Archives For Remotes

dish-voice-remote

DISH Hopper and Joey owners can now pick up a voice-controlled remote for $30. While we’ve yet to test its capabilities, voice interaction appears to be a highly successful initiative for Comcast and it’s certainly something I’ve periodically appreciated on Roku or Fire TV (and something we continue to wait on with TiVo).

Roughly half the size of a traditional remote control, Voice Remote fits in the palm of the user’s hand, much like a smartphone. DISH designed the remote to interpret natural language, populating search results based on program title, actor or genre, and building contextual searches to narrow options, as desired. It also utilizes voice commands to control basic functions of the receiver, including recording and changing channels.

Beyond the spoken word, DISH also appears to take the historically limited and fussy remote touchpad to the next level by hiding optionally illuminated numbers under its clickable surface. The backlit remote also conveniently includes IR to control your television and provides a remote finder feature.

logitech-alexa

Despite some hopeful announcements, Apple HomeKit continues to limp along. And many have turned to Amazon as the voice-controlled switchboard of their smart homes. Indeed, after originally unloading two Echoes as a novelty, I’m back on board with one Echo and an Amazon Dot — happily barking commands at Alexa. Amazon’s platform is far more inclusive, interoperating with just about anything, sometimes with help from IFTTT, without Apple’s onerous hardware encryption requirement — although endpoints aren’t vetted for security and Amazon is perhaps more ripe for (verbal) abuse, the possibilities seem endless and it’s oh-so-convenient. Next up to the mound is Logitech, who’s working on native Harmony support to start and stop Activities without picking up that remote control or smarthphone.

Logitech is beta testing Harmony remote control integration with Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Tap. With this integration, Harmony remote control users will be able to start and stop Harmony Activities using Alexa voice commands. If you own an Echo, we’re looking for people like you try out this new integration and provide feedback on their experience prior to full public release.

By way of Com Hem, an international TiVo partner, the DVR pioneer appears poised to launch smart watch apps for remote control — citing both the Apple Watch and Android Wear platforms. Beyond replicating existing smartphone app functions, like changing channels as while browsing the live guide, TiVo indicates voice control is also on the docket… as alluded to last September.

Initially, these Dick Tracey-esque wrist interactions appear specific to Com Hem TiVo customers (and the apps are saddled with a ‘beta’ designation). Yet, with CES just kicking off, I suspect we could learn more about potential retail customer support within the next 48 hours.

As to other TiVo news from the Vegas trade show, an HBO GO announcement seems like a lock and I’m hopeful we’ll learn more of an OTA-only Bolt solution… with or without “Aereo” branding. Continue Reading…

ps4-remote

Sony is set to correct a massive PS4 shortcoming with a full-featured universal remote. Not only does it utilize Bluetooth for console control, but IR is included to operate your TV and soundbar – or whatever else, given its four device capabilities. I’ll go ahead and make a few assumptions that core apps, such as Netflix and Playstation Vue, will be natively supported and that those unlabeled multicolored buttons are programmable (to create shortcuts to, say, launch that aforementioned Netflix). Of course, the comparatively svelte PS4 will now need a tuner accessory and DVR capabilities like Xbox One. ;) Whereas I’d expect something like this to run something like $50, Best Buy has it up for pre-order at $30 with an anticipated October 12th delivery (while Amazon has it shipping October 27th).

I tend to avoid most gadgety Kickstarters, given their poor track record in delivering high quality products on time, if at all. But Sideclick deserves some special attention — as this accessory meets a real need and they’re far enough along in development that they’ve been able to send some review samples out.

sideclick-animation

As those of us with Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV are well aware, their respective diminutive remotes don’t control our televisions. And not all situations should require a Harmony investment. Enter Sideclick, a clever modular accessory that consists of an IR learning remote and a replaceable cradle custom fit for your particular streamer. What you lose in ergonomics and beauty, you presumably more than make up for with less clutter and improved convenience.

Looks like they’re shooting for an early 2016 launch, running about $30 for a remote and cradle bundle, with replacement cradles running perhaps $8 a pop. I personally don’t feel the need to pre-order, especially with new Apple TV and Fire TV hardware on the horizon. But color me interested.

Continue Reading…

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  May 6, 2015

xfinity-voice-remote

Comcast Announces new Xfinity remote with voice control
You don’t have to learn a new language or speak like a robot. Just press the blue button, say what you want to watch and it appears on screen. It’s easy, just like watching TV should be.

JetBlue to Offer Amazon Prime Members Free Wi-Fi to Stream Video
Amazon is taking to the skies in its battle with Netflix: The e-commerce giant announced a deal with JetBlue, under which Prime members will have free, unlimited access to in-flight Wi-Fi — fast enough to stream video right to their seats.

TiVo Survey Indicates Majority of OTA Cord Cutters Come From Satellite
TiVo Inc., a leader in monetizing over the air signals for operators, today released the findings of an in-depth survey of Over The Air (OTA) TV consumers revealing that a materially higher percentage of cord cutters are coming from former satellite TV service subscribers.

Cable companies want you to pay twice for On Demand with Hulu Plus deal
In another sign that operators are increasingly willing to bring over-the-top streaming services directly to their subscribers, Hulu has announced that it has reached agreements with five multichannel operators to offer Hulu’s subscription streaming service to their customers.

DVR Love Is In The Air

Dave Zatz —  February 13, 2015

In honor of Valentine’s Day, both TiVo and DISH have taken to social media to promote their respective remote control finder alerts. Sadly DISH “can’t help you find love with the push of a button” … whereas TiVo proclaims “even our remote finder is a turn on” that “heightens the mood” (while retrieving it from your partner’s blouse). Food for thought when choosing your next provider and set-top box. Continue Reading…

As we’ve reported for several months, TiVo has been poised to release a slightly refreshed Mini … with an RF remote. And, while sources had indicated the folks in Alviso were tracking for a March delivery, the TiVo Store has just been updated with the new DVR extender model. While there could be under-the-hood changes in regards to manufacturing cost savings or performance improvements, we know for sure the remote has been updated (in addition to the centering of “TiVo Mini” lettering):

tivo-mini-rf

The addition of RF allows you to mount the Mini behind a TV or stick it in a cabinet without worrying about remote control line-of-site as you would with the former IR TiVo peanut. Even better, the TiVo Mini’s recent price reduction remains in play (at least thru May) making it an even greater value to both Roamio and 4-tuner Premiere owners — $150 up front gets you both the hardware and Lifetime Service.

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