Archives For Mobile

Google Deals Of The Day

Dave Zatz —  November 23, 2016 — 1 Comment

google-home-nest

Google Home ($99)
Google’s Amazon Alexa competitor is $30 off. And, like the Echo, it’s an always-listening speaker that can tap into a number of services such as Spotify, Nest, or Philips Hue, in addition to being a general Internet-based assistant. Reviews have largely been positive — largely comparable sound and voice recognition to Amazon with better looks and more favorable pricing but without as many integrated 3rd party services. Bonus: 6 months of Google Play Music/YouTube Red for new subscribers – a $60 value. Rather than ordering directly from Google, I’d suggest going thru Target, Walmart, or Best Buy and using ebates for additional cash back and potentially easier returns, if it comes to it.

youtube-red

YouTube Red / Google Play Music ($0)
One of the very best deals in digital media is that much sweeter when it’s free. Google’s offering up four months of service to new subscribers vs their standard $9.99/mo fee. Not only does it consist of Play Music, which is equivalent to services like Spotify or Apple Music, but it also includes YouTube Red — something I highly recommend (as a parent). Among its best features, YouTube Red kills the commercial interruption and provides mobile video downloads for offline playback.

roku-streaming-stick

Roku Streaming Stick ($50)
While both Amazon and Roku updated their streaming sticks this year, I give a slight edge to Roku’s offering. And, during the holiday deals season, we’ve seen it as low as $35.

echo-dot

Amazon Echo Dot ($50)
The refreshed Echo Dot brings Amazon’s always-on Alexa voice assistant into homes at a compelling price point with two enclosure color options. The integrated speaker is merely sufficient, but perfectly suitable for broadcasting news (Alexa, play CNN on TuneIn) or music (Pandora, Spotify, etc) in smaller rooms. We expect the Dot to drop to $40 on Black Friday. However, should your budget be larger, both Google Home and the full-on Echo will be $30-40 off later this week.

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apple_watch_swim_in_progress

In trying to determine if the new Apple Watch 2 it might meet my aquatic needs, I’ve found Apple’s marketing and support pages largely devoid of detailed information. Fortunately, I’ve been able to turn up Apple Watch 2 details by querying a number of reviewers and via Apple Insider’s swim-centric overview. And, although Apple Watch looks to be a solid solution for those for swim continuously, my enthusiasm has been tempered:

Where the Apple Watch’s swim tracking starts to fall short is for people looking to do more varied swim workouts based around swim sets and focused exercises like stroke drills and kicking […] The Apple Watch’s pace calculation also becomes less useful if you’re doing interval-based sets, as it’s simply going to tell you the interval you were going on instead of your actual swimming pace unless you manually pause the workout as you finish each repeat and resume before starting the next one.

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airtv-guide2

It seems Echostar failed to dot the i’s and cross the t’s as the AirTV over-the-air network tuner, designed to pipe live OTA television into Sling TV, has been delayed… while they seek FCC approval to waive an archaic analog tuner requirement.

Pursuant to Section 1.3 of the Commission’s rules,1 EchoStar Technologies L.L.C. (“EchoStar”) respectfully requests the Media Bureau (“Bureau”) to waive the “all channels” requirement in Section 15.117(b) of the Commission’s rules to permit the importation, marketing, and sale of an Internet-enabled, set-top box (the “AirTV”) that does not include an analog over-the-air tuner.

Designed and manufactured by EchoStar for use with applications running on smartphones, tablets, and streaming devices such as Android TV, Roku, and Apple TV, the AirTV will offer consumers access to digital HD television content broadcast over-the-air from almost any broadband-enabled multimedia platform using groundbreaking place-shifting technology from Sling Media. The ability to combine over-the-air television content on devices with over-the-top functionality makes the devices a perfect, economical choice for households that have “cut the cord” but still wish to enjoy the combination of over-the-air content and pay-per-view or subscription over-the-top services without the confusion of swapping TV inputs and using multiple remote controls. All of this functionality is packaged in an attractive energy efficient form factor that can be used with a TV, monitor, or mobile device.

gopro-hero5

Earlier this week the eagerly anticipated, yet somewhat overdue, GoPro Hero 5 made its first prelaunch appearance… packing a new touchscreen. And today, via the FCC, multiple “Hero5 Black” filings have surfaced indicating the presence of WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS capabilities for video location tagging – a first for the line. While you’d think these hardware updates might increase the action cam’s bulk, the GoPro Hero5 is somewhat slimmer the the GoPro Hero 4 Black and about 30 grams lighter. Of course, the downside to the redesign is you’ll be on the hook for new accessories should you upgrade to the incoming flagship GoPro camera later this year.

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prime-phones

After the debacle that was the Fire Phone, Amazon is back in the smartphone business with what appears to be a winning strategy. Instead of developing their own devices, at significant expense, Amazon is partnering with manufacturers to replicate their Kindle and Fire tablet ad-serving, subsidized-hardware approach in addition to pre-loading the companies commerce and consumption apps. So they end up with a similar sort of footprint in this space from a far smaller investment. And, on the flip side, their smartphone partners (initially Blu and Motorola) secure a new and potentially meaningful distribution channel. The only potential fly in the ointment is they’ve started with low- to mid-end devices and it’s unclear (to the casual observer) what the “Prime” demographic might prefer. Amazon’s intent is, likely, also to expand Prime’s reach by making these phones exclusive to the $99/yr program.

tivo-bolt-ooh-streaming

As with TiVo’s last software update, version 20.6.1 will primarily resolve additional open issues as the bulk of development and testing cycles are likely reserved for the upcoming OTA-only Bolt variant. So this isn’t exactly the most dramatic or blog-worthy topic and I didn’t really dig deep into what, specifically, this revision provides for Premiere, Roamio, and Mini owners. However, we’d previously been informed this particular update would finally enable TiVo Bolt out-of-home streaming, like Roamio Pro/Plus, to iPhone, iPad, and Android smartphones or tablets – a feature notably absent from Bolt at launch, given new under-the-hood transcoding hardware. And this incoming functionality is seemingly confirmed by new TiVo marketing materials (above), indicating owners can “watch shows anywhere on your mobile device.” Assuming, of course, the content isn’t flagged and locked down by your hostile and punitive cable company (i.e. TWC).

20.6.1 begins deployment within the next couple weeks and, if you’d like to be amongst the first in line, register your TiVo units via the just-launched Priority Update Request.

T-Mobile’s innovative and contentious video streaming compromise took additional heat this week … when it was disclosed that YouTube, a non-Binge On partner, is being served to customers at 480p by default – irrespective of LTE speed and coverage. As to how many customers noticed the reduced quality on their own or are aware they can opt out of Binge On, we just don’t know.

Google’s YouTube complaint:

Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn’t justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent

And T-Mobile’s response:

Using the term “throttle” is misleading. A better phrase is “mobile optimized” or a less flattering “downgraded” is also accurate.

I assume most consumers are satisfied with T-Mobile’s favorable rates over lesser quality cellularly-served video given the relatively small screens and abundance of WiFi. But it’ll be interesting to see if this runs afoul of FCC net neutrality guidance, should the situation escalate and despite their initial blessing.