Archives For Video

vizio-costar-google-tv

As you may have gathered, Vizio, FedEx, and USPS have collectively been unable to deliver a Costar to the address I specified or fee-free as advertised. Fortunately (perhaps), our pals Scott Greczkowski of Satellite Guys and Chris Kapusta of The Game Corps have received shipment of second generation Google TV hardware. And while the form factor and pricing ($100) are both improved over first gen hardware, it seems the overall experience is still lacking.

Scott’s had all sorts of difficulty streaming content from various sources and was ready to return the unit, until Vizio informed him he’d be responsible for return shipping costs and hit with a restocking fee. As Vizio probably intends, that disincentive (corroborated on AVS) has been enough for Scott to hang onto his flawed Co-star — which he’s pretty much relegated to a single function “Slingcatcher” device given Google TV’s limited ecosystem of compelling native apps (versus the kludge of icons masquerading as app that send you to webpages… that fail to stream or offer SD-only video).

vizio-costar-remote-keyboard

There’s been some discussion of Vizio’s bulky remote. While this may be the first RF remote with touchpad and QWERTY keyboard bundled with a hundred dollar streamer, it is indeed thick – about as thick as the competing Roku 2 XS box is tall and about twice as thick as Boxee’s comparable clicker but without the ergonomics of say the TiVo Slide. Also, I’m getting kinda tired of these branded buttons (as also seen from Roku). But, most importantly, Scott tells me the touchpad isn’t super responsive and he has a difficult time moving the cursor. I guess it’s not all bad though, Continue Reading…

Since we’ve had an amazingly difficult time getting some new Google TV hardware in here, we’re revisiting the original Logitech Revue with fresh eyes, nearly two years after launch — a period that brought us few notable software updates and the ouster of Logitech’s CEO… Not to mention Google has just given up on television advertising and currently provides non-Google TV hardware/software to Kansas City Fiber customers. 

googletv-logitech-revue

ZNF supporter and neighbor Joel Ward shares his thoughts:

It was the day that was going to change my life forever. I was about to get my hands on a slightly used Logitech Revue Google TV unit from premiere tech blogger Dave Zatz. Dave had a Revue that he used a while back but had boxed up for some reason or another. I couldn’t comprehend why he would do such a thing. I would soon figure it out.

I started the Google TV experiment that night: replace the Roku on our bedroom TV with the Revue, passing the Verizon FiOS HD cable box signal through the Revue via HDMI cable. Then the Revue hooked to the TV via HDMI. Lastly Ethernet plus the power cable and I was up and running. The on-screen setup wizard was a snap. I was excited to give it all a try.

For about a week I tried the Revue in the bedroom. After about a week in the bedroom, where we barely use the TV, I moved the Revue to the family room where our main HDTV sits. We have our FiOS HD DVR there and a surround receiver, both of which connected easily to the Revue.

This was the real experiment: Would my wife and I appreciate the Google TV interface, search, and app selection? I was up for the challenge. My wife was skeptical. Continue Reading…

amazon-instant-ipad5

At long last, Amazon has brought their digital video service to the iPad. And, presumably, iPhone access isn’t far behind.

Amazon Instant actually consists of two distinct tiers, and both are available via the new iPad app. Perhaps the most familiar these days is Prime Instant Streaming, which is similar to Netflix or Hulu Plus in that it provides unlimited streaming of a wide range of television and movie content. However, instead of levying  a monthly fee, video is provided “free” to Amazon Prime subscribers ($79/year) – originally pitched as a shipping service but, given new benefits, is more akin to a loyalty club these days. Beyond that, Amazon Instant also offers video rentals and sales. But, of course, to bypass Apple’s hefty 30% commission, it’s not actually handled in-app and requires a trip to Amazon.com.

It just so happens that I purchased the first episode of Breaking Bad, Season 5 for viewing on our TiVo Premiere but fired it up on the iPad. Non-Prime video can be streamed or downloaded, which makes for a mighty flexible solution. However, Amazon streams by default and the only way I could trigger local copy playback was by disabling WiFi. It’s also safe to assume the HD video quality pales in comparison to what the TiVo download provides. Yet many of us will periodically made the trade in quality for convenience… and I’m looking forward to catching up on Fringe with my iPad from the gym treadmill.

(via 9to5 Mac)

logitech-tv-cam-hd1

If the FCC and this promo video are any indication, Logitech is poised to unveil a new television-based video conferencing solution. However, unlike their previous entrants into this field, the TV Cam HD doesn’t rely on Logitech’s video conferencing software (like Google TV) or a tricked out television and offers a stand-alone Skype solution — something akin to TelyHD. Once networked via its Ethernet port or wireless via 802.11g/n, all that’s required is a television with a free HDMI port to video chat with friends of family sporting any sort of Skype-equipped device such as an iPhone or tablet.

Timing is unclear, but Best Buy has the Logitech TV Cam HD pegged at $200 and expected within 30 days. More pressing, is there a sufficiently sized market for this sort of product? Previous attempts haven’t fared so well… but our pal Michael Graves has pined for Skype on TiVo for years and perhaps we consumers are ready for a living room sized solution given the success of Apple’s Facetime.

While we’re still a few months away from launch, the Redbox-Verizon collaboration intended to take on Netflix video streaming is seriously ramping up staffing — with the companies advertising several dozen job openings in multiple states:

The Verizon-Redbox JV brings together two innovative companies known for creating brands that customers trust and products consumers want. With immediate DVD and Blu-ray rental through Redbox and instant broadband content from Verizon, we’ll be uniquely positioned to deliver the best of both worlds – physical and digital – to all consumers nationwide. We’ll make it easy for everyone to access and enjoy the entertainment they want to see, using any providers’ mobile or home broadband service – anytime, anywhere. Working at the Verizon-Redbox Joint Venture means you can enjoy the freedom and creativity of a start-up business with the resources of two recognized, established companies

Additionally, as deployment approaches, Fierce Wireless has uncovered a new Redbox logo trademark (above left).

Continue Reading…

boxee-cablecard

Earlier this year, Boxee petitioned the FCC regarding the possibility of Big Cable encrypting their basic tiers, including the local affiliates. Despite the NCTA’s less-than-friendly retort, Comcast and Boxee seemed to have found some common ground in providing Boxee devices access to basic cable. From their joint FCC filing:

Comcast and Boxee representatives updated Commission staff on discussions between Comcast and Boxee on an initial and a long-term solution for consumers with retail IP-capable Clear QAM devices (“third-party devices”) to access encrypted basic tier channels in Comcast’s all-digital cable systems once the Commission allows for such encryption.

The initial solution involves the development as soon as possible of a high-definition digital transport adapter with an ethernet connector (“E-DTA”). This solution would enable a customer with a third-party device to access basic tier channels directly through an ethernet input on such third-party device or via the home network, and to change channels remotely in the E-DTA via a DLNA protocol.

The long-term solution, which would follow shortly after the initial solution, involves the creation of a licensing path for integrating DTA technology into third-party devices (“Integrated DTA”). Such a device could access encrypted basic tier channels without the need for a cable operator-supplied DTA or set-top box.

What’s most interesting about this proposal is the fact that it doesn’t involve CableCARDs — the existing solution for third party products to authenticate and access cable content. While Light Reading believes these access methods may foreshadow the death of AllVid, I see this more as the road to an industry-created AllVid solution – some secure, centralized way to distribute cable around the home… that manufactures like Boxee and TiVo could leverage. And without the ongoing hassle and confusion of CableCARD.

verizon-cablecard-lockdown

Verizon may find themselves dethroned as the top TiVo-friendly “cable” provider come August when they implement the Copy Once CableCARD flag — presumably at HBO’s request and in at least one market (Dallas Fort Worth). On channels and programs with this particular CCI Byte notation, TiVo owners will be permitted to DVR shows as they normally would. However, they’ll be unable to transfer those recordings to other TiVo units or offload them via TiVoToGo for mobile playback or archival purposes. TiVo owners with TiVo Premiere hardware will retain the option to stream recorded programming between units, but owners of older TiVo hardware and/or in a hybrid TiVo environment will find themselves out of luck. Fortunately, Verizon indicates this change will be specific to “certain premium channels” … which is more consumer friendly than Cox Communications or Time Warner Cable’s approach of locking everything down, other than the locals, in some regions. As with many such initiatives, this move inconveniences legit cable subscribers while doing nothing to limit piracy. And so it goes.

(Thanks, Brennok!)