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When it comes to set top boxes to bring steaming media to your big screen in the living room, some of the most popular products are the line of devices from Roku. For a long time Roku devices were missing access to one of the most popular streaming video portals online- YouTube.
In December of 2013, that changed when YouTube came to the Roku 3 set top box. That still left a lot of Roku fans unable to stream YouTube videos without slinging them over from a smartphone. Roku has announced this week that all current generation Roku devices now have access to the YouTube app.
Media streaming has been slowly replacing cable subscriptions for people for the last few years, and in the past 12 months, it has exploded with help from set-top boxes and HDMI dongles such as Google's Chromecast. As such, media streaming apps and services have been popping up left and right, and now it appears that AT&T wants its cut of the action as well.
Today AT&T announced that it has partnered up with the Chernin Group to develop the next major media streaming service that would be a direct competitor to the current number one, Netflix. AT&T says that together, the partnership has committed $500 million in funding the new service, and are currently working out how the service would work. Luckily for AT&T, the Chernin Group already owns such a service, called Crunchroll.
"A critical part of The Chernin Group's strategy has been our significant focus on the online video industry, and joining forces with AT&T only further underscores our strategic commitment in this area as operators, investors and programmers," said Peter Chernin, Chairman and CEO, The Chernin Group. "Consumers are increasingly viewing video content on their phones, tablets, computers, game consoles and connected TVs on mobile and broadband networks. AT&T's massive reach on those platforms across mobile and broadband and their commitment to the online video space make them the perfect fit for this venture with us."
Sanyo has pulled the wraps off its new 2014 line of HDTVs. The entire line supports 1080p resolution. Sanyo offers no 720p TVs or 4K TVs this year. All of the TVs in the line are LED backlit making them more power efficient than older CCFL TVs.
The new range includes sets that run from 24-inches up to 65-inches. Sanyo is selling the new line through Walmart and Sam's Club around the country. Features are shared across the entire range with the big difference being screen size. All of the TVs have three HDMI inputs.
Today Apple announced that it has expanded its Apple TV offerings to include several top channels from the A&E network. Apple TV users now have access to the Lifetime, A&E and History Channel apps but there is a catch. To view shows from these channels, Apple TV owners will also have to be active subscribers to a cable package that features them, specifically from DirecTV, Verizon FiOS, and Cablevision Optimum.
Today's additions are part of a larger build up of content that Apple has been pushing for the last few months in an effort to compete with Roku and Google's Chromecast. Unfortunately Apple TV content is still very limited, and with deals being made that force people to subscribe to cable to use features on the set-top box, I think that Apple TV will still remain in the niche market of Apple champions.
Reports are making the rounds that owners of the first generation Apple TV are having problems that are keeping them from connecting to iTunes. Users are reporting on the support forums for the device that performing standard fixes like reboots and restoring aren't fixing the connectivity issue.
The issue started about the same time iPhone users on iOS 6 reported they could no longer access FaceTime. Apple's fix for that issue was to tell people top upgrade to a newer version of iOS. Apple has yet to say officially when or if the first generation Apple TV device will be fixed.
Orange is the New Black is one of my favorite shows, so my personal recommendation is: if you haven't watched it, do it. You will not regret it, but Netflix has just unleashed the full trailer to season two, something you can watch below:
It looks great, continuing off of the massive cliffhanger of the first season. Orange is the New Black's season season debuts on June 6, where Netflix will do what all networks should do: making all of the episodes available at once.
Today Netflix announced that it has began streaming its first pieces of 4K content to customers with 2014 model 4K TVs that support the H.265/HEVC decoder. House of Cards gets the title of the first TV series to get streamed in 4K, and a couple of nature documentaries are also being offered in 4K. Unfortunately, those who have 4K televisions that were manufactured or bought in 2013 will not be able to enjoy these offerings from Netflix due to codec incompatibilities.
Website HDTVTest is reporting that the 4K streams coming from Netflix are being delivered at 15.6Mbp/s and show obvious signs of compression, but does look better than Netflix's previous high-quality offering of the so-called "SuperHD" format. Unfortunately there are just not enough 4K TVs out there at the moment for widespread testing results to call back to, but I feel that Netflix will have a long journey ahead before any full-quality 4K content is passed on to customers.
Being one of those people who love to tear things apart to see what makes them tick, I look forward to iFixit's new device teardown every time something new is released. This weeks Amazon Fire TV was no exception, but it is a little disappointing to say the least. iFixit managed the teardown in no time at all, and what was reveled is a single-board design that leaves little repair room that a DIYer would be capable of.
Scoring just a 6 out of a possible 10, the Fire TV is nothing more than another board in a box, meaning that no other electronic components reside off of its PCB. This is the way most devices are being manufactured in modern times as components are continuing to shrink and SoC's are increasingly becoming more powerful and capable of multi-tasking. The device does feature a Qualcomm Processor, 2GB of RAM and 8GB of NAND flash. It's basically any smartphone produced in the last two years minus the screen.
Rumors of an Amazon-built set-top have been floating around for the better part of the last year, and today those rumors proved to be true. This morning Amazon.com announced the release of its all new Fire TV set-top box, a media streaming device that fully incorporates the Amazon ecosystem. Amazon is pulling out all the stops as well, and has enlisted Gary Busey to even record a promotional video for the new device.
Measuring in at less than an inch thick, the new Fire TV set-top box is capable of streaming full HD content to your TV over a common HDMI connection, and includes a remote that allows you to voice your commands, search for movies, and a wealth of other things. Amazon is also offering a separate video game controller that retails for just $40. Fire TV is not just closed to Amazon content, but features apps that integrate Netflix, Hulu Plus and many more services right on the box.=
If you have a lot of people in your home that like to watch TV and record lots of shows to the DVR, you have undoubtedly run into issues before with not having enough tuners. Your options then are to watch something recorded or interrupt one of the other tuners. If you live in an area served by the Verizon Fios QuantumTV service you can get a new whole home DVR that has the most tuners out there.
The device is the new VMS1100 media server and it has six tuners on its own. It can be paired with another box allowing it to add up to six additional tuners for a total of 12. The VMS1100 on its own has 1TB of storage space when combined with other set top boxes with its own tuners it can have up to 2TB of storage.
As you might guess, the cost of a whole home DVR system this powerful isn't cheap. The main box is said to rent for $22 monthly for a single box, $32 monthly for the dual set up with 12 tuners, and each additional box for TVs is $10 monthly. You also have to pay the monthly cable bill.