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Tag: Media

Crackle Available for Mobile Devices

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 8:06 PM on April 20, 2011

I downloaded Crackle on the iPad and let’s say I am rather disappointed. I might not be so disappointed if it wasn’t over marketed. First the number of movies are limited. Out of that limited number most are either clips or highlights. Those movies that are full length are at least 30 to 40 years old. The same is true for what TV series are available. A lot are partial episodes or highlights and all the shows that I saw were at least 10 years old. The big come on is that you can watch free Seinfeld episodes, which is true however what they don’t tell you is there are only 10 episodes, which is less then a full season. Those 10 episodes are probably some of the newer TV episodes available.

There are filters including genre like action/adventure, comedy and you can also filter to show full episodes or full length movies. You can also filter for clips or movie trailers, unfortunately this filter is pretty much useless since even full length movies or TV episodes also offer clips or trailers. The other problem I have with the filtering system is it is not sticky, so you have to remember to do the filtering each time.

Since the application is free I understand the need for commercials, but it’s the same one over and over again. Also why after every commercial is the end of the previous scene repeated, I know that we all have short memory spans but 30 seconds really. The ad situation should improve over time. In the Privacy notification, they do say they are collecting your date of birth, name, email address, and gender and anything else you provide. They use this information to customize advertising, send out service notifications and to conduct research. Crackle also state that any information that you provide in the service profile “including, without limitation, your user name, age, gender, favorite links, where you live, and other personal details you choose to share. maybe shared with all users of the service. The one that bothers me the most on this list is where you live, because it is unclear if they means what country or state you are in or some thing more. I did go back and look at the sign up and the only ones you have to fill out are user name, date of birth and gender, everything else is optional. Unfortunately I suspect a lot of people will fill in everything automatically.

Crackle does have some good points, first it is free and it does have some classic series like Barney Miller NewsRadio and Benson There are quite a few anime series available also. There are also some good movies including Easy Rider and Fail Safe.  Is it worth downloading, well it is free, so yes, but don’t expect too much. Hopefully, they can get more content over time, but that will be up to the content owners so I am not holding my breath.

 

Netgear NeoTV 550 Review

Posted by Alan at 6:00 AM on February 24, 2011

About a month ago I received a Netgear NeoTV 550 for review.  I am an avid Media Center PC user, which meant I was immediately skeptical of any replacement for my beloved HTPC.  Initially I found my skepticism warranted, but over the past month that changed.  It changed for two reasons – one was my own network setup problem and the other was a Netgear update.

First Impressions

A few weeks ago I posted a brief unboxing tour of the device.  As with any new electronics that show up on my doorstep, I was excited and intrigued by it.  I hurriedly set it up in test mode – which means I didn’t take the time to pull out the media cabinet, take the back off, and hook it up properly.  This setup was quick and dirty – plug in  the device, composite cables to the TV for sound and video, and an ethernet cable (Cat 5E) for access to the home network.

The NeoTV 550 will not do WiFi, in case you’re wondering, but since I have wired access to my home theater, that wasn’t an issue.  This may be a deal-breaker for some users though.

As for the 2 issues I mentioned earlier – the first was on my end.  The NeoTV found my Music folder, but always said it was empty.  I thought it was the box, because both my desktop and laptop found it fine (it’s stored on the Media Center PC in the living room).  But, when I started using another Windows 7 device and it gave the same message, I looked closer and discovered a network sharing issue.  Once I corrected that the NeoTV found the music just fine.

The second issue was in Videos.  We have a lot of TV shows stored on our HTPC and they are all in folders by show name, then further divided into folders by season number.  In short, it’s easy to access any show from Media Center.  The NeoTV took all of these videos and put them in one folder – hundreds of shows that had to be scrolled through to find what we wanted to watch.  This was solved by a software update and now all of our folders are intact and easily accessible.

The Interface

The interface for the NeoTV is clean and simple.  The menu is very succinct – you have Video, Music, Photos, Browse Folders, Internet Media, Streaming TV and Movies, and Settings.  There’s a remote included that makes accessing all of these menu items simple and fast.

Internet Media contains such favorites as YouTube, RadioTime, Shoutcast, Flickr, News, and Weather.  In News you have many favorites like ESPN, Wired Science, and CNN.  You can also add your own RSS feed.

Streaming TV and Movies, when clicked on, gives the message ”This feature will be coming in a future firmware release”.

The Video option allows you to drill down through the menus on your source PC – we can choose from TV show, movies, home video, and everything else that’s in the video section of our HTPC.  File names are on the left and cover art is displayed to the right.  Again, it’s a clean, simple interface.  You can change the look to get more of a Media Center My Movies look with cover art only across the screen, allowing you scroll from one movie to the next.  For more on what you can do with your movies see the Tech Specs below.

Music and Pictures work the same as video – folders and titles to the left and artwork to the right.  Or, you can choose an alternative look.

The only thing I found lacking here was the absense of a Search option.

Settings

Under the Settings option in the main menu you will find Setup Wizard, Audio / Video, Media locations, Parental Controls and security, User interface, Network, and System.

Options inside of these include:

Audio / Video – Display, Audio, Playback options, and Blu-ray options

Parental Controls – This allows you set set a password, lock the system, enable or disable HTML access, and a few other things.

User interface – Change language, skins, and set a screen saver.

System – Set your time and location and enable weather, check for updates, manage files, and much more.

The Remote


The remote control, which is included, measures 8.5″ x 2″.  It includes the standard Play, Pause, Stop, FF, and RW buttons along with others that include Home, Menu, Subtitle, Repeat, and Popup Menu, to name a few.  Featured at the top are 4 colored buttons that allow easy access to Video, Music, Phot, and Web.

Tech Specs

As for tech specs, the NeoTV 550 comes with an infrared remote, ethernet cable, and a composite a/v cable.  It has 2 USB ports, an SD card slot, eSATA port, 10/100 ethernet port, and an HDMI 1.3a.

It supports AVI, Xvid, MOV, MP4, MPEG2 PS, MPEG2-TS, DVD ISO/VOB/IFO, MKV, ASF, AVCHD, DivX, WMV, M4A, M2TS, MTS, MP1, MP2, MPG, DVR-MS, and Blu-ray.  Personally I was surprised by the .iso support.  A lot of our DVD’s are stored as .iso files to preserve all of the menus, extras, etc., so that was unexpected.  Incidentally, playing the .iso movies on the Netgear box allows the same options you have when playing an .iso on a PC.  YOu can click the Menu button on the remote and jump straight to the DVD main menu.  That is killer for me.

Conclusion

Can the Netgear NeoTV 550 replace a Media Center?  Well, no, but it does make a good extender for someplace like the bedroom.  It won’t pull MC extras like Netflix, but it can play pretty much every media format stored on your Media Center – or home server or any normal PC.  The interface is clean and simple and remote works great.  The setup is simple – anyone who can click My Computer and navigate to a file can easily tell the NeoTV where to look for music, pictures, and video.

Playback of all media is very fast and I encountered no problems with video stutter, macro-blocking, or any other common problems that are associated with video.  If you plug into your receiver then music playback will sound every bit as good as any other component (plug audio into your TV and you get what you get – with any device).

The big question is do I recommend it?  Yes, but with a couple of caveats.  For a complete technophobe it may be too difficult, but for the average to advanced user it should be no problem.  If you currently use an HTPC I wouldn’t replace it with this, but I would use this with a second TV.  Finally, if you’re not an HTPC user, but have a bunch of media stored on your everyday PC or server then definitely yes.  The OS is solid, the setup is pretty easy, and playback is smooth.  And they will updating the software so it will only get better.


Zinio: The Digital Newstand

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 8:00 PM on February 12, 2011

Zinio

Todd Cochrane interviewed Jeanniey Mullen from Zinio which is the oldest digital publishing company. It has over 3500 digital magazines available through its catalog. Zinio has been around for over 10 years now. it first started out on the PC. It has seen an explosive growth in interest with the introduction of the iPhone and especially the iPad. Zinio allows you to read on or off-line. A person can buy a single issue or a subscription. It is up to the publisher whether you can buy digital only or if it comes bundled with the paper version.

As Jeanniey showed the big difference between digital and paper magazines is the ability to add video and audio to them and make them interactive. Also connecting a magazine to other things such as catalogs, or an online music store. Allowing the consumer to see something in a magazine and buy it right then and there. Digital magazines are still in their infancy it will be interesting to see where they go over the next couple of years.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Orb: Getting Your Media Where You Want it

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 6:38 PM on February 12, 2011

Orb

Tom Newman and Jeffery Powers interviewed Joe Costello CEO of Orb. The problem that Orb is attempting to solve is how to get your digital content to your TV and your stereo system. Mr. Costello talked about three solutions that Orb has developed. The first is the Orb music, you connect the Orb device to your receiver or speakers. Run the Orb Caster on your PC or Mac and stream your music collection from your music library to the your stereo. The second is Orb TV, which attaches to your TV and captures any media from your network.

Finally the newest solution Orb BR which uses a disc you put in a media live enabled blue-ray player that is connected to the same network where your media is. All Orb devices can be controlled through a smart phone The Orb Music player is available now for $69.00 the Orb TV is $99.00, the Orb BR should ship sometime in February for $20.00. All these devices not only stream the media on your network but also online media.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast. and Tom Newman of The Fogview Podcast.

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Dish Network TV Everywhere

Posted by tomwiles at 9:02 AM on February 8, 2011

Francie Bauer from Dish Network describes Dish Network devices that are enabled via Sling technology to allow consumers to watch their programming content from anywhere in the world via the Internet on computers and other mobile devices.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Netgear NeoTV 550 Unboxing

Posted by Alan at 5:35 PM on January 18, 2011

Today I received the new Netgear NeoTV which launched recently.  This is the latest in Netgear’s living room strategy of products to allow users to view their picture and video, stored on any PC on the network, through their TV, and also listen to music fro any PC through their A/V receiver.  This box holds a lot of potential from what I have read in the press releases, so it’s exciting to see if it lives up to the hype.  While I will be spending several days putting the device through its paces and seeing what it can and can’t do I wanted to post some early photos of the unboxing so that you can see what is included.  Enjoy the pics posted below.

Moovida Free Media Player

Posted by geeknews at 10:28 AM on January 15, 2011

Moovida launched a very cool media player at CES 2011, it essentially is a very intuitive menu interface that can work on your Mac or PC it catalogs the content you already have on your computer and allows you to find that content quickly. Designed for folks that have big libraries of content.

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Special Edition Blog World 2010 Presentation!

Posted by geeknews at 12:49 AM on November 28, 2010

I have decided to post the presentation I made at Blogworld to my entire audience. I hope you find it educational and gives you some back ground on why I am so excited about the over the top TV space.

The Long Tail

Posted by tomwiles at 8:06 PM on August 13, 2010

In the world of blogging, podcasting and social networking, much has been said about the so-called “long tail.” The concept of the “long tail” revolves around the idea that available content living on the Internet gets a lot of extra audience over a long period of time, as opposed to traditional print and broadcast content which has a much more limited lifespan.

As services such as Netflix gain popularity, yet another form of content is experiencing the benefits of the long tail – movies and TV shows that are available for long-term streaming. An excellent example of how the “long tail” benefits movies in particular are obscure documentaries that in the old pre-streaming days would have a limited initial audience and then end up on a shelf somewhere or be sold in consumer video release one at a time.

Now more obscure movies and TV shows that had a limited lifespan and limited impact are able to take a new lease-on life that used to simply not exist.

I am particularly enjoying streaming documentaries on Netflix. There are some real gems out there. One documentary I really enjoyed in particular that I’d never heard of before I found it on Netflix is called “Cowboy Del Amor.” It’s about a Texas matchmaker who specializes in matching up American men with Mexican women. If you haven’t seen this gem, I highly recommend it. “Cowboy Del Amor” is but one example of movies that have a very limited promotion budgets and therefore are unable to make much of a publicity splash when they are released, yet they can be absolutely fantastic movies to not only watch yourself but to share later with friends and family.

I dropped my Dish Network account in July 2010 and have not looked back. Streaming videos via services such as Netflix forces me to take a much more active role in selecting something good to watch. Having literally tens of thousands of movies and videos available for instant streaming on demand is a far superior way to find and consume commercial content.

The Changing Face of News and Journalism

Posted by Andrew at 6:48 AM on July 26, 2010

Andrew Marr, formerly the BBC’s Political Editor, has written a series of articles on the changing face of news and journalism in an era of technological change.

In the first, End of the News Romantics, he comments how he always thought he’d be a true newspaper and newscast kind of guy but in fact he’s embracing the new technology of tablets and phones.  He says, “A few years ago, I was shaking my head and saying I thought I’d had the best of times for journalism, and wouldn’t want my children to join the trade. No longer. I’d like to be 20 and starting out again right now.

In the second, A New Journalism on the Horizon, he talks in a little bit more detail about the media revolution, where he discusses the future of journalism in the age of new media.  He starts out from the recent revelations that (a) the estimated readership of the The Times Online has dropped by 90% since the introduction of the paywall and (b) e-books are outstripping hardbacks on Amazon, and how these facts seem to be contra-indications.

He puts forwards two points, the first being that the notion of not paying for news seems to be somewhat strange.  People pay for DVDs, magazines, TV channels, mobile apps, e-books, so why not news?  Although he’d be happy to pay, he wants to be able to pick and choose – politics but not fashion, business but not crime – so he feels the proposition will need to be refined.

The second point is that there will undoubtedly be consolidation in the market for general news or the news of the day.  But he believes that underneath this will be specialist news organisations that deal in particular sectors of the market, such as automotive, enviromental, foreign countries.  This will be where the real knowledge and understanding will be.

As ever, it’s hard to gaze into the crystal ball and predict the future.  From my previous posts, you’ll know that I think we have to start paying for news if we want quality journalism to continue.  As to the second point, of  specialised news organisations, I think he’s right.  Imagine CNN or the BBC no longer having a technology correspondent and outsourcing that to Engadget or Gizmodo.  Or business news provided by the Economist. It’s not a hard stretch of the imagination to see that coming.

What do you think?  Will the news organisations of today simply become aggregators?