Category ArchiveOnline Video
Get it on sale: Roku 2 XS
While supplies last, Roku is selling their flagship at a $20 discount including free shipping. This brings the price down to the same level as the Roku 2 XD.
The Roku 2 XS includes over 600 entertainment channels, one-stop search, analog and digital video outputs, built-in wireless (b/g/n), 1080p Full HD video support, motion control, Ethernet port, and USB port.
Even if you have a TV or Blu-ray Disc player with internet streaming, the Roku is a welcome addition just for its ease of use.
Online Video Steven Kippel on 17 Dec 2012
Sony launches UltraViolet gift store
The process has three simple steps:
- Find a movie – Chose from new releases or library titles by searching genres, or with the “gift-finder” software, which will filter titles down to specific criteria such as release date, genre and box-office performance.
- Virtually Wrap & Send – Chose decorative wrapping paper, ribbons and bows and provide a personalized message
- Unwrap & Watch – The recipient unwraps the gift, complete with tear off animation and audio, and the movie is now included in their UltraViolet lock box
The movie selection is exclusively from Sony Pictures, so you’ll see titles like The Amazing Spider-Man, 21 Jump Street, Men In Black 3, Sparkle, Total Recall, Lawrence of Arabia, Drive, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Hook, Adaptation, A River Runs Through It and The Fifth Element. The “gift finder” function is useful in narrowing down the choices in a fun and unique way.
Pricing is pretty standard for purchasing a movie. Although some might prefer buying a physical version which comes with the digital version in stead of just buying the digital version.
Kaleidescape launches download store
Kaleidescape has launched the beta version of their online retail store for owners of a Kaleidescape System. Backed by a multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, the store is providing bit-for-bit downloads of DVD and Blu-ray Disc content directly to the Kaleidescape server.
How the process was described to me by a Kaleidescape representative is that Kaleidescape buys physical copies of the movies for each download and stores them in their own warehouse. This way the copyright license is intact without having to create a new digital version with its own license structure and licensing rights to be negotiated, and the studio gets their “disc” sale. This is also beneficial to the end user who doesn’t have to store the physical discs at home, and the download comes complete with the special features every DVD or BD comes with as well – unlike other digital versions. Obviously this is a hokey legal work around, so hopefully these high-quality, feature-full downloads will be available without the disc ownership issue in the future.
Because the data is bit-for-bit identical to the physical disc, the video resolution is not compromised, and the audio remains high-definition surround sound. Additionally, titles with UltraViolet digital copies provide additional digital access from tablets, smartphones, and computers.
To make things explicit: This is not a streaming service, but a complete digital download. The files are stored on the local hard drive, and played from the local server to the local player. Once the video is downloaded to the local Kaleidescape System, the full HD video will play immediately with no buffer.
The Kaleidescape System features a proprietary RAID hard drive array which prevents data loss, but if there is a catastrophe and the server data is lost, the downloaded titles may be downloaded from Kaleidescape again for no cost. Any titles loaded into the system at home would have to be loaded again from the physical disc.
The store will allow the end user to purchase individual titles, or they can select a complete collection to purchase. The store is smart enough to know what movies you already own so you won’t purchase multiple copies. For example: you can purchase a collection called “Academy Award Nominees — Best Picture” to purchase and download the entire listed collection, but if you already own the Lord of the Rings collection, those titles won’t be purchased.
One interesting collection is the Leonard Maltin Recommends collection, an exclusive to Kaleidescape partnership of movies selected by famed film critic Leonard Maltin.
One feature that isn’t active yet but I’m told will be is the ability to upgrade a DVD copy to a Blu-ray Disc copy. I’m not sure how this would work, and I won’t make any assumptions. The new high-def copy would replace the standard def version, but I’m not sure if the standard def version is completely wiped out or made available through the menu still. Some DVDs have different special features, so some collectors may want to have both. UPDATE: Kaleidescape claims DVDs can be upgraded to Blu-ray Disc for $8 each, to include all bonus features of the BD. This is only available to titles with UltraViolet HD rights.
The Kaleidescape System is expensive, but it’s also the best and only solution of its kind. If you have a few bucks and are serious about movies, find out where your local dealer is and ask for an in-home demonstration.
Online Video Steven Kippel on 05 Dec 2012
Netflix earns exclusive Disney deal
Disney’s holdings include Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Marvel and LucasArts. This treasure trove of content is any distributor’s dream. Specific titles will still be subject to licensure, and none have been named in this deal yet, but nonexclusive titles will begin to be streamed immediately. These tiles include Dumbo, Pocahontas and Alice in Wonderland.
What are some Disney titles you’re excited to see?
Boxee TV, the DVR for cable cutters
Boxee has announced a new box that’s not like a box at all, but more like a conventional media component, called the Boxee TV. This new box begins a complete overhaul of the Boxee operating system, most notably removing the web browser and many apps. Boxee believes the new GUI look is more modern and less cluttered than before. Also out is the keyboard on the remote.
The big news with Boxee TV is the built-in over-the-air tuner to watch and record live TV with high-definition resolution. Boxee provides a digital TV antenna for good measure. There is also a cable tuner to provide DVR service to basic cable subscribers.
This isn’t just a DVR, this is No Limits DVR. The content is recorded in the cloud with unlimited storage capability, and is viewable not just on the TV but on computers and mobile devices as well. It brings a whole new meaning to “time shifting.”
The Boxee TV is $99, and the No Limits DVR is $14.99 per month. No Limits DVR isn’t available in all areas.
There isn’t any information on if a No Limits DVR subscription is necessary to record live TV, nor how much storage there is without it.
This is a very compelling price point and feature set for the growing number of cable cutters. My only concern is Hulu Plus isn’t available on the Boxee TV, so this may not be your only streaming device if that’s important.
Online Video Steven Kippel on 07 Aug 2012
Hulu Plus is now available on Apple TV
Apple has added Hulu Plus to the Apple TV, now providing another online streaming source to the popular streaming box. A Hulu Plus subscription is $7.99 per month.
The Apple TV streaming media box now supports three content sources: Apple’s own iTunes, Netflix and now Hulu Plus. This provides plenty of choices for the owner of an Apple TV, though maybe not enough choices to entice future shoppers to choose the Apple TV over the Roku, Boxee or similar streaming box.
Hulu Plus and Netflix are somewhat competitive with one another. Their subscriptions are about the same price per month, and both offer or compete for the same content. Hulu Plus’s main advantage is current-run TV programs. Of course plenty of current run shows, which are available on Hulu, like the current season of Project Runway, are unavailable to stream to a TV or mobile device. This makes their subscription service seem like a waste of money, especially considering the shows are still ad supported, including the past season catalogs. Netflix provides past season shows without ads.
Similarly, iTunes also competes with Hulu Plus, though on a per-program basis. Where Hulu Plus is a fixed-price monthly subscription, iTunes sells the shows on a per episode or season basis. For example, the current season of Project Runway is available on iTunes for $2.99 per episode.
This seems like a positive step forward for Apple. The rumor is Amazon Video on Demand will also be coming to Apple TV, which is a direct competitor with iTunes. Of course they’re saying you won’t be able to make purchases from Amazon directly from the Apple TV, so Apple would still hold an edge.
WatchESPN app overview
I’m not a big sports fanatic, unlike most guys I know. But ever since Landon Donovan scored the game-winning goal against Algeria in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, I felt like maybe I should. And then as I watched the Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup finals, I made at least one small commitment: I had become a supporter of the LA Galaxy.
Unfortunately, I’m located just outside the Los Angeles media market, and if you’ve been reading WesleyTech for the past couple years you would know that I don’t subscribe to cable or satellite television. Yes, there are ways to watch live sporting events online, but they’re usually on sketchy websites. My wife has also been taking college courses online, tying up the only computer we have at home, so I was stuck with my Android smartphone as my only alternative to the sports bar, and these sketchy websites don’t tend to work on mobile browsers.
There are a few options available for the mobile phone, and some mobile phone operators offer unique options themselves. But in this case, I tried out the WatchESPN app downloaded from the Google Play store. It is also available for iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad), and though web browsers.
The app is stable, and laid out plainly. Initially you’re asked to enter your login information for your cable subscription, but they do offer a four-hour trial period, which is how I watched my first Galaxy match (the exciting shootout with the San Jose Earthquakes). I’m sure this subscription confirmation is a compromise with cable and satellite operators which carry ESPN channels in their basic packages. I’m sure Comcast and Time Warner Cable don’t watch to compete directly with ESPN, especially as sports is one of the biggest draws to live television.
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