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As Google modernizes their Chrome web browser, Sling has alerted customers that they’re unprepared to continue streaming support at this time.

As part of their 64-bit upgrade process, Google is discontinuing the support of 32-bit browser extensions for Mac OS X and Windows computers. Since the current version of Watch on Slingbox.com for Mac and PC uses a 32-bit browser extension, it is therefore no longer supported by the latest version of the Chrome browser. You won’t be able to stream from your Slingbox using the latest version of the Chrome browser. We are in the process of addressing this issue and are expecting a temporary interruption of the free, web-based Slingplayer service for Chrome browsers version 39 and above.

While Sling has once again released a desktop client (yes!), it’s incomplete and support hasn’t been extended to most models (not to mention the software is next to impossible to find) — so that’s not an option for most impacted by this news. Indeed, in speaking with Sling last June, I got the sense that their player intentions were somewhat in flux… so it’ll be interesting to see where we ultimately land. For the interim, I guess us Slingbox owners have one more reason to keep Yahoo’s Firefox around.

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Background

Three years ago, Nest announced their first smart thermostat clocking in at $250. While others balked at the price, I saw the value of something that could potentially reduce our family energy expenditure. And save money we did! Despite the upfront cost of the Nest, after having used the device that first twelve months, I estimated we dropped our gas and electric bill by $500 for the year. The second year, the savings continued. I offloaded my 1st generation Nest and upgraded to the 2nd generation Nest along with adding a few of the Nest Protect smoke alarms to the house.

But despite seemingly being all-in on the Nest platform, there recently have been a few changes to both their products and the thermostat market in general that have me rethinking our current setup – including potentially switching out to a new brand. First, Google acquired Nest. As much as I appreciate Google’s ability to find pretty much anything on the Internet, I have reservations in providing them too much data, especially when it comes to our home. Call me paranoid all you want, but that’s simply how I feel.

Second, the Protect product seemed so promising at first release. Our Nest is situated in the dining room which is rarely accessed when we are in the house, therefore the Nest can not accurately tell when we are home or not.  With the wired Protects, Nest would be able to monitor our house for motion and help adjust the auto features which would alleviate the Nest from not being able to “see” us when we were home.  I found that this really didn’t work so well when we had our four-legged furry friends running around the house during the day. I was hoping that the Protects would help build a better picture of our occupancy of our home, but it really didn’t seem to add much smarts to the Nest, just false alarms for movement.

Enter Ecobee3

To tell you the truth, I really didn’t pay that much attention to the Ecobee3 launch back in September. For the most part, I was happy with my Nest and really didn’t see much benefit to the Ecobee3. I was wrong. After noticing a few of the tech sites I follow start to post more about the Ecobee3, the more I became interested. This was especially the case when I payed attention to the remote sensors that can be added to the Ecobee3. Could this solve the problem that my current Nest platform has with not being able to determine not only occupancy of the house, but also the correct temperature for the different rooms? Continue Reading…

After 12 hours with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, some thoughts…

The remote feels exceedingly cheap compared to the premium clicker that ships with the full-fledged Fire TV box and I had some difficulty removing the battery cover. Having said that, a flimsy remote is infinitely more valuable than no remote… versus Google Chromecast, which requires a smartphone for interaction.

In the app department, the Fire TV UI remains somewhat unwieldy compared to Roku given its expected emphasis of Amazon services – but it’s certainly manageable, More importantly, the third party content selection is still lacking. For example, our kitchen TV is perfectly suited for CNN or Sky News (as seen on Apple TV) background noise, yet neither are available. Also missing, but expected soon, is HBO GO. I had no problems streaming Netflix and WatchESPN – both looked great. Plex also seems to be working wellContinue Reading…

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Nearly a year after RCN and perhaps behind schedule, Atlantic Broadband has launched their iteration of the streaming TiVo web portal, proving once again that TiVo is something more than a DVR manufacturer – providing a variety of software and integration services to cable providers both here and abroad. Indeed, Atlantic Broadband is a subsidiary of relatively new TiVo licensee Cogeco and one would expect a similar online offering to hit Canada in 2015.

The first cut of Atlantic Broadband’s portal consists of 35,000 on demand titles and live video from up to 40 content providers. However, much more interesting is the direct linkage into ones own DVR. While it’s evident that Season Pass management is present and recordings are “available in your recommendations,” it’s not entirely clear that customers can stream all/some/none of their DVR-ed shows set-top-to-computer and if it’s limited to in-home access only. The “Watch Now” icon does provides hope that at least some content is available in certain locales … and perhaps this modern rendition of TiVo To Go might one day be made available to us retail customers.

DirecTV Samsung 4K

This probably isn’t the year to buy an Ultra HD TV for that special holiday someone. Despite nearly-reasonable prices ($1400 for this Samsung 55-incher), there just isn’t a lot of 4K content yet to enjoy on a new TV.

However, if you’re dead set on the idea, there’s good news coming at you from DirecTV. The satellite provider has started to deliver 4K content to Samsung TVs that are paired up with the Genie HD DVR. Initially, the 4K catalog only includes nature documentaries along with 19 movies from Paramount Pictures and K2 Communications. But DirecTV says there are “more titles to be announced soon.”

DirecTV also makes a point of noting that it is “the first multi-channel video provider to offer 4K Ultra HD programming direct to customers’ TVs.” Back at CES in January, Comcast said it would launch a 4K app for Samsung TVs before the end of the year, but that’s looking less and less likely by the day. Bet we’ll have more announcements at CES 2015!

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By way of retired blogger Brent Evans, we learned that Google Fiber customers have started receiving next generation hardware. An updated Fiber Jack now receives power-over-Ethernet from a new Network+ Box … that combines both broadband router and DVR storage into a single enclosure with this go around while expanding wireless capabilities to 802.11ac/n. Lastly, the updated TV Box (shown above) is smaller, squarer, and now entirely silent. Beyond feeding “cable” to the television, each dual band unit also acts as a WiFi extender. We’re hopeful that Google will ultimately enable more than 4 per home at some point, given the wireless enhancements and as Brent says this is a common complaint. Also, based on a prior FCC pop, we’re still awaiting a refreshed Bluetooth LE remote. Lastly, on the content front, Google picked up HBO GO and Showtime Anytime within the last few weeks. Score!

72 Hours with iPhone 6

Dave Zatz —  November 15, 2014 — 22 Comments

While I’m the CTO of the Zatz household, my wife Melissa is also capable of making tech purchasing decisions… and living with the consequences.

After years with Blackberry, I’ve truly become an Apple fan girl. For the less tech savvy, such as myself, I find Apple products quite intuitive, making for a fun and effective user friendly experience. When I gave up an iPad and iPad Mini to try the more economical Kindle Fire HDX, I was ultimately frustrated with its quirky operating system and lack of software polish. From what I can tell, these issues continue and I’m betting Dave will imminently return his recently purchased Fire. (Dave disputes this but he hates it when I’m right!). Like many others, my motto is “why fix what isn’t broke”? Apple has figured out a way to make technology easy, enjoyable, and super sexy looking.

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As soon as the 4.7″ iPhone 6 was released Dave encouraged me to upgrade from my 4″ 5s. I use my smartphone for the majority of my web surfing and Internet needs. I actually use it more than my laptop — thanks to apps like Scanner Pro and eFax, I can even handle many work-related tasks on my phone. Dave and I also travel frequently and I’d rather not tote multiple devices. I want one gadget that will serve as my phone, my Kindle, and my web browser. As such, Dave believed I would enjoy the larger screen from my “all in one” device. I wasn’t easily convinced that we needed to spend $750 on a new phone when my 5s, although lacking in storage space, was seemingly meeting all my needs. Dave prefers I sport the newest product because it usually means a better or more efficient experience. I eventually gave in to his encouragement and I’ve been using he iPhone 6 for a few days now. I cannot say I’m in love just yet but I’m definitely interested.

I will leave the more credible tech reviews to Dave and other experts, but here are a few of my initial thoughts. Continue Reading…