Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


HBO A la Carte Option on Google Play

Posted by J Powers at 9:54 AM on October 9, 2013

HBO-Go

One of the biggest frustrations for cord cutters is they cannot get premium TV shows from HBO or Showtime. Well, HBO has changed that (in a way). Shows like Game of Thrones, the Newsroom, True Blood and more will be found on Google Play starting at $1.99 per episode. You can even get full seasons at $19.

HBO said this was just the beginning of their partnership with Google Play. According to an article on Engadget, they plan to put more content up soon – including older shows and documentaries.

A la carte options are very similar to what iTunes does. I used to get all my episodes of Mad Men and Breaking Bad for $35. Only downfall is I would have to wait 24 hours for the shows to be uploaded and cataloged in iTunes.

This also doesn’t void any contracts with cable companies.

HBO will be rolling this out in the coming months.

Archos unveils TV Connect at CES 2013

Posted by Alan at 6:24 AM on January 11, 2013

Lost amidst the Google TV boxes and OLED screens was a product announcement from Archos, the tablet maker who does not get the attention it deserves for its rock solid hardware. The Archos TV Connect turns an HDTV into a Smart TV.

If you have purchased a new TV in the past few months then you likely have a Smart TV, but if you, like many people, adopted an HDTV a bit longer ago then, while it still works just as well and there is no reason to replace it, it lacks the newest features. That is the problem Archos is aiming to fix.

archos tv connect

The device consists of a sensor and a multi-touch remote and brings Google TV to your existing set. The remote lets you tap, swipe, zoom in and out and more. The sensor, which hooks to your TV via an HDMI cable, picks all of this up while also placing Google TV on the screen giving you access to the Google Play store and its apps and games. In addition, it allows you to get the movies and music from the store and also play your own media from your networked home computers.

The Archos TV Connect will be available in February and retail for $129.

This article written @ GeekNewsCentral.com and if seen anyplace else has been illegally re-posted.

Netgear goes Google TV at CES 2013

Posted by Alan at 7:40 AM on January 10, 2013

A couple of years ago I had the good fortune to review a Netgear NeoTV set top box. I liked it. The interface was a bit stark and simple, but everything worked very well. However, these days we want more from our set top boxes and Netgear needed to move on into the new generation, which meant either doing a lot of R&D to come up with its own new UI or adopt a different platform.

The company chose the latter option, deciding to go Google TV. At this weeks Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas it unveiled the Netgear NeoTV Prime. Unlike many products seen at CES, this one not only WILL come to market, it HAS come to market. It is available for sale as I write this, retailing for $129.

NTV200S Front-Back

“Building on the features of NETGEAR NeoTV, NeoTV PRO and NeoTV MAX family of streaming players, the new NeoTV PRIME with Google TV extends your entertainment experience beyond just streaming video or even basic TV viewing. NeoTV PRIME opens up the world of apps from Google Play, delivering access to a growing library of entertainment including movies, TV shows, and music from streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, HBO Go, Crackle, Flixter, Rhapsody, Pandora and many more. Google Play gives you movies and new releases in HD, music albums, and apps designed specifically for the TV.”

While it is priced just bit higher than some competitors like Vizio, Netgear has a history of producing solid hardware, so there is no reason to think this box will be anything less. Google TV is moving into the mainstream in a big way, both with set top boxes and built into smart TV’s.

Kinect and Google TV. Better together?

Posted by Alan at 10:20 AM on November 21, 2012

Have you picked up a Google TV box yet? It’s pretty cool isn’t it? But, what if you could control it with gestures? That’s what one developer had in mind when he set out to find a way to hook up his Kinect to his Google TV. He succeeded and he has made it available to the public, but it’s still pretty much experimental stuff.

The app, called Gesture-TV, is available now from github. In addition to the obvious needs — a Kinect and a Google TV box — you will also have to have a computer. Not exactly stringent requirements so far, but the setup can prove a bit geeky. The developer of this “hack”, , has outlined the steps.

This may not be for the feint of heart but, according to the comments on the post, it does seem to be working. It can be set up using a Windows, Mac or Linux computer.

Once set up there are two ways you can control this:

  1. Pointer mode: If you hold up one hand and keep the other down to your side. Move your hand to position the pointer. Push to select.
  2. Gesture mode: If you hold up one hand and then the other. For the first hand, swipe down to go home or swipe left to go back.

Sound like science-fiction? Remember that Kinect can already control an Xbox in much this same way so porting that control to Google TV isn’t as far-out as it may have seemed at first glance. Go ahead. Give it a shot and let us know what you think.

Google TV to Add Voice Control?

Posted by Alan at 9:15 AM on October 12, 2012

This morning The Next Web reported that a video had been posted, but quickly taken down, showing new voice control features that are being developed for Google TV.  This is on top of the earlier announcement that Google Play movies, TV shows and music were also going to be integrated into the platform.

The site reported that they had seen the video in it’s entirety and that it features Peter Sherman, Google TV Product Marketing Manager, running through the new features, which included such updates as being able to speak a show name and have the device begin scanning live TV, Netflix, YouTube, and other sources.  It also allowed the user to search by genre or channel and even provided a mini guide at the bottom of the screen so that you can continue to watch one show while searching for others.

Google TV languished somewhat  upon its launch, but has recently been gathering steam with the release of more boxes by different manufacturers, including the recent $99 Vizio Co-Star, which seems to be the clear winner at the moment.  This is clearly a market that Google wants very badly and they are innovating quickly in an effort to win it and become a competitor with the Xbox for being the number one device in your living room.

The Next Web had the heads up idea to capture a few screen grabs while the video was available and you can see those over at their site.

Playing Local Media on Vizio Co-star with aVia

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 5:33 PM on September 5, 2012

This is a followup post on the Vizio Co-Star. One of the hardest problems I was having was trying to play the media that was on my local network. First I tried to figure out PlayPoint which comes as a default app on the Vizio Costar with no luck. I then installed Plex since I have a Plex server installed on my Mac.  It worked sometimes. For example I would start to play a movie and it would play fine. However if I left the Plex app and then went back in and tried to play the same movie, sometimes it would play, other times I would get an error message. It also wasn’t see all the contents that was on the server. For me working occasionally is more frustrating than not working at all. After trying different settings without success, I started to look for another option. I then tried the GTVBox app, which is $2.99 in the Google Play Store. It didn’t recognize any of the media that I had and so it didn’t work at all. Still searching for something that would work, I started going through apps in the Google Play store that were recommended for Google TV and I found one called aVia.  aVia is free of charge and according to it’s description  it can play most video types. Since it was free of charge I decided to give it a try, to my surprise it worked.

To get it to work I had to first install a DLNA server on my Macbook. I chose TVMOBili which allows me to stream up to 10GB free. Anything above that will cost a small fee monthly. Once you download the DLNA server of your choice you will need to set it up by adding the folders that contain the media that you want view on your Google TV. If I remember correctly it added the media folders that were on the Macbook automatically, I had to add the folders that were on the external USB drive manually.  In my case I ended up deleting the media folders that were added from the Macbook, since I don’t have any media on them

Once you are finished installing the DLNA server, you are ready to set up aVia. The first thing you will need to do is go into My Sources and check the boxes next to the folders which correspond to the DLNa servers that you are using.
In my case it is listed as TVMOBiLi.nameofmacbook-MacBook.local. If you click the OK button on your remote at this point it will give you the option of choosing which types of media you want aVia to play. By default it is set up to see Music, Video and Images. If you hit the back button twice it will bring you to the front page which says My Media. To play a media file click on the media type, for example Videos, then Folders, then My Content, then Videos again and then choose either Movies or TV Shows. The folders are then listed alphabetically by title of the video. Pick the folder that the video you want to play is under and then click the video and it should start to play. Originally I thought it could only play mp4 file, however that was not true. I had originally set up the TVMOBiLi DLNA server incorrectly and it just wasn’t seeing the other files. Since I fixed that problem it has played everything I have thrown at it.

There are a couple of things that I am still trying to figure out, like how to restart a video from where you left off, instead of from the beginning. However so far, aVia has been the best way to play local media on the Vizio Co-Star.

Vizio Co-Star Review

Posted by Jack Ellis at 6:15 PM on August 23, 2012

vizio Co-StarOn the day that the Vizio Co-Star became available for pre-order I ordered one and it arrived late yesterday afternoon. It is small about the size of an Apple TV only thicker. The unit comes with a power cable, a remote, batteries for the remote and a quick start guide. HDMI cables are not included.   ifixit did a tear down of the device and all the specs are available on their webisite

The setup is fairly easily although there is some information you want to have in front of you. There are two HDMI inputs one to attach your cable box, if you have one, and the other one goes to your TV monitor. The Co-star has no sound output, so all the sound has to come from the monitor and what ever sound system that is attached to it. You are now ready to plug the Vizio Co-Star in. The Co-star has no on off button so you have to turn it on and off using the remote control.

Once you have it turned on, it will take you thru the setup process. In order for the remote control to pair with your cable box you may need to input the make and model of the cable box.  Although I was able to pair the remote with my Comcast cable box without having the model number. You can also pair the remote control with your TV, sound system and Blu-Ray Player. To do this you will need the make and model number for each.

During the set up you will quickly notice the limitations of the remote control that comes with the Vizio Co-Star. It has no back light, so it is useless in a dark room.  It hard to type on the keyboard. In order to type a number or symbol you have to hold down the function key while hitting the number. This quickly gets tiring when you are trying to type in a password for a web site. If you have an Android device I would recommend tossing the remote control that comes with the Vizio Co-Star and use the Able Remote which you can download from the Google Play Store.  The Google TV remote app from the iOs also works. However because the Vizio Co-Star doesn’t have an internal or cabled IR blaster the Able or Google TV remote can’t control your regular TV.  I am thinking about getting a USB ir blaster, but I am not sure that would work. Despite these limitation I still recommend downloading one of these apps, if only for the keyboard. I actual like the Able remote the best so far because it is customizable.

Having used the Vizio Co-Star for a day now I am happy I purchased it, however I am not sure it is ready for prime time. Part of the problem there are too many choices and those choices are not always clear. For example there is an app called Made for TV, which if you click on it allows you to easily access sites like CNET, Vimeo, Chow ,etc. However unless you click on it you would never know this. There is a USB input and I tried to attach a USB hard drive to it, but I have not figure out how to get the Vizio Co-Star too read the USB drive. I tried to follow the directions, but it didn’t seem to work. At this point I am probably going to download the Plex app and handle it that way.

The video playback has been very good so far, the only time I have had a problem is on a Web site that had an embedded live Ustream video on it. It kept on freezing, and occasionally crashing. I have had similar problems with the site before on a computer, so I think the problem maybe with Ustream and not the Vizio Co-Star.

I have both the current Apple TV and 1st generation Roku Player and the Vizio Co-Star is definitely replacing the Roku Player. I especially like the fact that I can easily switch from regular TV to TV on the web. You can also easily pull up and use sites like Facebook or Twitter, which is something you can’t do on a Roku Player. Plus the Roku Player buffers a lot and so far I haven’t had that problem with the Vizio Co-Star. I am going to move the Roku to the TV downstairs, where the Apple TV is.  If you are thinking about getting a Google TV, the Vizio Co-Star, at $99.00 is definitely worth a look.

Shodogg Unleashes Video From Your Smartphone

Posted by Andrew at 9:10 AM on February 1, 2012

Shodogg Video's Best Friend LogoShodogg is a brand new content delivery technology that takes content shown on your smartphone and passes it to any web-connected device, such as a smart TV. Launched at CES, Andy talks to David, co-founder of Shodogg, to find out more.

Frankly, it’s probably easier to watch the video than to try and explain how it works but basically Shodogg lets you find video content on your smartphone but then play the video on a smart TV, PC, Mac or anything that can view a web page.

It works by giving a unique ID to each “screen” and once you’ve plugged the screen ID into your smartphone, the phone can then pass the video to this screen. Amazingly, you can swap screens during playback, with the new screen picking up at exactly where you left off.

Shodogg is in an alpha release at the moment and will be available late spring on iOS devices, followed by Android about a month later. It’s a great idea, simple to use, and I can see it being a very popular way of finding and then viewing online content.

Fetch, Toss, Share. Shodogg.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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New Sony Google TV Products

Posted by Alan at 4:08 PM on January 28, 2012

Sony was the first to market with Google TV and, while the platform had a rocky start, Google is sticking with it and working hard to improve it.  Sony is also sticking with it and at CES they showed off their latest Google TV products.  The two big releases are a new version the Sony Google TV-enabled BlueRay player and a brand new Networked Media Player with built-in Google TV.  There is also a new dual-sided remote control with a simplified user experience – one side has the basic buttons along with a touch pad for mouse-like control , while the reverse side features a QWERTY keyboard which is only active when it is facing up, eliminating those accidental clicks.

The BlueRay player and Networked Media player are expected to be released sometime in the late spring or early summer.  No pricing information is available as of this writing.  You can check out the boxes and the really cool new remote control in the video below.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Sony’s New Google TV – CES 2012

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 12:36 AM on January 18, 2012

When the Google TV first came out I thought it was an interesting concept. However the one thing that I didn’t like was the size of the remote. The idea of having a remote the size of a regular keyboard was not very appealing. Sony introduced a new generation of the Google TV at CES 2012. There are three versions, the one that is embedded within a TV, a BluRay player with an integrated Google TV and a stand alone Google TV. Both the BluRay player and the stand alone player have a smaller form factor than before. They all run Android 3.2 with Android Market well-integrated and is full HD capable.

The thing that caught my eye the most was the remote control. It now looks like a real remote control instead of large keyboard. The front of the remote is set up like a traditional remote with a touchpad on it. On the back is a keyboard when you need it. The keyboard works only when it is facing up. So there is no chance of typing while you are trying to hit play or record. This is a great improvement on the first generation of Google TV. I can’t wait to get a hold of one later this year.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central

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