Logitech is releasing a new product that will turn users' iPads into Harmony remotes by Halloween. The Logitech Harmony Link is the company's newest Harmony remote product, but it's not a device you hold and manipulate to control your home theater. It's a wireless device that can connect to your iPad, iPhone, or Android smartphone to let it function as a universal remote.
The Harmony Link is a disc-shaped device you place near your home theater to control all your devices. It functions as an infrared blaster, sending remote commands to your HDTV, Blu-ray player, set-top box, or compatible game console. The device itself can send infrared commands, and it comes with an infrared blaster so you can keep it in a cabinet with your other home theater devices and still send commands to your HDTV. It then connects to your Wi-Fi network, and can be controlled by any iOS device or Android smartphone through the Harmony Link app.
I've been a TiVo fan for many years, and a subscriber for about ten of those years. I've had various TiVo machines and have been happy with the performance of my HD TiVo. But like any tech-geek, I'm always interested in what's new.
The TiVo Premiere, released last year, intrigued me because of its HD interface, improved UI, larger storage capacity, and 1080p support. The specs sounded great and I was ready to upgrade my system, but as it approached time to pull the trigger, I began hearing stories of sluggish UI performance. Threads posted on TiVoCommunity.com indicate that the second core of the dual-core processor is disabled for stability reasons, thus crippling its Flash-based interface.
This week, TiVo announced the Premiere Elite ($499), which features four tuners and 2 terabytes of storage. Will it have a better processor that will take advantage of the HD UI or will it be more of the same? Unfortunately, I have a hunch that it will be more of the same.
TiVo is continuing their course of being one of the absolute slowest hardware companies out there between product cycles with the announcement of the TiVo Premiere Elite. What's makes the Elite different from the Premiere XL? Well, for starters, this thing has four tuners, so it can record up to four different programs at once. You can watch any of the four, or view a fifth already-recorded program, so that's pretty nice. It's also got a 2 TB hard drive in it, which can hold up to 300 hours of programming. Like the XL, it's THX-certified, which probably doesn't mean much to many people out there, but hey--it's a nice-to-have. The one thing about the Elite is that, despite the name, it actually can only record digital cable and FiOS programming. No over-the-air or analog access here.
No launch date has been set for the TiVo Premiere Elite, but we do know that when it launches, it'll cost $499. Service will be extra, and you can choose the $19.99 per month plan or the $499 lifetime plan.
Read More | Premiere Elite Product Page
Netflix has officially expanded its business into Latin America: Brazil's the first country to receive the company's streaming movies and television shows, and Netflix plans to roll its service out to a total of 43 different countries in Latin American and the Caribbean over the next week.
Just looking at the numbers, Netflix will be able to bolster its current user count of around 23 million people –only consisting of American and Canadian viewers up until today – by the percentage of Latin America's roughly 205 million Internet users that could potentially tune in to their new streaming service. It's a big audience with potentially big rewards for Netflix, which is perhaps why the company spent so much time performing its due diligence to determine just how its Latin American audience views movies and TV shows.
"We've licensed thousands and thousands of hours of feature films, classic favorites, gripping telenovelas, documentaries and kids shows we know you'll enjoy," wrote Rochelle King, Netflix vice president of user experience and design, on the company's blog.
Apple just released an update for the Apple TV that brings a couple of new and welcome features to the platform. First, iCloud integration for television shows. There is a new "Purchased TV Shows" area that shows all shows that you have bought, either through the iTunes Store or from the original Apple TV (the current model doesn't allow purchasing, just renting.) You can go into this area for a list of shows you own, and then can drill into that show to see which episodes you've purchased, indicated by the iCloud logo. The other feature that the update brings is Vimeo support. You can now browse and play content from Vimeo, and if you have an account, you can even put in your credentials to access your inbox and mark videos you want to watch later.
The update is available now to all.
Netflix subscribers, you're gonna wanna pay close attention, because the company has announces some new plans and price changes that will affect everyone. Here's the long and short of it--Netflix has decided to split their DVD rental service and Watch Instantly streaming service into two separate offerings, each with their own pricing models. First, Netflix Watch Instantly unlimited streaming now costs $7.99 per month, and that does not include any DVDs by mail. Unlimited DVDs now start at $7.99 per month, 1 out at-a-time, and it does not include access to Watch Instantly. In fact, none of the DVD plans include Watch Instantly access. Access to each service now starts at $7.99 per month, so if you want both, it will now cost you $15.98, which is up from the $9.99 that it would have cost you yesterday.
The new pricing goes into effect today for new customers, and existing Netflix members will see the new pricing go into effect on or after September 1.
Read More | Netflix Blog
Cable executives on Tuesday downplayed the impact of Netflix on their businesses, arguing that it is simply another provider in a crowded market, though they were forced to acknowledge that consumers are no longer satisfied with just a cable box and a remote.
Execs from Time Warner, Viacom, Comcast, Cox, and News Corp. sat down this morning for a panel discussion at The Cable Show in Chicago. When asked about Netflix's recent decision to air original content, Philippe Dauman, president and CEO at Viacom, warned that "it's not easy to get into the content business; it's a tough exercise."
"That's not really their fundamental business," Dauman said of Netflix. Viacom, on the other hand, is "100 percent focused on content," he said. Netflix is just one cog in the content wheel, he said, pointing to the "incremental money" Viacom has made by repurposing its older shows, like "Beavis and Butthead," on Web-based services like Netflix.
This morning TiVo has announced their new TiVo Premiere Q and TiVo Preview boxes, alongside an update for the TiVo iPad app. Unfortunately for TiVo fanatics, the new hardware won't be available for direct sale, which is a shame. The Premiere Q is a four-tuner device that can also stream video to up to three other TiVo boxes on the same network, including the new TiVo Preview, which lacks a built-in hard drive and only functions as a TV viewing box and streaming client. The new TiVo app will hook in to your cable providers video on demand services, and will let you flick that over to your TiVo for viewing. This is all well and good, but the fact that the Premiere Q and Preview will be relegated only to cable company rollouts, coupled with the fact that there will be only two of those partnerships at first (RCN and Suddenlink,) mean that this is more of a non-announcement from where we sit than anything else. It's like they're teasing us!
Just under a year from when Google and Logitech first unveiled the first Google TV, otherwise known as the Logitech Revue, Google I/O 2011 is this week in San Francisco with some real hope for the platform. Google just signed a deal that brings thousands of videos YouTube.
Content, content, content. Without it, you're as dead in the water as the some extended cable channel at 3 a.m. The only reason that fools like me own one is the vague hope that Google might see the light, open its pocketbook, and perhaps give us some real content to watch.
It's odd, in a way, that consumers could even gripe about such a thing. A few bucks to Netflix or to Hulu opens up a wealth of fresh and archived content that should keep the most devoted couch potato rooted for weeks. But there's something inutterably frustrating about visiting a website and seeing content blocked—blocked!—just because you own a particular piece of hardware.
It seems likely that Samsung will announce its Google TV devices this week, in addition to a Chrome OS netbook. With Logitech reporting just $5 million in sales for the Revue, it would seem that the supply will outstrip the demand.
But with Google's deal that brings rentals to YouTube, there's hope for the platform yet. While Google TV doesn't look likely to dominate the media streamer market, let's look at what Google could do to make the next generation of Google TV succeed.
If you're a TiVo Premiere owners with Comcast Xfinity service, you've got one more reason to be excited, as the companies have announced that they're bringing Xfinity On Demand programming directly into the TiVo Premiere interface. One of the main gripes many have with TiVo is that, if you want to enjoy On Demand and Pay-Per-View content, you still need a cable box from your provider, since the TiVo can't access that stuff. This agreement changes that a bit. Soon, if you are one of the many Xfinity customers out there, you'll be able to browse the On Demand content right on your TiVo. They don't make mention of PPV specifically, but even if that isn't a part of this, you can always order those by phone as well. Given those two facts, this will make it possible for a TiVo Premiere box to serve as your only cable box, which can knock off as much as $20 per month from your cable bill, depending on your location.
Of course, since both TiVo and Comcast and two of the slowest moving companies in existence, this is going to be a slow, gradual rollout. They are going to start with the largest markets, with the first expected to be the San Francisco Bay Area, with additional markets to follow. No timeline or anything has been given.
Any Xfinity customers excited about this?
Read More | TiVo Blog