Archives For Netflix

Know any digital media junkies living in Canada? If so, you’ve likely heard how good we supposedly have it here in the US when it comes to streaming video and that their options are seriously limited… despite nearly two years of Netflix. And, as it turns out, the Canadian Netflix library does indeed pale in comparison to its American equivalent. But some industrious individuals have managed to bypass Netflix’s relatively weak geo-authentication by merely changing their Xbox or PS3 DNS settings. The video above demonstrates how to configure a Canadian-based Xbox 360 for US Netflix and the process is similar for enabling US Netflix on a Canadian PS3. Of course, you Canucks would require an active Netflix account and will want to keep an eye on the video description for specific network settings as the successful ones seem vary by region and periodically lose access. Further, as Netflix encodes and distributes their streams in dozens of variations, this specific hack appears limited to the PS3 and Xbox gaming consoles… and the backdoor could be closed at any time.

While we’re still a few months away from launch, the Redbox-Verizon collaboration intended to take on Netflix video streaming is seriously ramping up staffing — with the companies advertising several dozen job openings in multiple states:

The Verizon-Redbox JV brings together two innovative companies known for creating brands that customers trust and products consumers want. With immediate DVD and Blu-ray rental through Redbox and instant broadband content from Verizon, we’ll be uniquely positioned to deliver the best of both worlds – physical and digital – to all consumers nationwide. We’ll make it easy for everyone to access and enjoy the entertainment they want to see, using any providers’ mobile or home broadband service – anytime, anywhere. Working at the Verizon-Redbox Joint Venture means you can enjoy the freedom and creativity of a start-up business with the resources of two recognized, established companies

Additionally, as deployment approaches, Fierce Wireless has uncovered a new Redbox logo trademark (above left).

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Microsoft’s offering a free weekend of Xbox Live Gold service to entice new subscribers. While an Xbox 360 ($200 and up) nets you a solid gaming platform, to enable the most compelling online features, such as collaborative gameplay and Netflix streaming, one must subscribe to “Gold” — which retails for $60/year. As regular reader James (jcm) says, the Xbox 360 currently offers arguably the most complete video streaming experience in terms of quantity/quality of apps, polished interface, and integrated search. Yet, the annual subscription irks me and I’ve allowed my service to lapse. Heck, for the same money, one could buy a fee-free Roku LT streamer ($50).

But I went ahead and dug my Xbox 360 out of the closet to partake in the Free Gold Weekend (6/1 – 6/3) to check out the new Amazon Instant video streaming app. As an Amazon Prime member ($80/year), I’m entitled to all sorts of “free” content. Although, I have to say my primary motivation was to check out Amazon’s new Watchlist – overcoming their most significant technical shortcoming compared to say Netflix or Hulu Plus, as recently pointed out by Engadget HD’s Richard Lawler: No queue is a bizarre way to live. Continue Reading…

viewdini 1

Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead launched viewdini this morning, a new mobile video portal that sources content from different providers and lets users stream video, search, share and more. Early content partners include Comcast Xfinity, Hulu Plus, mSpot and Netflix. No FiOS TV video yet (ironic), but it’s reportedly on the way.

The concept here is very similar to offerings out from companies like Fanhattan and Clicker, but of course Verizon has a little more heft in the marketing department. Verizon says the app will be available on LTE Android devices later this month, and an iOS version is in the works.

TiVo-Parental-Controls

As promised, TiVo’s Spring Update has arrived — and, with it, are refreshed Netflix and YouTube apps in addition to the ability to access parental controls from the HD UI.

Having had the Premiere-only software about a week, thus far, I’d say it’s a mixed bag. The HD UI remain incomplete and while the new app UIs are certainly richer, similar to those on the Best Buy TiVo TV (RIP?), but we pay a penalty in terms of speed. In fact, I can actually switch television inputs and launch Netflix on Roku in about 1/3rd the time it takes to come up on TiVo. But, of course, the point is maybe you wouldn’t need a second box and once you’re streaming (Netflix), audio and video quality are quite high. Beyond these apps, developed by Netflix and Google respectively, new Parental Controls (that mark the end of KidZone) are accessible from the HD UI… yet they themselves aren’t actually rendered within the high def interface (and feature a sad padlock icon that looks like it was grabbed from an old CD of clipart).

Netflix_Search

As with all TiVo updates, no official change log is provided. However, TiVo’s User Experience Veep Margaret Schmidt has unofficially itemized notable additions and fixes on the TiVo Community forum. Amongst the interesting discoveries:

  • Cox customers that had difficulty receiving “Plus Pak” channels should find that issue resolved.
  • Customers experiencing pixelation in Amazon Video downloads should find that issue resolved.
  • If you bring up the Guide over a recording, it now highlights the channel on the foreground tuner, rather than the lowest channel in the Guide.
  • SELECT-PLAY-SELECT-9-SELECT now displays a clock (without seconds) in the upper right corner when using HD Menus.

As to what comes next, TiVo suggests they may actually finish the HDUI this year. Or, at least, move it forward.

  • HD version of the Season Pass Manager
  • HD version of the To Do List
  • HD version of My Shows for Multi-Room Streaming
Beyond that, we know both TiVoToGo 2.0 and Preview-esque Extender hardware are slated for release later this year (and I’ll be buying). Although, I also pine for an updated Amazon Instant app and perhaps a Blu-ray accessory.