Good news for everyone owning a Kindle Fire and subscribed to Amazon Prime (as well as owners of any other media streaming device with Prime compatibility,) as Amazon has announced that it will now offer its subscribers increased instant streaming of videos to supported devices. The press release states that users will be able to stream TV shows from MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, TV Land, Spike, VH1, BET, CMT and Logo.
All of this is made possible due to Amazon recently making a deal with Viacom, bringing the total number of available streaming offerings to over 15,000, all of which are supported on over 300 devices. Between Netflix, the Redbox-Verizon deal, and Amazon Prime, the streaming video subscription space is heating up!
We're back with another edition of Ask Andru - this time we're focusing on the wildly popular Kinect add-on, and how useful it might be for Xbox 360 owners who primarily use their consoles for watching streaming video. On to the question:
My family has an Xbox 360 but we end up using it primarily for Netflix, not games. I've read that the recent Xbox Live update added more ways to navigate menus and content using voice and gestures with Kinect. Is it worth buying a Kinect just for those controls, if we don't use it to play games? Is talking and waving at the TV better than using the controller?
It's true--Microsoft recently released an update for the Xbox 360, known as the Fall 2011 Dashboard Update, that has fully optimized the console's interface for use alongside the Kinect add-on. Many early adopters of Kinect complained about how clunky and tacked on the experience felt when trying to navigate menus while using the Xbox 360 outside of gaming, and the update pretty much solved all of those problems. Now, it's easy to "grab" something on screen, swipe through menus, and make selections using hand gestures. Even cooler, though, is that the dashboard is now pretty much fully navigable using just your voice. Simply say "Xbox" and all your options for where you can go are displayed on the screen. If you can see it, you can pretty much say it. Here's a video I made that looks at the features you'll find in the latest update:
Days after Time Warner Cable announced they'd be getting HBO Go, Cablevision announced yesterday that it too had secured an agreement to offer its customers access to HBO GO streaming content.
The cable provider said customers should have access to TV shows and movies from HBO and its sister network Cinemax in the next few months.
"Given the success and popularity of our own Optimum App, we know our customers want the flexibility to watch the programming they receive as part of their cable television service in new ways, on a variety of devices, so we are very pleased to have reached agreement to offer HBO GO and MAX GO to our digital cable customers," John Trierweiler, executive vice president of product management," said in a statement.
HBO GO is accessible online via HBOGo.com and via the Roku set-top box, but subscribers can also watch on mobile devices, including the iPad, iPhone, and Android devices.
Passengers on American Airlines flights are about to get a new perk. Instead of craning their necks to catch reruns of "Monk" and excerpts from "The Tonight Show" on tiny aisle TV sets, they'll be able to wirelessly stream content to their personal devices from the comfort of their own seats.
American announced Tuesday that it will begin testing an inflight streaming service, created through a partnership with Aircell, that gives customers choices of movies and TV shows that they can stream to Wi-Fi-enabled devices in the air.
"American was the first North American airline to launch inflight Wi-Fi, and today we again set a new industry standard as the first domestic airline to test inflight streaming video content," American's vice president of marketing, Rob Friedman, said in a statement. "We know our customers want to be connected on the ground and in the sky, so we are working hard to stay on the leading edge of connectivity through technology enhancements like this."
In a somewhat surprising move, DISH Network said Wednesday that the company had been selected as the winning bidder in BlockBuster's bankruptcy auction, and will acquire BlockBuster's assets for about $228 million after various cost adjustments.
The total bid was $320 million, DISH said. The acquisition is expected to be completed during the second quarter, the companies said, if the bankruptcy court approves the deal.
DISH, a satellite provider, didn't say why it wanted to acquire BlockBuster, with 1,700 physical stores and a streaming service on top of it. But DISH has recently made moves to acquire licenses to content, enhancing its video-on-demand services with a deal with EPIX on Tuesday to bring its movies to DISH's online service, DISHOnline. DISH extended remote streaming to the iPad in December.
Adding a chain of stores and BlockBuster's existing relationships with content providers will help facilitate DISH's transformation into more of a provider of on-demand content than simply a "linear" provider of scheduled broadcasts.
"Mad Men" fans might not get a new dose of Don Draper until 2012, but Netflix has inked a deal with Lionsgate to stream all seasons of the show via Watch Instantly.
The first four seasons of the AMC drama will be available to U.S. viewers on Netflix starting July 27. Canadian customers already have streaming access to the show.
"Mad Men has been and continues to be a representation of TV at its best and Netflix is proud to be the syndication home for this acclaimed series," Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, said in a statement. "This deal secures long term instant access to an iconic show for Netflix members for years to come."
The deal is noteworthy because Netflix is paying for the syndication rights to "Mad Men"; reruns will not air on other broadcast or cable TV channels.
When we got a look at the Syabas Popbox back at CES, the company said the 1080p-streaming set top box would start shipping by the end of March. Well, they missed that goal by about four months, but you can now purchase the Popbox for $129 from sites like Amazon. The Popbox is like a smaller Popcorn Hour that supports 100Mbps 1080p streaming, and has what essentially amount to an App Store, letting you choose different sites and services to integrate into your device. You know, things like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the like. They call them “Popapps.” One glaring omission? Netflix. Hopefully that one comes back sooner rather than later though. We’ve got a video of the Popbox for you after the break, but just ignore the Netflix integration that was present when we recorded, okay?
Now, where’s that Boxee Box?
Microsoft Silverlight 3 is live, and you can go ahead and update your browsers now over at Microsoft’s Silverlight page. Silverlight 3.0.40624.0 weighs in at 4.7MB, and works with Internet Explorer, Firefox 2 and 3, and Safari 3 and 4. Here’s a look at some of the major new features:
- Media: GPU hardware acceleration, new codec support (H.264, AAC, MPEG-4), raw bitstream Audio/Video API, and improved logging for media analytics
- Graphics: GPU Acceleration and hardware compositing, perspective 3D, bitmap and pixel API, pixel shader effects, and Deep Zoom improvements
- Application development: Deep linking, navigation and SEO, improved text quality, multi-touch support, 60+ controls available, and library caching support
- Data-binding improvements, validation error templates, server data push improvements, binary XML networking support, and multi-tier REST data support
Also, remember that Xbox 360 Instant-on 1080p stuff? That’s all powered by Silverlight 3 as well (yes, Silverlight is coming to your Xbox 360 dashboard.) It’s a solid upgrade, and the installation is pretty much immediate if you are on any sort of respectable broadband connection. Definitely worth a look, and you can bet that Microsoft will be pushing hard for a few big Silverlight exclusives, like they did with the Beijing Olympics.
One of the new iPhone 3.0 features that Apple happily touted when they introduced the new OS is HTTP Streaming Media. Now, the common man may not exactly know much about HTTP Streaming, so let’s break it down for a moment. HTTP Live Streaming allows a server to server multiple versions of the same media file, and serve the one that will perform best for you depending on the amount of bandwidth you have available. If you move to an area with a higher or lower amount of bandwidth while you are viewing a piece of content, the video will be dynamically improved or degraded so that you get the best experience. Very cool, right?
If you want to give it a try, you can do that right now at the iPhone 3.0 Video Showcase, which is hosted by Akamai. Visit the site on your iPhone for the full effect, of course.
Japan has finally realized the full monetary potential of the Wii. Beginning next year, streaming video will be available through Nintendo and partnering companies. While players are watching some of that content, they will be able to order sushi, pizza, and Japanese and Chinese food. And if Japanese gamers don’t know what to order, the roulette mode will randomly make a selection. If it picks pizza, it’s time to get back to the Wii.
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