Slingbox owners know what a great device it is. If you don't know what a Slingbox is, it's a device that hooks up to your team and streams your TV stations so you can watch TV from a computer or PDA from anywhere in the world.
To compliment the Slingbox, SlingMedia has introduced Sling.com, a website that offers video from other content providers. The best part of the website is you can also view your streaming TV from Sling.com, which eliminates having to install software to view your show. Xchange.com gives a little more detail about Sling.com:
The site enters a crowded field of Web video viewing sites, some from which it features movie and sports content. A deal with Hulu.com gives the site access to a lot of mainstream broadcast network programming.
The site's features include blogs, playlists and clip collections. It also has socialization features that let you subscribe to any channel, show or user to create a feed of programming and activity that reflects your personal tastes and those of your social network.
Also, Slingbox owners can now access and view their home television (cable, satellite receiver) and DVR via the Sling.com Web site, making their Slingboxes available without a software client download.
Now you can watch Slingbox on those pesty work computers that won't let you install software. Just don't get caught!
Remember a few weeks ago when we told you Blockbuster was going to offer a device to download content to your TV? Well it's a now a reality. According to Blockbuster, when you order 25 movie or TV episode rentals you'll receive a free MediaPoint Digital Media Player by 2Wire. Some of the MediaPoint Player features are:
Browse and watch movies directly on your TV
Rentals start at just $1.99
DVD-quality looks great, even on HDTVs
Uses progressive playback, not streaming, so video quality is consistent no matter the speed of your internet connection
Has a wide range of outputs including HDMI and component
New movies are available within 30 days of video release
While it would be nice to see more devices that focus on free content or even a subscription model like Netflix, it is nice to see another big player like Blockbuster enter the market.
If you're using the MediaPoint service from Blockbuster, drop us a comment and let us know what you think.
Lately we've been giving our readers quite a bit of news about Boxee, the software that allows you to watch Hulu content on your Apple TV. Now it looks like Boxee has obtained the funding to become a true powerhouse in media streaming. According to LaLaNews:
And now they've got the funding to continue on that track, thanks to a $4 million first round from Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures. This money will be used not only to entice current and future content providers such as Hulu, CBS, Netflix and BBC to put their goods on the service, it'll also provide the means to persuade the increasingly important set-top box manufacturers to include the Boxee software.
One could easily imagine Boxee running on something like the Roku box (which is currently looking for partners beyond Netflix) or maybe even something like the Vudu box. Of course, if Boxee could convince cable box manufacturers and cable companies to use the software, that would be a win for everyone.
We don't know if it will be because of Boxee or another company but we're just dying to get Hulu on our Netflix Player. Maybe soon, huh?
If you've got an Apple TV, there's no reason not to have Boxee since it really opens up the availbility for lots of free streaming content. If you're ready to install Boxee, we found a great tutorial to help you get the most out of the software over at Gizmodo. The tutorial starts out:
What You'll Need:
• Apple TV with software version 2.0 or higher
• A USB flash drive 512MB or larger
• ATV USB Creator [download: 1.0.b7 version - Mac only, for now]
• An invite into Boxee's semi-public alpha (use this link especially for Giz readers to jump the line a bit)
Prepare Your USB Drive
Just like the iPhone, the Apple TV is basically an OS X computer (running a 1GHz Intel processor), so Boxee installs just like a regular desktop app in the Applications folder, which is hidden normally. Why Apple hasn't opened up the Apple TV to third party developers is anyone's guess, but thankfully, with a prepared USB stick it's all pretty painless.
So what's the future of Boxee? According to the tutorial:
Eventually, Boxee wants to be in set top boxes and on every platform (Windows is coming before the end of the year)--since it supports practically every audio and video codec known, it's aiming to be the Firefox of multi-platform connected AV setups, featuring plug-ins and add-ons of its own. It doesn't support DRM of any kind, so don't hold your breath for Boxee to be picked up by any of the majors. Fine with me.
You've probably notice that we here at NAV are big fans of the Roku Netflix Player. Now it appears that Blockbuster is jumping into the set-top box fray. According to HomeMediaMagazine.com:
Blockbuster is planning to bow for the holidays a set-top box that would deliver movies on demand from its Movielink download service. The Dallas-based DVD rental chain next year also will bow a Blockbuster-branded widget on Intel-manufactured chips imbedded in IPTV monitors.
Chairman and CEO Jim Keyes, who made the announcement Nov. 6 during a call with investors, offered no additional information on the set-top box, including manufacturer, price and availability.
Analyst Edward Woo with Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles said the set-top box device sounded ambitious, but wondered how consumers under pressure from the current economic downturn would receive it.
As exciting as it will be to see what Blockbuster offers, we're confident it won't come close to competing with Netflix. We found an article entitled Blockbuster's Set-Top Box Will Flop at Mashable.com that we believe lines up with our views pretty well on the subject. Be sure to check the article out.
As HD streaming picks up steam, it appears that broadband internet providers are starting to get worried about bandwidth usage. AT&T is the latest company to be testing metered bandwidth according to Money.CNN:
AT&T says it will have tiers ranging from 20 GB per month to 150 GB per month with a $1 per-gigabyte overage fee for new customers. Later this year, existing AT&T High-Speed Internet customers in Reno will become a part of this trial if their monthly usage exceeds 150 GB in one month. These customers will receive a usage amount of 150 GB per month.
Metered bandwith worries us here at NAV because the bulk of our TV viewing is through streaming video. We're especially worried about bandwidth when Netflix starts streaming HD over the Netflix Player. According to the same article, Netflix has it covered:
Roku, the maker of the Netflix Player set-top box, said over the weekend that it "will be using Advanced Profile encodes which will deliver HD at substantially lower bit-rates than what Xbox is offering." This reinforces what the company had told us before -- that it's not concerned about bandwidth caps because new technologies allow for higher-quality at lower bit-rates. These advanced compression techniques, however, will have some impact on the quality and whether the content will truly be in HD.
Wow, that sure is good news! Let us know if you're being capped on internet usage where you live.
One of the biggest frustrations with streaming media can be the constant rebuffering. That's why it's so important to have the right devices and wireless equipment to get the most of your setup. We found a small but informative article at MediaSmartHome that starts out:
Everyone knows that for best wireless performance with a digital media receiver, especially when streaming HD video, one has to use an wireless "n" router. What people usually don't know is that a wireless router needs to meet requests from all clients (including the legacy b, g, and a devices) so any client with a legacy receiver (say a printer with wireless "g", or a laptop with wireless "b") can in effect slow down or downgrade your overall performance.
one of the tips in the article:
You connect your old router to one of the LAN ports of your wireless "n" router, and you configure it in "bridge" mode. Bridge mode means that there is no DHCP server running on this router (all IP's will be provided by the "n" router" and connects to the Internet via your "n" router).
So if you're struggling to keep your streaming media seamless, be sure to check out the article.
While there's quite a few media streamers out there, we really like ones that work well for Road Warriers. Western Digital has introduced the WD TV HD Media Player which streams content from your USB drive. For $129.00 MSRP, this might be a great device for the laptop bag.
The basic features:
Compatible with My Passport portable hard drives and other USB storage devices
Full HD 1080p video playback and navigation
Provides access to 2 USB drives simultaneously
HDMI and composite video interfaces for easy connection to a TV
Ultracompact design for easy portability
Includes My Passport hard drive stand, compact remote with batteries, composite A/V cable, AC adapter, media converter software and owner's manual
Looks like Best Buy even has the device for $99 right now. Be sure to check it out.