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Adobe’s announcement to bring Flash to the living room is undoubtedly the biggest news out of this year’s NAB show. While much of the focus of the annual event put on by the National Association of Broadcasters goes to the business of producing content, there are always a few flashy tech demos in the mix as well. In this case, flash is the operative word with Adobe making its Flash platform available to hardware manufacturers for use in “Digital Home” devices. According to Adobe, the first devices optimized for Flash will ship in the second half of 2009.

At a time when the convergence of TV and the Internet resembles a snowball rolling downhill, Adobe’s news is like a fresh layer of the white stuff on a steepening slope. Flash means Hulu, YouTube, and more on your TV with apps that can be re-written and customized at will. It brings up a thousand and one questions. How will cable/telco TV providers implement Flash, and what are the implications for their controlled television environments? Is this a competitor to Yahoo Widget TV, or complementary? Will media extenders like Roku gain more traction with the addition of Flash?  (I just plug my netbook right into my TV…) Will greater availability of Flash increase bandwidth usage? And, as Ars Technica points out, will Flash bring your TV to a grinding halt the way it sometimes does to your browser?

My sources trolling the floor at NAB tell me that Adobe’s demo of Flash on a set-top runs surprisingly well – so smooth you can’t tell the difference between it and traditional QAM video delivery. That plus slick HD menus makes the technology drool-worthy. Will it play out as beautifully in the real world? Probably not in the near term, but Flash certainly opens up a lot of interesting possibilities for the future.

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The embargo-phobic Michael Arrington, of TechCrunch fame, may have staged a “Crunchpad” leak to build buzz for his upcoming web tablet. I appreciate the economical and minimalistic hardware project goals. However, the relatively quaint notion of a single function Internet device may not fly in 2009. Those modern “netbook appropriate chipsets” enables so much more – why cripple restrict yourself to Firefox running in kiosk mode? Make it the default mode if you must, but how about also including Skype, IM, VNC, VLC, and photo organization software. Like a large number of phones and netbooks being offered at a similar $300 price point. He’s onto something with the larger (12″) screen (and kitchen counter stand), but my ideal couch-based computing device is much more than a browser. It’s also yet to be seen if Arrington’s assembled a team that’s prepared to handle the marketing, sales, and ongoing support (and related expenses) of a CE venture.

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  April 10, 2009 — Leave a comment

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


Online Video for Cable Operators
Depending on how you look at it, online video is both a threat to and an opportunity for traditional pay-TV providers. It has the potential to undercut subscription fees, and/or it offers a new medium for cable (and telecom) companies to expand their presence with consumers.

The Roadmap for Tru2way
With tru2way rollouts happening now, interactive TV is only one part of the enhanced television game. Updated program guides are top of the list on operators’ tru2way agenda – Comcast’s Mark Hess called it “job 1″.

Operators Speak out at The Cable Show
Aside from wireless, one of the big issues addressed was the “threat” of online video. Roberts was remarkably upbeat on the topic, calling online video “friend not foe” for the cable industry. At the same time, the panel discussed the fact that the industry doesn’t know what the successful business model will be for them yet.

Your SageTV HTPC now Tweets Too
SageTweet allows you to connect your SageTV server to Twitter and report what is recording, when to expect your next scheduled recording and alerts you to when your server is running out of disk space. This version is an early beta version with future enhancements planned including lots of UI polish as well as the ability to tweet additional alerts such as recording conflicts etc.

The Twitter Apps, Tools and Widgets I Use
I change the Twitter apps, tools and widgets I use  so frequently that I decided that a regularly updated post dedicated to the topic would be useful. These are the tools I currently use.

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our friends at Last100:

Yahoo’s Widget Channel debuts on new Samsung Internet-connected TVs
Compatible Samsung TVs start at $3,000 for a 46-inch screen and the feature enables users to install mini-apps referred to as “widgets” that offer access to a range of Yahoo services — news, stock quotes, Flickr photos, weather — along with those from third-party services, such as Twitter and eBay.

ZeeVee’s consumer set-top box too expensive and too complicated, says company CEO
The product never took off, selling “just a few thousand units” and has since been canned. The reason, ZeeVee’s CEO Vic Odryna is that the product was too expensive and too complicated. starts charging international users, kills third-party mobile apps

Another reality check for ad-supported music services. CBS-owned has started charging users outside of the US, UK and Germany to make up for the short fall in advertising revenue.

Gravity, a really nice Twitter app lands on Symbian S60 phones

The end result is a very powerful yet user-friendly Twitter app, and one that is better in many ways than Twitter’s own website and the many iPhone Twitter clients out there.

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  March 27, 2009 — 1 Comment

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


Media Center Plugin streams Netflix and Hulu
A new streaming video plugin for Vista Media Center PCs and extenders, called VMCPlayIt, provides a front-end interface to the PlayOn digital media server software.

DTV D-Day #2
According to the FCC, nearly half of the country’s TV stations have now made the DTV transition. However, the fact that many large markets still get analog signals means we could still see consumer outcry come June.

How to Host Your Email on Your Domain using Google Apps’ Gmail
With Google Apps’ Gmail you can set up personalized email addresses for yourself, up to 50 members of your family or 50 employees in your business, using an Internet domain you own and control. Your email address will no longer be chained to your ISP.

New Motorola VOD Server
Motorola has launched the B-3, a Flash-based on-demand video server that handles anywhere between a few hundred and few thousand streams.

First Look at the NCTA’s Broadband Nation
The 20,000 square feet exhibit will showcase cable technology in several different types of environments, including networked home solutions, tru2way apps, and WiMAX, among many others.

If you ask the big content owners, they’ll argue that the only content on YouTube has either been stolen from them or is a lame cat video uploaded by your crazy neighbor. Unfortunately, in my seemingly endless quest to collect and document the best cat videos on YouTube, I keep getting distracted by some pretty amazing independent content producers. Here are ten who’ve recently impressed me.

Wicked Awesome Films - Kevin & Bobby create movie trailers of pop culture events. Whether they are remaking the latest films, riffing on popular internet memes or teaching underaged kids how to get alcohol, their quick 2 minute clips will keep you entertained and laughing. They tend to be a little over the top and crude at times, but that’s a big part of their charm. They are usually not safe for work (NSFW), so consider yourself forewarned. But if you enjoy listening to shock jocks on the radio, you’ll love their videos.

Jack the Danger BunnyFilmed in a style that is part documentary, part sitcom, and pure genius, Cait and Dan share moments of their dysfunctional relationship with the rest of the YouTube community. If their relationship in real life is anything like the show, I’m not sure how long the series will be around, but take advantage why you can because their silly antics make for some of the best videos on Youtube.

The Big Time ShowGabe and Dave moved to Hollywood with a dream to make it big. Along the way, they’ve been documenting their progress towards trying to break into the world of show business. They’ve got the looks, are willing to work hard, sell themselves out and have no shortage of motivation. The only problem is that they seem to be lacking talent. Filmed as a reality TV show, their videos take a satirical look at the movie business and features a wacky cast of characters including their sleeze ball agent, a clueless photographer and a student director who isn’t even willing to cast these guys in a student project unless they’re willing to pay him. If you’ve ever wondered how bad b-movies end up making it to the big screen, this mockumentary provides all of the answers. Spinal Tap fans will especially love this series.

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A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our friends at Last100:


Netflix beats Hulu to secure “South Park” episodes
“There was no talk of ad splits or guarantees or advances, just a payment for a show Netflix seemed really happy to have,” Matt Stone, co-creator of South Park, tells NYT. “We’ve never given the show to anybody else to stream, but we like Netflix as a service. We use it.”

What Kindle on iPhone says about Amazon’s eBook strategy
Amazon is publicly pitching its iPhone app as being complementary to the Kindle rather than competing directly against it. And in some ways this is true. There’s a high degree of synergy between the Kindle experience on either device.

How I replaced Apple’s MobileMe at half the price
I’ve finally dumped Apple’s MobileMe web service in favor of a more cost effective and flexible solution. Spanning Sync + SugarSync works out at half the price of MobileMe, and is a lot more device agnostic.

Five things I like about Nokia’s N85 smartphone
The N85 has a very decent stills camera for a phone- 5 megapixel with Carls Zeiss optics – but it’s the video recording functionality that I’m enjoing most. Picture quaity is really good, especially for web video.