While the FCC’s flawed Unlock the Box proposal will be subject to various challenges and any potential implementation is years away, Comcast’s fortunately moving forward with their own solutions. And, from the cable industry’s annual trade event this week, they unveiled Xfinity apps for Roku, Nvidia Shield, and Samsung televisions. It’s early days yet and these “alpha” experiences are likely months from deployment… as not only will they provide live and on-demand cable television, but they’ll also link into an upcoming cloud DVR service. Cool, right? Continue Reading…
Archives For DVR
Voice interaction has evolved into something much more than a gimmick. And Verizon is up next with a pair of app updates today (iOS, Android) that bring spoken control to FiOS TV. The refreshed FiOS Mobile app allows you to speak fairly naturally when searching for programming, stars, or tuning a channel. While not yet as adept or versatile as say Apple TV or Comcast’s Xfinity implementation, with somewhat limited reach and requiring you tap the magnifying glass followed by the mic icons, Verizon surely beats TiVo’s yet-to-launch voice solution.
A periodic roundup of relevant news…
- After being featured in Comcast press release, Roku lobbies against unlocking the box
- Comcast press release announcing Roku app with X1 interface and cloud DVR acess
- Comedy Central, BET, MTV, more Viacom networks will hit Sling TV
- Amazon launches website with interactive guide for streaming video apps
I’ve been alerted that Google Cast technology will be hitting existing Google Fiber television hardware in the very near future… making subscriber’s “cable” TV set-top boxes that much more interesting, as tons of over-the-top Internet audio and video apps become available, via smartphone control, in a far more efficient manner than, say, TiVo’s approach of negotiating development of individual apps like HBO GO. Beyond my trusted source, additional evidence can be found in this Chromecast code snippet, referencing the “Google fiber remote,” and from some beta testers who look to have prematurely spilled the beans.
Roku has announced plans to expand their hardware licensing offerings, beyond simply rebranded streamers and streaming televisions, with a “hybrid” box that integrates a television tuner alongside over-the-top apps. Further, new software customization will be made available to pay TV service partners “enabling them to surface content directly on the home screen or give recommendations to their customers.”
UK-based Sky TV has been leasing a pretty standard, but white, Roku box that taps into their NOW IPTV service the last few years. As such, they will be the first to deploy this new hybrid set-top, that looks a lot like the Roku 4 hotplate, with a region-specific over-the-air tuner. Roku suggests other tuner options are on the table dependent upon partners, but it’s not clear if a retail Roku STB might ever ship with a tuner to provide live OTA television. Compare and contrast to TiVo’s more
heavy handed deeply integrated provider offerings – which probably says more about partner co technology than technical approach. In any event, with another $45 million in funding, Roku’s definitely working on something to keep Apple and Amazon at bay… and it sure would be ironic if the founder of ReplayTV, aka Roku’s CEO, once again gets into the DVR business.
Until recently, my 4th generation app-ified Apple TV hasn’t really been any more or less useful than my Roku 3 and Fire TV. And, for some, its launch without Apple’s rumored television service has been a significant disappointment.
However, I was recently turned on to Channels ($15) – a new app which streams live television from any HDHomeRun network tuner, So you can pipe both linear television and streaming services all through the same input and interface (although, as of yet, without universal Siri search). While this will naturally appeal to cord cutters with an antenna, those very same HDHomeRun OTA models now map clearQAM (for those with providers that still deliver, like FiOS) and, of course, there’s the HDHomeRun Prime for digital cable via CableCARD.
Magnavox and Mediasonic are generally known as manufacturers of rudimentary digital VCRs, while TiVo and Tablo thought of as the providers of more full-featured over-the-air DVR solutions… saddled with a recurring fee. But, from CES, CNET has uncovered some significant updates to Magnavox’s line of digital video recorders, exceeding the similarly fee-free Channel Master DVR+ capabilities on several fronts.
The new trio of DVRs are expected by year-end, supposedly starting at $400 — and, once again, fee-free as the company has underwritten the responsive Rovi guide. Magnavox’s OTA tuner count will range from 1-6, with 500GB – 2TB of integrated storage… that can be expanded via USB drive. As with prior Magnavox models, these also include DVD-burning capabilities (which may also make them subject to Macrovision copy protection, according to CNET). Continue Reading…
DISH has owned CES in recent years with spectacular product reveals… and 2016 sees that trend continue with massive upgrades to their flagship DVR (that I first caught wind of back in September). The 3rd generation Hopper carries forward integrated Slingbox capabilities and (limited) commercial skip, as they introduce 4k support and jump to 16 tuners. Sixteen! DISH isn’t kidding when they declare “channel conflict eliminated” as this surely provides enough to handle all your satellite units during an evening of heavy recording plus some remote streaming.