Archives For Gadgets

vizio-internet-apps

Vizio was one of the first and perhaps largest manufacturer to take on the Yahoo Internet TV platform. And early iterations could be a bit painful. Fast forward a few years, never minding that brief flirtation with Google TV, and we find ourselves a visually rich, customizable, and robust “VIA+” experience based on Yahoo Connected TV 6.5 and bolstered by the Opera SDK for HTML 5 apps, like Netflix.

All television sizes and lines (E, M, P) in Vizio’s 2014 lineup will have an app-enabled SKU. Beyond the set, remaining Google TV-powered Costar inventory is working its way through the sales channel, with the newer, sleeker Costar LT ($80) acting as its Yahoo-powered replacement. HDMI pass-thru is usually associated with Google TV, but Vizio carries over this clever Input 1 approach to the LT. Also new for 2014 is a redesigned QWERTY remote — it’s still not the most svelte we’ve seen but a dramatic improvement over the prior model.

Like the Rokus of the world, there is indeed a screen of app icons. However, favorites can be pinned to a scrollable dock overlayed over video content, providing a less disruptive experience, and not dissimilar to the new LG webOS smart TV interface. Of course all the usual Internet apps are present. However, of note, Vizio is the exclusive TV launch platform for the new Lyve photo & video service.

kevo-hub

Even though I’ve yet to wrap up my Kevo Smartlock review, Kwikset has gone ahead and revealed phase two of their Unikey-powered connected home strategy. There’s a variety of ways to slice and dice these smart components, and Kevo only ships with Bluetooth capabilities – unlike some of their competitors, who integrate WiFi. To extend Kevo’s capabilities beyond smartphone control near a door, the companies will be launching a Bluetooth Enabled Gateway this summer. The Gateway communicates with a Kevo lock, and by tethering it to your router, extends smartlock coverage — check and control the status of your lock, via iPhone, at the door (as currently implemented), from the bedroom, or even while on the road. Stay tuned, as we hope to provide more comprehensive coverage of the Kevo solution later this month.

netgear-facebook-router A clever new Netgear router feature caught my eye this morning from CES. Tailored to small businesses, Facebook Wi-Fi enables that local cafe or bead shop to offer free wireless… in exchange for a Facebook check-in. Win-win? From the press blast:

NETGEAR is making the Facebook Wi-Fi login available on its premium line of next-generation wireless routers supporting dual-band 802.11ac wireless, the world’s fastest WiFi (like the AC1750/R6300, as Photoshopped to the left).

Parrot Jumping Sumo

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popcorn-hour-a410

Via CNXSoft we’ve learned a new Popcorn Hour A-410 networked media jukebox is now available for pre-order at $260. It’s been a several years since I’ve personally heard from from Syabas, when they attempted to take a run at the Rokus of the world with Popbox – a simple media streamer with fresh UI. Unfortunately, they failed to set the world afire and clearly gave up on Popbox company branding, as they now go by Cloud Media.

a410-active-display

Like the prior generation “media tank” line, the new Popcorn Hour is geared towards the power user possessing a large media library, with beefy specs and support for all sorts of codecs. Further, the A-410 features an updated interface, including Bitorrent & usenet clients, along with a companion iPad app. In terms of storage, bring your own 2.5″ or 3.5″ SATA drive. Of course, external drives and NAS capabilities are also available.

A subset of specs from the fanless design:

Chipset:
Sigma Designs SMP8911 Dual-Core 800Mhz with 512KB L2 Cache with VXP Video Processor

Memory:
1024MB DDR2, 256MB SLC NAND Flash

Audio/Video:
HDMI, Component, CVBS, Stereo Audio, S/PDIF, Digital Optical

qplay-family

After breaking news that TiVo’s co-founders have reunited to develope another (mini) set-top, it appears that the company rebrand has accelerated… as Invisioneer transforms into Qplay right before our eyes (and clearly without a private staging website). Our initial assumptions, based on limited site text and LinkedIn profiles, appears spot on. From Qplay’s new description:

For most people, playing [Internet video] on your tablet can be a chore and getting it to your TV is next to impossible. Qplay will harness the power of the Internet to give consumers new ways to discover, play and share video content.

While GigaOm sources indicate the company is hoping to aggregate premium content, neither Qplay’s test Twitter account nor the new imagery support that. Indeed, what one is (at launch) versus what they hope to become is not always one in the same. And whatever Qplay is doing with YouTube video (and now Vine) can likely be done better via YouTube’s native rating, sharing, playlists in conjunction with Chromecast beaming. Not to mention this space is getting crowded, between the gaming consoles, streaming incumbents, and incoming Amazon box – will Qplay offer enough, at the right price and with the stellar marketing that will be needed to make dent? Guess we’ll find out in “early 2014.”

kindle-mhl

Having missed the ever so lucrative holiday hopping season, we stop to wonder what Amazon might pack into their forthcoming TV streamer (after failing to reach a deal for the Netflix-backed Roku a few years back).

First, given pulled and presumably filled job openings, one technology Amazon’s Lab126 Kindle division has been interested in is MHL - something we’ve seen leveraged by the Roku streaming sick, as means of doing away with the set-top box. Of course, the M in MHL is “mobile” and this could equally refer to the Kindle Fire line of tablets — either on their own or as a means of interfacing with a Kindle streamer. However, we fully believe any Amazon TV stick or set-top would act as an endpoint to the Kindle Fire’s Miracast capabilities. Continue Reading…