Media Streamers

Mar 28 2012

News - Plex Roku Channel Available Officially

Plex has offered a private channel for the Roku family of streamers for quite awhile, but the Plex team has announced that the official Plex Roku Channel in finally available in the Roku Channel Store. It's not just a change in status either. Roku for Plex has also been updated with a number of new features. The new version includes a revamped UI with a grid layout similar to the recently updated Plex for Google TV UI. There is also full myPlex support to simplify setup, audio and photo support, and Direct Play to avoid transcoding when possible. Roku boxes have a tendency to be a bit picky about accepting file encoding, so I wonder how often turning on Direct Play will prove to be hindrance rather than an asset

Plex for Roku

They have a line of lovely little devices, starting at just fifty bucks, capable of 720p on the low end, and 1080p and Angry Birds on the high end. They also have a great SDK which allows third parties to write Roku Channels, and we’re extremely happy to let you know that as of today, the Plex Roku Channel is now officially available in the Roku Channel Store.

Plex Blog

Mar 15 2012

News - Plex for Google TV Gets Home Screen Overhaul

Plex for Google TV has been updated with a fancy new look. The app's home screen has been overhauled to make moving through media categories and finding new media easier. The new home screen also makes it easier to access the most recently used online content channels. Plex has always had a clean look and the new Google TV home screen appears to do a nice job of exposing more media at the top level without cluttering the screen. I hope we will see this new, more refined look extend to other Plex clients in the future. As always, Plex for Google TV is available through the Android Marketplace. The Plex team is promising that the new home screen is just the first in a series of updates coming to the Google TV client. Any thoughts on what you would like to see next?

Plex for Google TV

The home page is divided into two parts – on the left are the movie, TV shows, photo and music sections that you added to the media server during setup. You’ll also see sections for recently used channels, your myPlex queue as well as sections others are sharing with you. The right side will show you details as you flip through items on the left. Plex shows you the most important information from each section so that you spend less time looking for media and more time enjoying it.

Plex Android Blog

Mar 10 2012

News - Roku Looking to Raise $50M for Push into International Markets

Roku took its first tentative steps beyond the US by following Netflix into the UK and Ireland, and the company has also indicated that Canada is on the horizon for this year. The response must have been positive as the company is reportedly looking to raise $50 million dollars to make a deeper push into Europe and to begin moving into Asia. Assuming the company can raise the funds, Roku will be entering a potentially dangerous new phase in its business. There are huge opportunities for the companies that establish themselves as dominant providers of over-the-top streaming devices, a market that is only going to become more valuable as media companies turn to streaming as their primary distribution channel, but Roku faces some stiff competition. There are the myriad smaller companies such as Boxee and Xtreamer, but more importantly, there are the game console and smart TV manufacturers that are already tapped into the mainstream audience looking to cut companies like Roku out of the picture by building their own OTT infrastructure. I think Roku makes a great little device, but do they have what it takes to straddle multiple continents?

Roku Earth

Internet TV box service Roku is prepared to take on a big and high-risk new investment to support its international ambitions.

It is aiming to raise up to $50 million by this summer to go to the UK, France, Germany and the Far East - more than the $32.5 million it had raised to date since 2008, the firm tells Reuters.


Mar 07 2012

News - Apple Announces New Apple TV with 1080p and Revamped Interface

New Apple TV

As expected, Apple had some big announcements to make today. Of course, most of the attention over the last few months has been focused on the new iPad, but for many of us here at Missing Remote, the new Apple TV may prove the more interesting device.  The new model adds 1080p support and a revamped interface that brings it more in line with the other iOS devices with new app icons and a cover flow presentation. Unfortunately, it does not look like we are going to get access to any new apps at this point or access to the rest of the App Store. Apple has also added iCloud access to movies purchased from iTunes for the new Apple TV. The new version appears to have the same form factor and will be available on March 16th for $99, with pre-ordering beginning today.

Feb 16 2012

News - Rumor: New Apple TV and 1080p iTunes Store Content Inbound

Way back in November, quiet rumors began to circulate that there might be a new Apple TV on the way. The primary evidence was that some retailers had begun to sell the Apple TV for less than Apple's MSRP. Since then, the denizens of the Interwebs have been preoccupied with whipping themselves into a frenzy about the iPad 3 and the mythical iTV. With the iPad 3 announcement now expected in early March, Apple rumormongers have evidently decided to look around and see if there is any evidence that Apple might be planning to offer up a side dish and have alit on the iTunes Store and the Apple TV. The latest rumors suggest that Apple will launch 1080p content for the iTunes Store. If the iPad 3's Retina Display pans out, then this one seems like a near certainty at some point in the near future. Even on a 10" screen, 720p content on a 2048 x 1536 LCD panel is less than ideal. The Apple TV has been caught up in this round of rumors not only because a refreshed unit would also benefit from 1080p content, but because there is a whole bunch of circumstantial evidence that the second generation Apple TV, now being listed by some retailers as the 2010 model, is in short supply in the retail channel. 

Apple TV

In addition to the expected announcement of the iPad 3 at a media event in early March, new rumors and speculation suggest that we could see a revised Apple TV alongside the new tablet. Shortages of the current Apple TV and the possibility of 1080p iTunes content are fueling the refresh rumors.


Feb 08 2012

News - A.C. Ryan Veolo Reviewed

A.C. Ryan Veolo

The A.C. Ryan Veolo is an Android 2.2-based media streamer. It supports the usual range of formats and offers the option of accessing the entire Android Marketplace, placing a wealth of media content options, games, and other services on the big screen. The A.C. Ryan Veolo's implementation of Android is pretty barebones and this review does point out that controlling some apps with the included remote control/keyboard/pointer doesn't always work out so well. I haven't personally been convinced that moving to Android for the OS is necessarily a selling point for a media streamer, but if you are heavily invested in the Android ecosystem and want to bring that experience to your living room, the Veolo does seem to have the media chops to meet your needs.

Since the Veolo does not have an internal hard drive, it is meant to stream all the files from the network or play them from an attached storage medium. Testing the device with various MKV based files from 20 to 90 mbps, along with various fullHD clips, the Veolo managed to playback everything without issue. In a normal scenario, the weak spot may well be the network itself, as you will need to have an excellent wireless connection to playback fullHD media for example. 


Jan 14 2012

News - Asus O!Play Mini Media Player Reviewed

Asus has been quietly selling the O!Play line of media streamers for a few years now. It's been awhile since we had an O!Play in around here for review, and I would imagine they have advanced a bit. Certainly they have gotten smaller as evidenced by the O!Play Mini in this review. The O!Play Mini is not a network streamer, relying instead on its USB port and 4-in-1 card reader for content, so it definitely is not the media streamer for everyone, but it might be worth a look as an inexpensive streamer to take on the road or for placement in an environment that may not necessarily require access to Internet streaming such a child's room or home gym.

Asus O!Play Mini

As the name suggests, this media player is small and lightweight, making it easy to tuck away anywhere. Unlike it's big brother though. the Mini doesn't offer internal HDD support or USB 3.0. Don't let that deter you though, because it looks very promising.

Tweak News

Jan 14 2012

News - Rumor: Microsoft Planning Kinect-based Settop Box

Join me, friends, as we take a little stroll down rumor lane. Paul Thurrott of the Supersite for Windows and Windows Weekly fame has related a rumor that Microsoft may be working on a Kinect-based settop box. It would essentially be an Xbox minus the pesky video games, retooled specifically for media streaming. The inclusion of Kinect would allow for voice and gesture control, and presumably leave the door open for living room Skype applications. Thurrott had dropped a similar rumor about an Xbox-based media streamer a few months ago on an episode of Windows Weekly that proved fruitless and readily admits that this current rumor comes from unreliable sources, which means that our stroll down rumor lane is going a bit farther afield than I usually feel comfortable with, but I thought I would pass it along simply because it makes sense and fits with a tidbit I recently received from a completely untested source. Kinect and Xbox have been Microsoft's most popular consumer brands in years and stripping the Xbox of its video game processing capabilities would still leave a very capable media streamer, assuming Microsoft can reduce costs enough to get the price down to a palatable range. Whether or not the product ever comes to fruition, it seems almost certain that Microsoft has at least considered the possibility.

Kinect TV

Speaking of rumors concerning Microsoft's entertainment plans, a number of less reliable sources are claiming that the software giant will introduce a Kinect-based set-top box in late 2012 that will stream Internet-based multimedia, offer motion and voice control, and cost less than $200. It's like an Xbox + Kinect minus the video game stuff, I guess, and is variously called the "Kinect HD," "Live Xbox," or "Kinect Box," depending on who you ask.

Supersite for Windows

Jan 14 2012

News - Google and LG Possible Looking at Special Collaboration for Google TV

LG and Google TV

Google TV made a big splash at CES this year, adding new manufacturers to its list of supporters, including LG. Now comes word that LG may not just be working on adding Google TV to one of their TVs, but is in talks with Google to receive early access to the next version of Google TV. The agreement would be similar to deals that Google had with HTC and then Samsung for the Nexus line of Android smartphones which Google holds up as the reference design for the platform. Presumably the idea would be to establish LG's implementation of Google TV as the reference design for that platform. It would also be an opportunity for both companies to establish a relationship that might help the companies better compete against Samsung, who is already the largest TV manufacturer in the world and rapidly building mindshare with its Smart TV platform.

One of the concerns that arose with Google's Nexus smartphone project was that it might alienate other manufacturers who were developing phones using Android, which at the time was still largely unproven in the market. If Google and LG do forge a deal, it seems likely that we will see similar concerns about Google TV. Given the way that Android sales have turned out, can Google and LG ward off criticism or is the TV market fundamentally different? 

Google Inc. (GOOG) is considering giving LG Electronics Inc. (066570)first access to the next version of its Google TV software so the Korean company can build a compatible set, according to two people with knowledge of the project.

The partnership would be similar to the arrangement Google has had with Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) and HTC Corp. to create Nexus handsets for the Android operating system, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks aren’t public.


Jan 13 2012

News - Netgear NeoTV NTV 200 Reviewed

We reviewed the Netgear NeoTV NTV 200 media streamer a couple of months ago and generally liked what we saw, especially the setup experience and the inclusion of HDMI CEC, but sometimes it helps to catch a glimpse of a device in action when forming an opinion. The folks over at GigaOm have posted a new episode of the Cord Cutters reviewing the NTV 200. I'm not totally sure I agree with their take on the value of exclusive content in judging a media streamer. What do you guys think?

Netgear NeoTV NTV 200

Netgear is trying to compete with its former partner Roku with its own streaming media player, the Netgear NeoTV, also know as the NTV 200. Check out our review ...


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