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eeetop2

My initial impression of the Verizon Hub wasn’t entirely positive – I’d rather have a touchscreen Eee Top in my kitchen. -DZ, 02/09

Given my pre-release proclamation above and after catching Brad Linder’s (Lilliputing) ASUS Eee Top ETP1602 review, I had to get my hands on a unit. Fortunately, Brad (and ASUS) were quite accommodating and I’ve been playing with his very same review loaner the last couple weeks. Whereas Brad dropped the Eee Top (~$500) in his office, being a fan (conceptually) of the Audrey and Icebox computing appliances of lore, I placed the 15.6″ all-in-one PC in our kitchen. Where I believe it belongs.

First off, while definitely plasticy, the Eee looks pretty sharp. Minus the cable clutter. My phone related paraphernalia could easily be cleaned up, but I positioned it front and center (well, off to the left) to demonstrate connectivity. Unfortunately, the wired keyboard and mouse would require an additional investment to free yourself of cables. In fact, if we’re counting pennies, I’d prefer ASUS provide wireless interfaces over the touchscreen – which I found myself rarely using. (Perhaps compounded by the review unit not shipping with its bundled stylus.) I appreciated the volume and brightness controls located on the bezel, in addition to the screen blanking button. And the Eee Top rear, which Brad photographed, features a simple yet effective, adjustable kickstand and various ports.

The custom apps (i.e. Eee Easy Mode) and third party software (i.e. Cyberlink media shell) that Brad felt made the Eee Top stand out, were mostly a distraction for me. (But are perfectly suitable for non-techies and children.) Thus, they were banished in relatively short order. Windows XP has been around for eons and I’m comfortable mousing around the UI as designed. To meet my widget needs, I installed all of Google Desktop. For telephonic capabilities, I plugged in the magicJack ($40, free US calling the first year) on a side USB port. (Although Skype would also work well, given the built-in microphone and video camera.) I had hoped the ETP1602 would made a great web-based kitchen television, but the video capabilities are a mixed bag…

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Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  May 9, 2009 — 5 Comments

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our other blogs:

Top Cablecos to Debut Online On-Demand Shows
In recognition of the need to bridge the gap to the Internet, both Comcast and Time Warner Cable have now said they will make select programming available online to TV subscribers in the second half of this year.

Operator Plans for Mobile Broadband

Even as cable and telecom companies gear up with 4G wireless broadband strategies, Wi-Fi continues to grow in popularity, and more operators are starting to use it to their advantage.

The Kindle DX, Bigger and still expensive
At Amazon’s press event they announced their new, bigger, more expensive Kindle. The focus for this one is definitely on the newspaper, periodical and textbook consumer.

The (Sweedish) Pirate party is on
If the Pirate Party can translate their current momentum into enough actual votes to get representatives into the EU parliament, it would get the word out on precisely the kind of copy-left, file sharing, network neutrality that the Pirate Bay has promoted for years via far more mainstream avenues.

How to Share News Items, Music, Videos and Websites on Facebook
Ever wanted to share a blog post, website, video, music or news story in Facebook? There are two ways to do this, by using either: the ‘Share on Facebook’ bookmarklet’; or the attach ‘Links’ method.

dish-online-scheduling

DISH has joined other DVR vendors (DirecTV, Verizon, TiVo, Moxi) by (officially) launching online scheduling. While TiVo was a pioneer in this space, they’ve begun to lag as others provide a direct connection for interactive conflict resolution and to view listings of recorded shows or scheduled recordings. As DISH now offers broadband-connected ViP 612, ViP 622, ViP 722, ViP 722k DVRs. Additionally, they’re leveraging the (EchoStar) Sling Media acquisition by embedding a web-based Slingbox player into the DISH Remote Access site, providing one-stop shopping for dual Sling+DISH customers. (And as we saw at CES, the next generation DISH Network DVR, due later this year, will ship with integrated Sling placeshifting technology.)

DivXlicious

I recently saw a link to an online survey on DivX’s website, and since I’m not shy in sharing my opinions, these sorts of things are the perfect click bait for me. Most questions covered how and where I watch online video, but after answering a dozen or so, one caught my eye:

5. Would you be interested in a free service that lets you bookmark online videos to queue and play back in media center software or on a device?

I’ve never really been a heavy user of bookmarking services, but being able to bookmark television content would be much more appealing. One of the biggest problems in bridging the computer to TV gap, is the process of finding the content that you want to watch and then getting it to the television set. For downloadable media this is easier to accomplish, but for streaming media you’ll need some kind of a PC or internet connected gadgetry. Once juiced up to the net, trying to navigate the vast sea of digital content with a remote is like trying to paddle upstream while going over Niagra Falls backwards.

So far, Netflix seems to have come up with the best solution, but there’s still room for others to build a better mousetrap. Instead of letting consumers use a remote to browse all of their programing, Netflix makes you bookmark your watch now movies via the old fashioned computer. This hybrid tv/computer approach may lack some elegance, but it does ultimately create a more satisfying experience to the end user. Sometimes having too many choices can create a paralyzing effect when it comes to finding content.

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imageAfter years of putting it off I finally installed and learned how to use Hotspot Shield last week. It worked wonderfully.  I was all set to write a blog post about it. Wouldn’t you know it, within a week Hulu has found a way to block it!

imageI just tested it and indeed I’m blocked. I’ll still use Hotspot Shield for the plethora of other free services not available in Canada (eg: Pandora, last.fm) for so long as it works. But, once again, it sucks to be a new media enthusiast when you live in Canada.

Dale Dietrich is a Toronto-based technology, video game, and interactive media attorney. Read more at The Daleisphere.

hulu-disney

Popular online video streaming aggregator site, Hulu has picked up another major content provider – this time Disney/ABC. Disney and Hulu announced that they are joining forces to provide content from Disney properties (this includes ABC Network) and in turn, Disney will become a joint Hulu partner along with NBC and Fox.

So we can expect to see additional prime-time content like Lost, Gray’s Anatomy, Desparate Housewives from ABC and then some content from ABC Family and Disney Channel along with some older shows. ESPN which is also owned by Disney wasn’t mentioned probably because they recently made a deal for ESPN content on YouTube.

The Hulu.com press release directly mentions the following shows will be on Hulu:

  • Full-length episodes of ABC primetime programs like Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, Samantha Who, Scrubs, Private Practice and popular late night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live
  • Full-length episodes of hit ABC Family series like The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Greek
  • Popular series from ABC Daytime and SOAPnet like General Hospital and The View
  • Classic series from ABC’s library like Hope and Faith, Less Than Perfect, Commander in Chief, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Dancing with the Stars
  • Select hit programs from Disney Channel like Wizards of Waverly Place and Phineas and Ferb which can be easily accessed from a new DISNEY location in the Channel section of Hulu.com
  • Popular library titles from The Walt Disney Studios
  • Short-form content including webisodes, sneak peeks and episode recaps from ABC Entertainment, ABC Family and SOAPnet

So that leaves us with CBS which is the only major U.S. broadcast network not with Hulu.  CBS streams to TV.com though so all major networks seem to be slowly moving towards some online content one way or another.

Check out more of Brent’s reflections on tech, gadgets, software and media at Geek Tonic.

ctv-streaming

Canada’s CTV Network hast recently started putting full-length episodes of prime TV shows online. CTV is one of Canada’s three major television networks. It carries about half of the major U.S. primetime shows in Canada. Global carries the other half.

The new service is available here (see the ‘Watch Online at CTV.ca’ heading to the right). Episodes can be viewed full screen, though the resolution is quite low by Hulu standards. Episodes are divided into segments/clips, presumably matching how shows are segmented between commercials when broadcast. Canadians can fast forward and rewind or jump from segment to segment. Users cannot, however, fast forward through the short commercials (about 10 to 15 seconds each) that play before some, but not all, segments.

Read the rest of this entry at The Daleisphere »