Media Streamers

Jan 05 2012

News - Microsoft Secures Patent for Game Console DVRs

The inclusion of the Media Center Extender technology in the Xbox 360 has certainly been a boon for WMC fans and was an early indication that Microsoft had bigger plans for the Xbox 360 than just gaming. Unfortunately, the whole "your computer must be on, be running Windows Media Center, be properly configured to talk to your Xbox, and contain a TV tuner card (right in the middle of the transition from NTCS to ATSC)" bit was probably asking too much of most consumers. The rest of us just built a new HTPC. With the Xbox 360 becoming ever more media-focused, it seems almost impossible that Microsoft won't eventually offer DVR functionality, if not for the 360 than its successor. When that time comes, Microsoft will have a patent to cover the functionality, and hopefully some bigger hard drives. Would you be okay with the Xbox kicking your TiVo to the curb?

Xbox Rabbit Ears

The patent identifies it as an application, similar to the apps that have added pre-selected TV content already. However, it seems more likely that this feature would be included in the next iteration of the hardware. 


Jan 05 2012

News - Apple Looking at 42" and 50" TVs, Having Trouble Signing Content Providers

All right, guys! It's time to take a detour into Apple rumor land. I've expressed my reservations before about devoting too much virtual ink to the rumors swirling around Apple's plans to become a television manufacturer, but the USA Today has put together an extensive write-up based on claims made by a former employee and information from a wide variety of industry folks that is probably a must-read for anyone even remotely interested in what Apple might have up it's sleeve.

There are three main points here to pay attention to. First, there is the suggestion that Apple is looking at building a 42" or larger television. This info is in sharp contrast to the information that Digitimes reported about 32" and 37" televisions, and honestly makes more sense for a home theater. It also leads to the second interesting point: an analyst at DisplaySearch, a company that tracks the television supply chain, is indicating there is no evidence in said supply chain that Apple has ordered panels, which would mean that the iTV is still quite a ways off.

Finally, the third interesting point concerns Apple having trouble signing content providers up for an a-la-carte distribution plan. This last point reminds me of the similar rumors we heard concerning Google TV before its release, but in this case I fail to see how it would cast a pall over the product as it did for Google TV. Apple already has a strong content distribution channel with iTunes and doesn't really need to compete with Netflix and Hulu when Apple can already serve up their apps on any device. Does the idea of 42+" iTV get you excited enough to hold off on other TVs just in case this tech unicorn makes it out of the stable?

But a major roadblock for Apple along the way has been securing content needed to make an iTV succeed. The problems Apple is having securing content deals were described in an interview with a person who worked in the Apple TV group and verified by two television industry sources. All declined to be identified because of the confidential nature of the talks.

USA Today

Jan 04 2012

News - Running iOS Apps on Apple TV Demonstrated

When FireCore recently updated their Seas0nPass tool to support untethered jailbreaking, we noted that there was some indication in the community that work to allow the Apple TV to run iPad and iPhone apps was progressing. Evidently that was understating the situation as there is now a full-fledged hack to allow iOS apps to run on the Apple TV. Steve Toughton-Smith and Nick "The Mudkip" have put together a system that allows the Apple TV to load an iPad emulator and a custom home screen. Adding support for the Apple TV remote takes some extra work on the part of the app developer and the hack's creators are warning not to try uploading modified apps to the App Store, so we are not going to see widespread support coming soon, but hopefully Steve and Nick will get their wish and we are getting a peek at what official Apple support for Apple TV apps might look like.

Apple TV Launcher

The wily hacker hopes that his hack might nudge Apple towards building a bonafide app store for the TV box. "Remember how the unofficial iPhone apps back in '07 forced Apple's hand in creating an App Store?" he tweeted. On iPhone, jailbreakers got access to downloadable games and apps like Lights Off months before Apple opened its own iOS App Store. "I'd like Apple TV to get the same treatment."

Ars Technica

Dec 31 2011

News - Seas0nPass Updated to Support Untethered Jailbreaking

Seas0nPassSeas0nPass, the popular Apple TV jailbreaking tool, has received a special update allowing for untethered jailbreaks, a feature that had been lacking over the last several versions. By itself, this isn't necessarily big news, but evidently there is a lot going on in the Apple TV jailbreak scene right now. There is word of a new Plex beta and even some early hints of tools that allow for iOS apps to run on a jailbroken Apple TV.

Now that pod2g has done the heavy lifting and released an untethered jailbreak for iOS5, the Seas0NPass tool has been updated for your untethered jailbreaking pleasure on Apple TVs running even the latest 4.4.4 update. 


Dec 30 2011

News - HornetTek Fantasy Media Streamer Reviewed

HornetTek Fantasy

I know a couple of people who have purchased HornetTek cases for their iPhones, but I was not aware that they also made a line of PC accessories and media streamers. The HornetTek Fantasy is not a networked media streamer, but rather an HDD streamer, similar to the Seagate GoFlex Cinema except that you attach your own external USB hard drive. It also has a built-in SD card slot if you would like to use some more portable media for your sneakernet connection. There doesn't seem to be anything revolutionary here, but it might make a solid little streamer in a kid's room or home gym where having full access to your networked media collection is not a priority.

Naming a product after the subject of a Ludacris song definitely garners up images of fast cars, hot women, and wealth. Does the Fantasy from HornetTek live up to my fantasies of a personal media player, and is it something you should consider adding to your already crowded home entertainment system?


Dec 28 2011

News - Google TV Gets AirPlay with Airtight App

Airtight App

I have become a bit of a fan of AirPlay over the last several months. I have to admit that there is something undeniably cool about starting Pandora on my iPod and pushing the stream out to my receiver with just the touch of a virtual button. Google TV users who want to get their device in on the AirPlay action can too thanks to the recently released Airtight app. The $0.99 app is still pretty limited as it only supports photo and video streaming. Music streaming and mirroring are still in the works, so I won't be pushing Pandora to the Logitech Revue just yet. Hopefully the developers won't run into any legal trouble with Apple. I know that there are developers that have built apps for making WMC play nice with AirPlay that haven't received any legal missives, but activity on a Google platform might attract more attention in Cupertino at the moment.

However, the app is still in beta and can only stream videos and photos at the moment. It doesn’t yet support features such as music and mirroring. It also isn’t sanctioned by Apple, which could take legal action to prevent Airtight from using AirPlay technology for Android devices.


Dec 28 2011

News - Apple Prepping to Launch 32" and 37" Televisions?

Apple TV

In the wake of Steve Jobs's death and the release of his biography, the Internet started to light up with rumors that Apple was in the process of building a genuine television. Such rumors were not new, so beyond reporting on the intriguing passage from Walter Isaacson's biography that initially stirred things up, I have been generally reluctant to follow up on the swirl of rumors that have come since, particularly given that so many of the rumors have emanated from less than reliable analysts and certain journalistic endeavors with a history of, well, let's be honest, Apple cheerleading. However, when a source as tapped into Taiwan's manufacturing scene as Digitimes starts reporting on specific manufacturers and parts moving though the supply chain, it might be time to acknowledge that Apple may well be getting ready to make its move into the most prominent consumer electronics market of them all. Is anyone ready to start laying on bets for an iTV?

The supply chain of Apple will start preparing materials for iTV sets in the first quarter of 2012 in order to meet Apple's schedule to launch the new display products in the second or the third quarter of 2012, according to industry sources.


Dec 28 2011

News - Pivos AIOS HD Media Player Reviewed

We first caught wind of the Pivos AIOS HD Media Player a few months back, and now it has been taken out for another test spin. Unfortunately, it sounds like the test involved a whole lot of spinning tires. The Pivos Technology Group likes to position the AIOS HD as an HTPC without the PC, but it sounds like even as a basic streaming box there is quite a bit to go wrong here. It's never a good sign when even a device's troubleshooting dialog boxes can't do any better than acknowledge an issue.


The final issue we ran into involved an error with the rescan process (as if it wasn't bad already) that prevented us from accessing any media files. After starting the AIOS we were prompted with a "tip" any time we tried to access videos, music and photos:


What makes this "tip" comical is the only solution given by the system is "I know."


Dec 27 2011

News - Some Logitech Revue Units Failing Due to Corrupted Firmware

Logitech Revue

If Santa delivered a Logitech Revue and you've been experiencing some trouble getting through the setup procedure, it might be a good idea to check and see if the MAC address begins with 1C6F657. Logitech has disclosed that an indeterminate number of recently manufactured Logitech Revue units shipped out with a corrupted firmware that causes the device to fail to complete the setup. Evidently it drops its connection in such a manner that most folks affected thought the problem was related to overloaded servers on Logitech's end. The worst part is that the problem is not correctable and will require returning the unit either to Logitech or the retailer. It would seem that Logitech just cannot catch a break with Google TV.

 Logitech has stated that there is no fix besides physically swapping an affected Revue box with a working one, however. The symptoms are fairly obvious, but users can determine whether or not they own and problematic unit conclusively by checking the unit’s MAC address.

Boy Genius Report

Dec 26 2011

News - Nintendo Reaffirms Apathy Toward Media Consumption on Wii

The Xbox 360 has been in the news here at Missing Remote quite a bit lately; not because we are avid gamers, but because Microsoft has been heavily investing in the Xbox as a media streamer with their most recent dashboard updates. Don't expect Nintendo to follow suit with the Wii anytime soon. In a recent interview, Nintendo of America president, Roger Fils-Aime, made clear that Nintendo doesn't have any interest in developing the Wii as a media streamer for live TV or movies. There is a whole lot of irony in the discussion given that Roger Fils-Aime seems to be perfectly content to talk about the advantages of having Netflix on the Wii, an application that we have seen Nielsen report is very popular on the Wii. The Wii may not have the best hardware, but would serve as a fantastic entry into the world of media streaming for many mainstream consumers.

While PS3 and Xbox 360 have been adding new non-gaming features over the years, Nintendo remains opposed to joining the fight. Why? "If the consumer wants live TV, they can get it through the options they have today," Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime commented.


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