Three Surprises From The New Apple Big Top

Due to the tremendous number of (accurate) leaks, there weren’t too many surprises from the new Steve Jobs theater located within the new Apple campus. But a couple of interesting items, that I hadn’t anticipated, caught my attention.

Apple TV Price Drop
I was convinced we’d see an Apple TV price drop of some sort, perhaps tied to a touchless-remote on the bottom-end, to bring them inline with the market leading Roku and Fire TV. However, Apple controls the supply chain like no other and is conceivably content with lower penetration but presumably larger margins. While not quite a surprise, again given those leaks, it was refreshing to see Apple will sell 4K movies for the same price as 1080P while upgrading existing purchases… for those who consume in that manner, anyway.

Expansive iPhone Lineup
While both the iPhone 8 and iPhone X were correctly predicted, in hardware if not name, I didn’t expect Apple would keep around so many former generations of phone. To meet a wide array of budgets and fend off the onslaught of solid lower-end Android handsets, the iPhone SE, 6S, 6S Plus, 7, and 7 Plus will join the 8, 8 Plus, and X on store shelves – in multiple capacities and colors. At least for now. Remember when they offered a single model? Beyond the expansive lineup, Apple is clearly committed to offering more than two years of updates (unlike the competition) — not that it’s a new m.o., but I do wonder if at some point they choose to fork the software a bit and continue to provide security patches to older OSes on hardware that cannot support the latest and greatest.

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Spotify to Launch Hardware, Cites Alexa and Snapchat

A trusted source indicates that Spotify, the highly regarded music streaming service, will soon follow in Snapchat’s footsteps with an unexpected foray into hardware. While details on the upcoming “wearable” were not provided, several job listings seemingly provide clues. Sr Product Manager-Hardware We are looking for a passionate and seasoned Senior Product Manager that will join the Platform … Read more

TiVo & Roku Introduce Screen Readers To Satisfy FCC

As I indicated back in November when the TiVo 20.6.3 software update starting rolling out, “the cool stuff” wasn’t quite ready and this revision was mostly “unremarkable” bug fixes. However, one item I was unaware of until recently is the launch of a significantly enhanced screen reader (as displayed in the SD settings above) to meet a December 20th FCC deadline. I’m no expert in this area, but TiVo’s accessibility feature seems quite comprehensive in providing the visually impaired audible cues inui menuing, during playback, and while perusing the guide.

Video content information, setup options and configuration changes are now optimized to interacts with Screen Reader. Your TiVo is programmed to read menus, program descriptions, channel numbers and similar selected options in a way that is optimized to interpret acronyms and similar formatting. The entire guide is not audible, so not all visible text will be read.  Only one program at a time, when a show is highlighted/selected, is audible. Program information displayed on the screen, but not necessarily from the Guide, is also audible.

The TiVo Screen Reader is toggled by holding down the TiVo Bolt, Roamio, Premiere, or Mini remote’s A button for two seconds, so feel free to take it for a spin. Just be aware that the screen reading doesn’t have its own volume adjustment and that PCM audio will replace Dolby Digital — you’ll have to manually flip it back if/when moving on from the Reader.

Similarly, Roku also launched an “Audio Guide” in November… that seems decidedly less well-rounded than TiVo’s implementation in my brief test. While Roku supposedly provides advanced customization, it wasn’t available on my TCL television.

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Remembering Blake

While others are better suited to pen a remembrance, I too have fond memories of Blake Krikorian – who most know as the guy behind the Slingbox. We first connected the summer of 2005 on AVS Forum… which is an unusual place to find a company CEO geeking out (and taking on trolls). I had a bone to pick since Windows XP … Read more

Digital Media Bytes

A periodic roundup of relevant news… After being featured in Comcast press release, Roku lobbies against unlocking the box Comcast press release announcing Roku app with X1 interface and cloud DVR acess Comedy Central, BET, MTV, more Viacom networks will hit Sling TV Amazon launches website with interactive guide for streaming video apps

Digital Media Bytes

A periodic roundup of relevant news… Amazon Echo on sale for $153.71. Amazon Prime Video, now available as a stand-alone service for $8.99/mo. Will Verizon replace FiOS TV set-tops with OnCue IPTV hardware? As Netflix subscriber growth slows, company considers offering downloads.

Digital Media Bytes

A periodic roundup of relevant news… Amazon begins reselling Comcast services with enhanced support iPhone SE has better battery life than iPhone 6S Sling TV vs PlayStation Vue Google Photos automates and curates albums Vizio launches Google-powered speakers

Unlock The Box?

After years of fits and starts, we finally find ourselves on the cusp of a CableCARD successor as the FCC has proposed the pay television industry “unlock the box”– providing customers broader access to programming via hardware and experiences of their choosing.

As a long-time industry observer, I’ve found much of the press coverage unsatisfying – marred by a lack of situational awareness and heavily influenced by lobbying groups on all sides. Sadly, as a blog hobbyist (with a new baby), I can’t give you the polished 4000 words this topic demands. But I can provide one man’s rough yet somewhat educated and largely unbiased opinion, both textually below and via the new LPX Show podcast embedded right here – along with my pals Brad Linder and Mari Silbey.

A Very Brief Primer

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