Know any digital media junkies living in Canada? If so, you’ve likely heard how good we supposedly have it here in the US when it comes to streaming video and that their options are seriously limited… despite nearly two years of Netflix. And, as it turns out, the Canadian Netflix library does indeed pale in comparison to its American equivalent. But some industrious individuals have managed to bypass Netflix’s relatively weak geo-authentication by merely changing their Xbox or PS3 DNS settings. The video above demonstrates how to configure a Canadian-based Xbox 360 for US Netflix and the process is similar for enabling US Netflix on a Canadian PS3. Of course, you Canucks would require an active Netflix account and will want to keep an eye on the video description for specific network settings as the successful ones seem vary by region and periodically lose access. Further, as Netflix encodes and distributes their streams in dozens of variations, this specific hack appears limited to the PS3 and Xbox gaming consoles… and the backdoor could be closed at any time.
Archives For Hacks
As our digital streamers have shrunk in size, placement options have increased. And I stumbled upon this clever little mount for my Apple TV.
The Innovelis Total Mount ($20) can be positioned in three ways – either bolted to your wall with included screws, Velcro strapped to a HDTV wall mount, or hung from your HDTV by clipping into the television vents. I opted for the vent mount, and I imagine most investing in this solution will do likewise. Innovelis kindly includes clips for various vent style (vertical, horizontal, circular) and I picked up a 1ft HDMI cable via ebay for $2.98, shipped.
As you can see from the pics and video, the solution nicely cleans up the (minimal) clutter. I don’t have any overheating concerns and my Apple TV actually responds better this location as the remote IR bounces off the walls or ceiling en route to the set-top.
Based on my success with the Apple TV mount, I’ll be picking up a second… as Innovelis also produces one for the similarly shaped Roku 2. But my second 1′ HDMI cable won’t be sufficient, given the proximity of HDMI ports to preferred vent location on our larger living room television and I’ll be ordering a 1.5′ or 2′ replacement.
Supposedly today is the day Xbox 360 owners will be treated to HBO GO. Unless you’re a Comcast customer. In which case you’ll likely be accessing HBO on demand content via the Xfinity app… as they apparently intend to own the experience. Likewise, while Comcast doesn’t offer a Roku app, they block HBO GO access on that platform out of hand. Apple TV, by comparison, features access to neither Xfinity nor HBO GO. Sort of.
Owners of the iPhone 4s, iPad 2, or new iPad are entitled to AirPlay mirroring capabilities — a feature Apple describes as allowing one to beam “everything” displayed on an iDevice to an Apple TV. Unfortunately, “everything” doesn’t actually include the iOS HBO GO app… which fails with an unclear error citing “HDMI video out.” However, a pair of Twitter pals (Bill, Mike) clued me in to a nice little workaround… for Comcast customers.
Via Comcast’s Xfinity app, subscribers with compatible iOS devices can beam any and all content — including HBO — to Apple TV. And, as you can see from the pic, it does work. To reduce distracting letterboxing, since your iDevice probably doesn’t share the same resolution and aspect ratio as your television, you’d want to employ your HDTV’s zoom function. No, this won’t provide anything close to Blu-ray quality. But I’d say it’s a reasonable hack for a subset of folks and various situations. For Android owners who’d prefer HBO GO on the big screen there’s always HDMI out.
While most of the competition offers YouTube on the big screen, Roku remains a notable holdout. At one point, we did enjoy an unofficial “private” channel… which Google had shut down (to new users). And while there was a glimmer of hope last fall that an authentic YouTube channel was headed our way, it’s yet to materialize.
We have no way of knowing if this is related to an unwillingness by Roku to license YouTube, technical issues, or something else. But we do have a workaround: YouTube video links that are dropped into your News Feed or Timeline can be accessed via the official Facebook Channel on Roku. It may not be pretty, and lacks the discovery element, but it’s fairly effective. And if you’re not interested in spamming your friends, simply set the video status updates to private.
Check out the video above to see the process in action.
Don Reisinger’s out with a column pitching the Xbox 360 as an Apple TV replacement. While we’re big fans of the 360 (and PS3) as an all-purpose digital media solution, it doesn’t offer the elegant simplicity of a Roku ($50 – $100) or Apple TV ($99). Further, once you add the remote and (recurring) Xbox Live annual subscription, even the base Xbox 360 console will run you about three times ($280) the cost of an aTV. And that power brick is still huge. For many, Netflix and YouTube are the streaming tentpole supplements to Apple’s iTunes ecosystem. And it’s really no longer the walled garden it once was with content partners such as NHL and Vimeo recently joining the solid prior lineup including MLB, Flickr, and podcast directory.
Having said that, for this class of device, I still generally prefer Roku over Apple TV given it’s broader catalog of content partner, USB drive support, and more traditional remote. And why I was thinking of picking up another Roku. But a few Twitter followers convinced me to jailbreak my Apple TV once again, instead of investing in another box. Once jailbroken, apps like XBMC and Plex allow you to get at the media on your home network… and in some cases, beyond. With relatively no downside.
Just a few short days after Apple TV was upgraded to 4.4 (and then 4.4.1), the user friendly Seas0nPass jailbreak utility has now likewise been updated to free you from the stock confines of Apple’s diminutive media streamer. Sort of.
Unfortunately, this initial 4.4 Apple TV jailbreak requires the aTV be tethered to a computer at boot. An annoyance, yes. But not a deal breaker. Which brings us to the fairly critical plugins which fail to work under the update… including XBMC.
Considering a majority of jailbreakers do so to harness the more extensive local media playback capabilities of XBMC, this limitation could be a non-starter for many. So it’s probably good news that for the time being it’s possible to abstain from upgrading your hacked 4.3 Apple TV. By the time Apple removes 4.3 code signing and forces an upgrade, one hopes these early jailbreak issues will have been resolved.
Itemized plugin status follows: Continue Reading…
What a difference a week makes…
When we last discussed Barnes & Noble’s new Nook Touch e-Reader ($139), I lamented the absence of a web browser. While some browser components were clearly present, to enable WiFi hotspot login functionality, there was no obvious means to launch a full-on browsing experience. As it turns out, it’s not so tricky at all. In fact, no hacking required. However, what you end up with is indeed a hack. For now. As the browsing experience is less than ideal. But, hey, it’ll do in a pinch and this gives me some hope that B&N intends to refine and release this feature.
More interestingly, the Nook Touch seems to have a good deal in common with it’s larger, Color brethren. And I learned on Liliputing that it’s been rooted. Directions can be found here but, while the steps are simple, the end result isn’t entirely suitable for novices at this point. What you’re left with is basically an unlocked device that you can sideload apps onto… and launch via computer. So while the savvy are mucking about with the Amazon Kindle app, I wouldn’t say the root experience is quite ready for weekend geek warriors.