No surprise, other than the delays, that Sonos is poised to drop their highly anticipated voice control. And we’re talking weeks, not months. While the connected speaker pioneer had previously suggested integration with multiple services, as they do music, I believe I can confirm Alexa as their sole, initial partner and that the Skill, accessed via Amazon hardware, may launch as a public beta (perhaps given a frustrating early implementation, per one source). Although, like Variety, we also wonder if new mic-enabled hardware is en-route … although it’s seemingly more likely they intend to stick with software integrations. In any event, the competition is about to heat up with the Siri-powered Apple HomePod and a more acoustically-focused Amazon Echo with whole-home aspirations on our fall agenda.

We’ve been tracking new August Smart Home hardware for months … and the company’s plans are starting to coalesce, given some tipster-provided imagery. As with Nest, August intends to expand downmarket this fall with what appears to a lower-end smart lock that (primarily?) lacks the premium Yves Behar industrial design and light effects. However, like Nest, they’ll also be offering a more upscale and capable product for those so inclined in the August Smart Lock Pro. Beyond carrying forward the prior generation’s form factor, I’m hopeful they’ve managed to slim down the bulk (depth-wise) with this go around. And, on the technical end, both the company and requisite FCC filing indicate Z-Wave will be joining Bluetooth within the August Smart Lock Pro for expanded IoT interoperability.

The August doorbell camera will also see a slight refresh in the near future, although concrete details are a bit murkier. The perforations have clearly been relocated, but it otherwise retains its blocky form. Perhaps the video resolution or field of view will see bumps to better match the competition. Along with the new locks and doorbell cam, a feature called “doorsense” will likely launch – one we suspect is related to indoor package delivery.

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With 1200 employees, as reported last summer, you’d expect a far more expansive product line from Nest – the company that took the smart thermostat mainstream, prior the their Google acquisition in 2014. And they’re about the expand their appeal and market by heading downmarket this fall. As revealed by Evan Blass, what looks to be a more simplistic and less refined thermostat is on the docket. Based the imagery alone and some informed guesswork, I’m expecting more limited compatibility while the bulk of t-stat control will reside solely within mobile apps. Beyond the Nest Lite, a trusted industry source indicates the company is also working on a revised indoor camera and hopeful of hitting a $100 price point this fall, perhaps bolstered by an ADT partnership and monitoring upsell.

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As pointed out in the TiVo forums, the recently updated Arris TiVo product line made available to cable companies includes one model strikingly similar in appearance to our exclusive retail TiVo Mini 4K imagery. And I have reason to believe the hardware is, indeed, likely the same… making good on a TiVo/Rovi pre-transition promise:

That said, being in the hardware business isn’t something that necessarily excites us. When we acquired Fanhattan and the Fan TV platform, they had an OEM relationship and we’re focused on a box solution. And when we acquired them, we said, we’d look to move to be box agnostic and be able to partner with box providers who can do that. There are several box providers out there who have direct-to-retail. We’ll be looking at the possibilities of working with them, having them control the box. And while that would be a partnership and we wouldn’t get all the sales as a result, we think that’s probably a better way to approach the consumer space. But don’t look for us to exit the consumer space.

Retail has been challenging for TiVo in recent years and they’ve previously written off hardware expenditures, so leaning on a partner cable box manufacturer to limit TiVo’s retail outlay and risk, given Arris’ larger scale, superior supply chain, etc is a wise business move.

Assuming the differences are largely cosmetic, here’s what the Arris Mi4 spec sheet has to sayContinue Reading…

While TiVo may be dialing back marketing expenditures in the retail segment, the back half of 2017 is looking pretty promising for us consumers.

First, after many long years, the HDUI has just been completed (with the slightly more modern Bolt-esque presentation coming to Premiere and Roamio). Next, their will indeed be a voice remote control – available as an accessory to existing customers and likely also bundled with new TiVo retail hardware. And, speaking of that new TiVo hardware… I can confirm that, while the Mavrik initiative has been scrapped, the TiVo Mini 4K is a go. Dropping the original trapezoidal TiVo Mini form factor, the updated extender is more Roku Ultra in appearance and subtly carries forward the TiVo Bolt’s design arc. While the headline feature may be 4K and the small number of services that have chosen to provide the higher video resolution to TiVo owners, I anticipate at least Bolt-class processing power — meaning it’ll be a much more snappy and usable app platform than the legacy TiVo hardware provides and something I would absolutely upgrade for to access Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video on Input 1 vs flipping to Roku or Fire TV. I’m expecting both TiVo’s voice remote and the 4K Mini to hit this fall, along with at least one compelling new software trick…

Update: More TiVo Mini 4K details here.

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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.

Top Amazon Prime Day Deals

Dave Zatz —  July 11, 2017

As far as manufactured marketing holidays go, Amazon Prime Day is a winner given the widely accessible, tangible benefits. Of course, many Amazon house brand products see some deep discounts. But there are also quite a few other smart home and home entertainment deals to be had. And, bonus, any purchase over $20 ordered via Alexa receives a $10 credit. Keep in mind, many items will sell out and new items are always popping up throughout the day. Some sale highlights —

 

Some TiVo Deals To Be Had

Dave Zatz —  June 23, 2017

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.