Archive for the ‘Media Servers and Streamers’ Category

Apple’s Showtime event

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

dsc_1067.jpgWhile Showtime lacked a few expected items, overall, this was a nice big present to current iPod owners and a cue that Apple has nothing to worry about from their competitors.

iTunes 7

Includes two of the most requested features automatic cover downloads and gapless playback. New cover browse mode (no secret of why they added automatic cover download, eh?) From a quick test, it seems to have better playback of video (thank god).

I just installed it on my box at home and while it did take over an hour to analyze my music catalog for gapless playback (it’s over 100Gb), it seems to have picked out most of the tracks that I would expect to be gapless(certain Beatles albums, live performances, opera). A nice touch is that those changes carry over to the iPod, which I haven’t tested.

The interface is cleaned up a lot on iTunes and includes iPod status, Coverflow views and a personal favorite, View Options that are dependent on the media type (Podcast, Video, Songs). This is super helpful in creating smart playlists.

Movie and Game Downloads

The newest bits of content on the iTunes Store (as it is know called) are movie and game downloads. All videos are 640×480(or less depending on aspect ratio) and will play on 5th Generation iPod. Movies are available in both widescreen and 4×3. A little sparse with the first set of movies as they are starting with movies from Buena Vista and Disney. Other studios are on their way and if you remember, the television store started with only ABC. Currently, there are only 75 movies on the service.

Games are a very interesting suprise as most people don’t think of Apple as being much of a games company, but my feeling is that this is aimed squarely at further differentiating the iPod from others. One fun bit here is that you can play games while listening to music on the iPod.

New iPod(s)

Ok, so not really a new iPod, but I think that Engadget named it 5.5G. It has a brighter screen and longer battery life. The 30Gb version went to Weight Watchers and is sporting a slightly slimmer look and an 80Gb model was added because they could.

Nano – 2, 4, and 8gb models that look like the old Mini shrank down to a more portable size. God I hate those colors…
Shuffle – 1Gb model with some shrinkage – looks like a matchbook.

The lack of widescreen iPod will be disappointing to many (including me), but I have to say, Apple is making a tidy profit on the current iPod and a new widescreen iPod would surely cost them more to make. Personally, I’m stoked my current 5G iPod got a new lease on life.

iTV

Steve said that this was a code name (iTV is pronounced “EyeTV“), so don’t expect it to ship with this name. This is a wireless device that will play video, audio and pictures from iTunes. It’s got HDMI and component video as it’s only video outs, so you can make your own HD assumptions here. It will launch in 2007, presumably with the real 6G iPod.

Overall, while their wasn’t a new iPod, current customers are probably pretty happy with the new features of iTunes and their current 5G iPods.

Watch the SteveNote

Monday Links

Monday, July 17th, 2006

Movielink to allow movies transferred to DVD
Didn’t they already do that? Maybe it was the other guys.

Build your own iPod HiFi
Two in wall speakers, $200. Two dead Mac Classics, $25. Retro iPod HiFi, priceless.

Yahoo! to the 9’s
Daily video feature of the top 9 videos from the web. No podcast, so you gotta watch it on Yahoo! And just as an aside, apparently Yahoo! finally figured out how to do video that works with a Mac. Maybe one day Launch will actually work outside of IE6 on Windows.
[via CNET]

EyeTV meet FrontRow, FrontRow meet EyeTV

Saturday, July 15th, 2006

I’ve been a mostly happy user of EyeTV for about a year now (I’ve got the EyeTV 500 for recording digital TV signals), but I’d always hoped that they would go the 10 foot interface route.

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I use EyeTV in our kitchen and record programs mainly for my daughter and to stream signals to a network DVD player in my bedroom. My biggest complaint with EyeTV is that unlike it’s PC brethren (Windows Media Center, SageTV, and Beyond TV), it lacked a good way to control it from far away.

The new version of EyeTV will work in full screen mode (that is a little more than an homage to Apple’s FrontRow)and it appears most of the features will be accessible from a remote control. The upgrade will work with the Apple remote or the remote that was bundled with the EyeTV hardware. Unfortunately, there are no screen shots of program scheduling or upcoming schedules, but the two screen shots they have provided, it seems that they are keen to keep the simplicity of the FrontRow interface, for better or worse.

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It’s a bit strange that this is a dot release for EyeTV given their recent upgrade from 1.x to 2.0 was a small upgrade feature-wise and they charge $79. This upgrade completely changes EyeTV into a TV friendly application, rather than merely a way to watch television on your desktop.

As a first release, I’m sure that their will be some kinks to work out, but I look forward to the EyeTV upgrade later this month. Kudos to Elgato for continuing to build and improve this great Mac program.

Movie downloads compete with DVD

Monday, April 3rd, 2006

brokeback.jpgMovielink and CinemaNow announced today that they will have day and date releases with their DVD counterparts reports the Wall Street Journal this morning. Starting tomorrow with Brokeback Mountain, both companies will give users the ability to buy movies the same day they arrive on DVD.

Both seem to limit what people can do with the movies. Movielink will allow users to burn the movies to DVD, but those DVDs will only be playable on PCs. For the privilege, Movielink will be charging between $20-30 per movie for new films, on par with DVD’s MSRP, but not the actual street price. CinemaNow will be charging between $10-20 per movie, but users won’t be able to burn the movies to DVD.

More details at WSJ.com (paid subscription) and Yahoo!

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Moviebeam relaunches

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

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A number of stories this morning regarding the relaunch of Disney’s Moviebeam service in 29 markets this year. In a nutshell, Moviebeam is a hard drive based set top box that receives movies over unused television spectrum. The box ships with a 100 movies on the hard drive and about 10 movies are swapped out each week for new ones. Movies then can be rented for $1.99 to $3.99 (catalog versus new releases) with HD movies costing $1 more.

While the service is interesting, the biggest problem that I see is that the set top box is $250 before rebates, which is a huge barrier to entry for many folks. Not to mention it is another piece of hardware to hook up to a television. I have a sense that if this service were being a promoted by someone like Apple it could be hugely successful, but with backers such as Cisco and Disney, the future of Moviebeam is fuzzy at best.

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(Via Zatz Not Funny)

Sling Media gets $46 million in funding

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

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You know, I’m usually on top of new tech, first in line, etc. But I gotta be honest with you, I haven’t had much interest in the Sling Box. I understand it’s coolness factor – place shifting television is very cool. I know that if I traveled more, I might actually care more.

Anyhow, I think I started to get it a little more today. There’s nothing like a big cash infusion from Dish Network to realize that this is a pretty cool technology. With Microsoft threatening to enter this business with the update of Windows MCE, Sling will need all the money they can get there hands on.

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(Via Zatz Not Funny. . ..)

Yahoo! Music makes Linksys plugin

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

Ymusic.jpg

For those of you using the Yahoo! Music Engine, you’ve just gotten a little bit of freedom. Similar to Apple’s Airport Express, the Linksys Wireless G Music Bridge plays music in remote locations (read: away from your computer) and Yahoo! has just wrote a plugin that will work with the device.

Not sure if this will be a free download for the folks that already have this device, but new customers will be able to pick up the device for $99 plus Yahoo! will have a $20 rebate (yay, rebates!).

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(Via eHomeUpgrade.)

SqueezeBox III – Third times the charm?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2005

I always thought that Slim Devices Squeezebox was cool. They were the first network MP3 player that had a digital output, their own server software that didn’t suck and it worked with iTunes. It was difficult to get past its looks, however. The first two versions had wonderful personality and were great dancers, but you didn’t want your friends to meet them.
Squeeze
Slim Devices fixed that by offering their Silicon Valley neighbors, Roku, the most sincere form of flattery.

The new Squeezebox has a little something for everyone. It plays a laundry list of audio formats(AAC, WMA, MP3, FLAC, Ogg), although no encrypted formats (sorry, binge iTMS users) For audio nerds, the 24-bit Burr-Brown DAC and digital outputs should float your boat. It’s both wired and wireless and you can keep several units in sync to play tunes all over your house/office/underground bunker.

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