Archives For Cord Cutting

The Tablo Update & Giveaway

Dave Zatz —  January 12, 2017 — 8 Comments

Cord cutting featured prominently at CES this month, including a pair of announcements by our pals at Tablo.

Later this year, they’ll offer an Android TV app that provides local television playback with DVR capabilities. Even more interesting is the upcoming Tablo Live dongle ($99) that connects to an antenna and beams your favorite programming around the home to Roku, Xbox, iPad, etc. Even better? They’re working on a cloud storage companion.

Beyond these new goodies, the company continues to enhance the compelling Tablo OTA DVR that comes in 2- and 4-tuner models. Connect an antenna and a hard drive to watch both live and recorded content from a variety of clients within the home… or beyond. And, lucky you, here’s your opportunity to win my 2-tuner evaluation model with three months of service thrown in.

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AirTV in Action

Dave Zatz —  January 9, 2017 — 12 Comments

Cord Cutters News has posted a video demonstration of AirTV from CES… and it sure looks intriguing.

AirTV is a small Android set-top that comes bundled with a USB tuner ($130) and boots directly into Sling TV. While you don’t actually need to be a subscriber of the streaming service, there’s no point in picking up this box (vs say a Roku or Apple TV) without it — as its biggest, baddest trick is merging local over-the-air television content into Sling TV’s “cable” guide. Even better, should you happen to subscribe to Netflix, video recommendations also pop up via some sort of deep linking. Beyond that, Air TV also provides full access to the Google Play Store – including a dedicated button on the universal remote.

Sadly, AirTV does not provide any local DVR capabilities and outbound OTA streaming was left on the cutting room floor.

As revealed last year, TiVo was prepping a cloud DVR service option for retail hardware, with indications that over-the-air television recordings originating from Roamio, Bolt, and upcoming Mavrik devices will be stored and streamed remotely. While this is a CES no-show, we know work continues. Indeed, TiVo needs your help as they fine tune the offering.

From TiVo VP Margret Schmidt:

Beta testers are needed for a new and exciting opportunity that will last approximately 8 weeks.

To qualify you must:
1. Have a TiVo box (Roamio, Premiere, or BOLT) with Over-The-Air (OTA) TV signal – No CableCARD
2. Live in the San Francisco Bay Area
3. And, have two of these three products:
– iOS device (phone or tablet)
– Android device (phone or tablet)
– Computer with web browser, either Windows 7 + or Mac OSx 10 +

If interested, please e-mail Beta@tivo.com with “OTA Beta Opportunity” as the subject line and your name, e-mail address, and TSN in the body.

So now we know Premiere will also be supported as well as the initial anticipated playback clients. Hopefully Roku and Fire TV are also on the docket. As to what this service might cost and its relative value, when weighed against factors such as your broadband cap, remains to be seen.

After several years of development, it appears a redesigned AirTV Player is nearly here. Originally conceived as an over-the-air network tuner, like Tablo, to stream local antenna television into Sling TV’s user interface, AirTV appears to have been rethought… and nears arrival as an Android-powered, Technicolor-produced set-top box vs reusing Echostar’s Slingbox scraps, Oh, this rendition still channels live television. But that local programming is now output directly into a TV, presumably merged within Sling’s guide, along with over-the-top streaming applications — specifically Netflix (!) and the Play Store itself…. based on support documents and the bundled universal, voice-capable Bluetooth remote that sports a Google logo.

Get the live channels you love and the shows you can’t miss. Watch Sling TV on AirTV Player, and enjoy live sports, shows, and movies with the simplicity of an app. With the AirTV Player, cut the cord and keep the TV experience. You’ll have a single platform for watching Sling TV, Netflix, local channels, and more.

AirTV combines all your live programming with Sling TV and your favorites on Netflix. When you launch your player, you will land in the screen. This screen allows you to customize your favorite channels on Sling TV and launch your favorite Netflix shows and movies

Merging over-the-air and online video into a single interface is pretty compelling stuff… which Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku cannot do (without assistance). So I’m quite interested to see exactly where Sling lands, especially since it’s not clear if this redesign retains risky (for Sling) out-of-home OTA streaming. The wait probably won’t be long given a newly launched support page and an FCC waiver —  a CES announcement next month seems likely, if we don’t hear something sooner.

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Hulu, the best DVR-replacing streaming service ups their game this month, with the addition of user profiles and 4K streaming.

As you might expect at launch, 4K streaming is restricted to a limited number of titles (originals, Bond films) and platforms (Xbox One S, PS4 Pro). However, unexpectedly, there’s no additional fee for the increased visual clarity — as opposed to Netflix’s UHD tier. Also unexpectedly, there remains no confirmation that Hulu provides 5.1 surround sound.

On the profile front, Engadet indicates the feature is rolling out in phases, beginning with a limited number of customers accessing Hulu via web site. As to capabilities,

When a viewer creates a profile, they will be taken through a taste picking experience where they will be able to tell us the types of shows and movies they like, and the types of shows and movies they don’t like. This will help us ensure that each profile surfaces recommendations and content that is distinctly personal to each viewer. Each individual profile will have its own name, personal info, viewing history, recommendations and Watchlist. There will also be a new Kids profile type, which will allow our young viewers to browse content within the Kids Hub freely, without having to worry about running into mature content.

Vevo Music Videos Land On TiVo

Dave Zatz —  December 11, 2016 — 10 Comments

Many years after the Music Choice app was retired from TiVo retail boxes, Vevo has finally arrived to meet that acoustic demand. I’ve long been a fan of Vevo as the modern day equivalent of MTV (the one that played music videos). So this represents a meaningful app addition — despite prior silliness involving some sort of TiVo C&D once sent Vevo’s way, due to not-really brand name similarities, and a number of MIA tent pole OTA cord cutting apps, such as Sling TV and HBO NOW.

As that’s my Roamio photographed above, I assume Roamio, Bolt, and TiVo Mini models will all receive access. Although given the radio silence from TiVo and Vevo along with my Minis not currently having access, I also assume someone flipped the switch a little early. Oops? Let us know which platforms you see Vevo on, give it a go, and tell us what you think. Tip: Upon opening the app, you’ll be prompted to activate it from a registered Vevo account:

http://www.vevo.com/activate/tivo

tivo-bolt-cloud-dvr

Due to a number of fortuitous leaks, we know TiVo is pursuing cloud recording capabilities for retail devices. However, whereas the functionality seemed specific to upcoming Tablo-fighting Mavrik hardware, a Bolt owner inadvertently received the notification above — suggesting testing is underway. It remains to be seen how much such a service might run and if offloading cable television programming will be permissible, versus over-the-air content. However, with Bolt presumably now on the docket, it’s safe to assume Roamio would be entitled to similar capabilities… whenever TiVo gets around to deployment.

chromecast

Google Chromecast ($25, three months of HBO NOW)
Chromecast isn’t my thing. But I’m old and require a physical remote. However, this is a good deal on a generally practical solution to get app content onto a television, controlled by smartphone. Considering HBO NOW runs $15 a month and you get three free, this is a pretty stellar deal.

cons-hkl12-sonos-play1

Sonos Play:1 ($150, includes 3-months of Apple Music)
Sonos is my preferred whole-home music system and the Play:1 both looks great and sounds great. At $150, it’s priced similar to many well regarded Bluetooth speakers but its WiFi connectivity is infinitely more practical (assuming you run a supported service, which you probably do). Apple’s sweetening the deal with three months of Apple Music.

 

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