In other Amazon Echo news, the companion iPhone app has been rechristened. Where “Amazon Echo” once lived, I now find “Amazon Alexa” — curious, no? CNET’s John Falcone reasonably wonders if this signals additional Alexa-capable hardware in the pipeline. Indeed, Amazon has opened the voice-powered platform up to third parties and this might be a nice, centralized place to interact with those devices. Further, with indications of new Fire TV models and Fire OS 5 headed to existing devices, I could see the streamer’s generic voice search rebranded and unified under Alexa with an additional interface via this app. Not to mention, Amazon clearly has all sorts of crazy gadgets under development.


Drop that zero and get with a hero. Amazon Echo is about to link up with Samsung SmartThings – a more reliable home automation platform with presumably better long term prospects compared to Wink, a prior Echo integration.


We’re excited to announce that SmartThings is now compatible with Amazon Echo! By starting sentences with “Alexa,” you can play music, hear the news, get the forecast, and now… control your SmartThings-compatible lights, switches, and anything plugged in to the SmartThings Power Outlet. To get a sense of what’s now possible, here’s a quick demonstration showing SmartThings and Echo controlling a Cree bulb, an Osram Lightify bulb, a SmartPower Outlet, and a Sonos player…

(Thanks Joseph!)

By way of the FCC, we learn something that looks like a third generation Nest Theromostat is en route… with 5GHz joining the party. Now I can’t say for certain the unnamed Nest device is another learning thermostat. But the round profile, with label on back, identified as model ZQAT30 (versus the 2nd gen’s ZQAT20) sure seems suggestive.

As the test firm received their sample back in April, but there was no mention of a thermostat refresh at Nest’s June press event, I’ll go ahead and assume some production or engineering kinks have delayed an announcement. As to additional features, beyond new wireless capabilities, no remote sensors have popped (unless that’s what this is)… which has become something of a shortcoming compared to the highly regarded (and now HomeKit-compatible) ecobee t-stat.

I tend to avoid most gadgety Kickstarters, given their poor track record in delivering high quality products on time, if at all. But Sideclick deserves some special attention — as this accessory meets a real need and they’re far enough along in development that they’ve been able to send some review samples out.


As those of us with Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV are well aware, their respective diminutive remotes don’t control our televisions. And not all situations should require a Harmony investment. Enter Sideclick, a clever modular accessory that consists of an IR learning remote and a replaceable cradle custom fit for your particular streamer. What you lose in ergonomics and beauty, you presumably more than make up for with less clutter and improved convenience.

Looks like they’re shooting for an early 2016 launch, running about $30 for a remote and cradle bundle, with replacement cradles running perhaps $8 a pop. I personally don’t feel the need to pre-order, especially with new Apple TV and Fire TV hardware on the horizon. But color me interested.

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Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  August 18, 2015

All the news that’s fit to click…

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s LG Display Co Ltd said on Monday it would focus investment on organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays, betting on the next-generation technology to steer it clear of price wars and ahead of the competition.

Through 2018, LG Display plans to put at least 10 trillion won ($8.47 billion) primarily into OLED displays for large products such as TVs, and flexible screens for smartphones and wearables. It will seek to expand OLED applications to signage and automobiles, and allocate some spending to premium liquid crystal display (LCD) products, the firm said in a statement.

A model poses in front of LG Electronics' flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TV sets, which are made with LG Display flat screens, during the 2014 Korea Electronics Show in Goyang October 17, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A model poses in front of LG Electronics’ flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TV sets, which are made with LG Display flat screens, during the 2014 Korea Electronics Show in Goyang October 17, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

LG Display and sister firm LG Electronics Inc have been the biggest proponents of OLED, which boasts improved color rendition and power consumption. The world’s top LCD maker hopes early investment in OLED will help it dominate when the technology becomes mainstream.

LG Display shares have fallen 34 percent this year, touching levels not seen since 2012 as investors see a future comprising sluggish LCD growth and profit-squeezing price wars with Chinese rivals. OLED, however, offers a market worth $28.3 billion by 2022 from $8.7 billion in 2014, said researcher DisplaySearch.

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TiVo Bolt Clears The FCC

Dave Zatz —  August 16, 2015

As TiVo Bolt nears release, the clues continue to trickle out. Most recent is an FCC filing that identifies three models. As two of those very same three DVR units appeared in a CableLabs certification report, it seems safe to speculate that we may be looking at two CableCARD models and one over-the-air “Aereo Edition” Bolt. By comparison, there are currently four Roamio SKUs… two of which don’t actually “roam.” Beyond standard DVR capabilities, might this TiVo shortcoming to be resolved with all Bolt models optionally streaming video to smartphones, tablets, and perhaps other end-points down the road?


tivo-boltFrom the little we’ve seen thus far, TiVo appears to have done away with the traditional set-top box enclosure (as they did away with their in-house industrial design team). And not only may the Bolt be white and curved (?!), thanks to the FCC filing we also learn the Roamio replacement clocks in substantially smaller than existing hardware — to the tune of 40% less volume (according to one forum member’s math).

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TiVo in talks with Charter for CableCARD successor?