I guess sales aren’t so brisk, as only a month after launch MovieBeam has dropped hardware pricing $50 (to $200) and done away with the $30 activation fee. Will it matter? Somehow I don’t think so… their pricing model needs some serious tweaking if they’re going to compete with a large, installed base of cable and satellite subscribers who have easy access to PPV/VOD. MovieBeam seems intent on charging both hardware and movie rental fees, so I suggest they toss in 24 free flicks, two available per month, to sweeten the deal for consumers while protecting their financial interests.
When Jeremy Toeman isn’t wearing his Sling Media VP hat, he’s reporting on cool gadgets through LIVEdigitally. After putting MovieBeam through its paces, Jeremy came away largely impressed with the service… in standard definition.
Jeremy says: To me, Moviebeam is either the lazy mans answer to Blockbuster, or, more likely, an early glimpse into the future of our soon-to-arrive entertainment, anywhere, anytime, on-demand lifestyle. I have to say the process of finding, selecting, and watching movies is completely satisfying. There may be some issues with pricing, business model, selection, etc., but when it comes down to the core functionality of the Moviebeam system, it does exactly what its supposed to do, and it does it well. Once the movie is playing you have complete control over the playback experience, including slomo, frame-by-frame, and multiple speed fast-forward and rewind modes. Also, a convenient chapter skip button skips ahead a fixed time interval. After some hands-on use, I have to say, the product is quite fun to use, and a welcome addition to my home.
It’s been fairly well documented that you can Sling television feeds around the world, but Hobotech Ron and I wondered what type of quality one could expect outputting that signal to TV. So in the name of science, we broke several international laws to conduct an intercontinental experiment. Ron loaded up his Dell laptop with the SlingPlayer and viewed my Washington, DC-based Slingbox feed from his home in Canberra, Australia. As you can see above, video quality was decent on his rear projection TV with a consistent 320kbps-350kbps download bitrate (which is about what I get here in the US). We believe the limiting factor is not distance, but rather my DSL upload speed which is capped at 384kbps.
Ron says: I hooked it up to the RearPro via S-Video and my wife and I watched it for quite a while and came to the conclusion that, while less than perfect we would be quite happy to watch it, if it provided us with material we couldn’t get from any other source. A little bit like food, while one might prefer a steak, a hamburger will usually do quite well if that’s all that’s available!
TiVo quietly updated their Mac Desktop software from version 1.9.2 to 1.9.3 as a Universal binary. While this isn’t huge news, it does indicate TiVo hasn’t entirely forsaken Mac users and that development is ongoing. Perhaps we’ll still see OS X TiVoToGo support this year.
UPDATE: Dennis Wilkinson has discovered and documented how to enable an unsupported feature of the new Desktop software… Macs can now send MPEG2 video to TiVo! How cool is that?
Alex over at TiVoBlog discovered the TiVo-branded wireless adapter selling at Buy.com for $44.99 with free shipping. Dell is coming in at a low 39.95, but they’re charging shipping (this week) for orders under $50. Amazon and TiVo.com have the adapter in stock at the $49.99 list price. If you have an impulse control problem and need the adapter now, your local Best Buy and CompUSA should have inventory. Yes, this will work with your new dual tuning TiVo!