Archive | January, 2011

Deal of the day – Western Digital WD TV Live Plus Media Player on sale for $60

Western Digital has this extremely capable (and refurbished in this case) Western Digital WD TV Live Plus media player / streamer box on sale for $60 only.

The unit plays Netflix, YouTube, Live365, Mediafly, features Facebook, Twitter clients and plays most of the video formats you’ll ever have  – 1080p, MKV, DVD ISOs, DVD folders, Blu-ray ISO (see our Western Digital WD Live Plus full review here = one of the top boxes we ever reviewed).

Not sure how long the deal will last, but it is a very good price for a very good player. I have one and just ordered another one. Hulu also lists this devices on their website as one of the boxes scheduled to get Hulu Plus support soon.

Netflix charts of ISP video streaming performance

If you want to know which ISP companies are the best and the worst in streaming Netflix, or just want to know where you stand, Netflix published today a chart of all charts showing how various ISP behave in US and Canada. Also, an interesting info: top Netflix HD streams are about 4800 kbs so if your internet speed is usually above that, you should be fine. In my case, I played with dual HD streams simultaneously and still got a good experience.
By releasing this chart, Netflix is sure to enrage some companies and some clients also and apparently they are not afraid to do so.
In US, the top ISP is charter achieving an average of 2667 kbs while the top Canadian ISP is Rogers with 3020 kbs. At the bottom lie shamefully Frontier and Clearwire with around 1400 kps, only good enough for standard definition…

via Netflix Tech Blog

HULU to feature live TV

Recently my family cut the cable cord and switched to online only media. It works fairly well and is much cheaper than before. Well, according with an article in Wall Street Journal, following the recent Comcast buyout of NBC, Hulu might consider converting the on-demand service to something closer to a cable company and start offering live TV (beside the on-demand episodes).

Since these are only talks for now, we don’t have any additional details about when and how this kind of transition can happen, but apparently the move might make other content providers as Disney (owner of ABC) and News Corp re-consider what content is available on HULU, specifically the free Hulu. Hulu Plus for now seems to be safe.

From all this hubbub, the one to benefit might be Netflix which just yesterday posted stellar results. ABC and Fox might offer some of their content to the streaming giant instead of offering it to HULU, especially with the obvious transition from cable to online watching.

Offering Live TV on a media streamer box is not new. Last week, Roku started streaming live the first TV channel on their boxes.

via WSJ

Sony PSP 2 announced, named Sony NGP for now

OK, this is a pretty cool story with even cooler pictures. Last night, Sony unveiled their next generation PlayStation Portable called NGP (from Next Generation Portable) and while keeping proximately the same shape as before, it brings a huge number of improvements in pretty much all areas. Let’s start at the beginning:
1. A New user interface with dual touch screen front and back called LiveArea.
2. Social (what isn’t these days) through PSN (PlayStation Network)
3. GPS – location based Entertainment
4. Augmented reality (so obviously it will have at least a camera)
Initial technical specifications:
1. Quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor
2. 5-inch touchscreen OLED display with 960 x 544 resolution Read More…

Boxee Box under review at Amazon – customer complaints?

While Boxee Box is a really nice media streamer, it seems that various bugs and promises that never materialized (Netflix availability being one of them) brought the ire of some customers and as of right now, the box is not sold by Amazon anymore (at least if you are not logged-in your account). Here is the screenshot:

Of course, it might me just a minor glitch considering how many products the retailer giant is currently selling. We’ll let you know of any updates.

Netflix sees a 166 percent increase in subscribers added over the same period a year ago

Netflix just released its financial report for the 4th quarter 2010,  and it is full of big surprises. The fourth quarter earnings are at $47 million and the number of subscribers rose to 20 million, an increase of 3.08 million that beats their previous estimates of 2.7 million with more than 10 percent.

The revenue for the 4th quarter stands to be about $596 million.

The current numbers should be a slap on the face to multiple idiot executives from companies like Time Warner that vented their frustration by slamming Netflix and comparing the company with the Albanian army trying to take over the world. Well, Netflix did take over the streaming market and there is nothing Time Warner can do. There is a huge number of media streamer boxes capable of streaming Netflix and the capability has the same popularity as mp3 support some years ago.

Nook Color gets firmware version 1.1 breaks the root, enables developer mode?

Barnes & Noble just released Nook Color software version 1.1 destined to fix minor bugs. Among the various updates to increase its performance, here is what was fixed:

  • Improved performance of Wi-Fi connectivity, Home and Shop.
  • Ability to pinch and zoom in browser.
  • Enhanced reading experience for magazines and children’s books.
  • Access helpful NOOKcolor related information and support tips on the new default browser home page.
  • Reduce mistyped passwords with “show password” option during registration and Wi-Fi set up.
  • Easily identify NOOK kids Read To Me™ books with a new text banner next to the titles in Shop.
  • General bug fixes and performance improvements.

Based on B&N road-map, this update should also enable the developer mode, a first step toward a functional app market.

As you can see, no Nook App Store yet and no flash either. Pinch and Zoom is important, but you already had browsers to support it if you rooted.

Check after the break for how to make Nook Color ignore the automatic update. Read More…

Cirago CMC3000 media player / streamer with up to 2TB storage announced

We are a website that heavily covers various media players / streamers so here is another one for your pleasure: Cirago CMC3000 series, the latest to come on the market.

Cirago CMC3000 series has three members, named based on their installed on-board storage. The CMC3050 has a 500GB hard drive installed and costs $179.99, CMC3100 has a 1TB hard drive and costs $199 and CMC3200 has a whooping 2TB installed and costs a equally whooping $299. (If you want to save money, get the cheaper model and replace the hard drive – the functionality is similar).

Beside the on-board storage, Cirago media streamers comes with an interesting one year of PlayOn subscription, a first to my knowledge, can RECORD / Shift video on its attached hard drive (SD only though), output in 1080p and even has an integrated BitTorrent client. A card reader and dual USB slots are also provided.

Check after the break for full tech specs, codec support and photo gallery.

via Cirago

Read More…

You can now port your phone number to Google Voice for $20

Want to stop paying for land-line phone service but you are in love with your phone number and you don’t want to give it up? Google just launched their Google Voice number porting service and it only takes about $20 and to be an existing Google Voice user. Of course, after you ported your number your old phone service stops functioning, so be sure you have a backup solution in place.

If you are not yet a member of Google Voice, you can became one today but you won’t be able to port your phone number right away. Per Google’s announcement, all the accounts will get the porting feature in the following weeks. The new feature will allow you to make the mobile number ring to any phone you have, so you can have your land-line ringing to your cellphone automatically. Once you requested your number to be ported, it should take about 24 hours for the process to complete. Available in US only.

via Google Voice Blog

Check after the break for a video clip explaining the new service. Read More…

Best Media Streamers / Players 2011 – Top 10

Note: there is a newer Best Media Players / Streamers list for 2012 that will be maintained from now on.

A new year, a new top 10 list that tries to offer a comprehensive view of the top 10 best media streamers for 2011.

If 2010 was a year in which the media streamer boxes sales experienced a big grow and many new web clients launched, in my opinion 2011 is a year of consolidation, partnerships and jump from technologically inclined users to wide adoption. Apple TV is one box that helped the transition due to its simplicity and customer friendlies. Although Apple TV was one of the boxes that took streaming to mainstream, I decided not to include ti in my list due to lack of support for local content and low number of web clients supported.

In terms of pure streaming, Roku deserves to be on the first place due to its excellent implementation of web clients and the support for all important premium clients such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Video on Demand, etc.

Local files support continues to be critical and Boxee Box and Western Digital boxes are among the best in this category (even with their inherent bugs), without stepping into the pro-sumer category like the Dune BD Prime 3.0 media player for example which is in my opinion the best in terms of codec support.

As usual, I’ll update the list as new devices come on the market and I would also appreciate your input / votes as well. Considering that some will prefer a stronger codec support for local media and some will only care about web streaming, this top 10 will obviously not make everybody happy. However, I tried to add as many technical specs as I could so you can perform a side by side comparison.

Read More…