Archives For Video

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…


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, 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 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…


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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We’ve been quite enamored with Tablo, since our first product demo at CES 2014. In fact, our very own Adam Miarka is a highly satisfied customer of this effective bit of clever gadgetry that provides both over-the-air DVR and Slingbox capabilities. Beyond the existing 2- and 4-tuner models, CES 2015 heralds the Tablo Metro… which houses 25-mile range high def OTA antennas within the existing enclosure.

Two very small but incredibly powerful fractal antennas inside Tablo METRO capture OTA TV while intelligent switching technology enables the antennas to operate independently to capture signals originating from broadcast tower locations, even if they are located in opposing directions.

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As expected, DISH is nearly ready to unveil an over-the-top Internet video streaming subscription service in hopes of displacing your current cable provider or appealing to the growing legion of cord cutters. And now, via Reddit, it seems the service will repurpose “DishWorld” branding (versus going with “NuTV“) and beta recruitment has begun.

As one of our most valued DishWorld customers, we want to give you an exclusive opportunity to try the next genertion of DishWorld before anyone else!

Soon, we’ll be announcing a new English language entertainment service, which features the best of live TV, like ESPN, TNT, TBS, Disney Channel, Food Network and so much more.

Before it’s revealed to the public, we want you to try it at no additional cost on your Roku 3 until February 3, 2015! We’ll even remove it from your account afterwards, so you will not get billed for this service.

Continue Reading…


By way of Kevin Hanson on Twitter and Verizon’s own forums, we learn that the television provider has discontinued their LG Smart TV FiOS app. The free streaming video app was first introduced in early 2012 as a means of providing LG owners boxless access to a couple dozen “live” FiOS channels… shortly after a similar experience had landed on the Xbox 360 gaming console. In fact, at one point, we thought FiOSTV-as-an-app was destined for all platforms, including Roku. However, given an industry move towards DLNA CVP-2 and presumed higher uptake from other platforms, we could see Verizon prioritizing development for alternate approaches. Indeed, they continue to crank away on their mobile experience, having just added three more channels (including Nick2 and VH1 Classic) and new “Dashboard view” recommendations to iPhone, iPad, and Android FiOS apps.


Without a hint of marketing muscle, SlingPlayer for Amazon Fire TV was quietly introduced a day or so ago. As you’d expect, the app allows you to pipe Slingbox video to another television in the home or really anywhere in the world. Or so their new TV Everywhere campaign proclaims. While I’m not prepared to pass judgement after only a few minutes of steaming TiVo > Fire TV Stick, it does indeed work as advertised (although only Slingbox 350, M1, and SlingTV/500 models are supported).

Interestingly, unlike recent Chromecast and Roku clients, this particular Slingbox presentation does not require a $15 mobile app in the mix… and harks back to the days of the Logitech Revue and WDTV Slingplayer. However, the fee-free sensation may be short-lived given the recently introduced and persistent banner ads now found in the web player… along with pre-roll video advertisements now being injected into our streams?!

(Via our pal Arne in Munich)


Next up in the streaming stick space is the MobiTV Connect… that just passed thru the FCC. The company originally known for streaming amazingly low resolution television content to Sprint phones clearly continues to pivot. And, back in September, MobiTV told The Donohue Report their HDMI hardware would launch via two US wireless carriers in early 2015. More akin to Chromecast than Amazon Fire TV Stick, the microUSB-powered dongle is designed to be controlled via smartphone. Indeed, the FCC-published manual includes Android screenshots used for wireless pairing – with both Bluetooth LE and WiFi making appearances. Of course, much more interesting than the stick hardware itself, are the over-the-top video services that may be made available … and at what cost.