Archives For Video

Hands On With SplashCast

Mari Silbey —  January 31, 2007

The DEMO 2007 conference started yesterday, and I’m terrifically jealous of anyone who’s out there now. Luckily, we’ve been able to make a few arrangements to keep us up to date on any juicy DEMO news. Dave squeezed me into Marshall Kirkpatrick‘s schedule for a SplashCast briefing, and I’ve got a friend on the ground who promises to send on-site DEMO photos.

Here’s the deal on SplashCast: Marshall calls it a “media syndication platform” and Liz Gannes calls it a widget. Whatever the right term is, it’s a pretty cool tool. Simply put, SplashCast lets you string together text, images, audio and video for a multimedia production viewable (and listenable?) on a Flash player. Unlike YouTube-alikes, SplashCast also embeds a menu to provide access to multiple videos from just one embedded web player.

Here’s a sample SplashCast with text and random ZNF photos. More details after the jump.

Continue Reading…

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I realize that even among the people that celebrate Christmas, few celebrate it the way my family does. We have a particular gene in our DNA that leads to obscene levels of spending on Christmas presents. Yes, you could view it as rampant commercialism, but we prefer to think of it as extreme generosity.

Below is Part 1 of a list of gadgets that made it under our tree and the current status of each one:

Wheee… The Wii!

Verdict – Thumbs Up

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A family friend kindly stood in line till 3 AM so my parents could provide my brother with a Nintendo Wii for Christmas. It didn’t get set up till the 26th, but it has since provided non-stop entertainment. (Too bad we don’t have a Roomba…) I’ll limit my comments to saying how much I like the feature that lets you create an avatar in your own image for Wii Sports. Here’s a thankfully-not-true-to-life rendering of my brother’s girlfriend:

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Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick

Survived the Set-Up

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I’ll admit, the set-up for the Pro Stick took a very long time. This was a Woot daily special and I think they were giving away old ones because the device needed several software updates. Nonetheless, the Pro Stick is awesome. I don’t have an HDTV, but I can now get free, over-the-air HD on my laptop. Plus DVR functionality. Way cool. Look for a full product review in a future post.

iRecord

Still in the Box

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The iRecord was a present for my husband. Think we’re into video this year? The idea here is that the iRecord will transfer video from your set-top to a portable device, like a Neuros. According to iRecord’s site, the gadget is the “world’s first H.264/AVC recorder for iPod & PSP.” I’ll let you know how it works when we get it back home.

Stay tuned for Part 2… highlighting the Dash, Squeezebox, eStarling digital photo frame, and DigiMemo.

Gotuit Launches SceneMaker

Mari Silbey —  December 12, 2006
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One benefit to covering cool companies is the subsequent rise in status to “official insider.” After writing about Gotuit at the TechCrunch NY party, the company contacted me to set up a pre-brief on a new product announcement. The new product, SceneMaker – which launches today – is a consumer application for tagging video segments within larger video clips. Gotuit calls SceneMaker the “first social video tagging application.” I personally think the word social should have been retired from the lexicon immediately after Zune’s “Welcome to the Social” campaign hit, but semantics aside, SceneMaker is a welcome addition to the world of online video.

Scenemaker works like this: You copy a video URL from YouTube or Metacafe into the SceneMaker application and add metadata to any segment you want within the clip. These user-generated tags are called VideoMarks. Once a video has VideoMarks, that metadata is included whenever someone runs a search in Gotuit’s InVideo search engine. You can also embed a video segment on your website or blog that only includes the section of a video you’ve marked. For example, the middle 30 seconds in a three-minute clip. Continue Reading…

The Content Wars

Mari Silbey —  December 6, 2006
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Want to know how cable and telecom operators are going to compete in the short-term? One word: content.

Verizon has put a few notches in its lipstick case with recent sports content deals. Exhibit:

1. FiOS TV Signs the NFL Network
I’ve been skeptical of the NFL Network, but it does carry a few critical games that aren’t otherwise available in certain markets. There’s been a big brouhaha over this in both San Antonio and Washington DC, where the regional cable operators will be depriving fans of a Dallas-Atlanta game and a Ravens-Bengals game respectively. (Verizon kindly posts a cable v. FiOS comparison on the matter on its new blog…)

2. NFL Online
Starting December 7th, Verizon will offer “live NFL Network sports and entertainment programmingâ€? online to its broadband customers.

3. Verizon Gets Comcast SportsNet (?!)
Presumably in a move to appear anti-monopolistic, Comcast has given Verizon the right to carry Comcast SportsNet on its FiOS TV service. This is a big deal for Verizon because some customers might not consider a switch to FiOS if they couldn’t watch local games shown only on Comcast SportsNet.

So Verizon’s doing well in the sports department. But don’t think that cable operators are sitting idly by. Comcast, for example, has signed a deal for extensive VOD content from Disney, including popular ABC shows. The content wars are just beginning.

Ad-ding It Up for VOD

Mari Silbey —  November 25, 2006

It’s kind of like the war between spammers and anti-spammers. As soon as one side comes up with a new technological weapon, the other builds something for the arsenal to counter it. So it goes with television advertising.

charterlogo.gifCharter is starting a trial in hometown St. Louis of dynamic, on-demand advertising. The reason this is significant is because it greatly cuts down on the amount of time it takes to insert ads into VOD programming. Instead of planning weeks in advance, advertisers can deliver and update content virtually at any time.

The technology does look cool. Changes to content can be made without re-encoding and re-distributing the surrounding video, which suggests interesting applications for television outside of advertising. (Update a sitcom in re-runs with jokes that are relevant to current events. Serve up VOD news and update it with developments throughout the day…)

As far as advertising goes, we knew DVRs wouldn’t ultimately spell doom for the TV ad model. And I’ve got nothing against folks needing to make money by advertising their products. However, can we try to avoid overdoing advertisements in the new era of digital television? The amount of programming in a TV hour has significantly declined. I’d like a little more TV show with my hour of ads, please…

ZNF Does TechCrunch NYC, Part 2

Mari Silbey —  November 20, 2006

Apparently Mike Arrington was at TechCrunch New York on Thursday night. Given that there were no introductions, no speeches or toasts, I had my doubts. I’m not one to stand on ceremony, but shouldn’t there at least have been a welcome to everyone?

I did get some gratification, however. After announcing my status as official member of the press, I got the wave from one of the door monitors and a chance to jump the registration line. That plus the glowing swizzle stick in my drink (which I admit I tried to use as a straw) really made my night. :)

As mentioned in Tech Crunch, Part 1, there were several companies at the event in the video search game. The ones I saw included CozmoTV (like Pandora for video), AOL’s SearchVideo and Gotuit. Gotuit was my favorite so you should keep reading to the end of this post.

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CozmoTV lets you run keyword searches and then creates a channel around any video you choose. You rate the results and the engine refines your personalized channel. All channels are automatically public, and you can search for other people’s channels if you know their usernames. Currently the service searches YouTube and Google (um, aren’t they the same thing now?), and apparently the roadmap includes being able to transfer videos to a TiVo sometime in the future. CozmoTV is currently still in beta, but the company plans to launch in roughly the next couple of weeks.

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SearchVideo was acquired by AOL and apparently is one of the ways in which AOL is quietly establishing a leadership in video. (AOL? Really?) SearchVideo has some nice ways to sort search results of video on the Web – by popularity, chronology, relevancy, etc. – but it’s not terribly flashy. AOL’s going with simple, and given where the company has been successful, maybe that’s not a bad idea.

Gotoit is focusing on a different kind of video search. Instead of just searching for particular videos, Gotuit has a product, Gotuit On Demand, that searches within videos. The company has a patent on technology that tags video segments and indexes them for access and use in playlists. As I understood it, the technology is part automated and part based on human input. Not sure how the two interplay behind the scenes, but the demo was cool. Gotuit has also found a way to integrate with your fantasy football teams. Looking for highlights for someone on your roster? You can bring up relevant plays online and even on your phone.

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Gotuit has been around for a while, and unlike some of the other Web-only plays, Gotuit has already done deal with operators. There are regional deployments of Gotuit On Demand via TimeWarner and Comcast, as well as a deal with Sprint. This company is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

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Bored attendee takes a time out.

Update: My snippy intro to this post was apparently incorrect. Valleywag reports — much later in the night — after Arrington stood on what might have been a bed and thanked the crowd and namechecked the fine companies making the evening possible and received his bobblehead doll.

So sorry I missed it.

In the midst of today’s gadget-opia, you’d think it would be easy to pick out CE gifts for the holiday season. But the NPD Group suggests that consumers will be shunning electronics this year in favor of more �traditional� gifts like clothing and toys. And I’m not surprised.

While there are plenty of new and fabulous geek gifts available, there are also plenty of reasons they’re not making it on to holiday shopping lists.

  • The Best Gifts You Can�t Put Your Hands On� Literally
    The CE category isn’t just about gadgets anymore, but the stuff you can access on those gadgets. And how do you buy someone a subscription service for the holidays? If you buy someone three months free, it’s like giving a kid a piece of candy and then snatching it back half-chewed. Plus you can’t un-wrap a service. Think satellite radio, audible.com, VOD — these are the gifts that keep on taking…
  • vx8500_perspective_hr.jpgEven the Gadgets Come with a Service (Fee) Attached
    It was a big year for mobile devices. Too bad those shiny toys usually come with a multi-year commitment. Tasty Chocolate phone, smooth Blackberry Pearl, Bond-inspired Motorola Q. All delectable, but not on my shopping list.
  • $$$$$
    It’s nothing new that gadgets often cost a lot of money. But seriously, $800 for a TiVo? [Insert latest rant on TiVo pricing here] $500 or $600 for a PS3? I love my brother, but I also love the idea of putting my kid through college some day.
  • Geeks Don’t Like Surprises
    If you’re buying for a geek, you have to know exactly what that geek wants. In fact, you’d be well-advised to review technical specifications with said geek before hauling out the credit card. Gee, what fun. Nothing like seeing that look of surprise when the ribbon and wrap come off the box.

I’ve come up with a few solutions, for geeks and non-geeks alike. Digital photo frames will probably hit their stride in the 2006 holiday season. (I’d love to review a few for a round-up piece.) We may also have hit the right time for gadgets that convert old media to new formats � records to digital music files, VHS tapes to DVD, etc.

And then there are the hidden gems. I’ve found one, the Squeezebox. It wirelessly streams your own music collection and lets you access Internet radio for free without a PC. (Review coming shortly!) Others are surely out there. The question is, will we uncover them in time? Or will we be buying silk ties for dad again this year?