DISH Wally Headed To CES

Dave Zatz —  December 14, 2015 — 1 Comment

As originally revealed, Echostar has been prepping an unsurprising Hopper 3… alongside the mysterious new DISH Wally. And, mere weeks ahead of CES, details have started to trickle out.

dish-wally

The single tuner Wally satellite receiver may be targeted towards small business, in addition to secondary rooms, and will run only $7/mo in rental fees. The non-DVR STB includes HEVC decoding capabilities, although it’s unknown if this is geared towards linear programming or the advertised raft of apps within its “brand-new user interface.” Given the available intel, we suspect Wally is the DISH 211 heir apparent sporting the Hopper UI.

Giving or getting a Roku this Christmas? The streaming pioneer has lined up an impressive array of free trials. Some of the more compelling offerings:

  • Hulu – 3 months free
  • HBO Now – 1 month free
  • Netflix – 1 month free
  • Showtime – 1 month free
  • CinemaNow – 3 movie rentals

hulu-trial

Some of the promos, like Netflix can be applied to (certain) existing accounts, whereas Hulu and HBO require new identities. But while the terms may slightly vary, the bottom line is you’re going to need to link up a Roku account with your credit card and remember to cancel any subscription before the trial is up. Unless you’re so enamored with the service you choose to carry on — which, of course, is their hope.

Having recently outfitted both our kitchen and guest bedroom with 32″ Roku TVs, I took advantage of the Hulu trial. Despite the commercial interruption, we thoroughly enjoyed the first season of Manhattan and are currently bingeing the Hulu-original Casual. We have until 1/16 to activate any of the others before the promotion period expires… and it sounds like I’ll want to catch up on new seasons of Showtime’s Homeland and The Affair.

Philips just released firmware for the Philips Hue bridge that may permanently sever access to any “non-approved” ZigBee bulbs. We previously covered third party support in January 2015, when Philips indicated it was not blocked – and have since benefited.

hue-zigbee-faq

The recent change seems to suggest any non-Philips bulbs from manufacturers such as Cree, GE, and Osram will not be supported in many situations, whereas “Friends of Hue” branded product are. At the time of publication, it’s unclear whether 3rd party bulbs will stop working immediately after the firmware update or if they may only become inaccessible after the bridge is reset. We’re also not sure if being “reset” means rebooted or factory reset. This appears to apply to both the round v1 bridge and square v2 HomeKit-compatible bridge after the latest firmware update is applied. Continue Reading…

While I generally prefer my ecobee3 smart thermostat (upstairs) to my Nest (downstairs), the company appears to have suffered something of a manufacturing quality control issue that significantly reduces its key remote sensor benefit. Namely, a number of recently shipped devices feature misaligned ecobee sensor component to sensor window. Indeed, I had set up a sensor in my soon-to-arrive baby’s room … but it rarely showed the room as Occupied – a requirement for ecobee’s “Smart Away” and “Follow Me” features.

ecobee-sensor-repair

I’m sure ecobee Support would gladly swap defective devices, but it turns out the fix is pretty easy and I took care of it myself. Basically, pry apart the top and bottom portions of a sensor and rotate them so that the eye sits behind the window. In my case, I was able to open the module with my fingernails (versus Chris’ screwdriver approach), rotate the top 90 degrees, and snap the pieces back together in short order.

HBO GO Confirmed For TiVo

Dave Zatz —  December 6, 2015 — 36 Comments

As we await the TiVo WWE app and long overdue Hulu refresh, a Google alert tripped several weeks back has seemingly confirmed HBO GO will also be on the docket. I’ve got no pretty marketing materials or photographic evidence to share with you, just an HBO GO config file … with 288 provider references to TiVo. And, thus far, Comcast won’t be blocking TiVo owners from accessing HBO GO. I expect Roamio, Mini, and Bolt hardware will partake whenever the time comes. A December announcement would be ideal, given the critical holiday shopping period. But, dependent upon where TiVo is in the development cycle, they could conceivably be holding back for a CES unveil.

tivo-hbogo

There’s no evidence yet of support for the cord cutter-centric HBO NOW streaming service and it appears release of an OTA-only Bolt is stalled. Yet I expect both to eventually turn up.

Bose SoundTouch 10

A couple weeks back, I began acquiring Bose SoundTouch connected speakers to replace Sonos. I’m no audiophile and not really equipped to compare acoustic properties, other than to say both platforms sound good. Whereas the Bose app experience and linked music service offerings are generally and significantly inferior to Sonos… the Bose-bundled physical remote control to tune up to six pre-assigned stations or playlists and adjust volume is priceless — it pretty much trumps all else. (Which makes me sad given the beautiful new Sonos Play:5.)

Bose SoundTouch Update

My initial experiences with SoundTouch were somewhat frustrating given my currently preferred music streaming services: iHeartRadio and Spotify. The Pandora-esque iHeart stations I’d created were inaccessible and would error out while Spotify access was largely and bizarrely managed via the Spotify app. But I held out hope, given this product’s intent, that things would improve. And, yesterday, Bose delivered — resolving both my issues. Continue Reading…

Let the deals begin!

Dave Zatz —  November 26, 2015 — 16 Comments

I’m always on the hunt for a good deal, but this time of year is especially frenzied. So I’ve got my wishlist ready as I dutifully monitor my overflowing inbox and Slickdeals app while I access sites through ebates for some additional cash back. Some early catches…

black-friday-amazon

Amazon Fire TV Stick @ $25 – Cheaper than the Roku stick and still preferable to the new Chromecast given a physical remote control. Provides many of the top streaming TV apps, plus a TiVo client, and supports guest/hotel WiFi connections. Great for yourself and also a nice stocking stuffer.

Amazon Fire Tablet @ $35 – Not a good tablet by any measure other than cost. Unless you’re a small child or senior citizen, at which point this 7″ 2015 model might be an interesting gift idea for casual web surfing, video playback, or Kindle reading.

32″ Roku TV @ $125 – Budget friendly, 720p television with Roku built right in. It’s a little chunkier than you might like and not the highest quality panel. But it’s dirt cheap and great for a kitchen or guest bedroom — where I keep the two I own.

ecobee3 + 3 sensors @ $250 – I’d have preferred a lower price of entry for this smart thermostat, but two free remote sensors provides solid savings if you can put them in use. On price alone, a better deal can be had on the 3rd gen Nest ($250 plus $50 gift card), but I prefer ecobee’s approach.

Ooma with wireless adapter @ $90 – Stick this on your home network, as I do, and plug your phones in for unlimited US calling. The bonus wireless adapter lets you place the VoIP box anywhere in your home and also lets you link your cellphone over Bluetooth.

30% off one Book – Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble are offering 30% off any book via the linked coupon codes. I put the Amazon discount to work and discovered it’s limited paper books and maxes out at $10 of savings but does apply to pre-orders.

Find anything good? I know there are tons of big screen deals to be had…

Along with the introduction of the TiVo Bolt came two highly publicized new features: QuickMode and SkipMode. QuickMode allows one to plow through recordings at 1.3x speed with minimal audio distortion, while SkipMode introduced TiVo’s take on commercial avoidance. Existing Roamio DVR owners were promised a QuickMode upgrade, but told SkipMode would remain out of reach. And we didn’t like it.

As promised, TiVo has reevaluated that approach … and come to a favorable ruling.

tg15_tivo_player_skipmode_3

Based on a holiday promo and image assets hosted by TiVo.com, we now know SkipMode should begin hitting Roamio units December 10th. And one can safely assume the behavior will also extend to TiVo Mini extenders.

Don’t miss your chance at big discounts on TiVo Roamio DVRs before they’re gone forever! For a limited time, we’re offering a year of free service when you purchase TiVo Roamio. Roamio DVRs will include innovative features, like SkipMode (in select markets*) and QuickMode, so you can jump past commercial breaks with a single click or watch recordings and shows with a buffer 30% faster with pitch-corrected audio. So act now and take advantage of this offer while supplies last. There aren’t many left! *SkipMode available in San Francisco/Bay Area and Chicago markets.

Continue Reading…