Archives For Video

I can’t say this is the news I was hoping for… but, as promised, Roku will be enabling another content provider on their Netflix box. And I hope this is just the first of several. Because Amazon Video on Demand in standard definition isn’t very compelling. Freebie content, such as YouTube or Hulu (with commercials), would be tolerable in SD. But I’m not paying to rent low def content in 2009. (That goes for you too, TiVo.) Also, it appears this artist formerly known as the “Roku Netflix Player” has been rebranded as the “Roku Digital Video Player.” If you’re more enthusiastic than I, look for Amazon VOD to arrive early this year. (via Engadget)

Kevin Tofel’s purchase and coverage of the Kodak Zi6 pocketable HD video cam (MSRP $180) led to an impulse buy Friday morning on the way to Disney World and in preparation for CES. I shot a couple dozen clips, about an hour of video filling maybe half an 8GB SD card (~$20), under a variety of conditions. The device was dead simple to use, as was offloading 720p video (H.264) onto a Mac using the integrated USB connector. As expected, video quality was nice in daylight and when I managed to keep my hand/arm still during shooting. Low light quality wasn’t great, although better than I expected. The associated audio recordings were also better than I expected. However, the still photo capabilities were poor – on par with a middle-of-the-pack cell phone camera. Video colors look a bit hyper-realistic and, in addition to my unsteady hand, the Zi6 seemed to introduce periodic stutters. Below is a brief clip of some birds (YouTube link) outside during the day and here’s a night recording of some SpectroMagic.

What folks really want to know, of course, is how the Kodak Zi6 stacks up against the Flip MinoHD. As I didn’t have both cameras in my possession simultaneously, I can’t do a direct comparison of video quality. I’ve read a couple of blog posts suggesting the Zi6 provides somewhat better visuals, but I imagine results are similar. However, we do know is that the Kodak currently runs about $60 cheaper than the MinoHD on Amazon. Although, some of that saved cash would be invested in a SD memory card. The Zi6 has a larger display (2.4″) than the MinoHD (1.5″), but that results in a more bulky (although, still relatively compact) unit. The Zi6 has the benefit of accepting AA batteries, and ships with a pair that can be recharged… only when removed from the camera. Compare to the MinoHD, which has a built-in rechargeable battery. You lose the ability to pick up spare batteries, but again this design decision results in a smaller device… that can be charged via USB. Where I think the Zi6 really trumps the MinoHD is by providing macro mode for close-ups (critical for geek bloggers) and by offering essentially unlimited storage via SD cards.

So, what’s my verdict? At the end of the day, both the MinoHD and Zi6 are basic recording devices. Even though they capture high def video resolutions, the optics and options are decidedly low-end. What they have going for them is their simplicity, compact size, and attractive price point – excellent for casual and spontaneous video capture. And not all that different from features found in many digital still cameras.

Update: Kodak announced the Zx1 today, the heir apparent, ahead of CES. The ‘weather resistant’ cam boasts a sleeker, smaller enclosure and bundles an HDMI-out cable.

The Pre-CES ZvPro Debut

Dave Zatz —  January 4, 2009 — 5 Comments

CE Pro magazine and ZeeVee have treated us to a sneak peak of the ZvPro a few days ahead of CES.

From what I gather, based on the full page ad and prior conversations with ZeeVee’s (former) marketing director, the ZvPro contains a superset of ZvBox ($500) functionality. In addition to providing a (Firefox-based) front-end for streaming Internet video via PC around the house, the ZvPro will also encode a variety of other sources (think: HD DVR) for whole-home viewing by transmitting content over existing coax cable to televisions capable of tuning clear QAM. While video distribution isn’t new, the ZvBox may be more accessible than other solutions… and with the added benefit of Internet content.

Of course, how well the ZvPro performs will be dependent on more than just hardware. The software must provide a sufficiently robust interface for quickly and reliably relaying most commands from the RF ZvRemote to attached set-top boxes, like a TiVoHD, via IR blaster.

Ben believes the ZvPro will land at $800. However, the rack mounting crowd is tolerant of higher prices for the right solution. So, as long as we’re guessing, I say it’ll come in closer to $1000 – $1200 (similar to Vudu’s “pro” lineup pricing) with one remote – additional Zv remotes will continue to sell at the current $130. We’ll find out more from Vegas in a few days…

It looks like Nintendo wants to join the online video content party. They plan on launching a video service sometime next year and will only air “cartoons and other entertainment content” exclusive to the Nintendo service. Although a pricing model has not been announced, news report claim some offerings will be premium while others free but ad supported.

I’ve never been a huge fan of video via gaming systems even with the success of XBox 360 and PS3 video streaming. Throwing the Wii into the mix seems kind of silly when the video output is so minimal. but if they focus on cartoons, television and SD quality movies and keep it cheap enough it might be a draw for the multitudes of young Wii owners.

Check out more of Brent’s reflections on tech, gadgets, software and media at Geek Tonic.

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  December 25, 2008 — 1 Comment

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

2008 HDTV Year in Review
There’s been a whole lot of HDTV activity this year, and with only a few days left in 2008, I think it’s a good time to take a look back. All in all, it was a big year for HDTV. And 2009 promises more of the same.

Ultimate Guide – the Winter 2009 TV Season

Wanting to know when that show from the Fall season is returning? Or maybe you’re curious about what new shows are starting January – March? The Winter 2009 season will soon be upon us so, I have compiled the complete guide for you.

The A – Z Movie Meme
Last month Blog Cabins started a pretty cool meme where he lists his favorite movies A – Z. Since I’ve been slacking off on my posts for the last few months, I wanted to go back and share my own list with you.

Motorola Predictions, the New Set-Top to Handset Service, and More

In an ongoing series of executive interviews to wrap up the year, I spoke recently with Motorola’s John Burke on some of the most important milestones for the video industry in 2008 and his predictions for 2009. Here are some of the highlights in written form along with audio sound bytes and a 60-second bonus video.

Add Christmas Cheer to your HTPC with Holiday Themes
Want to add a little special Christmas spirit to your Home Theater PC (HTPC) this season?  If you use SageTV, MediaPortal and BeyondTV you are in luck as each of these HTPC programs have Christmas themes you can install and use on your own HTPC.

Cable’s Wireless Plan Needs Video
With control over wired and wireless networks, both cable and telco operators should start thinking about cross-platform content in an entirely new way.