I Dumped T-Mobile for Verizon

Dave Zatz —  September 27, 2015

After nearly two years on T-Mobile, I’ve returned to Verizon. T-Mobile offers the best rates (of the major carriers), the most progressive policies, and stellar customer support. Yet, despite network improvements, their coverage continues to lag the competition (in the places I find myself) and we’ve concluded reliability must be our priority. Even in my high density, supposedly well-served area, it’s been kind of ridiculous driving home from work with my phone pinned between my sun visor and roof, while squinting from the glare, in hopes of preventing calls from being disrupted in some way (and rarely succeeding).

Verizon dropping the BS “activation” fee allowed me to contemplate coming back home. And, once in store to review the options, they made an offer we couldn’t refuse. My older iPhone 5s net a lofty $300 trade-in valuation — about double what T-Mobile and Gazelle offered. And, as an existing FiOS customer, $200 was knocked off iPhone 6s hardware pricing via some sort of promotion I wasn’t aware of but gladly took part in. To seal the deal, a few months down the line, I’ll be getting a $100 “port-in” credit as a “new” customer.

Our T-Mobile two-line plan included unlimited everything for $100/month, whereas the new Verizon plan runs $120 for a shared 12GB of LTE data. It’s obviously not as generous and at a higher rate. But, again, we’re willing to pay a premium for the best network. And our long national nightmare is over.

While we’re not exactly fond of Sling Media’s business practices, we remain enamored of their placeshifting technology which remains best of breed. Similarly, the DISH Hopper offers one of best DVR experiences out there. Indeed – the latest, greatest Hopper includes Slingbox capabilities to catch your content around the house or beyond via smartphone, tablet, computer, or streaming box. So it’s quite curious to see the Slingbox-powered Hopper Go pass through the FCC today (under the Echostar banner).

Is this a companion product, perhaps something akin to the TiVo Stream, to bring placeshifting capabilities to less full featured DVRs? Related, could this imply the DISH Hopper 3 doesn’t natively transcode and stream content? And given the “Go” designation, could this also provide video offload capabilities to catch that recording on a subway or plane without connectivity?

WWE Muscles Its Way Onto TiVo

Dave Zatz —  September 25, 2015

wwe-tivoI’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news. Which are one in the same. It’s a matter of perspective, I suppose.

As we twiddle our thumbs in anticipation of TiVo Bolt, the DVR pioneer’s next streaming app has presented itself. Nope, it’s not HBO, Showtime, nor ESPN. It’s WWE. Although I’m not overly excited, there are clearly a couple of you who will be once the app hits within the next few weeks. Continue Reading…

Aereo and Boxee live on with Simple.TV Cloud DVR

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Roku 4 Just Days Away

Dave Zatz —  September 21, 2015

The largely forgotten Cinema Now movie streaming service, once acquired and then sold by Best Buy, appears to have launched a promotion in cooperation with Roku… that seemingly announces the Roku 4. Or a line of 4k Rokus. Hard to tell if this is a clerical error or true indicator that a Roku 4 set-top and 4k-streaming Roku TVs will be available real soon. But the timing certainly seem reasonable.

roku4-promo

Of course, given what Amazon is doing with the new Fire TV and what Apple has neglected with their new hardware, I’d think an upgraded Roku would feature 4k UHD streaming resolution (in conjunction with beefed up processing power and memory).

UPDATE: By way of UKRokuChannels, the evidence continues to mount that Roku 4k is nearly here…

Roku4K-Showcase

UPDATE 2: New Rokus just passed thru the FCC. Given the documentation, I’m guessing it’s possible the 2015 Roku 2 & 3 could both be upgraded to new 4k hardware and that perhaps there is no actual “Roku 4.” It’s also possible these are a coincidental and minor hardware refresh of existing models — the plot thickens…

roku-4

UPDATE 3: What I believe to be the “real” Roku 4 (4400) has just passed thru the FCC. From the filing itself, we’ve learned it gains new wireless capabilities, including Bluetooth and dual band WiFi with support for 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac. Beyond that, we see a brand spanking new reset button – which could give a sense a scale and might suggest the Roku 4 is larger than than the existing Roku 2/3. Of course we assume this Roku 4 will stream 4k content and, rumor has it, that it’ll also pack a beefed up 2GB of memory. If the filing isn’t proof enough of a new unit, a 4400x has been showing up in app developer usage logs.

UPDATE 4: AFTVNews has turned up a new box … which we now know for certain is called the Roku 4. Of course, we still believe it’ll feature 4k streaming. But hopefully there are some other things going on here worthy of an upgrade, as Roku remains my preferred streamer.

roku-4

(Thanks AeroR1, via L7AV)

We know smart home is hard. Just ask Wink. Or Nest. Well, it turns out, Apple’s HomeKit hasn’t yet lived up to its promise. And, shortly after launch, Insteon pulled their HomeKit-compatible hub from the market… due to firmware issues and inventory limitations. Over two months later there are signs they’re ready to try again. But are you?

I’ve gotten to the point where most of my smart gear has been unplugged. And even my newly arrived Wemo bulbs haven’t been much fun. Not to mention the FBI now wants us to know networking everything may not be the best idea. So I guess I’m just going to get off the couch and walk over to my window blinds when they need to be opened. Or closed.

Google Nest… Powered by Amazon

Dave Zatz —  September 20, 2015

Amazon Web Services had a really bad Sunday AM. Specifically, resources in my ‘hood were sucking wind…

Amongst the large number of websites and cloud services inaccessible this AM, was Google’s Nest. Despite being a Google company, and for quite some time, their infrastructure rides Amazon. Which I find deliciously ironic.

More Sling Media Shenanigans

Dave Zatz —  September 18, 2015

Remember that Android or iOS SlingPlayer app that cost you $15 (or even $30!) to beam your Slingbox video around?  Well, the company is retiring it. And you’re welcome to replace it with a free, ad-infested variant.  Oh, you don’t like ads? Sling will gladly take another 15 of your hard earned dollars to remove them via an in-app purchase. At the very least, should your original app purchase cease to function, you’ll have some compelling new fodder for the class action lawsuit and I wonder if you can encourage iTunes to refund your original app purchase given its retirement and Sling’s double dipping.

sling-upgrade

UPDATE: It appears Sling may have changed course based on the feedback… and perhaps they had intended to take care of prior paying customers all along, but just failed in the communication department.

So, what we said yesterday about not supporting your paid version of Slingplayer after October 1? We realized that we could make things easier for everyone by just leaving things as they are, so the paid app will continue to be available and you don’t need to download the new, free Slingplayer app if you don’t want to.

But you should still download the new free app after October 1! It has great new features you don’t want to miss, and you’ll still have an ad-free experience. (As long as you download the free app from the same app store account you used to buy the original Slingplayer app)

(Thanks Mark P!)