Archives For HDTV

sonos-home-theater

After two years of buildup, it seems a Sonos home theater solution is nearly upon us. The “Playbar”, as uncovered via a number of FCC filings, has been kicking around their labs since at least June. While it’s not entirely clear what the Playbar is, we’re hoping it’s more soundbar and less Jambox - to complement my new Panasonic HDTV. If our assumptions are correct, the Playbar would also benefit from the room filling wireless Sonos Sub ($700) — meaning this wouldn’t be a budget system. But, for many, the versatility of Sonos’ whole home audio is priceless. Continue Reading…

Aereo Headed to Smart TVs

Mari Silbey —  December 6, 2012 — 1 Comment

Video Nuze VideoSchmooze 2012 Colin Dixon and Chet Kanojia

At yesterday’s VideoSchmooze conference in New York, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia told the audience that his company will soon release more applications for the 10-foot television experience. Aereo is planning to launch apps for a variety of smart TVs shortly, and for adjunct TV devices, including the Roku. Aereo has a private channel for the Roku today, but will release a more complete experience for the device in the near future. Kanojia also noted that “conceptually” games consoles make a lot of sense for Aereo too.

To date, Aereo is still only available in New York City, and it continues to fight for its legal right to exist. Broadcasters want to shut Aereo down because the company gets around retransmission fees by assigning a tiny antenna to each customer and transcoding over-the-air signals for delivery over IP. So far the courts haven’t forced Aereo to close its doors, but the legal battle has only just begun.

Meanwhile, Aereo’s technology is sophisticated enough that I’m still theorizing the company has a back-up plan if its current business model doesn’t survive. Aereo also has an advantage in that its technology costs are minimal. Kanojia threw out one stat yesterday that drove home that point. He said that the cost of transcoding a single stream of video a couple of years ago was around $6,000. Today, that number is in the single digits.

panasonic-ads

While I’m a notorious gadget flipper, it isn’t very often we upgrade our primary television. And it’s been five years since we last purchased a big screen HDTV. As in 2007, we opted for a Panasonic plasma – given our positive prior results and CNET’s high marks across the board. So I was pretty stoked when the backordered 55″ ST50 arrived on Friday, expecting nothing but good things.

Out of the box, without any sort of calibration during its break in, I’m quite pleased with picture quality (although I need to tweak a few things STAT to clean up the soap opera effect). I didn’t purchase the set specifically for apps, yet they seemed like a nice bonus given its decent selection (YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, Skype, etc) and despite the odd, sluggish UI. Well… that was prior to the ST50 downloading ads. Because now I find the app dashboard, managed by online merchant Digital River, cluttered with Capital One and Shutterfly spam – including a video advertisement that overrides your previously playing picture-in-picture. Obnoxious!

panasonic-capital-one-ads

Equally obnoxious are what appear to be time-based banner ads that periodically pop up when adjusting the volume. I’d originally thought these were being delivered by Amazon Instant but, given Sean Logan’s photo above taken while watching cable, it’s clear this is Panasonic’s doing. Further, according to CNET, banner ads appear in additional formats and at other times. Supposedly these can disabled via an unintuitive Advanced Viera Connect setting… that doesn’t actually say anything about advertisements. Yet, another setting screen buried with the App Marketplace indicates I’m stuck with ads, whether or not I opt out of Panasonic tracking.

Continue Reading…

75 Minutes To Verizon FiOS

Dave Zatz —  August 28, 2012 — 12 Comments

fios-external-ont

As the owner of a brand spanking new home, we had the unique opportunity to decide which provider would run cable into our humble abode. After weighing the pros and cons, we selected Verizon FiOS over Comcast Xfinity for both television and Internet services. And, from start to finish, it was the least painful process we’ve experienced in this realm. No hiccups… even the CableCARD pairing went smoothly. Also, at a mere 75 minutes, it was very efficient — handily beating our prior six hour FiOS retrofit.

What follows is the tweet archive of our install:

The FCC yesterday released its latest pricing data on pay-TV services. In the twelve months leading up to January 1, 2011, the average cost for “expanded basic” service increased 5.4% across the country to $57.46 per month. The price for expanded basic service is defined as “the combined price of basic service and the most subscribed cable programming service tier excluding taxes, fees and equipment.” Oddly, however, the FCC also points out that average costs increased slightly more in competitive communities than they did in non-competitive communities. The difference was 5.7% to an average monthly cost of $58.47 in competitive communities versus 5.2% to an average monthly cost of $56.82 in non-competitive communities.

The findings here are highly counter-intuitive. Why would pay-TV service cost more in communities with reasonable service provider competition?

There’s no simple answer to that question, but there are a few critical things to point out about the FCC data. First, the FCC isn’t including equipment fees in these numbers. Continue Reading…