Archives For DVR

Final Location

Lets try this again, shall we?

If you caught my first look at the dual tuner Simple TV, you’ll know that the product fell short of my expectations. A combination of fan issues and software instability led me to question if the dual tuner was actually ready for release. The idea for a networked DVR is sound, but the execution simply failed. In the end, I returned the Simple.TV hoping future updates might resolve the open issues.

Last week, a startup out of Canada entered the same playing field. Tablo TV has made similar promises as Simple TV, an easy way to record Over-The-Air (OTA) TV signals with playback to multiple devices. And the setup is essentially the same for Tablo TV: One part Slingbox, one part DVR. Like rolling your own Aereo with a better UI and higher video quality, without those pesky regional restrictions.

tablo-setup

You connect an antenna and hard drive (or two) to the Tablo TV box, scan for OTA channels, and then start watching TV. There is no HDMI connection from the Tablo to your TV. Everything is done over a network connection and within the apps Tablo provides. Why no HDMI? Continue Reading…

verizon-vms1

First unveiled at CES 2013, the Verizon Media Server (VMS) has finally started shipping under “Quantum TV” via a “phased roll-out” in select markets . The IPTV DVR hub maintains the original 6-tuners and 1 terabyte or storage as originally pitched. Yet, by bundling two units for a reasonable $32/mo, the networked solution seamlessly expands to 12 tuners housing 2 terabytes of recording storage. Unfortunately, unlike existing FiOS DVRs the new VMS doesn’t currently support additional USB or eSATA storage. Each VMS supports up to five extenders (think TiVo Mini or DISH Joey), running $10 a pop. While the product line doesn’t currently feature Xbox/Roku app clients or remote placeshifting, à la DISH Hopper or TiVo Roamio, we know Verizon has been evaluating this sort of functionality via a router sidecar … and Verizon’s hardware partner Arriola has licensed Slingbox technology. Continue Reading…

There goes the Hopper: Dish agrees to limit ad skipping in Disney deal

Bringing tech to the corn fields of the Midwest, gadgeteer and cat lover Adam Miarka contributes to Zatz Not Funny when the overlord allows. When not on ZNF, Adam posts pictures to http://www.adammiarka.com and harasses the public from @adammiarka on Twitter.

simpletv2-unboxing1

Background
Being a Kickstarter for the first generation Simple TV, I’ve always been interested in technologies that could disrupt traditional TV viewing. When the original Simple TV was announced back in 2012, it looked like something that could actually let me break from my current (TiVo) setup while lowering our monthly expenditures.The original Simple TV had one fatal flaw, a single tuner for recording.

Despite this limitation, I decided to back the project to get a feeling for how this new setup might work in our household. The idea of having a device that could basically capture any OTA or ClearQAM signals and then have it playback on a myriad of devices (web browser, iOS devices, Android devices, Roku) was very enticing. You only need to bring a hard drive to get the Simple TV party started! Continue Reading…

VerizonFiosIMG1-9-5

There was a time when we celebrated Verizon FiOS guide updates. But the IMG 1.9.5 release gives us little cause for joy. The updated guide has been rolling out since last year, but it just arrived here at Chez Silbey, and comments on the DSLReports forums show that the version release has been making its way across parts of New York State in the last few weeks as well.

Although there are some minor feature updates in the new interface, the one really noticeable difference is a new ad bar at the bottom of the guide screen. In my market, I see only a Verizon logo splashed across the page, but in other regions there are actual ads appearing, like the Disney banner shown above. The injection of ads was inevitable, but it’s still disappointing as it clutters up the display. More importantly, it’s irritating when the additional ads don’t come with any major feature improvements. Personally I’m not that excited about being able to turn off parental controls for a four-hour period of time. And while it’s nice that people with multiple DVRs can now schedule recordings on a different set-top in the house, that particular feature doesn’t apply to my one-TV home.

Verizon invested significant resources in UI development in the early years of FiOS TV. The company brought us cover art for on-demand titles, IP-based widgets (apps ahead of their time), and a “What’s Hot” recommendation list showing what other viewers in the region are watching. Since at least 2011, however, Verizon has fallen steadily behind many of its competitors, and the FiOS program guide is starting to look seriously outdated.

Fortunately, there’s cause for hope. Continue Reading…

tablo

The cord cutting options are heating up, with Tablo poised to ship in February. I spent some quality time at the Digital Experience with CEO Grant Hall going over their offering… that consists of both two- and four-tuner configurations to pull in luscious broadcast video via antenna, without going through a cable company. Like Simple TV, the headless Tablo box sits on your home network to stream live and DVR-ed content to various local and remote endpoints. However, unlike Simple, Tablo integrates dual band 802.11n wireless capabilities for more flexible placement – your network cable location may not always be the best position for an antenna.

Tablo will ship with 1GB of local storage, which is used for caching guide and meta data, including box art and the like. By keeping this content local, Tablo’s iOS, Android, and Mac HTML5 apps are far more sprightly than you’d imagine. Also, in terms of DVR storage, Tablo is another BYO solution. There are pros and cons to this approach. While it’s far more flexible in terms of choosing your own capacity (at a variety of price points), it also results in more clutter and perhaps requires a more educated consumer to get going. However, the tech savvy folks I imagine will gravitate to Tablo won’t be faced with the same conceptual challenges Channel Master might with the DVR+ audience.

tablo-ipad

Tablo’s two-tuner model is now available for pre-order at $220, with a four-tuner model expected at $270. Like Simple TV and TiVo, but unlike DVR+, Tablo requires a service fee for guide data (14 days of Tribune). While you could operate Tablo as a very basic time-based recording device, most will prefer the richer and more full featured capabilities one gets for $50/yr. We’re quite looking forward to checking this one out in the coming weeks.

super-wireless-joey

While DISH’s CES press conference remains 24 hours away, the missing pieces have somewhat clarified since we first began tracking a refreshed DISH Hopper and “Super Joey” — which passed through the FCC in November. Of course, the DISH Hopper (with Sling) is the award winning satellite TV DVR, that acts as a hub to Joey extenders. And DISH’s 2014 show message is all about expanding those whole-home Joey capabilities. From recent press outreach:

DISH will be showing new ways for viewers to enjoy their favorite channels with the award-winning Hopper HD DVR, to address family channel conflict, cabling issues, and to control clutter. Continue Reading…

simpletv2

Right on schedule, second generation Simple.TV network tuner pre-orders have begun shipping.

To improve upon the first gen, Simple.TV partnered with Silicon Dust to produce a smaller, yet more more powerful dual tuning unit to better leverage those high definition over-the-air broadcasts. For maximum flexibity, but a possibly higher geek quotient, SimpleTV remains hard driveless and headless – bring your own external storage and display technology. And speaking of those endpoints, live or recorded content can be viewed via refreshed web, iOS, and Android experiences. Further, at CES next month, we expect to see SimpleTV’s incoming Roku channel updates and a new Ouya client. While you can run the new SimpleTV ($250) without “Premiere” service, we expect most would pull the trigger to enable its full capabilities, including season pass recording and remote access. And the plot thickens in 2014 as we anticipate a new tier of service to include cloud storage, à la Boxee.

We’ve been cranking away on a SimpleTV review the last couple months and expect to share our (positive) experiences soon, once we’ve had some quality time with the new Android app… as the software updates equally improve the first gen hardware experience. And if Aereo ever launches in DC, we’ll run a comparison.

Update: It appears there’s been some last minute delay. While the Simple.TV site began accepting orders December 26th, product won’t actually ship until January and NewEgg pre-orders have been pushed from December to January 17th (but units are $50 off). Simple TV’s PR firm hasn’t yet responded to our inquiry.