Tag Archives: Crackle

On The Net, Less Can Offer More

For some time now I’ve been using an iOS/Android app called “Heytell” to communicate with a number of friends and relatives. Heytell’s appeal is that it offers reliable asynchronous voice messages that are quick and easy to send to people when you don’t want to invest the time in a phone conversation. Heytell’s success as an app is that it offers something that’s less than a phone call but does it very well indeed.

Text messaging is successful and popular because it offers the opportunity to send quick and easy messages directly to the cell phones of others if you don’t want to invest the time or effort into writing a full-fledged email. Text messaging’s success is that it offers something that’s less than an email but does it very well indeed.

For some time now, I’ve been experimenting with various set-top boxes, including the Western Digital WDTV as well as built-in apps in a couple of different brands of Blu-Ray players, the software version of Boxee, an Apple TV, and even a Mac Mini connected to my HDTV. All of them had their strengths, however, it still felt as if something was somehow wrong or missing from each one of those experiences and user interfaces.

Over the weekend I bought a Roku 2 XS. The Roku is by far the best set-top box experience I’ve ever had. Roku has got it right. They’ve currently got well over 100 apps to chose from, with many more constantly being added. Roku has a tremendous amount of content provided by those third-party apps, and content drives success. Content is king and always will be.

It hit me what the appeal of a box such as Roku is with its third-party apps. These streaming apps, such as Crackle, Netflix, etc. are something less than a full-fledged cable or broadcast TV network. They can have lots of highly-specialized content to choose from, such as Netflix, or such a small amount of highly-specialized content that it’s only updated once a week. Big traditional cable and broadcast networks provide only one program at a time that the viewer has to make an appointment to watch. Roku video streaming apps provide specialized content that in many cases could never make it on a traditional broadcast network because the audience would be too small. That same specialized content begins to have tremendous appeal in a Roku app venue where it’s something less than a full-fledged network environment, yet delivered very well indeed.

On the Internet, less really can be more.

XBox Turning into Over the Top TV Solution? XBox Live TV Coming…

Xbox TV partners
Xbox TV partners

I watch over a lot in the Over the Top Television space. Internet TV, IPTV, whatever you want to call it, it’s a great way to get watchable content without having a full cable lineup.

Last week, Steve Ballmer announced their TV initiative over XBox Live. Over 40 providers have signed up for this venture, including Comcast, HBO, BBC, Rodgers on Demand (Canada), Televisa (Mexico), and other countries including Germany and Italy (20 in all). Best part, if you already have an XBox 360, you have the hardware to do this.

“Today’s announcement is a major step toward realizing our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy,” said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “Combining the world’s leading TV and entertainment providers with the power of Kinect for Xbox 360 and the intelligence of Bing voice search will make TV and entertainment more personal, social and effortless.” – Press Release

Add to conventional TV line-up the on-line video providers like Crackle, YouTube, Zune and more. Then there is audio content from Last.fm and iHeartRadio. Finally, Social networks like Twitter and Facebook to round off the service.

The Game System that Became More

Whereas companies like Roku that integrated smaller games like Angry Birds, XBox won’t have that problem. It’s a game system over a TV content distributor. You can play Gears of War, Tweet about it, then watch a video on how to play Gears of War (or another show).

Unified Dashboard in XBox Live

With the unified dashboard (looking similar to the Zune software), you can browse your shows, play the games, work your social networks and more. You will connect to the Comcast Xfinity service to get all that service has to offer.

Getting Rid of the Remote with Kinect

This might be the best part about the XBox TV. By using voice controls and your Kinect, you can gesture to a channel, play, pause and move on. It might get harry if you have more than one person wanting to watch different shows. Still, could you imagine a world without a remote control?

It won’t all be free, though.

Right now, to get HBO Go, you need to have a cable subscription with HBO. I don’t expect that to change anytime soon – especially with channels like HuluPlus. Of course, that is just like many of the OTT systems out there. Pay for a subscription and get the content.

Once again, there could be conflict if you have multiple family members where one wants to play a game and the other wants to watch a movie. So this might not replace a cable box or DVR just yet.

The Xbox Live TV service is expected to come out before the holiday season. The announcement comes before then so you can plan purchasing an XBox 360 or Kinect system for your loved ones to connect up quick. While the OTT solution is more pricey than a Roku or Apple TV, it does do more than just watch video, view pictures or listen to music. It also has some great game titles. It also has a new way to browse through your content.

Crackle Available for Mobile Devices

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.