Archives For Video

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  May 6, 2015

xfinity-voice-remote

Comcast Announces new Xfinity remote with voice control
You don’t have to learn a new language or speak like a robot. Just press the blue button, say what you want to watch and it appears on screen. It’s easy, just like watching TV should be.

JetBlue to Offer Amazon Prime Members Free Wi-Fi to Stream Video
Amazon is taking to the skies in its battle with Netflix: The e-commerce giant announced a deal with JetBlue, under which Prime members will have free, unlimited access to in-flight Wi-Fi — fast enough to stream video right to their seats.

TiVo Survey Indicates Majority of OTA Cord Cutters Come From Satellite
TiVo Inc., a leader in monetizing over the air signals for operators, today released the findings of an in-depth survey of Over The Air (OTA) TV consumers revealing that a materially higher percentage of cord cutters are coming from former satellite TV service subscribers.

Cable companies want you to pay twice for On Demand with Hulu Plus deal
In another sign that operators are increasingly willing to bring over-the-top streaming services directly to their subscribers, Hulu has announced that it has reached agreements with five multichannel operators to offer Hulu’s subscription streaming service to their customers.

For having been a pioneer of over-the-top video space, the Amazon Instant iPhone and iPad apps have been something of an anomaly in this space — only streaming over WiFi and in standard def. On a smaller screen, the resolution issue hasn’t bothered me as much as you might imagine, but there have been times I’ve been mobile and sorely aware of that missing cellular coverage. Well, both issues have been corrected this week as Amazon brings HD and 3G/4G streaming to iOS. Now if only we could get Prime downloads, like Amazon provides on their own Kindle Fire hardware…

Massive Amazon Fire TV Stick Update Detailed

tivo-plex

Why thank you, Evolution Digital for spilling the beans. We’d previously wondered if Plex might hit TiVo … given its recent Opera TV integration. And, now, we have part of the answer. What’s not yet known if this would be a native app, like Vudu, or an app-within-an-app via Opera. What’s also not known is box support and timing. However, I can’t imagine it’ll be a long wait given Evolution’s Amazon download cessation outreach and, at the very least, we can expect Roamio to be covered. Hopefully Premiere too. Properly integrated, Plex would go a long way to shoring up TiVo’s poor support of local media and opens doors on all sorts of interesting scenarios. Continue Reading…

Dreading tax day? Well, I’ve got more bad news for you. Come April 15th, TiVo Series 3 owners unceremoniously lose access to Amazon Instant. Launched on TiVo way back in 2006 as Amazon Unbox (going HD in 2008), before we called these things “apps”, the video download service has been superseded by a streaming-centric approach that older TiVo hardware is likely incapable of handling (nor would anyone be willing to fund a significant engineering effort on hardware no longer available for purchase). As such, Amazon has begun alerting TiVo Series 3 owners. Presumably, “Series 3” also includes TiVo HD models and should Amazon video still be available to Series 2 DVRs, I expect it’ll similarly become inaccessible in the very near future. So while we may have indeed paid TiVo for “Lifetime Service” there’s no guarantees as to what that might consist of over time.

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What a long strange trip it’s been. Vudu initially launched in 2006 as a $400 dedicated movie streaming box. The requisite price cuts and pivots followed, including serving up apps like Flickr and then feeding smart televisions, before Walmart swooped in. Since then, the video service has focused on its own mobile and set-top video streaming app … that’s landed on a whole host of set-tops and mobile platforms. And, here we are again, back to a dedicated piece of hardware in the new Vudu Spark. Having launched in Walmart stores just a few weeks ago, at $25, of course I had to pick one up. Continue Reading…

slingtv

Update: As an update to the original story below, I just had a call (or two or three) with Echostar’s Sling Media and their reps. They want to assure us that Slingbox ain’t going anywhere — in fact, they mentioned DISH CEO Joe Clayton stated as much during the press conference that introduced the new Sling TV. What’s happened is that DISH has licensed “Sling” and “Sling TV” from Echostar, who has vacated sling.com, and the Slingbox 500 that became the Sling TV reverts once again to the Slingboox 500. (Although, irrespective of name, I remain concerned with 500/STV sales and continue to recommend their equally capable M1 placeshifter at half the cost for those with a need.)

Possibly the most disruptive product announcement out of CES this week is DISH’s long foreshadowed Internet television service. And, amongst several surprises, is “Sling TV” branding. I guess it’s nice that DISH chose to repurpose the sling.com Echostar asset… as you’d be horrified to learn what we had paid for that URL. Having said that, it certainly clocked in far less than the questionable “Blockbuster” acquisition — a name which would have made a lot of sense in this space. At the very least, we’re glad to see they backed away from DishWorld and an awful “nuTV“.

But, where it gets real weird is that the Slingbox 500 was renamed… Sling TV… less than six months ago. While I was not impressed with that product at its inflated price point, saying goodbye is hard and I suspect this clearly last minute change-up foreshadows the death of at least one Slingbox. If not all of them. Continue Reading…

dvr-plus-streaming-channels

Channel Master’s fee-free, over-the-air DVR+ is set to receive a massive infusion of online content. Company reps emphasize that what we’re looking at are not “apps” that require configuration and interaction, but rather the direct integration of linear streaming content into the guide for channel surfing alongside those HD antenna broadcasts. Available channels can be added and removed from the guide, as your viewing tastes dictate, and are transparently powered via a custom-built local player that relies on a sort of dynamic DNS service hosted by Channel Master — which points to the online feed, in addition to providing the relevant logos and metadata. Beyond streaming, Channel Master also hopes to introduce pause and record features to this online content, but they’re not certain that will be ready at launch in a month or so. Not to mention, I wonder how many content providers would be willing to play ball.

All in all, this will be nice bonus for Internet-connected DVR+ units and compares favorably to the $15/mo TiVo Roamio OTA … but I’m more looking forward to Channel Master’s whole home functionality, expected in Q3 or sooner.

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