Archives For Media

Kindle Apps, But No Kindle 3

Dave Zatz —  January 21, 2010

I’m actually a bit relieved Amazon did not release a Kindle 3 today. Because I would have blown a juicy scoop. Over the weekend, Twitter follower A. Scott Falk wondered why Amazon is running a “Kindle 3″ Google Adwords campaign against various Kindle searches. And we didn’t know if it heralded a new device, or was merely compelling ad copy. Given the news today and measured against Apple’s imminent announcement of something, it’s safe to say a Kindle 3 isn’t in the cards this month.

However, Amazon’s app store announcement is noteworthy… and probably inevitable. Next month, a Kindle Development Kit will be made available (in beta) allowing folks to start cranking out Kindle Store applications. Unlike iPhone app, Kindle developers and owners will obviously be constrained by a black & white screen of distracting, blinky page refreshes. More significant, and a major differentiation against say the iPhone, is that developers will be footing the bill for wireless delivery. So we’ll probably see fewer networked apps, and of greater expense.

Wielding a smartphone (or two), I have no interest in a Kindle Zagat guide. (I’m loving the new iPhone Yelp check-ins.) And I’m no fan of Kindle’s blog subscriptions. Instead of $2 a pop, how about I pay $7.99/month for an Amazon-provided RSS reader that I populate how I please? As a publisher, instead of making very little money on Kindle subscriptions, let me pick up the tab and give ZNF away to anyone interested. Hm, maybe that’ll be my personal app project.

Dazzboard 2 app manager CES 2010

Dazzboard is a newborn Finnish company that’s been getting decent press for the last six months as a media manager for the stuff on all your devices – photos, music, and video. Now the company is adding an Android App Manager to its list of features. The Dazzboard 2.0 software is a browser extension that you can access from your computer. Instead of shopping, adding, and deleting apps from your smartphone on the smartphone itself, you can do the heavy lifting on a larger PC screen, and just enjoy the apps themselves from your phone. It’s all drag and drop, and at least from the demo I saw tonight, looks dead simple to use. I’ll be trying this one out soon on my own Android device.

Other new features in Dazzboard 2.0 include:

  • iTunes content connectivity – only non-iTunes-DRM stuff
  • OpenID compatibility
  • Enhanced media management including cloud storage and support for social media networks
  • YouTube browsing
  • Media bookmarks

Aluratek Cinepal CES 2010 PMP

Aluratek’s got an interesting mid-tier product on its hands. When I first read the specs of the Cinepal, I was less than impressed. It’s a portable media player without the broadband connection. However, seeing it in person and talking to one of the product guys, I’ve had a bit of a change of heart. The Cinepal has a beautiful screen, and it offers a significantly better movie-watching experience than an iPod Touch or a smartphone. According to Aluratek, the reason the Cinepal doesn’t come with broadband is purely price point. At $149-$179, it doesn’t have to compete with an Archos device, it just has to compete with old-style portable DVD players.

I don’t know how many folks will purchase a Cinepal given the other options available (netbooks, high-end PMPs, etc.), but for a family with young kids that likes to travel, I can see the appeal. The Cinepal should be in stores by February.


Seagate has licensed the Pogoplug personal cloud experience, to power a line of networked hard drive docks – presumably for use in conjunction with Seagate’s external drives. Pogoplug, in its original $99 form, is a wall wart power adapter that also happens to contain a tiny Linux computer capable of sharing any USB storage, both locally and via the Internet. And I recently received a loaner – while I’m still formulating a Pogoplug opinion, check out my unboxing pics and their new streamlined social file sharing functionality. The Seagate Freeagent Dockstar lineup starts at $99.

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Mapping Television Online

Mari Silbey —  September 16, 2009

Mapping online TV Verizon Comcast Time Warner Cable AT&T Hulu

The landscape of television online is changing so rapidly, it’s hard to keep up. Since the announcement of TV Everywhere trials by Comcast and Time Warner Cable, Verizon has jumped into the mix, and AT&T has started testing its own TV portal site. Comcast’s Stephen Burke has also announced that the initial Comcast trial will go national in the next 30 to 60 days – a far more optimistic timeline than those presented at the TV Everywhere breakfast in New York last month.

That’s all on the good side. On the bad side, there’s word over at Multichannel News that Hulu is considering a new subscription model. It’s not surprising, but we may soon be paying to watch free broadcast TV channels online. Given that ads still don’t bring in TV-level cash on the Net, a subscription model makes sense. Don’t be mad. As Mark Cuban (rightly) rants, subsidized TV is not a constitutional right. Better to focus on getting the pay-TV providers to roll out their TV Everywhere services faster, faster, faster. At least we’ve already written the check for that content.

Having trouble keeping up? Don’t worry. It’s only going to get more chaotic and confusing for a while. But if I can ultimately watch my shows anywhere I go, I can live with that.

Comcast wall fountain girls

A meeting at Comcast HQ this past week gave me the excuse to check out the latest updates to the video wall in the lobby. You may recall when Comcast installed the IMAX-like experience last summer. It’s quite a hoot to watch people react to a bunch of wood panels that suddenly become a gigantic movie screen. Well, the cable giant has moved on from solely pastoral video feeds of running water and the like to scenes of dancing girls. The girls, of some yesteryear, are clad in slinky outfits and choreographed in multi-tiered human sculptures. A bit surprising from Comcast, but certainly a showstopper. And if dancing girls aren’t your thing, there are still scenes of falling leaves and cosmic wonders. Plus an oh-so-clever snowy scribe outlining the Comcast Experience. Check out the gallery below.

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The Seagate folks recently sent me a pair of devices to check out, including Replica – their newer, sleek and slim bundled hardware+software PC backup solution. I wasn’t sure I’d find time to play with it before the big move, but Melissa’s Dell Studio XPS 13 has been in need of some TLC. Her laptop rocks, other than early lockups which I cleared with a few Dell updates, and is by far the fastest 13″ computer (Mac or PC) I’ve ever used. However, at some point, the Vista install was corrupted. (I’m guessing a non-graceful shutdown, but the jury’s still out on the root cause.) The boot sequence has been full of errors and we’ve been unable to install any software, such as iTunes.

My plan had been to backup her computer using Replica as a precaution and then upgrade the XPS to Windows 7. As it turns out, Vista was so hosed I couldn’t even get Replica working. So, we rolled the dice and went for a Vista -> Win7 upgrade with merely a file copy to USB. I figured we had a 50/50 chance of an in-place upgrade working, without requiring a clean install. Fortunately, it went smoothly and all Windows errors/issues have been resolved. Although, we ended up with a non-functional version of Trend Micro under W7 – now replaced with the Microsoft Security Essentials beta.


The Replica install and config was ridiculously simple/automated, taking just a moment or so. Attach drive, let it update itself, backup of primary partitions begins. I guess the only complaint I could have is completing the required (?) registration splash screen before kicking it all off. Like Apple’s Time Machine, Seagate does it’s thing in the background when a drive is connected, providing both file level restoration and disaster recovery (via included boot CD). The Replica is offered as a 250GB single PC model (~$100) and 500GB multi-computer edition ($~180). And the primary difference, other than capacity, is the higher tier unit ships with a dock.

For a hundred bucks, I don’t think you can go wrong – a sleek, quiet, and cool drive with thought-free backup software. Of course, the real value of this solution won’t be known until attempting a system restore… which is something I’d rather avoid.

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