Archives For DVR

flarewatch

Another one bites the dust… Cox Communication’s over the top flareWatch television experiment has come to an end, with customers being notified of service termination and refunds (1, 2) while the landing page indicates “Service Unavailable.” The offering, built upon FanTV hardware, was intended to provide advanced television services, including cloud DVR and VOD, to cord cutters (who’d effectively replace one cord for another). Next?

snapstream-server

We’ve covered SnapStream since just about Day 1 here at ZNF and, along the way, struck up a friendship with CEO Rakesh Agrawal – someone we highly respect and enjoy regularly running into at trade show cab lines. As the story goes, SnapStream very successfully pivoted from hobbyist HTPC solution (BeyondTV) to professional grade TV monitoring… with The Daily Show as an early, notable customer. Consisting of terabytes of storage, television transcription, and multi-pane viewing these guys offer all sorts of compelling business intelligence tools and Ars Technica recently visited their Houston office for an exposé worth checking out:

With 30 tuners and 30 TB of storage, SnapStream makes TiVos look like toys

SnapStream’s enterprise DVR clusters together multiple capture servers that all pool together their storage. The servers run Windows Server 2008R2 and the proprietary SnapStream application, and they each contain a stack of hard disk drives in a RAID 5 4+1 configuration. The SnapStream application uses Microsoft SQL Server for storing metadata, and recorded video files are stored on the NTFS-formatted file system as regular files. Larger customers can also use existing SAN or NAS systems […] Video is typically ingested into the SnapStream DVRs directly from a cable feed at 480p, 720p, or 1080i through component inputs on heavy-duty QAM capture cards, thus bypassing the need for CableCard

Samsung Smart Media Player Boxee

Samsung is speeding along toward the launch of a new retail CableCard device thanks to a waiver granted last week by the FCC. As Dave reported back in May, Samsung is planning to bring its Smart Media Player to market in time for the holiday shopping season. However, the company needed a waiver to avoid having to include an analog tuner in the device. Samsung got its wish with this notice from the FCC:

Specifically, we waive the requirement in Section 15.118(b) of the Commission’s rules that Samsung’s Smart Media Player include tuners that are capable of receiving analog cable channels. We conclude that the waiver is in the public interest because it will reduce the cost and power consumption of the Smart Media Player and provide consumers with a retail set-top box option that can better compete with devices leased by cable operators, thus enhancing competition in the retail set-top box market.

The FCC waiver helps ensure Samsung’s box will actually make to retail shelves, but it’s not the most interesting angle to this story. First of all, the hybrid cable+OTT set-top comes along at a time when retail CableCARD devices were all but presumed dead. Second, while the new set-top doesn’t include a hardware-based digital video recorder, Samsung could conceivably pair the device with Boxee cloud DVR service. Samsung picked up Boxee earlier this summer with plans to include the company’s technology in future “smart” television products. The new Smart Media Player certainly sounds like it qualifies.

simpletv2

Simple.TV and Silicon Dust are joining forces for the second iteration of Simple.TV, due later this year, by leveraging their respective software/services and hardware skills. In speaking with Simple CEO Mark Ely last week, the companies appear to be addressing most of my gen 1 concerns.

First, the updated hardware will feature a new Zenverge transcoder with ultimately twice the horsepower of the original model and jumps from a single ATSC tuner to way-more-practical dual tuning capabilities… all in a more compact package (with more accessible coax connector). Unfortunately, it’s still a bring-your-own-harddrive sort of DVR – for those that choose to leverage that feature. Perhaps it ultimately works out OK as customers can choose the appropriate amount of storage for their particular situation? But it does add a certain amount of complexity to the solution and my distaste of clutter is well known ’round these parts.

On the software front, v2 of Simple.TV looks to provide a tighter experience, with a cleaned up and more efficient UI. Along with v2, Simple intends to expand video playback this fall beyond the web browser, iOS, and Roku to Android and Chromecast, with DLNA, NAS, and cloud storage all possibilities on the the roadmap — their long term intent is to become something of a Swiss Army knife of HD OTA, streaming television content to and via the devices of your choosing, including gaming consoles. (I’m also told original Simple.TV owners will receive the new, improved software.)

We expect to learn more regarding hardware and service pricing in the next month or so ahead of launch and I’m looking forward to checking out Simple.TV v2. Cord cutting is a reality and I believe there’s a market for advanced over-the-air, antenna-based television solutions such as these with the pool of contenders expanding nicely – including the new 4-tuner TiVo Roamio and cloud-based OTA DVR Aereo, with Echostar/ChannelMaster in the pipeline.

NimbleTV

NimbleTV is back in business. DISH Network cut off the streaming video service last month with a statement saying the company wasn’t an authorized Dish retailer. Now, FTABlog reports that customers in NimbleTV’s New York pilot market are slowly getting service back.

One of several TV Everywhere services on the market, NimbleTV offers its own business model twist. For $29.99/month, the company will transcode video from your pay-TV service and stream it back to you over the web with cloud-based DVR features. NimbleTV pays retransmission fees to content programmers, but does not have a formal relationship with any pay-TV operators. Instead, the company has informally paired up with Dish Network, and theoretically will do the same with other service providers in the future.

Things were fine and dandy for NimbleTV users until Dish cut off access to content in July. The service is returning now, but there are a couple of changes. First, all subscription charges for both NimbleTV and Dish service will be bundled together in one bill. Second, users have to provide a “New York Metropolitan Area address” in order to get access to local New York City channels. Of course, as FTABlog notes, “Did you know that the Empire State Building is at 350 5th Ave, 10118? Just sayin’.”

I’m still not convinced NimbleTV can make a go of its business, but it does count former Slinger Jason Hirschorn as one of its advisers. The company plans to expand beyond New York going forward to several other U.S. cities, and to select international markets.

vap2500

By way of DSLReports comes news of the Verizon FiOS TV VAP2500. The Motorola box:

enables you to transmit multiple standard- and high-definition video streams throughout your home wirelessly. You can enjoy a full range of video services and applications without having to run wires, lay cables, or drill holes.

Further, documentation refers to the upcoming IPC1100 set-top we covered from CES, which is supposedly on track for an early fall launch.

televation-tablet-dlna

We can’t say this comes as a total surprise as we were treated to a variety of Motorola technologies in the Arris booth while perusing the Cable Show. Two Motoarriola devices in particular represent the evolution of the Televation product line, along with additional whole-home streaming capabilities. And, unlike the TiVo Stream, Android could be supported out of the gate given the cable television content we observed being streamed to a Moto tablet running Skifta to handle secure DLNA duties.

(Thanks Chris!)

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