weekend in Mountain View, letting developers in to try out the Cast SDK and consult with company engineers. There’s no official list of attendees, but a few folks have mentioned receiving invitations including Koushik Dutta, creator of the AirCast app for streaming local content, and various other developers posting on industry forums. (Remember- you can already cast locally-stored photos to the Chromecast, but only if you go through a Chrome browser.)

I was hoping to hear that someone from ESPN would be in attendance, but when I talked to a spokesperson with the company, she had no knowledge of anyone at ESPN planning to go. I’d also like to see a videoconferencing app supported through Chromecast. Personally I use Tango, but Chromecast support might nudge me to spend time with Google Hangouts. Continue Reading…

Chromecast for Christmas

Mari Silbey —  November 25, 2013

Chromecast stocking

There may be no better excuse to buy gadgets en masse than the holiday shopping season, and this year Google has nailed the stocking-stuffer price point at $35 for its Chromecast streaming video stick. It’s not just Christmas either, of course. I’m a sucker for alliteration, but in reality, Chromecast is going to be the gift of choice for many a holiday celebration this winter.

Chromecast has a lot more going for it than just price. Google added HBO support last week and is reportedly getting ready to release an SDK to developers in the near future. The more apps that integrate with the hardware, the more valuable Chromecast becomes. As someone with a Roku box, I was initially uninterested in using Chromecast for to watch Netflix. However, I installed the Chromecast plug-in on my first-gen iPad, and when the tablet prompted me to choose between my mobile device and my Chromecast-connected TV to continue watching a show on Netflix, I decided to test Chromecast viewing.

The result? Continue Reading…

Do Retail DVRs Have a Chance?

Mari Silbey —  November 11, 2013

DVR fortune cookie

There’s a lot of bad news on the retail set-top front. According to the NCTA, the number of retail CableCARD devices deployed has dropped to 600,000 from 603,000 since August. No big surprise. Despite a few flickers of life, the retail CableCARD market has been on a path of decline for years. But then there’s also the news that Intel has gone belly up with its OnCue set-top plans, and even Amazon is delayed with its Kindle-branded set-top, that was supposed to go to market before year end.

Do future retail DVRs have a shot?

Well, actually, yes.  Continue Reading…

TiVo Pace acquisition speculation

Ever since set-top manufacturer Pace picked up Aurora Networks for $310 million last week, the cable industry has been abuzz over who the company could target next. While speculation is all over the map, Jeff Baumgartner has homed in on two possible acquisition candidates. SeaChange International is one, thanks largely to its video backoffice solutions and advanced advertising technology. TiVo is the other.

There are several reasons why a TiVo purchase (or merger) could make sense. Continue Reading…

Aereo antenna array

The courts have kept the lights on at Aereo so far, but it’s not clear that Aereo itself can afford the power bill. According to The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), the online start-up company is facing massive electricity costs thanks to the tiny antennas it has to keep running for every subscriber on its video streaming roster. In the Journal’s analysis, Aereo could end up paying $2 million a year in New York alone if it scales up to the 350,000 subscribers CEO Chet Kanojia says he can support.

Meanwhile, Aereo also announced today that it will launch in the Denver metro area on November 4th. That makes nine markets for the video company, which also debuted in Detroit yesterday, that has said it intends to cover 22 markets by year end.

Kanojia indicates he has some ideas for dealing with the power dilemma. One is to use fuel cells for power generation. Another, and seemingly more likely option, is to combine Aereo’s antennas with its transcoding equipment. Like the cable operators, Aereo is discovering that relying on denser, multi-purpose equipment can (eventually) reduce both cap ex and operating costs.

As for Aereo’s broader business model, Continue Reading…

Arris Sling gateway MS4000 Front AngleX

Hot on the heels of its exclusive partnership with Sling, Arris is already talking additional set-top enhancements. With smarter gateways available to handle video transcoding in the home, Arris wants to slim down client devices and create new form factors that challenge the traditional set-top box. At the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo show, the company described plans to develop hardware like the Chromecast streaming stick. That type of dongle would plug directly into a user’s TV and connect over Wi-Fi to the home gateway – to expand options for whole-home networking and simplify access to premium content from multiple TVs.

Meanwhile on the Sling front, an industry insider suggested at the SCTE Expo that the placeshifting deal was done twice with Arris; first with Arris of old, and second with Arris after the Motorola acquisition. Now that everything’s signed, sealed, and delivered, it’s not clear if any major U.S. cable operators will integrate a Sling solution. However, given Netflix looks to be on the table, I supposed anything’s possible these days in cable land. Certainly cable companies are watching their satellite TV counterparts to see how far they can push the envelope with programmers. Continue Reading…

htc-one-mini-silver-en-slide-04

I am past due for a smartphone upgrade, and my HTC Thunderbolt shows it. But after going big (as in screen size) two years ago to get a phone with Verizon LTE, I’m more determined than ever to find a model this time around that fits a little more snugly in my pocket.

The good news is there are a couple of “mini” Android smartphone models to choose from. The bad news is none of them come with top-of-the-line specs. I don’t need an incredible camera or tons of storage space, but there are other bells and whistles I’d really like to have.

NFC support, for example. Do I need NFC? Continue Reading…