Not linking with Bravia Internet Link

As exciting as the possibility for Day and Date releases are within the current test by Sony is incredibly frustrating. We have a number of Bravia LCD sets in our house yet none currently have the $299 Bravia Internet link accessory and I have no reason to believe buying this will offer anything beyond this for the time being.

I already have a few ways to get internet content to my television (AppleTV and a Wii) and thus far watching YouTube has remained a rare, because I can experience. Of course downloading or streaming movies is great and currently I enjoy that via AppleTV though nothing in the available selection is currently playing in the theater.

The main cause of my frustration is Sony’s standard view that they need to control the end to end experience. There are plenty of ways to distribute high bandwidth content online and a few options on the DRM front as well. The NYT piece makes no mention of the PS3 as a receiver in the system, so for now I will assume it is not an enabled component. The PS3 represents the greatest distribution point for Sony and could cover a few bases for marketing the experience as well. Bravia’s Internet Link is yet another thing a consumer has to purchase and fiddle with and adds complexity to an already crowded space by the TV. I get that everyone wants to control the full deal here, but if you make it complicated and difficult or worse proprietary – the consumer will just continue to work around the system.

I look forward to the day when I can enjoy a high quality currently in-theater production from the comfort of my couch. Who wouldn’t want day and date feature (not DVD release) in their home theater? I am even willing to pay a premium for the pleasure over the theater ticket price to make up for the lack of concession sales. $300 is a bit more than I am willing to gamble on Hancock. If instead Sony offered videos through AppleTV, PS3 or even (gasp) the XBox, people would be more than happy to download and watch. Actually I would buy a PS3 if that was the conduit here … it would enable multiple experiences for the family and actually deliver some value.

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Super Bowl Commericals

While the game was surprisingly solid this year, I found the commercials to be pretty poor. Usually there are more than a couple that stand out, but it’s as if the writer’s strike impacted the ad business as well.

If you’d like to see them, Ad Age is hosting them all for your review… feel free to debate me on this, but it seems like the smart move would have been saving the money on most of these spots.

I laughed at Will Ferrell, but that’s almost cheating for Bud. Victoria’s Secret spot was well played (pun intended) though I think the NFL had the best spot. I guess I was lucky to miss GoDaddy this year as I think it ran while I was getting my daughter to bed.

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2008 Prediction – Lexicon Digital Communications will be a non-starter

Call me crazy here, but David Caruso does not seem to not have any idea what’s going on with online media (sorry but Cnet does not do embeds) and that appears to be the crux of what his company is all about. Aside from the ridiculous escalator bit in this video here’s what I’ve picked up:

  • solution based company
  • simplification to the internet itself
  • take this format and turn it into something competitive
  • competitive level of content
  • sleezy pickup

Here’s another take from G4TV:

But perhaps the best video they’ve made so far has to be the one on their site (I promise this video will be a waste of your time, but does include more escalator riding) which says the least of all, yet proves this is purely an ego play.

Admittedly I am interested in learning What happens when the King of Broadcast Worldwide meets the Chief Architect of Digital Media and Content Delivery? Not.

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AppleTV Take 2

Apple - Apple TV - Features - Movies

As I am sure you know, I was really looking forward to an update to the AppleTV and Steve largely delivered today!

The new software (available in two weeks) will bring a completely revised interface, direct downloads for purchase and rental of movies as well as purchase of TV shows and music. I love the flickr integration (it’s what I use) and am looking forward to putting some of the new 720p HD content to the test.

There were some clear concessions to get the studios to play here. HD content is substantially limited compared to SD for movies and there’s no day in date with DVD releases as my cable provider currently offers.

I’ve seen some rather ridiculous criticisms from people on twitter about the lack of 1080p material. This is just a spec and most people do not have systems capable of showing the differences anyway. Before you say this is like the edge vs. 3g claim on the iPhone it’s not. It’s real. Anyway …

A legitimate critique here and not something Apple can really do to fox is that HD rentals are not transferable to your Mac. The HDCP copy protection baked in will not allow it. It also may not allow you to play through an analog cable converter if you are connected that way… just be warned. Copy protection of this kind is pretty strict. I hope the likely to follow HD purchases will be allowed to sync as there’s only so much space on the drive – even the larger of the two.

There are a few things missing:

  • There’s no way to expand the storage capacity yet. I checked the Apple support docs and there does not seem to be any reference to external USB storage, Airport Disk or Time Capsule which is a shame.
  • I’m assuming that Apple has also not added the ability to control playback on an AppleTV without the TV. As it stands today, it cannot be used like an Airport Express for audio output.
  • No way to record live TV… I had a feeling this would be missing as it directly competes with the sale of content from the iTunes store, but it’s still the way most of us view TV — from TV. Elgato has made some beautiful updates to their eyetv software with the v.3 release and this will definitely complement the AppleTV nicely. Even better though would be a direct add-in for the AppleTV to record without a computer… like if that USB port accepted the eyetv hybrid
  • More important to me than the DVR piece though is the ability to support other codecs. We know the hardware is capable and this would seriously open the box to let it do what we all want. Again, not very Apple… but it would be quite nice.

None of the missing pieces are deal breakers … but would be very nice to have. All the new stuff with the UI and iTunes store come in today’s AppleTV (after the software update) and new boxes being shipped will get a nice price cut which should hopefully increase adoption. Apple’s got a very compelling system here even with the knocks. I might just have to upgrade my original unit for the larger drive as I have a feeling there’s going to be quite a bit of downloading in our house.

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What’s in store for AppleTV?

With Macworld coming this week I’ve been actively considering what’s in store for us and the one thing I’m hoping to see (almost more than an Apple MID) is an AppleTV strategy in conjunction with some updated products.

Apple could, as I’ve thought for a few years now, easily own the (still fledgling) media center market. While the current crop of MediaCenter PCs offer far more than AppleTV they are not really targeted at a mass market. Apple owners must add additional devices to handle TV recording and since Apple currently only officially supports the iTunes ecosystem from both a codec and content perspective it’s a tad limiting. That said, what it does it does very well.

It’s easy to add a Mac Mini to your system, which offers more power than an AppleTV, but the simplicity of the interface should be a benefit not a hinderance to getting access to content. Most people (not the geeks though we are most likely to want this first) do not want a keyboard and mouse a the TV. You want to lean back and use the remote… The AppleTV is a potentially perfect solution, but it needs to evolve.

What’s the grand vision? In my mind it looks something like this:


Assume it’s all open for change, and consider that Apple actually has most of these parts in place now though they just don’t all connect … yet.

  • I’m feeling the AppleTV is ripe to support an even larger drive than it has now, though ideally it would work with an Airport Disk / NAS which would give you considerably more flexibility and storage potential.
  • In addition to enhanced storage options, the AppleTV needs to gain the ability to record live television. In an ideal world that would come through CableCARD, though ATSC tuners would be acceptable as a consolation. CableCARD would let you record premium channels like HBO, while ATSC is limited to what’s coming in over the air and unfortunately is not even available in all markets.
  • Apple’s rumored Movie Store (rent and purchase) is likely to be shared at Macworld, and everyone believes that you will be able to purchase from AppleTV at that time as well. There’s no reason to assume (we are dealing with rumors here) that the store would not also support direct purchase of Music and TV shows. The iPhone already has a great purchase and sync function for music … seems like a logical extension to use in for AppleTV.
  • I’ve added Subscriptions to the iTunes store and hope we see this eventually. It’s probably unlikely for Macworld this year, but is something I hope Apple really considers. Rhapsody has led to purchase for me and subscriptions bust the walls down for people to actively sample.
  • The iPhone has some serious potential in my vision. Using Back to My Mac technology, the iPhone would be capable of controlling the AppleTV from within the home as well as anywhere you can get a connection. Apple actually already has the technology to control considerably more than just the AppleTV and the iPhone / (or iPod Touch) is a perfect form for this. Back to My Mac would just the way to do it from outside your home… Though it would potentially also offer a remote way to schedule recordings or purchases you want to watch upon your return.
  • I also see the iPhone as a new addition to where content can be streamed (not just synced). Through wifi and the likely 3G successor we’ll see this year, you get a remote viewing platform to rival SlingBox.

While I realize that adding LiveTV goes somewhat against the grain in the Apple ecosystem of iTunes, it’s an important component to the overall media center vision as it’s still the primary vehicle for how most people consume broadcast material. It would be trivial to add…

Another detail I did not include in the illustration, but I feel is important to note is that Apple should really open the capabilities of the box up to developers. A plugin SDK would enable a new world of opportunities for content providers and even more importantly the addition of codecs. Let’s face it, there’s a whole world of content well beyond the iTunes store and the Quicktime world and simply letting people view that as you can on your Mac would be a win. Of course that challenges Apple’s H.264 vision a bit and so I’ll just leave it as wishful thinking for now. There are always hacks to get around things…

Apple has nothing but opportunity with AppleTV. While it’s been a hobby since it launched it’s time to rip the doors off their hinges and define the market. It’s easily within reach.

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And we thought Yahoo was moving in a new direction…

Though somehow I doubt this is where we thought they’d be heading …

“In an increasingly rare collaboration with Hollywood, Yahoo has signed a production deal with the company behind reality shows such as Temptation Island and Joe Millionaire.

The Web behemoth’s nonexclusive first-look pact with Rocket Science Laboratories will likely focus on short-form video that offers a degree of interactivity. The companies also are examining the possibility of migrating whatever content the deal yields back to the television platform. Neither would disclose any current projects being developed.” [CNET]

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Testing Video Services

I was all pumped about Vimeo recently as I like the compression they use for Flash. Viddler seems to do much the same if not even better and gets away with the upload limit — always a good thing. I just realized though that Blip.TV is by far the best for higher quality, larger video.

Here’s a sample (from our recent storm) I’ve posted to Viddler:

and on Blip:

I’ve already reached my max on Vimeo for the week so no chance to upload this file.

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No such thing as Free VOD

I’m sure that’s a bit of an overstatement, but in the case of this deal noted on Cnet with Cox and Disney, it’s very true.

Apparently Disney has offered some key prime-time shows to Cox for their on-demand service in exchange for Cox to deactivate the fast forward function on their cable boxes. Additionally, Cox and Disney will be testing some even newer technology to insert advertisements based on the user’s location. I was under the impression that since we have a cable box installed at home and it’s addressable by the head end, that the cable company (which are run regionally) already know where we are.

I’m all for free premium content in the on-demand environment, but the only thing this is going to do is get people to pony up the extra few bucks to upgrade to a DVR box instead of a standard cable box. From the article, Cox states they believe people will want this since it does not require an advanced planning action as you would have to do with a DVR. As we all know setting up a recording on a DVR is both time consuming and hard… not!

As I’ve thought about this further, I can only see consumer frustration brewing ahead. If you already know that your on-demand system supports fast forward, rewind and pause, and then suddenly it’s “broken” at the time an ad pops up, people will end up having a negative reaction and impression — of both Cox and the advertiser.

There’s an easy fix to this and it’s already been done on live network television… start and end a program with a paid sponsorship so that the advertiser enables the positive experience of watching a then commercial free show. The network has already made their money anyway. The number of people using this type of service will be value-add impressions anyway since there’s no way to guarantee viewers up front. If successful as a test, there’s always the next flight of programming to sell in special opportunities for sponsorship.

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Joost’s commercial

I’m not going to give a full critique on this one, but I have to say I think it’s pretty weak. I’m not sure if they had a cooler than you Creative Team working on this or perhaps it’s a European flavor I’m just not used to seeing. The sad thing is that WITHOUT ACTUALLY SEEING THE PRODUCT, most people still have no idea what it is or why they should care. It’s not interesting enough to be a full :60 and I’m surprised they’d choose to go that length at all. I recognize it’s running on YouTube and not NBC prime-time so media costs are nil. Maybe the point was to get people talking – but the group chatting about this was already aware, so I’m not sure how that’s really helping get new interest. And with that, here it is…

Technorati Tags: is live and pretty crazy. Justin and crew are live streaming to the web… you can even call in and speak to them while they are cruising around.

I just sent a txt from AIM to Justin and he read my question, answered in voice with the guys in the car and then sent me a text back. By far the most interactive TV I’ve certainly ever seen…

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Apple TV Delayed!

There’s quite a bit of buzz today regarding Apple’s announcement that the Apple TV will be delayed until at least mid-March. It seems unlikely that a bug is the cause since it was supposed to have shipped this week to make the February deadline they had announced.

My guess is that there’s an enhanced something coming and they needed to wait due to some other detail that’s still being worked out. Per my earlier post, I’m hoping it’s a distributed content system through torrent and that additional formats outside the iLife system are enabled. Granted for most people iLife formats and organization will be the ideal situation, but if you have a very large collection of media, it’s quite likely that itunes and iPhoto are not enough to playback / manage all that you want. iTunes is doing just fine for my music collection, but iPhoto needed to be passed over for Aperture, which to my knowledge gets no love from AppleTV – yet.

Just as an additional thought, there might always be something more direct in the form of a content deal that needed to get resolved for the official release. That could be pretty interestesting as well – though I’d prefer to have the option of managing my own ripped or created material in addition to what’s available in the iTunes store.

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Some thoughts on the new video services

I’ve been playing a bit with Joost and Zudeo and am am quite impressed with the overall quality as well as speed in which things are happening. I should mention that I use a (almost) 30 / 5 Mbps down cable connection which I tend to also use with either a GigE wired connection at my desk or a 802.11N wireless connection, which by US standards is about as good as it gets. 😉 I am not sure if the experience I’ve been having would be as good on other network connections, though I am sure that entry level broadband would make it tougher to speed through selections…


Zudeo, which is built on Bit Torrent, enables shared downloads of content – you get to keep what you download. The bit torrent system tends to reward you through Karma. The more you upload, the more speed you can achieve in download. I found the content to be pretty interesting though it’s pretty heavy on Movie Trailers and shorts – not real TV-like stuff or premium tier offerings – at least not yet. There’s no DRM here so I guess that’s to be expected.

Regardless, you can get true HD content downloaded VERY quickly and it seriously looks awesome. Not too unlike your initial experience with HDTV though, once you get past the WOW that picture looks awesome effect, you start wondering what you want to spend time actually watching beyond some extreme sports and landscapes. If you do get into Zudeo, make sure you’ve got some spare HD space as it’s pretty easy to download a lot very quickly…

The interface can be confusing if you venture into the advanced settings as you’ll find yourself deep in Azureus which is the Bit Torrent client that’s really running things. If you’ve never used Bit Torrent and particularly Azurues, there can be way too many things to consider. Granted, you probably won’t have to mess with much beyond your default download location, but you may need to adjust your firewall or router to enable better connections outside of your home network’s NAT configuration.

Here’s a sample of what to expect:


For the more mass-minded consumer, Joost will probably be more appealing. So far, the Joost team has delivered a seriously elegant system focused on watching. Joost is run by the team who brought us Kazaa and they’ve retained their intellectual property to deliver robust P2P applications and it totally works and works well really well.

Joost’s interface flows. It’s hard to really compare it to anything as it’s pretty unique – at least to me. I find the space is optimized for video with other elements floating on the perimeter of your screen inviting you to either explore or simply ignore.

Finding something interesting to watch is easy enough and from what I understand the content flow has only just started. I’ve been enjoying the Fifth Gear car program as well as some National Geographic pieces and the occasional World’s Strongest Man. While there’s no HD content here, I think it’s technically feasible to expect it in the future – perhaps following the 1.0 release.

While Zudeo works with as a single play system – no playlists – Joost will play an entire channel once you select where in the queue you’d like to start watching. When you quit and restart, it begins with your last viewed program and as a show is ending you get a nice pop-up that states what’s next. There are some ads which appear in between shows though they are (so far) only on for a few moments which is far from in the way or offensive.

Here’s a sample of what to expect:

Apple iTunes / Apple TV

As most people know it’s easy to one-click your way to some shows and movies from iTunes and I expect that when Apple TV arrives this week, it will make the experience of watching considerably better than the current system of rigging your machine to a TV. The Apple TV will be there happily awaiting a sync from your main store-connected system much like your iPod does today. My only issues (and it’s not even here) are the reliance on iTunes and the iPhoto. I get that it makes live simple to use a standard base configuration, but I’d really like to use content that is not managed in iTunes – archived DVDs for one – and I don’t use iPhoto anymore now that Aperture is in the picture so I am not sure how I will be able to enjoy HD quality pictures on my TV. Front Row does not recognize my Aperture library at all… Hopefully there will be a way to extend the capabilities through a plugin or a hack to better enable access to content I already have – not just what I buy from Apple. I’m looking forward to checking it out when it arrives and I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

The Peer to Peer future?

After spending the time I have with Zudeo and Joost though I have to wonder where the P2P / Torrent part of Apple’s delivery strategy might be. By sharing the power to deliver massive blocks of content it’s clearly possible to deliver higher quality than we are used to seeing come through the iTunes store. I can’t think of too many people who want to watch low resolution video on their HD screens… come to think of it I didn’t know too many people who wanted low resolution audio either, and Apple has sold over 2 Billion songs.

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Airport Disk – Easy Home “NAS”

Just browsing the Apple store and reading about the new AirPort Extreme Base Station… One very cool new feature is Airport Disk:

Share your hard drive

Now you can share an external USB hard drive over your wireless and wired network by simply connecting it to the USB port on your AirPort Extreme Base Station. Called AirPort Disk, it’s perfect for sharing files, making backups, and more. You can even connect multiple drives and printers using a USB hub (sold separately). [Apple Store]

There are also 3 ethernet jacks so you can use it as a more robust router if you want, though Gigabit would have been even better! I love the idea of attaching a disk or two right on the network… not true NAS, but considerably less expensive and it would be attached for anyone around to share. While this is certainly not unique to Apple, it’s good to have on board and I am sure was considered as an easy way for people to expand shared storage with an Apple TV in the house…

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Geared Up

I’ve been watching a new gadget show on TV called Geared Up which is available on INHD or Mojo (their nighttime name) and I have sort of a love hate relationship with it. The show fills a gaping hole for gadget and tech content and of course the HD bit gives it an extra boost. They’ve had some great guests speaking both about their companies as well as industry experiences, but they don’t seem to be current – for example, where’s the CES or MacWorld coverage??

The real kicker though, is that at times it actually feels more like an advertorial, than editorial.

Sci Fi gearing up for Galactica’s third season

Excellent news …

Sci Fi gearing up for Galactica’s third season: “

I can sense the geek excitement building as we near the premiere date for the third season of Sci Fi’s enormously popular Battlestar Galactica. The Galactica team has always been incredibly tech-savvy, and this season will be no exception. Starting on August 28, fans will be able to watch a 44-minute recap of the first two season on cable video-on-demand. When the season gets underway on October 6, Galactica producer will unveil a new video blog and a fresh slate of podcasts. [Lost Remote]

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