Boxee may have abandoned the market to secure their survival, but Echostar & Channel Master are teaming up once again to tap the over-the-air television crowd with a new line of retail DVR. According to a FCC filing (embedded below), the two Channel Master K77 models “combine access to broadcast programming with over-the-top and DVR functionalities.” Both units are slated to include 16GB of Flash storage, presumably to house the OS and any potential OTT apps, with DVR storage handled via an integrated 320GB hard drive (in the higher end SKU) or added via USB storage by end users. Previously, the two companies collaborated on the DTVPal DVR – which seemed to enjoy a decent amount of buzz and interest. More recently, Channel Master has been pushing an Entone-powered OTA DVR… but may not be pleased with the results given their rekindled relationship with Echostar. We firmly believe there’s an audience for this sort of product and are looking forward to what Echostar brings to the table. Related, Simple.TV, with a new line of funding, is likely also preparing an updated OTT/OTA DVR. Combined with TiVo’s incoming 4-tuner Series 5 and Aereo’s contested cloud-based approach, options are certainly heating up for cord cutters. Continue Reading…
Archives For DVR
I admit I was somewhat confuzzled when I first read Verizon’s FiOS TV email outreach. As, likely, you were while scanning this headline. Although “home page” is typically associated with the web browser, Verizon has co-opt the term to describe their newly minted FiOS TV welcome screen.
The FiOS TV Home Page is a screen on your TV that will appear each time you turn on your Set Top box. After you have finished exploring the FiOS TV Home Page, getting to live TV is easy. Either press the “Exit” button on your FiOS TV remote control or wait 15 seconds and you will see the last channel you viewed.
I assume the objective here is more branding reinforcement and VOD or service up-sell rather than useful-new-customer-centric-feature. However, the presentation is attractive and can be quickly cleared if one so chooses. And we suspect this is the way the industry is moving, given my TiVo Mini‘s initial menu screen (after the television has been off awhile) and Roku’s content curation objectives.
DirecTV’s placeshifting Nomad has been rebranded as the GenieGo. Further, the satcaster has dropped the price from $150 to a more compelling $99. The device initially only transcoded and transferred DVR recordings, but has since expanded its capabilities by also providing (almost) live television in-home streaming – comparable to the competing TiVo Stream and DISH Sling Hopper. However, unlike the TiVo Stream, DirecTV has just released an Android app (which isn’t receiving the greatest of reviews) to go along with their longstanding iPhone support. However, for pure streaming, the Sling Hopper remains best-in-class as Slingbox functionality is baked directly into STB hardware, without requiring a separate box, and content can be beamed both within the home and beyond. But for those with limited or no bandwidth whilst on the move, both the GenieGo and TiVo Stream conveniently provide video offloading functionality… although preparing and transferring the content can be a bit kludgy.
The X1 Remote app first launched in mid-2012, giving X1 customers the ability to control the TV, navigate Xfinity On Demand choices, search for programs and tune to TV shows and movies directly from their iPhones. In addition to uniting the TV screen with customers’ mobile devices, the latest version adds the ability to issue voice commands for guide navigation and content discovery. For example, users can say “When is the next Phillies game?” or “Show me all action movies on HBO.”
The new Social app is accessible via DISH’s “quick launch” bar (to access, press the blue button on remote control) on the Hopper. Customers can link up to four Twitter and four Facebook accounts to the app. Viewers have three options for the type of content displayed in the status bar, which is located on the right side of the TV screen when the app is open:
- Now Watching: shows the Twitter feed relevant to the show or channel the user is currently watching.
- My Twitter: displays the user’s personal Twitter feed (if logged-in) and gives them full Twitter functionality, including the ability to “Favorite” a tweet, reply to a tweet, retweet a post and create a new Tweet.
- My Facebook: displays the user’s personal Facebook feed (also requires log-in) and gives users the ability to post a status update, with the option of selecting one of several pre-drafted, easy-to-use updates.
While I still find myself somewhat lukewarm on in the idea of
polluting populating my screen with Facebook or Twitter updates, DISH’s approach appears far more customizable and sophisticated then the competition. Not to mention the stats from The Collective are fascinating – especially should the app extend beyond live television and into DVR recordings.
Back at CES, we admired Verizon’s upcoming six-tuner IPTV Media Server (VMS) and thin clients. And while it appears “soon” is off the table, the company has put a stake in the ground at NAB for a September launch. FiOS TV has long offered a whole-home DVR experience, but this evolved solution takes on more of a true hub-and-spoke approach with a central server (and FiOS router) feeding extenders sprinkled about the home. Also revealed at NAB is a VMS recording capacity of 100 hours, equating to perhaps a 750GB or 1TB drive. Along with the new hardware, we expect Verizon to continue layering on OTT content as they’ve done with Twitter and Pandora. Of course, TiVo offers FiOS customers a compelling whole home solution with their Premiere and Mini platform (that I run)… but it requires a certain amount of upfront cash along with a willingness to understand and overcome retail CableCARD shenanigans — representing an ever-shrinking number of customers.
We at the Ward household like trying new things—or at least my wife and kids tolerate me periodically tinkering with our home computing, entertainment, and networking configurations. Entertainment-wise, we’ve been using Roku for years and enjoy the Verizon FiOS TV DVR system quite a bit. Back in the day, before Verizon and HDTV, we enjoyed our networked ReplayTV DVRs and Netflix DVD subscription. So we’ve appreciated time-shifted TV and renting/streaming video for a long time.
Recently we got the opportunity to test out the Boxee Cloud DVR thanks to Zatz Not Funny’s very own Dave Zatz. I ended up replacing our living room Roku with the Boxee so we could get some real-life experience, including input from the kids who are the primary users of the now-removed Roku. We didn’t replace the FiOS cable box, mainly because we rely on a myriad of cable channels that the Boxee can’t yet support. But that’s a discussion for a little later.
The Boxee Cloud DVR ($99) is a standalone device that has the following features: ATSC over-the-air (OTA) and Clear QAM cable tuner, the “cloud” digital video recorder (DVR) for OTA channels, and a small selection of network and online services.
After using the Boxee for a few weeks, Continue Reading…