Archives For HDTV

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  August 29, 2013

A periodic roundup of relevant news… via our other outlets:

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Comcast Debuts Family Messaging App
Comcast Corp. has quietly launched a new family text messaging and calendaring app for iOS and Android mobile phones. Dubbed Family Point, the app offers private text and voice messaging in a timeline format, similar to a Twitter or Facebook stream.

Betting on Smart Homes
Cable operators have to compete, not only against the well-known ADT Corp. brand in the managed security space, but also against every company that pops up at retail selling smart thermostats and lighting control solutions. With the Internet as a foundation, any hardware company can build its own home automation solution out of a series of IP-connected devices.

Free TV Antennas, Anyone?
Time Warner Cable Inc. subscribers have been without cable access to CBS Corp. channels since early August. And since the battle shows no sign of winding down, TWC is now offering customers a very retro alternative — namely, free over-the-air TV antennas.

Can medical tricorders disrupt global healthcare?
The Scanadu Scout is a small sensor-loaded device designed to measure everything from body temperature to heart rate variability to blood oxygenation. It’s scheduled to ship in March 2014, and the price for early investors ranges from $149 to $199 for the Scout hardware plus Scanadu’s mobile app.

Playtime! Chromecast at Home

Mari Silbey —  August 23, 2013

Chromecast set-up 1

I have barely scratched the surface of what Chromecast can do (although Janko has a lengthy review), and already I love it. Here are a few things I’ve learned from laptop streaming only. More experimentation to come with smartphones and iPads.

Lessons Learned

1. Set-up is extremely fast and easy. I know it’s already been said by others, but it bears repeating. I plugged the stick into my TV, navigated to the Chromecast set-up page on my laptop browser, typed in the code listed on my TV screen, gave my Chromecast a name, and that was it. The only hiccup I ran into was that my laptop briefly disconnected from my wireless network during set-up. Once I reconnected it, Chromecast worked instantly. Continue Reading…

mohu-leaf

As the Time Warner Cable CBS retransmission spat drags on, impacted cable subscribers (or is that former subscribers?) have resorted to HDTV antennas and free OTA broadcasts, if RadioShack’s surge in sales is any indication. And, should you find yourself in a similar situation, let me recommend the amazing Mohu Leaf (~$40). We tend to shy away from hyperbole, but prior to the Leaf review unit I sporadically received a single major network over-the-air… but the Leaf’s stellar reception capabilities have brought the full gamut of broadcast television into my kitchen and allowed me to evaluate Simple.TV (despite AntennaWeb indicating need for a rooftop solution). Its thin profile and reversible black/white presentation also allows for subtle yet effective placement around the house. Of course, your mileage may vary, dependent on a multitude of factors, but I’m a believer.

Google's $35 Chromecast stick pushes Netflix, YouTube to your TV

A World Without CableCARD

Dave Zatz —  July 17, 2013

cablecard

The CEA, TiVo and Public Knowledge continue to hammer the FCC, due to the government agency’s bungled Charter waiver, and appeal to the body that “its regulations be reinstated.” Some choice quotes:

By misreading the law, the FCC took away your ability to buy alternative set-top boxes like Tivo and Smart TVs. We think that’s wrong. (Public Knowledge)

The Bureau’s Order, like the Charter Request, deals in assumptions and hopes rather than in facts. The Commission cannot let stand this nullification of law and regulation, without process or public comment. (CEA)

By vacating these rules, the Court created an unhealthy amount of uncertainty in the industry — uncertainty that harms innovation and competition as well as settled consumer expectations. (TiVo)

Due to a variety of factors we won’t rehash, beyond TiVo, CableCARD and retail cable set-top boxes have never really taken off. And even TiVo’s market penetration is suspect. I reached out to the NCTA and was informed there are about 600,000 CableCARDs currently deployed (plus Verizon FiOS). So that’d include TiVo hardware, Windows Media Center, and any legacy smart TVs that support the tech. It also encompasses households with multiple cards, as the TiVo Series 3 requires, and to serve folks with multiple devices — meaning there’s something less than 600k active CableCARD homes. Now, that’s not necessarily a number to scoff at. But it pales in comparison to tens of millions pay TV subscribers and burdens cable with additional infrastructure and support costs – including 40 million+ set-tops they themselves provide with CableCARDs.

We rarely shed tears for big cable and have been TiVo proponents for many years, yet it’s an interesting exercise to imagine a post-CableCARD era where Section 629 is met by iPad, Roku, Xbox, and Apple TV. Discuss.

jvc-slingcatcher

It may not be the Roku client we’ve been pining for, but as the post-Panasonic JVC continues to flesh out the video side of the Kenwood corporation, they’ve launched a new line of “BlackSapphire” Smart TVs sporting a native Slingbox app. The modestly priced and sized sets, clocking in at only 42″ and 47″, could make for a nice den SlingCatcher. Beyond Sling support, Netflix, Vudu, and Pandora are also present… along with a “flippable” QWERTY remote according to CNET. Of course, while many television manufacturers produce “smart” sets, I’ve yet to meet one with both an efficient and snappy UI. Not to mention, my Vizio has been known to crash/reboot at inopportune times, while my Panasonic is littered with ads. So JVC judgement will await CNET’s review.

Archos TV Connect with Google Play Store on Android Jelly Bean

We got a new flat-screen TV for my house in December of 2009, and we’re not likely to upgrade any time soon. That doesn’t top me from wanting to add a little after-market action, however, and for some inexplicable reason, I find that I’m craving an Android TV box for my living room set-up.

Brad over at Liliputing is reporting that TP-Link will soon launch the TPMini in China, and it looks to be similar to the Archos TV Connect announced just before CES. The Archos box hasn’t made it to retail yet, but several hands-on reviews have me wanting to give it a try when the hardware does hit stores.

Both the Archos device and the TPMini run Android 4.1 and let you access the Google Play store on a TV screen (unlike official Google TV hardware). The TV Connect comes with a camera and a funky wireless remote control, and will sell for about $130. The TPMini also comes with a camera, but it uses a mobile app for control instead and is expected to retail (in China) for $56.

Why do I want an Android box? I honestly have no idea. Continue Reading…