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February 2, 2011

Roku now supports USB plug and play

roku-xds.jpgRoku has released official support for USB-stored media playback on its XD|S model and its discontinued HD - XR model. This means that you'll now be able to plug in a USB drive directly into your Roku player and play back a variety of file formats including MKV, MP4, MOV, WMV/ASF, MP3, AAC, JPG and PNG files.

There aren't official release notes available right now but it is known that the USB media player support will require firmware version 2.9, build 1529 to work correctly.

Via Zatz Not Funny!

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September 20, 2010

Netflix to hit Canada on September 22

netflixcanada.jpgNetflix CEO Reed Hastings will be in Toronto, Canada this Wednesday to unveil its Canadian offering. The company will only offering streaming video rentals in Canada and, as of now, has no plans to sell hard copy DVDs. This is the first foreign expansion outside fo the United States for Netflix and will probably not be the last. Both Apple TV and the Boxee box are also planned for Canadian release in the future as well.

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September 7, 2010

Amino Freedom enters the crowded set-top box market

amino-freedom.jpgThere is an endless supply of set-top boxes capable of all kinds of amazing things on the market or coming to market currently. Add Amino's Freedom box to the mix. Capable of 1080p playback, DVR recording and VOD streaming, and augmented by an Intel CE4100m processor, 1 GB of RAM, 500 GB of internal storage, 802.11n Wi-Fi, SD card support, Bluetooth and Nokia's MeeGo operating system, the Amino Freedom box now also runs apps and games.

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August 12, 2010

Apple TV, AKA iTV, rumored $99, only 720p

Rumors of a new $99 Apple TV continue to fly as Techcrunch, citing a report by Engadget, says the network box is just around the corner. Not only is it supposed to carry the very mainstream $99 price tag, it's functionality is rumored to be pretty mainstream as well. This won't be the hackable original Apple TV, but a locked down (meaning you'll have to buy your content off of iTunes) device that will only do what Apple wants it to do. Rumors state that the so-called iTV will only support 720p, the max for iTunes content, have a variation of the iOS system that runs on the iPhone/iPad but supports HD content, and be completely missing the ability to stream local or network content. Sounds pretty boring, but a mainstream Apple TV will do something good - open up the market for other, competing network media streamers that have way better features!

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July 20, 2010

Redbox going online to take on Netflix, others

redbox.jpgRedbox, the company that places DVD rental kiosks in dark corners of grocery stores and other such places, is reportedly working on the development of a web strategy to take on the likes of Netflix. Now's probably a good time. Redbox may have upwards of 24, 000 kiosks out there, but the company only offers around 200 titles. Compare that with the 100, 000 mail order titles and 20, 000 online titles that Netflix offers.

Likely Redbox will tie up with a technology provider like Sonic Solutions to make it to market faster. But is it already too late. With competition from Netflix, Apple, Best Buy, Walmart's Vudu and even to some extent, Blockbuster, is Redbox coming to the game too late? It remains to be seen.

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July 19, 2010

Netflix coming to Canada this fall!!!

netflixcanada.jpgI've been waiting a long time for this. According to a tweet from the Netflix Twitter account, the video rental/streaming service is launching in Canada this fall. The company has launched Netflix.ca, a Canadian website version, where you can sign up to be notified when the service launches. Details are minimal at the moment, but since the word comes from Netflix itself, I think we can call it official.

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April 26, 2010

Fujifilm HDP-L1--A 3D memory card

hdp-l1.jpgBack in 2008, Japan's Fujifilm announced the FinePix REAL 3D W1, dubbed the "world's first" digital camera that let users shoot both pictures and movies in 3D. Released last year, the Real 3D W1 is now available internationally.

This week, Fujifilm has announced some added functionality to the camera with the launch of the HDP-L1, an "HD memory card player" that plugs into a 3D TV via HDMI enabling viewing of 3D pictures and movies from the W1 directly on the TV screen. The media transfer is as simple as swapping an SD or SDHC card from the 3D W1 to the HDP-L1. According to the company, the device can also be connected to a Windows PC or Mac using a USB 2.0 connection.

On sale in Japan this coming April 27, the HDP-L1 will be priced at $45. There is no word on international availability quite yet.

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April 22, 2010

Walmart's Vudu first to get Avatar in HD

vudu-avatar.jpgWalmart's purchase of video streaming service Vudu looks to be a good bet as the
partnership will result in the first available instant HD streaming of the hit movie Avatar. Though it won't be in 3D, it will be the first public availability of streaming HD. The only other service that will offer the title in HD is the Playstation 3, but that will require a download.

Vudu owners will also get special features with the streaming flick, apparently called "Hardware", that are usually reserved for hard disc copies. The price? $25. Too much? You'll still pay $20 for the SD version.

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March 10, 2010

HP MediaSmart servers sync with TiVo HD DVRs

hp-tivo.jpgHP has announced the MediaSmart Expander for TiVo, a free application that enables TiVo HD DVR owners to transfer recorded content to HP MediaSmart servers, ultimately freeing up space on the TiVo's internal drive. MediaSmart Expander also allows users to manage content stored on the server and stream content to compatible devices such as PCs and gaming consoles. The application is compatible with MediaSmart Server EX90/EX495 and the Data Vault. While the app is free, the MediaSmart EX90 and MediaSmart EX495 servers cost $549 and $699, respectively.

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March 2, 2010

Vudu gets Twitter, Facebook integration

vudufacebook.jpgSoon after being cherry-picked by the folks at Walmart, Vudu has rolled out yet another feature--Twitter and Facebook integration. Now Vudu users can update their Twitter and Facebook statuses with info about the movie they are watching and their impressions. Other Vudu-using friends can then jump on the bandwagon and join in the movie-watching fun. I'm not sure if I would necessarily use this feature but social networking integration is something companies seem to have to do these days. For looks if nothing more.

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February 22, 2010

Walmart buys Vudu

vudu-logo.pngWalmart has reportedly purchased Vudu, the Hollywood video streaming service accessible from most major home theater hardware. Vudu, which used to produce its own set-top box, began to offer its software to major home theater manufacturers late in 2009 and as of now, only Panasonic and Sony haven't incorporated the fairly popular service. Though it was never profitable, Vudu did raise $60 million in venture capital and was apparently purchased for around $100 million.

Walmart likely made the acquisition to complement its leadership in DVD sales. While the company has attempted to introduce a movie and music download service in the past, it never caught on. The Vudu purchase is an attempt to cover this weak spot and to help sell more internet-connected home theater products.

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February 10, 2010

JVC media player eats SD cards and that's it

jvc-sd-card-player.jpgNow that things are so complicated and feature-packed as a norm in the home theater world, it's always refreshing to me to see something that does one thing, keeping it real simple. JVC's new CU-VS100 HD media player is just that--real simple. The only thing that it does is accept SD/SDHC cards, enabling users to view stored HD content on their HDTVs. That's it--for real.

The media box supports MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (mts/m2ts/mov), MPEG-2 TS(tod), MPEG-2 PS (mod/mpg) formats for playback, as well as AVCHD, JPEG photos and MP3/WMA music files. Just connect it to your TV via HDMI 1.3a and you'll be ready to roll.

The box with its included remote will only be released in Japan when it goes on sale next week. The US equivalent price will be $220--maybe a bit much for its limited feature set, even if that latter part is refreshing!

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February 8, 2010

Netflix Watch Instantly going 1080p, 5.1-channel surround sound

netflix_logo.gifNetflix will add 1080p video streaming along with 5.1-channel surround sound audio streaming to its Netflix Watch Instantly service in 2010, according to ZDNet. The video streaming service already streams 720p content to a variety of devices including game consoles, Blu-ray players, PCs, laptops and virtually anything else with an internet connection.

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January 9, 2010

Sling Media outs new placeshifting products for television service providers

Sling Media has been busy at CES 2010 debuting a whole slew of new and impressive home theater products. Here's the rundown:

slingbox-700u.jpgSlingbox 700U--the smallest Slingbox yet, the 700U enables existing, internet-connect set-top boxes to have Slingbox functionality. For those of you that aren't familiar with the Slingbox, it allows you to 'placeshift' your living room TV content to any device, anywhere. The 700U connect to your existing set-top box through a USB connection, decrypting and then transcoding incoming video to be sent to a device. This is obviously aimed at service providers who don't want to put the time and money into developing their own placeshifting technology.

sling-touch-control-100.jpgSling Touch Control 100--a "next-generation, touch-screen device with an interface based on Sling Media's popular SlingGuide electronic program guide." Also known as a touchscreen remote control, the Touch Control 100 features a 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen display with 272 x 480 resolution, IP control of HD DVRs and other SlingGuide-enabled devices over 802.11 Wi-Fi, non-IP control over IR with the latter including most gadgets on a home theater rack. The Touch Control 100 is also aimed at television service providers as an alternative to the typical electronic program guide.

sling-receiver-300.jpgSling Receiver 300--a companion product to SlingLoaded set-top boxes, the Receiver 300 lets users replicate set-top box functionality from their main TV to a secondary HDTV without running wires or purchasing a second set-top box. The Receiver 300 simply hooks up to the second TV via HDMI, component or composite inputs from which content can be transmitted up to 1080i. Audio is also transmitted via inputs on the second TV. The Receiver 300 is small enough to be placed behind a TV and is aimed at television service providers.

sling-monitor-150.jpgSling Monitor 150--a 15.6-inch, 720p portable display that includes built-in speakers and a folding stand for wall mounting and countertop use. The Monitor 150 accepts content from your main DVR via 802.11n wireless. Inside the monitor is dual-band 2.5 GHz/5 GHz, 802.11n networking capabilities with an internal MIMO antenna and WEP, WPA and WPA2 security support. Like Sling Media's other new products, the Monitor 150 is aimed at television service providers.

Adobe Flash Platform support--a partnership with Adobe means that the Slingbox Solo and Slingbox Pro-HD will both natively support Adobe Flash Player and Flash streaming for H.264 video and audio.


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