Archives For Media

This post’s author, The Media Patriot, is a fellow consumer who enjoys music and television but condemns DRM. His pseudonym pays homage to the original participants of the Boston Tea Party.

Remember back in the Autumn of 2006 when the hotly anticipated “Venice Project” promised all that it’d do for television, what ebay and Skype did for auctions and phone calls? Well, here we are two years later and after much disappointment, Joost has released a new version of itself called…drum roll…New Joost.

New Joost is supposedly a “browser only” plugin that let’s you watch Joost content in the browser – but’s that’s a bit of a misleading statement. New Joost downloads and installs a 6MB version of Microsoft C++ Runtime Environment onto your hard drive.

As much as I would like to share my New Joost experience with all ZNF readers, I cannot since after installing the plugin, CPU usage spiked at 99% for several minutes and crashed the browser to an unrecoverable state. To add to insult to injury, after killing off the hung browser, the plugin was still running siphoning off my bandwidth to power all the other people using Joost.

The Joost blog promises an all Flash, no local anything version coming in October, but it may be a bit too late since Hulu has pretty much filled the niche market Joost hoped to dominate all those years ago.

Have you tried the New Joost? Write a quick note in the comments with your thoughts.

More Moxi Promises from Digeo

Dave Zatz —  September 18, 2008

TWICE reports that Digeo will be releasing a HD CableCARD set-top box to MSOs beginning later this month and offering a retail DVR direct to consumers in January. Though I have to say the author was quite kind in his coverage. No mention that this cable box (or a precursor) was expected in 2007 or that Digeo also had plans to launch two retail set-top boxes last year. Also no mention that the CEO stepped aside, half the staff was axed, and both (previous) retail DVRs were scrapped just a week after briefing the press at CES. So, please forgive me if I’m a little skeptical that we’ll actually be able to purchase a (new) DLNA-capable M-Card Moxi DVR in just four months. Of course, this isn’t at all unusual in our industry – SlingCatcher will be over a year late when it finally ships and Palm Foleo was killed at the zero hour. Lesson being, until products ship let’s take these announcements with a grain of salt. Speaking of which, where’s my Lenovo S10?

The beta update to D-Link’s DivX Connected media extender now supports streaming Flash-based video sites (Hulu, YouTube, etc) from the Internet and through the PC to your TV.

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Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  September 5, 2008

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our other blogs:

Comcast introduces Internet video downloads – rental & purchase. Powered by Amazon? Count against broadband cap?

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There’s been a distinct trend lately toward multi-screen views for online video applications. The Olympics Silverlight player included four screens for watching multiple events simultaneously. Verizon and the NFL are once again offering multiple camera angles for football games to online subscribers. And now Ars Technica reports on the latest from CoolIris and its browser plugin PicLens, which lays out search results visually, allowing users to scan across images and launch different video feeds from a single browser page.

The increasingly visual Web is a channel-surfer’s dream. (Though a cynical part of me wonders if we’re once again dumbing down the info-gathering process by eliminating the need to read anything…) The bandwidth implications, however, are a bit worrisome. From a consumer perspective, the more we see bandwidth caps and Internet slow-downs during heavy usage periods, the more applications like PicLens seem unrealistic for every-day use. It’s a never-ending battle. Internet bandwidth increases, and new heavy-bandwidth applications are introduced.

On a lighter note, check out the gallery of PicLens screenshots below. The app currently supports content from Amazon, Flickr, YouTube, SmugMug, Google, Yahoo, DeviantArt and Photobucket. I’m planning to download the full application and give it a real test run soon. Drop a comment if you’ve already tried it out.

DNC Gets Passing Grade for Online Video Coverage

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Battle Royale On Hold

Dave Zatz —  July 26, 2008

Two recent events have put the video download Battle Royale on hold… 1) Ben wants his Apple TV back – and who can blame him, I’ve been sitting on it for months. 2) Sony finally entered the fray with a Playstation video store, and I don’t own a PS3. Maybe I’ll get to it, maybe not.

But here’s what I will tell you: Today, the most enjoyable set-top box movie download experience is provided by Vudu ($300). The interface has a few quirks, but it’s quite efficient at navigating their large selection of nice-looking content and playback is often instantaneous. And for awhile, the software updates were fast and furious – which I appreciate. I believe Apple TV offers more HD content and makes it available perhaps sooner than Vudu. Apple TV is also cheaper ($230) and provides a variety of functionality (photos, music, video podcasts) plus iTunes beats everyone in the amount of television content available (for purchase). But for whatever reasons (probably starting with the remote), I just don’t like it. Meanwhile my Netflix box ($100) sits in the closet, waiting for a day when more current releases and/or high(er) def movies are available – via Netflix, or someone else.

My ideal solution would see TiVo and Amazon (or CinemaNow) pull the trigger on HD video rentals. I’d rather use my primary television accessory for the majority of my television viewing functions. Which is why these guys largely compete with the cable companies (PPV/VOD), rather than each other for mindshare (and revenue). And for a large percentage of the population, price is a factor – an existing cable box is much more economical than a Vudu.

I’m only bummed I couldn’t deliver on providing the much-requested head-to-head HD video quality comparison. In many cases the differences are subtle and difficult to definitively identify by swapping cables on the same television. (Not to mention, it’d be different cables – my Xbox 360 predates HDMI support.) I was hopeful of doing some side-by-side comparisons at my old office where they’ve got some Westinghouse flat panels lined up. But the timing hasn’t worked out. The downside of a day job (mostly on the other coast). Perhaps CNET‘s John Falcone can round up a few folks on his team to pull together a professional and comprehensive comparison for us?