Chromecast: Vudu, Crackle, Rdio add support, PlayOn begins beta testing

verizon-vms1

First unveiled at CES 2013, the Verizon Media Server (VMS) has finally started shipping under “Quantum TV” via a “phased roll-out” in select markets . The IPTV DVR hub maintains the original 6-tuners and 1 terabyte or storage as originally pitched. Yet, by bundling two units for a reasonable $32/mo, the networked solution seamlessly expands to 12 tuners housing 2 terabytes of recording storage. Unfortunately, unlike existing FiOS DVRs the new VMS doesn’t currently support additional USB or eSATA storage. Each VMS supports up to five extenders (think TiVo Mini or DISH Joey), running $10 a pop. While the product line doesn’t currently feature Xbox/Roku app clients or remote placeshifting, à la DISH Hopper or TiVo Roamio, we know Verizon has been evaluating this sort of functionality via a router sidecar … and Verizon’s hardware partner Arriola has licensed Slingbox technology. Continue Reading…

TiVo visited with the FCC last week, lamenting the current state of CableCARD and Section 629. And, to reiterate their points, submitted the above letter. While we can’t speak to TiVo’s survey methodology, they report diminished CableCARD support with increased operator-implemented roadblocks – presumably intended to discourage third party set-top usage… such as TiVo and perhaps Samsung, should they stick with it. Some cited examples:

  • 36 percent of MSO agents surveyed in Dec. 2013 said that self-installation of CableCARDs was not allowed, up from 25 percent in Feb. 2013. (Note that self-installation of CableCARDs is required by 47 C.F.R. § 76.1205(b)(1).)
  • For those retail customers that self-install their CableCARDs, 24 percent would be charged a fee for self-installation, with fees increasing since EchoStar, including a fee as high as $39.95 imposed by two operators.
  • 36 percent of MSO agents surveyed in Dec. 2013 offer their own operator’s DVR on an unsolicited basis to customers requesting CableCARDs for retail devices,up from 26 percent in Feb. 2013

Beyond CableCARD, TiVo wants any successor “to assure the availability of bidirectional video signals to retail devices” put into play… Continue Reading…

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Several weeks ago, this mysterious “digital media receiver” was brought to my attention. I’ve been largely quiet on the matter as I was hopeful that I might turn up more of a smoking gun… as I ultimately did with the Amazon gaming controller. Yet, other than confirmation Best Buy will be carrying an Amazon “streaming player”, I’ve hit something of a dead end. And, with an announcement just days away, I figured I’d share this series of FCC filings to stoke the imagination (and to unleash the sleuths amongst us).

Amazon is known to pass gadgetry thru the FCC under cover of a shell company. In this case, we’re looking at Ailen LLC. While I can’t directly link them to Amazon, the filing pattern resembles prior Amazon endeavors … with someone going to a good deal of effort to disguise the box (CL1130) and remote (DU3560) … that hit in close proximity to the gaming controller (filed by Vafara LLC). Further, the box was evaluated by the engineering test firm last summer … but just passed thru the FCC… perhaps supporting the blown Christmas launch rumor.

Having said all that, Continue Reading…

hdmi-roku-stick

Roku’s new streaming stick is now shipping in the US online from Roku, Amazon, Best Buy, Target and Walmart. A few other outlets have now reported the news, but I happened to hear the information first hand from Ed Lee, Roku’s vice president of content acquisition, at a Light Reading conference today in Denver. As a reminder, the new streaming stick rings in at $50, or $15 more than Google’s Chromecast device. However, the content options are superior, with apps that include WatchESPN and Amazon Instant Video. The Roku stick also comes with its own non-smartphone remote control and is powered via microUSB. Thanks to a major update to Roku’s mobile apps this week, you can also enjoy universal search capabilities.

Availability of the new Roku streaming stick in stores is still expected in early April.

Mar 27

tivo-roamio-hero

Via TiVo VP Margret Schmidt, we learn TiVo is poised to deploy a “Spring Update” to Roamio, Premiere, and Mini hardware – possibly beginning “late next week.” The DVR maker is once again going with a staggered release and if you’d like to be first, register your boxes here. And, for the first time in eons, I gots nothing on this one – your guess is as good as mine. I’m hopeful we’ll collectively be in for a fun surprise rather than this merely being a minor maintenance release not worthy of mention via my traditional channels. As previously discussed, a highly reliable source has indicated an improved Amazon Instant experience is in the works but it’s looking like June is the current target for Android streaming support. What are you hoping for? Continue Reading…