Archives For HDTV

Today’s question of the day comes to us from George C…

My brother-in-law just moved from the West Coast back to Texas.  In doing so, of course he dropped his triple play Internet/TV/Cable.  He also sold/gave away his old CRT televisions.  They watched Netflix via an old computer (they didn’t know about Roku type of devices).  He and his family (wife, two younger kids) just bought a new house and he is very open to new configurations.  He is technically capable of installing software, routers, etc…. But would not delve into (for example) Myth TV, pyTivo, etc…

He’ll probably need two TVs, one for the living room and one for the master bedroom.  OTA is a possibility, as there is a clear shot to the towers.  The wife really wants a land-line “in case of emergency”.  He thinks that they can stay with cell phones (I suggested Ooma).  The house alarm system come with an independent wireless system.  He doesn’t mind paying a fair price for a device, but really, really wants to avoid recurring monthly fees. Continue Reading…

Sezmi Joins The Deadpool

Dave Zatz —  September 25, 2011 — 14 Comments


We’ve covered the Sezmi television solution for some time. But, alas, they’ll now be joining the likes of Akimbo, ZillionTV, and Moviebeam in the deadpool. From Sezmi’s recent customer outreach:

We regret to inform you that Sezmi is discontinuing its consumer service. As of Monday, September 26, 2011, you will no longer be able to view or record broadcast TV programming through your Sezmi System. However, you will still be able to view movies and shows you have already saved to your Sezmi media recorder. Sezmi has changed its business focus to providing our product and technology platform to service providers, internationally and in the U.S., who are interested in providing broadband video services to their customers. As a result, we are no longer supporting our direct-to-consumer service.

It’s unfortunate, as Sezmi was pushing a “one box” comprised of both Internet, cable without the cable, and broadcast content (along with user profiles!), long before TiVo landed on that marketing approach. But the writing was on the wall and we saw this coming. From my contribution to a TiVo Community discussion on the merits of Sezmi a few months back:

Sezmi shot themselves in the foot with their original plan to license broadcast spectrum and launch only in those select markets (LA was first). They blew a lot of cash on that failed approach and have since adjusted. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t survive beyond 2011. A bummer really, because the market needs more competition not less. But if TiVo can’t make it in retail, no one can.

From the get go, both Mari and I were somewhat skeptical of their grand initial approach and possibility of success given the landscape. Mari’s thoughts back in 2008:

I love the idea of Sezmi but I simply can’t imagine how the enterprise will succeed. These guys have been really innovative, and deserve huge kudos for trying something new. I wish the obstacles in front of them weren’t quite so daunting.

Sezmi hopes to work deals with service providers and carry on. And perhaps they will. But I suspect they’re just delaying the inevitable. My advice? Sell the assets, if possible, and move on to the next challenge.

(via EngadgetHD)

Hands On The Insignia TiVo TV

Dave Zatz —  September 19, 2011 — 18 Comments

After a few fits and starts, Best Buy has loaned us a 42″ Inisgnia TiVo TV ($700). Of course, what makes this solution unique is not only that the companies have produced a “smart TV” but also that it’s a TiVo without a DVR. I’m still digging into the set, but wanted to run a quickie overview of the interface and rundown of a few select apps. As you can see from the video above, TiVo’s Netflix and YouTube app have finally been modernized and look quite nice. Best Buy’s app platform partner Chumby also sees prime billing running several preloaded apps along with a highly compelling display mode. More to come…


Channel Master previously championed the now defunct EchoStar DTVPal DVR under their banner… and obviously found some success bringing digital VCR capabilities to the over-the-air crowd as they’re launching another fee-free DVR. The new Channel Master TV, aka CM-7400, primarily targets high def antenna broadcasts (although it’ll also tune clear QAM) with the added benefit of over-the-top Vudu content. No, not just Vudu video on demand. But, also, Walmart’s entire Vudu app platform that includes a variety of Internet-sourced content like Pandora and Twitter. Given Channel Master’s existing relationship with the people of Walmart, it’s probably not so surprising they’d strike a deal.


While I couldn’t make it into NYC for Pepcom’s holiday preview last night, Liliputing’s Brad Linder did. And snapped several photos for us. As you can see, the dual tuning, 320GB Channel Master TV is fairly compact and much more attractive than the DTVPal DVR it presumably replaces. Not only has the enclosure been redesigned, the UI looks quite different. In fact, the company rep tells Brad the new product isn’t affiliated with EchoStar.


Despite Channel Master’s new solution, Megazone still feels that the OTA-capable TiVo is a better value. Remember, TiVo is also targeting this demographic with a few recent promotions. Although MZ suggests cord cutters simply pick up a Premiere with Lifetime service for $600 over the $400 flat fee Channel Master TV. But, we need to know a little more about the CM-7400′s EPG and recording capabilities. The prior generation model was simply a glorified VCR, only recording by time slot – versus by program title, or new versus repeat, etc. For many folks a “digital VCR” is sufficient. But there’s obviously a better way. Also, the earlier unit sources guide data over-the-air. In my experience, the data was highly unreliable – both in terms of content and even being present. Not to mention, a limited amount of days covered. Without true DVR capabilities, accurate and significant guide data might not be much of a requirement. But these two things together might justify TiVo’s recurring fee or additional upfront cost for those that appreciate and understand the distinctions.

This market could be expanding further, though. And Boxee is one potential competitor who may be exploring the idea of integrating both over-the-top and over-the-air DVR capabilities to this space… Stay tuned?


On the way to a Boxee-fied television, it appears View Sonic has come to the same conclusion I have regarding Internet-connected displays. From GigaOm:

‘Smart TV’ has not achieved the consumer acceptance or market expectation… that was forecasted over the last couple years. In addition, consumer spending for Smart TV’s in general has experienced a significant slow down as the economy has slowed.

Just because industry is pumping Smart TV doesn’t mean we’re buying. At least not in the numbers the manufacturers may have hoped for. Granted, View Sonic is a minor player in this space… But we’ve been down this path before as manufacturers attempt to shorten the consumer television refresh cycle. And this mirrors the tepid response we witnessed to 3D TVs in 2010. That’s not to say folks aren’t interested in three dimensional content or Internet apps. But they’re less likely to invest in a high end product (sooner) to get those features. In fact, while I’d say we’re just getting started harnessing web content on the television, millions of Apple TVs and Rokus have been sold – as well as presumably even more Internet-connected Blu-ray players. Further, several cable and satellite providers (or their proxies, like TiVo) are bringing over-the-top video (like YouTube) and social Internet features (such as Twitter & Facebook) to the big screen. So why would I buy a new TV? Especially one that has a tendency to reboot.


It’s been nearly four weeks since the TiVo-powered Best Buy Insignia HDTV launched. Yet all we’ve heard is crickets. How bad is it? To my knowledge, not a single owner has stepped forward on the TiVo Community. Being a Best Buy house brand, I assume they’re the ones responsible for marketing. And we just haven’t seen much yet, beyond an occasional end cap display. Unfortunately, the one I checked out today wasn’t connected to a network so I was unable to get a sense of the UI and apps… but sought out some assistance. One Best Buy employee told me to try connecting to the wireless Barnes & Noble network next door (which obviously didn’t work) and another later said, “Have you seen the Google TV? It’s basically the same thing.” Look – we realize the product is new, but if Best Buy intends to do something more with the Insignia brand beyond undercutting the competition on price, they’re going to need to train their staff and put some serious marketing muscle behind this initiative. Selling a non-DVR TiVo is a difficult enough challenge.

Right on the heels of HP announcing the death of WebOS and the TouchPad, there’s new evidence today that Apple will be coming out with its third-generation iPad in early 2012. Better yet, the rumors that this will be an “iPad HD” appear to be true. According to The Wall Street Journal (via MacRumors) the new iPad is “expected to feature a high resolution display – 2048 by 1536 compared with 1024 by 768 in the iPad 2.”

An HD iPad brings with it a number of interesting implications. Apple mobile device users love their video, and high-def content ups the ante for both content and broadband providers. For the content folks, there’s likely to be increased anxiety around content security, and fears of greater piracy. For the ISPs, this is one more way subscribers can bog down their networks. That’s good for getting users to sign on for higher-tier Internet packages, and it’s a potential way to push the metered billing agenda. But it’s bad for operators who are already facing a bandwidth crunch, and need to open up their wallets for further network upgrades.