My pal Tim has been mucking about in the newish DirecTV widget platform and, based on his video above, isn’t all that impressed. (Which may be partially attributed to DirecTV’s house brand of DVR which doesn’t function as smoothly his former DirecTiVo models. He’s just a little bitter.) While DirecTV’s “App Store” (Flickr, Twitter, weather, etc) seems too slow in his home to be usable, I prefer this on-box Internet app overlay experimentation to the connected television trend – folks will purchase/upgrade their sets with much less frequency.
Archives For Broadband
The landscape of television online is changing so rapidly, it’s hard to keep up. Since the announcement of TV Everywhere trials by Comcast and Time Warner Cable, Verizon has jumped into the mix, and AT&T has started testing its own TV portal site. Comcast’s Stephen Burke has also announced that the initial Comcast trial will go national in the next 30 to 60 days – a far more optimistic timeline than those presented at the TV Everywhere breakfast in New York last month.
That’s all on the good side. On the bad side, there’s word over at Multichannel News that Hulu is considering a new subscription model. It’s not surprising, but we may soon be paying to watch free broadcast TV channels online. Given that ads still don’t bring in TV-level cash on the Net, a subscription model makes sense. Don’t be mad. As Mark Cuban (rightly) rants, subsidized TV is not a constitutional right. Better to focus on getting the pay-TV providers to roll out their TV Everywhere services faster, faster, faster. At least we’ve already written the check for that content.
Having trouble keeping up? Don’t worry. It’s only going to get more chaotic and confusing for a while. But if I can ultimately watch my shows anywhere I go, I can live with that.
While I’m a little late to this particular mile high club, I finally experienced the joy of in-flight WiFi last Friday. Unlike Boeing’s now defunct Connexion satellite solution, it appears that most domestic airlines are utilizing Aircell’s Gogo service – essentially 3G EVDO connectivity in the sky. On my cross country Virgin America flight, the prices for Internet access were more than reasonable: $13 for a laptop or $8 for a handheld. Although, as we discovered, we didn’t need to pay for each device, periodically swapping the connection between Macbook, iPhone, and Blackberry.
Not only were Gogo’s download speeds (and latency) perfectly suitable for typical web browsing, I also had no probs with SD YouTube video (above). In fact, after seeing how quickly the buffer filled, I gave HD a shot. Giving it a minute to build a buffer worked out fine as well. (In fact, I’m more stoked than ever about Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 2. Come November 10th, you can safely expect a period of blog silence.)
Officially, in-flight VoIP is restricted. Which is probably a good thing given how loudly most folks talk into their cell phones. However, when Melissa connected her 8900 Curve to check for email, T-Mobile’s UMA service automatically kicked in. I wouldn’t say it was very usable, with frequent audio drop outs, but the fact that she could check voicemail from 36,000 feet was inspiring.
Click to enlarge:
Right on schedule, the Vudu experience has landed on select broadband-connected LG televisions – making good on the promise to diversify their distribution strategy. Additionally, they’ve inked a deal to bring Vudu on-demand movie streaming, now reworked as a CDN play versus their P2P roots, to select Mitsubishi HDTVs being released later this month. These 1080P Unisen Diamond models retail pricing starts at $2800, although Mitsubishi will kindly underwrite your first $50 of rentals from Vudu’s library of 16,000 titles. (Given my current gypsy lifestyle and minimalist tech accoutrements, what interests me most about these new sets is the integrated soundbar speaker array located in the television’s lower bezel.)
A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our other blogs:
The Future of the DVR
DVRs will continue to evolve in ways that consumers like and don’t like; in ways that will continue to support industry growth and the big business of content production and distribution; in ways we can’t envision now, but might in just a year’s time.
The Wild Wild West of TV Everywhere
As far as ad measurement is concerned, Quincy Smith from CBS Interactive had the ultimate statement of irony. The Web is supposed to be infinitely quantifiable, but we still don’t know how to equate to the traditional TV standards of reach and frequency.
Fewer Unencrypted QAM & Analog Cable Channels Coming Soon
This allows those cable companies who still have many of their digital QAM channels unencrypted, which don’t require a cable box, to encrypt everything except for the local network affiliates.
The University of WiMAX
Northern Michigan University is launching a Motorola-built WiMAX network and giving away nearly 3,000 WiMAX-enabled laptops to students. As far as anyone seems to know, this is the only stand-alone university WiMAX system in the country.
Windows 7 Commercial Skipping with DVRMSToolbox & ShowAnalyzer
Easy one-button Commercial Skipping is one of the great features of home theater PCs, and Windows 7 has that capability too. To get started we need to have ShowAnalyzer installed as well as DVRMSToolbox and the Windows 7 Media Center Addin.
We have yet to hit the holiday shopping season, so you know there will still be plenty of gadget goodness before the year ends. However, there’s also some new behind-the-scenes tech to get excited about in 2009. Here are four enabling technologies to watch out for in the next four months. This tech may not be sexy, but it’s guaranteed to make those shiny gadget toys work better, smarter, faster.
NVIDIA ION Chipset
Since my netbook is clearly not cutting it for a lot of video playback, I’m psyched about new processors making their way into netbooks and small laptops in Q4. Most likely to actually hit the commercial market this year is the NVIDIA ION chipset, which is said to boost graphics power significantly in any Intel-Atom-powered device. According to Brad Linder over at Lilliputing (also heard as afternoon anchor on my local NPR station), two major manufacturers, Lenovo and Samsung, are planning to ship ION-powered laptops in the last few months of the year. And, Brad speculates that the upcoming Nokia netbook, the Booklet 3G, may also sport NVIDIA ION graphics. More info to come at Nokia World on September 2nd.
If you’re into transferring a lot of media between devices, then the launch of USB 3.0 is right up your alley. Unlike USB 2.0, which transfers data at a rate of 480 Mbps, USB 3.0 boasts a whopping transfer speed of 4.8 Gbps. That’s not just good for moving HD video around, it’s also perfect for large back-up operations to an external hard drive. According to Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOM, USB 3.0 will start shipping to device-makers this year, with consumer availability soon to follow.
I know, I know, it’s cool to be down on WiMAX these days, but I’m still excited for it to spread to more cities (including my own Philadelphia) this year. Partly I’m excited about the higher speeds for mobile broadband, but partly I’m excited because of the different pricing options compared to existing 3G services. For example, my employer is unlikely to subsidize mobile broadband at $60 per month, but a $10 day pass is a good bet for reimbursement. Perfect for conferences, and other places where Wi-Fi tends to be lacking. Even an unlimited mobile contract is said to be only $50 per month. (See pricing coverage from Paul Kapustka at Sidecut Reports) That’s a better price and a faster connection.
Upstream Channel Bonding
And while we’re on the subject of broadband speeds, here’s an obscure one: upstream channel bonding. Channel bonding is what’s making it possible for cable operators to offer peak DOCSIS 3.0 speeds of 50-100 Mbps in some markets. To date we’ve only seen downstream channel bonding in the US, but upstream channel bonding is on its way. Karl Bode at Broadband Reports wrote earlier this month that Comcast is exploring upstream DOCSIS 3.0 trials this year, with upstream speeds maxing out at 120 Mbps.
For a few years I have been on a quest to reliably stream HD video from my NAS to my TV. I’ve tried both Powerline and draft 802.11n wireless solutions, but neither has proven sufficient. Which is I was excited to see Netgear release the MCAB1001 MoCA Coax-Ethernet Adapter Kit (~$200). I used to build out 10Base2 networks back in the day, so why not use the existing coaxial cable running through my home to move data?
Our review unit consisted of a pair of MoCA devices, power adapters, stands, a pair of Ethernet cables and a pair of coax cables. I was glad to see that Netgear included the coax cables. I had feared that I would be taking a trip to The Shack.
Setup of the MoCA units is very simple, although your mileage may vary. I unplugged the cable from the TV and plugged it in the Coax In port on the MoCA device. I then ran the included coax from the Coax Out to the TV. Next, I connected the Ethernet cable to the Ethernet port and connected the other end to my Popcorn Hour A-110. (Netgear, we’d be happy to take a look at the EVA9150. Hint, hint.) I then connected the second MoCA device to my router. I made sure the Mode button on each device was set to Normal and then plugged in the power. After a few seconds the Ethernet and MoCA lights started flashing. I turned the wireless off on the A-110 and browsed to my movie share and started streaming a 720p HD file. The video played without a problem! I then played a 1080p HD video and am happy to say that it played without a problem as well.