Archives For HDTV

Supreme Court Halts Aereo’s Flight

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We’re big fans of Vizio’s original 5.1 soundbar, which delivers true surround sound from an extremely compact and tasteful form – including a wireless sub that powers the rear channel speakers. As announced at CES, Vizio has doubled down on this form factor with a larger model that overcomes the original’s connectivity limitations by adding two HDMI inputs. And their $500 home theater solution is now available for purchase. CNET is quite positive with their praise of the 2014 model… other than price point, as it clocks in at nearly twice the cost of the original, and soundbar size. While the elongated 54″ bar enhances front channel separation, your TV stand may not be able to attractively contain it. Further, the soundbar is nearly half an inch taller than the original at 4.18″ — which could be a deal breaker for me as the 2013 variant already does a pretty good job of blocking my Panasonic HDTV’s IR sensor. Hm.

Google’s investment in Sage TV continues to bear fruit as the team is apparently hard at work preparing their second generation Google Fiber set-box. Continue Reading…

Aereo Chromecast

Still waiting on a potentially fateful ruling from the Supreme Court, Aereo today announced Chromecast support for its Android app. That means that users with the service can cast Aereo video from an Android mobile device direct to an HD television via Google’s popular HDMI streaming stick. Aereo already works with Roku and Apple TV, but Chromecast is a super-cheap option for making your dumb TV smart enough to handle Internet video.

Direct from Aereo:

Aereo is now live on the Google Chromecast™ platform. The Aereo app for Android™ is available for download in the Google Play™ store. Subscribers can access Aereo’s antenna and DVR technology to record and watch live broadcast television using Google’s Chromecast™.

The Aereo news comes on the heels of another recent announcement of Chromecast support for WatchESPN. That earlier update has me considering whether or not to invest in upgrading my Roku. I had planned on it, but now with Chromecast compatibility, I don’t see a compelling reason to spend the money.

As Verizon declares its FiOS Quantum TV rollout complete, fellow Northern Virginian Ananth Sarathy shares his initial experience with the new whole-home DVR. He’s also kindly agreed to take questions in the comments — perhaps he’ll even be able to explain Verizon’s obtuse pricing.

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I’ve had the new Quantum DVR for about a week now. The interface is the familiar FiOS interface that we’re used to, for better or worse. It doesn’t seem to have yet received the recent UI upgrade and is missing a few elements, such as the autotune to HD feature. The boxes do use the same FiOS remotes as before, so I’ve stuck with my existing ones, and didn’t need to program them, which is nice. But I kind of wish they had upgraded to a remote that could control AV system volume as well. Continue Reading…

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As Samsung continues to hedge against Google/Android reliance and standardize across disparate product lines, while perhaps avoiding Microsoft royalties, the company has expanding the Tizen OS initiative beyond smart watches and to connected televisions. Via Liliputing:

Samsung’s Tizen-based TV SDK Beta will be available early July following the Tizen Developer Conference in San Francisco from June 2–4th. The Tizen-based Samsung TV SDK Beta supports the HTML5 standard through its framework called Caph and enables developers to write apps that run on a Tizen OS –based TVs.

For maximum impact, we expect Samsung will have to provide an efficient mechanism for developers to port Android apps to the similarly Linux-powered Tizen. But what of the Boxee team? The video startup was acquired by Samsung about a year ago… and, since then, it’s been radio silence. I have it on good authority that “Boxee” is dead and personnel form a product innovation team within Sammy’s “visual display” business unit. As to what the NYC-based group is currently working on, we can only guess. But, given their skillset, fleshing out a new television OS and UI certainly wouldn’t be out of the question.

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The FiOS TV guide has grown stale these last few years as Verizon turned its attention to all things wireless. However, while I await the next-gen version of FiOS service, I’m happy to report that Verizon has made a few short-term tweaks to improve the existing interface.

My favorite in the IMG 1.9.6 update (just five months after the 1.9.5 update) is the change to the search screen. Instead of having to scroll to every letter I want to type in, Verizon now lets me use the number buttons on my remote as alphabet keys just like old-style texting. (Or current-style if you haven’t given in to touch screens yet.) Example: you press the “2″ button once for “A”, twice for “B”, and three times for “C”. This may not sound like a big deal, but searching for anything was terrifically painful before, and the new interface definitely speeds up the process. Continue Reading…