Archives For Video

Making The Case For Aereo

Dave Zatz —  January 19, 2013

aereo-verge

My Twitter pal Michael Turk, whose name you may recognize from a tenure at the NCTA, recently wrote up his disdain for Aereo:

You know what is 100% free and doesn’t require any payment to the cable industry? Broadcast TV. This guy is suggesting people pay money every month – albeit to a different company – to watch something that is broadcast OVER THE AIR. [...] if all you are watching are broadcast channels, you certainly don’t need to be paying Aereo or anyone else for it.

While Turk makes some reasonable points regarding onerous retransmission fees and Aereo’s legal challenges, there’s way more to the service than basic access to broadcast channels. $8/month grants you access to two micro antennas and 20 hours of cloud DVR storage space (or $12 for 40hrs). So not only does Aereo provide “live” broadcast television, but you can schedule season passes and the like. Further, you’re not confined to a television and set-top box in your home as Aereo pretty much allows you to watch your live and recorded television programming via any modern browser… including the ones found on our smartphones and tablets. Continue Reading…

neotv-slingbox

Among Sling Media and Netgear’s various CES announcements is news that Slingbox streaming is coming to the NeoTV line of streamers. Of course, we’d probably expect a repurposing of the original Flash-based Logitech Revue SlingPlayer for the new (and slightly bulkier) NeoTV Prime running Google TV. But the more Roku-esque models, including the NeoTV MAX we reviewed, will also receive dedicated apps – perhaps as soon as next week. So, for the first time, you can get your hands on a “SlingCatcher” for as little as 50 bucks and stream your Slingbox content to another television in your home… or perhaps to a set in the ski lodge, given sufficient bandwidth. Of course the follow-on question is, “Where’s the Roku client?” And while Sling reps weren’t prepared to elaborate, I get the sense there are both technical and business considerations at play.

vizio-costar-update

I briefly swung by Vizio’s CES suite for an update on their small form factor streamer. And came away quite please to learn existing Vizio Costar units will beging receiving a Google TV 3 update within just a few weeks. While our initial Costar impressions weren’t the most favorable, there’s still quite a bit of value here at the $99 price point and the Google TV refresh, including updated YouTube app and tablet voice control, ups the ante. Further, Vizio informed me a full-on Amazon Instant app is now available (versus the web shortcut). Given Vizio’s Input 1 HDMI pass-thru and true web browsing, in addition to the requisite apps, it’s a competitive and unique offering at this price point… which will surely gain traction as they expand to brick & mortar distribution later this year. We’re looking forward to taking our (two) Costars for a spin, once the gTV3 update hits, and will report back.

Content remains king, with television programming and mobile device interaction converging at a rapid pace. So-called “second screen” apps were everywhere at CES, integrating all sorts of functionality. And companies are clearly pumped. Heck, Cisco & Cox invited Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman in to witness the unveiling of their upcoming iPad app.

2ndscreensummit

In conjunction with CES festivities, I was invited to the 2nd Screen Summit“a deep-dive into the latest business opportunities, creative case studies and technology innovations related to the creation of supplementary, synchronized and social TV content featuring speakers from Hollywood, Madison Avenue and Silicon Valley.” Given a tight schedule, I was only able to attend the keynote and a discussion of content discovery via the second screen… which quite frequently wandered well beyond the confines of a tablet device, once again reinforcing content consumption interconnectedness. And, with my somewhat irreverent style, I fired off several “second screen” tweets of my own from the sessions (reproduced below). Continue Reading…

fiostv-ipad4

It was a long time coming, as an eager customer, but Verizon finally pulled the wraps off live tablet television late last year. Their updated iPad app provides FiOS TV subscribers access to 75 channels. Well, in reality, it’s “up to” 75 channels as you may not subscribe to all offerings… as I discovered the hard way. Overall, the app is easy to use and generally works well — turning that iPad into the kitchen or deck television (given it only streams in the home). I did encounter the occasional playback bug, usually resolved with an app relaunch, and the video previews are technically impressive but not quite as useful as traditional channel logos. Presumably more social interaction and Android support will be arriving this year, as well as enabling access from smaller screened smartphones. Given Verizon’s licensing approach, the solution isn’t nearly as expansive as the TiVo Stream. On the other hand, it doesn’t require the purchase of a TiVo ($150+) and streaming accessory ($130).

As Verizon continues offering options beyond the set-top, Continue Reading…

bestbuy-copydvd

Best Buy subsidiary CinemaNow has opened the doors to their disc-to-digital program. Much like Walmart’s competing Vudu offering, BBY’s Ultraviolet service validates ownership of a Blu-ray or DVD and, for a few bucks, will “copy” it to your account for later playback. However, unlike Vudu which requires a trip to Walmart, CinemaNow is self service – via your home computer. And, as you can see above, I paid $2 to archive my 12 Monkey’s DVD to the cloud.

I’m only aware of CinemaNow software clients for Mac and Windows, but as an Ultraviolet partner, there’s a high probability you’ll find your newly archived titles available for playback via Vudu  iPhone, iPad, Android, and Roku apps. Sure enough, 12 monkeys was waiting for me there.  Continue Reading…

Redbox Instant Sets Rates

Dave Zatz —  December 12, 2012

redbox-instant

While Verizon and Redbox’s joint venture may be running a bit behind schedule, the Netflix competitor teased us today with program details. As expected, Redbox Instant will stream video from a number of distributors to a variety of mobile and television devices —  including smartphones, tablets, connected Blu-ray players, and Google TV. The all-you-can-eat movie-centric service will run $8 a month, as Netflix and Hulu do. Interesting, they will also offer à la carte rentals and purchases… presumably of the more compelling, new release content. Given their DNA, it’s no surprise their secret weapon is bundled disc rentals via those conveniently located Redbox self serve kiosks. Four nightly DVD rentals a month are include at that $8 tier, but an an extra buck elevates you to Blu-ray. Is that enough to wrest customers away from Netflix or encourage first time streaming subscribers? Guess we’ll begin to find out in early 2013.