Archives For Video

D-Link MovieNite Review

Dave Zatz —  April 14, 2012 — 15 Comments

D-Link unveiled a new low-end streamer this week, the MovieNite (DSM-310) – exclusively available via Wal-mart for $48. So, as I’m wont to do, I immediately picked one up (and simultaneously discovered a new Roku box).

Unlike its chief competition at this price point, MovieNite has a finite number of pre-loaded “channels” compared to Roku’s 400+ channel bazaar (which often is bizarre). And D-Link’s competently covered all the bases with Vudu (by Wal-mart) for high quality video rentals, Netflix streaming, Pandora audio, and Picasa photos. Also, D-Link bests Roku by offering YouTube.

dlink-movienite7

As to the actual experience, MovieNite can be a bit rough around the edges with a sometimes sluggish interface, perhaps exacerbated by a lack of transitions, and old school fonts. I also experienced a lock up that required pulling the power cable and another incident where the box let out a high pitched squeal as it rebooted. Having said that, the streamlined UI homescreen is suitable for novices — like my mom who’d be overwhelmed by all of Roku’s options and put off by their advertising. Further, the remote channel shortcut buttons make much more sense with a fixed lineup. Continue Reading…

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  April 5, 2012 — Leave a comment

A periodic roundup of relevant news… via our other outlets:

Comcast subscribers may soon get HBO Go on the Xbox
The fact that Comcast has blocked HBO Go on some devices has been a major point of contention in recent weeks. Reports say that Comcast and HBO are closing in on a deal to make the HBO Go app available to Xfinity subscribers on the Xbox and the operator may unlock access as early as this week.

Comcast plans the X3, its first all-IP HD set-top
In addition to building out the Xcalibur platform, Comcast has several other IP initiatives in the works. In February the operator introduced Streampix, an on-demand Internet-based service that’s been compared to an early version of Netflix’s (Nasdaq: NFLX) streaming service. Then there’s the Comcast Xfinity app on Xbox

Google reaches halfway mark with new fiber huts in Kansas and Missouri 
Time Warner has been dismissive of Google’s plans so far. A spokesperson told the Kansas City Star, “This [Google Fiber] is a product that doesn’t exist on a network that doesn’t exist.” Google, however, says it will begin offering service on the new fiber network later this year.

Rovi signs new wide-ranging licensing deal with Sony
Rovi announced that it has signed a technology and patent licensing agreement with Sony covering components of Rovi’s interactive program guide (IPG), which is currently in use by Panasonic, Toshiba, Charter Communications, and Suddenlink, among others.

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.

panasonic-dmp-bdt220

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.

philips-m100-camera2

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.