— Dave Zatz (@davezatz) April 21, 2017
Sony serves up one of the very best cord cutting offerings of a small, but growing, gaggle of services that largely replicate cable bundles in aggregating a number pay channels, but served up over the Internet, with more modern interfaces and features (except when they don’t). Unfortunately, by going with “PlayStation” Vue branding, confusion has arisen as, it’s become clear to me, that many folks don’t realize the agnostic service can be accessed from Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, and other non-Sony hardware. So, amidst this backdrop, it appears the company may be rethinking some things.
Sony emailed a small group of PlayStation Vue subscribers a survey called the Vue Naming Survey. Sony asked several questions about naming different areas. One area that was shared with Cord Cutters News was about a new name for the DVR section.
As foreshadowed by FCC documents, seemingly displaying a rear-firing speaker, ecobee4 product marketing materials that have come my way and a premature Lowe’s listing confirm the presence of Alexa… to not only adjust one’s temperature via far-field voice recognition, but leverage many if not all of Amazon’s voice assistant capabilities. Hey, look there’s even the signature blinking blue Alexa light pipe up top. The move isn’t entirely surprising given Amazon’s sizable investment in ecobee and their new program that makes microphone technology available to third-party partners.
Beyond Amazon integration, the ecobee4 smart thermostat appears somewhat sleeker than my existing ecobee3 – an upgrade as they continue to fight off the more well known, though less capable, Nest (that, to this day, still lacks remote sensors). Interestingly, Apple HomeKit capabilities remain and we expect the new model to launch within the next couple months given the abundance of leaks and steep ecobee3 discounts.
The TiVo Roamio OTA is on sale for $250, including lifetime service (!) and free shipping. Two points to note: This is the older, 500GB model and it is a refurb. However, this is a fantabulous deal — the cheapest way to get one of the very best antenna experiences… a likely better investment than the TiVo Mavrik and when paired with a few TiVo Minis. If you’re more comfortable with new hardware and would appreciate another 500GB, Amazon is offering Lifetimed 1TB model for $347. (Thanks Bill!)
When TiVo pulled the page hosting Mavrik imagery, they left behind a search box… and search I did. The TiVo Mavrik is confirmed as an OTA two-tuner network accessory, a la Tablo, that will beam both live and recorded content to web browsers, mobile apps, and the Fire TV.
Mavrik plugs into your HD antenna and connects to your wireless router so you can stream live TV to your tablet, smartphone, laptop or Amazon Fire TV through your home network. Going out? Let Mavrik record your favorite shows in the cloud, so you can access them later from virtually anywhere. Access your recorded shows from the cloud at home, at work or in your hotel room on the other side of the country. Wherever you have WiFi, you have your shows. Enjoy live and recorded TV on your Amazon Fire TV or Amazon Fire Stick. Just open the Live TV app in the Fire TV software and start watching. TiVo’s iOS and Android app allows you to watch your shows and recordings on compatible tablet and mobile devices. You can even watch on a web browser at TiVO Online.
Unfortunately it looks like we’ve also confirmed there will be no local DVR storage, with all recordings looking to reside within TiVo’s cloud. Making matters worse, they appear to be following in Boxee’s failed footsteps with regional restrictions and perhaps shared recordings.
Mavrik employs a patented, first-of-its-kind technology to record your favorite shows in the cloud without bogging down your home’s broadband performance. It’s cloud recording without the headaches. Cloud recording feature currently is available in solely the following San Francisco Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma.
However, the (draft?) documentation, does indicate Mavrik owners will be provided 20 hours of cloud storage on the house with the ability to upgrade to 50hrs, somewhat mirroring Aereo’s retired tiers – although exact pricing remains a mystery. Also a mystery is what over-the-air cloud DVR features will be made available to TiVo Bolt and Roamio owners that were in testing last fall.
As TiVo brings on new leadership, encompassing their consumer portfolio, Google has surfaced an almost treasure trove of Mavrik imagery. The majority of the photos, originally published way back in July, have been removed or relocated… leaving us with just a small selection of gadgety goodness. We anticipate the presumably delayed TiVo Mavrik will ultimately be revealed as an OTA network tuner, somewhat akin to the HDHomeRun or Tablo, with cloud DVR capabilities and, at the very least, streaming video output to Amazon Fire TV. I’d also hope TiVo is busy retrofitting their existing iOS app for Apple TV support. Assuming the project hasn’t been or won’t be scrapped.
The ecobee4 smart thermostat, originally leaked last month by Apple, has just passed through the FCC. As to what it offers over the ecobee3 and its remote sensors, well, that remains mostly a mystery. We assume it will retain Apple HomeKit integration and there is some thought its profile will match the new and slightly revised ecobee3 lite.
But most curious, based on the FCC glamour shot above, is some sort of round opening along the top of the ecobee4’s enclosure. What I’d originally thought might be additional or relocated environmental sensors, versus an exhaust port, may actually be a small speaker given new intel I have received indicating tighter ecobee+Alexa voice integration. Incorporating Amazon’s voice assistant makes a whole lot of sense given the practicality (why clutter things up with yet another Echo Dot) and recent $35 million dollar investment.
Bose is prepping a pair of Bluetooth speakers that shift the Soundlink line into a new, vertical orientation. Visually, the Bose Soundlink Revolve looks quite similar in form to the Amazon Echo while the Revolve Plus is more like a larger Google Home given is bulbous shape. And both share some resemblance to the Amazon Tap – due to its optional charging stand. The speakers, providing at least 10 hours of juice, will be offered in both black and grey, with the smaller model clocking in at 2.2lbs and the slightly larger model tipping the scales at 2.9lbs (with handle). Beyond music and podcast duties, like the original line of Soundlink speakers these also feature speakerphone capabilities with integrated mic and similar top-mounted button including volume, power, bluetooth, aux, and mic. Sadly, there’s not yet any confirmation of Alexa voice assistant or WiFi integration — perhaps maintaining the distinction between Bose’s Soundlink and the more Sonos-like Soundtouch lines.