Archives For Video

DTVHow much are you willing to pay for commercial-free TV? How much would you pay to watch that content through a DVR which already let’s you bypass commercials? DirecTV and NBC think you’ll pony up 99 cents a show using their new DVR, available at Best Buy and Circuit City later this month.

We’ve definitely entered an era of exerpimentation (iPod shows @ $1.99, Time Warner’s VOD) with companies trying to figure out what we want to watch, where we want to watch it, and what we’re willing to pay.

DirecTV says: NBC Universal and DIRECTV, Inc., today announced a first of its kind agreement that will give consumers access to the top programs of NBC and its cable entertainment networks, USA, SCI FI and Bravo, within hours after they air, commercial free, for just 99 cents. The programs will be available on demand through the new DIRECTV Plus interactive DVR. “The way people are consuming content is changing,” said David Zaslav, President, NBC Universal Cable. “Through this agreement with DIRECTV, consumers will be able to watch top NBC content on demand for just $0.99, when they want, without commercials. It’s a huge sea change. This deal is the first of its kind and we value DIRECTV’s partnership in rolling it out.”

Video iPodWe’re all familiar with the iPod – sleek design and a well-executed user interface, combined with simple sync and purchase options via iTunes. In those respects, the new video iPod performs as expected. If you have a large audio collection, the slimmer form and black option of the 5th generation iPod could be appealing. Some might even consider it a bargain – the 30BG model is only $50 more than the 4GB Nano.

Apple made a point of specifying this iPod just so happens to have video capabilities. After playing with it awhile I can tell you they’re not being modest, it’s not much of a video device… yet. While the screen is sufficiently bright and detailed, 2.5″ is on the small side for extended viewing. I also find support for only MPEG-4 and QuickTime limiting. Initially I figured I’d be able to overcome both those deficiencies, after all Steve Jobs touted all the movie trailers I’d have at my disposal. Well it turns out that the dozens of previews viewable through iTunes are not available for download to my video iPod. Why should they give me free content when they’re pimping TV shows at $1.99 a pop?
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Akimbo’s New Lease On Life

Dave Zatz —  October 16, 2005

Akimbo, the broadband video download company, has a problem which takes the form of a set-top box. See, I’m all boxed out… between DVD players, TiVo’s, HD tuner, and even an Xbox I just won’t add to the clutter. Not to mention I’m reluctant to buy a box from a fledgling company with no track record.

So this weekend’s DigitalLife revelation that Akimbo has integrated service into Microsoft’s MCE has got me dusting off my HTPC. They’ll have access to a much larger audience without requiring any upfront hardware costs, giving Akimbo a fighting chance at survival. In order to utilize Microsoft’s browser-based API the Akimbo interface doesn’t have the same polished look as the stand alone box, but that’s a minor concession to make. Service is slated to begin 10/25 using the same pricing model currently in place. I’m excited to see HD content will be available, unlike the box, though that’s not quite ready for delivery and will most likely be offered as a “premium” service.

Recent additions of Discovery and MLB content are positive signs, but long-term success probably requires more content providers (no, the Hallmark channel doesn’t cut it). Since Movielink can stream flicks utilizing Microsoft’s DRM, perhaps Akimbo will enhance their service down the road – downloads are OK, but I’m an impatient guy.

Akimbo on MCE

Which rumors you ask… support for every codec ever invented, well organized interface, pocketable form factor, FM, compact flash? No that other rumor, the one about the screen.

Having played with the Zen Vision(s) over the last few days, I am sad to report the display rumors are true – the viewing angle is crap. I’m not sure what causes the problem, whether it’s the LCD elements, protective coating, or something else. Regardless, the Vision’s specs are great across the board but having to use the device under low light while holding it at a very specific angle is a deal breaker.

The good news is that the Roboraptor, my other must-have gadget of the year, does live up to expectations and will be joining my household shortly.

Zen Visions

Sony Updates PSP, VOD & TV

Dave Zatz —  October 13, 2005

Location Free TVSony made good on their promise to provide LocationFree TV with today’s PSP 2.5 software upgrade. Streaming live television through the house to a PSP is mildly impressive… However, being able to use the Internet to provide a remote television feed (see Slingbox) is quite cool, indeed. What Sony neglected to mention is the cheapest LocationFree TV unit goes for $1100.

This update also provides support for those of us in America to eventually purchase and view video content – perhaps similar to the Japanese video portal. The timing of this announcement is quite coincidental (or not) to yesterday’s release of the video iPod with the ability to purchase downloadable television shows via iTunes.

Sony says: You can watch TV or videos on your PSP™ system by using the LocationFree™ Player. To watch TV or videos at home, you must have a LocationFree™ Base Station (a Sony product sold separately). To watch away from home, you must have a LocationFree™ Base Station (a Sony product sold separately) and access to the Internet using a wireless LAN.

Copyright-protected video can now be played under [Video]. Note that fees may be charged to obtain or use copyright-protected video. Downloadable copyright-protected video may not be available in all countries and regions.

PSP 2.5

(via Engadget)

Optoma H10Being city-based apartment dwellers, we don’t have the space for a dedicated home theater. Therefore, projector/DVD combo units are appealing as a way to host an occasional big screen experience. Robert Heron reviewed three contenders in the 10/18/05 issue of PC Magazine. Optoma’s MoveTime DV10 was his Editors’ Choice due to accurate colors, native 16:9 resolution, and a quiet fan. HP’s ep9010 was a close second, and while it had great sound from the built-in 20 watt subwoofer the unit’s excessive weight and noisy fan kept it out of the winner’s circle.
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