Archives For Remotes

As Roku typically does, they’ll introduce a variety of hardware updates later this fall. And, as ZNF typically does, we’ll break that news to you first.

A trusted source indicates several 2017 models will be bundled with a revised Roku remote that expands television control — including that new handy dandy power button, as shown above, and bringing the volume rocker to more models. However, instead of going with IR, as Sideclick does, I suspect this will be an expansion of the HDMI-CEC capabilities Roku introduced last year.

Beyond that bit of practical news, I can now confirm that a 4K HDR Roku Streaming Stick+ will join the lineup mid-range, with the universal remote, while maintaining an elongated stick presentation — versus taking on a more chunky dongle form like Google has and Amazon will, with an incoming Fire TV. On the lower-end, the 2017 Roku Express will see a significant performance bump … and may finally make my list of recommended streamers. At 1/4th the cost of Apple TV, why not?

As to other Roku rumblings, looks like the company has taken a renewed interested in audio as they march towards an IPO.

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.

As revealed a few months back, TiVo is (finally) prepping native voice control. And the retail voice remote is nearing release, given this recent FCC filing and insider chatter. For me, acoustical capabilities cannot arrive soon enough. While I suspect I’ll rarely seek out content suggestions by voice, like “horror movies” or “soccer,” I will absolutely channel surf. For example, it took some time to track down Animal Planet for my daughter (which was a bust) as I have no idea where most channels live (being a long-term DVR owner) and textual search can be somewhat tedious (compared to Mom’s Xfinity remote).

Beyond the new big blue microphone button, it looks like Netflix has successfully strong-armed TiVo into their direct access button requirement (with Apple TV likely being the last and only hold out). Fortunately, that bit ‘o spam is nicely offset by a new, dedicated commercial skip button (that replaces the cable version’s On Demand).

As to timing, I believe we’re looking at a fall release and, supposedly, older TiVo units like Premiere will be able to purchase remotes with a USB dongle to enable the appropriate RF (BLE?) communication.

The fine folks at Sideclick have provided two Roku accessories to share with our audience.

As a refresher, Sideclick clips onto your streamer’s remote to provide additional control — think televisions, soundbars, and the like. Beyond Roku, they also offer interchangeable sleds for Fire TV, Apple TV, and the couple dozen Nexus Players out there. It may be a tough sell at its price point, in relation to a streamer’s cost, and it will obviously impact your ergonomics. However, bolting on a simple, effective learning remote, will absolutely be priceless for a significant percent of us … and I’ve been enjoying Sideclick’s capabilities in our bedroom the last few months (especially since Roku’s HDMI-CEC functionality doesn’t actually work in all cases).

Continue Reading…

dish-voice-remote

DISH Hopper and Joey owners can now pick up a voice-controlled remote for $30. While we’ve yet to test its capabilities, voice interaction appears to be a highly successful initiative for Comcast and it’s certainly something I’ve periodically appreciated on Roku or Fire TV (and something we continue to wait on with TiVo).

Roughly half the size of a traditional remote control, Voice Remote fits in the palm of the user’s hand, much like a smartphone. DISH designed the remote to interpret natural language, populating search results based on program title, actor or genre, and building contextual searches to narrow options, as desired. It also utilizes voice commands to control basic functions of the receiver, including recording and changing channels.

Beyond the spoken word, DISH also appears to take the historically limited and fussy remote touchpad to the next level by hiding optionally illuminated numbers under its clickable surface. The backlit remote also conveniently includes IR to control your television and provides a remote finder feature.

logitech-alexa

Despite some hopeful announcements, Apple HomeKit continues to limp along. And many have turned to Amazon as the voice-controlled switchboard of their smart homes. Indeed, after originally unloading two Echoes as a novelty, I’m back on board with one Echo and an Amazon Dot — happily barking commands at Alexa. Amazon’s platform is far more inclusive, interoperating with just about anything, sometimes with help from IFTTT, without Apple’s onerous hardware encryption requirement — although endpoints aren’t vetted for security and Amazon is perhaps more ripe for (verbal) abuse, the possibilities seem endless and it’s oh-so-convenient. Next up to the mound is Logitech, who’s working on native Harmony support to start and stop Activities without picking up that remote control or smarthphone.

Logitech is beta testing Harmony remote control integration with Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Tap. With this integration, Harmony remote control users will be able to start and stop Harmony Activities using Alexa voice commands. If you own an Echo, we’re looking for people like you try out this new integration and provide feedback on their experience prior to full public release.

By way of Com Hem, an international TiVo partner, the DVR pioneer appears poised to launch smart watch apps for remote control — citing both the Apple Watch and Android Wear platforms. Beyond replicating existing smartphone app functions, like changing channels as while browsing the live guide, TiVo indicates voice control is also on the docket… as alluded to last September.

Initially, these Dick Tracey-esque wrist interactions appear specific to Com Hem TiVo customers (and the apps are saddled with a ‘beta’ designation). Yet, with CES just kicking off, I suspect we could learn more about potential retail customer support within the next 48 hours.

As to other TiVo news from the Vegas trade show, an HBO GO announcement seems like a lock and I’m hopeful we’ll learn more of an OTA-only Bolt solution… with or without “Aereo” branding. Continue Reading…

ps4-remote

Sony is set to correct a massive PS4 shortcoming with a full-featured universal remote. Not only does it utilize Bluetooth for console control, but IR is included to operate your TV and soundbar – or whatever else, given its four device capabilities. I’ll go ahead and make a few assumptions that core apps, such as Netflix and Playstation Vue, will be natively supported and that those unlabeled multicolored buttons are programmable (to create shortcuts to, say, launch that aforementioned Netflix). Of course, the comparatively svelte PS4 will now need a tuner accessory and DVR capabilities like Xbox One. ;) Whereas I’d expect something like this to run something like $50, Best Buy has it up for pre-order at $30 with an anticipated October 12th delivery (while Amazon has it shipping October 27th).