Well, what do you know? After many months of waiting and delays, Samsung Blu-ray players – 2010 models (and that also means non 3D ones) got a new firmware update – I downloaded it immediately on my BD-C7500 player and after installing it I surfed to the Samsung App store – much to my surprise, I saw a brand new Hulu Plus Application, available until now only on Samsung’s flagship 2010 models with 3D capabilities. After I played with it for a while, I have to report it features the same interface as any other Hulu Plus compatible device, it runs quite nice and it is much more responsive than its Roku equivalent. In terms of streaming performance, I prefer more my Samsung connected Blu-ray player than my Roku box which is just too slow. Of course, Roku 2 boxes are around the corned, scheduled to release very soon and they might come with a faster processor, but until then, my Netflix / Hulu Plus enabled Samsung BD-C7500 rocks. Read More…
If you already looked into our in-depth Google TV review, you probably realized it is a quite capable box, but in dire need of applications to show its potential. One of these applications is coming from AfterCAD via their GameString Adrenalin service and allows you to stream your PC games directly on your big TV. Adrenalin actually streams the PC output to a browser, so presumably you can see it everywhere there is a full browser involved, but it happens that Chrome on Google TV is a very capable browser so the Adrenalin – Android (Google TV) combination is quite a happy marriage.
The service is currently in beta and you can sign for free right from your Google TV Chrome browser at adrenalin.gamestring.com. The launch is scheduled 76 days from today.
Check after the break for the full press release and a video demo-ing World of Warcraft on your TV via Google TV. Read More…
The latest entrance in the media streamers crowd comes from Western Digital who, while a storage company, found a good way to charge a premium for their storage devices by building some media streaming functionality around them.
The WD TV Live Hub is based in part on their very successful WD TV Live Plus line (review here) and packs a 1TB hard-drive inside as well. The box scores additionally 1080p video playback, an HDMI 1.4 and Gigabit Ethernet connectors, a fairly good web client support with Netflix (including movie categories browsing), Blockbuster, Pandora, YouTube, Flickr, AccuWeather, MediaFly and even Facebook.
The video codec support was historically one of the strong points for the entire WD TV Live line and the WD TV Live Hub doesn’t disappoint either, playing pretty much every video format under the sun like Divx, XVid, MKV, h.264. MOV, MPEG 4, etc. The box includes a solid UPNP / DLNA support as well and it plays well with DLNA servers as PlayON or PS3 Media Server.
The Western Digital WD TV Live Hub media streamer is available for $199 at BestBuy or WD’s online store.
Check WD’s full Presss Release, photo gallery and full codec support after the break. Read More…
Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO just declared in the latest Q3 2010 Financial Results report that Netflix “is now by any measure primarily a streaming company that also offers DVD-by-mail”. This comment follows the Canadian launch of a Netflix streaming only plan and might signal a similar offer to come in United States and maybe international markets as well. It wouldn’t be a big surprise considering how many media streaming boxes and Blu-ray players supporting Netflix are currently available, including Apple TV and Google TV, and that all three gaming consoles support Netflix streaming as well. If the trend continues, it will be hard to buy anything electronic in 2011 that doesn’t support Netflix streaming, similar with mp3 support a number of years ago.
Other data provided by the above mentioned financial report discloses that Netflix had almost 17 millions subscribers by the end of the 3rd quarter of 2010 with a plan for 19 to 19.7 millions subscribers by the end of the year and a healthy financial state all around.
If you are like me and pre-ordered the funny shaped Boxee Box, I have some good news for you. There is a official shipping day from D-Link now and it is November 10th for the lucky ones that pre-ordered through Amazon / Best Buy and one week later, on Nov 17th will be available for everybody else.
Boxee Box is based on the popular Boxee software (a branch of the famous XBMC), an open platform that will support more than 400 applications and web clients at start including Last.FM, Pandora, Twitter, etc. The box also supports a web browser, includes a QWERTY remote control and Adobe Flash 10.1.
Beside the support for basically every popular web service under the sun and unlike Apple TV or Google TV, Boxee Box comes prepared to play every media format you might have available on your home server / USB drives including FLV/On2 VP6 (FLV/FV4/M4V), H.264 AVC (TS/AVI/MKV/MOV/M2TS/MP4) , MPEG-1 (DAT/MPG/MPEG), MPEG-2 (MPG/MPEG/VOB/TS/TP/ISO/IFO), VC-1 (TS/AVI/MKV/WMV), MPEG-4 (MP4/AVI/MOV), Xvid (AVI/MKV), WMV9 (WMV/ASF/DVR-MS), DivX 3/4/5/6 (AVI/MKV) at resolutions up to 1080p from a DLNA server or Windows shares.
Check the full press release after the break. Read More…
A very big price drop for one of the best media streamers on the market, Brite-View BV-5005HD is the same unit as the re-badged Zinwell ZIN-5005HD that we recently reviewed and it is available now at Amazon for $66 with free shipping and no taxes.
…And now we have a “Live” pair. With their latest product announcement, Western Digital My Book Live, Western Digital establishes their position in the market as a manufacturer of cheap network drives. The new member lets you access your data on the network at 100Mbs (yes, it is 1080p Blu-ray ISO streaming capable, but only one client at the time). WD My Book Live is also compatible with Apple Time Machine, but probably one of the greatest features is the inclusion of a DLNA server. No transcoding but every DLNA friendly devices around your house will be able to access photos, videos and music from it, and that include XBOX 360, Sony PS3, LG connected TVs, popular media streaming boxes like WD TV Live Plus or Viewsonic VMP75.
WD My Book Live can also work as an iTunes server working with both MAC and PC and can stream photos via WD Photos, a free iOS app.
The prices? 1TB (WDBACG0010HCH) will cost you $169, the 2TB one (WDBACG0020HCH) is $229. As for us, we’ll always go for the big one ;). The 1TB version is available at Amazon with a funny warning: “CHOKING HAZARD — Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs”.
Read more at WD’s website.
Today is a very important day that might define the future of television. We already announced the new Google TV Website but today we get to see the first devices supporting Google TV a standalone box called Logitech Revue that will connect between your existing set top box and your TV and display its data as an overlay over the existing TV image enabling real time searches while you watch a TV Show. The Logitech Revue boxes will run a new Android OS optimized for large screens and, more important, starting early next year it will also support applications from Android Marketplace. The initial price will be considerably higher than Apple TV ($300 vs $100) it will offer more content and also Adobe Flash 10.1. This way we can expect a lot more applications (and games) in the following months and put the final nail in the Yahoo! TV Widgets coffin which never took off (We had foreseen that 😉 )
Google TV will come pre-loaded with apps like Netflix, Twitter, CNBC, Pandora, Napster, NBA Game Time, Amazon Video On Demand and many other so in terms of pure content it beats most media streamers boxes available on the market. Apps to remote-control the box will be available on iOS and Android OS devices. Most important for some, it includes a DLNA client and attached hard drives (and it can search there as well) and supports MKV files. No HULU yet (they are blocking the box) but Google and HULU are in discussion, so we might see some agreements soon.
Google TV Logitech Revue Highlights:
- Dish Network’s subscribers will get a much better price at $179 which is well worth it since the box will have deep integration with Dish Network Guide and DVR boxes – can search the recordings from your DVR for example
- Logitech Revue also uses Logitech’s universal remote control technology to manage various components in your entertainment system send IR signals
- really neat RF Keyboard
- HD camera for video conference (Die overpriced Cisco umi, die!) capable of 720p. You will need to buy a separate camera as it won’t come in the box and it uses Logitech’s Vid HD Service. Skype (and others0 computability can presumably come via 3rd party apps later through the Android marketplace. Neat!!! The camera has autofocus Carl Zeiss lens and microphones adapted to be used in the living room
- You can use existing Harmony remotes for the box as well (that goes without saying)
- a new Logitech Mini Controller, (customized from a DiNovo Mini). I wonder if I can use mine as my Dinovo Mini or we need to buy a new one…
- Voice search via your smart phone
- launch day apps include CNBC, Photo Gallery, Chrome, HD camera, Napster, NBA Game Time, Netflix, Pandora, Podcast
- Netflix interface is rather old, it just displays the queue, no categories. Uhhhhh 🙁
- Logitech Media Player – DLNA client – and indexes DLNA feeds and locally connected drives, and it also supports MKV files!!!
- The Revue box costs $299 ($179 via Dish Network) including keyboard
- Keyboard by itself costs $99
- DiNovo style mini keyboard costs $129
- HD TV camera costs $149 (everything pretty steep but that’s Logitech prices for you). All in all, cheaper than Cisco’s solution and no monthly fee.
- Available for pre-order at Amazon sometime today, will ship by end of October
Logitech Revue supported media formats and audio/video codecs:
- Music: AAC (.aac), FLAC (.flac), MP3 (.mp3), OGG (.ogg),WMA (.wma)
- Photos: JPEG (.jpg, .jpeg), BMP (.bmp) PNG (.png), TIFF (.tiff)
- Videos: WMV (VC-1) (.asf .wma .wmv), WMV (VC-1) + WMA (.asf .wma .wmv), WMV + WMA (.avi), Xvid (H-264) + AAC (.avi),
Xvid (H-264) + AAC (.mp4), Xvid (H-264) + AAC (.mt2s .mt2), Xvid (MPEG4part2) + AAC (.avi), Xvid (MPEG4part2) + MP3 (.avi)
Check photo gallery after the break.
Joining the already large crowd we have a new media streamer box from QNAP. Known more for its storage solutions, QNAP forays into the streaming market with their newest product NMP-1000P. At its heart there is a Sigma Designs SMP8643 SoC CPU, at 667MHz paired with a igh performance Wolfson WM8524 stereo digital to analog converter for high sound quality. Among the video formats supported are AVI, MPEG/MPG, VCD (ISO, MPG, NRG), DVD (VOB, IFO, ISO, NRG), WMV, ASF, TP, TS, TRP, M1V, M2V, M4V, M2P, M2T, M2TS, BDMV/ BD ISO, MTS, MOV, MP4, RMP4, MKV, MOD, 3GP (so pretty much everything under the sun)
The NMP-1000P is capable of full HD 1920 x 1080p (including 23.976p and 24p frame rates), can access your network shares, has a wired Ethernet connection (and an optional wireless one), supports FTP and Bit-torrent and can also work as NAS with a maximum of 16 concurrent connections. A fairly capable box we would say, which can also display movie covers and metadata.
NMP-1000P also supports several web clients like Flickr and Picasa photos, Apple movie trailers, Internet radio, Mediafly™, weather forecast. Unfortunately there is nothing mentioned about Netflix which is a pity.
Check after the break for photo gallery and additional specifications. Read More…
Following the current trend of packing your DVR / media streamer boxes with as many WEB clients as possible (and we love it), Pandora radio finds its way to yet another box and this time is the TIVO Premiere DVR. On TIVO, you will find Pandora’s standard set of features including the capability to create a new account right from the TIVO box or sign in with your existing account and accessing your favorite Pandora stations regardless of where you created them, whether it was on your smartphone, PC or any other of the myriad of media streaming boxes available around (some of which we also reviewed – see Western Digital’s WD TV Live Plus). Pandora client joins TIVO Premiere DVR other clients as Rhapsody, Live365 and Music Choice. Other streaming clients available on TIVO Premiere include Netflix, BlockBuster, and YouTube.
Tivo is recently showing a trend of loosing customers, to the number of 125,000 in the three months period ending July 31, customers that are opting instead for dumber but often free DVR boxes provided by their cable or satellite provider and the company is trying to make their boxes more appealing by integrating additional services. But with the increased availability of dedicated media streaming boxes available for a one time fee (usually around $100) and often including more services than TIVO’s own devices, it might be a lost battle already.