Michael Bay Brings “The Last Ship” to TNT

This summer, TNT is going to take viewers on an action-packed ride with the exciting new drama series The Last Ship, starring Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy) and executive-produced by blockbuster filmmaker Michael Bay (Transformers).The Last Ship opens with a global catastrophe that nearly decimates the world’s population. Because of its positioning, the Navy destroyer U.S.S. Nathan Jamesavoids falling victim to the devastating tragedy. But now, Captain Tom Chandler (Dane) and his crew must confront the reality of their new existence in a world where they may be among the few remaining survivors. Rhona Mitra (Strike Back) plays Rachel Scott, a strong-willed, intelligent and fearless paleomicrobiologist assigned to the ship. Adam Baldwin (FireflyChuck) is XO Mike Slattery, a former homicide detective and Chandler’s second-in-command. Also starring in The Last Ship are Travis Van Winkle (Heart of Dixie), Charles Parnell(Pariah), Christina Elmore (Fruitvale Station),Sam Spruell (Snow White and The Huntsman) and Marissa Neitling(Leverage). Based on William Brinkley’s popular novel, The Last Ship comes to TNT from Bay’s Platinum Dunes and its partners, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, whose credits include the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Bay, Fuller and Form serve as executive producers, along with showrunner Hank Steinberg (Without a Trace, The Nine), Steven Kane (The Closer) and director Jack Bender (Lost). Steinberg and Kane wrote the series pilot, which was directed by Jonathan Mostow(U-571).

 

TP-Link ACes Wi-Fi at The Gadget Show

Like many families now, it’s not unusual for everyone to be using the wi-fi network at home at the same time. Game consoles, tablets, media players and smart TVs all take their share of the data stream, and with the potential for multiple HD streams, the wireless takes a real hammering. In response to this demand, 11ac wireless uses dual frequencies and multiple antennae to get gigabit class data speeds, while still being backwards compatible with the older standards.

TP-Link Stand at GSL14

Under the Archer brand, TP-Link have a range of 11ac routers and modems, starting with twin antennae 750 Mb/s Archer C2 up to the three antennae 1750 Mb/s Archer C7. TP-Link has kindly sent one of the latter to GNC for review, so I’ll be taking a look at that later.

At The Gadget Show, I caught up with Simon from TP-Link who told me a little about their design philosophy and what they’re aiming for with the new 11ac routers.

The Gadget Show Live

Gadget Show LiveThe Gadget Show Live is the UK’s closest thing to CES, but that’s like comparing a boxing match to invading Iraq. Where CES takes over most of Las Vegas, the Gadget Show occupies a couple of halls at the NEC outside Birmingham. Nevertheless I popped over for a day to see the latest and greatest tech on show to us Brits and it was fun. I was there for GNC two years ago and this year the show was definitely bigger with a bit more variety. 3D TV was the thing in 2012, but 2014 is electric vehicles, 4K / UHD TVs and multi-rotor aerial vehicles. That’s not to say there weren’t other niche products and I’ve captured a few in audio interviews that I’ll post over the next few days.

Samsung were demonstrating their curved Ultra HD TVs and all I can say is, “Wow!” The screens were totally amazing – almost more real than real – and the detail was incredible. Even the flat, non-curved, versions were pretty stunning. Although the curved versions still have crazy prices, I can’t help but wonder if flat 4K resolution TVs will only be on-sale for a few short years before curved ones become mainstream.

Curved Samsung Screen

Volkswagen brought along the XL 1, a diesel plug-in hybrid, which surprisingly is not a concept car: it’s for sale if you have a fat enough wallet at somewhere in the region of £100,000. At a more realistic level, VW had a bunch of demonstrator e-up! electric cars, which at a little under £20,000 are much more affordable, though the equivalent petrol version costs closer to £8,000. I took a test drive in one and can report that it’s exactly like driving an automatic car, only quieter and with plenty of low speed torque. Top speed of 80 miles per hour and a range of 100 miles make it a perfect second car for the well off.

XL1 Front

 

XL1 Side

 

XL1 Rear

Sony’s been touting the waterproof features of the Xperia Z2 devices and they put their money where their mouth is at Gadget Show Live with a water-filled tank. Not content to simply leave the smartphone in the bottom, a team of scuba and free divers showed that the Z2 was usable under water to take photos. Outstanding.

Xperia Z2 Underwater

Finally, when I was at the show in 2012, Parrot were showing off the AR.Drone and pretty much had the airspace to themselves. Quadricopters were everywhere this year with DJI‘s mulitrotor devices (below) down to Hubsan’s tiny copters that fit in your hand. The future is three-dimensional but not quite in the way the TV manufacturers were hoping.

Multirotor Aerial Vehicle

There was plenty more and I’ll be putting the interviews out over the next few days – expect content from Sony, Canon, Optoma, Toca Boca, TP-Link, DJI and others.

The Gadget Show Live is on until 13th April 2014.

Tablo Takes TPN Award at CES

Tablo LogoDigital video recorders (DVRs) are commonplace but usually they’re integrated with a cable decoder. Tablo’s offering records OTA (over the air) HD broadcasts that are transmitted from local TV stations, free of charge. Still not excited? The Tablo can stream both live and record programs to any connected device including Android and Apple devices, and set-top boxes like the Roku or AppleTV. Now that’s cool.

The Tablo contains two tuners (with a four tuner option), so can record two broadcasts at once. There’s no built-in storage but there are 2 USB ports for external HDD units to provide whatever space is needed. It’s perfect for cord-cutters. I’d love to see this come to the UK too.

The Tablo is on pre-order for US$219 and will be available in February 2014.

Interview by Daniel J Lewis of The Audacity To Podcast and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Roku Gets YouTube

Roku 3Perhaps unsurprisingly given Google’s now somewhat defunct plans for GoogleTV, YouTube has been one of the glaring omissions from the Roku platform. But not any longer. Roku has announced that a YouTube channel is now available on the Roku 3 in USA, Canada, UK and the Republic of Ireland. Older Rokus will be getting the channel next year, though the exact timing is unclear. For non-Roku owners, a channel is roughly equivalent to an app on other platforms.

The YouTube channel supports full 1080p HD and the press release suggests that subscriptions will carry over from other platforms so that your favourites can easily be seen on the Roku. The new channel also features “Send to TV”, which after pairing, lets you send a YouTube video from your smartphone or tablet for viewing on the Roku.

As a Roku 2 XS owner, I’m delighted but will have to wait a bit longer until I get the YouTube channel on my device (unless Santa has a surprise for me). Sadly, it will be one less reason to turn on my Nintendo Wii, especially with the HD support on the Roku.

4oD on the Roku

4oDHurrah – 4oD (4 on Demand) is now available on the Roku in the UK! It looks like this is breaking news as there’s no mention of it on either Roku‘s or Channel 4‘s websites and I only happened to notice when I was checking for new channels. A few tweets are beginning to appear. Having a quick rummage, it looks on a par with the web version but without some of the personalisation features.

For non-UK residents, Channel 4 is one of the four terrestrial broadcasters (BBC, ITV, C4 and C5). The BBC’s iPlayer and Channel 5’s Demand 5 are already on the Roku, leaving ITV as the last network to get their catch-up TV service onto the Roku. Hurry up!

Your Smart TV Spied on You – LG Admits Collecting Information

LG LogoLG – a South Korean company that makes multiple electronics including “Smart TVs” – admitted that their televisions reported back watching habits to the company. Even if the consumer selected a preference that essentially was suppose to deactivate the tracking option.

LG would monitor viewing duration, how the consumer selected channels and filenames on the connected devices (such as USB drives) to deliver better targeted ads. A blog by Doctor Beet first noticed this issue as he wrote about how he turned off the “Collection of watching info” to off, but still recorded how the TV continued to send information to LG.

Blogger Graham Cluley then posted this LG statement stating that a future firmware update will fix this feature. Further, the company will remove the data collection of USB and share drives while assuring customers they never used or retained this data.

In the meantime, if you own an LG TV and do not want information sent to the company, you can block certain websites including (via Tom’s Hardware):

  • ad.lgappstv.com
  • yumenetworks.com
  • smartclip.net
  • smartclip.com
  • smartshare.lgtvsdp.com
  • ibis.lgappstv.com

Dr Who 50th Anniversary

The TV show Dr Who turns 50 today with the broadcast of a major 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor. Celebrating 50 years of the Doctor, it will star Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt as different incarnations of the lead character, though some suggest the real star of the show is his space-travelling time machine, the Tardis. The 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi, will shortly be taking over the main role in a Christmas special. The anniversary has been noted round the world, with even Google getting in the act with a playable Doodle.

Dr. Who Doodle

The Doctor’s gadget of choice has always been the “sonic screwdriver” which has more functions that a Swiss Army Knife, rescuing him from many sticky situations. As you’ll imagine, there is plenty of Whovian merchandise, including this notebook and laptop case from the Science Museum shop.

Tardis Case Dalek Notebook

The episode is going to be broadcast simultaneously across the world so if you are in the UK, tune it tonight at 7.50 pm on BBC1. In the US, it’s  2:50 pm ET/ 1:50 pm CT/ 12:50 pm MT/ 11:50 am PT on BBC America. Other countries can the check the listings here.

For me, Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor, will always be my Doctor, but I will be watching tonight.

Netflix – the Streaming Cable Channel?

netflix for ps3Netflix is in talks with multiple cable companies to create an on Demand channel with Netflix content. According to the Wall Street Journal, they are in talks with Comcast and Suddenlink Communications to add this service.

Last month Netflix signed a deal with Virgin Media to put their service on the set top box. There wouldn’t be a Netflix channel per-say, just an app on their on Demand lineup similar to what Dish did when they purchased Blockbuster.

Netflix dominates as one of the top streaming platforms on the Internet. With their app on all set top boxes (Apple TV, Roku, Boxee, etc.), game consoles and app driven TVs; along with an expectation of 40 million streaming subscribers by 2015, the company would be an asset to any device. Even a cable box.

Still, cable companies are declining. Time Warner and AT&T have said no to adding the channel. That could all change in the future if a good deal is worked out.

What About Netflix as an Actual Cable Channel?

While they don’t normally program their content, would a physical cable channel to compete with HBO and Showtime be a possibility? Scheduling their shows like House of Cards, Arrested Development and Orange is the New Black could bring more promotion to the streaming service. It might even break that wall between cable and streaming content.

Netflix definitely has content to show on a cable channel. They might have to reconfigure contracts, but with a good mix of movies and TV binges (similar to what USA is doing with Modern Family and NCIS marathons), those people who don’t like to pick and choose will be satisfied with programmed content.

What Netflix Could Bring to Cable Companies

Netflix has spent that last couple years refining their search algorithms. What is to say that could not be a bargaining chip? Currently, most cable systems online guides are bland and sometimes hard to navigate. If Netflix was to inject their style into an on Demand menu, the user experience would get out of 2002 and more of a web interface that we are currently used to.

With adding Netflix, there is possibility for cable channels to profit. For one example – maybe customers won’t be so quick to cut their cable. Maybe they would even hit the “On Demand” button a little more – or even for the first time. Might not be the best idea to quickly dismiss this idea…

HBO A la Carte Option on Google Play

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.