LG – 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):
Samsung just stepped up their game in the Set Top Box division by purchasing Israeli and NYC based Boxee streaming media. Boxee came out in 2007 as streaming TV media started to gain traction. Companies like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, Vudu and more created apps which could be seen on the Boxee Entertainment System. Even Techpodcasts and Blubrry have channels on the Boxee system.
Boxee had a physical and software presence at the start, debuting on June 16, 2008 – you could download the Boxee software on PC or Mac. Last year, Boxee discontinued that service to focus on their $249 set top box.
Although Boxee has been a distant 4th on set top box marketshare, they did push the game forward in January when they debuted the Boxee Cloud DVR. This is an add-on that connects and turns the Boxee into a DVR.
The Marker first broke this story (Hebrew Website) stating that Samsung will continue to employee Boxee staff – about 40 employees. Boxee was on the market, which AllthingsD reported last month.
Samsung already has software built into smart TVs. Boxee will most likely replace the software and be included in future Samsung mobile devices.
I am a big fan of Roku. I currently have version one of the Roku 2 XS which I love and version 2 is even smaller. However both have the problem of being separate boxes which means more wires to run to the TV and another power cord to plug-in. Roku has an answer to this problem the Roku Streaming Stick. Ed from Roku showed off the product at CES 2012
The stick is a little larger then a regular USB stick and plugs directly into a HDMI port. It is Roku’s answer to smart TV. It has the same chip and ram as the Roku 2 XS with the same great performance. It is based on the MHL standard. The one problem I see is that for this to work the TV has to be MHL capable, which I suspect many TVs especially with the lower price models are not.
This may confuse consumers, Roku needs to make it clear which TVs this will work with or what to look for It will come with a motion control remote that has WiFi built-in. The remote control will have power and control out. The Roku Streaming Stick can also be controlled by the TV remote.
The Roku currently has 400 plus channels. The channels are organized in the store by categories, including favorites, religion, sports, movies and more. Among the channels available in the Roku store are TPN.TV and the Blubrry Network. Roku is continuing to update the channel store, to improve its interface and usability. The Roku is currently in over 2 1/2 million households and is still growing. The Roku Streaming Stick should be available in fall of 2012 and run between $50 and $100 depending on model.
Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast network
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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.
Jeffrey talks to Mark of LuckyGoldstar, sorry, LG about their foray into connected devices and smart TVs during 2011. Mark reckons that there are four key principles for smart TVs.
- first, premium content providers and LG has over 20 including NetFlix, Vudu, Hulu, Amazon, NHL, NBA;
- second, apps and LG will be launching its online apps store with over 200 apps from the likes of CNN and Comedy Central (and Tech Podcast);
- third, include a fully functioning web-browser with Flash, just like LG’s;
- and finally, make sure it’s DLNA-certified so that existing local content can be played, as LG’s TVs will.
Existing owners will be able to upgrade their TVs using LG’s new SmartTV Upgrader that brings all the features of LG’s 2011 TVs to a dumb TV. The SmartTV will work with any TV with an HDMI output, not just LG’s and of course, it’s wireless. Although it comes with a remote control, to make typing easier, apps for iOS and Android devices will control the SmartTV unit as well. That’s cool.
Jeffrey gets a demo of the user interface in the video so check it out if you are interested. Looks to be a smooth implementation.
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Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast.
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