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


Tag: HD

Tablo Takes TPN Award at CES

Posted by Andrew at 5:49 PM on February 15, 2014

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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Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7” Inch Widescreen Tablet

Posted by tomwiles at 9:48 PM on January 3, 2013

Over the Christmas holiday my nephew showed up at my house with an Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7” Inch tablet. My Mom, who just turned 88, ended up playing with it and decided she wanted one. So, we stopped by Best Buy and picked one up.

I spent some time adding free apps from the Amazon Android Market that I knew my parents would like, such as Accuweather, News Hog, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox News Channel, recipe apps, etc.

What followed over the next few days was surprising. Of course my Mom started using it right away, but what surprised me was that my 79-year-old Dad started using the Kindle as much as my Mom uses it. Mom has used a computer for a number of years. Dad has played around with computers but never did much with them. Dad made the observation that the Kindle was a lot easier to use than a regular computer.

I have had an iPad for a long while now and my parents have been around it, but they’ve never used it much. The Kindle is a different story. Perhaps they felt more at ease since they own the Kindle, but I think there’s more to it than that. I believe the Amazon Kindle Fire HD has a better, friendlier user interface than the iPad has. The Kindle Fire HD presents app icons in a very large format on a revolving carousel that the user simply swipes through. It didn’t take long at all for them to begin to remember which of these large icons start which apps.

Another advantage the Kindle Fire HD has over the iPad is better, much louder sound. My parents are a bit hard of hearing, yet the Kindle Fire HD is able to get plenty loud enough for them to be able to easily hear, even in a noisy environment. The iPad isn’t capable of getting nearly as loud.

The $199 Kindle Fire HD 16 gigabyte (as well as the larger 8.9” inch version) comes bundled with a free month of Amazon Prime, which includes Amazon Prime streaming videos. Mom ended up easily figuring out how to stream videos and liked it so well she went ahead and subscribed.

The 7” inch widescreen seems to be just the right size for them. It is easy for them to handle, yet large enough for them to be able to see and manipulate the multi-touch screen.

The Kindle Fire HD has a dual core processor and gives great battery life. The apps are very responsive and there is never any lag.

If I were going to buy a tablet today, I would give strong consideration to a Kindle Fire HD. For $199 for the 7” inch and $299 for the 8.9” inch, Amazon is giving a tremendous amount of value and performance for the money.

The only downside that I can see is that the Kindle Fire HD doesn’t have a built-in GPS chip, nor any native mapping apps, so mapping on it is currently limited. However, for $199, it’s easy to overlook the lack of GPS. The WiFi-only versions of the iPad don’t have built-in GPS either.

The Kindle Fire HD has a forward facing camera for use with apps such as Skype, but no rear-facing camera. That’s not much of an issue for me since I rarely use the rear-facing camera in my iPad, but it might be for other people.

Now, if I can just get my parents to give up their flip-phone for a smartphone…

HD Skype Podcasting Solution with Tricaster

Posted by geeknews at 12:22 AM on August 15, 2012

Over the past 3-4 years I have been very successful in incorporating Skype into my various podcasts. Earlier this year I upgraded my windows based 2 channel SD Skype solution to one that is HD Mac based. I have depicted below the solution I am currently using. Be aware that my end goal was to always have the guest appear full screen in my video production and not just filmed on the monitor. For those shows that want to simply focus a camera at the monitor you can eliminate a large portion of this design.

I have a two channel solution, so you would need to double the gear shown here to have two people participate. You can easily utilize a different video ingestion system. I happen to use a Tricaster 855 for my studio.  Some content creators use a Video capture card from BlackMagic design to ingest the Skype video into there system for use with something like Wirecast.

Feel free to copy the design or improve upon it. If you do improve upon the design be sure to leave a comment on what you did to improve the design.

Gear as Shown:
Mac Mini (Base Model)($599.00)
EBTECH Hum Eliminator ($80.00)
Mackie Mixer (Any Mixer with Mix Minus will work)
Atlona HDMI Distribution Amplifier ($299.00)
HP Monitor ($265.00)
Black Magic Design HDMI to SDI Converter ($295.00)
Tricaster 855 or Other Video Injest Card / System
Canopus ADVC 300 Analog to Digital Video Converter

Note: When the Internet connection is slow, and I have two guest on sharing the same Internet connection sometimes the Skype Video reverts to SD this is Skype’s way of throttling to keep the video quality up. I  only push SD video back to the guest to preserve bandwidth.


Example of HD Skype Video Recorded on Master Recording.

Example of Two Guest on HD Skype System from camera shot.

Sony Releases Waterproof Handycam

Posted by Alan at 11:44 AM on March 1, 2012

Today Sony announced a new waterproof version of their popular Handycam video camera.  It won’t just withstand a little splashing from the poolside, but can actually work while submerged.  Don’t expect to take it scuba diving, but a snorkeling trip will be just fine, since it’s maximum rated depth is 5 meters (about 16 feet).

The new camera packs a “a high-quality G Lens”, 10x optical zoom, 17x extended zoom, 120x digital zoom, MPEG4-AVC/H.264 AVCHD video formats, 1080p and 720p video shooting, 20.4 megapixel 16:9 still images, built-in GPS, and is Memory Stick Micro and Micro SD/SDHC compatible.

  • Exmor R™ CMOS sensor captures beautiful Full HD 50p video, even in low light
  • G Lens with 10x optical zoom (Extended Zoom 17x) and 29.8mm wide angle
  • Optical SteadyShot with Active Mode for clearer footage when walking or zooming
  • Detail-packed still photos up to 20.4 megapixels
  • Intelligent AUTO adjusts settings for great results every time
  • 7.5cm/3″ Xtra Fine LCD touch-panel

There was no word yet on pricing, but the Waterproof Handycam should be available somtime around mid-May.

Lexar Takes CompactFlash to 150 Mb/s

Posted by Andrew at 10:29 AM on January 6, 2012

Lexar CompactFlash ProfessionalEach year, CompactFlash gets faster and more capacious, despite being one of the older memory card formats around, and it looks like 2012 will be no different. Lexar has announced a new addition to its Professional range with 1000x CF cards that support minimum data transfer speeds of 150 Mb/s, allowing the capture of high-quality images and 1080p full-HD and 3D video from a suitable DSLR camera.

Available in 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB capacities, the CF cards support the VPG-20 specification meaning the card has been tested and guaranteed for professional video capture streams at up to 20 MB/s. To get the video off the card, Lexar offer a high performance USB 3 card reader.

Included with the purchase of a Professional CF card is Lexar’s Image Rescue software (downloadable) which will help recover accidently deleted photos and videos from the card.

The new Lexar Professional 1000x CompactFlash card will be on-sale in February, though the 128 GB variant won’t be ready until April. Recommended prices are 16 GB – $169.99, 32 GB – $299.99, 64 GB – $529.99, and 128 GB - $899.99 (ouch!)

You might be wondering what significance the “1000x” is. The original CompactFlash cards had a transfer rate of only 150 kb/s which itself was based on the data transfer rate of CompactDiscs (CDs). Geek fact for the day.

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.

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.

DirecTV HD UI Coming November 1st?

Posted by Alan at 2:11 PM on October 23, 2011

directv logo

Rumors are circulating that the new HD user interface will start rolling out to DirecTV subscribers beginning November 1st.  It’s been quite a while since DirecTV has done a complete revamping of their UI.  For the past several years we have only seen minor tweaks and updates.  Now, users of the HR20 and newer boxes, including the HR21, which is the most widely used version, are about to get a whole new experience.

DirecTV describes the new features as a “dazzling new look and feel, lightning fast scrolling, visual browsing experience, and personalized recommendations”.  You can read about each feature by visiting DirecTV.  They have also released a video tour of the new UI, which should really get subscribers excited.

Given that DirecTV has posted an official page showing off the UI and even posted a video tour, it seems safe to assume that a release is very close.  If not November 1st then it should be sometime right around then.  Likely it will be a gradual roll-out, so not all users will see it on day one, but once it begins, it should go quickly.  The video tour is posted below.

GNC #706 Netflix Debacle

Posted by geeknews at 1:09 AM on September 20, 2011

No hiccups during tonight’s show, this one went off without a hitch. Plenty of tech content tonight and of course I have to talk about the big mess over at netflix. What an absolute mess they have made over these past couple of months and it is not going to get any better.

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Credits: Jack Ellis – Executive Producer

Freeview HD Coverage Checker

Posted by Andrew at 4:40 PM on May 18, 2011

As the UK slowly moves towards turning off the analogue terrestrial TV signal and switching to digital transmissions, it’s been overtaken by consumer demand for high definition (HD) broadcasting. The satellite and cable providers, namely Sky and Virgin Media, have been quick to offer HD on their subscription services, but the terrestrial digital broadcast system, Freeview, has been somewhat slower to offer HD. Some regions of the UK, e.g. Northern Ireland, will not have HD terrestrial broadcasts until 2012. Consequently, there’s been a great deal of uncertainty and misinformation.

So it’s fortunate that ConsumerChoices has added Freeview HD coverage to its HD Coverage Checker. By putting in your postcode and your house number, you’ll be presented with all the HD options available to you, including satellite, cable and terrestrial. In addition, for Freeview (terrestrial), the website will tell you which transmitter to use, how far away it is and the likely signal strength. If Freeview HD is not yet available in the area, it will give the expected date for it to be turned on.

With Freeview decoders now available in a range of products including set-top boxes and HD TVs, there’s often a small price premium to pay for the HD decoder over the standard definition. By using the HD Coverage Checker, you can make informed decision whether to go HD and pay more, or stick with the standard definition decoder.