Category Archives: Media

XBMC moves to Gotham beta 1



xbmc 11 beta home screenXBMC began life as Xbox Media Center, but the platform has come a long way since those early days. It’s become one of the hottest platform for HTPC enthusiasts, though it is far from the only one. Now XBMC is moving towards its latest release, announcing beta one of the new Gotham release.

“After a year of hard work, improvements and testing since the release of version 12.0, we are delighted to announce the Beta release of the upcoming XBMC 13.0, codenamed Gotham”, the company states.

New features include Android hardware decoding, Raspberry Pi  and Android speed improvements, stereoscopic 3D rendering, improved touchscreen support, improved UPnP capabilities, dramatic audio engine improvements, settings improvements, better subtitles and more capability for developers.

“If installing XBMC for friends or family, it is highly encouraged that you move the settings down to Beginner level”, the company warns.

It’s available now, but you don’t have to install it and, as it is a beta, you may not want it powering your home theater.


Tablo Takes TPN Award at CES



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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Get your home media to Chromecast



 

ChromeCast

If you like to follow the ever-growing integration between computers and home theater, then the recent innovations have been a welcome, and quickly, growing surprise. Boxes like Roku, Apple TV, Google TV and others have made life much easier than the days when I built my first HTPC and looked for the best ways to stream my home media to it.

Then Google unveiled Chromecast, a surprise, as it came at an event where everyone expected only the new Nexus 7 to be unveiled. The tiny stick plugs into a spare HDMI port and allows customers to “cast” media to their TV from compatible web sites, as well as Android tablets and phones.

But what about your home media — all of those ripped DVD’s and music that you have stored on your home network. That too is easy enough, though you need to be using the Chrome web browser.

  1. Open a new tab
  2. Press Ctrl + O
  3. Open a file (video or audio) that Chrome can play
  4. Click the cast button

That is all there is to it to get your own media up and playing on your big screen.


Lollapalooza comes to YouTube live this weekend



The Lollapalooza music festival has been around for quite some time, originating with Perry Ferrell and Jane’s Addiction. The concert series persists, and will take place this weekend in Chicago — in fact, starting today at 2:30pm CST, taking place from Grant Park and featuring more than 20 artists.

The entire festival will be broadcast live on YouTube. The Google-owned video site announces “From Friday’s kickoff with Icona Pop (we love it), to Nine Inch Nails’ first U.S. performance since 2009, to Steve Aoki and The Cure closing out the weekend on Sunday, it’s all on YouTube”.

Best of all, those who didn’t, or couldn’t get tickets or travel to the Windy City need not worry. because sitting on the sofa will yield the same live action as the expensive tickets and trip to the city. Now the difficult part is up to you — spending your weekend being lazy! Personally, I plan to utilize my Google TV for the big screen experience.


Hulu Plus doubles subscriptions



Hulu continues to surprise me — the service never seems quite mainstream, but continues to thrive. This time the TV service is announcing record gains in subscriptions to its Plus service, the paid subscription plan that it introduced back in 2010.

“Overall, Hulu continues to grow very quickly. In Q1 of this year, we set new records for revenue, and for the first time ever, Hulu viewers streamed more than 1 billion content videos in a single quarter” states Hulu’s acting CEO Andy Forssell. In fact, the company has seen continued growth every year that it has existed — in Q1 2013, Hulu Plus surpassed 4 million subscribers—setting new records for subscriber additions.

hulu usage graph

Mobile viewing is also growing, now accounting for 15 percent of Hulu’s consumed videos in 2013-2014. Living room viewing now makes up 29 percent of the viewing audience.

Forssell also points out advertising revenue — “Hulu is also #1 in market share of all premium online video providers, delivering 1 in 3 of all premium video ads in the U.S. Our reasonable ad load drives the highest recall and awareness for brands, which results in higher effectiveness for the video ads”.

Hulu has recently jumped in the game of original content with Quick Draw and East Los High. This brings the service into direct competition with Netflix and Amazon Prime.


Xbox gets new entertainment options



xbox live logoMicrosoft may be planning to unveil its next Xbox console in the near future, but that has not stopped the company from continuing to update its current 360 version of the device.

The Xbox 360 may sometimes be thought of as a gaming box, but it has long since exited that pigeon hole. Microsoft wants to use the console to take over your living room and it has been moving steadily in that direction for some time. The company has been adding more and more entertainment content and now it has announced the next wave.

Larry Hryb, better known as Major Nelson, announced the next set of updates, which are rolling out right now and include a load of new entertainment options for customers.

Updates:

  • Xbox SmartGlass for Game of Thrones Season 3
  • MLB.TV Refresh
  • IndieFlix
  • Revision 3
  • PopcornFlix
  • Toys “R” Us Movies

If you have an Xbox 360 then you should be receiving these updates at any moment. If you do not yet have one of the consoles then you may just want to wait and find out what gets announced at the upcoming E3 show.


Roku unveils new box and interface



roku 3This morning Roku unveiled its brand new Roku 3 box. This is the first update to the Roku lineup in some time and there are quite a few changes with the Roku 3. The announcement calls it the “fastest, most powerful streaming player to-date”.

The new box, according to Roku’s Jim Funk, is five times faster than previous versions. The new Roku 3 also comes with an all new user interface, as Funk explains — “In the spirit of simplicity, the new Roku interface features a streamlined layout to provide quicker access and greater visibility – especially if you have many channels installed. The Roku Channel Store and Search are now fully integrated into the home screen, and both have been redesigned with our new on-screen experience”.

The new device also comes with a slightly revamped remote control. The remote has a headphone jack and includes a set of earbuds. When these are plugged in, the box automatically switches the audio to the headphones and mutes your speakers, allowing you to move around while listening to your music and also do so without disturbing other household members.

The box also comes with Angry Birds installed and the new remote control is motion sensitive to make for better gaming. There are also dual-band ethernet and USB ports as well.

The Roku 3 is available for $99 starting today. The new interface will begin rolling out to Roku boxes in April.