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


Roku spends #CES2013 looking back and moving forward

Posted by Alan at 5:46 AM on January 7, 2013

Roku appeared at CES with a two-pronged attack. First it released a few figures from 2012 and and then the company made some announcements about 2013.

Looking back, Roku announced that on Black Friday 2012 the company’s sales equaled “one Roku player every second!” It also stated that sales in the fourth quarter were up 40 percent over the same period in 2011, that it has reached almost five million boxes sold and streamed one billion hours in 2012.

As for 2013, Roku unveiled that it has now surpassed 700 channels. “We’ve also inked deals with more than a dozen new partners including TWC TV, Blockbuster On Demand, FOX NOWPBSPBS KIDS,iHeartRadio and Big Fish Unlimited to name a few. These new video, music and casual games channels are launching in the Roku Channel Store this quarter.”

The company also announced six new Roku Ready partners who are using the “Roku Streaming Stick to add an integrated streaming experience to their new Smart TVs, Blu-ray players, digital antennas, and audio receivers.”

That is all good news for current Roku owners and the future looks bright for having even more people moving to the platform. One thing not mentioned was new boxes, but the lineup is still pretty fresh so that is likely a few months away. Boxes retail for $49.99 to $99.99.

Independence USA Reality Show

Posted by tomwiles at 10:10 AM on December 18, 2011

Do world events have you rattled? Ever thought of learning to live off the grid?

Follow Frank Belcastro as he attempts to drag his family (sometimes kicking and screaming) toward his goal of being able to live completely on their own, off the grid.

“Independence USA” premieres on January 18, 2012 exclusively on GBTV.Com, Glenn Beck’s new streaming Internet-based television network. “Independence USA” is produced by GBTV and The WorkShop, L.L.C. whose team has produced shows for History, ESPN, ESPN Classic, Animal Planet, HGTV, trutv, Travel Channel, Lifetime, Discovery Channel, TLC, The Golf Channel, and Broadcast Syndication. The show will air weekly on Wednesdays.

The “Independence USA” trailer has hit reality show written all over it. In my opinion this is going to be a real game-changer for the concept of streaming video and new media. This is the first professional-quality TV series aimed at a mainstream reality TV audience produced exclusively for an Internet-based television network. Though networks have played around for years with streaming re-purposed television shows and movies, this is the first time a network is being built from the ground up, one module at a time to create a pay TV network for exclusive distribution on the Internet.

Will people subscribe to an Internet-only high definition TV network? The answer is, yes they absolutely will subscribe provided that the content is there. It’s highly likely that the addition of the “Independence USA” reality TV series will get many people over the hump and cause them to pay.

People already in the new media/streaming media space should welcome GBTV, because it is going to be a game-changer. It’s success will likely cause a bit of a land rush towards streaming. Devices such as the Roku are in a great position to reap those land rush benefits. The presence of professional level TV networks on the Roku will potentially have a bit of a “halo effect” for existing new media creators.

On The Net, Less Can Offer More

Posted by tomwiles at 9:59 PM on December 5, 2011

For some time now I’ve been using an iOS/Android app called “Heytell” to communicate with a number of friends and relatives. Heytell’s appeal is that it offers reliable asynchronous voice messages that are quick and easy to send to people when you don’t want to invest the time in a phone conversation. Heytell’s success as an app is that it offers something that’s less than a phone call but does it very well indeed.

Text messaging is successful and popular because it offers the opportunity to send quick and easy messages directly to the cell phones of others if you don’t want to invest the time or effort into writing a full-fledged email. Text messaging’s success is that it offers something that’s less than an email but does it very well indeed.

For some time now, I’ve been experimenting with various set-top boxes, including the Western Digital WDTV as well as built-in apps in a couple of different brands of Blu-Ray players, the software version of Boxee, an Apple TV, and even a Mac Mini connected to my HDTV. All of them had their strengths, however, it still felt as if something was somehow wrong or missing from each one of those experiences and user interfaces.

Over the weekend I bought a Roku 2 XS. The Roku is by far the best set-top box experience I’ve ever had. Roku has got it right. They’ve currently got well over 100 apps to chose from, with many more constantly being added. Roku has a tremendous amount of content provided by those third-party apps, and content drives success. Content is king and always will be.

It hit me what the appeal of a box such as Roku is with its third-party apps. These streaming apps, such as Crackle, Netflix, etc. are something less than a full-fledged cable or broadcast TV network. They can have lots of highly-specialized content to choose from, such as Netflix, or such a small amount of highly-specialized content that it’s only updated once a week. Big traditional cable and broadcast networks provide only one program at a time that the viewer has to make an appointment to watch. Roku video streaming apps provide specialized content that in many cases could never make it on a traditional broadcast network because the audience would be too small. That same specialized content begins to have tremendous appeal in a Roku app venue where it’s something less than a full-fledged network environment, yet delivered very well indeed.

On the Internet, less really can be more.

Video’s Streaming Future

Posted by tomwiles at 9:34 PM on November 10, 2011

Many people are likely familiar with the radio/television on-air personality Glenn Beck. His television career included both CNN and the Fox News Channel. On Fox News, Glenn Beck had the most-watched nightly show of any of the cable TV news networks.

Recently, Glenn Beck left Fox News to form his own online streaming television network, GBTV, available at http://www.gbtv.com.

About a month ago, after viewing a few of the free Glenn Beck highlight clips from his two-hour nightly streaming television show, I took the plunge and subscribed.

I am very impressed with the production quality. GBTV, LLC currently has 120 employees. This is a genuine, highly-professional high definition television network that has a spectacular set and world-class production facilities that is just as good if not better than anything that Fox, CNN, etc. are capable of doing. Like any genuine television network, live streaming shows start and end right on time and incorporate a number of regular breaks. GBTV is creating genuine television programming that is broadcast directly to the Internet as opposed to satellite or cable distribution. As such, it removes the filter between the content creators and the end viewers, yet high broadcast standard production values are maintained throughout which lends what GBTV is doing an aura of genuine excitement. Real multi-camera live HD broadcasts can be sent directly to subscribers, thus eliminating the cable/satellite middleman.

There are a variety of subscription plans, including monthly and yearly plans. One can subscribe for $4.95 per month, or $49.95 per year. I subscribed to “GBTV Plus” for $99.95 per year, which includes the 6 camera HD shoot of the daily Glenn Beck Radio Show along with other streaming television programs that are coming onto the streaming service. GBTV is in the process of becoming a full-fledged streaming television network that has ultra high production values along with impressive content. Subscription plans include a 14-day free trial.

GBTV currently can of course be viewed on a computer. Other devices include the Roku, as well as iPad and iPod/iPhone apps. All programs remain available for streaming any time for a period of 30 days before dropping off.

I cut the satellite cord more than a year ago, because I felt I wasn’t getting $100 dollars per month worth of value out of my satellite programming. I am more than willing to pay for good content, but I want it on my terms, on a variety of devices, and on my schedule. GBTV offers a tantalizing glimpse at the future of high production value TV content.

Ubuntu Linux Heads for Smartphones and Tablets

Posted by Andrew at 5:01 PM on October 30, 2011

ZDNet is reporting that Canonical is intending to make the next release of Ubuntu, 12.04, a LTS (Long Term Support) release with intention of then expanding Ubuntu beyond desktops and laptops into smartphones, tablets and smart TVs, with a target of 2014 for an all-platform release.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, in an interview said, “This is a natural expansion of our idea as Ubuntu as Linux for human beings. As people have moved from desktop to new form factors for computing, it’s important for us to reach out to out community on these platforms. So, we’ll embrace the challenge of how to use Ubuntu on smartphones, tablets and smart-screens.” The full announcement is expected at the Ubuntu Developer Summit, which starts tomorrow and runs for a week in Orlando, Florida.

Having already been in discussions with partners for around 18 months, it seems that this is more than wishful thinking, but one can’t help feel that the whole Palm-HP-WebOS debacle bodes badly for any company wanting to get in on the smartphone and tablet space. If HP can’t make it happen with a solid OS and Zen of Palm, what hope has Canonical? When quizzed about this, Shuttleworth said that he saw “Android as its primary competitor…..We’ve also already heard from people who are already shipping tablets that they want Ubuntu on the tablet.” And of course, “Ubuntu already has a developer and customer base.”

While there’s no doubt that the mobile space is still maturing and there’s plenty of change still to come,  I have a hard time seeing Ubuntu on anything but a small niche of tablets and an even smaller niche of smartphones. iOS and Android have their foothold and Microsoft will be a solid third if Windows Phone 7 continues to deliver and Windows 8 delivers as expected. A fourth player is going to have difficulty making inroads, especially one as relatively unknown as Canonical and Ubuntu.

Smart TVs are a more plausible destination as the internal software is of less concern to the consumer. Most people buying a TV are looking at the exterior brand such as Sony, Samsung or LG, and not what’s inside, although this may change if a “Powered by Roku” or “Google TV inside” campaign runs. Plenty of change to come in this space too.

I wish Ubuntu every success.

$49 Roku Might Be the Golden Ticket for Cord Cutters

Posted by J Powers at 8:17 AM on October 11, 2011
Roku LT

Roku LT

This morning, Roku announced a $49 model of their popular Over the Top TV solution. The Roku LT is a very slimmed down version of the box. It does up to 720p video (which most content providers are creating content for), and while you cannot play Angry Birds or have a USB and Ethernet port (it’s a WiFi device, too) like the $99 model, it does have all the other functionality of this popular internet appliance.

Roku has been growing, adding many new channels including EPiX, which has been convincing people to cut the cord, as GigaOM discusses. Roku also added HBO Go – which is a On Demand service offered by HBO. You still need to order a cable package to get the OTT channel.

There are other great channels on Roku that do not require a cable connection, such as the TechPodcasts channel and Blubrry. You also have the Netflix, HuluPlus, Revision3, KoldKast, Glenn Beck, NHL, Fox News and many other channels.

The LT also undercuts the Apple TV by $50. Roku was already the lowest priced box, with a $59 and $79 version of the box. But this new magic price point turns the OTT box into a “great gift”. With the holidays fast approaching, this might be the hot item.

So with this news, will you finally be purchasing a Roku? Let us know!

Xbox Boosts On-Demand in the UK

Posted by Andrew at 3:42 AM on October 7, 2011

Earlier in the week, Microsoft gave the Xbox a big push in the race for HDMI 1 with Steve Ballmer announcing Xbox TV and partnerships with over 40 content providers. Jeffrey Powers has already covered the main announcement on GNC but I wanted to add a little bit of UK spin.

In the UK, additional programming boxes such as the Roku, Boxee or Apple TV are very rare. Most of my friends would enjoy their gadgets and technology but I don’t know a single one of them who has an extra box. However, many of them would have a games console and there’s a fairly even spread of Xboxes, Playstations and Wiis. Consequently it’s no surprise that the race to provide on-demand content is taking place on the consoles.

Most people in the UK are using the availability of on-line TV to catch up with programmes they missed when they were originally broadcast. What typically happens is that you go into work and some says, “Did you see…..last night? It was brilliant” and you watch the programme through the various free on-line services. The BBC’s iPlayer is very popular.

Reviewing Microsoft’s press release, here are the organisations that will provide on-demand content available in the UK on the Xbox. I’ve ignored the standard social networking sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, but have added the organisation’s background so that non-UK residents can get a feel for what’s happening.

In terms of the numbers, the traditional terrestrial and satellite broadcasters have the greatest presence and there’s only one major UK broadcaster missing from the list, ITV, which is a conglomeration of regional broadcast companies.
LOVEFiLM is owned by Amazon, Crackle is a Sony property and blinkbox is 80% owned by Tesco, one of the UK’s leading supermarkets.
The challenge will be to get consumers to pay for the on-line film rentals. Here in the UK, there is lots of good free programming which was originally broadcast but is now on-line through the broadcaster’s portals via tools similar to iPlayer. It will be interesting to see how the paid-for market develops and if the games consoles are key to the transition. It’s certainly where the media companies need to be for the UK market.

TGP-2011-06-09 #11 ROKU & FIVE ADDITIONAL CONTENT OPTIONS

Posted by Gadget at 7:22 PM on June 9, 2011

The Gadget Professor Welcome to The Gadget Professor’s podcast, show #11. Today”s show features a review of the ROKU BOX and five additional free video content sites for your viewing pleasure! Sit back and relax while you watch The Gadget Professor.

Subscribe Today: Video
Download the Show File

Follow @gadgetprofessor on Twitter
Contact e-mail thegadgetprofessor@gmail.com
Sign up for the Newsletter be sure to choose Gadget Professor

The Gadget Professor wants to hear from you,
email him at:TheGadetProfessor@gmail.com.
Look for The Gadget Professor every Thursday here at Geek News Central.
Audio version coming soon!