Archives For Video

Amazon Instant Video streaming has landed on Sony’s PS3. And Tech of the Hub took the new service for a spin, finding it to be Amazon’s very best implementation, including the new “Recently Watched” and “Next Episode” tiles. Further, CNET’s John Falcone tweets this “cements the PS3 as the best all around home entertainment device.” While I’d probably give the nod to the Xbox 360, despite anachronistic annual service fee and lack of Blu-ray, Amazon Instant is both a welcome and unexpected offering on Sony’s flagship “gaming” console. As, not only does Amazon provide video-on-demand, but folks who subscribe to Amazon Prime ($79/year) are treated to unlimited video streaming, à la Netlifx. Sadly, there’s still no sign of Amazon Instant on mobile platforms beyond the Kindle Fire and their TiVo app continues to atrophy – lacking Prime capabilities.

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Right on schedule, members of Panasonic’s 2012 Blu-ray player lineup have begun arriving at Best Buy. Last year, we regularly recommended the Panasonic DMP-BDT210 to folks seeking a reasonably priced deck with well rounded features, including a healthy online ecosystem and fast boot times. And now in 2012, the DMP-BDT220 (MSRP $150) looks to be solid successor.

In fact, Tech of the Hub has already run their Panasonic DMP-BDT220 review and concludes the Blu-ray player is “fairly impressive” and a “good value.” I’d say folks considering an Apple TV or high-end Roku might even step up for just $30 additional bucks (via Amazon). While Panasonic’s UI may not be as polished or quick, in addition to Blu-ray playback it offers Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Vudu, Amazon, Pandora, and DLNA streaming. Unfortunately, the optional Android and iPhone smartphone remote control apps for this generation have yet to be released. Also, as a fan the prior generation BDT210, I’m somewhat bummed to see Panasonic drop the touch-free sensor that allowed you to wave your hand above the deck to eject the disc tray.

At a slightly higher end, the Panasonic DMP-BDT320 (MSRP $200) features a sleeker enclosure with slot loading disc drive… and a touchpad remote of questionable value. In fact, I’d probably steer folks away from this model given the unconventional remote that lacks even standard transport buttons.

hbo-go-appletv

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.

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For someone who doesn’t have a college aged mistress or nanny to monitor, I seem to have an unnatural preoccupation with Internet-connected security cameras. Which may be why I zeroed in on the upcoming Philips M100 when trawling the FCC database today. The M100 looks more Vue or DropCam than Logitech Alert or Archerfish in terms of price point and functionality. The small, non-distinct and inoffensive M100 camera wirelessly broadcasts up to 720p video along with audio to the iPhone and Android Philips Insight Cam apps – which also aren’t yet available. Presumably, the M100 will join one’s home WiFi network by utilizing its USB connection in some way and pairing the camera to mobile viewer looks to be quite clever and efficient, as pictured below. Unfortunately, there’s no telling when or where this will be released and at what price point.

philips-m100-diagram

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.

appletv5

Touched on briefly as an undercard leading up to the iPad 3 HD main event, a slightly refreshed Apple TV was introduced earlier today. And the primary differentiator between this diminutive streamer and its predecessor is an upgraded single core A5 processor that enables 1080p video playback. Related, select iTunes and Netflix video content will now be offered at those higher resolutions. Should your broadband throughput and data cap cooperate. The incoming aTV, expected on store shelves next weeks, sports the same $99 price tag of the outgoing unit. And that’s pretty much all there is to say.

Along with the new hardware, Apple TV 5.0 software has been unveiled… and is also being made available to prior generation Apple TV as you can see from these photos. Replacing text-based lists, is the more familiar presentation of icons as seen on other iOS devices, like the iPhone. But still no app store. Yet. Although it was our second most predicted (requested?) feature in the poll we recently ran, behind the obvious bump in resolution. Lastly, our iTunes video purchases will be permanently accessibile from various devices, on demand via iCloud. Continue Reading…

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I have it on good authority that Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand TiVo app will launch in early April — Intel that lines up with TiVo’s recent quarterly call indicating service will roll out within weeks… versus months. Instead of reselling the TiVo experience, as Comcast once attempted, the new initiative makes Xfinity On Demand programming available via TiVo Premiere DVRs acquired through retail channels, like Amazon or Best Buy. While the traditional pay per view content looks somewhat pricey, compared to say Apple TV and Redbox, the real value comes from the oodles of free on demand content that Comcast provides their customers. The first market to receive access will be San Francisco and if these cellphone pics don’t do it for you, there’s more eye candy to be had on TiVo’s Xfinity landing page.