As we continue to hunt the elusive Roku 4, a source has provided the below image… which, after a long absence, indicates the triumphant return of S/PDIF optical audio to the Roku platform. And what makes this detail even more compelling is that Amazon has dropped optical from their competing 4K Fire TV this generation, to the consternation of some.

roku4-rear

Beyond these restored audio capabilities, which we’d expect from a flagship streamer, we know the Roku 4 serves up 4K video hand in hand with 802.11ac wireless for the first time. A previously disclosed full frontal photo (below) more clearly depicts a new elongated form (“the hotplate“) and from the FCC filing we know there’s a handy new finger-depressable reset button on the bottom. What we don’t know are specific 4k-specific details, like HDMI version or potential support for HDR. Plus, it’s unclear what that sensor or port on the top of the Roku is all about. Lastly, and possibly related, I’m hopeful Roku’s got some software surprises for us. Continue Reading…

Didn’t I tell you Best Buy would be the place to get Amazon’s 4k Fire TV ahead of the official October 5th release? Whereas I’d assumed in-store inventory was ripe for abuse, it turns out the advantage was gained via online sales. Folks who’d pre-ordered had units shipped early on 9/30. And, as you can clearly see from the imagery below, they’ve started arriving. This slip-up isn’t on par with, say, iPhones arriving ahead of official reviews, but I can still appreciate as a gadget agent of chaos.

fire-tv-2

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tivo-hatBeyond TiVo VP Margret Schmidt operating well out of her lane to periodically chime in on the TiVo Community Forum, the site that TiVo once bankrolled hasn’t seen much company participation in recent years. That changed today with a marathon QA session handled by TiVo Chief Marketing Officer Ira Bahr. I appreciate his frank engagement with the community and his message (even if the Investor Relations group may not).

Ira provides quite a bit of insight into their market strategy with Bolt and intention to keep the hardcore happy with a more suitable product offering next year. I still think the Bolt has an uphill battle, as currently presented… but perhaps there’s time to deliver a more economical cord cutter-centric “Aereo Edition” this year or flip up pricing should they receive the lukewarm response I expect.

A sampling of the good stuff, chopped up and reassembled: Continue Reading…

Verizon launched a new online video service of some sort  — and I suspect I might too old, too cranky, or just too discerning to appreciate it. However, if you’re a VZW customer like me, creating a go90 account from your smartphone will net you a bonus 2GB of data for a period of three months. So why not?

Go90

(Thanks Chris!)

The New TiVonomics

Dave Zatz —  October 2, 2015

Along with the introduction of the TiVo Bolt comes a slew of pricing and policy changes. They’re probably good for TiVo, Inc. But the adjustments are largely unfavorable for TiVo customers (and potential customers).

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The devaluation of Lifetime service is the most painful for longtime TiVo fans. Under the “All-In” rebrand, the fee has been raised to $600… without the traditional $100 off for existing customers and without it being offered at time of purchase. Which means you could be rolling the dice. Who knows what the scenario will be a year from now when a year of bundled Bolt and Roamio Pro service expires. Also impacting existing customers is the end of multi-service discount (MSD), in which folks get a few dollar break for each additional DVR on a monthly plan. Fortunately, those who currently possess discounts will retain them… as long as they make no adjustments to their account.

But here’s where it gets weird. And this is going to mess up uninformed people who pick up used TiVos on ebay, craigslist, and the like. Series 1, Series 2, and Series 3/HD TiVo units without Lifetime service will no longer be activated. Based on the support note, it also seems like folks with effected hardware on an annual plan could end up with a brick when their term expires. Fun times. Of course, with MPEG4 killing a number of TiVos in Comcast’s footprint and the loss of Amazon and YouTube apps, those S3/HD models are less compelling these days. But, as they’re continuing to support Lifetimes units (for now?), why not also keep the lights on for units in the basement someone may want to reactivate?

Can’t wait until October 5th for your 4k Fire TV fix? Best Buy has already started lining shelves with Amazon’s new model, clocking in at the same $99 (and potentially cheaper than the incoming Roku 4). And while I didn’t partake (today), I’m far more interested in Amazon’s streamer knowing TiVo support is just around the corner.

FireTV4k

I assume many of us would prefer the HDMI dongle form factor in many situations. However, my experience with the Fire TV Stick wasn’t the greatest. Plus, beyond my Amazon-specific quirks, there’s really only so much you can cram into these sorts of gadgets before they melt and wireless reception will always be a concern. So, box it is — more power, more ports, and more clutter (unless you get tricky). Continue Reading…

The TiVo Bolt Hits & Misses

Dave Zatz —  September 30, 2015

TiVo clearly had a choice to make. Deliver an unfinished product now or miss the all-important holiday shopping season. And, despite some compromises, they did what I would have done and released early. For example, only two of three TiVo Bolt models have made an appearance… without a Hulu app, currently being redesigned in HTML 5, and without out-of-home streaming. After all, how could they possibly launch the TiVo Bolt “Aereo” Edition without remote access capabilities (that are expected in 2016)? While I didn’t anticipate them this fall, there’s also no sign of a corresponding Series 6 “Pro” model nor a 4K-capable Mini. TiVo doesn’t seem to have the numbers or efficiency to juggle it all.

w_shop_tivo_bolt

The first thing everyone will notice is the new design. It’s fresh and funky. Many of you will hate it. On a more practical level, this smaller form factor means heat is more of a challenge and the Bolt maxes out with 4 tuners while transitioning to a 2.5″ drive. So existing Roamio Pro/Plus owners with 6-tuners and potentially more storage will have a real hard time justifying an upgrade. But, for those new to the fold, there’s a lot to like from this OTA/Cable DVR. Continue Reading…

TiVo Amazon Fire TV App Confirmed!

Dave Zatz —  September 30, 2015

Amidst the TiVo Bolt hits and misses, an Amazon Fire TV app has been confirmed. As first demonstrated in July of 2014, as an overseas MSO cloud offering and in relation to TiVo’s Haxe transition, Digital Trends suggests the app should be available to retail customers real soon.

TiVo would probably prefer you invest in one of its TiVo Mini boxes to share stored content with other televisions in the house, but with support for Apple Airplay and a new TiVo Android app available for Fire TV, you can use the streamers you might already have to access all of your recordings.

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