The Week in Media Extenders

With improving sales and increased consumer awareness of network-sourced content, perhaps AppleTV will graduate from “hobby” status later this year. At the very least, Apple’s showing a bit of life around this initiative by distributing a customer survey. AppleInsider breaks down the questionnaire, which covers media type/origination, display devices, and audio output. I hope Apple’s also doing market research amongst tech savvy folks who haven’t made purchases to help guide them.

In other media extender news, both the SlingCatcher and Vudu have seen recent price drops. While incremental reductions are fairly typical, with the exception of Apple products, more dramatic moves often indicate sluggish sales. At launch, the Catcher retailed for $300 but now clocks in at $200. With firmware updates are on the way, Amazon’s $166 may be even more compelling.

Although Vudu is primarily a video-on-demand box, rather than what we’d typically classify as an extender, they have also “permantly” slashed prices. Originally listed at $299, Vudu now runs $149… plus the cost of movies. However, free access to YouTube, Flickr, and other Internet media is currently available as a public beta. As I’ve said before, I quite enjoy the Vudu experience. So, I hope they’re able to find success at this new price point, by licensing their tech, and/or receiving a funding lifeline.

9 thoughts on “The Week in Media Extenders”

  1. Crap. Looks like the Apple TV survey is closed.

    Yeah, I saw the VuNow box. But its not clear exactly what the thing does really. CinemaNow? Not interested. YouTube–okay, but everybody does that. Even thought they claim support for video from “thousands” of web sites, if you poke around (even in the user manual), there’s very little information on what those supported sites are. You’d expect that if they had support for hulu,, or whatever they’d be talking about it, so I’m assuming they don’t. Which means you’re limited to news clips and shorts from Veoh and podcasts from Revision 3 etc. Not exactly a compelling offering.

    Does seem like $99 is the new price point for an Internet STB though. Which is a good thing.

    Hey Dave, I did take a second look at the Vudu when I saw that $149 price, but with them laying people off and all, I’m not so sure its a good investment. Is there really a significant difference between the (new) movies available on the Vudu and say Apple TV or Amazon on the Tivo, both of which are pretty limited…

  2. I’ve been very happy with Amazon downloads to Tivo. I love Apple, and have considered an AppleTV, but just can’t seem to justify it. I don’t need to watch YouTube on my television, what can the AppleTV do that my Tivos can not?

  3. @ Glenn — VUDU arguably has the best movie library (esp. HD/HDX), but it’s weak on TV side of things. Their HDX tier (same pricing as HD titles but about 4-5 hour wait) is about as close as it’s going to get to Blu-Ray right now (no question, BR is better though).

    So VUDU is probably best if paired with one- or two-out Netflix plan. It appears they had a significant increase in sales as activity on their forum and AVS picked up a lot. For impressions, read the last few pages of AVS thread —

    When VUDU first came out it was $399 and then dropped to $299 less than a year later. My opinion had been that VUDU has essentially used early adopters as a sort of slow rollout/test-bed for their P2P tech (e.g. to ensure scaling) and to bring their platform to maturity (they added a ton of stuff since release). But since they don’t have a huge budget to do massive ad campaigns, their future is on OEM side of things probably which they also mentioned to CEPro. They are probably not going to make same mistakes that TiVo did.

    Insofar as Apple is concerned, all they need to do is build the next ATV on NVIDIA’s Ion platform (pair it with any of Atom chips) and they’ll have a very nice box with hardware-accelerated HD playback that, hopefully, will be easier to hack (right now, the hacked ATV is too weak to run most HD because hackers can’t access hardware).

  4. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the AppleTV is about as compelling as an iPod that only played iTunes content would be. IOW, not at all. Until they make it focused on what the user wants to do, instead of what Apple wants you to do, it will continue to tread water.

  5. @ Bruce: which is why Boxee might’ve been the best thing that happened to ATV. Only the hardware isn’t quite good enough.

  6. There’s a good VuNow thread on avsforum:

    In particular one buyer has posted some of the available content.

    Sounds like cinemanow doesn’t work right now.

    “There are about 7 channels under the Asia cateory and about 32 under the Europe category. The ones from North America are CNN, MLB, NBC Weather plus, HSN, NBC 4(from the west coast, LA?), Allmusic, BYU channel, ShopNBC
    Calplay Arts, Eastlink, LSN.

    There are some better things to watch under the popular websites section. They have currently Cnn, Revision3, Forbes, TMZ, MSN, NBA, ESPN, ABCNews, PGA, DLTV, Crackle and a few more.”

    e.g. Not much worth watching for a typical North American if you don’t want sports or news. Other than that one NBC channel…

  7. Thanks for pulling that, Glenn. I wonder how much of this content is via relationships and how much is scraped. It makes a difference in sustainability I think…

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