Archives For Video

playon-hd

One of PlayOn’s perennial dings has been the lack of high definition streaming. But, starting this month, both new and existing customers can upgrade from 480p to 720p… at a cost – both in terms of fees and required quad core processing capabilities. As a refresher, PlayOn lives on your home PC (sorry Mac owners) and relays web video to mobile devices and set-tops around your house (using native DLNA capabilities or dedicated PlayOn apps like this Roku one). While its companion product, PlayLater, is your web DVR – enabling you to record and offload video from the likes Netflix or Hulu. Looks like the going rate for new customers is $70 for both PlayOn and PlayLater, with HD capabilities and without messing with a monthly subscription – although that may be worth a gander before fully committing.

AT&T Kills U-Verse On Xbox

Dave Zatz —  December 6, 2013

We suppose it was inevitable that AT&T would drop U-verse support for the Xbox 360 sometime after Ericsson’s acquisition of Microsoft Mediaroom due to the complex Microsoft-centric integration. Not to mention, AT&T cites “low customer demand” in their decision to cease service come 12/31. Fortunately, AT&T is doing the right thing in compensating the small subset of customers who invested in the solution, via a media center remote purchase, Xbox Live Gold subscription, and installation fees, by crediting $99 to their accounts. While Microsoft sill has its sights set on living room Input 1, via Xbox One IR blasting HDMI pass-thru, this concludes the underwhelming IPTV chapter originally announced by Bill Gates at the 2007 edition of CES. As to AT&T, they currently have no plans to rejoin Comcast and Verizon on Xbox via a pure OTT U-verse app.

rcn2go

Lo and behold, the TiVo-powered RCN2Go video portal appears to have soft launched for RCN cable customers. While details remain sparse, RCN TiVo subscribers now have access to an “exclusive preview” that features “hundreds of shows” — and, ultimately, all RCN subscribers will receive access at a later date, albeit without TiVo-specific DVR management capabilities. Unlike many mobile offerings, RCN2GO is not limited to one’s home network and you can conceivably “watch anywhere” … assuming you have a laptop or computer available as this feature set isn’t (yet?) integrated into TiVo’s mobile apps. For more details on TiVo’s TV Everywhere offering (to cable providers) and an exclusive video sneak peek of the portal in action, head on over to our earlier coverage.

samsung-smart-cable-boxThanks to a recently uncovered Amazon listing, we now have a bit more detail on Samsung’s upcoming hybrid set-top box that mates digital cable, via CableCARD, with over-the-top Internet apps like Netflix. Sorta like a TiVo. Without a hard drive or DVR capabilities…

The curious Samsung solution, first uncovered via FCC filings and later filmed in action at the Cable Show, looks primed to launch early November at $200 as a “Smart Cable Box” that includes WiFi. I suppose it might make a decent enough den or kitchen TV accessory, but given ongoing CableCARD complexity (and rental fee) it might be simplest to augment an operator’s basic cable box with an inexpensive Roku for similar results.

M-Go Grabs Pole Position on Roku Set-Tops for TV and Movies

Our pal Brad Linder got the scoop on PlayOn’s next move from a NYC press event earlier this week… and Chromecast support is in the pipeline. While we’d originally portrayed PlayOn as something of a sketchy hack, our thinking has evolved… Given the rights holders sluggish metamorphosis and often onerous playback restrictions, we now recognize PlayOn for the digital media liberators they are. The way it works is you drop the PlayOn software onto a Windows PC (sorry, no Mac) and then beam over 60 online video services to your Xbox, Roku, etc. Well, as soon as the Chromecast SDK becomes official, PlayOn will also support Google’s $35 dongle – using your iPhone or Android smartphone as a remote. While it’s likely many of these services will ultimately support Chromecast, I can’t imagine them all hitting at once and there’s something to be said for control via a single interface. PlayOn’s revised their pricing scheme several times over the years and it looks like the current dealio is $9/mo, including recording and offline smartphone viewing.

fiostv-kindle

Mere days after Mari dinged Verizon’s lagging app experience, FiOS Mobile has been updated on iOS and Android platforms. Joining existing live cable network availability (77 channels and a smattering of free on demand), Verizon has worked deals with many local affiliates (NBC!) and flipped the switch on out-of-home streaming. Remote viewing is somewhat limited in selection at the moment, consisting of just 9 channels including HGTV and Food Network. But I much prefer the operator app hub approach versus tracking down apps for each channel that can be authenticated… and hope to see this expand to include ESPN, CNN, Cartoon Network, and the like. Beyond the content updates, my largely unused Kindle Fire HD will find new life as the “kitchen TV” given its brand-spanking new FiOS Mobile app. Sadly, the app doesn’t take advantage of the Kindle’s stellar stereo speakers the way say Netflix does – perhaps audio volume and quality will improve with a future update? While the FiOS app remains somewhat crashy on both my wife’s iPhone and my Galaxy Note 2, these updates and bundled service lessen my interest in the currently Android-incompatible TiVo Stream and Roamio. But I still pine for a FiOS TV Roku app… doubly so given my impulsive Groupon purchase.