Archive for January, 2009

Zatz Not Funny: Moxi, Sling Media, Wi-Fi photo frame trojan horse, missing at CES

A periodic roundup of relevant news from our friends at Zatz Not Funny

Digeo takes on TiVo with Moxi

Dave Zatz: Although units began shipping in mid-December (with little fanfare), Digeo CEO Greg Gudorf officially unveiled their long delayed and re-imagined retail Moxi HD DVR ($800) last week at CES. I’ve previously been critical of Digeo’s go-to-market and press/blogger outreach strategies, but I’ve never had a problem with their tech – in fact, the Moxi OS was ahead of it’s time.

The Slingified WiFi LCD

Dave Zatz: The Sling booth was my first stop at CES, yet I managed to walk right by the one real surprise. Sling’s 15″ WiFi monitor displays (only) streamed video from a “SlingLoaded” DISH ViP 922 DVR within the home. Sort of a SlingCatcher, without additional media adapter functionality.

Wi-Fi photo frame the new Trojan Horse?

Mari Silbey: While gaming consoles are still attempting to make good on their role as Trojan Horse in the living room , I have a new candidate for the job: Wi-Fi photo frames. As ridiculous as that sounds, a WI-Fi photo frame is really nothing more than an IP-based display, capable of receiving IP-based content.

What we didn’t see At CES

Dave Zatz: Not only did we witness a temporary cease fire in the “World’s Largest” flat panel CES showdown, a few other technologies played it low-key in Vegas…

10 feet away: YouTube lands on PS3 and Wii

Perhaps taking a leaf out of the BBC iPlayer’s book, Google-owned YouTube have launched a version of the video sharing site designed specifically for viewing on a television.

Currently in Beta, the TV-friendly YouTube initially targets Sony’s PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii. That’s because both games consoles feature a built-in web browser compatible with Flash video, making it relatively easy to port over any browser-based video offering. From the US version of the official YouTube blog:

… the TV Website offers a dynamic, lean-back, 10-foot television viewing experience through a streamlined interface that enables you to discover, watch and share YouTube videos on any TV screen with just a few quick clicks of your remote control. With enlarged text and simplified navigation, it makes watching YouTube on your TV as easy and intuitive as possible. Optional auto-play capability enables users to view related videos sequentially, emulating a traditional television experience.

Google also reminds us that, through partnerships with set-top box makers such as Apple, combined with the YouTube API, it’s not the first time that viewers have been able to watch YouTube on the TV, although progress hasn’t been as fast as the company would have liked.

See also: TiVo continues expansion, adds YouTube to “television services” lineup

“Our hope is that this site may help to accelerate an industry evolution towards open television access to Web video. Over time, we plan to add support for additional TV devices that provide Web browsers.”

You can access the new TV-friendly version of YouTube by pointing your PS3 or Wii’s web browser to

Who has the most to fear from Palm's "New-ness"?

Pandora CTO Tom Conrad put it best: “I can’t think of much that’s harder in the world than building a modern, mobile operating system and integrating it with a fantastic piece of hardware”, he tells Palm Info Center.

We see companies take a swing and miss at this time after time – I really think Palm has hit a home run on this one.”

And Conrad should know.

Not only has his company ported its music streaming and discovery service to over 40 different handsets, “everything from J2ME and Windows Mobile to the iPhone”, but Pandora was also chosen by Palm to get an early hands-on peak at the webOS and Pre and begin bringing their app over to the company’s new platform.

At the same time, Conrad rightfully reminds us that Palm is still very much the underdog. Of course, underdogs should rarely be underestimated.

On that note, who should have the most to fear from Palm’s “New-ness”?

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Playing catch up, Blockbuster partners with CinemaNow

If you can’t compete then partner

In a bid to play catch up with the likes of Apple, Netflix, Sony and Microsoft, video rental chain Blockbuster has signed a strategic partnership with Sonic Solutions, owners of the video download store CinemaNow. The move is designed to accelerate the company’s move into online video by pooling the two companies’ digital movie libraries, as well as tapping into CinemaNow’s existing ecosystem of supported devices, which includes portable media players, Blu-ray Disc players, personal video recorders (PVRs), set-top boxes, mobile phones and Web-connected television sets.

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Why you may never see Firefox, Opera or Chrome on the iPhone

A report on Macrumors (my favourite Apple rumor site) observes that the company appears to have relaxed its iPhone App Store policy in relation to third-party web browsers. It was thought that, until now, competitors to Apple’s own Mobile Safari weren’t being approved on the basis that they “duplicate functionality” or compete with Apple’s own offering. That may no longer be the case.

“Over the past 24 hours, Apple has begun to approve 3rd party web browsing applications for the iPhone. A number of new web browsing apps have suddenly appeared with original submission dates ranging as far back as October”, writes Macrumors.

A partial list of these new applications include:

Edge Browser (Free) – No loss of screen real estate to the address or navigation bars.
Incognito ($1.99) – Now you can browse without leaving a history of any kind.
WebMate:Tabbed Browser ($0.99) – Web Mate simplifies browsing by queuing up all the links you click on, then allowing you to view them one by one when you’re ready.
Shaking Web ($1.99) – adds a sophisticated algorithm to compensate for small hand shaking to allow for easier reading.

This has led to many speculating that heavyweight competitors, such as Firefox, Opera or Google’s Chrome, could be next to land on the iPhone.

Not so fast.

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DivX 7 adds support for Blu-ray rips

DivX looks set to continue to be the video format of choice for ‘grey’ content, with the company announcing that version 7 adds support for H.264 video and, more significantly, the Matroska (MKV) container.

Anybody familiar with Blu-ray rips found on BitTorrent sites or other filesharing networks will instantly recognize the MKV file format in combination with the H.264 codec as a popular way to deliver High Definition video on a PC. And now that DivX is throwing its weight behind the Matroska container, MKV support should increasingly find its way on a range of non-PC devices, such as Blu-ray players, HD televisions and set-top boxes.

See also: Samsung Blu-ray players to support YouTube and Blu-ray rips!

Look out for the “DivX Plus HD certified” badge and you should be good to go, says the company.

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Weekly wrapup: Palm is back and the best of CES (and Macworld)

Here’s a summary of the last week’s digital lifestyle action on last100. Note that you can subscribe to the weekly wrapups, either via the special weekly wrapup RSS feed or by email.

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Have we just witnessed the second coming of Palm?

Ex-Engadget editor Ryan Block put it best when he said that Palm’s much anticipated CES announcement “will either mark the beginning of the company’s second coming — or the beginning of the end.” Thankfully, for those like me who were rooting for Palm, it looks very much like the former.

See also: Video: Palm Pre and webOS in action

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Zatz Not Funny: Best of CES (Hulu, Slacker, Sling, Hava, Kodak and XBox 360)

A periodic roundup of relevant news from our friends at Zatz Not Funny

Hulu coming to SageTV video hardware

Dave Zatz: To this point, we haven’t really seen any easy or economical methods for getting Hulu content (back) onto the television. Most solutions require a PC in the mix – either relaying the video (ZvBox, SlingCatcher, PlayOn software) or as a PC-at-the-TV (Neuros LINK, Boxee on AppleTV). So, it was quite refreshing to swing by SageTV’s suite earlier this evening for a pre-release demo of Hulu playback direct from the compact SageTV HD Theater.

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Video: Palm Pre and webOS in action

I didn’t get around to posting yesterday because, in all honesty, I spent most of the day scouring YouTube and various blogs for video coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show. In particular, I was keen to take in as many hands-on demos of the new Palm Pre and the accompanying webOS.

See also: Have we just witnessed the second coming of Palm?

After many hours of viewing, I’m glad to report that my initial enthusiasm for Palm’s new offering hasn’t waned. In fact, despite my natural cynicism towards the company’s bizarre decision not to allow bloggers at CES to actually hold the device — they could still touch it — I’m even more convinced that Palm has taken the mobile experience up a level, building nicely on top of what Apple and the iPhone delivers in terms of user experience and the mobile web. If I had to sum up the difference between Palm’s and Apple’s approach, the iPhone often feels like it wants me to do things Apple’s way — no multitasking, iTunes, MobileMe etc. — while the Pre and webOS appears to fit around the way I already manage my digital life. That’s my key takeway from the various demos and early coverage but of course, until I actually get my hands on the device, I’m reserving my final judgment.

Check out IntoMobile’s “hands-on” video after the jump (note: it’s a little grumpy and rushed on Palm’s part)… and you can also watch the complete Palm press event here.

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Have we just witnessed the second coming of Palm?

Ex-Engadget editor Ryan Block put it best when he said that Palm’s much anticipated CES announcement “will either mark the beginning of the company’s second coming — or the beginning of the end.” Thankfully, for those like me who were rooting for Palm, it looks very much like the former.

Today the company unveiled its brand new Palm operating system (dubbed the webOS) running on a new smartphone called the “Palm Pre” that features a 3.1-inch multi-touch screen and slide out portrait keyboard.

My initial impressions via both Engadget’s and Block’s live blogging coverage is that Palm has successfully gone back to its ‘organizer’ roots — simple data management and syncing — and updated it for an ‘always on’ Internet age. A mobile device shouldn’t care what services I use or where my data comes from — contacts, social network, IM, calender, media etc. — and should help me stay on top of all that information and communication without having to change the way I do things in order to suit the device. That appears to be Palm’s main aim here and the early signs are that the company has delivered…

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