Archives For mari

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Verizon has fallen steadily behind many of its competitors, and the FiOS program guide is starting to look seriously outdated.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…

Going to ShowStoppers at CES is a bit like attending a carnival. The press event has gadget makers hawking their wares alongside display after display of brightly colored signage and geeky gear. It’s always tough to pick out the useful demos from the ones that only attract your eye because they’re shiny (more on that in a different post), but I did find two gadget accessories that are now on my must-have list.

Anker Astro 2

First up is the new Anker Astro external battery. I got an earlier version of the product for Christmas 2012, and it sustained me through my CES travels of last year. Since then, however, Anker has seriously stepped up its game on the style front. While I adore my original Anker for its functionality, the new models are smooth, soft, and much smaller in the hand. And even the smallest model still holds enough charging capacity to power up an iPhone three times over. I’m definitely upgrading soon. Continue Reading…

Intel 3D camera

Call me a Sci-Fi nut, but I’m a sucker for stories about human/brain interfaces, virtual reality, and the coming Singularity. And Intel’s press conference hit every one of those trigger points at CES this afternoon. Senior VP Mooly Eden described blended devices where brain and machine are physically linked together and said he believes it’s a matter of “when” not “if” that vision becomes a reality.

Eden also alluded to Kurzweil’s Singularity theory that computers will surpass human intelligence in the coming decades. According to Eden’s calculations, silicon will have more transistors than the brain has neurons in only a dozen more years.

While the presentation was heavily aspirational, however, Eden also offered several concrete developments from Intel for the pragmatists in the audience. Continue Reading…