After 12 hours with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, some thoughts…

The remote feels exceedingly cheap compared to the premium clicker that ships with the full-fledged Fire TV box and I had some difficulty removing the battery cover. Having said that, a flimsy remote is infinitely more valuable than no remote… versus Google Chromecast, which requires a smartphone for interaction.

In the app department, the Fire TV UI remains somewhat unwieldy compared to Roku given its expected emphasis of Amazon services – but it’s certainly manageable, More importantly, the third party content selection is still lacking. For example, our kitchen TV is perfectly suited for CNN or Sky News (as seen on Apple TV) background noise, yet neither are available. Also missing, but expected soon, is HBO GO. I had no problems streaming Netflix and WatchESPN – both looked great. Plex also seems to be working wellContinue Reading…

tivo-laptop

Nearly a year after RCN and perhaps behind schedule, Atlantic Broadband has launched their iteration of the streaming TiVo web portal, proving once again that TiVo is something more than a DVR manufacturer – providing a variety of software and integration services to cable providers both here and abroad. Indeed, Atlantic Broadband is a subsidiary of relatively new TiVo licensee Cogeco and one would expect a similar online offering to hit Canada in 2015.

The first cut of Atlantic Broadband’s portal consists of 35,000 on demand titles and live video from up to 40 content providers. However, much more interesting is the direct linkage into ones own DVR. While it’s evident that Season Pass management is present and recordings are “available in your recommendations,” it’s not entirely clear that customers can stream all/some/none of their DVR-ed shows set-top-to-computer and if it’s limited to in-home access only. The “Watch Now” icon does provides hope that at least some content is available in certain locales … and perhaps this modern rendition of TiVo To Go might one day be made available to us retail customers.

DirecTV Samsung 4K

This probably isn’t the year to buy an Ultra HD TV for that special holiday someone. Despite nearly-reasonable prices ($1400 for this Samsung 55-incher), there just isn’t a lot of 4K content yet to enjoy on a new TV.

However, if you’re dead set on the idea, there’s good news coming at you from DirecTV. The satellite provider has started to deliver 4K content to Samsung TVs that are paired up with the Genie HD DVR. Initially, the 4K catalog only includes nature documentaries along with 19 movies from Paramount Pictures and K2 Communications. But DirecTV says there are “more titles to be announced soon.”

DirecTV also makes a point of noting that it is “the first multi-channel video provider to offer 4K Ultra HD programming direct to customers’ TVs.” Back at CES in January, Comcast said it would launch a 4K app for Samsung TVs before the end of the year, but that’s looking less and less likely by the day. Bet we’ll have more announcements at CES 2015!

google-fiber-tv-box-2

By way of retired blogger Brent Evans, we learned that Google Fiber customers have started receiving next generation hardware. An updated Fiber Jack now receives power-over-Ethernet from a new Network+ Box … that combines both broadband router and DVR storage into a single enclosure with this go around while expanding wireless capabilities to 802.11ac/n. Lastly, the updated TV Box (shown above) is smaller, squarer, and now entirely silent. Beyond feeding “cable” to the television, each dual band unit also acts as a WiFi extender. We’re hopeful that Google will ultimately enable more than 4 per home at some point, given the wireless enhancements and as Brent says this is a common complaint. Also, based on a prior FCC pop, we’re still awaiting a refreshed Bluetooth LE remote. Lastly, on the content front, Google picked up HBO GO and Showtime Anytime within the last few weeks. Score!

72 Hours with iPhone 6

Dave Zatz —  November 15, 2014 — 22 Comments

While I’m the CTO of the Zatz household, my wife Melissa is also capable of making tech purchasing decisions… and living with the consequences.

After years with Blackberry, I’ve truly become an Apple fan girl. For the less tech savvy, such as myself, I find Apple products quite intuitive, making for a fun and effective user friendly experience. When I gave up an iPad and iPad Mini to try the more economical Kindle Fire HDX, I was ultimately frustrated with its quirky operating system and lack of software polish. From what I can tell, these issues continue and I’m betting Dave will imminently return his recently purchased Fire. (Dave disputes this but he hates it when I’m right!). Like many others, my motto is “why fix what isn’t broke”? Apple has figured out a way to make technology easy, enjoyable, and super sexy looking.

iphone-6

As soon as the 4.7″ iPhone 6 was released Dave encouraged me to upgrade from my 4″ 5s. I use my smartphone for the majority of my web surfing and Internet needs. I actually use it more than my laptop — thanks to apps like Scanner Pro and eFax, I can even handle many work-related tasks on my phone. Dave and I also travel frequently and I’d rather not tote multiple devices. I want one gadget that will serve as my phone, my Kindle, and my web browser. As such, Dave believed I would enjoy the larger screen from my “all in one” device. I wasn’t easily convinced that we needed to spend $750 on a new phone when my 5s, although lacking in storage space, was seemingly meeting all my needs. Dave prefers I sport the newest product because it usually means a better or more efficient experience. I eventually gave in to his encouragement and I’ve been using he iPhone 6 for a few days now. I cannot say I’m in love just yet but I’m definitely interested.

I will leave the more credible tech reviews to Dave and other experts, but here are a few of my initial thoughts. Continue Reading…

Refurb Kindle Paperwhite @ $79

Dave Zatz —  November 10, 2014 — 14 Comments

paperwhite-pool

While I failed to post on last week’s fantabulous refurb Kindle Fire HDX deal, despite getting in myself, the Paperwhite is similarly on sale now for 24 hours. The $79 refurb

is a pre-owned Kindle Paperwhite that has been refurbished, tested, and certified to look and work like new. Includes a full one-year limited warranty, just like a brand-new Kindle Paperwhite.

Indeed, my recently received HDX looks brand-spanking-new (as we’ve been enjoying ESPN and the FiOS app at the kitchen table, Alpha House in bed). And, as far as Amazon’s e-readers go, the Paperwhite represents the best value – even sweeter at this price point and despite the retired physical page turn buttons. I’ve quite enjoyed my glowing touchscreen reader over the last year, as has Nathan (who?).

Amazon just surprised everyone with a crazy speaker that talks to you