Archives For davez

According to Buzzfeed, tomorrow YouTube TV will expand it’s over-the-top television service to include Turner channels — and, beyond the requisite CNN, basketball fans can now call YouTube TV home with the addition of TBS and TNT. But, wait, there’s more — NBA League Pass will be available as an add-on. Less interesting, to me anyway, is the inclusion of original YouTube Red content. I get YouTube needs to pump their own stuff, but hopefully they’re continuing to work top-shelf programming deals and will be able to soon offer Scripps channels of HGTV, Food, and Travel. Given the incoming $5 price hike from $35 to $40, let’s hope so. In any event, YouTube TV remains one of the more interesting and compelling OTT aggregators given a generous 6 accounts and unlimited DVR capacity.

While we often ignore or outright bypass commercial interruption, TiVo recognizes the Super Bowl is different and has flipped the script by inverting its ad-skipping technology:

Everyone knows that this Sunday’s commercials are some of the best, highest quality commercials of the year. So, we’re going to tag the game backwards, with the commercials and the halftime show marked as if it were the program, and the game marked as if it was the commercial. As usual, the SKIP function will not show up until after the game has finished. But, once the green SKIP icon shows up next to your recording of the game, you can watch the recording and use the SKIP or D button to jump to the commercial segments quickly. […] This “GameSkip” functionality should work for all TiVo boxes that have SKIP enabled today.

So this is a pretty cool “experiment” (that’s sure to confuse many who didn’t get the inversion memo), but not without technical challenges given potential inaccuracy in closed captioning and other meta data, along with potential trip-ups due to regional advertising spots. Fortunately, all the best Super Bowl commercials ultimately wind up on YouTube (often saddled with additional advertising, yay). What time is the Super Bowl?

As the regulars know, I’ve been a huge proponent of Arlo wire-free cameras. And, since hopping on early, Netgear’s continued to expand the ecosystem by incorporating indoor cameras, cellular cameras, a variety of accessories, and home automation integrations… including Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit. So it wasn’t a huge surprise last fall when the company signaled full-on smart home hardware intentions by announcing the Arlo Security Light.

At the time, there wasn’t a lot of the detail. Now, from the recently published Amazon pre-order page, we learn an Arlo light two-pack will set you back $250 and a variety of product performance elements were reiterated: Continue Reading…

Sonos Takes On Apple Homepod

Dave Zatz —  January 26, 2018 — 8 Comments

The delayed and seemingly incomplete, or at least limited and locked-in, Apple HomePod has arrived… for pre-order, anyway.

Digital Trends reports that the new $349 connected speaker’s sound really shines, besting all comers in fact. But, to fully appreciate Siri’s soundtrack, one must also subscribe to Apple Music. On the flip side, connected speaker pioneer Sonos recently integrated Amazon’s more adept Alexa voice control with Google Assistant waiting in the wings. Further, given 80 linked services, Sonos natively streams just about everything… including the aforementioned Apple Music. So while a single Homepod may sound better, Sonos is generating some well deserved publicity by offering up two Play One speakers (in black or white) for the price of a single Apple speaker (also in black, err space grey, or white) – essentially a limited time $50 discount.

Personally, having cycled through a number of Sonos and Bose devices, I’ve concluded my hearing is about as good as my vision and I’d probably be content with a few $99 refreshed Amazon Echoes for music playback and even more extensive Alexa interaction. Although our single remaining Sonos Play:1 has stayed strong, playing nature sounds and lullabies remotely, on command each and every day in our daughter’s room.

Tablo, the headless OTA DVR pioneer, treats customers to a nice update this week in the form of performance enhancements and “advanced” recording features. Specifically, scheduled recordings now offer pre- and post-show padding — to add 10 minutes to that awards show or an hour to the Super Bowl to account for incessant instant replays or overtime. Further, subscribers can specify the number of season pass recordings to keep and which channel to record a given show from. Sure, these features aren’t exactly new to us TiVo owners… but it’s not like TiVo owners can watch television on our Rokus. And, with up to 8TB of storage, introducing recording count probably wasn’t such a high priority.

Beyond the DVR scheduling enhancements, the other headliner here is a new technical implementation that enables somewhat faster live television startup. Unlike a typical HDMI-connected device, Tablo ingests the live OTA signal, transcodes the video, and then streams it out on the fly (somewhat similar to Slingbox or the transcoding HDHomeRun hardware, minus the WiFi). So while it’s a more versatile solution, it’ll always be a step or two slower than channel surfing a traditional set-top or antenna-connected television. And anything they can do to speed it up is appreciated.

The 4K TiVo Mini Vox Giveaway

Dave Zatz —  January 23, 2018

TiVo VP Ted Malone kindly provided a TiVo Mini Vox ($180) for evaluation, which I’m now happy to pass along a member of the community.

As you likely know, the TiVo Mini line of small form factor set-tops extend your core TiVo DVR experience to additional rooms and televisions within the home. The newly released Mini Vox features a similar footprint as its predecessors and, beyond more agreeable styling, also brings superior processing power and 4K along for the ride to stream that ultra HD Netflix and Amazon. It’s snappy! The Mini Vox also sports TiVo’s new Hydra interface, for better or worse, which in turn enables TiVo’s highly capable native voice capabilities – triggered via the bundled voice remote.

The giveaway is a fairly simple and standard affair, although not entirely free… as the cost of entry is your social media soul. For reference, a YouTube subscription carries double the weight of a Twitter follow and 4x the value of a Facebook look-see. But, hey, feel free to stack the odds in your favor by taking all available actions. One winner will be selected at random next week and, should the response be favorable, I’ve got some other goodies (eero) waiting in the wings.

Continue Reading…

As with every CES, all sorts of sexy gadgetry parades about the various show venues. And, while I wasn’t in attendance this year, you can bet I was obsessively ingesting of the tech blog coverage and press release fire hose. While some swooned over recycled approaches that are unlikely to move markets and televisions only corporate entities could entertain, I found myself smitten with an inexpensive Anker accessory.

The Internet of Everything seemed to be the overarching theme this year, with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant garnering much attention through all sorts of integrations. Yeah, many of these are superfluous with a number of open questions regarding security, privacy, and reliability. But, but gadgets! As such, the $50 Anker Roav VIVA caught my eye. It’s cheap, fun, and … shipping next month — something you can’t say about so many CES unveilings. No, I don’t need Alexa in my car. But that didn’t stop me from driving around with an Echo Dot like Alan Wolk. In many ways, Alexa is largely inferior to the native Android or iPhone voice assistants as an automative communicator (think text messaging and navigation). Yet, Alexa is so much better with random queries and sports a humgo list of skills (and my daughter loves calling Elmo). Continue Reading…

Beyond doubling down on cable television capabilities at CES, Silicon Dust also announced an upcoming cord cutter DVR. While the company has produced network tuners, basically forever, and been iterating on DVR software recently, the upcoming HDHomeRun Connect DUO+ is the first to merge both solutions within a single box, along with a hard drive. As such, the two-tuner Duo+ includes 250GB of storage, good for 60hrs of HD antenna recording. As opposed to TiVo or Channel Master, the Duo+ is more Tablo-like in that it’s a headless device that streams content through various platform apps, like Roku and Fire TV. Beyond claims of a mid-year release and reference to a DVR subscription fee (currently $35/yr), timing and pricing remain elusive.