By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Internet giant Alphabet Inc <GOOGL.O>, the new holding company for Google, expects to begin delivering packages to consumers via drones sometime in 2017, the executive in charge of its drone effort said on Monday. David Vos, the leader for Alphabet’s Project Wing, said his company is in talks with the Federal Aviation Administration and other stakeholders about setting up an air traffic control system for drones that would use cellular and Internet technology to coordinate unmanned aerial vehicle flights at altitudes under 500 feet (152 meters).

Google's Project Wing drone makes a delivery in this undated demonstration video. REUTERS/Courtesy of Google

Google’s Project Wing drone makes a delivery in this undated demonstration video. REUTERS/Courtesy of Google

“Our goal is to have commercial business up and running in 2017,” he told an audience at an air traffic control convention near Washington. Continue Reading…

As promised, some of the new elements found in the TiVo Bolt have begun trickling down to Roamio (and Premiere?) environments. TiVo Mini is up first with newly applied guide logos and “Quick Mode” to playback content at 1.3x speed.

While I’m happy to see older gear continuing to receive updates, neither of these features does much for me. Given the wide array of presentation, channel logos in the guide mostly clutter things up – it remains to be seen if I’ll more quickly identify what I’m looking for. Not that I use the guide very often… as a DVR owner… with highly competent search functionality (frequently accessed via TiVo’s smartphone app) . Even though I don’t have a use case, I do imagine my wife would enjoy the pitch-perfect Quick Mode to get through long award show presentations or episodes of Dancing with the Stars, assuming she remembers it exists and how to toggle it – it’s not exactly intuitive.

But, what would interest me, despite its limitations, is TiVo’s new SkipMode commercial avoidance feature. Also, the generally modernized interface would be a welcome addition. And at least one of these is bound to happen.

(Thanks Dan and Nick!)

Apple TV – Did you buy one?

Dave Zatz —  October 30, 2015

The [new] Apple TV reviews are out. And it seems to be something of a mixed bag. No, Apple TV hasn’t redefined television here and there isn’t much that sets it apart from a Roku or Fire TV. However, the hardware and presentation seem much more polished than the competition – despite some notable inconsistencies (Siri). The lack of 4k isn’t necessarily a huge deal at this point … unless you consider Apple TV is 50-100% more expensive than Amazon’s $100 streamer, with 4k. The biggest initial ding is on the content front, as it’ll take some time for developers to retrofit their experiences (or create new ones) for the 10′ interface of tvOS. I’m sure I’ll pick an Apple TV up at some point. But probably not this month. You?

Roku TV Deals at Jet

Dave Zatz —  October 27, 2015

New e-commerce site Jet.com is attempting to attract customers with a generous 20% off coupon code – and I took the bait.

I assume there are many good deals to be had, but one in particular caught my eye. I’ve been looking to retire an awful 22″ Vizio television in favor of something a bit more modern. And, while I’d prefer 1080p, this 32″ TCL Roku TV ran me less than $160 – no taxes, no shipping fees. Which is pretty crazy when you stop to think that a Roku Stick alone runs about $50. (For something a bit beefier, one pal went with the 1080p 40″ Roku TV at $240.)

jet-coupon

Jet doesn’t actually stock some (or any?) of its inventory, with orders fulfilled by other retailers. In my case, the television was shipped by Electronics Express and will arrive tomorrow.

Anyone else see some good finds on Jet we should take advantage of. And I mean that quite literally. ;)

The already well-priced Amazon Basics HDMI cables see a discount today. They’re rated for the 1.4 spec – supporting 4k and ARC. And should be fine with everything else as well. The cables come in various lengths, ranging from 3′ to 25′ and I was motivated to pick up four more in a 3′ pair and a 6.5′ pair.

amazon-hdmi

TiVo to give away viewership data in 2016

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Amazon Music Prime Stations land on Sonos (in beta form)

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By way of The Donohue Report and Multichannel News, we seemingly learn that Slingbox will once again incorporate a tuner. While most folks hang a Slingbox off a DVR to meet their remote or mobile video needs, three prior models included tuners to placeshift unencrypted cable or over-the-air broadcasts. And it provided a real clean way to roll your own cloud TV service … long before “TV Anywhere” had entered the lexicon and cord cutting was a trend.

airtv

We first came across “AirTV” back in June and wondered if it might be some sort of Miracast solution. Given this new FCC-sourced “Slingbox OTA” label, it’s obviously something quite different. I doubt they’d incorporate DVR functionality given the additional complexity and expense, leaving those functions to the Echostar-produced Channel Master DVR+. As such, this really wouldn’t be a TiVo Bolt competitor. Pricing should be interesting — the new Slingbox M2 runs $200, but I’d think the sweet spot is closer to $150, even after dropping the mobile app fees (and adding ads to the experience).