Archos unveils TV Connect at CES 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

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?

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?

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.

Vizio Co-Star Review

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.

GNC-2012-02-23 #744 Listen and Win!

Unexpected Trip to Washington DC next week. I get back to Hawaii on Thursday, will make a decision on Monday show in next day or so. Listen today to get your name in the hat for the show 750 giveaway.

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New Sony Google TV Products

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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GNC-2012-01-19 #735 Back in the Saddle

Finally back in the saddle, after getting back from Vegas I got violently ill and was down for the count on Monday. Glad to be back and still on the mend. The studio is in a state of shambles as the gear has been arriving over the past couple of days. I have a great deal to catch up with you all. One thing make sure you are subscribed to the Special Media Feed we are going to be pushing a boatload of content at you and we do not want you to miss a single interview from CES. Lots of gold in those interviews.

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Sony’s New Google TV – CES 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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Vizio Hits CES With A Whole New Product Line

Vizio, one of the most popular HDTV makers in the United States, has come to the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show with a whole new product line that is getting a lot attention.  The lineup includes new HDTV’s, Tablets, Blu-ray players, and media players.

There are brand new Vizio V.I.A. Plus TV’s in 47 inch, 55 inch, and 65 inch versions.  “The V.I.A. Plus experience features an intuitive, app-centric interface on every device, making it easy for consumers to understand and navigate as they move between devices. Users can also access thousands of apps from the Android Market™ for even more entertainment options.”  V.I.A brings a large selection of apps, featuring iHeartRadio, The Wall Street Journal, M-Go, plus a lot more.  Most importantly this provides a gateway to the Android Market, which opens up a world of thousands of apps that will all be available right on your TV.

This technology is also included in other products like the new Vizio VBR430 Blu-ray player, which comes with a touchpad universal remote with a QWERTY keyboard and it can easily connect to any DLNA-compatible computer to let you play and view pictures, videos, and music.

The VAP430 Stream Player has built-in Google TV.  Vizio refers to it as “one of the most advanced Stream Players with built-in HDMI ports that lets users connect existing components like gaming consoles or set-top boxes for unified access to all media sources through the VI.A. Plus touchpad remote. It even supports 3D content and 3D streaming.”

All of these products are either available immediately or coming very soon.  You can learn more by visiting the Vizio CES site.