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Intro
A few weeks back, we put the G-Boom rugged Bluetooth speaker through its paces and concluded that it packs some impressive sound in a distinct looking package. This time around, we’re looking at the competing Ultimate Ears Boom ($200) which offers some unique features not seen on the G-Boom, while shrinking the overall speaker size.

Hardware
The UE Boom, by Logitech, reminds me of holding a can of Pringles, but slightly smaller and definitely less salty. The circular shape is intended to allow sound to travel 360 degrees from the speaker. On one end of the tube, there is a power button and Bluetooth pairing/switching button. The UE Boom supports Bluetooth up to 50ft and NFC pairing. I can attest to the range using my iPhone 5s and Chromebook. Having the speaker out back for a bonfire, I was easily able to move around the yard without any issues in streaming. Continue Reading…

verizon-symmetry

As my two year subscription comes to an end, Verizon is courting me with free HBO and an upcoming boost in FiOS upload speeds to match download numbers:

Dear Customer: Thank You! The free speed upgrade is part of Verizon’s continuing commitment to recognize customers for their loyalty. Customer upgrades to equalized download and upload speeds will continue throughout the fall, starting with customers enrolled in My Rewards+ or who join the program now. When completed, more than 95 percent of existing FiOS customers will enjoy the upgrade equalizing their Internet download and upload speeds.

comcastic

Both Comcast and Verizon are good homes for TiVo owners. Yet, my FiOS Internet remains cap-free (compared to Comcast’s indecision on the matter) and I’m permitted to stream HBO GO via Roku – factors that led me to Verizon in the first place. Of course, Comcast isn’t ready to give up on my business having enabled TiVo Xfinity On Demand across their footprint, with a slightly better channel lineup, and weekly mailers offering attractive promotional rates (including a $200 gift card). But do I really want to go to the hassle of making a change … in light of Verizon’s Slingbox-loving upload increase? Hm.

tivo-flash

Until now, the best way to get a deal on TiVo Roamio hardware was to cozy up to a reseller. Well, for what looks like a short while, their preferred pricing is now available in a more convenient manner via TiVo’s “summer flash” sale… with a few caveats. The base Roamio model with over-the-air capabilities is not available, perhaps so as to not undercut Best Buy, and the Pro model isn’t worth the $200 surcharge given low drive prices and a simple upgrade path. Which puts the $600 TiVo Roamio Plus in the sweet spot – 6 tuners and Lifetime service, shipped free. Of course, the upfront costs are hard to swallow for many (despite ultimate savings for cable subscribers over time) and I can’t recommend 4-tuner Premiere owners upgrade given similar capabilities in light of improved performance. But for those on older platforms, seeking more tuners, will benefit from native iPad playback, or simply awaiting a deal, this is probably as good as it gets over the near term.

mohu-channels-with-remote

After something of a rocky launch, Mohu Channels shipping will resume for Kickstarter backers. Tuning and heat-related issues in the Android-powered, cord cutting widget were not hardware-based and have been resolved via software adjustments:

The issue was caused by noise induced on the signal path from the tuner front end as it traveled to the processor. The problem was resolved by changing the frequency of the intermediate carrier to a less susceptible frequency.

The Electronic Program Guide, which is the information collected from the OTA broadcast signal for the program lineup on each channel, would stick in an endless loop, causing the microprocessor to overwork

Further, beta time shifting is a go! Continue Reading…

tivo-cablecard

As TiVo turns the software corner, not only have they banished the poorly performing and ill-supported Adobe framework in favor of Haxe, but they’re leading the charge (as proposed by RCN and given the FCC’s apparent indifference) to replace unwieldy, antiquated cable hardware with a more sensible digital approach… with a little help from their cable allies. How TiVo hopes to evolve beyond the dastardly CableCARD and SDV tuning adapter:

Comcast, TiVo Working On Non-CableCARD Approach
TiVo and Comcast have agreed to collaborate on a two-way, non-CableCARD security platform that would enable TiVo boxes bought at retail to access Comcast’s full lineup of linear programming as well as the MSO’s video-on-demand service.

TiVo Crafts ‘Embedded’ Switched Digital Video Tech
the embedded SDV implementation uses a proxy in the network, enabling the TiVo box outfitted with the updated software client to communicate through an IP channel and access channels in the switched tier [...] is initially in place to support TiVo devices deployed by the company’s MSO partners

Goodnight Oyster, Amazon Preps "Kindle Unlimited" Subscription

slingbox-m1

The Slingbox M1 has arrived and, as expected, Echostar’s smallest, lowest priced placeshifter packs WiFi… along with a variety of software enhancements across the board. As General Manager Michael Hawkey tells me, they intend to significantly grow their footprint with the $150 M1 and associated marketing: “Go big or go home.” While I can’t say for sure what the “M” stands for, amidst increased competition from all corners, their goal is to move beyond road warriors and sports fanatics (often one in the same) to target mainstream, millennials, and mobility.

Like all Slingboxen, the M1 is designed to relay one’s home television content to other parts of the house or beyond… without pesky studio agreements and provider restrictions limiting us. Also, unlike TiVo’s half-assed approach, Sling’s agnostic – operating on both WiFi and cellular networks via a wide array of platforms, including Apple, Android, and computer operating systems. Further, mobile app-powered Apple TV and Roku Slingbox video endpoints are newly improved. Continue Reading…