Archives For Cord Cutting

Amazon Fire TV: Echo Edition

Dave Zatz —  September 13, 2017 — 8 Comments

As Apple continues to rest on its laurels, despite trailing the pack, Amazon is prepping an all-new Fire TV that mates their well-regarded video streamer to full-featured Alexa voice control. Like the Amazon Echo Dot, the incoming flagship Fire TV will incorporate a far-field microphone array, for always-listening capabilities, along with speaker output and the possibly iconic lightbar. Beyond the merged functionality you might expect, the new Fire TV seems likely to pick up a few Logitech Harmony Hub-esque remote control tricks given the included IR blasters… with hopefully a better reception than seen from the Xbox One. While timing and pricing remain uncertain, I’m willing to bet this tricked out 4K HDR 60fps digital media adapter will likely clock in lower than Apple’s $149 1080p aTV.

Amazon To Expand Fire TV Lineup

Dave Zatz —  September 6, 2017 — 6 Comments

Taking a page from Roku, Amazon appears poised to expand their Fire TV streaming lineup from two models to three streamers. In addition to the current generation Fire TV Stick ($40), AFTVNews suspects two new models will ultimately replace the existing second generation Fire TV box: At the higher end ($100? $120?), Amazon appears to be prepping a 4K streamer, with dedicated GPU, to bring 60fps and HDR for the first time. While a new offering mid-tier offering ($60, $70?) will serve 4K to the masses. Meanwhile Apple will likely announce a 4K box next week, perhaps with 4K iTunes and hardware pricing improvements to better compete in light of their $1b original programming initiative, and Roku will soon unveil a beefed up 4K Streaming Stick. With this upcoming round of fall updates, I’m hopeful Amazon and Apple also bring more powerful gaming capabilities to the table as an alternative to the bloated Xbox and Playstation experiences.

Some TiVo Deals To Be Had

Dave Zatz —  June 23, 2017 — 27 Comments

Given TiVo’s apparent deemphasis of retail and degraded Rovi guide data, I might not have branded this promotion a “Meltdown” … but there are certainly some good deals to be had here this summer. First and foremost is the TiVo Roamio OTA 48-hour “flash sale” — at $300, including lifetime service, this is a solid deal for a great cord cutter DVR (even though you may not need one). Plus it’s TiVo’s larger 1TB model. Further down the line are refurbished TiVo Mini extenders at $100. This may not be the best price we’ve ever seen, but it’s a nice discount and supposedly the newer, model with RF remote. Lastly, if you were already in the market for a Bolt or prior generation Roamio Pro, TiVo will spot you a minimum of $200 for a box with lifetime service.

Although TiVo may be moving on, Canadian startup Nuvyyo is doubling down on Tablo with a spiffy new network tuner. The Tablo Dual OTA DVR ($250) features a significantly smaller, redesigned fanless enclosure. But that’s not the real story here. By integrating 64GB of flash storage, all customers now start with up to 40 hours of antenna TV recording capacity. Combined with exclusive Best Buy retail availability, the company is clearly attempting to push this product into the mainstream. Beyond the aforementioned bundled storage, Tablo Dual features comparable internals to its predecessors (which will coexist) — Tablo continues to tune performance and expand the ecosystem of streaming apps capable of receiving both live and recorded over-the-air video. Plus owners can still simply expand storage via an external USB drive and cloud DVR options remain on the roadmap. To maximize the experience, most folks will want the $50/yr subscription for two weeks of guide data… which is a much more palatable number than what TiVo requires. While the ‘headless’ tuner doesn’t neatly fit into the traditional set-top DVR paradigm, like Channel Master’s solution, it certainly offers a more modern and flexible approach… that others like Channels (Apple TV) and Plex have (Android TV) similarly undertaken.

Sigh. Sources indicate the TiVo Mavrik is dead. What was intended to be TiVo’s more modern take on antenna television now joins the Bolt Aereo Edition in the cord cutter dustbin as Rovi management calibrates a new TiVo. The Mavrik is was a dual-tuner Tablo-esque network tuner with cloud recording capabilities that would stream video to multiple sources, such as the Amazon Fire TV. But, beyond business prioritization, I’m hearing that the technical realities of the product did not live up to the prior management’s hype. In fact, “bad” is an adjective one source levied. Further, we’ve learned all of TiVo’s consumer-facing initiatives are on life support. This wouldn’t necessarily impact existing customers, over the short-term anyway, other than products like the upcoming TiVo Vox products, with bundled voice remote, may also end up on the chopping block. If you’re not feeling blue yet, I can tell you that the TiVo Hydra interface originally planned for 2016 has been delayed again… until late 2017. There remains a small sliver of hope, given third party licensing and TiVo’s search for a new CEO. Perhaps that individual will see more promise in retail and can more effectively wrangle the development staff.

When TiVo opened their CMS search to all a few weeks back, they left behind traces of an alternate timeline… one where the TiVo Bolt Aereo Edition actually made it to launch. And, fortunately for us, an astute reader ferreted out and preserved the details. First glimpsed in August of 2015, the TiVo Bolt Aereo Edition was to be the Roamio OTA of the Bolt era — effectively the same generation of DVR hardware, minus a PCMCIA CableCARD apparatus. So whereas the Bolt is largely marketed at cable customers dissatisfied with their provider’s hardware offering, the 500GB Aereo Edition was to target cord cutters as an OTA antenna-only offering — clocking in at a lower $99.99 price point. As of October 2015, TiVo was still intent upon launching the TiVo Bolt Aereo Edition, although “Aereo” branding was still in play. I didn’t give it much thought when TiVo’s 2015 “end of year” prediction failed to materialize given their development track record. But after the Roamio OTA resurgence last spring and Mavrik’s unveiling last fall, it seemed likely that the Bolt Aereo Edition had been scrapped in favor of a more Tablo-esque solution and perhaps due to not enough differentiation between the two Bolt models, as the CableCARD model also handles OTA signals.

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.