Archives For Cord Cutting

By way of The Donohue Report and Multichannel News, we seemingly learn that Slingbox will once again incorporate a tuner. While most folks hang a Slingbox off a DVR to meet their remote or mobile video needs, three prior models included tuners to placeshift unencrypted cable or over-the-air broadcasts. And it provided a real clean way to roll your own cloud TV service … long before “TV Anywhere” had entered the lexicon and cord cutting was a trend.


We first came across “AirTV” back in June and wondered if it might be some sort of Miracast solution. Given this new FCC-sourced “Slingbox OTA” label, it’s obviously something quite different. I doubt they’d incorporate DVR functionality given the additional complexity and expense, leaving those functions to the Echostar-produced Channel Master DVR+. As such, this really wouldn’t be a TiVo Bolt competitor. Pricing should be interesting — the new Slingbox M2 runs $200, but I’d think the sweet spot is closer to $150, even after dropping the mobile app fees (and adding ads to the experience).

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.

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Can’t wait until October 5th for your 4k Fire TV fix? Best Buy has already started lining shelves with Amazon’s new model, clocking in at the same $99 (and potentially cheaper than the incoming Roku 4). And while I didn’t partake (today), I’m far more interested in Amazon’s streamer knowing TiVo support is just around the corner.


I assume many of us would prefer the HDMI dongle form factor in many situations. However, my experience with the Fire TV Stick wasn’t the greatest. Plus, beyond my Amazon-specific quirks, there’s really only so much you can cram into these sorts of gadgets before they melt and wireless reception will always be a concern. So, box it is — more power, more ports, and more clutter (unless you get tricky). Continue Reading…

The TiVo Bolt Hits & Misses

Dave Zatz —  September 30, 2015 — 172 Comments

TiVo clearly had a choice to make. Deliver an unfinished product now or miss the all-important holiday shopping season. And, despite some compromises, they did what I would have done and released early. For example, only two of three TiVo Bolt models have made an appearance… without a Hulu app, currently being redesigned in HTML 5, and without out-of-home streaming. After all, how could they possibly launch the TiVo Bolt “Aereo” Edition without remote access capabilities (that are expected in 2016)? While I didn’t anticipate them this fall, there’s also no sign of a corresponding Series 6 “Pro” model nor a 4K-capable Mini. TiVo doesn’t seem to have the numbers or efficiency to juggle it all.


The first thing everyone will notice is the new design. It’s fresh and funky. Many of you will hate it. On a more practical level, this smaller form factor means heat is more of a challenge and the Bolt maxes out with 4 tuners while transitioning to a 2.5″ drive. So existing Roamio Pro/Plus owners with 6-tuners and potentially more storage will have a real hard time justifying an upgrade. But, for those new to the fold, there’s a lot to like from this OTA/Cable DVR. Continue Reading…

(Reuters) – Inc will launch six TV show pilots for its video streaming service in the United States, the UK, Germany and Austria for the 2015 fall pilot season. The company said on Wednesday it would ask viewers for feedback and turn the most popular pilots into full series.


The pilots include “Z”, about Zelda Fitzgerald and her relationship with husband F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of “The Great Gatsby”.

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Aereo and Boxee live on with Simple.TV Cloud DVR


TiVo Bolt Clears The FCC

Dave Zatz —  August 16, 2015

As TiVo Bolt nears release, the clues continue to trickle out. Most recent is an FCC filing that identifies three models. As two of those very same three DVR units appeared in a CableLabs certification report, it seems safe to speculate that we may be looking at two CableCARD models and one over-the-air “Aereo Edition” Bolt. By comparison, there are currently four Roamio SKUs… two of which don’t actually “roam.” Beyond standard DVR capabilities, might this TiVo shortcoming to be resolved with all Bolt models optionally streaming video to smartphones, tablets, and perhaps other end-points down the road?


tivo-boltFrom the little we’ve seen thus far, TiVo appears to have done away with the traditional set-top box enclosure (as they did away with their in-house industrial design team). And not only may the Bolt be white and curved (?!), thanks to the FCC filing we also learn the Roamio replacement clocks in substantially smaller than existing hardware — to the tune of 40% less volume (according to one forum member’s math).

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As the story goes, Apple is supposedly working on a streaming television service – perhaps something akin to DISH’s Sling TV or more likely Sony’s Playstation Vue, given rumors of local affiliates. Yet, the rumored service is now rumored to be delayed,

Without enough content deals in place, Apple has scrapped plans to announce the service at a Sept. 9 event in San Francisco, which would have coincided with the beginning of the new network TV season, the people said. The main stumbling block is the price of content. Just as Apple once convinced music labels to sell songs for a lowly 99 cents, it wants to offer a package of popular channels for $40 a month, the people said.


The primary sticking point (rumored) appears to be securing favorable terms in regards into retransmission of the local affiliates like CBS and NBC. While it wouldn’t work for all households, given location or construction, the idea of an Apple TV with ATSC tuner and antenna to pull down those locals and commingle the content alongside a Sling-esque library could be an effective solution for many. Which, of course, wouldn’t have the elegance and simplicity of an online-only service. If anyone can pull this off, it’s Apple (or incumbent Comcast, but probably not Verizon). Continue Reading…