Archives For Video

TiVo Adds Video Blog

Dave Zatz —  December 7, 2005

Why stop at audio podcasting when you can serve up video? TiVo will begin providing daily Rocketboom broadcast downloads on Monday. Networked Series 2 units are eligible to sign up via this web page or through a new Showcase which will appear on TiVo units tonight.

Even cooler, TiVo is soliciting volunteers to provide content (Engadget, are you listening?) for their “VideoBlog Project” here.

TiVo says: Rocketboom is currently one of the most popular videoblogs on the internet with more daily subscribers for original syndicated multimedia content than nearly any other site, including podcasts. Now, Rocketboom is available on TiVo as part of the TiVo Video Download Trial.

Continue Reading…

Netflix has begun incorporating third-party advertising onto their envelopes. Beginning last week, DVDs to certain customers in certain geographic regions were targeted with a Memoirs of a Geisha ad and this week Aeon Flux arrived at my door step. Also this week, I participated in an online customer survey specific to that envelop flap.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this. I don’t know why Netflix hasn’t incorporated full-flap advertising sooner. As stated below, perhaps they needed to reach a “critical mass” of customers before they could enlist big-league sponsors. Not all advertising is bad. In many cases it can offset fees… perhaps this new revenue stream accounts for Netflix lowering subscription rates.

Unlike other mailings I receive, the ad is nicely incorporated into the actual envelope instead of troubling me with additional inserts to trash. Presenting advertising without alienating customers is a bit like walking a tightrope. The current method strikes me as a win-win endeavor. However, the moment ads start appearing in my email or interfere with browsing the Netflix website I’ll feel differently.

Brandweek says: “Netflix ships one million DVDs a day,” said Netflix spokesperson Ken Ross. “Testing ad vehicles makes sense now that our subscriber base has reached real critical mass with 3.6 million customers currently and more than five million projected for next year.” Netflix said it plans to roll out more advertising and will consider selling various ad placements—on envelopes, on its Web site, in customer e-mails. The company expects to rotate creative on a weekly basis and in some cases feature multiple movie properties at the same time in a targeted manner.

Charlie's AngelsThe first high definition Blu-ray feature length film is in the can. Is Sony’s library so poor that they had to go with Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle? Then again, it can’t be any worse than Stealth. Despite their poor taste in content, the disc will be shipped to manufacturers for next-gen player development. Perhaps Netflix is right in stating Blue-ray has won.

Sony says: Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle was compressed and authored in MPEG 2 full high-definition (1920 x 1080) by Sony Pictures’ Digital Authoring Center (DAC) and is now being shipped to BD hardware companies for player testing. Utilizing Blu-ray’s unprecedented storage capacity, the Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle disc features dynamic menus with full resolution graphics and animation, superior audio and unparalleled picture quality. “We are confident this achievement will help everyone understand that Blu-ray is real and poised to enter the marketplace,” said Mr. Feingold. “Blu-ray will bring the highest quality HD experience possible to the home.”

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?
Continue Reading…

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