If you were paying close attention to the changes that Apple made to the Apple Store Online overnight, you would have noticed that, for the first time in its history, the Apple TV has its own section in the Store. Previously, the device had been relegated out of the way, buried in the iPad Accessories section. Odd, sure, since the Apple TV is hardly an accessory for the iPod at all, save for the fact that they can work together over AirPlay, but where else was Apple to put a product that wasn't meant to be featured? After all, the Apple TV wasn't a real business according to Apple--it was just a "hobby." Something the company dabbled in and played with, pulling the string to see where it would lead. Let's be clear: Apple has ambitious TV plans. The company has just been using the Apple TV as a research project. While it has been available for purchase for many years, Apple never advertises it. Not on television, radio, print, or web. So, the fact that here in 2014, seven years after first going on sale, the Apple TV now has its own dedicated section on the Apple Store (with AppleCare, a refurb section, and dedicated accessories) must mean that something bigger is happening, right? Well, where there is smoke, there's fire.
During CES, WWE announced the ambitious WWE Network project, a service that will see live 24/7 programming paired with a vast on-demand content library for $9.99 in what's considered a first-of-its-kind over-the-top service. WWE Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer, Michelle Wilson, announced the vast number of hardware partners and devices that will be able to access the Network when it launches on February 24th, and they included iOS devices, Android devices, Roku, Kindle Fire tablets, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Playstation 4. Later this summer Xbox One and Smart TV platforms get added to the list.
This left many wondering if the Apple TV would support the new venture. As I had noted previously here, as well as in an audio hotline on PWInsider, if you own an iOS device or Mac, you'll be able to AirPlay WWE Network content directly to the Apple TV. This is how the UFC Fight Pass supports Apple's set-top box. However, it seems that the WWE Network will, in fact, get a dedicated Apple TV channel.
2013 is set to come to a close in just a few hours, and we are just in time with our annual top 10 list of the most-watched Gear Live video episodes. Over the past year, as expected, there was a bunch of Apple gear that made the list, while the Monster Tuxedo DNA headphones proved popular as well. Other products that made the list include Sonos Playbar, Microsoft's white Xbox One, and a few others.
Don't let the looks of the Microsoft Xbox One, the next entry in our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide fool you--it may like more like a modern DVR than traditional game console, but that's by design. It's packing an 8-core processor and upgraded Kinect sensor which makes it more than just a game console--it's also your living room's entertainment hub. They're hard to find, but if you look hard enough, you can get one. Look even harder, and you can get one of the elusive white Xbox One "I Made This" models!
You can pick up the Microsoft Xbox One now from Amazon for $499--but hurry, they'll likely sell out before the end of the day.
Read More | Xbox One
What's exciting about the new TiVo Roamio DVR line is that it's been a while since TiVo last released some new hardware. Three and a half years, in fact. That's when the TiVo Premiere debuted, promising an HD interface and dual-core chip that was supposed to bring about speed and efficiency. Well, the Premiere failed to live up to the hype, and TiVo went back to the drawing board and spent a few years building Roamio.
TiVo Roamio is actually a line of three DVRs that range in price from $199 to $599, with four tuners built-in to the standard Roamio, and six tuners in the Roamio Plus and Pro models. The Plus and Pro also have integrated TiVo Stream functionality, too, allowing you to watch TiVo content on your iOS devices wherever you have Wi-Fi. Has TiVo done enough to earn your attention and hard-earned dollar with the Roamio DVR? Join us for our full TiVo Roamio Pro review as we answer just that.
TiVo has announced its new Slide Pro Remote Pro, the follow-up to its discontinued Slide Remote. So, what makes this version of the Slide so much better? Well, the QWERTY keyboard-toting remote control now sports backlit keys, and is programmable so that you can teach it multiple commands (things like power, volume, changing inputs, and the like.) You don't even have to have one of the new TiVo Roamio DVRs to use the Slide Pro--it'll also work with the TiVo Mini and TiVo Premiere DVRs. The best part? The Slide Pro costs $40 less than its less capable predecessor, coming in at $49. You can pick up the TiVo Slide Pro remote now.
iOS devices like the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch will be big holiday gifts this year, make no mistake about it. The Apple TV is actually a fantastic complement to Apple's handhelds, worthy of being featured in our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide. A nice little device in its own right, the Apple TV gives you access to Apple's iTunes Store entertainment content right on your television. In addition, you get Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, sports networks, and plenty of other entertainment options. Connect it to your iTunes Home Share, and you can use your iOS devices as remote controls for the Apple TV. The best part, though, is AirPlay. You can beam audio and video content right to the Apple TV with ease from your iOS device, or your Mac. You can also mirror the display of these devices as well, all wireless over your home network.
Honorable Mention: Roku 2 XS Streaming Player
Read More | Apple TV
If you're the owner of a TiVo Roamio Pro or Roamio Plus DVR, out-of-home streaming (a.k.a. TiVo's holy grail) has finally arrived, letting you stream and download content from your TiVo to your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad when you're away from home. Even better? You can also access one of your tuners for live television watching remotely as well, so when you're away from home and wanna watch the big game live, you can do so. For now, out-of-home remote streaming requires that your iOS device be connected to Wi-Fi, but LTE streaming is definitely in the cards, set to launch in 2014.
"Until now, your shows have been locked up in your set top box at home," said Jim Denney, Vice President of Product Marketing at TiVo. "Now with a TiVo Roamio DVR, whether it’s a hotel in Denmark, the waiting room at the dentist office, when you’re stuck at the airport, or at the gym, out-of-home streaming gives you the level of choice, control and freedom that consumers have come to expect from TiVo."
Out-of-home viewing requires a software update, which begins rolling out to TiVo Roamio Pro and Roamio Plus users today. If you have a base-model TiVo Roamio, you'll need a TiVo Stream in order to enable out-of-home streaming (support for out-of-home for the TiVo Stream is set to roll out next month.) As mentioned, remote TiVo streaming works only on Apple iOS device, and they've gotta be running iOS 5.1 or higher. Android users, don't worry, you'll be able to get in on the remote streaming action in Spring 2014 (let's be honest, you're used to watching iOS get the cool stuff first,) alongside the launch of LTE streaming.
Sonos has formally announced the new Play:1 wireless speaker, bringing the price of entry into the Sonos world down to $199. This is a welcome addition to the lineup of what Gear Live considers to be the best speaker system on the planet, making it more affordable to get into. Even better, those who pick up the Play:1 between now and the end of 2013 will also get a free Sonos Bridge thrown in ($50 value) to get the system going.
A custom-designed mid-woofer and tweeter deliver deep, rich and surprisingly big sound. With a powerful low-end and crisp mids and highs, new smart processing technology pushes Sonos’ drivers further than ever before, minimizing distortion even at full volume. Plus, PLAY:1 projects a wide field of sound, delivering a great listening experience no matter where you are sitting in the room.
The new Sonos Play:1 is available in two colors (black and white,) and maintains the same feature set as the other Sonos standalone wireless speakers--it's just smaller, with two drivers (despite the name) powering the sound. There's a 3.5-inch extended-throw mid-woofer paired with an extended-throw tweeter. You can grab two of them and create a true stereo pair with audio separation for even better sound, or pair two of them with a Sonos SUB for even better bass. Heck, throw two Play:1 units, the SUB, and the Sonos Playbar together and you have a fantastic 5.1 wireless surround sound system that you can also use to play your music (see our Sonos Playbar review.) Or, just grab one Play:1 and put it in the kitchen or bathroom as an extra Sonos zone--they're wall-mountable and humidity-resistant.
The Sonos Play:1 is available now throughout the US, and will see its international release on October 29. Again, you can pick up the Play:1 now and get a free Sonos Bridge thrown in if you buy before the end of the year.
Read More | Sonos Play:1
This morning Apple added a few new apps to the Apple TV, bringing VEVO, The Disney Channel, Disney XD, The Weather Channel, and the Smithsonian Channel to the streaming set-top box. As far as VEVO is concerned, the company released a statement that confirms that the entire 75,000 music video library is now available on Apple TV:
Apple TV users are sure to recognize the intuitive and efficient design. VEVO viewers are able to quickly browse videos by featured artists including all of the latest premieres. VEVO includes multiple modes of discovery – you can watch on-demand videos from any genre or simply select any video that piques your interest. If you have something particular in mind, perform a search and we will surface what you’re looking for right at your fingertips.
The Weather Channel allows you to see current weather conditions and forecasts, and access to featured content from the channel as well. The Smithsonian Channel lets you stream on-demand content. The two Disney apps require cable authentication to view the live and on-demand content, and is available through supported providers: AT&T U-verse, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Midcontinent Communications, Optimum, and Verizon FiOS. You can pick up the Apple TV for $99 from Apple.
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