Archives For HDTV

Hands On The Insignia TiVo TV

Dave Zatz —  September 19, 2011

After a few fits and starts, Best Buy has loaned us a 42″ Inisgnia TiVo TV ($700). Of course, what makes this solution unique is not only that the companies have produced a “smart TV” but also that it’s a TiVo without a DVR. I’m still digging into the set, but wanted to run a quickie overview of the interface and rundown of a few select apps. As you can see from the video above, TiVo’s Netflix and YouTube app have finally been modernized and look quite nice. Best Buy’s app platform partner Chumby also sees prime billing running several preloaded apps along with a highly compelling display mode. More to come…


Channel Master previously championed the now defunct EchoStar DTVPal DVR under their banner… and obviously found some success bringing digital VCR capabilities to the over-the-air crowd as they’re launching another fee-free DVR. The new Channel Master TV, aka CM-7400, primarily targets high def antenna broadcasts (although it’ll also tune clear QAM) with the added benefit of over-the-top Vudu content. No, not just Vudu video on demand. But, also, Walmart’s entire Vudu app platform that includes a variety of Internet-sourced content like Pandora and Twitter. Given Channel Master’s existing relationship with the people of Walmart, it’s probably not so surprising they’d strike a deal.


While I couldn’t make it into NYC for Pepcom’s holiday preview last night, Liliputing’s Brad Linder did. And snapped several photos for us. As you can see, the dual tuning, 320GB Channel Master TV is fairly compact and much more attractive than the DTVPal DVR it presumably replaces. Not only has the enclosure been redesigned, the UI looks quite different. In fact, the company rep tells Brad the new product isn’t affiliated with EchoStar.


Despite Channel Master’s new solution, Megazone still feels that the OTA-capable TiVo is a better value. Remember, TiVo is also targeting this demographic with a few recent promotions. Although MZ suggests cord cutters simply pick up a Premiere with Lifetime service for $600 over the $400 flat fee Channel Master TV. But, we need to know a little more about the CM-7400’s EPG and recording capabilities. The prior generation model was simply a glorified VCR, only recording by time slot – versus by program title, or new versus repeat, etc. For many folks a “digital VCR” is sufficient. But there’s obviously a better way. Also, the earlier unit sources guide data over-the-air. In my experience, the data was highly unreliable – both in terms of content and even being present. Not to mention, a limited amount of days covered. Without true DVR capabilities, accurate and significant guide data might not be much of a requirement. But these two things together might justify TiVo’s recurring fee or additional upfront cost for those that appreciate and understand the distinctions.

This market could be expanding further, though. And Boxee is one potential competitor who may be exploring the idea of integrating both over-the-top and over-the-air DVR capabilities to this space… Stay tuned?


On the way to a Boxee-fied television, it appears View Sonic has come to the same conclusion I have regarding Internet-connected displays. From GigaOm:

‘Smart TV’ has not achieved the consumer acceptance or market expectation… that was forecasted over the last couple years. In addition, consumer spending for Smart TV’s in general has experienced a significant slow down as the economy has slowed.

Just because industry is pumping Smart TV doesn’t mean we’re buying. At least not in the numbers the manufacturers may have hoped for. Granted, View Sonic is a minor player in this space… But we’ve been down this path before as manufacturers attempt to shorten the consumer television refresh cycle. And this mirrors the tepid response we witnessed to 3D TVs in 2010. That’s not to say folks aren’t interested in three dimensional content or Internet apps. But they’re less likely to invest in a high end product (sooner) to get those features. In fact, while I’d say we’re just getting started harnessing web content on the television, millions of Apple TVs and Rokus have been sold – as well as presumably even more Internet-connected Blu-ray players. Further, several cable and satellite providers (or their proxies, like TiVo) are bringing over-the-top video (like YouTube) and social Internet features (such as Twitter & Facebook) to the big screen. So why would I buy a new TV? Especially one that has a tendency to reboot.


It’s been nearly four weeks since the TiVo-powered Best Buy Insignia HDTV launched. Yet all we’ve heard is crickets. How bad is it? To my knowledge, not a single owner has stepped forward on the TiVo Community. Being a Best Buy house brand, I assume they’re the ones responsible for marketing. And we just haven’t seen much yet, beyond an occasional end cap display. Unfortunately, the one I checked out today wasn’t connected to a network so I was unable to get a sense of the UI and apps… but sought out some assistance. One Best Buy employee told me to try connecting to the wireless Barnes & Noble network next door (which obviously didn’t work) and another later said, “Have you seen the Google TV? It’s basically the same thing.” Look – we realize the product is new, but if Best Buy intends to do something more with the Insignia brand beyond undercutting the competition on price, they’re going to need to train their staff and put some serious marketing muscle behind this initiative. Selling a non-DVR TiVo is a difficult enough challenge.

Right on the heels of HP announcing the death of WebOS and the TouchPad, there’s new evidence today that Apple will be coming out with its third-generation iPad in early 2012. Better yet, the rumors that this will be an “iPad HD” appear to be true. According to The Wall Street Journal (via MacRumors) the new iPad is “expected to feature a high resolution display – 2048 by 1536 compared with 1024 by 768 in the iPad 2.”

An HD iPad brings with it a number of interesting implications. Apple mobile device users love their video, and high-def content ups the ante for both content and broadband providers. For the content folks, there’s likely to be increased anxiety around content security, and fears of greater piracy. For the ISPs, this is one more way subscribers can bog down their networks. That’s good for getting users to sign on for higher-tier Internet packages, and it’s a potential way to push the metered billing agenda. But it’s bad for operators who are already facing a bandwidth crunch, and need to open up their wallets for further network upgrades.

Sony PS3 Lands NFL Streaming

Dave Zatz —  August 18, 2011

Will you look at that. Not only is DirecTV taking NFL over-the-top for DirecTV subscribers and non-subscribers alike (as they did last year), they’re expanding their reach beyond mobile devices like the the iPad and will stream live football direct to the Sony PS3 in 2011. This is a massive deal given the NFL’s status in the US as not only the premiere sports league but also as one of the most lucrative entertainment properties of any stripe. And this marks the first time the NFL will all be available to a television-based device over the Internet. Minus those in market games, of course.

Engadget reports non-DirecTV subscribers will be able to order the streaming-only version of Sunday Ticket for $350 as of September 1st. As I said last year, “it doesn’t come cheap. But they don’t call it Super Fan for nothing.” Then again, I’m sure I spend more than that at my local wing joint in any given season. Bonus? The PS3 price drop – now only $250. Is it too early to declare Sony’s more-than-gaming platform as box of the year? Although there’s still time for additional lean back partners to be announced…

HBO GO offers arguably the best value in online streaming. For the cost of a HBO subscription, via your cable or satellite provider, you receive bundled online access to a solid stable of relatively new movies plus every episode of every HBO series. While watching Game of Thrones on my (wife’s) iPad or Eastbound & Down on my iPhone (at the gym) has worked out reasonably well, what many of us have been pining for is the “lean back” experience — HBO GO on the television. My attempts to get the web experience going on Google TV failed (thanks to Comcast), yet a full on HBO GO TV app experience is nearly upon us.

Tech of the Hub has been following these developments closely and it seems we missed news back in May indicating HBO GO is headed to “a variety of TVs, game consoles and streaming devices.” Better yet, Tech of the Hub has learned that Internet-connected Samsung HDTVs and Blu-ray players will receive an HBO GO app “soon” – perhaps within the next week or so. But, having abandoned both Blu-ray decks and smart TVs (for now), I’m hopeful some other entrants in the streaming space (Roku, TiVo, Apple TV) might also have good news for us in the near future.