Archives For Video

While the screenshot above depicts a Windows-based laptop, you’ll soon likely see a Macbook in Netflix’s ads. For quite a while Windows users have had Netflix Watch Instantly Now video streaming – Mac users have had to sit by and wait or attempt virtualization. Well with Microsoft’s Silverlight, Netflix video streaming is finally arriving for most OS X users. I say most because it will only work on Intel-based Macs. Note, that as now, there’s no official word on the Netflix site, but my guess is we’ll see more info today given the press release EngadgetHD has posted.

The deployment, which will initially touch a small percentage of new Netflix subscribers, is the first step in an anticipated roll-out of the new platform to all Netflix subscribers by the end of the year. It is expected that Netflix members who watch movies and TV episodes instantly on their computers will enjoy a faster, easier connection and a more robust viewing experience with Silverlight, due to the quality built directly into the player. Among the viewing enhancements with the new player is a breakthrough in timeline navigation that vastly improves the use of fast-forwarding and rewinding.

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

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  October 25, 2008 — Leave a comment

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

Each time Last100 covers the BBC’s iPlayer I get fired up. Why wait a year for BBC America or DVD for compelling content out of the UK? Of course, the easiest way to catch international television online is by finding (or providing) a friend with a Slingbox.

Warning: Über-geeky networking content follows.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume we don’t have any overseas pals. Most streaming websites (Hulu, BBC, etc) selectively permit access to a range of IP addresses based on geographic location. i.e. US addresses can view Hulu, European addresses cannot. Back in my old information assurance days, we occasionally applied geo blocking – but like these video destinations, it’s not a true security measure, it’s meant to be a deterrent.

Two ways to bypass this barrier involve bouncing web traffic through a proxy or tunneling directly through a VPN. Again, it helps to have friends in your target country. However, there are often open, freely available proxy servers floating around out there on the interwebs. Finding them requires some Googling and you can expect proxies to vanish as quickly as new ones turn up – though strained server performance is often subpar. Regarding VPNs, it appears a niche business has popped up facilitating these sorts of activities. Prices and bandwidth vary and, in my brief research, all appeared sketchy. So I overpaid (£10.00 GBP) for a service that uses PayPal, in lieu of giving up my credit card and billing information. Interestingly, the VPN details are buried in a connection executable – meaning, without more work, my iPlayer experimentation has been limited to Windows. If I were more motivated, I could probably sniff the details I need or use a hex editor to retrieve them – allowing me to utilize this connection information within OS X and/or on the iPhone, which had been my original target.

As it turns out, I wasn’t paying close enough attention to Steve‘s articles. Unlike the US-based Hulu, BBC iPlayer is a “catch up” service – only offering the last 7 days of broadcast content, versus many episodes covering many years. And, thus, my motivation has waned and I’m allowing my UK VPN subscription to lapse.

While some appear content to sit on the sidelines, Netflix and Pandora continue their digital living room encroachment. Both streaming services are now available to the Samsung BD-P2550 Blu-ray player (~$400) via a firmware update. Netflix’s standard def library (over 12,000 movie and television titles, according to NewTeeVee) is free to existing DVD rental subscribers on unlimited plans, and Pandora’s humungous audio library is free to all.

TiVo Adds Jaman and Disney VOD

Dave Zatz —  October 23, 2008 — 9 Comments

While some appear content to sit on the sidelines, TiVo’s moving forward with announced plans to offer foreign, independent, and Disney video on demand services – in addition the existing Amazon library. Jaman‘s indie and foreign film content launches today, with Disney film rentals via CinemaNow arriving next week. Both services will be provided in standard definition (for now?) and MPEG2-encoded. I was hoping to get a sneak peek at Jaman last night, but their engineers were performing some last minute work. However, I can confirm Series2 and Series3/HD platforms are supported, with rentals starting at a low $1.99.