Archives For davez

The deals keep coming!

Dave Zatz —  November 23, 2017 — Leave a comment

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More great deals!

Dave Zatz —  November 23, 2017 — Leave a comment

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Some early deals…

Dave Zatz —  November 22, 2017 — Leave a comment

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By way of Twitter, we gather Channel Master has licensed the Technicolor Skipper and is poised to introduce it as the Stream+ at CES in January. The Skipper is a 4K Android TV set-top box, with voice control remote, and over-the-air capabilities… which will hopefully see greater uptake as the Stream+ versus the competing and largely forgotten DISH AirTV, also produced by Technicolor. Stream+ joins CM’s OTA DVR+ in their post-antenna lineup. And given that DVR button on the Stream+ remote, perhaps we’ll be fortunate enough to see some interplay between the devices or even local recording capabilities via USB drive – in addition to requisite cord cutting streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu. Stay tuned!

Skipper details:

  • Out of the box industrial design
  • Android TV certified
  • OTT and Live TV services with optional Broadcast TV services
  • 4K Ultra HD: HEVC/VP9 Ultra HD 2160p/60 video
  • Wireless Connectivity: Dual band IEEE 802.11n 2.4 GHz (2×2) and IEEE 802.11ac 5 GHz (2×2) interfaces
  • Media sharing functions using a USB 3.0 port for plugging of HDD
  • Enhanced user experience with 3D graphics
  • Future-proof quad core CPU ready for gaming services
  • Bluetooth Low Energy remote with voice control

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As I continue to mull over the new (incomplete, buggy) TiVo Hydra interface, while awaiting patches, evidence has surfaced that TiVo cloud recording remains an active project. When the Tablo-fighting TiVo Mavrik OTA solution was scrapped, I’d assumed cloud was similarly off the table. However, recording options and uncovered code on tivo.com suggest otherwise. As revealed last spring, it appeared TiVo would offer two tiers of cloud recording capacity (20GB, 50GB) and we know they were testing on Bolt this time last year. Wether or not the presumably optional service will be limited to over-the-air programming is anyone’s guess and if it’s something enough of us are willing to pay for… given sufficient recording capacity and out-of-home streaming.

(Thanks Cole!)

How To Upgrade To TiVo Hydra

Dave Zatz —  October 29, 2017 — 78 Comments

The switch has been flipped and Hydra is now available to TiVo Bolt, Roamio, and Mini owners who want it. However, you probably want to review these considerations before proceeding. Further, the downgrade app, should you later choose to throw in the towel, does not yet appear to be available and TiVo Minis have had some trouble with the upgrade process.

Should that not be enough to dissuade, here’s how to get in early on the optional upgrade: Hit this link, log into TiVo.com, and select the boxes you’d like to update. The TiVo Service Numbers are being swept in every two hours so, should the 24-48 hour wait be too long, you’d go into your network settings to force a connection to receive the update and then reboot to apply it.

Keep in mind any Minis you have will ultimately need to match the host DVR interface. So excluding them or trying to prioritize them within the request form won’t ultimately mean anything. With that in mind, I’d suggest updating everything or nothing.

I haven’t had enough time with Hydra to pass judgement, other than to say I appreciate the menu customization and find the animations, transitions, etc very smooth … although there’s going to be significant retraining in regards to deprecation of the left directional button and rethinking of the now playing show info banner, plus who knows what else. Also, at a meta analytical level, the new interface has me wondering what makes TiVo a TiVo. Hm.

The TiVo Hydra Heads Up

Dave Zatz —  October 28, 2017 — 62 Comments

TiVo Hydra is coming… the interface (and more), several years in the making, that re-envisions the TiVo experience upon a modern, extensible platform. And should you be primed and ready to go, TiVo Consumer VP Ted Malone has provided details how to accelerate the optional update process for existing Bolt, Roamio, and Mini boxes:

On Sunday morning, you will be able to go to a page on the TiVo website and request the upgrade for any TSN that is on your account. While not technically “forever”, you will need to wait 2-3 hours before forcing a call to download the new software.

However, before you take the plunge, there are some things you should know…

  • Despite the extensive gestation period, including the incorporation of Fan TV talent and departure of design chief Margret Schmidt, Hydra remains a work in progress. Folks who lived with the prior interfaces for years upon years should be prepared for a shock to the system. Not to say the experience isn’t good, but it’s dramatically different and not yet complete. Not that these things ever are
  • And one feature in particular power users need to be alerted to: PC-to-TiVo uploads (think TiVo Desktop, pytivo, etc) are not yet operational. I don’t believe this is an intentional EOL event. Rather, there was work prioritized ahead of this more niche functionality and the retrofitting of likely archaic hooks. However, transferring recordings from various TiVo DVRs to Hydra boxes works (via TiVo.com, versus STB initiation) as does downloading recordings to computer.
  • The possibly pioneering, two column Live Guide is gone. Which amuses me to no end. For years and years I pined for a grid guide (look, here’s a post from 2006) while TiVo pushed their supposedly superior solution and lamented grid guide removal after TiVo’s brief dalliance. But, in what I assume may be a concession to the cable companies, Hydra features a traditional grid guide. While I’m perfectly OK with that, I suspect many others may not be.
  • Owners of first generation TiVo Minis should be aware they lack the interface’s critical ‘back’ remote control button. The ‘zoom’ button will act as a stand-in should you be prepared to move forward with Hydra without committing to the purchase of a new remote.
  • Should you update to Hydra and later change your mind (or someone in your household changes it for you), you can revert back. However, it requires a complete factory reset … and lose of all your recordings.

In any event, I expect several updates over the next few weeks ironing out any last-minute bugs before the team gets to work on more significant refinement based on our feedback and what I assume is an extensive roadmap.

Choosing Roku Over Fire TV

Dave Zatz —  October 27, 2017 — 19 Comments

My streaming hardware preference has waxed and waned over the years. And, whereas I’d given the Fire TV a slight edge the last year, the balance has now slightly tipped to Roku. Of course, outside Apple TV and Nvidia Shield, a solid, high quality experience can be had under $100 — no doubt about it, both the Amazon and Roku platforms are great.

I’ve preferred the Fire TV voice remote for a variety of reasons, including the feel, layout, and infinitely more versatile Alexa voice control. And, amongst the new stick/dongle-esque streamers, Amazon provides a superior physical design … that doesn’t require a HDMI adapter for certain television mounting situations. Further Amazon has provided a generally richer interface and app experiences. However, where they started to lose me is an updated interface infested with advertising that not only distracts but also interferes with navigation.

On the flip side, Roku’s interface and a large number of apps are ridiculously simplistic. But what they lack in visual complexity, they more than makes up for in clear, efficient interaction… which is ultimately of more importance. Where they really hit it out the park in 2017 are models with new remotes that also control television power and volume. Instead of crippled, unpredictable HDMI-CEC interaction, Roku supposedly uses EDID over HDMI to identify your television and load up the relevant IR codes. And in my small-scale test, it performed remarkably.

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