Category ArchiveVideo Rental

Entertainment &Online Video &Video Rental Steven Kippel on 23 Apr 2014

Amazon Prime lands HBO

Amazon Prime lands HBO LogoIf we haven’t told you how great Amazon Prime is yet, let’s add HBO shows to the mix. You do know HBO has some of the best shows ever produced right? The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood, Band of Brothers, Generation Kill, The Newsroom et al. (I haven’t forgot about Game of Thrones.)

That’s right! Amazon Prime has added most HBO programming free to Amazon Prime subscribers. All of those series listed above: included. Starting May 21, stream to your heart’s content. (Whatever kept you from watching The Wire isn’t an excuse anymore.)

So… What’s the catch? Game of Thrones is not included in this, and recent programs (Girls, The Newsroom, Veep, et al) will only begin streaming three years after the first broadcast.

Also announced is the Amazon Fire TV will be receiving the HBO Go app, targeting a launch by year-end, so those who do have an HBO account (or borrowing one) and a Fire TV will have access to all HBO content.

When you throw in discounts and free two-day shipping, how can you afford to not have Amazon Prime?

Update: Corrected HBO Go availability on Fire TV from May 21 to year end.

Entertainment &Online Video &Video Rental Steven Kippel on 21 Apr 2014

Netflix raising prices

Netflix raising prices

In a letter to shareholders, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced a price increase for new users to Netflix.

In the U.S. we have greatly improved our content selection since we introduced our streaming plan in 2010 at $7.99 per month. Our current view is to do a one or two dollar increase, depending on the country, later this quarter for new members only. Existing members would stay at current pricing (e.g. $7.99 in the U.S.) for a generous time period. These changes will enable us to acquire more content and deliver an even better streaming experience.

Rates for existing subscribers would remain unchanged for “a generous time period.”

This is nothing new, nor unexpected. Netflix had previously raised prices by decoupling streaming from DVD-by-mail, and to Blu-ray Disc subscribers. With the amount of content Netflix has been buying, including original content, it was all but inevitable costs would go up. And that’s not including the costs Netflix have paid to Comcast to keep their streaming bandwidth high.

Entertainment &Hardware &Online Video &Video Rental Steven Kippel on 06 Mar 2014

Roku Streaming Stick impresses

Roku Streaming Stick impresses

Roku_logo_white_on_purpleWhat was I thinking when I ordered you to buy a Chromecast? It was cheap, and it had loads of potential. Since then, Chromecast has been shut down by some sites, and not many have signed up to be on Google’s streaming stick. Which means Roku had a great opportunity to revamp their own Streaming Stick, adding some of the Chromecast features.

So what’s new? The old Roku Streaming Stick was powered with Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL), something not every TV had, and something older TVs never had; the new stick is powered with USB, just like the Chromecast. This means the new stick can be powered from a wall socket, or from the USB port on your receiver, TV, Playstation, Xbox, etc. (Discerning consumers may get USB charging stations for their AV system to keep USB products powered, and to keep game controllers charged. Smart chargers can be programmed to stop charging after a set amount of time to not over-charge nor waste power.)

RokuSSThe new Roku Streaming Stick is dual-band wireless-N capable, providing high speed wireless connectivity. It also features 720p and 1080p video, as well as 5.1 and 7.1 audio (HDMI only).
And how about that killer app? A remote control. Maybe not for everyone, but for those with kids or guests, the remote will free up your phone or tablet for your personal use while they watch whatever they want. Speaking of your mobile device: Roku has a free iOS and Android app that allows you to chose what you want to watch without navigating the on screen menu.

But what about the Chromecast? The new Roku Streaming Stick allows YouTube and Netflix content to be “cast” straight to the TV the same way the Chromecast works. With how many partners Roku has, this may also expand the way Google is doing.

So does the Roku Streaming Stick kill the Chromecast? Maybe. The Chromecast is only $35, but the Roku Streaming Stick is a bargain at $49.

Entertainment &Online Video &Video Rental Steven Kippel on 17 Dec 2013

Amazon to shoot all series in 4K

Amazon to shoot all series in 4K

Amazon Studios will shoot all of its original content for 2014 in 4K resolution. This move is intended to attract more attention to the new Ultra HD televisions now on the market, which Amazon is highlighting on their website.

Director of Amazon Studios Roy Price said, “All of the pilots and series we produce next year will be shot in 4K. That includes our first ever drama series that we will greenlight next year — we think customers are going to love watching these series in the highest resolution ever available to consumers and we can’t wait to deliver it.”

Some of these original series coming next year will include The After, from Chris Carter (The X-Files); Bosch, based on the Michael Connelly series; Mozart in the Jungle, from Roman Coppola (The Darjeeling Limited); The Rebels from Michael Strahan; and Transparent, from Jill Soloway (Six Feet Under), along with what is presumed to be the second season of Amazon Prime hit Alpha House.

Entertainment &Online Video &Video Rental Steven Kippel on 13 Sep 2013

Netflix secures streaming rights for The Weinstein Company

Netflix secures streaming rights for The Weinstein Company

Beginning in 2016, Netflix will have exclusive streaming rights in the pay-TV window for all theatrical releases by The Weinstein Company. Currently Netflix only has rights to documentaries and foreign films produced by TWC.

This is a big move by Netflix. The pay-TV window is currently dominated by traditional pay-per-view services through cable and satellite operators. Lately, Amazon and iTunes have also been edging into this window, along with Netflix, but this has been for select films only. Opening all releases to this window on a subscriber-basis is a big shift for Hollywood.

The Weinstein Company is one of the largest players in Hollywood even if they’re not a household name. Some notable releases include Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The King’s Speech, Inglourious Basterds, The Artist, Silver Linings Playbook, and Django Unchained.

Notable upcoming TWC films due approximately when this window officially opens include Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny, The Seven Samurai (remake), Bad Santa 2, Short Circuit (remake) and many more.

Entertainment &Online Video &Video Rental Steven Kippel on 16 Aug 2013

Netflix adds Scholastic Media content

Netflix adds Scholastic Media content

Parents tired of their children watching the same shows over and over again, rejoice! Scholastic Media has added lots of new programs to the Netflix library. Who am I kidding? Your kids are going to watch the same shows over and over again.

Starting today, all episodes of The Magic School Bus and R.L Stine’s Goosebumps, Harry the Dirty Dog, Danny and the Dinosaur, Chrysanthemum, The Snowy Day and The Mouse and The Motorcycle, I SPY, The Baby-Sitter’s Club, Dear America, Horrible Histories, Dragon, Turbo Dogs and Sammy’s Story Shop are available to stream.

In addition to the TV programs, Scholastic movies such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar are also available.

School Bus and Goosebumps were tested on Netflix over the summer and demand for the shows pushed Scholastic to expand their options. Some of these programs have never been available online or even on TV before.

Entertainment &Online Video &Video Rental Steven Kippel on 02 Aug 2013

Netflix launches Profiles

Netflix launches Profiles

Netflix is known for having one of the best recommendation algorithms in the world, but there was a fault. While Netflix would offer you great choices if you used the account alone, when you share the account with your children, spouse or roommate the algorithms go out the door. What you’re left with is an approximation of what the entire household might like.

But no more!

Netflix has launched Profiles, allowing each account to have up to five unique users with their own queues and recommendations. Now you can see what you have watched recently without also seeing what your kids watched recently (Kick Buttowski again?).

In addition, each user has the ability to link their Netflix Profile to their Facebook account to provide more data to Netflix’s algorithm, as well as provide other social features such as sharing recommendations with friends.

Profiles is being rolled out right now to the browser, iPad, iPhone, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Apple TV, Smart TVs and Blu-ray Disc players. Nintendo Wii and Android devices will be coming shortly.

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