Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  May 6, 2015 — 9 Comments

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.

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  May 5, 2015

smartthings-watch

SmartThings iOS app adds Apple Watch capabilities
The fact that this update is coming to the iOS app for Apple Watch “further highlights SmartThings and Samsung’s commitment to an open platform,” The team behind SmartThings have released the SmartThings iOS app version 1.7.3 with Apple Watch integration.

Cable Cozies Up to TiVo & OTT
What a difference a few years makes. Former upstart TiVo was shunned by the cable industry for the better part of a decade, and Netflix has often ranked as enemy number one both for producing scads of Internet traffic, and for offering a competitive service to cable’s video-on-demand (VoD). Fast forward to today, however, and the cable industry has decided to mend fences all around.

Apple TV Remote Expected to Add Touch Pad in Redesign
The touch pad can be used for scrolling around and there will also be two physical buttons, the person said. The remote’s thicker size is comparable to the remote control for Amazon’s wireless speaker, the Echo, the person added.

Comast unveils Xfinity Share
Through Comcast’s new Xfinity Share app, X1 customers can live stream or send photos and recorded videos to their TV, or to the TV of another X1 customer, as well as live stream and share content to mobile phones.

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  May 4, 2015

firefox-tv

This is what Firefox OS looks like on TVs
Firefox OS is an operating system designed around the technologies used in the Firefox web browser. The first commercial devices with Firefox OS software were smartphones. But it can also run on tablets, TV sticks, and TVs. Now the developers of Firefox OS at Mozilla are giving us a closer look at how the operating system works on TVs.

Comcast Spent $336 Million On Failed Merger
The uncertainty of the now dead Time Warner Cable merger certainly didn’t hurt Comcast’s broadband growth. According to the company’s latest earnings report, Comcast continued to slowly bleed video subscribers (8,000 lost on the quarter) but added 407,000 high-speed Internet subscribers.

Summer TV Preview 2015: 15 New Shows You Need to Know About
Kids are leaving school. The weather is getting warmer. Superhero movies are about to take over our theaters. Basically, everything is getting worse — except your upcoming slate of new TV shows.

Alternatives to Windows Media Center (Make your own Home Theater PC)
For more than a decade Microsoft has made that by offering Windows Media Center. But when Windows 10 ships in the summer of 2015 it won’t include Media Center. The good news is that there are still some solid options available for Home Theater PC (HTPC) enthusiasts.

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…

As TiVo expands cord cutter marketing, they’ve now brought a Lifetime Service option to Roamio OTA. At least on an experimental basis. For a single $300 fee, you can now pick up a Roamio OTA bundled with a lifetime of TiVo service. Given four HD tuners, a 500GB drive, several solid apps like Netflix and Amazon Instant, the potential (for more $) to stream to mobiles devices or TiVo Mini, I’d say this is A Very Good Deal™. And it certainly undercuts Channel Master’s mostly silo-ed two tuner, 1TB $400 DVR+ — TiVo is the superior product and removing the $15/month barrier seals the deal. But you may want to act fast, as this is just one of several pricing permutations TiVo is looking at. The others, like this $400 Lifetime Service fee on top of hardware, aren’t nearly as appealing.

roamio-ota-lifetime

(Thanks Sam & Drew!)

Nielsen to Measure Roku Video Ads

As with Pebble, Silicon Dust has leveraged Kickstarter as a marketing tool and storefront, versus a startup fundraiser. And they’re now accepting preorders for their upcoming HDHomeRun DVR software and service. Basically, the new DVR experience will leverage existing HDHomeRun networked tuning hardware and a QNAP NAS, Western Digital MyCloud NAS, or computer for storage. The headless approach is not new (in fact, they pioneered it) and similar in concept to Tablo, yet instead of requiring USB-attached storage, your hard drive can live elsewhere on the network. Also, unlike Tablo, HDHomeRun offers both over-the-air (OTA) and CableCARD tuners… making this a whole lot more versitile for those of us unwilling to cut the cord. Given the sunsetting of Windows Media Center and the hot mess that is Simple.TV (powered by SiliconDust), it’s not so surprising they would venture into software and services to round out their offerings.

hdhomerun-dvr-bundleEarly adopters who already sport the requisite hardware can access HDHomeRun DVR software and a year service for $30, one month before the general populace – perhaps as early as June. However, Silicondust is also offering quite a few bundles should you require tuners and/or network storage. Beyond the tuner and NAS/computer software required to power the DVR experience, Silicon Dust will also make Windows, Mac, and Android (set-top or mobile) viewing clients available at launch. iOS and Kodi/XBMC integration are also possibilities down the line with a graphic indicating smart TVs and gaming consoles might also act as end-points one day (via DLNA?). Sadly, it doesn’t appear Silicon Dust will have any sort of transcoding from MPEG-2 as they’ve indicated no Roku channel given it doesn’t support “video formats used for broadcast television” (and we should expect this to impact remote streaming bandwidth requirements, if supported). Continue Reading…

TiVo has a long and storied history of miscommunication. So, while they’re still promising Plex will arrive with software update 20.4.7… those of us on that build for weeks are doubtful the switch will be flipped at this point. Enter 20.4.8, for which TiVo is now soliciting prioritity signups. Of course, we still don’t know if Plex will be a native app versus something buried within Opera, nor do we know its capabilties. But, we sure are anxious to find out, as the potential is awesome. Continue Reading…