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There’s a ton of soulless marketing department Twitter accounts out there, so it’s refreshing to see some real dialog from project management. As Joe Ambeault offers under the Verizon @FiOSTV banner. And a few days back he essentially confirmed they intend to “certify” several off-the-shelf eSATA drives, such as the 1TB Western Digital solution, to expand DVR recording capacity. Maybe not as timely as customers would have liked, but now you know it’s in the works. A sampling of related tweets:

dish-922s-app-store

Seems the blogosphere got itself into a bit of a lather upon learning DISH and Google were collaborating on set-top box functionality, including search and YouTube video. But anyone who follows DISH/EchoStar shouldn’t be entirely surprised… Just check out the picture I shot of DISH’s app store (above) at CES 2009 on their yet-to-be-released VIP 922 DVR. Featuring a Google tile. It’s unclear if the recent “news” represents merely the piloting of an enhanced Google app, or a more significant Android-based set-top experience (as many have concluded). Regardless, the broadcast and broadband lines are quickly blurring. And DISH surely needs to do something dramatic to recoup the hundreds of millings they’ll soon (?) be depositing at the First National Bank of TiVo.

TiVo, blah blah, TiVo, blah blah blah. Let’s move on to something important, like March Madness. ;)

With the best month in college basketball kicking into gear, I thought I’d take a look at my options for following all of the NCAA action. First up is the official March Madness On Demand Player from CBS Sports. The powers that be keep adding features to the MMOD player, and no wonder. CBS brings in tens of millions in revenue, and last year streamed roughly 6.5 million hours of March Madness video. New this year, CBS Sports is adding a picture-in-picture feature and real-time overlay stats. As before, you can choose between Silverlight and Flash players (Silverlight for higher quality video), listen to Westwood One radio broadcasts, and access game highlights and archives.

Speaking of archives, the NCAA has also launched its own site, the NCAA Vault, with a library of archived tournament games from the last decade. Need to get in the mood for a big game, or engage in a little trash talking? You can use the site to find clips of your favorite teams and players of yesteryear, and the Vault includes integration with Facebook and Twitter so you can post links to specific time codes and share your favorite blocks, dunks, and fast breaks. (Kudos to Thought Equity Motion, which powers the service.)

Of course if you’re in front of your TV at home, not only can you watch this year’s games live, but you can also see March Madness highlights via numerous VOD sources. Last year the major cable and telco providers got into the game with VOD offerings, and presumably this year will be no different.

Which brings us to mobile. CBS debuted a March Madness iPhone app last year for viewing live games. It only works over Wi-Fi, which has its drawbacks, but at least it’s something. So far, however, there doesn’t appear to be an Android complement. I’ve found a couple Android apps for tracking scores (NCAA Basketball Scoreboards, and the free College Basketball Live), and a company call Pure Concepts just launched a PocketBracket app for the iPhone (an updated version) and Android devices (new) today. Unfortunately, live Android streaming looks like a no-go. What, me worried? Nah, I’ll make do with my TV and netbook. Bring on the Madness!

The Pogoplug Giveaway

Dave Zatz —  February 26, 2010

In honor of Michael Bolton, we’re giving away a first generation Pogoplug today. It’s an interesting bring-your-own-drive network storage solution, at a great price without service fees and featuring one of the quickest, easiest initial installs ever. It realizes many aspects of my personal cloud vision, yet the Pogoplug wasn’t exactly the right solution for me. But it, along with its multiple clients (Win, OS X, web, iPhone), might be right for you. Entering the giveaway is as easy as it gets, simply leave a comment below. (US residents in the lower 48 only, please.) I’ll choose the Pogoplug winner at random in a few days.

Cablevision Channels Zeevee?

Dave Zatz —  February 25, 2010 — 3 Comments

Cablevision has always danced to the beat of a different drummer. Unfortunately, their ambitious (and quite logical) network DVR was tied up in a costly, multiyear battle with the studios. Now they’re at it again and will surely ruffle feathers as they pilot a “PC to TV Media Relay” service this summer. Basically, Windows software captures the audio and video from a PC to ultimately present the content via a television. However, unlike say a SlingCatcher or Netgear’s Push2TV software-to-set-top screenscraping, this feed is transmitted back up to Cablevision’s headend and broadcast back down as a private channel on one’s cablebox. Which is more reminiscent of the original ZvBox that utilized coax and clear QAM for in-home distribution. Piping the feed beyond the home does seem a bit inefficient. But it’s surely cheaper than replacing or retrofitting every broadband modem and/or cablebox. But where’s the controversy, you ask? Beyond personal photos and videos, you know this service is best suited for watching Hulu on the big screen. And their dinosaur studio genes naturally fear evolution.