Archives For Video

How’s this for strange bed fellows… Online movie distributor CinemaNow has added both pornography and Disney film downloads to their library this month.

CinemaNow has always offered more obscure independent and foreign flicks compared to Movielink, so the new porn offerings aren’t so surprising. Unlike the major studios overpriced burn-to-DVD features, porn coinsurers may appreciate the relative discretion of creating discs at home for later, uh, reuse.

Scoring Disney is unexpected and could be a major coup for CinemaNow. Apparently their ability to transfer flicks to Windows Portable Media Players ahead of Movielink was a major factor in the deal. I can’t image the relationship is exclusive (no, I’m not talking about those porn plots), so it’s highly likely Disney will offer their movies to other download services in the future. Remember, Steve Jobs is on the Disney board and has had success selling Disney’s ABC television shows via iTunes…

Forbes says: Beginning today, CinemaNow users will be able to choose from 30 Disney titles, including National Treasure, The Pirates of the Caribbean and Chicken Little; the studio will also begin selling online downloads “day and date” with their DVD releases, beginning with the June 6 release of Glory Road. CinemaNow President Bruce Eisen said his company had been in talks with Disney for months, but “it just took a while to turn the ship around.”

Washington Post says: Hollywood has been tiptoeing its way toward letting consumers buy a movie online, burn it onto a DVD and watch it on a living-room TV. While the studios hesitate, the adult film industry is taking the leap. Vivid Entertainment says it will sell its adult films through the online movie service CinemaNow, allowing buyers to burn DVDs that will play on any screen, not just a computer.

Never enough time…

  • PAL Slingbox released in UK for £179.99. (PC World)
  • Sprint ponders expanding mobile video, in talks with Sling. (Reuters)
  • TiVo’s quaterly conference call analyzed. (Thomas Hawk)
  • New Mac PVR products arrive. (PVRWire)
  • iTunes sells overpriced NHL clips. (TUAW)

MovieBeam, originally priced at $249 plus $30 activation, dropped to $199 without an activation fee about a month into sales. As I wrote, that price still struck me as barrier to entry given the per-movie rental fees. Well, how does 49 bucks sound? MovieBeam’s online media account manager sent me a note to spread the word about a blog & forum special — just enter code PR49B at checkout to get this deeply discounted rate! At $49 a pop I can see them selling enough units to reach a critical mass, perhaps allowing them to recoup infrastructure investments and hardware costs through movie rentals.

Before pulling the trigger, you might want to review this… “Please confirm that you have a land-line phone before you purchase the MovieBeam Player. Sorry, the MovieBeam Player cannot connect to mobile or Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phones at this time.” Ben over at HD Beat did get the unit working on Vonage, but your mileage may vary. Also be aware MB is not available in all areas (remember, local stations “beam” the movies), but their online address widget will quickly let you know if you qualify.

I’m in! :)

Rocketboom not doing it for you? TiVo has announced a partnership with Brightcove to distribute Internet video. Sounds neat, but I’m still waiting for a Hollywood feature film VOD service.

Interesting factoid: One article stated there are ~400,000 TiVo units on broadband.

Associated Press says: The deal with Brightcove Networks Inc., to be announced Wednesday, means some TiVo users will soon have not only TV shows to record, but also Internet-based videos from Brightcove’s content partners. “This is the first partnership for us to get content directly to the TV set,” said Brightcove’s founder and CEO, Jeremy Allaire. Allaire said TiVo and Brightcove would pick an as-yet-undisclosed set of Web-based programs to debut in June on TiVo’s Internet-connected, Series 2 digital video recorders. The companies said the programs would be offered for free initially, but may carry advertising. The two companies later plan to provide a way for content producers using Brightcove to have their material distributed to TiVo machines. The content providers could decide to charge for the content, the companies said.

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I guess sales aren’t so brisk, as only a month after launch MovieBeam has dropped hardware pricing $50 (to $200) and done away with the $30 activation fee. Will it matter? Somehow I don’t think so… their pricing model needs some serious tweaking if they’re going to compete with a large, installed base of cable and satellite subscribers who have easy access to PPV/VOD. MovieBeam seems intent on charging both hardware and movie rental fees, so I suggest they toss in 24 free flicks, two available per month, to sweeten the deal for consumers while protecting their financial interests.

When Jeremy Toeman isn’t wearing his Sling Media VP hat, he’s reporting on cool gadgets through LIVEdigitally. After putting MovieBeam through its paces, Jeremy came away largely impressed with the service… in standard definition.

Jeremy says: To me, Moviebeam is either the lazy man’s answer to Blockbuster, or, more likely, an early glimpse into the future of our soon-to-arrive “entertainment, anywhere, anytime, on-demand” lifestyle. I have to say the process of finding, selecting, and watching movies is completely satisfying. There may be some issues with pricing, business model, selection, etc., but when it comes down to the core functionality of the Moviebeam system, it does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and it does it well. Once the movie is playing you have complete control over the playback experience, including slomo, frame-by-frame, and multiple speed fast-forward and rewind modes. Also, a convenient ‘chapter skip’ button skips ahead a fixed time interval. After some hands-on use, I have to say, the product is quite fun to use, and a welcome addition to my home.

Stove Top TV

Dave Zatz —  May 4, 2006

Is this really neccessary…?

(via Gizmodo)

Operation Aussie Sling

Dave Zatz —  May 3, 2006

It’s been fairly well documented that you can Sling television feeds around the world, but Hobotech Ron and I wondered what type of quality one could expect outputting that signal to TV. So in the name of science, we broke several international laws to conduct an intercontinental experiment. Ron loaded up his Dell laptop with the SlingPlayer and viewed my Washington, DC-based Slingbox feed from his home in Canberra, Australia. As you can see above, video quality was decent on his rear projection TV with a consistent 320kbps-350kbps download bitrate (which is about what I get here in the US). We believe the limiting factor is not distance, but rather my DSL upload speed which is capped at 384kbps.

Ron says: I hooked it up to the RearPro via S-Video and my wife and I watched it for quite a while and came to the conclusion that, while less than perfect we would be quite happy to watch it, if it provided us with material we couldn’t get from any other source. A little bit like food, while one might prefer a steak, a hamburger will usually do quite well if that’s all that’s available!
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