Catching up with Simple.TV

Adam Miarka —  August 29, 2014 — 5 Comments

simpletv-home

Although our initial impressions of the dual tuner Simple.TV was less than stellar, the company has been hard at work not only updating the little cord cutting, place shifting black box, but also launching new features. Recently, I had the chance to talk to Simple.TV CEO Mark Ely to discuss some of these changes.

First, from a software perspective, Simple.TV will be moving away from Silverlight as the default player outside of Safari on Mac. Currently, if you’re using IE, Chrome, or Firefox on a Windows computer, you are required to install Silverlight for video playback of your shows or live TV. Chromebooks are not supported at the moment. A move away from Silverlight and to a more compliant HTML5 video player will allow Simple.TV to expand their device playback on Windows, but also for Chromebooks. Continue Reading…

wink-relay-controller

While Home Depot’s sell date may be 9/1, wireless Wink LED bulbs have started popping up on store shelves. And, along with them, is some very interesting box art… including the yet-to-be announced Wink Relay Controller. By way of Amazon and a Google cache, we learn the incoming device features:

  • 4.3″ multi-touch screen allows access to all your smart products via the Wink app
  • 2x smart light switches can be customized to turn lights, scenes, or other smart products on/off
  • Temperature, humidity, and proximity sensors put even more data at your fingertips
  • Microphone and speaker for intercom functionality (coming soon)
  • Replaces most single or double light switches

Continue Reading…

2014-08-28 13.10.51

After noticing that a few of my local Home Depot stores had the $15 Wink compatible GE Link LEDs in stock (60w variety), I decided to stop by during lunch to see if they were actually there. Lo and behold, I was able to find some for sale and brought them home!

The GE Links come in a simple box that gives the normal specs for an LED light bulb. A nice little graphic indicates that the bulb is compatible with the Wink Hub. On the back of the box are additional features of the bulb which include

  • Remote operation
  • Sync with other Wink products
  • Automated lighting / Scheduled lighting
  • Dimming ability
  • Usage of up to 22.8 years

Continue Reading…

By way of a new TiVo support note, we learn that TiVo has indeed been preparing for the inevitable MPEG4 transition as cable operators look to reclaim bandwidth (beyond dastardly SDV).

In October 2014, Comcast will transition its system in Augusta, Georgia, from MPEG2 format to MPEG4. This transition means that cable channels in this region will not be viewable on older equipment that is incompatible with the new format.

Roamio and Premiere units are ready to tune – having already cut their teeth on smaller scale channel conversions on Cox and FiOS. Unfortunately, TiVo Stream and Roamio Pro/Plus transcoding won’t be ready until 2015.

Streaming functionality will return in early 2015, when a software update that provides compatibility with MPEG4 will be released.

Sadly, due to innate hardware limitations, TiVo Series 1, 2, and 3/HD owners are mostly out of luck. And those in markets with MPEG4 cable programming are advised to upgrade to a newer TiVo or cable company-provided set-top.

sonos-boost

As Sonos consolidates amidst IPO speculation, by discontinuing the matte Black Sub and shortly dropping the wireless Bridge requirement, we’ve latched onto two new products.

From a source comes the screengrab above, which is the first reference I’ve seen to a Sonos Boost. While it could be an entirely new device, I wonder if might simply be a rebrand of the Connect products (used to network existing speakers) or even the Bridge itself given its Settings positioning. The only reference we’ve been able to dig up is this 2013 trademark filing. Which in turn…

…revealed the Sonos Playbase. Like the Boost, I can only guess what it might be (or when it will hit). Could this be an all-in-one speaker TV stand like the Bose Solo or Zvox line? Or some sort of dock for the portable, rechargeable Sonos speaker I want so badly?

Meanwhile, I’ve seen a few existing Sonos models take a second trip through the FCC – suggesting upcoming inline upgrades to bring beefed up wireless capabilities.

Amazon Launches Ad Network

Dave Zatz —  August 21, 2014 — 24 Comments

amazon-ads

As a for (gadget) profit entity, we’re often on the lookout for new methods of delivering relevant yet minimally intrusive advertising. And, one effective tool has been Amazon Associates. As Amazon sells just about everything, we can hopefully maintain a certain level of editorial neutrality by spiking the occasional post or tweet with an affiliate link to whatever product we happen to be discussing (and only endorse products worthy of endorsement).

Well, beyond Amazon sales, select Associates have been granted early access to a whole new program of banner advertising – beyond Amazon inventory and paid per impression, versus a sales commission. Continue Reading…

roku-tv

took a super brief look at Roku TV back at CES, but CNET is now out with a more thorough once over as pricing and timing have been revealed. And that pricing is extremely competitive, with the 32″ TCL running a mere $229. While that’s pretty darn good for a 720P smart TV with WiFi, CNET wonders if budget sets from Vizio might provide better picture quality, given local dimming… along with providing their own raft of apps. Of course, no one comes close to Roku’s breadth (even if the vast majority of their 2,000 over-the-top “channels” hold no appeal). Yet, at launch, the Roku TV doesn’t much compel me. In fact, they seemed to have overlooked some very interesting cord cutter interplay.

As with LG, “TV” is an app. In fact, highlighting the TV tile will even live-preview whatever’s being broadcast (as will any other input tile, such as a STB wired up via HDMI). But Roku’s very fine universal search doesn’t incorporate current or upcoming OTA programming. In fact, there’s no guide at all (as far as I know) – just a sidebar of tuned channels. Which, I suppose, is at least a step up from the yet-to-be-released Roku Antenna that requires you flip inputs between apps and TV.

roku-tv-guide

The Roku 3 remains my go-to streamer, besting Apple TV, Fire TV, TiVo, and Xbox One. And, if I were in the market for a budget smart set, for kitchen or office usage, I’d probably go with the Vizio – that also comes in a smaller 28″ size. Alternately, I’d simply get a “dumb” TV … and add over-the-top capabilities via the relatively inexpensive and clutter-free Chromecast or Roku Streaming Stick.