verizon-math

For three of the last four years, I’ve been fortunate to live in markets where there’s choice in Internet and cable. Because where there’s competition, consumers generally see better rates and service. After Cox was unable to effectively support CableCARD in relation to SDV, despite contrary ra-ra reports to the FCC (indicating no complaints), we made our first jump to Verizon FiOS. A year or so later, when we flipped our 1976 house for new construction, we once again had a choice – that time between Comcast and Verizon. And, believe it or not, a deciding factor in choosing Verizon over Comcast was their decision to block HBO GO on Roku.

Fast forward two years, my Verizon agreement is up today. Which both VZ and Comcast must know given the quantity of mailers we’ve received these last couple weeks. 30 days ago, it’d have been a hard decision to make. But Ryan Block’s painful attempt to cancel service and Scott Lewis’ difficulty in getting CableCARD in his TiVo going, in conjunction with Comcast’s continued HBO GO Roku blockade, sealed the deal… despite promises of several hundred-dollar gift cards and the real interesting Xfinity plan (displayed below) of basic cable, Internet, and HBO GO (that I couldn’t actually watch on my preferred streamer). Continue Reading…

tivo-big

By way of the TiVo Community and whispers on the wind, we learn that TiVo intends to launch a new, higher-end DVR at CEDIA early next month… despite laying off their in-house industrial design hardware team. As to what comes after Roamio Plus and Pro, one can only guess. Assuming TiVo even sticks with the cutesy moniker for the custom install crowd, they’ve previously appended both Elite and XL to higher capacity models. First and foremost, that’s exactly what we expecting here. Whereas the Roamio Pro tops out at 3TB, I have reason to believe this incoming model will provide significantly more recording capacity, although it’s not entirely clear if this is accomplished via a single 4-6TB drive OR multiple drives working in concert for outrageous amounts of storage.

Beyond the hard drive bump, might we see 6 more tuners, powered by a second CableCARD, to take on the ridiculous? Signs point to no, but perhaps there are other surprises in store. I know I still miss that old Series 3 OLED display – it just oozed orange coolness (assuming your DVR wasn’t in a cabinet). Not to mention, maybe TiVo’s top unit should ship with learning Slide remote. And we wonder if it’s still too early for 4k. Guess we’ll find out in a few short weeks… What’s on your hardware wishlist?

Samsung acquires SmartThings for a reported $200M

peq-box

As if we didn’t have enough smart home hub entrants, Peq appears poised to launched. Pronounced “peek”, we believe this newcomer is Best Buy’s answer to Lowe’s Iris and Staples Connect – a home automation solution we’ve been tracking since January. While sources originally indicated we’d see both a fee-free tier and subscription options, Peq marketing materials refer only to a monthly fee… which immediately puts it at a retail disadvantage compared to Staples, Wink, and SmartThings.

USE PĒQ FOR JUST $9.99 A MONTH. NO CONTRACT.

  • Make your own custom rules to personalize your service
  • Receive alerts via e-mail or text message
  • Add additional devices anytime, no additional monthly fee
  • Get ongoing updates to your apps and devices
  • Stream live video and record & store videos and pictures
  • Access pēq’s dedicated customer care team seven days a week

Unlike Revolv‘s extreme $299 hardware pricing, Peq has bundles starting at $120, that include a Netgear hub housing the requisite radios and likely local logic. And, taking a page from SmartThings book, Peq will offer up a variety of branded sensors… which is what a source indicates Best Buy is banking on. Continue Reading…

amazon-fire-tv-deal

While it’s maybe not quite the deal one can find with Roku or Chromecast, the up-and-coming Amazon Fire TV is momentarily discounted by 15 bucks to an all-time low $84. Featuring well designed hardware and regular updates thus far, Fire TV has replaced my Apple TV in the family room and is now our go-to box for Amazon Instant streaming. Having said that, there remain a number of app deficiencies, despite recent additions and promises of HBO GO this year.

4SeTV

Because one video stream is never enough, a start-up company called 4SeTV is planning to introduce a $99 retail box that lets users display up to four TV channels at once on one screen. The company is launching a Kickstarter campaign for the device on August 19th, but it’s also making the rounds with cable operators to see if there’s any interest in tying the hardware to a subscription service. Calling its product “the industry’s first personalized mosaic mode device,” 4SeTV says its technology works with both cable stations and over-the-air broadcasts.

The hardware part of the 4SeTV product is a small box that connects to your home router and an HDTV antenna. (Presumably the box can also be connected to a cable set-top.) You control the video interface through a mobile app, and then have the option to cast it to a networked television set. The company says the software will work with Internet-connected TVs, but also with the Google Chromecast.

I can think of very few occasions where I’d want to watch four different channels at once. But pick your favorite sports season and maybe there are enough times when multiple games are on to make mosaic mode worthwhile. For more info, check out the 4SeTV demo video. Continue Reading…

xbox-one-tv-streaming

While Microsoft has seemingly abandoned Windows Media Center, they’re clearly not done with television.

First, the company has announced an Xbox One USB television tuner for European markets that will run about 30 bucks, when it launches this fall. Beyond basic OTA tuning and the requisite One Guide integration, Microsoft also kindly provides a 30 minute buffer to pause, rewind, and advance. Even better and just announced yesterday, the Xbox One will stream this television content to devices around the home:

  • Stream TV to SmartGlass – launching first in markets receiving the Xbox Digital TV Tuner, Xbox One owners will be able to stream their TV across their home network to their smartphones and tablets using the Xbox SmartGlass app. They can also pause, play and rewind as well as change channels, without interrupting gameplay on the Xbox One. This will work for SmartGlass apps on Windows, iOS, and Android.

So, no US support off the bat. However, Microsoft leaves the door open… Continue Reading…