Archives For Video

Last month I learned that Sling Media founder Blake Krikorian backed video CDN BitGravity. Not only is Sling a customer (presumably in regards to the forthcoming Sling.com), my former leader (and Rock Band compatriot) was a participant in BitGravity’s first round of funding ($2.5 million) and has landed on their board. It’s a good time to get in – the content delivery network space has been heating up as web video takes off. Though we’re seeing a variety of players, including incumbents such as Akamai and newcomers like GridNetworks, battling for the distribution deals. While it’s not unusual to find sitting CEOs on various company boards (see: Steve Jobs), it’s my belief that Blake’s shown his hand… I’ve got no inside info, but I’m willing to bet within 6 months (either after the EchoStar acquisition anniversary or after CES) he leaves Sling for a VC firm.

ZNF ‘Round The Web

Dave Zatz —  August 30, 2008 — Leave a comment

Trying something a bit different here..

We often find ourselves commenting on a variety of stories around the blogosphere. Topics that we’d maybe like to cover but just don’t get to, content that is slightly off topic, or news that doesn’t justify an entire post. So the experiment here will be aggregating some of our recent web comments back to ZNF. To get going, the initial batch is mine. But I’d like to also include Dale, Davis, Brent, and Mari if they’ve got the motivation to keep track of their contributions.

Related, I continue to micro-publish on Twitter – tweets can be viewed as a web page, subscribed to via RSS, followed within your own Twitter account, added to FriendFeed, viewed in the ZNF sidebar, etc.

And, now, onto the blog comments:

Netflix: Faulty Hardware Took Us Down
Interesting that they blame one piece of hardware, when it looks like all Netflix’s distribution centers were out of commission for a time. Unless they took the others offline until they identified the problem, or they have multiple instances of that one piece of hardware. Still smells like a software issue…

New Palm Treo Pro to be made by HTC
HTC designed at least one other Treo – I think it was maybe the 750. And of course they’re also supposedly behind the Xperia X1. What I don’t get with the Treo Pro is the meager 2mp camera. Also the timing is a bit weird with the new 800w on Sprint. Who can figure Palm out.

Buffalo LinkStation Mini: small backup drive with big capacity, remote media streaming
I wonder how it really works in a mixed-OS environment? I had an earlier LinkStation that allowed me to store/see files from PC and Mac, but one of them couldn’t see the other’s files on the NAS. It also had a loud fan, though this Mini obviously has no fan. Mirroring option is very attractive… But I’m tired of the clutter and wonder if I should get a Time Capsule to replace my USB Maxtor.

Rekindling Interest in Amazon’s E-Book Reader
I’ve seen three Kindles in the wild. Two in cafes and one on a cruise. The design isn’t as sexy as I’d like given the price point. I’m shallow like that. But the big problem for me is that I don’t read enough books to get a decent return on my hardware investment. Drop the price by 50% and their customer base would increase exponentially. Can’t do that due to costs? Fine, give me a Kindle iPhone App and you’re selling tons of razor blades without needing to mess with razors.

Sneak Peek: The WB Launches Tomorrow
I’ve been looking at the WB beta video site for awhile too – I like the more singular focus on per show pages and large nav elements (compared to Hulu), but agree the interface could use some work. Would like to see them build communities around series and would like to see them offer entire series – these seemed to vary during the beta and I’m not sure what will hit the web tomorrow. Most interesting to me, though probably less relevant to the masses, is their television content offerings which didn’t originally air on the WB. Interesting licensing questions here…

TiVo To Partner With Entertainment Weekly
TiVo’s “partnering” with Entertainment Weekly pretty much sounds like another Guru Guide. These things have pretty limited value in my opinion – both as a customer and in evaluating the cross-marketing potential. If Guru Guides evolve to the point where customers can share recommendations with friends, I’d be more interested…

Do you want your devices pre-loaded with content?
The ZunePass and Rhapsody models can probably be understood by consumers and be economically viable if a major market player like Apple introduced similar. Mark’s proposition is unsustainable if Apple intended to make money on the service.

Pre-loading content may work if you’re talking about dropping a few current artisits or hits that the studios want to push as a way to upsell albums or additional tracks. But, yeah – as far as lots of content and hitting relevant genres, good luck. Maybe it works with the teen crowd, but our adult tastes are eclectic.

I think I remember an old Samsung Yepp MP3 player I had years ago having a bunch of tracks on it. I’m sure it didn’t persuade me to buy the album and it didn’t incentivize me to buy that player over another.

There’s been a distinct trend lately toward multi-screen views for online video applications. The Olympics Silverlight player included four screens for watching multiple events simultaneously. Verizon and the NFL are once again offering multiple camera angles for football games to online subscribers. And now Ars Technica reports on the latest from CoolIris and its browser plugin PicLens, which lays out search results visually, allowing users to scan across images and launch different video feeds from a single browser page.

The increasingly visual Web is a channel-surfer’s dream. (Though a cynical part of me wonders if we’re once again dumbing down the info-gathering process by eliminating the need to read anything…) The bandwidth implications, however, are a bit worrisome. From a consumer perspective, the more we see bandwidth caps and Internet slow-downs during heavy usage periods, the more applications like PicLens seem unrealistic for every-day use. It’s a never-ending battle. Internet bandwidth increases, and new heavy-bandwidth applications are introduced.

On a lighter note, check out the gallery of PicLens screenshots below. The app currently supports content from Amazon, Flickr, YouTube, SmugMug, Google, Yahoo, DeviantArt and Photobucket. I’m planning to download the full application and give it a real test run soon. Drop a comment if you’ve already tried it out.

DNC Gets Passing Grade for Online Video Coverage

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Over the last two years, I’ve flown probably 20 round trips between the DC Metro and Bay Area. My choice of airlines with non-stop flights is limited to United, JetBlue, or Virgin America. United offers the most favorable rewards program, especially considering their global reach (when cashing in). However, they’re usually the most pricey and I’ve become hooked on in-air live TV. Which leaves JetBlue and Virgin America.

While both airlines offer seat-back entertainment and services, for this post let’s focus on the free television programming experience. JetBlue provides DirecTV programming, while Virgin America “Red” serves up DISH Network. JetBlue clearly offers more channels than Virgin America, perhaps twice times as many. Additionally, JetBlue offers some of the “locals” – such as NBC. And a portion of channels you think Virgin America might tune brings up a post-installation DISH video or subscription screen – surprising after a year in service. So, on the content front, JetBlue provides more choice and a better viewing experience.

In terms of control, JetBlue television interaction is limited to a fixed panel on an armrest… which a seatmate may accidentally lean on, adjusting your volume or screen brightness. By way of comparison, VA’s armrest controls reside in a cubby mostly protected from inadvertent elbow channel changes. Additionally, the controller is tethered and can be removed from the armrest. However, VA provides a more natural way (in this day and age) of interaction by providing a touch-sensitive screen. Regarding those LCDs, JetBlue’s appear to be 4:3 while Virgin America uses a larger widescreen. Add in Virgin’s programming grid guide and VA wins on the interaction front.

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