The HDHomeRun Prime Giveaway

Dave Zatz —  August 6, 2014

hdhomerun-prime

Hot on the heels of our DLNA streaming piece, and amidst CableCARD uncertainty, we’re offering up our Silicon Dust HDHomeRun Prime review unit.

While humble in appearance, this little box is capable of tuning three simultaneous streams of digital cable, via a single CableCARD, and beaming the content across your home network. Those running Windows Media Center are best positioned to benefit from the Prime, with competent DVR capabilities. Yet, via that aforementioned DLNA support, all manner of devices are capable of receiving a subset of live cable programming – including PS3, Android, and Samsung smart TVs.

Entering is as easy as it gets — simply leave a comment if you want in. We’ll choose one winner at random in a few days.

DirecTV Extends TiVo Agreement Into 2018

Sadly, the initial fruits of their renewed labor haven’t been very compelling, leading some to wonder if DirecTV is doing the bare minimum to avoid costly licensing. And is it coincidental that TiVo’s Time Warp patent protection expires in 2018? Regardless, hope these guys have a higher def whole-home TiVo solution in the works for DirecTV subscribers. Given THR22 scarcity, there may indeed be something new in the pipeline…

Fellow tech enthusiast and DC neighbor Joel Ward continues his role as a Features contributor here at Zatz Not Funny. Beyond ZNF, Joel can be found at Joel Explains It All and @joelsef on Twitter.

In our crowd, just a few years back watching OTA and cable on your computer was all the rage. Platforms like Windows Media Center, SageTV, and SnapStream BeyondTV allowed you to attach a tuner to your PC, watch and pause live TV and record shows. I was all about Windows Media Center, and with the advent of Windows 7 it was available in every edition of the OS (well, except Home Basic). Instead of needing to buy a “Digital Cable Ready PC” like with Windows Vista, Windows 7 allowed WMC to view encrypted cable via a CableCard with the right tuner attached to any PC. Who needed a cable box anymore?

Continue Reading…

fiber-composite-tv-boxes-v2

Google Fiber beta invites are rolling out, shedding light on upcoming hardware consolidation. Via kcjak:

Just got an email from Google Fiber saying we’ve been selected into their test program. Test includes replacement of the hardware, which will combine the network box and storage box into a single unit, as well as upgrade of WIFI to 802.11ac. New Google Fiber app, as well, but currently supported only on Android platform.

We’re not entirely surprised as we’d previously documented incoming TV Box updates and recently stumbled upon this public image – picturing, for the first time, the v2 extender in the lower left. But cramming the Google Fiber router and television hub into a single, refreshed Storage Box is news, perhaps shedding light on Google’s ongoing service intentions. Continue Reading…

Comcast-Labs

While Comcast dicks around with TiVo, to presumably avoid costly Time Warp licensing and FCC scrutiny, the cable giant continues to crank away on their preferred platform – the X1, which has been deployed across 100% of their footprint and sees 20,000 new installs every day. And now, in possibly a first for a cableco, they’re ‘going Google’ by making pre-release features available to subscribers via “Comcast Labs”

Comcast engineers have added a subsection under “Settings / Preferences” called “Comcast Labs,” designed as a sandbox to beta test new features before they go live. Comcast Labs [...] serves as a playground where customers can test innovation before it receives the final stamp of approval. [...] beta features will be given a thorough test-drive to aggregate user data in order to determine whether they get the green light to officially launch on X1.

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slingplayer-chromecast

While we’d long ago heard from a reliable source that Slingbox Chromecast playback was a lock, Sling hasn’t communicated anything publicly in recent weeks … with “soon” having come and gone. However, Sling support staff has once again come through with pre-release intel:

Yes, a Slingbox M1 with the latest firmware (this would be updated during initial setup) will support SlingPlayer for Chromecast.

Having a Slingbox has always made it easy to watch your TV around the house, around town, or even around the world – on laptops, mobile phones, or tablets. SlingPlayer for Chromecast, combined with a Slingbox and SlingPlayer on your mobile device, allows you to extend your complete living room HDTV experience to any TV around your home, or to a TV in another location where you have an Internet connection. With SlingPlayer on your supported phone or tablet, you can stream your TV programs to a Chromecast device connected to a TV, and then onto the TV. And after you have established a connection with Chromecast, you can run other apps on your mobile device.

Note: This software only works with the Slingbox M1, Slingbox 350, or SlingTV/Slingbox 500

While the agent seems to suggest Chromecast support has launched, this isn’t actually the case. But we’re clearly getting real close. Continue Reading…

Chromecast set-up 1

A year after Google’s Chromecast launch, I am still a big fan of the TV streaming stick, but also a sporadic user at best.

Here are some of the Chromecast positives:

  • Free stuff! To celebrate the one-year anniversary, Google is offering three free months of Google Play Music All Access to Chromecast owners. (Although it may only be good for folks who haven’t tried Google music before. Dave had trouble registering.)
  • WatchESPN is now a Chromecast-supported app. My early-gen Roku box doesn’t get the online ESPN station, so this will become very important during college basketball season.
  • Full-screen Android mirroring is now a thing. Unfortunately device support is limited, but progress is progress.

My husband also had an interesting experience with Chromecast recently when he couldn’t get a Netflix episode of Mythbusters to run smoothly through our Roku. (Yes, we have FiOS, which has had trouble with Netflix quality.) Oddly enough, he found that casting the episode from his Chrome browser (not even from the Chromecast-supported Netflix app) improved quality significantly. I have no idea why this would be, but will experiment further to see what I can find out. (Different CDN handling the traffic??) Continue Reading…