Archives For Roku
The Roku Android app has just been updated to stream video from phone to television, as recently introduced on the iPhone. As you might expect, we’re talking unencrypted content and there’s probably some limitations in terms of codec and container. Although I’d assume anything shot natively on your ‘droid would work. Initial support is limited to:
Samsung Galaxy SIII, Samsung Galaxy S4, Nexus 4, HTC One, and Nexus 7 (2012 model).
Simple.TV and Silicon Dust are joining forces for the second iteration of Simple.TV, due later this year, by leveraging their respective software/services and hardware skills. In speaking with Simple CEO Mark Ely last week, the companies appear to be addressing most of my gen 1 concerns.
First, the updated hardware will feature a new Zenverge transcoder with ultimately twice the horsepower of the original model and jumps from a single ATSC tuner to way-more-practical dual tuning capabilities… all in a more compact package (with more accessible coax connector). Unfortunately, it’s still a bring-your-own-harddrive sort of DVR – for those that choose to leverage that feature. Perhaps it ultimately works out OK as customers can choose the appropriate amount of storage for their particular situation? But it does add a certain amount of complexity to the solution and my distaste of clutter is well known ’round these parts.
On the software front, v2 of Simple.TV looks to provide a tighter experience, with a cleaned up and more efficient UI. Along with v2, Simple intends to expand video playback this fall beyond the web browser, iOS, and Roku to Android and Chromecast, with DLNA, NAS, and cloud storage all possibilities on the the roadmap — their long term intent is to become something of a Swiss Army knife of HD OTA, streaming television content to and via the devices of your choosing, including gaming consoles. (I’m also told original Simple.TV owners will receive the new, improved software.)
We expect to learn more regarding hardware and service pricing in the next month or so ahead of launch and I’m looking forward to checking out Simple.TV v2. Cord cutting is a reality and I believe there’s a market for advanced over-the-air, antenna-based television solutions such as these with the pool of contenders expanding nicely – including the new 4-tuner TiVo Roamio and cloud-based OTA DVR Aereo, with Echostar/ChannelMaster in the pipeline.
No one was more excited than I to see that the ACC Digital Network had created a Roku channel. And my excitement lasted just long enough to download the channel and fire up highlights of former Duke basketball player Mike Dunleavy. Unfortunately, that’s where the fun ended.
Where to start? With the video quality? Horrific. How about the overall selection of clips? Lame. And then there’s my favorite: the advertising.
You see, the ACC Digital Network has partnered with a company called adRise, which describes itself as “the largest content distribution and advertising monetization engine for streaming and connected TV devices.” The “monetization engine” throws up an advertisement before every single clip available on the ACC channel. It doesn’t matter if the clip is 30 seconds, or if you exited out of a clip and are trying to return to resume play. There’s an ad. And not just any ad, but the same ad, over and over and over. (Thanks, Progressive lady.)
It’s 2013. Streaming video companies should know by now not to over-saturate content with pre-roll ads, or to stock only a single commercial in the ad inventory. That’s not monetization. It’s scaring your audience away.
In good news, however, the ACC network says it plans to expand from the Roku to other streaming boxes and smart TV platforms. I can’t wait.
While I’ve been quite satisfied with my TiVo Mini as a DVR extender, it shipped crippled in terms of third-party streaming apps. And, after 6 months with no movement, I picked up another Roku today. Perhaps ironically, Sam Biller just discovered TiVo has (accidentally?) published Netflix and Amazon Instant icons to our Minis. Netflix appears to be fully functional, although possibly crashy dependent on output resolution, and feels significantly faster than my Premiere XL4/Elite — although just about every other app platform is. Unfortunately, Amazon is met with a V301 error which suggests the backend isn’t active for us non-beta testers and it’s not yet known if we’ll be treated to an entirely new Amazon implementation (to include Prime streaming). But both apps are clearly on their way and this lines up with news of a scheduled September TiVo Mini update to include dynamic tuner allocation.
By way of The Verge, we’ve learned Roku’s iPhone app has been updated to wirelessly stream video from smartphone-to-TV and Android support is “coming soon.” This joins previously released music and photo beaming, and “Play on Roku” is quite the handy feature. In fact, we’re hopeful the long in the tooth TiVo Desktop will be replaced by similar touchscreen flicking to move personal media to the television.
While Verizon’s Redbox Instant reps were a bit cagey at CES as to when, or if, we might see a Roku client for their burgeoning streaming service, the channel has just launched. And, based on the image above, it looks to have been in final testing the last month. As a refresher, Redbox Instant is something of a hybrid service providing both physical discs and online movies, with many included via the monthly fee and others available via pay per view. In talking with the Redbox Instant folks, the service isn’t geared towards the sort of early adopter who frequents ZNF and their initial target audience is folks new to online streaming – exposing those currently familiar with the DVD/Blu-ray kiosks to an economical way to expand their video options.
The clever remote control audio out capabilities introduced with the Roku 3 will be making their way to the Roku Streaming Stick according to today’s FCC filing. Despite new MHL-compatible partners, we can’t imagine Streaming Stick sales have been significant… as it’s often cheaper and always conceptually simpler to bring “Smart TV” capabilities to a HDTV via a set-top. And we suspect Roku would be better served by integrating their platform directly into the television, as Vudu once attempted, should they find any takers. (Thanks Brad!)