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Let me preface this post in saying that for the majority of the last decade, despite the occasional Chromebook or Windows aberration, a MacBook of one flavor or another has been my primary computing device. (Some examples: MBP, MB, MBA) So I clearly have both appreciated and invested in Apple’s take on portable computing. But the newly introduced “Macbook” ($1300 and up) appears to be something of a compromised curiosity (which, incidentally, is how I responded to the original MacBook Air).

buystrip_macbook_largeIn whittling away a laptop to a mere two pounds, the MacBook is an engineering marvel. Stunning, really. I mean, just look at the pic above – the brains of the computer reside on that small board, with the rest of the space dominated by the laptop’s structure and molded battery. Beyond the guts, the laptop is a beaut. Which probably means more to me than it should – guess I’m shallow like that. However, as a laptop’s primary interface remains keyboard and touchpad, these redesigned elements concern me. Like most, I haven’t actually touched the new MacBook yet… but, based on the visuals and early reports, I certainly won’t be pre-ordering. Further, it seems the MacBook’s processing power will be equivalanent to my 2012 MacBook Air. For most of what I do, most of the time, that wouldn’t really be a problem. But it does seem a step backwards to save a marginal amount of size and power consumption. Lastly, we’re provided just a single USB-C port to cover both charging and any peripherals (beyond headphones) for a fee … that runs more than Apple TV. Continue Reading…

HBO GO | NOW | Later

Dave Zatz —  March 10, 2015 — 17 Comments

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While the Apple Watch was announced for a second time this week, one of the more fascinating aspects of the 90 minute press event was Apple TV-centric. And the three-year old streaming hardware sees an immediate price drop from $99 to $69, undercutting both the Roku 3 and Amazon Fire TV. Despite the discount, I’d still recommend the Roku 3 to most given a much larger app catalog and their unbeatable universal search. Yet, the dynamics may shift … for a bit, anyway.

Beyond the highly compelling Airplay and iTunes integration, for those deep into Apple, HBO NOW will be an exclusive Apple TV offering when it launches in April for $15/month. Unlike HBO GO, the streaming service bundled with many cable and satellite providers, HBO NOW will be available to anyone with an Apple product and an Internet connection. I’d strongly suspected the foreshadowed service would launch exclusively with ISPs to largely preserve the status quo. But HBO is moving forward with a clearly agnostic, tho still strategic, approach… that may yet involve our Internet providers: Continue Reading…

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Prior to totally revamping their Roku interface, and bringing Amazon Fire TV and Google Nexus Playing into the mix, Tablo gave existing customers a nice little update with version 2.1.24. Previously, you had to blindly FF or RW using the Roku app and/or web player. With this enhancement, you’re now able to see a thumbnail preview while invoking these actions. It’s a small change yes, but something I find highly useful.

You can read more about the update on Tablo’s blog here. Tablo is still expected to release the new app versions for Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Google Nexus Player by the end of this month. Also, the new Tablo Metro is available for preorder in the US that was announced back at 2015 CES.

Get Two Free Audible Books

Dave Zatz —  March 3, 2015 — 3 Comments

audible-trialAmazon’s Audible is currently running a nice promotion — 2 free titles of your choosing, with no further commitment. Of course, they hope you’ll stick around beyond 30 days, at which point a $14.95 monthly fee kicks in. But, it could be well worth it assuming the same “Gold” plan I’m on. Beyond 1 credit/book per month, I also receive NYT and WSJ daily. Audible is supported by a variety of apps and platforms; I generally stream iPhone to car speakers over Bluetooth, although downloads are also an option… to overcome the glaring absence of Sonos integration.

Details:

  • Includes two free audiobooks with your free trial.
  • Choose from 150,000+ best sellers, new releases sci-fi, romances, mysteries, classics, and more.
  • After 30 days, get 1 book each month, $14.95/month
  • Cancel easily anytime. Your books are yours to keep, even if you cancel.

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One thing was immediately clear as soon as I was able get Netgear Arlo up and running: 1) it was very easy to add cameras, and 2) all I wanted was to buy more cameras! But let’s back up a second and explain exactly what Arlo is, and is not. Arlo, the spiritual successor to Vue, is the newest camera security system from Netgear — it consists of a central wireless hub hooks into your home router along with a number of wireless cameras. Arlo also incorporates heat-based camera sensors to record video as motion is detected and stores those clips in the cloud. But Arlo is NOT designed for continuous 24/7 video recording like a Dropcam. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s walk through how to setup the system, and explain the usage at our home. Continue Reading…

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About the same time TiVo rolled out Vudu last fall, Verizon similarly deployed Ultraiviolet to their FiOS TV set-tops. Whereas TiVo went with a 3rd party app, Verizon has natively integrated the UV content locker within On Demand. And my pal Tim took it for a quick spin yesterday.

Within the FiOS On Demand UI, you’ll see a variety of titles featuring the UV logo. Yet account linkage is handled via webpage. Once synced up, your licensed UV titles show up under On Demand > My Library > Purchases. But, in a few minutes of streaming a couple of movies, Tim was not impressed by the artifacts seen in darker scenes… and pretty quickly concluded Vudu, via Xbox One, provides a superior experience. Beyond picture quality, I’ve also found the FiOS TV UI requires too many clicks – especially in the On Demand area. It’s generally far more efficient to rent or buy content from other sources. But this two-way FiOS TV UV integration still seems pretty cool and is worth keeping an eye on. Assuming Verizon sticks with FiOS.

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Aereo, the innovative yet ultimately criminal television provider buried by the establishment, had an extremely poor showing in bankruptcy liquidation this week — netting a mere $2m. And, without TiVo’s participation, the numbers would have been halved. It appears the same, single source of unknown allegiance notified a number of outlets the details of TiVo’s haul includes both the Aereo name and customer list (which may not be all that impressive). As a TiVo spokesperson said yesterday, “We have OTA products and see some value in these assets.”

Indeed, since last summer, TiVo’s attempted to capitalize on Aereo’s buzz …and their demise. However, while we do believe there is a growing market of cord cutters interested in advanced television solutions, TiVo still isn’t Aereo – which had unmatched pricing and convenience with their decentralized and hardware-agnostic approach. Having said, that we can certainly envision a scenario where the TiVo Roamio OTA DVR ($50, $15/mo) becomes “Aereo by TiVo” … especially should they repackage it in something other than the reused base Roamio enclosure, which I assume is planned. But to more closely replicate Aereo’s Slingbox-esque functionality, they’ll need to directly integrate stream functionality to this hardware… or resume manufacturing the no-longer-available TiVo Stream accessory. And a Roku or Chromecast client wouldn’t hurt.