Archives For mari

hdmi-roku-stick

Roku’s new streaming stick is now shipping in the US online from Roku, Amazon, Best Buy, Target and Walmart. A few other outlets have now reported the news, but I happened to hear the information first hand from Ed Lee, Roku’s vice president of content acquisition, at a Light Reading conference today in Denver. As a reminder, the new streaming stick rings in at $50, or $15 more than Google’s Chromecast device. However, the content options are superior, with apps that include WatchESPN and Amazon Instant Video. The Roku stick also comes with its own non-smartphone remote control and is powered via microUSB. Thanks to a major update to Roku’s mobile apps this week, you can also enjoy universal search capabilities.

Availability of the new Roku streaming stick in stores is still expected in early April.

Verizon GreenWave FCC documentation

Verizon hasn’t been out of the home automation business for long, but it looks like the telco giant is already preparing to jump back in. According to FCC documents uncovered by Steve Donahue of FierceCable, Verizon appears to be preparing to launch a new FiOS gateway with an associated Zigbee home automation module. The FiOS Quantum Gateway goes by model number FiOS-G1100 and supports the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard along with the Zigbee and Z-Wave protocols. The module, meanwhile, is produced by GreenWave Reality, a California-based company that most recently made noise back at CES. GreenWave’s platform includes applications for energy management, connected lighting, and home monitoring, but CMO Nate Williams told me in January that it can support far more.

Williams has a history with Verizon, as he was previously CMO and head of business development for 4Home, the company that was acquired by Motorola, and that provided the technology basis for Verizon’s now-defunct Verizon Home Monitoring and Control service. Despite 4Home’s successful exit, the company’s platform did not survive the move first to Motorola, then Google, then Arris. GreenWave’s Home2Cloud platform appears to be doing better so far. The company is already profitable from an operational standpoint and has a major public customer in E.ON, one of Europe’s largest utility companies. Williams told me that GreenWave also has two US service provider customers, at least one of which is a cable, telco, or satellite operator. Verizon certainly fits that description. Continue Reading…

Comcastic TV Broadband Venn Diagram

There are so many implications to the proposed Comcast acquisition of Time Warner Cable that it’s a little hard to stay focused on one angle. However, I do want to interject something into the argument that the deal is all about the expansion of broadband. While that’s true, it’s also a simplistic statement. Why? Because broadband is all about TV right now. Think about it. What is driving the ridiculous growth of Internet traffic? It’s video. And what major video source is in the process of shifting to IP delivery? Television. You can’t tease out one side of the business from the other when the financial considerations of both are so intensely intertwined – from how networks are upgraded, to how bandwidth gets allocated, to how service packages are created.

There is one thing I think we’ll have to pay a lot more attention to going forward, and that’s how the major operators (including Comcast-Biggest-Cable-Company-of-All-Time-Warner) decide how to divide up their total delivery capacity between public Internet service and their own managed IP services. To be sure, ISPs depend on being able to market higher Internet speeds and cheaper prices to keep customers (at least in some markets), but I wonder whether in the future there will be less incentive to make public Internet services high-performing if cable companies can make more money from their own managed IP offerings.

Verizon LTE TV

Verizon has remained steadfast in its claim that it will not use the acquisition of Intel’s OnCue assets to launch a nationwide over-the-top video service. However, the fact that Verizon is now apparently talking to CE manufacturers about embedding LTE multicast technology in TV sets does have me wondering how long the company will stick to that plan.

As quick background, Verizon spent time demoing LTE multicast at an event in NYC this week. Unlike how most video is delivered in individual streams to consumer devices, multicast technology allows multiple devices to access the same stream of video at the same time. This is useful for live events, when theoretically many people want to watch the exact same content.

Verizon has been futzing with LTE multicast for some time, but the fact that the company is now talking to manufacturers about adding it to TVs is what interests me. Continue Reading…

VerizonFiosIMG1-9-5

There was a time when we celebrated Verizon FiOS guide updates. But the IMG 1.9.5 release gives us little cause for joy. The updated guide has been rolling out since last year, but it just arrived here at Chez Silbey, and comments on the DSLReports forums show that the version release has been making its way across parts of New York State in the last few weeks as well.

Although there are some minor feature updates in the new interface, the one really noticeable difference is a new ad bar at the bottom of the guide screen. In my market, I see only a Verizon logo splashed across the page, but in other regions there are actual ads appearing, like the Disney banner shown above. The injection of ads was inevitable, but it’s still disappointing as it clutters up the display. More importantly, it’s irritating when the additional ads don’t come with any major feature improvements. Personally I’m not that excited about being able to turn off parental controls for a four-hour period of time. And while it’s nice that people with multiple DVRs can now schedule recordings on a different set-top in the house, that particular feature doesn’t apply to my one-TV home.

Verizon invested significant resources in UI development in the early years of FiOS TV. The company brought us cover art for on-demand titles, IP-based widgets (apps ahead of their time), and a “What’s Hot” recommendation list showing what other viewers in the region are watching. Since at least 2011, however, Verizon has fallen steadily behind many of its competitors, and the FiOS program guide is starting to look seriously outdated.

Fortunately, there’s cause for hope. Continue Reading…

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Cisco hosted tech reporters at its annual CES press reception last week and took us through a whirlwind of company news, vision-speak, and proof-of-concept demos. The best of the demos was an app giving users the ability not only to control TV from a mobile device, but also to share related secondary content between different screens. For example, execs showed how to bring up detailed program information or social networking content on a tablet, and then transfer that information in widget-like tiles to the television display.

On the tablet, meanwhile, the app kept a strip of video from the live program streaming at the top of the small screen, while still leaving the rest of the window open for browsing Internet content. The idea is that the video strip gives you the feeling that you’re still attached to a TV show even when you’re looking down at your mobile device. It sounds a little ridiculous, but it works. And, if you want, you can drag the strip down to see the full-screen video. Continue Reading…

Alticast HDMI Media Express Stick with Cox guide and apps

HDMI streaming sticks are everywhere now, but a new one powered by Alticast, and shown for the first time at CES, comes with an interesting twist. The HDMI Media Express Stick includes both the Reference Design Kit (RDK) software bundle developed by Comcast (and now jointly managed with Time Warner), and Android support. That means it can be used as a set-top alternative by cable companies while also including access to Android apps.

Alticast CTO John Carlucci ran through a demo that showed multiple cable UIs running on the streaming stick. One was Korean (Alticast is headquartered in Korea), but one was the Cox Trio guide. Continue Reading…