Archives For Remotes

Sonos Does Twitter

Mari Silbey —  September 4, 2009

Sonos controller Twitter

The Twitter Everywhere meme is popular this week, and Sonos joins in by announcing (via Twitter) that soon owners of the multi-room music streaming experience will be able to tweet from their Sonos controllers. The new feature empowers listeners to share artist tracks with one click, or edit automated tweets before publishing.

I love this experimentation phase for Twitter. I don’t know that I have any interest in regularly tweeting my musical tastes, or in accessing Twitter from devices that don’t give me the full conversational experience. However, the idea of using Twitter in broadcast-only or receive-only mode is certainly gaining traction. Like PiMPY, the tweeting washing machine, it suggests new possibilities for both lifecasting and automated data collection.

With regard to Sonos specifically, my guess is that the company’s customer base is music-obsessed and sophisticated enough to make the new Twitter function appealing. The application will work from both the new Sonos Controller hardware and and their iPhone app later this year.

Click to enlarge:

wifi-roku-remote

I didn’t realize that my little Roku ($99) video streaming box has an open network interface. Like TiVo, one simply needs to telnet into port 8080 of the Roku from a LAN to issue commands. The first practical implementation, which I discovered over on Hacking Netflix, is the 99 cent iPhone/Touch DVPRemote app which allows you to wirelessly control a Roku. I can’t say I have a great need for this functionality, but it’s a cool hack that appeals to the geek in me.

Related, i.TV recently updated their (free) multipurpose iPhone entertainment app. In addition to featuring the best horizontal grid guide, Netflix queue management, and TiVo scheduling they’ve begun building out a virtual remote framework. And TiVo is up first. I prefer their look and layout over DVR Remote. However, i.TV doesn’t yet support multiple TiVo units or offer virtual QWERTY keyboard macros – which is probably the top reason to augment the peanut.

uverse-rf-remote

Normally, I wouldn’t bother drawing attention a new cable/telco remote control. However, what makes AT&T’s offering unique is that this $50 RF U-Verse remote is an optional accessory/upgrade, available via their website. I’ve received confirmation that the remote control is a Motorola creation, while the USB RF dongle was sourced elsewhere. At fifty bucks, AT&T won’t be making much money on this device but it’s a nice-to-have offering for the small number of subscribers who will understand and utilize RF to beam commands through solid objects. A nice touch is the dual inclusion of IR control, allowing folks to also power their televisions and other devices.

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  June 4, 2009

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

psp-go

Sony E3 2009 Press Conference Summary
The press conference and list of PS3 exclusives shown were better than expected. I’d put it on par with the Microsoft press conference. I was impressed with Sony’s marrying of a motion controller with high-end graphics. Though, as with Microsoft’s Natal, they are still only in the prototype stage.

Nintendo E3 2009 Press Conference Summary
Nintendo’s focus was, once again, on audience diversity – bringing gaming to everyone. Little of interest to hard core gamers. The third party exclusives and their one new ‘hardcore’ game were the only games that were somewhat interesting. Enough to purchase a Wii? Not even close.

The Future of the Remote Control
Motorola announced a new rechargeable IPTV remote control complete with “find” feature, USB port, and digital clock.  Now there’s word that Motorola is tinkering further with the gadget to add Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony.

Resources for the Broadcast DTV Transition
Most people are aware that the broadcast digital TV transition is scheduled to take place in nine days. However, being aware and doing something to make sure all your TVs still work after June 12th are two different things. Here’s a list of what you (and your neighbors, friends, and relatives) should know, as well as links to further resources.

Google Makes Move into eBooks
Google showed their intentions to begin a program enabling book publishers to sell eBook versions of their books directly to eBook readers through google at the annual BookExpo convention this past weekend. More eBooks available in more places should help eBooks hit the mainstream and lower eBook reader prices.

Kodak in the Living Room

Mari Silbey —  January 9, 2009

I stopped by the Kodak booth to check out their Wi-Fi photo frames (also getting FrameChannel content), but spent most of my time playing with the Kodak Theatre HD Player. It was launched last fall, but only online and in select Best Buy stores. It’s basically just another media extender – YouTube, Internet radio stations, etc. – except since it’s Kodak the company highlights the photo sharing capabilities. In the video above, check out the photo discovery app. The software starts displaying photos at random on your TV, but if you click one it can bring up other photos taken in the same month across multiple years. View only your summer pics or take a stroll through Christmases past.

The other cool thing about the device is its remote. It gestures and has a scroll wheel, and its entirely intuitive. The remote and the Kodak Player’s interface are both licensed from Hillcrest Labs. Despite Dave’s skepticism, I’m a fan.

The New Remotes of CES

Dave Zatz —  January 9, 2009

Over these last few years we’ve innovative new methods to remotely control our television (devices) have started to crop up. Both the hardware and 10′ interface. With the driving force being the exponential increase in the number of channels and types of content we receive.

Some will be more successful than others… this is the third CES I’ve seen Hillcrest Labs exhibit their motion control solution, which predates Nintendo’s Wii controller. However, they seem to have picked up only a little traction in licensing their tech to Logitech and Kodak. Frankly, I’m not so interested in waving my arm around like Harry Potter. But there have been advances I can get behind. Like Vudu’s scrollwheel. Utilizing it probably requires more precision than, say, my mom could handle, but I find it very effective for scrolling through tons of content at high speed and it does an OK job for transport control. But, enough of this scrolling already…

Which is why Vizio’s QWERTY slider remote prototype (pics top and below) has got me fired up. You’re probably as tired as I am of “typing” in Wishlist title, YouTube search term, VOD keyword, WPA key, etc using a directional pad. So, I’m psyched to finally see mainstream manufacturer bringing a remote with full keyboard to market. It’s slated to debut with Vizio’s connected HDTV midyear.

We’ve also begun to see more remotes shipping with touchpads, which I’m not quite sold on for television control. The ZvBox remote features a full complement of keys in addition to a touchpad, as opposed to the new minimalistic DISH 922 DVR remote. To use this DISH solution, you’d drag your finger on the front and select by pulling a trigger on the back. Most of us probably don’t have the fine control to “point” with our thumb, so this compact remote actually requires two hands. Changing channels like this is way more cumbersome than hitting 2-5-2 without looking down, as I do when I flip to ESPN HD. I’m surprised to see them push the envelop so far, as the mainstream is going to have a hard time getting behind this. Should they simply add numeric and directional keys prior to launch, the touchpad becomes an option to use… when appropriate.

Speaking of touch sensitivity and two-handed control, I caught Logitech’s latest Harmony smart remote. The 1100 slab is a minor refresh of the 1000, and not something I’d ever use. I prefer the traditional remote form factor of the 880/890/One line, and there’s no word on when/if they’ll be seeing updates.

Neuros LINK Unboxed & Setup

Dave Zatz —  December 3, 2008

A loaner Neuros LINK ($300) arrived earlier today, and for once I forgive the UPS guy for not hiking up four flights of stairs to make a delivery… The unit is essentially a full-on computer, with the total kit weighing in at about 15lbs.

During the early phase of alpha testing, the Ubuntu Linux system is booting off a 4GB USB stick. The primary function of Neuros LINK is to organize and access web-based video, such as Hulu or Amazon OnDemand. And similar to ZvBox, the main launchpad is essentially a Firefox web browser. While Zv provides a customized build, the Neuros LINK interface is the standard browser running in full screen mode displaying Neuros’ customized site/experience. I haven’t found or tested the browsing functionality yet, but the automatic word complete suggestions via the web search feature is quite nice. I had no problems locating Hulu content and playing it back full screen – both audio and video passed fine from PC to HDTV over HDMI. When not streaming from the web, Linux media center software MythTV is also installed (!) for local and network media playback. I’ll be looking at this unit for a few weeks and providing feedback to the Neuros team, so it’s safe to assume I’ll have more to blog as well. Stay tuned.

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