Archive for the ‘Net TV’ Category

People keep asking… what do I make of Apple's iPad?

iPadNow that the dust has settled and I’ve had time to gather my thoughts, here’s what I make of the iPad, Apple’s own take on the tablet computer.

It’s an Internet appliance not a computer

While the tablet computer is nothing new, the iPad is, arguably, a completely new product category, which appears to occupy the middle ground between a smartphone and a laptop. If, of course, such a middle ground exists.

Unlike the raft of Windows Tablet PCs, which Bill Gates once claimed would be the future of personal computing, replacing the desktop and laptop, the iPad doesn’t appear to replace anything. It’s certainly too big to replace a smartphone. And it’s not capable of undertaking many tasks for which a laptop or desktop computer – read: fully-fledged desktop OS/applications and mouse/hardware keyboard – is required. But in many situations – web browsing and consuming content – the iPad is arguably better.

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CES 2010: Internet-connected TVs: Yahoo, Samsung, Roku and PopBox

This is a guest post by Assia Grazioli-Venier (@flypapertv) of FlypaperTV.

Internet TV and Connected TVs were big topics at last year CES. This year we are seeing content-filled products coming to fruition, and deals being made to make watching Internet TV on the big screen a comfortable reality.  At CES this year the Internet set top boxes (STBs) evolved. But with the innovation comes fear. Cable companies fear of the complete disruption of their business model, and their concerns are warranted given the latest developments.

At the center of everyone’s attention is the Boxxee Box, allowing users to find and watch online content directly from the TV. Boxee TV content includes CNN, CBS, and a myriad of Internet TV channels. Its remote features a full QWERTY keyboard on one side and a navigation pane on the other, to ease surfing and browsing on the TV.

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More details on the Boxee Box – geeks and early adopters need only apply

boxee-boxWe knew it was coming (it was semi-announced in December) but now more details of the Boxee set-top box have been unveiled. Most interesting is the price point – $200 – and the way Boxee and hardware partner D-Link are pitching the device. From the press release:

D-Link made lots of geeks and early adopters happy today by introducing the revolutionary Boxee Box by D-Link, winner of the CES Best of Innovations award in the Home Entertainment category.

The Boxee Box by D-Link reinterprets what TV should be. The Boxee Box delivers movies, TV shows, music, and photos from a user’s computer, home network, and the Internet to their HDTV with no PC needed. Additionally, Boxee’s core social features make it easy for friends to discover new content from each other through social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and more.

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Skype on your telly! Might be time to upgrade

500x_lgskypecontactlistWith today’s news, I can see myself upgrading my 37 inch 1080p HD television a lot sooner than I planned. Skype announced today that the VoIP/video conferencing service is coming to Internet-connected TVs. Combine this with Internet widgets and online video-capability, and my relatively modern TV will soon look a bit long in the tooth.

Both TV manufacturers will be offering sets with Skype software and support for all the stand features that we’ve come to love – voicemail, land-line and mobile calls via Skype-in and Skype-out, free Skype-to-Skype calls, video calling etc. On the hardware front, users will need to purchase and plug in one of the soon-to-be-available 720p web cams that will feature “microphones specifically designed to pick up sound at couch distance”, reports Gizmodo. Now that does sounds cool, although I’m not sure why they can’t come built-in.

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Project Canvas to give Internet TV a big push or why the market doesn't always know best

It looks like Project Canvas will go ahead after the BBC Trust, which oversees the UK public broadcaster, gave the thumbs up to the proposal, concluding that the positive impact it will have on the Internet-connected future of TV outweighed any anti-competitive repercussions.

Project Canvas, a Joint Venture involving the BBC and competing broadcasters ITV, Channel 4 and Five, along with ISPs BT and TalkTalk, aims to produce a set of standards for delivering video over IP on set-top boxes and, eventually, Internet-connected TVs, along with other Internet content — think widgets. It was predictably opposed by the two main incumbents, Rupert Murdoch’s Sky and Virgin Media, both of which dominate the existing pay-TV market in the UK.

Presuming consumer electronics companies build out hardware that supports the new standard (they will) set-top boxes should begin to appear later next year featuring a unified program guide and delivery mechanism for all of the Project Canvas partner’s own on-demand catch up services. In other words, one box that features content from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and so on.

However, the real potential of Project Canvas to shake up and accelerate the advent of Internet television is that a Software Development Kit (SDK) will also be provided so that third-parties can build a range of add-on services. This could be more online video or other Internet content, such as various widgets for Twitter, Facebook, weather etc. and stuff that nobody has even thought of yet.

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Flip's home movie set-top box launches – wrong target audience?

flipshare-tv-groupingWe knew it was just around the corner. Our good friend Dave Zatz saw to that, thanks to a bit of clever FCC probing. The FlipShareTV set-top box has finally launched. The device aims to make it easy to share home videos shot on a Flip ‘point and shoot’ camcorder onto the living room TV. Additionally, it can pull down video from Flip’s own video sharing website, so there’s a ‘service’ element too.

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BBC iPlayer downloads coming to iPhone?

iPlayer-iPhoneIt looks like a proper iPlayer app for the iPhone (and iPod touch) is on its way. A recent press pack issued by the BBC includes images of a dedicated iPhone app for the TV catchup service.

Of most interest is that unlike the current browser-based offering for Apple’s iconic smartphone it appears that the new app will support both streaming and downloads. This was thought to be near-impossible given the iPhone’s lack of support for any ‘standard’ form of copy-protection, a necessary evil given the way the Beeb licenses third-party content, and will bring it in-line with existing versions of iPlayer for Symbian and Windows Mobile.

As it stands, when asked to recommend a smartphone I usually try to ascertain if iPlayer support is a priority. If it is, and downloads are in particular (better battery life, off-line playback), I’ll more often than not point them towards a Nokia.

Soon that may no longer be the case.

Roku launches app store for its set-top box – adds Flickr, Facebook, Pandora and others

Roku’s $100 set-top box (U.S.-only) just got even more compelling. The company has launched its own app store of sorts – called the ‘Channel Store’ – that brings a growing number of third-party content sources to the device including Pandora (music streaming) Facebook photos, Flickr (photo sharing), along with FrameChannel, Mediafly’s podcast directory, Revision3 and more. Dave Zatz over at Zatz Not Funny has a few screen grabs and a nifty walk-through video (embedded above). The new content ‘widgets’ join existing partnerships with Netflix, Amazon VOD, and MLB.TV.

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Boxee set-top box on its way – let the connected living room battle begin

boxee_logoBoxee, the socially driven and feisty Internet TV browser, will soon land on a set-top box of its own. Currently the media center software is only available on Mac, Windows, Linux, along with a hacked together version for the AppleTV (the closest that Boxee has come so far to appearing on a set-top box). That’s about to change, says the company.

Founder and CEO Avner Ronen writes on the official Boxee blog: “I am very happy to announce we have signed our first partnership with a CE company. At this point we can not say more about the partner or the specs of the device, but we can tell you we are working closely with them to make sure we deliver a great Boxee experience on it.”

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TechCrunch Europe: Voddler, the Spotify-for-movies; BlinkBox partners with the BFI

Over at TechCrunch Europe where I’ve been helping out over the last two weeks (that’s why it’s been a quiet around here) I’ve covered two Internet TV-related stories that maybe of interest to last100 readers.

Voddler, the Spotify-for-movies, partners with Paramount and Disney

57008v2-max-250x250Voddler is beginning to garner quite a lot of buzz in Europe, having been widely described as the “Spotify for movies”. It’s also been called the Hulu of Europe. The Internet TV service offers add-supported streaming of movies and TV shows as well as premium paid-for content through its own desktop client and is currently only available in a closed beta in the company’s home country of Sweden. However, following content deals with Paramount and Disney, Voddler is beginning to open up and has plans to expand into other European countries. On being compared to Spotify and Hulu, I comment:

… a more apt and less flattering comparison might be the largely defunct Joost or another European video startup, Babelgum. Both services have struggled to secure enough compelling mainstream content and, in hindsight, forcing users to download a desktop app would seem to have been a mistake. A big one.

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