echostar-sage

After a several years of TV-centric home automation tech demos at CES, Echostar got serious and recently unveiled “Sage” – their “secure” take on the space and presumably targeted to siblings partners like DISH and overseas providers, versus selling direct to consumers à la Staples Connect or Smarthings.

From the Rethink Technology Research newsletter:

EchoStar is planning on expanding its set top range firmly into the smart home with the new Sage home controller and device ecosystem. […] The box itself contains ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth Low Energy and WiFi radios. […] With a single push the UI would pop up onto the screen and shrink the TV picture into the top right quarter. […] The back end architecture is all based on the existing Sling infrastructure that EchoStar already has in place, and there are plans to add the Sage tag to other Dish products.

Beyond their HDMI-out hub and third party device support, Echostar just passed their own wireless doorbell, light switch module and home automation dongle through the FCC. Continue Reading…

Soundfreaq Pocket Kick Review

Adam Miarka —  October 10, 2014 — 1 Comment

soundfreaq6

Previously on ZNF, we had the opportunity to review two Bluetooth speakers, the massive, if not questionably looking, G-Boom speaker, and the Pringles shaped Logitech Ultimate Ears Boom. Both of these speakers had their pros and cons depending on your situation. The G-Boom was great for parking in one place and letting the music rock. The UE Boom on the other hand offered a smaller package, great sound, and the ability to update features via firmware updates. Today we’ll be looking at an even more compact – the $100 Soundfreaq Pocket Kick.

Hardware and Setup

Compared to the sharp corners of the G-Boom or the circular shape of the EU Boom, the Soundfreaq Pocket Kick features a slab design with rounded off corners. The speaker grills are made of a steel featuring a nice pattern with the Soundfreaq logo in the middle. The outer edges of the of speaker feature a nice rubber material that makes the Pocket Kick easy to hold without slipping out of the hand.  The rubber sides also allow the speaker to stay put on any surface while the music is jamming. Speaking of size, the Pocket Kick is the smallest of the three speakers we’ve had the chance to review. It’s roughly the size of an iPhone 5s from a surface area perspective, and about 3 times as deep. Continue Reading…

By way of the FCC and the USPTO, we learn Jawbone may have a variety of new activity trackers and services in the works. We can discern a few things from the “JL06″ filing… Given the test submissions, naming convention, and removable battery this is clearly not a Bluetooth earpiece. Further, in regards to labeling, the Jawbone UP fitness band is listed as the JL01 – suggesting this gadget lives within the same product category, versus representing, say, a new Jambox. Lastly, a number of trademark submissions refer to additional entries in the UP line, including the UP Move, UP2, UP3, and UP4. Our very own Adam Miarka wonders if this “handheld” device requiring “a small coin” to insert or replace the battery might be something akin to the Misfit Shine puck or Magellan Echo Fit watch. We’ll continue to monitor and speculate as we anxiously await the new Fitbit and Jawbone healthful widgetry.

amazon-instant-4k-video

As expected, Amazon Instant streaming has gone 4k this month… via a number of award-winning blockbusters such as Vendetta and Time Runners. Michael S sent in a few snaps from his brand spanking new Vizio P Series (which I’m contemplating) and 4k video is designated via a small UHD banner in the upper left of the box. Although Michael tells us the label is inconsistently applied and I’m not certain if the content is natively 4k or if the video has been upscaled from 1080. Irrespective, the future is here… should any of these titles appeal and our bandwidth caps be sufficiently generous.

Redbox Instant is shutting down October 7

By way of the TiVo Community and an FCC filing, we learn that TiVo has petitioned the powers that be for access to customers of a combined AT&T and DirecTV – should the merger be approved (now with NFL in the bag). And they do make a compelling argument… including drawing a clever parallel to Ma Bell (which is entirely unrelated to the current entity in anything other than name).

Any FCC action approving the merger of the leading DBS MVPD and the leading IPTV MVPD must require that the merged company comply meaningfully and effectively with existing law, including Section 629’s obligation to support commercial competitive devices.

If the merger is allowed, the merged company, in addition to being the largest MVPD, will be the only MVPD to supply programming and services via both direct satellite and wired transmissions. With its national scope, the new AT&T will in certain respects resemble the original AT&T system — a system that was required to open its network to device competition under the Commission

Further, TiVo doesn’t pull any punches in regards to DirecTV, leading us to wonder if their current partnership has soured in some way. TiVo has previously indicated discontent in regards to DTV’s decision to develop and deploy the prior TiVo experience…

TiVo’s experience with DIRECTV has shown that technical access to programming has not been a stumbling block to the use of retail devices. Device competition has been constrained, instead, by DIRECTV’s business objective of controlling the relevant device market, in a manner contrary to the intent of Section 629 and Commission regulations.

roku-screen-mirroring-settings

By way of several support notes, perhaps posted a bit early, we learn that Roku is set to unveil mobile device screen mirroring. It’s not clear if these are the Miracast capabilities originally predicted by GigaOm in 2013 or something entirely different, but we do know the feature is currently limited to Roku 3 and Roku Stick (HDMI) hardware and it’s suggested both the Android or Windows Phone streaming device and Roku reside on the same network for best performance. Beyond straight up screen mirroring, Firefox Video Casting is also revealed and is more Chromecast (DIAL) in presentation. Desktop mirroring is referenced too, but a mechanism to pass the content has yet to be described… also, noticeably absent is iOS. I expect we’ll learn more shortly! Continue Reading…