While Best Buy often functions as an uncompensated showroom for online sales, given massive Alexa and Fire TV displays, the big box store is clearly a valued Amazon retailer. As such, the two companies have announced a significant partnership expansion that sees Best Buy replacing Roku on Insignia house-brand sets with the Fire TV experience. Also, interestingly, Best Buy will not only sell these televisions in-store but optionally through Amazon.com for the first time.
Hot on the heels of Philo announcing plans for Fire TV and Apple TV apps comes
testimony word that AT&T will soon launch Watch. To hit the $15 price point, these two over-the-top streaming services provide fewer channels and do away with sports-centric programming that drives up licensing costs. For comparison, Sling TV starts at $20/mo … with ESPN. And most bundles run significantly more (although include a broader channel lineup, with local networks in many markets, and additional features like unlimited DVR from YouTube TV @ $40/mo). On the flip side, Philo will provide access to bundle networks’ dedicated apps and corresponding library of on-demand content — even the skinniest of bundles may be more appealing and cost-effective than individual network subscriptions. Sorry CBS All Access ($6/mo).
Nuvvyo, the company behind Tablo and a ZNF advertiser, has just updated their headless OTA DVR line up with the Tablo Dual Lite. However, there’s not much “lite” about the new dual-tuner unit other than a significantly lower price point than the Tablo Dual. Whereas the Dual retails for $220, the Lite weighs in at a competitive $140 — more in line with transcoding HDHomeRun pricing. In fact, in some ways the Lite (MSRP $140) exceeds the capabilities of the original Dual (MSRP $220) — sporting a slightly better tuner, with integrated demodulator, and slightly better AC WiFi chip that may result in some minor real-world performance improvements when confronting marginal broadcast or wireless coverage scenarios. What you’d be giving up is the integrated high-quality 64GB eMMC storage, good for about 40 hours of HD recording. However, with external drive pricing so low there’s really not much downside. And, in fact, the Tablo Dual Lite offers a free trial of the company’s new Cloud DVR.
As Apple’s original video production costs reportedly balloon past a billion and given recent music video app consolidation, I wonder what sort of distribution methods the company will employ when content begins arriving in 2019. Will these shows be accessed via an Apple Music subscription (as Carpool Karaoke is) similar to Google Play Music with YouTube Red and to better take on Spotify, sold independently via iTunes, or packaged within an entirely new video streaming offering? The latter strikes me as unlikely – for comparison, Netflix had millions of customers before venturing into original content (and marketing still remains a challenge). Might they employ a multifaceted approach that also includes syndication to a Hulu or leverage existing partner Disney, with its own upcoming streaming service? And then there’s the episodic question – all at once like Netflix or a weekly trickle like CBS All Access and Hulu?
As so many of us have replaced both land and VoIP lines with cellular service, and given the telco-cable incumbents largely cornering the residential VoIP market, Ooma appears to have successfully expanded their telephonic services into business sector. And now, via the FCC, we learn Ooma intends to similarly expand their hardware into Cisco and Avaya territory with the corporate-looking DP1 Desk Phone. Although, interestingly, the DP1 manual indicates Ooma Telo hub pairing is required (and the display does indicate home office)… vs. Ooma Office. Presumably, this core competency initiative will fare better than their smart home aspirations that have been overshadowed by well-established and noisier competitors.
Back when the cellular providers offered very few minutes for very many dollars, I swore by Ooma – especially when working 3,000 miles from the office. And I will fondly remember them and their stellar performance as I currently drink of the unlimited Verizon and T-Mobile firehose (and try to take as few calls as possible).
Google has finally joined the doorbell camera fray with the Nest Hello. First introduced way back in September, they’ve met their first quarter target as the $229 units are now available at a variety of retailers, including select Home Depot and Fry’s… although the official street date is supposedly tomorrow, March 15th. I find Nest camera hardware and service pricey, compared to much of the competition and for similar functionality (with continuous recording something of a deficit in my estimation), so I’m awaiting Adam’s thoughts when he (temporarily?) swaps his Ring Pro, as I have no intention of making a purchase.