Archives For Video

The Videos of CES

Dave Zatz —  January 11, 2014

A roundup of the videos we shot while experiencing CES…

popcorn-hour-a410

Via CNXSoft we’ve learned a new Popcorn Hour A-410 networked media jukebox is now available for pre-order at $260. It’s been a several years since I’ve personally heard from from Syabas, when they attempted to take a run at the Rokus of the world with Popbox – a simple media streamer with fresh UI. Unfortunately, they failed to set the world afire and clearly gave up on Popbox company branding, as they now go by Cloud Media.

a410-active-display

Like the prior generation “media tank” line, the new Popcorn Hour is geared towards the power user possessing a large media library, with beefy specs and support for all sorts of codecs. Further, the A-410 features an updated interface, including Bitorrent & usenet clients, along with a companion iPad app. In terms of storage, bring your own 2.5″ or 3.5″ SATA drive. Of course, external drives and NAS capabilities are also available.

A subset of specs from the fanless design:

Chipset:
Sigma Designs SMP8911 Dual-Core 800Mhz with 512KB L2 Cache with VXP Video Processor

Memory:
1024MB DDR2, 256MB SLC NAND Flash

Audio/Video:
HDMI, Component, CVBS, Stereo Audio, S/PDIF, Digital Optical

qplay-family

After breaking news that TiVo’s co-founders have reunited to develope another (mini) set-top, it appears that the company rebrand has accelerated… as Invisioneer transforms into Qplay right before our eyes (and clearly without a private staging website). Our initial assumptions, based on limited site text and LinkedIn profiles, appears spot on. From Qplay’s new description:

For most people, playing [Internet video] on your tablet can be a chore and getting it to your TV is next to impossible. Qplay will harness the power of the Internet to give consumers new ways to discover, play and share video content.

While GigaOm sources indicate the company is hoping to aggregate premium content, neither Qplay’s test Twitter account nor the new imagery support that. Indeed, what one is (at launch) versus what they hope to become is not always one in the same. And whatever Qplay is doing with YouTube video (and now Vine) can likely be done better via YouTube’s native rating, sharing, playlists in conjunction with Chromecast beaming. Not to mention this space is getting crowded, between the gaming consoles, streaming incumbents, and incoming Amazon box – will Qplay offer enough, at the right price and with the stellar marketing that will be needed to make dent? Guess we’ll find out in “early 2014.”

qplay

Shortly after TiVo co-founder Jim Barton resigned from the DVR maker in 2012, he reunited with his former DVR compatriot Michael Ramsay to found InVisioneer. While the Kleiner-backed company is somewhat shrouded in secrecy, descriptions from their recruitment efforts provide some insight (1, 2):

InVisioneer is building a product that sits at the nexus of exciting trends in video, mobile, and social.

We’re building a compelling new way to discover and play media that will become an integral part of people’s lives.

Scouring the web for clues has turned up a variety of intriguing LinkedIn profiles and other social mentions, including an early survey and what appears to be a test Twitter account… with one very familiar follower. Of course, given the headline and imagery above, you’ve already discerned that InVisioneer sent some hardware through the FCC in the form of a Qplay TV Adapter. Continue Reading…

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.