Archives For Video

tivo-video-portal

Thanks to TiVo’s recent site refresh, a few interesting items have been surfaced, including an Operator-Branded Web Portal PDF. Of course, we’ve long known TiVo has been prepping this cable company “TV Everywhere” offering and even shot some video of it in action (embedded below) at the Cable Show. And given that particular development site appears to have been redirected to a RCN URL, we can’t help but wonder if launch is imminent. From TiVo’s pitch, the web portal offers:

  • What to Watch (recommended shows)
  • Search across TV, operator VOD and OTT content – and get integrated results on what you’re looking for
  • Schedule and manage recordings and ongoing
  • Season Pass recordings on your TiVo DVR even away from home
  • Grid Guide with up to 14 days of programming

Continue Reading…

kaliedescape-one

Kaleidescape, best known for industry skirmishes related to DVD decryption and archival, is out with the new Cinema One. Unlike the rest of Kaleidescape’s product line, the budget priced Cinema One can be picked up at any Best Buy Magnolia outpost for a mere $4k – without the expense or inconvenience or going through their dealer network. Touting a “breakthrough user interface” and “beautiful form factor” the One (not to be confused with the other One) takes a page from Vudu’s initial playbook in offering super high quality movie downloads for purchase. Further, DVD and audio discs can be essentially ripped onto the integrated hard drive for quick browsing and playback. However, if you happen to have a large Blu-ray collection, you’ll need to pick up the D700 Vault for just a couple more thousand dollars to handle licensing verification à la Xbox. Who’s in?

We quite liked the WDTV Play when we reviewed it back in February. The streamer is a step (or three) slower than the Roku and with far fewer apps, but brings several nifty tricks of its own including a fresh, customizable UI with Android-esque widgets. After receiving Sling’s monthly email blast, featuring promotional WDTV Play pricing, and inquiries from a pal maintaining an out-of-state apartment (where his children live) I figured it was time to fire up the SlingPlayer app.

The SlingCatcher may be long gone, but the dream of a television-based Slingbox endpoint lives on…. And the WDTV Play SlingPlayer app works exactly as you’d expect, relaying Slingbox video content from elsewhere in the home or cross-country (as I tested). Interacting with your remote set-top is of course somewhat sluggish and picture quality will vary dependent upon available bandwidth, but that’s the tradeoff for “real” TV Everywhere. One of WDTV Play’s most clever features is the ability to power up the box into a specific app – and I suspect my friend will put that to use as he continues to enjoy his Comcast subscription several states away.

Should you be similarly intrigued, Slingbox or no, the promo knocks $20 off the WDTV Play — click here and use coupon code WDTVPLAY20 to receive the $50 pricing (plus tax and $3 shipping).

redbox-roku

While Verizon’s Redbox Instant reps were a bit cagey at CES as to when, or if, we might see a Roku client for their burgeoning streaming service, the channel has just launched. And, based on the image above, it looks to have been in final testing the last month. As a refresher, Redbox Instant is something of a hybrid service providing both physical discs and online movies, with many included via the monthly fee and others available via pay per view. In talking with the Redbox Instant folks, the service isn’t geared towards the sort of early adopter who frequents ZNF and their initial target audience is folks new to online streaming – exposing those currently familiar with the DVD/Blu-ray kiosks to an economical way to expand their video options.

chromecast-diagram

As we await Chromecast delivery, an interesting TiVo rumor has crossed our desk. Supposedly Series 5 and TiVo Mini hardware will leverage the same sort of technologies (DIAL? via Flingo?) that Google’s Chromecast has implemented. Cast is similar to AirPlay in that a smartphone, tablet, or computer pipes video to a television. However, unlike Apple’s solution, Cast and DIAL are open to all developers and content streams directly via the cloud-to-TV rather than being relayed through a local device – meaning we’d take less of a hit on mobile battery life and television streaming performance.

dial-tivo

As most regulars know, TiVo’s been far more successful litigating and licensing their patent portfolio than in moving retail hardware and the Premiere line never really lived up to initial “One Box” marketing – given a meager app selection and generally poor performance. However, the incoming TiVo Series 5 presents a new opportunity to excite us content-loving consumers. And, in a classic chicken/egg scenario, while TiVo may not have a substantial enough customer base to warrant app development (as HBO indicated at the Cable Show and MIA Amazon Instant updates)… Google Chromecast does.

It’s quite conceivable that Google moved more Chromecast devices in the last few days than TiVo has in the year or more. So it’s a platform ripe for development. Beyond the existing Netflix and YouTube integration, we know Pandora is on-board and Sling and Redbox Instant are registered DIAL developers. With many more sure to follow. If TiVo can leverage these Chromecast-capable apps as an endpoint, they immediately expand their platform far beyond what looks to be an abandoned  Developer Channel. Could be exciting…!

jvc-slingcatcher

It may not be the Roku client we’ve been pining for, but as the post-Panasonic JVC continues to flesh out the video side of the Kenwood corporation, they’ve launched a new line of “BlackSapphire” Smart TVs sporting a native Slingbox app. The modestly priced and sized sets, clocking in at only 42″ and 47″, could make for a nice den SlingCatcher. Beyond Sling support, Netflix, Vudu, and Pandora are also present… along with a “flippable” QWERTY remote according to CNET. Of course, while many television manufacturers produce “smart” sets, I’ve yet to meet one with both an efficient and snappy UI. Not to mention, my Vizio has been known to crash/reboot at inopportune times, while my Panasonic is littered with ads. So JVC judgement will await CNET’s review.

Not the Channel Master K77

Boxee may have abandoned the market to secure their survival, but Echostar & Channel Master are teaming up once again to tap the over-the-air television crowd with a new line of retail DVR. According to a FCC filing (embedded below), the two Channel Master K77 models “combine access to broadcast programming with over-the-top and DVR functionalities.” Both units are slated to include 16GB of Flash storage, presumably to house the OS and any potential OTT apps, with DVR storage handled via an integrated 320GB hard drive (in the higher end SKU) or added via USB storage by end users. Previously, the two companies collaborated on the DTVPal DVR - which seemed to enjoy a decent amount of buzz and interest. More recently, Channel Master has been pushing an Entone-powered OTA DVR… but may not be pleased with the results given their rekindled relationship with Echostar. We firmly believe there’s an audience for this sort of product and are looking forward to what Echostar brings to the table. Related, Simple.TV, with a new line of funding, is likely also preparing an updated OTT/OTA DVR. Combined with TiVo’s incoming 4-tuner Series 5 and Aereo’s contested cloud-based approach, options are certainly heating up for cord cutters. Continue Reading…