By way of The Donohue Report and Multichannel News, we seemingly learn that Slingbox will once again incorporate a tuner. While most folks hang a Slingbox off a DVR to meet their remote or mobile video needs, three prior models included tuners to placeshift unencrypted cable or over-the-air broadcasts. And it provided a real clean way to roll your own cloud TV service … long before “TV Anywhere” had entered the lexicon and cord cutting was a trend.
We first came across “AirTV” back in June and wondered if it might be some sort of Miracast solution. Given this new FCC-sourced “Slingbox OTA” label, it’s obviously something quite different. I doubt they’d incorporate DVR functionality given the additional complexity and expense, leaving those functions to the Echostar-produced Channel Master DVR+. As such, this really wouldn’t be a TiVo Bolt competitor. Pricing should be interesting — the new Slingbox M2 runs $200, but I’d think the sweet spot is closer to $150, even after dropping the mobile app fees (and adding ads to the experience).
August is out with several announcements today as they now publicly transition from a singularly focused smart lock company into a home automation player. We’ve got service relationships, a smart keypad, a doorbell camera, and, of course, more smartlock. The existing August lock drops in price to $199 with a significantly updated model joining the fray at $229.
We’re big fans of Kevo here. And while the smartlock remains mostly an island unto itself, it gains powerful new communication capabilities. To minimize power consumption, most networked gadgetry sticks to low energy Bluetooth, Z-Wave, or Zigbee in lieu of WiFi. That’s been proven to work well … when you’re in the vicinity. But to keep tabs on your door and even control it remotely requires something to bridge those networks. Enter Kevo Plus.
I first touched on the Kevo bridge way back at CES 2014 as the missing link. But my enthusiasm waned at CES 2015 given what sounded something like a recurring fee for remote access. Fortunately, as it turns out, “Kevo Plus” launches today at $70 – with both hardware and ongoing service included in that single fee. The bridge itself is a small affair that plugs directly into your router and communicates with Kevo over Bluetooth. In conjunction with today’s app update, Kevo Plus allows you to see if you forgot the lock the door … when you’re away from home… and do something about it. Continue Reading…
When Google recently held their big event, I was surprisingly interested in the new Chromecast Audio dongle announcement. I’d lost interest in the original Chromecast over the past year, instead meeting my streaming needs via the Roku platform, with a little Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TV thrown in for good measure. That first generation Chromecast had sat unused for a few months.
I jumped onto Google Play the day they announced the $35 Chromecast Audio and ordered myself one to try out. It came two days later and the family has been enjoying it for the past week.
The full potential remains to be seen because multi-room streaming—similar to what a Sonos system can do—is promised “in a few months.” However, I wanted to try it out as an alternative to Bluetooth speakers and our 2008-era Sony S-Air wireless speaker system.
Summary: I like it. Continue Reading…
As promised (to me, personally;), the TiVo Fire TV app has arrived today … in “beta” form and without live television. Having only played with it about five minutes, my initial observation is that this was clearly designed for or tested against something other than a television given little thought to overscan. Without adjusting my Fire TV’s settings, elements in the lower left, upper left, and upper right were clipped on my television. Indeed, from Amazon’s design guidelines:
The amount of space a TV uses as overscan varies across manufacturers. That real estate is not available to your app. Although the Amazon Fire TV platform provides a way for the user to adjust for television overscan in the settings, for the safest possible behavior we recommend that you avoid placing any of your app’s UI elements within the outer 5% of any edge on the screen. The focused item and on-screen text, especially, should be fully within the inner 90% (the safe zone) of your user interface.
As Best Buy is wont to do, new inventory sometimes ends up on shelves and available for purchase before a manufacturer may have intended. As such, several have been tinkering with TiVo Bolt for a few days now. And, the good news is, internal hard drive replacements are a go.
While Bolt may only be offered with only a 2.5″ 500GB or 1TB WD drive, we can go larger and there’s enough clearance in the enclosure for models taller than 9.5mm. Having said that, I still worry about power consumption and heat dissipation given the new form factor … and would probably recommend this 2TB Samsung ($94) — it’s a proven product at a reasonable price point that will provide sufficient DVR storage for many. Continue Reading…
Back in June, Philips announced that the Hue ecosystem would be compatible with Apple’s HomeKit. There was speculation if we’d need to purchase another Hue hub, or if the existing hub could be updated via software to support HomeKit. After plenty of leaks, and even a hands-on prior to launching, Philips has officially released a new Hue bridge to the masses. Turns out that if you want HomeKit compatibility, you will need to purchase a new hub. This falls inline with other vendors who have had to “relaunch” their products with updated hardware to meet Apple’s security requirements. The good news for existing Hue customers though, is that Philips will offer a 33% discount to upgrade. I won’t recap the physical changes to the new Hue hub as they are documented on multiple sites. What I want to do is walk thru the actual transfer process from the old Hue hub to the new one and some general observations, specifically around HomeKit and compatibility.
Transitioning from the old hub
The first thing you will need to do is make sure you have the latest Hue app. Philips released an updated version for earlier this week (iOS / Google Play) which supports transitioning hubs. Once updated, you will also need to make sure that the Hub itself has the latest firmware. You will be prompted to update automatically.
Philips has made it incredibly easy to transition bulbs and scenes from your old hub to the new one. This is contrary to my Lutron experience which required me to unpair all lights/switches and repair them to the new hub. It can’t be understated how much this will make existing customers happy. Continue Reading…