PhaseHD Runs HDMI for 100ft

PhaseHD Logo

HDMI is great interconnect technology but it’s really only designed for relatively short cable runs. What do you do if you want to send a 4K UltraHD picture 100ft? PhaseHD have the answer.

Canadian outfit phaseHD uses standard, albeit long, HDMI cables with smart adaptors on each end of the cable to transmit a clean signal at one end and boost the received signal at the other, while preserving the control signals needed for encrypted content. Obviously it’s more complicated than that and it’s definitely worth watching the video to understand how this technology differs from the video extenders that use cat 6 network cabling for long runs.

It’s not cheap either, with the expected price around $500-$600. Expect to see early adoption by event management companies and sports bars.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

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What is the Future of Television

New Tek At the NAB show New Tek had a panel Broadcast Minds: The Future of Television with Leo Laporte of TWIT.TV,  Kevin Pollak, Award winning Actor and Comedian, Jeff Jacobs, Vice President, Production Planning, Strategic Initiatives & Business Operations of the MTV Music Group,  Bill Chapman, Vice President of Creative Development/Emerging Technologies of Turner Studios and Jeff Hawley, Director, Customer Experience Group. Yamaha Corporation of America. They discussed the future of television and media, if you are interested in media and where it is going you need to watch it. Among the areas they discussed are:

  • The importance of live streaming as an event.
  • People need to feel like they are a part of a community.
  • Engaging the viewer on the various platforms they are on.
  • Creative people are only limited by their own imagination.
  • Creativity drives technology and vice a versa.
  • Anyone can build an on-demand library of content.
  • The ability to store and send big data is a major cost concern.
  • Social Media has become an integral part of the whole process from creation to distribution.

This should only be the start of this dialog and it needs to continue both online and off.

Boxee Adding Digital Television Signal via Dongle

Boxee Live TV Dongle

Boxee Live TV Dongle

If you run your Boxee through a computer monitor rather than a flat screen TV, or just don’t want to flip to the terrestrial line, well fret no more. Boxee has launched Live TV – a USB dongle that will connect to your cable or antenna so you can watch television straight from the box!

The Live TV stick is an HD antenna that provides Boxee Box owners with local channels like ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CW and any other over-the-air channel you might get. The Live TV will be available in January 2012 for $49.

“Last year, 89 of the top 100 shows were on broadcast networks – they remain the most popular channels on cable.” says Boxee CEO Avner Ronen on the Boxee blog. ” The Superbowl, the World Series, the Oscars, the Grammys, presidential debates and addresses, the Olympics… they’re all on broadcast. Yes, there are hundreds of cable channels, but make a list of the stuff you actually watch. You will probably find that most are on broadcast and the rest are available on Vudu/Netflix/Network sites.”

For $49, you get the dongle. I would guess there is no need for a remote, like a regular TV to PC dongle, because it could be controlled via the Boxee software.

Boxee screen

Boxee screen

Keep in mind, any over-the-air channel might not be in full HD. Primary HD channels could be in 1080p, 1080i, 720p or less. If a channel has a 2nd and 3rd sub-channel (ex: Channel 3.1 is the primary, Channel 3.2 and 3.3 are sub-channels), those would most likely run at 480i. If the Primary channel wants to run 1080p, it would have to turn off the sub-channels to do so.

Also keep in mind about the signals of over-the-air TV. The farther away from the antenna you are, the better chance of channel breakage you could get.

If you can get past that, this might be a great way to connect the TV to your… well, TV. Of course, if you haven’t cut the cable yet, you can also connect your cable to this and funnel those channels through your Boxee.

Television by Apple

The rumor mill has gone full tilt the last few days that Apple is in the process of developing a smart TV.   According to Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs told him that Apple had “finally cracked it” a way to make TV, that is simple and elegant. I have to admit I am not holding my breath. I have seen too many of these attempts to make the next TV, somewhere in the back of my closet is a Web-TV.  I purchased and sold the older Apple TV and currently have the Apple TV 2 and a Roku on my desk. They all worked and yet none of them have replaced the TV for the average household. Some like the Web-TV were far too complicated and ahead of their time. Others like the Apple TV, the Roku, and even the Google TV are limited by the agreements they can make with media providers. Plus no one has been able to solve the issue of live sports or live events.

Before we can have the right answers we need to know what the problems are. That got me thinking what do we want from our television sets. The first thing we want is ease of use, anything that is too complicated will fail. Maybe the idea of channels need to be rethought, why not clearly group channels by providers or content. Why do we insist on using the same system we did fifty years ago when most people had less than 6 channels. Why can’t something like Netflix or Amazon video just be a part of the normal guide. The ability to switch from application to application needs to be quick and intuitive, the fewer buttons that need to be pushed the better. I know from personal experience if my husband has to push more than three buttons he is not going to use it. Which leads directly to how is the system going to be controlled, will it be by a remote control or will something like Siri be involved. At this time I don’t think a voice command has evolved far enough to work with a television set in a noisy living room. The remote control must have a keyboard and the fewer buttons the better. I believe that in today’s world social media integration must be available. Can a system be created that doesn’t force people to get content they don’t want? As long as that content is being controlled by the cable or satellite companies I am afraid the answer will be no. Unfortunately Apple may run into many of the same problems that Google has, the ability of the content providers and the cable companies to block content. The final problem is should the system be integrated into the TV or should it be a separate box that can be used with all modern televisions. If Apple chooses to go with an integrated system, will they integrate the system into a monitor they make themselves or will Apple work with other manufactures. Knowing that Apple likes to control things as much as they can I suspect they will want to make everything themselves.

I don’t have any answers to these questions and I am not sure Apple does either. I believe this involves rethinking the whole concept of television from the ground up. Perhaps even the name television is too limiting, perhaps video entertainment system is a better name for what we are talking about. From the iPod, through the iPhone and the iPad, the engineers and creative team at Apple have shown the ability to think outside the box. Maybe they can do the same thing with television, I certainly hope so, but I suspect the journey will be long and rough.

NHK World TV iPod App

Like millions of others, I’ve been glued to news sources to get as much current information as I can about the ongoing disasters in Japan following the massive earthquake, tsunami and ongoing nuclear plant disasters. This has to be the biggest natural disaster that has occurred in my lifetime.

In pre-Internet days, we had to rely on newspapers and television for news. Those forms of information have their problems. This is the Internet age. I want current information directly from the source NOW, not later. I want current information of my choice, not what news agencies that aren’t directly on the scene think is or is not important for me to know. If I want 24/7 disaster coverage, in the Internet age that becomes possible, allowing me to completely bypass limited conventional coverage.

It took a while for me to find, but there’s an iPhone/iPod/iPad/iOS app from Japan’s NHK called NHK World TV Live. The app is free. Once the app is installed, it operates very simply. You simply open the app and the live video directly from Japan’s NHK World news service immediately begins streaming. Search iTunes for NHK World TV Live.

The service has an English translator that talks over the lowered volume of the original Japanese broadcasts. The English translators aren’t slick and you can hear them become a bit confused from time to time.

There’s also an app from the Al jazeera TV English news network that operates live out of Doha, Qatar. Al jazeera TV English is highly produced from a beautiful state-of-the-art studio. The on-air newsreaders seem to be British nationals. Though Al jazeera gives more news from the Arab world than the typical American is used to, they do a pretty good job of covering international news, including the situation in Japan. Search iTunes for Al jazeera English Live.

Savvy TV news agencies in today’s world have to make themselves available if they want to continue to be relevant. News agencies such as the BBC, CBC, CNN, Fox, etc. seem to be dragging their feet regarding available-to-anyone-anywhere 24/7 Internet TV broadcasting. I believe they are already losing world market share.

 

Shredding The Cord

Ah, my once-beloved Dish Network account – the thing I once thought I could never do without; the budget monster that consumed $100 per month, month after month, year after year. I agonized for months over the idea of simply killing it before finally pulling the plug.

It’s been the better part of a year since I put the budget-busting beast to rest and cancelled the account. Dish Network itself seemed to want to throw up as many roadblocks as possible to get me to change my mind. They wanted the LNB module off of my roof, in addition to the two receivers. I had 30 days to send the units back in the packing boxes they sent or they would make me pay full price for them.

I was able to talk the guy out of forcing me to climb up on my roof to retrieve the LNB, and I was able to get the two receivers sent back to them within the 30 days of cancellation. However, somehow they had in their billing system I had three receivers, not two. They sent return packaging for three units. I spent time on the phone with them to make sure this discrepancy was resolved, and they assured me it was.

Ooops, not so fast! A month or two later I got a letter from them stating I still owed them for a receiver and they intended to hit my bank account for the amount. A phone call to them resolved the issue and I haven’t heard a peep from them since.

How has life been without all of those channels? $ome part of me hate$ to admit it, but I haven’t missed it at all. I’ve got an Intel Mac Mini set up as a DVR for local over-the-air HD broadcasts, as well as a Netflix account and several other Internet-connected set top box viewing solutions.

Observations

A very large percentage of TV programming is marketing presented as content. Much of what passes for entertainment depicts multitudes of dysfunctional drama queens assaulting and insulting the people around them. The more dysfunctional they are, the more likely it is the marketing messages will seep into the mesmerized minds of the audience. Even if one isn’t watching commercials, product placement and even behavior placement abounds. Viewers are being programmed to buy certain products, as well as behave in certain ways.

Think you can’t do without cable or satellite TV? Think again. I was paying $1,200 dollars a year for Dish Network. Multiply that by just 5 years and that’s a whopping $6,000 dollars for the privilege of being shaped and influenced by marketing messages so I would spend even more money.

Let’s go one step further. For many people TV is an addiction. These people are crack dealers in disguise. How else could it be that they can continue to raise their prices and people continue to pay ever more?

Let’s be honest. The vast majority of cable TV programming is less than worthless. Could that $6,000 dollars been better spent on higher-quality programming? Of course it could.

Igugu Internet TV

Mario Cisneros talks about Igugu TV (www.igugu.com), a hardware and software combination that turns your existing Windows-based computer into a TV set top box enabling you to easily get over-the-top television content from your computer to your flat panel television.

Igugu has three kit offerings, including $99 dollars for the remote control unit and software, $129 for the remote control unit, software, and miscellaneous wiring kit, and $249 for a wireless version.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Will You Survive The Coming Changes?

Get ready for a world where everything is on demand and à la carte. Traditional broadcasting is going to change whether it wants to or not. Marketing will be forced to change in profound ways. As a result, content-making will also go through a major metamorphosis.

Marketing and traditional broadcasting have long had an interesting relationship that has had a potentially detrimental effect on the quality and quantity of available content. Television in particular has long been known as “a vast wasteland.” If one thinks about how this lowest-common-denominator programming can exist, the realization emerges that anxious, aggressive television advertisers have often been willing to sponsor junk programming content to capture passive viewers. In the pre-Internet world of broadcast TV, people would surf channels in order to find what was often the least-boring programming. Also because of the hypnotic potential of this type of TV watching, many viewers were willing to sit in front of virtually any programming without really caring about what they were watching, using TV viewing itself as a sort of nightly drug. Marketing messages get programmed into viewer’s brains, but more importantly using this type of passive TV viewing as a drug has definite detrimental side effects to both the individual, the family unit, and society at large.

After a few months of agonizing, I recently cancelled my Dish Network account. I was already a Netflix customer and was watching more stuff from Netflix than I was from Dish Network, so it has been a remarkably easy transition.

There are differences. One of the differences is that I’m now forced to choose what I want to watch when I want to watch TV. Being forced to choose necessarily forces me to choose something I find personally interesting. The net effect is I’m making a conscious choice of my television influences. Of course, another difference is that streamed Netflix content has no ads.

Hulu.Com offers streaming content with ads, and recently started offering an inexpensive monthly premium streaming content option, which also has the added benefit of vastly expanding the list of devices they will stream to beyond the desktop/laptop computer to include media extenders and cell phones. Like Craig’s List cannibalized the local newspaper ad business, Hulu.Com and similar emerging streaming services are going to further cannibalize the now-breaking and broken broadcast TV model. I say this not to blame Hulu and other services as I believe this push for choice has been well underway for a long time and these emerging streaming services are simply accelerating it.

The ad-supported content will be forced to change because the programming must be appealing-enough to consumers to get them to choose the particular content. Non-ad supported content will continue to have a market but will be forced to appeal just the same to induce consumers to choose that content.