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Intro

At $450, I had no intention of buying the original Withings Activité watch. That’s a bit steep for my watch buget, even if it does incorporate activity tracking and is Swiss-made. Seeing an opportunity to use a similar design, Withings announced at CES 2015 a new version of the Activité called Pop ($150).The Pop looks almost identical to the Activité, except that it is made with cheaper materials which brings the price point down to a more reasonable $150. The features remain the same across both trackers. The Activité can record steps, track if you are running, and can automatically log sleep at night. These features are very similar to the new Fitbit Charge, but it’s safe to say that one of these looks more stylish than the other. :-)

Read on for additional impressions of the Activité Pop! Continue Reading…

SC1 Home

At the end of December, Staples Connect released the much anticipated update for their new D-Link hub which included new features such as Modes, a Migration Assistant, and support for additional devices. Let’s take a brief look at each of these new features:

Modes

With the new Modes feature, you have the ability to change the way your house is setup with the touch of a button. The Mode section comes predefined with 4 modes: Home, Away, Sleep, Vacation. You are able to go into each mode to adjust what actions you want to take with the connected devices in your home. Modes can be triggered manually, or you have the ability to have another device automatically active a mode.

For instance, when you push the Home mode button, you can have a living room light turn on. But you are also able to have another device trigger the mode. In that case, opening a front door with a sensor can put the Staples Connect into Home mode without having to go into the app. Continue Reading…

slingtv

Update: As an update to the original story below, I just had a call (or two or three) with Echostar’s Sling Media and their reps. They want to assure us that Slingbox ain’t going anywhere — in fact, they mentioned DISH CEO Joe Clayton stated as much during the press conference that introduced the new Sling TV. What’s happened is that DISH has licensed “Sling” and “Sling TV” from Echostar, who has vacated sling.com, and the Slingbox 500 that became the Sling TV reverts once again to the Slingboox 500. (Although, irrespective of name, I remain concerned with 500/STV sales and continue to recommend their equally capable M1 placeshifter at half the cost for those with a need.)

Possibly the most disruptive product announcement out of CES this week is DISH’s long foreshadowed Internet television service. And, amongst several surprises, is “Sling TV” branding. I guess it’s nice that DISH chose to repurpose the sling.com Echostar asset… as you’d be horrified to learn what we had paid for that URL. Having said that, it certainly clocked in far less than the questionable “Blockbuster” acquisition — a name which would have made a lot of sense in this space. At the very least, we’re glad to see they backed away from DishWorld and an awful “nuTV“.

But, where it gets real weird is that the Slingbox 500 was renamed… Sling TV… less than six months ago. While I was not impressed with that product at its inflated price point, saying goodbye is hard and I suspect this clearly last minute change-up foreshadows the death of at least one Slingbox. If not all of them. Continue Reading…

dvr-plus-streaming-channels

Channel Master’s fee-free, over-the-air DVR+ is set to receive a massive infusion of online content. Company reps emphasize that what we’re looking at are not “apps” that require configuration and interaction, but rather the direct integration of linear streaming content into the guide for channel surfing alongside those HD antenna broadcasts. Available channels can be added and removed from the guide, as your viewing tastes dictate, and are transparently powered via a custom-built local player that relies on a sort of dynamic DNS service hosted by Channel Master — which points to the online feed, in addition to providing the relevant logos and metadata. Beyond streaming, Channel Master also hopes to introduce pause and record features to this online content, but they’re not certain that will be ready at launch in a month or so. Not to mention, I wonder how many content providers would be willing to play ball.

All in all, this will be nice bonus for Internet-connected DVR+ units and compares favorably to the $15/mo TiVo Roamio OTA … but I’m more looking forward to Channel Master’s whole home functionality, expected in Q3 or sooner.

Continue Reading…

Hands On TiVo OnePass

Dave Zatz —  January 6, 2015 — 73 Comments

Just a few weeks back I had lamented TiVo seemingly being lapped by “the lowly cable company” and Dish’s “binge bar” in sensibly stringing together episodic television à la Netlix. Not to be outdone, and as alluded to in patent filings, TiVo takes it to a whole ‘nother level with OnePass:

OnePass is a powerful feature that lets you organize and watch all episodes of a specific show, whether they come from TV, video on demand, or streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Instant Video. Available on Roamio and Premiere Series DVRs, OnePass gathers episodes of your shows from all available sources, then organizes the episodes by season and displays them seamlessly in one place.

Continue Reading…

tivo-roku-myshows

As CES gets rolling, TiVo has announced plans to demo Roku and Chromecast clients… to cable partners. So there’s no telling when or if these implementations will make their way to us retail customers or to what extent, but it’s exciting stuff – on top of the already previewed Amazon Fire TV app. In the interim, you can effectively turn your Amazon Fire TV Stick or box into a TiVo Mini now by sideloading their Android app. Speaking of which, that app is being entirely rewritten from the ground up (to presumably add content downloads) and the iOS app will soon see the addition of “premium sideloading” … as the current implementation is uncomfortably slow and requires the app remain open for long periods of time. Should CES visual imagery present itself, we’ll update the post.  Continue Reading…

We’ve been quite enamored with Tablo, since our first product demo at CES 2014. In fact, our very own Adam Miarka is a highly satisfied customer of this effective bit of clever gadgetry that provides both over-the-air DVR and Slingbox capabilities. Beyond the existing 2- and 4-tuner models, CES 2015 heralds the Tablo Metro… which houses 25-mile range high def OTA antennas within the existing enclosure.

Two very small but incredibly powerful fractal antennas inside Tablo METRO capture OTA TV while intelligent switching technology enables the antennas to operate independently to capture signals originating from broadcast tower locations, even if they are located in opposing directions.

Continue Reading…