Dave Zatz reviews the TiVo Stream

Dave Zatz got his hands on an early release of the upcoming TiVo Stream, a small $130 box you attach to your TiVo Premiere that lets you stream recordings to iOS devices and also gives you the ability to download shows to those devices. 

Ever since I installed the TiVo iPhone and iPad clients, I've long wanted a way to stream the shows to my iPad in the house. At one time I had a Slingbox especially for this purpose but it was finicky and a pain to maintain and I eventually gave up on it. Personally, watching a dramatic show on an iPad with headphones is a really great way to get fully engrossed in a story and I'm really looking forward to this product.

Yesterday Dave also shared a sneaky way to pre-order one by phone.

August 29, 2012 by Matt Haughey in TiVo | permalink | Comments (0)

How Your New TV Ruins Movies

Screen Shot 2012-08-27 at 8.08.58 AM

The Prolost blog's post Your New TV Ruins Movies is over a year old but still packed with relevant information on why shopping for a new TV is difficult in a busy store as well as the settings that environment requires and how it affects your experience when you take it home:

Maybe you got a new TV for Christmas. Or maybe you just got one recently. Maybe you are thinking of buying one. Whichever is the case, take heed: your TV will try very, very hard to make whatever movies you watch on it look not just bad, but aggressively, satanically, puppy-drowningly bad.

It features a handy guide to turning down the brightness and moving your TV into at least a general "movie mode" as well as how to turn off the motion smoothing that can ruin lots of TV and almost all movies.

I always do two things when buying a new TV: one is going through the options to make sure automatic stuff like motion smoothing is turned off, and the other thing I do is Google search the phrase "cnet reviews calibration tv [model number]". Cnet reviews consistently has the newest reviews and part of every TV review is how to calibrate your TV to match their optimal settings. They include every single option screen's settings and it frequently takes me about 20 minutes to complete but it is worth the effort and I'm always rewarded with a really high quality picture.

August 27, 2012 by Matt Haughey in How-To, Television | permalink | Comments (0)

Pocket TV on Kickstarter

Over on Kickstarter, I just backed a cool looking idea: a smart TV operating system that fits in a HDMI dongle.

The Pocket TV looks like it can be added to any HDMI-equipped television and runs a full version of the latest Android. That means you can run any browser, games, apps, and other things designed for a phone. They offer two different remotes as well. I like the idea that it could be forever upgradeable by the user instead of having to wait for your TV manufacturer to update an existing TV's functionality. I'm not a huge fan of Android on a TV, since it looks pretty complicated and could use a simpler living room UI, but it does look pretty impressive in a small package that will work with most any TV. Looks like their target price after the Kickstarter campaign will be around $160 and availability looks to be this Fall.

It's already 2/3 funded so I suspect it will have an easy time making it over its first run goal in the next month.

June 4, 2012 by Matt Haughey in Products | permalink | Comments (3)

IKEA's new home entertainment system (including TV)


The biggest problem with integrating today's newest TVs into your home is finding a competent home theater installer (or having enough DIY knowhow) to properly mount your TV, hide your components, and then hide the wires, which is no small task. 

IKEA, probably tired of seeing their clean lined modern home theater units and stands covered in wires set out to solve the problem of mounting, hiding, and even getting things down to a single remote controller. They're calling this system UPPLEVA.

IKEA is going to start selling TVs with integrated home theater setups including a 1080p LED TV, DivX playback, Blu-ray/DVD/CD player, WiFi, as well as speakers including a wireless subwoofer. It looks pretty good and will solve a lot of problems for a large audience. I look forward to seeing what the pricing is like and what the capabilities are.

April 17, 2012 by Matt Haughey in News, Television | permalink | Comments (0)

Promise.tv - records all content in a 7-day window

An interesting project out of the UK: Promise.tv. It has the ability to record all Freeview (British TV) streams including TV and radio (about 60 channels total) in a one-week buffer, allowing you to watch anything broadcast in the past seven days. No more season passes, no more suggested recordings, instead you get the ability to see anything at all on any channel recorded.

It's pretty crazy that this kind of heavy multistream recording is possible now in a single small box.

(via BoingBoing, who is offering a 50% off price when ordering direct)

February 20, 2012 by Matt Haughey in News | permalink | Comments (0)

DirecTiVo now nationwide

Looks like the previously announced official TiVo unit for DirecTV that launched in December is now nationwide in the US. I live outside of their launch cities but noticed I can now sign up for new service and receive a free TiVo unit for it.

(I just may sign up and have DirecTV alongside my ailing fiber service from Frontier Communications, who has almost completely phased out TV service)

February 20, 2012 by Matt Haughey in DirecTV, TiVo | permalink | Comments (2)

TiVo's Margret Schmidt tweets screenshots of updates for Premiere units

Margret-schmidt Head of TiVo's design group Margret Schmidt (interview from a few years ago here) has been tweeting teaser screenshots of a new TiVo release. It sounds like it is destined only for the new Premiere units and will slowly be deployed over the following few weeks (she also mentioned you can email her to get on the early list). Here are some shots she has shared:

Multi-room streaming
Still offers 4 tuner recording
New (HD) TiVo central
New Search screens (HD)
New info banner during playback
New info banner expanded
New smaller on-screen guide option
New expanded guide layout
New expanded guide selections

These are likely all teasers of what's to come from TiVo at CES next week. They'e also announced a new Android TiVo app.

January 6, 2012 by Matt Haughey | permalink | Comments (6)

GoogleTV coming to most TVs?

Last month there was news that made some waves when Google CEO Eric Schmidt stated that in about six months, most TVs would include GoogleTV. Most tech pundits thought it was a bit silly and a bit too early to make such a claim but with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) coming to Las Vegas next week, the GoogleTV blog has listed a bunch of announcements coming soon from Sony, Vizio, Samsung, LG, Marvell, and MediaTek.

I generally like my GoogleTV device, though I don't use it much beyond playing DVDs and occasionally watching some online video (it is the only device I've found that can reliably play flash video from any site on my TV), so I never really saw a standalone box becoming a big seller in the marketplace. If Google could get GoogleTV baked into TVs in lieu of each TV manufacturer having to custom program their own online UI (I have a Samsung TV with all the Samsung apps and they are harder to use than any of my set top box devices attached to it) I think this can be a big hit with customers buying new TVs and casually starting to use technology such as GoogleTV. 

January 6, 2012 by Matt Haughey in News | permalink | Comments (0)

TiVo for DirecTV finally (sort of) launches!

Screen Shot 2011-12-08 at 9.49.32 AMAfter hinting at rekindling the DirecTV-TiVo relationship for the last 5+ years, there is finally a new DirecTiVo out. It is only available in large cities at the moment (Chicago, Denver, LA, NYC, Philly, Phoenix, Sacramento, SF, Seattle, DC) but it's definitely good news to anyone that has ever used the older models in the early 2000s. I myself thoroughly enjoyed the DirecTiVo I had from 2002-2005, and I only gave it up when there wasn't a viable HD option for DirecTV.

There isn't a ton of specs available yet, but if this was available where I live, I would seriously consider moving to it, especially as my own fiber optic cable provider has strongly hinted that they are canceling TV service in the next year or so. Here's hoping they spread it to more markets soon.

December 8, 2011 by Matt Haughey in DirecTV, News, TiVo | permalink | Comments (4)

Mark Suster on the Future of TV

Mark Suster is an investor in new net-based TV startups and in this 10 minute talk he breaks down ten reasons why Internet TV is ready to disrupt the industry. His full list of points and explanations is available on his blog, and in a presentation format.

It's a great bunch of ideas that take note of the weird transition period we are currently in. When I was giving away my old TiVo, I had trouble finding any close friends with a HD cable package that could even use the device. Almost everyone I know is either cutting cable completely for internet video, or cutting way back on their cable plans to the absolute bare minimums. My friends tend to be technology canaries in the coal mine, but the writing is on the wall, and in the next few years we'll definitely see a mainstream switch to online video (and cancelations of cable TV plans).

November 17, 2011 by Matt Haughey in News, Op-Ed | permalink | Comments (0)

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