costco-xbox-one

Should you be in the market for an Xbox One, Costco may have the deal for you… assuming that you’re a member of the warehouse shopping club. For just $50 above retail, the online Xbox One bundle includes a year of Xbox Live Gold, an additional controller, and Forza 5. Of course, the Xbox One isn’t exactly a bargain, with or without Kinect - which I’ve found to be of limited value. But if you were already in the market for Microsoft’s full monty, this is a pretty good proposition.

mohu-channels-cart

Not content with being a leader in the over-the-air TV antenna market, Mohu recently launched and then completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a new product designed to combine OTA TV with web video services. Now we know that the new Mohu Channels device will retail for $149.99 and is targeted for commercial launch in the third quarter of this year.

Mohu announced some time ago that Kickstarter participants would receive their Android-powered Channels device come June. Our own Adam Miarka got in on the deal for $89 as an early backer, and while he doesn’t have the product in hand yet, there are signs that shipments are coming soon. Continue Reading…

By way of the New York Times, we learn GE and Quirky have expanded their collaboration on “Wink” – the brand under which they’ll tie together their existing (and downright bizarre) product line and tap into other home automation solutions via the FCC-revealed Wink Hub. The $79 Hub bridges networks, like Z-Wave, and will be displayed at nearly 2,000 Home Depot retail outposts when it launches July 7th. (Take that Lowe’s Iris?) Of course, these guys aren’t the only players in town with the very fine Staples Connect and SmartThings out to early leads with the Apple behemoth now taking interest via HomeKit and healthy Apple TV hub speculation. Not to mention, after like a decade of stagnation, Harmony finally woke up ready to fulfill their home control destiny. The next 12-18 months are going to be huge in this space as the tech expands beyond the affluent digerati and into the mainstream. As for me, my needs are simple… Continue Reading…

Roku’s gone ahead and pulled a TiVo, having crossed that ill-defined advertising obnoxiousness line. Whereas TiVo pause menu ads layer spam atop your television content, Roku now overrides the box “theme” for full screen sponsorship like the Lego Movie or AMEX concerts (shown above). I only recently noticed this, but it’s been in play since at least late last year. To Roku’s credit, while default box behavior will swap out even a theme that you specified, they allow you to suppress the takeover. Within the Theme options area you’ll find Custom Settings that house a Featured Theme On/Off toggle.

This Firefox OS-powered streaming stick is Mozilla’s answer to Chromecast

roku55-update

At a press event earlier this week, Tom’s Guide learned that Roku will be rolling out software updates beginning June 24th. And the key improvement appears to be support for a faster-loading Netflix channel. The firmware and Netflix updates are earmarked for the Roku 3 and Streaming Stick, with vague references to potential support of other models down the line. While we’re obviously not opposed to a speed increase, I’d say the Roku 3 already provides the fastest Netflix STB experience and is my go-to streamer. For reference, my Roku 3 currently runs version 5.4 build 3340, with the demo-ed model sitting at 5.5 319 – we’ll keep our ears to the ground regarding any additional changes.

vizio-s5451w-c2

We’re big fans of Vizio’s original 5.1 soundbar, which delivers true surround sound from an extremely compact and tasteful form – including a wireless sub that powers the rear channel speakers. As announced at CES, Vizio has doubled down on this form factor with a larger model that overcomes the original’s connectivity limitations by adding two HDMI inputs. And their $500 home theater solution is now available for purchase. CNET is quite positive with their praise of the 2014 model… other than price point, as it clocks in at nearly twice the cost of the original, and soundbar size. While the elongated 54″ bar enhances front channel separation, your TV stand may not be able to attractively contain it. Further, the soundbar is nearly half an inch taller than the original at 4.18″ — which could be a deal breaker for me as the 2013 variant already does a pretty good job of blocking my Panasonic HDTV’s IR sensor. Hm.