Archives For HDTV

lg-webos-smarttv

File this one under Left Field. LG just announced a deal to acquire the remnants of webOS. If you’ll recall, webOS sprung to life as Palm’s next generation smartphone platform and answer to the iPhone… before being snapped up by HP. While HP had grand intentions of webOS powering mobile devices, printers, and PCs (!), they abruptly shuttered commercial operations mere weeks their TouchPad launched to lackluster reviews and sales. Fast forward a year or so ahead, past an open source initiative that hasn’t caught on:

To support its next-generation Smart TV technology, LG has entered into a definitive agreement with HP to acquire the source code, associated documentation, engineering talent and related websites associated with webOS. As part of the transaction, LG also will receive licenses under HP’s intellectual property (IP) for use with its webOS products, including patents acquired from Palm covering fundamental operating system and user interface technologies now in broad use across the industry.

Our ongoing fantasy has been that Amazon might pick up webOS to power it’s Kindle Fire line of tablets (and perhaps smartphones). But with Google continuing to develop and freely distribute Android, at least until the Microsoft patent tax gets you, it’s probably most efficient and cost effective to continue skinning as opposed to rolling their own platform. In regards to LG’s hopes, we doubt “webOS” is something that would move the needle in sales, but so-called “smart” televisions could certainly benefit from a more stable and ad-free presentation. Will they deliver?

Making The Case For Aereo

Dave Zatz —  January 19, 2013

aereo-verge

My Twitter pal Michael Turk, whose name you may recognize from a tenure at the NCTA, recently wrote up his disdain for Aereo:

You know what is 100% free and doesn’t require any payment to the cable industry? Broadcast TV. This guy is suggesting people pay money every month – albeit to a different company – to watch something that is broadcast OVER THE AIR. [...] if all you are watching are broadcast channels, you certainly don’t need to be paying Aereo or anyone else for it.

While Turk makes some reasonable points regarding onerous retransmission fees and Aereo’s legal challenges, there’s way more to the service than basic access to broadcast channels. $8/month grants you access to two micro antennas and 20 hours of cloud DVR storage space (or $12 for 40hrs). So not only does Aereo provide “live” broadcast television, but you can schedule season passes and the like. Further, you’re not confined to a television and set-top box in your home as Aereo pretty much allows you to watch your live and recorded television programming via any modern browser… including the ones found on our smartphones and tablets. Continue Reading…

Content remains king, with television programming and mobile device interaction converging at a rapid pace. So-called “second screen” apps were everywhere at CES, integrating all sorts of functionality. And companies are clearly pumped. Heck, Cisco & Cox invited Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman in to witness the unveiling of their upcoming iPad app.

2ndscreensummit

In conjunction with CES festivities, I was invited to the 2nd Screen Summit“a deep-dive into the latest business opportunities, creative case studies and technology innovations related to the creation of supplementary, synchronized and social TV content featuring speakers from Hollywood, Madison Avenue and Silicon Valley.” Given a tight schedule, I was only able to attend the keynote and a discussion of content discovery via the second screen… which quite frequently wandered well beyond the confines of a tablet device, once again reinforcing content consumption interconnectedness. And, with my somewhat irreverent style, I fired off several “second screen” tweets of my own from the sessions (reproduced below). Continue Reading…

sonos-home-theater

After two years of buildup, it seems a Sonos home theater solution is nearly upon us. The “Playbar”, as uncovered via a number of FCC filings, has been kicking around their labs since at least June. While it’s not entirely clear what the Playbar is, we’re hoping it’s more soundbar and less Jambox – to complement my new Panasonic HDTV. If our assumptions are correct, the Playbar would also benefit from the room filling wireless Sonos Sub ($700) — meaning this wouldn’t be a budget system. But, for many, the versatility of Sonos’ whole home audio is priceless. Continue Reading…

Aereo Headed to Smart TVs

Mari Silbey —  December 6, 2012

Video Nuze VideoSchmooze 2012 Colin Dixon and Chet Kanojia

At yesterday’s VideoSchmooze conference in New York, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia told the audience that his company will soon release more applications for the 10-foot television experience. Aereo is planning to launch apps for a variety of smart TVs shortly, and for adjunct TV devices, including the Roku. Aereo has a private channel for the Roku today, but will release a more complete experience for the device in the near future. Kanojia also noted that “conceptually” games consoles make a lot of sense for Aereo too.

To date, Aereo is still only available in New York City, and it continues to fight for its legal right to exist. Broadcasters want to shut Aereo down because the company gets around retransmission fees by assigning a tiny antenna to each customer and transcoding over-the-air signals for delivery over IP. So far the courts haven’t forced Aereo to close its doors, but the legal battle has only just begun.

Meanwhile, Aereo’s technology is sophisticated enough that I’m still theorizing the company has a back-up plan if its current business model doesn’t survive. Aereo also has an advantage in that its technology costs are minimal. Kanojia threw out one stat yesterday that drove home that point. He said that the cost of transcoding a single stream of video a couple of years ago was around $6,000. Today, that number is in the single digits.

panasonic-ads

While I’m a notorious gadget flipper, it isn’t very often we upgrade our primary television. And it’s been five years since we last purchased a big screen HDTV. As in 2007, we opted for a Panasonic plasma – given our positive prior results and CNET’s high marks across the board. So I was pretty stoked when the backordered 55″ ST50 arrived on Friday, expecting nothing but good things.

Out of the box, without any sort of calibration during its break in, I’m quite pleased with picture quality (although I need to tweak a few things STAT to clean up the soap opera effect). I didn’t purchase the set specifically for apps, yet they seemed like a nice bonus given its decent selection (YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, Skype, etc) and despite the odd, sluggish UI. Well… that was prior to the ST50 downloading ads. Because now I find the app dashboard, managed by online merchant Digital River, cluttered with Capital One and Shutterfly spam – including a video advertisement that overrides your previously playing picture-in-picture. Obnoxious!

panasonic-capital-one-ads

Equally obnoxious are what appear to be time-based banner ads that periodically pop up when adjusting the volume. I’d originally thought these were being delivered by Amazon Instant but, given Sean Logan’s photo above taken while watching cable, it’s clear this is Panasonic’s doing. Further, according to CNET, banner ads appear in additional formats and at other times. Supposedly these can disabled via an unintuitive Advanced Viera Connect setting… that doesn’t actually say anything about advertisements. Yet, another setting screen buried with the App Marketplace indicates I’m stuck with ads, whether or not I opt out of Panasonic tracking.

Continue Reading…

75 Minutes To Verizon FiOS

Dave Zatz —  August 28, 2012

fios-external-ont

As the owner of a brand spanking new home, we had the unique opportunity to decide which provider would run cable into our humble abode. After weighing the pros and cons, we selected Verizon FiOS over Comcast Xfinity for both television and Internet services. And, from start to finish, it was the least painful process we’ve experienced in this realm. No hiccups… even the CableCARD pairing went smoothly. Also, at a mere 75 minutes, it was very efficient — handily beating our prior six hour FiOS retrofit.

What follows is the tweet archive of our install: