Archive | March, 2011

Roku firmware update 2.9 build 1553 out, brings new channels support and PlayOn issues

Roku announced a new software update version 2.9 build 1553 to their popular media streaming boxes. As a “notable new feature”, is the capability to click on the ad banner (a better notable feature would be to get rid of it completely in my opinion) and several improvements to support the upcoming content partners. USB channel is also improved with a better MKV support.

One big drawback of the new update is a new issue related to playing the PlayOn channel, causing significant audio sync issues. It seems though that both PlayOn and Roku are aware of it and are working to solve it.

The new update will be deployed over the following several days, however if you just can’t wait, you can trigger the update manually via  Settings->Player info->Check for update on your Roku Streaming Player.

Roku is the most complete media streamer box when it comes to online streaming support being able to stream over 100 different online clients including Amazon Video on Demand, Netflix and Hulu Plus. Check out our Roku full review here.

CyanogenMod 7.0 RC 4 Release Candidate for Nook Color available

The Nook Color CyanogenMod development progressed faster than many thought possible bringing Android Gingerbread 2.3, Flash, Video hardware acceleration and more to Nook Color and contributing to its sales success (more than 3 million units sold by some reports making it the second best sold tablet behind just Apple’s iPad). Today marks an important achievement with the release of the Release Cadidate version RC 4 for Nook Color (code name Encore), a release that brings CyanogenMod 7.0 firmware even closer to a stable version.
To download yours, go to CyanogenMod website and enjoy it! The filename is update-cm-7.0.0-RC4-encore-signed.zip.

Update: I just installed the update on my Nook Color straight over one of the nightly builds (without clearing any cache) and it works really well, including YouTube with absolutely no stuttering. We have a winner!

Google adds + 1 user recommendation button to their search results

You are now familiar with the Facebook “Like” button present on various sites (including this one). It is a simple way to recommend a certain article to your friends. Well, Google wants in as well and just introduced their own version of “Like” button but with a different name for obvious reasons. Called +1 (plus one)  the new button will pop up soon in Google SERPs (Search Result Pages) and beside giving Google a good feedback about an article usefulness allowing them to improve their search results, it will also give potential visitors a quality idea for various websites prior visiting.

The is obvious the potential for gaming the system by hiring farmers of workers offshore hired to +1 articles from your website and it will be interesting to know how Google plan to alleviate potential cheaters.
The new +1 system is not yet completely deployed and will start like usual with Google.com and English. If you want to join the experiment, navigate here and enjoy. You’ll need a Google Account for this, of course. More important, don’t forget to give a +1 to our website as well, if you like our content ;).

via Google Blog

Check after the break for a video clip demo-ing the new Google plus one feature. Read More…

Boxee announces May firmware update for Boxee Box

In a recent blog post, Boxee announced their upcoming Boxee Box May firmware update and also their intention to make a new firmware release every 3 months. This is a smart move that will continuously add features / bug fixes to the popular media streamer box and keep the customers happy. There are few companies committed to continuously improve a product once released (and this takes me back to my previous experience for a $2000 LG connected TV which was supposed to be updated with new Yahoo TV Widgets and didn’t even get a single one beside what was provided from the factory).
The new Boxee Box May update il also add a number of bug features including a much better browser together with favorites and history (something that a lot of users cried for), better video playback including Read More…

XBOX 360 System Update Preview Program is live

Folks, if you want to register for the Microsoft XBOX 360 System Update Preview Program, the website is live, kicking and accepting registrations right now. If among the few lucky chosen, you get to enjoy testing new stuff from Microsoft including an “updated XBOX 360 disc format”. What you’ll find on it, remains to be seen, but whatever it is, it is slated for the XBOX 360 spring update for 2011. Your testing efforts won’t remain unrewarded with a free Halo: Reach game for you to keep.

Note: You’ll have to be a US resident to qualify and you’ll need an XBOX Live account as well (Gold membership will score you more kudos). To sign up, you’ll also need your console serial number and ID so no, you won’t be able to sign right now, from work unless you registered your console already with Microsoft. You’ll also need to agree with their NDA…Space is limited, as usual!

The sign of things to come – Netflix bandwith management for limited traffic accounts

While capped data plans are just starting to appear in US on a large scale (see AT&T data capping plans starting May 2), our neighbors had the “pleasure” of low internet traffic limits for a much longer time. Now, with the recent availability of Netflix streaming service in Canada, you can imagine users can run very fast over their allocated limit while streaming movies at the highest quality. To help with this issue, Netflix added a management console destined to let users choose their streaming quality (and data usage) (see the photo).

The current choices are Good quality capped at 0.3GB traffic per hour with 625kbps for video and 64kbps for audio, Better quality capped at 0.7 GB per hour with 1300kbps for video and 192kbps for audio and Best quality at around 1GB per hour with 4800kbps for 1080p video and 384kbps for audio (includes DD 5.1 surround sound). Whether the video quality at the lower rates is good enough for the average users or will start a general outcry is something that we’ll have to wait and see, but expect this feature currently not available here in US to come and haunt us sooner that you might expect. General data capping across all US Internet providers is something that all of us that cut the cable cord and rely exclusively on web content and services like Hulu Plus and Netflix for entertainment are terrified of.

via Netflix Blog

Amazon Cloud Drive is live – music locker for the crowd

If you cannot keep up with the many devices used to access your music collection and you have storage issues, Amazon has now an answer for you with their freshly launched digital music locker service. Built around the philosophy store once play anywhere the new service promises instant access to your uploaded music everywhere you have internet access and on a large variety of platforms including all the smartphones on the market, and basically every computer with a capable browser installed.

The new service is called Amazon Cloud Drive, supports both AAC or MP3 file formats (Amazon won’t limit the bit rate either) which you’ll be able to access anytime you want, without access limits. There is a free option for 5GB storage and paid plans anywhere between a reasonable 20GB to a hefty 1TB which really should take care about your ENTIRE collection. The paid plans cost $20 for 20GB scaling linearly to $1000 for 1,000GB. All these yearly. I do wonder though, Did Amazon heard anything by now about the economy of scale? At $20 / year I might consider paying it for a plan, but at $1000 / year I would probably go for a different storage method, maybe even some semi-dedicated host.

Access to all these music files can be performed through either Amazon’s Cloud Player for Web or through Cloud Player for Android Read More…

Netflix Canada scores Paramount Premium Pay TV Window Deal

According with the latest Netflix Press Release, the largest streaming company in the world got some more love in Canada, thanks to a multi-year agreement with Paramount. The newly signed deal brings hundreds of new movies to the package available to the Canadian subscribers, including the exclusive subscription television rights to all first-run films. The first movie to arrive for instant watching is Iron Man 2 (already available on March 25th) and other additional 350 movies in the following months.
Among the most worth mentioning we can find “The Last Airbender”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Titanic”, “Defiance” “Zoolander”, “Wayne’s World”, etc.
This is the first time Netflix which had a historically worse selection of content in Canada provides important movies not yet available in US. It is now our turn to look at our neighbors and hope the same content to be available here as well. Ironic, isn’t it?

A step closer to the universal tablet – RIM PlayBook to support Android apps

In a very smart move that will allow the upcoming PlayBook tablet to launch with the maximum number of applications possible, RIM will make available additional “app players”, one to ensure run-time compatibility with BlackBerry Java apps (over 25,000 available), the other one compatible with Android 2.3 applications (over 200,000 apps available).

In addition with the two above mentioned players, PlayBook will also support its native SDK supporting C/C++ development for the Blackberry Tablet OS together with HTML5, Flash and AIR support.

Beside the optional run-time modules, PlayBook will have gaming support as well, in the shape of Ideaworks Labs Airplay SDK and Unity Technologies game distribution service.

BlackBerry PlayBook is RIM upcoming tablet build around a 1GHz dual-core processor, 7” 1024×600 WSVGA capacitive LCD, dual cameras capable of recording full 1080p footage (better than iPad 2) and around 10mm thin (8.8mm for iPad 2). It will launch in US in April for prices between $499 for the 16GB WiFi version t0 $699 for the 64GB version.

Check after the break for the full Press Release

Read More…

Nook Color official April update to bring Flash, App Store and built-in E-Mail

If you take a look onto HSN website, you might see under Nook Color description a certain Coming Soon “Sneak Peek” Updates listing the cool new features Nook Color will get in April. Among them, NOOK Store (to include Angry Birds, Lonely Planet Phrasebook and Drawing Pad), Adobe Flash (and Android 2.2 Froyo in the process) and also a built in E-Mail client. While users of rooted Nook Color units enjoyed these goodies for a while, we are certainly happy that  B&N doesn’t see their Nook Color as a simple eReader anymore and they are ready to take some risks for some potential greater benefits.

The HSN info is the first official sign of the incoming update and, interestingly enough they describe Nook Color as a tablet, not as a eReader (NOOK Color™ 7″ Reader’s Wi-Fi Tablet with Apps). This is very significant and might mark a shift in B&N marketing.

Update: The Sneak Peak is also confirmed on B&N forums by one of their admins.

HSN will have their official  Sneak Peak announcement sometime Saturday at 12AM Eastern.

Update: You can see the HSN presentation video clip after the break. Read More…