Accessing Roku’s Secret Menu

Dave Zatz —  September 23, 2014 — 4 Comments

roku-secret-screen

While I’d been vaguely familiar with a prior version of Roku’s service menu, I hadn’t yet stumbled upon the one associated with their newer user interface… Until a co-worker mentioned he’d had some issues resulting in Roku support directing him here. While there’s not a whole lot of interest for most of us on any sort of regular basis, I do believe it’s my digital media civic duty to document its existence. So, to bring up the Roku Secret Screen:

  • Click the Home button 5 times
  • Click the Fast Forward button three times
  • Click the Rewind button twice

It’s not Konami Code difficult, but remember to use the transport controls versus the directional arrows. And I should probably warn you that selecting the wrong option in this menu could possibly brick your device… although I doubt that’s likely.

(Thanks Keith!)

With Vudu and Amazon Instant soon set to join the likes of Netflix and YouTube, as TiVo begins redefining themselves as a “Streaming Player,” we have a few usability enhancements to suggest. Because, as it stands, getting into TiVo’s over-the-top apps requires quite a few clicks compared to a Roku. So my first suggestion is simply repurposing the TiVo button on the remote – a double click would bring power users straight to the existing (or better) app menu. Next, as to the menu itself, instead of a vertical listing of services featuring logos of varying widths, I’d like to see a grid of standardized app buttons for quicker access and recognition, along with improved provider parity. Lastly, TiVo’s mobile app should be updated for direct app “dialing” as available to Roku owners since 2010.

The A&E Streaming Infographic

Dave Zatz —  September 22, 2014 — 4 Comments

aande-infographic

In conjunction with the A&E, History, and Lifetime Channel apps launching on Fire TV, A+E Networks hit us with an interesting infographic. And, while it’s far too large to run in its entirely, we’ve chopped up a portion above. Beyond the numbers, and without knowing how exactly they measure an Apple TV “download,” A+E elaborates:

On average, XBOX 360 users watch 292% more videos per user than Apple TV and 21% more than Roku. Roku users watch 224% more than Apple TV users.

Further, reinforcing data previously provided in regards to the Verizon FiOS Xbox app, A+E Networks report viewing peaks each evening about 10-11PM. And 88% of connections by those running “mobile” apps occur over WiFi versus cellular.

The Curious TiVo Roamio OTA

Dave Zatz —  September 21, 2014 — 32 Comments

roamio-v-roamio-ota

The new TiVo Roamio OTA is a curious beast, In fact, we’ve fielded more questions on it than any other product the DVR pioneer has released in recent years.

Unlike TiVo’s prior attempt at targeting cord cutters, instead of lowering services fees on existing hardware, this time around they’re dropping box cost. The prior base 4-tuner cable/OTA Roamio runs $200 (MSRP), whereas the Roamio OTA clocks in at a mere $50. And, according to The Verge, the only physical differences may be limited to an empty CableCARD compartment… now that we’ve confirmed the Roamio OTA will indeed stream to TiVo Mini extenders and WiFi is present. And, with that in mind, the hardware likely costs TiVo more than $50 to market, manufacturer, and support – hence the requisite $15 monthly fee… which, depending on length of ownership, flips to TiVo’s benefit at some point (as there’s no way “guide data” runs double Netflix’s content licensing). Related, TiVo has made the business decision to exclude the Roamio OTA for Lifetime Service.

Assuming you’re OK with the monthly fee, TiVo remains the best retail DVR — not that they have many competitors. And, the ability to add extenders at $150/pop with the potential of other end points, moves it well ahead of the Channel Master DVR+. Plus, as the box advertises, the Best Buy exclusive Roamio OTA is indeed a “Streaming Player” for a handful of over-the-top services including Netflix and Pandora… with Amazon and Vudu arriving later this fall. However, for cord cutters on a budget, a used Lifetimed 2-tuner TiVo Premiere remains the best deal in town … given a massive, recent software update bringing Roamio parity.

New Logitech Harmony remotes, apps control smart home devices too

kindle-family-library

Beyond unveiling a boatload of new Kindle reader and Fire tablet hardware, Amazon finally gets with the program in allowing households (or close approximations) to share their digital media. Not that the current situation has prevented my wife, mom, and I from sharing our Kindle books and Amazon Instant Prime video streaming, Amazon will soon smooth the experience and remove the criminal element by delivering a Family Library:

Never again worry about whose account has the Prime membership or who bought that book you want to read. Family Library links your Amazon account to that of your spouse or partner so you can easily share apps, games, audiobooks, books, and Prime Instant Video content within your household without changing accounts. Family Library lets families share their content across multiple devices, including Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets, Fire phone, and Amazon Fire TV, as well as on all of the other most popular devices and platforms with the free Kindle, Audible, and Amazon Instant Video apps. Family Library will be coming soon as part of a free, over-the-air software update.

Further, Amazon one ups the iPad by bringing Profiles to their line of Android-based Fire tablets:

Give everyone a personalized experience—each family member gets his or her own Profile, including individual email, Facebook and Twitter accounts, settings such as display brightness, page in the book, spot in a movie, and game levels, without taking up extra storage on the device for multiple copies of large files like videos and games.

At long last, Slingbox owners can now beam their television content from one TV to another set in the home or abroad via a $35 Chromecast. As revealed a few months backSlingbox M1, 350 and 500 (aka SlingTV) models are supported via new Android and iOS updates in conjunction with new Chromecast device code. Cleverly, iOS apps already have hidden Chromecast capabilities that will be activated on the backend, while a new Android app download is expected any moment now. Continue Reading…