Archives For Video

Powered by Pano, focused on gaming: Google to announce Android TV at Google I/O in June

samsung-tv-sdk

As Samsung continues to hedge against Google/Android reliance and standardize across disparate product lines, while perhaps avoiding Microsoft royalties, the company has expanding the Tizen OS initiative beyond smart watches and to connected televisions. Via Liliputing:

Samsung’s Tizen-based TV SDK Beta will be available early July following the Tizen Developer Conference in San Francisco from June 2–4th. The Tizen-based Samsung TV SDK Beta supports the HTML5 standard through its framework called Caph and enables developers to write apps that run on a Tizen OS –based TVs.

For maximum impact, we expect Samsung will have to provide an efficient mechanism for developers to port Android apps to the similarly Linux-powered Tizen. But what of the Boxee team? The video startup was acquired by Samsung about a year ago… and, since then, it’s been radio silence. I have it on good authority that “Boxee” is dead and personnel form a product innovation team within Sammy’s “visual display” business unit. As to what the NYC-based group is currently working on, we can only guess. But, given their skillset, fleshing out a new television OS and UI certainly wouldn’t be out of the question.

simpletv-drilled

Remember that buzz saw of a fan that the second gen Simple.TV shipped with? Well Simple, and their hardware partner Silicon Dust, have resorted to a variety of software updates and a drill to rectify the issue. And, as you can see above, they’ve begun shipping devices with a newly perforated chassis. But the good news doesn’t end there…

Built into Simple.TV’s Android and iOS apps for phones and tablets, support for Chromecast enables users to easily ‘cast’ their favorite live or recorded over-the-air TV shows onto any HDTV powered by Google’s device.  With Simple.TV’s ability to stream live and recorded TV anywhere, users can watch their favorite shows on the big screen at home and anywhere a Chromecast is connected. 

As if that wasn’t enough, Simple also has flipped the switch on video downloads for offline viewing. While this is (currently) accomplished via PC/Mac desktop, we imagine the MP4s can simply be relocated to the mobile device of one’s choosing – until such a time that the apps themselves are updated with this functionality. Speaking of updates, Chromecast and content downloads are only available to Gen 2 hardware at this time, but Simple indicates future support for early adopters running first generation hardware.

Given the enhancements, and new press representation that we hope keeps it real, we’ll probably give Simple.TV another look (in relation to Tablo, which we’ve been quite impressed with). Stay tuned.

youtube-rating

Following in the footsteps of Netflix, YouTube has just launched their Video Quality Report to rate, and possibly shame, broadband providers as the net neutrality and peering debate boils over. In my ‘hood, Verizon performs admirably, with its worst showing 8PM – 11PM with 93% of streams coming thru in high def, whereas the Comcast Xfinity service performs slightly worse across the board, bottoming out at 89% HD 8PM – 10PM. Granted, Comcast offers lower tiers of service than Verizon (as I discovered from my mother’s originally, painfully slow broadband connection… that we upgraded.) Historically, I’ve had YouTube buffering annoyances on FiOS at both my former and current locations, but that seems to have been sorted at some point – and I doubt it was ever about bandwidth, rather it was most likely in how the traffic was being handled. Google must agree as they currently rate Verizon’s regional fiber performance as YouTube HD Verified:

Users on YouTube HD Verified networks should expect smooth playback on YouTube most of the time, even when watching videos in high definition (720p).

hbo-amazon-instant

As announced a few weeks back, Amazon has begun streaming HBO content… without requiring an HBO subscription. The exclusive, multi-year deal has a few caveats, tho. First, we’re mostly talking back catalog content here, with a three year dark period after broadcast. So you’re still going to have to borrow that HBO GO password for Game of Thrones. But what a back catalog it is, with series like The Wire, Deadwood, and the Sopranos to keep you entertained for weeks, if not more. Second, you’ll need an Amazon Prime account — which currently runs $99/year. In addition to two day shipping, it features a variety of multimedia benefits including the Kindle “Lending Library” and all-you-can-eat video streaming… that has largely replaced Netflix in my household  this year given a decent and comparable library, along with the option to fill in the gaps with current season purchases. If only I could get my Fire TV to stop dropping the network connection mid-show.

Share Your Vudu Movies

Dave Zatz —  May 14, 2014

vudu-dave

We’ve long pined for the day we could legitimately share our legally acquired digital content, similar to how we often recycle physical media, without piracy or loaning out HBO credentials as so many do. Well, the UltraViolet consortium, consisting of a large number of movie studios, obviously sees some value in keeping their customers happy — perhaps as a way to cut down on theft and grow their digital ecosystem. And Walmart’s Vudu is the first provider to implement their new licensing.

Share My Movies by Vudu allows us to grant access to our cloud-based video library to five others. And, instead of messing with passwords and the like, invites are handed out via email address – as similarly implemented on Slingbox. This makes me a whole heck of a lot more more likely to purchase Blu-rays (with digital copies), knowing I can have my mom tune into any worthy flicks via her Roku. As we saw with UltraViolet’s disc-to-digital initiative, I anticipate other UltraViolet services like Flixster and Target Ticket will eventually offer similar sharing capabilities.

amazon-fire-tv-update

Just a few short weeks after launch, Amazon has rolled out their first Fire TV update. Sadly it doesn’t include expanded voice search functionality, an updated Netflix app, or Prime browsing (as promised). In fact, Amazon has yet to even update their support page with new 51.1.0.2 software versioning. So we’re left to assume this is merely a minor maintenance release… but pleased to see the new platform is worthy of Amazon’s ongoing development.