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 Web-Nuts Revisited

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GFyre

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PostSubject: Web-Nuts Revisited   Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:32 pm

 Here is where "saved" articles about GoogleTV from Web-Nuts will be posted in short order.

*****************************************************

Biz Journals: Google Ends Netflix Promotion Due To Crazy Demand
http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2013/07/25/google-ends-netflix-promotion-due-to.html


Sorry if you wanted free Netflix with your Google ChromeCast. The
company killed off the special deal because of high demand.

Jul 25, 2013, 2:48pm PDT
Preeti Upadhyaya
Technology Reporter-
Silicon Valley Business Journal

When Google announced Chromecast, its $35 USB video streaming device,
yesterday, I rushed to order one. The purchase was a no-brainer for me,
especially because Google was offering three free months of Netflix with
the Chromecast.

But now it looks like the company no longer needs to sweeten the deal on
Chromecast.

Today, the Mountain View company told the Los Angeles Times that it has
ended the Netflix promotion "due to overwhelming demand for Chromecast
devices since launch."

According to the LA Times, Amazon and BestBuy.com were both sold out of
Chromecasts this morning, and the wait time for shipping through Google
Play online is between three and four weeks.

Hopefully I placed my order early enough that I'm bypassing this
unreasonable wait time. Stay tuned for my upcoming review of Chromecast
- when I finally get it in the mail.
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PostSubject: Re: Web-Nuts Revisited   Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:38 pm

So, Carl, are you getting one?

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby
can't chew it."."

~ Mark Twain

Wyz
------------------------------
Vista, Win7, Bamboo Capture

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Nah

I really can't get my head around this. Besides, GTV will soon have the
same ability according to quite a few articles I've posted. W/the Jelly
Bean update and the new weekly updated Chrome browser I just don't see
any advantage in paying out even $35.00 for the Chromecast device this
early in the game.

But Google has finally hit upon an instant success...

Carl

---------------------------------------------------------------------

GTV Source: HBO coming back to Google TV via Cast
http://gtvsource.com/2013/07/26/hbo-go-coming-back-google-tv-cast/

Posted on Jul 26th 2013 at 10:40pm by Edgar Cervantes

Yesterday we found out that Google TV would be getting Chromecast
functionality with the Jelly Bean Update. This means that any
functionality that comes to the Chromecast should also come to Google
TV, including streaming support from any app that supports Cast.

One of the biggest disappointments for Google TV users has been the HBO
Go compatibility issues. HBO Go has stopped working for over a month now
and we have heard nothing of a solution in the works. It turns out we
might get a fix, though. Yes, via the all-new Cast feature.

Some newly-discovered lines of code are displaying a list of apps that
may be being tested for the Chromecast. Among these apps is the almighty
HBO Go! Other listed apps include Revision3, Songza, AOL, Post TV and
Qello.

These should be making their way to the list of Chromecast-supported
apps, so get ready to enjoy them on your Google TV as well. We might
very well be celebrating the return of HBO Go to Google TV soon. Even if
it’s not a direct solution.
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PostSubject: Re: Web-Nuts Revisited   Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:45 pm

I tried to save what I could.  I couldn't save the whole website; there were over a 1000 posts from GTV alone! Shocked 

There's more , but RL calls.Laughing 

GF
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PostSubject: Re: Web-Nuts Revisited   Mon Oct 28, 2013 5:04 pm

HBO coming back to Google TV via Cast

------------------------------------------------------------------------
GTV Source: HBO coming back to Google TV via Cast


Posted on Jul 26th 2013 at 10:40pm by Edgar Cervantes

Yesterday we found out that Google TV would be getting Chromecast
functionality with the Jelly Bean Update. This means that any
functionality that comes to the Chromecast should also come to Google
TV, including streaming support from any app that supports Cast.

One of the biggest disappointments for Google TV users has been the HBO
Go compatibility issues. HBO Go has stopped working for over a month now
and we have heard nothing of a solution in the works. It turns out we
might get a fix, though. Yes, via the all-new Cast feature.

Some newly-discovered lines of code are displaying a list of apps that
may be being tested for the Chromecast. Among these apps is the almighty
HBO Go! Other listed apps include Revision3, Songza, AOL, Post TV and
Qello.

These should be making their way to the list of Chromecast-supported
apps, so get ready to enjoy them on your Google TV as well. We might
very well be celebrating the return of HBO Go to Google TV soon. Even if
it’s not a direct solution.




*carl


Last edited by GFyre on Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Web-Nuts Revisited   Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:14 pm

Marketing Land: Compared: What You Can Watch On Google Chromecast, Apple
TV, Roku & Xbox
http://marketingland.com/compared-google-chromecast-apple-tv-roku-53291

Jul 26, 2013 at 11:25am ET by Danny Sullivan

Want to stream content from the Internet to your TV? There’s a new
player in town, Google’s Chromecast. It’s super easy to use and priced
to move. What’s not to like? If you’re happy with just Netflix, you’re
good. If you want Hulu or HBO Go, paying a bit more for Roku or Apple TV
may make sense. If you prefer the rental ecosystem of Amazon or iTunes
over Google Play, Chromecast isn’t for you. Then again, for only $35,
maybe you’ll decide it’s worth being a second device.

The Players

Chromecast is entering a space where two other major Internet-to-TV
devices already exist, Apple TV and Roku. Here’s a quick look at the
players:

Chromecast: About the size of your thumb, Chromecast plugs into the HDMI
port of a TV, and you power it using the supplied USB charger or using a
USB cable plugged into a spare USB port on your TV or receiver. It
connects to the Internet through your wifi.

Chromecast is controlled via your smartphone or tablet, via apps that
are enabled to send to the Chromecast device. You pick a video you want
to watch, tap to queue it to your Chromecast, and it’ll start playing.
You can do the same for anything you’re viewing using Google’s Chrome
browser, when on your desktop computer.

At $35, Chromecast is the cheapest of the devices.

Apple TV: About the size of your hand, you run an HDMI cable from Apple
TV into your TV. It connects to the Internet through wifi or ethernet.
You control it through a small remote, and it allows you to flip through
various apps — think of them as channels — on the device. Select the
content you want to view from within the apps, hit “Play” and off you go.

At $100, Apple TV is the most expensive of the dedicated streaming media
devices, other than the highest-end of the Roku models. Apple TV,
however, also features AirPlay, the ability for you to stream content on
your iPhone, iPad or Mac to your TV.

Roku: Also about the size of your hand, Roku works just like Apple TV.
It connects to your TV through an HDMI cable (some models also offer an
analog connection). Roku connects to your wifi or via ethernet, with the
high-end version.

You select channels you want to have on the device, and various content
providers will stream their material through it. Pick content you want
to watch from those channels, hit “Play,” and lean back.

Roku ranges from $50 for the low-end 720p-only model to $80 if you want
the 1080p-version that matches what Chromecast and Apple TV do. Step up
to $100, and you can play games.

Xbox: You can do more than just play games on Xbox. As with the other
players, it will stream internet content to your TV. However, it’ll cost
at least twice the price of Apple TV and even more compared to
Chromecast and Roku, running from $200 for the basic Xbox 360 to $500
for the forthcoming Xbox One.

The high cost is because the Xbox is also a gaming console. That’s why
initially, I didn’t include it in this round-up. My view is that anyone
looking for a dedicated streaming media device isn’t going to consider
the Xbox, because of the price and because it may provide them with more
on the gaming side than they really want.

But for those who want to know how it sizes up, you’ll find the chart
below now includes Xbox.

Apps Versus Mirroring

Before I get into what you can watch, a caveat, which I’ve added to this
article based on some comments. The Chromecast will allow you to watch
anything you want, as long as you want to open your laptop or desktop
computer, use the Google Chrome browser and send that data to the
Chromecast and thus to your TV. So, some of the things listed as “No” on
the chart below are indeed available that way.

That is not, however, how the devices that Chromecast is competing with
operate. The Apple TV and Roku are designed to free you from opening up
a laptop, to make it easier than that to get internet-based video
content to your TV.

Indeed, with a $6 HDMI cable, that’s all you need to get video from many
laptops to a TV. But it’s not convenient. The chart below, and this
article’s focus, is on how conveniently you can get that internet video
to your TV while sitting on the couch and not reaching for anything but
a small remote or your phone.

The Content Comparison Chart

What can you watch on these devices? Lots of things! But here are the
major options:

Comparison Chart
http://marketingland.com/compared-google-chromecast-apple-tv-roku-53291

The chart above is based off one I did a few years ago, when Google TV
first came out. At the time, it seemed like Google TV might be a rival
in a space where Roku and Apple TV, much less Boxee, were still
relatively new. But Google TV ran into an immediate problem. The promise
that you could stream TV from any site on the Internet died quickly, as
networks blocked it. A promised solution for Hulu still has never arrived.

Subscription Channels

Since that time, my view is that there are three major “channels” (in
the US) that have emerged that, if supported by an Internet TV device,
make the device a compelling choice. These are Netflix, Hulu and HBO Go.

I describe these on the chart above as being “Subscription” services.
That’s because they allow you to watch anything you want for flat
monthly subscription (with HBO Go, you effectively pay this to your
cable or satellite TV company).

Here’s more about each of them, as well as Amazon Prime, a strong
Netflix rival:

Netflix: For $8 per month, Netflix allows you to stream any of the movie
or TV content it has. Of course, it doesn’t have everything. But there’s
an amazing selection of TV content, especially, for the “binge viewers”
out there. Netflix also has original content such as House Of Cards and
Arrested Development. All players support Netflix.

Hulu Plus: Hulu offers a huge amount of content from the major US
television networks of ABC, Fox and NBC, all of which are investors in
the service. On the Web, you can watch some of this for free. But
through an ITV (Internet-to-TV) device, you need Hulu Plus, for $8 per
month. Roku, Apple TV and Xbox support Hulu Plus; Hulu says it’s working
with Google to come to the Chromecast. We’ll see. Three years ago, Hulu
said it was working on a Google TV app. That still hasn’t arrived.

HBO Go: Want to catch up on that HBO show you missed? HBO Go is great
and comes with your cable or satellite subscription, allowing you to use
Internet-to-TV devices to stream content. One caveat. Some providers
like DirecTV might not allow HBO Go to work on particular devices (like
the Roku). Hollywood can be weird. Google’s device doesn’t have HBO Go
support; the rest do.

Amazon Prime: If you’re an Amazon Prime member, for $80 per year, you
get unlimited two-day shipping. But beyond that, you get access to tons
of TV and movie content to watch for free, similar to the type of
offerings that Netflix has. All players but Chromecast support this.

Rental Options

Beyond the subscription channels, the device needs some type of rental
facility, so that you can buy premium content: TV shows and movies that
are not offered by the subscription services. Without a rental option, I
don’t feel a device will be that compelling. In my experience, the
pricing and availability of content from any of these rental services is
about the same.

Something to keep in mind about each of these services is how “locked”
your content might be. If you’re just renting for the night, you
probably don’t care whether what you’ve bought will play on your laptop
versus your TV or your smartphone.

However, if you’ve purchased content to own, that might be a bigger
deal. For more about that, see a story I wrote for CNET earlier this
year, which has a handy comparison chart: How trapped are your digital
movies and TV shows?

On to the rental options:

Apple iTunes: Surprise, Apple only offers TV and movie rentals through
its own service, iTunes.

Google Play: Surprise again, Google offers TV and movie rentals through
its own service, Google Play.

Amazon Instant Video: Just like Apple and Google, Amazon offers TV and
movie rentals through Amazon Instant Video. It’s one of two choices that
Roku offers to its users. Xbox will allow you to play video you’ve
purchase from Amazon, but only if you purchase that on Amazon itself.
You can’t buy through the Xbox, so I’ve listed this as a “No” on the chart.

Vudu: Backed by Walmart, Vudu has a huge offering of TV and movie
rentals. It’s the other choice on Roku. Xbox also supports it, allowing
for direct purchases.

Xbox Video: Microsoft’s own rental service, offered on the Xbox.

YouTube

There’s also YouTube out there for video content. While YouTube serves
as an alternative face for Google Play rental content, my focus in
listing it on the chart above is whether you can stream “free” YouTube
content through your device, everything from your personal videos to
whatever’s going viral at the moment.

You can, other than for Roku — which is the main weakness of that
player. On Apple TV, the weakness I’ve found is that the search
capability for YouTube content often seems poor. With Chromecast, it’s
pretty awesome.

Remote, Cross-Channel Search

It’s awesome because, unlike with Apple TV and Roku, you’re actually
finding the content you want on your smartphone or your computer, making
use of its keyboard, then telling the Chromecast what you want. After
that, Chromecast itself fetches the content. With the other players,
you’re using a “dumb remote” with no keypad (though you can get apps for
Roku and Apple TV to help).

Roku is outstanding among the devices in offering a “cross-channel”
search feature, which I might revisit in more depth later. Basically,
you can search across various channels on your Roku to see which has the
content you want and for how much.

Google TV had this and still does. It’ll be interesting to see if
somehow this gets turned into an app that can work with Chromecast. The
problem with Google TV’s search, however, was that you couldn’t
“tune-in” to some of that content that it pointed to on the Web, because
of network blocking.

Mirroring & No Network Blocking

That’s where Chromecast shines. It supports mirroring from Chrome on a
desktop computer. Whatever you see in Chrome, you can send to
Chromecast. That includes any content you might find on a TV network’s
site. So, if you don’t mind opening up your laptop to get that show,
Chromecast has you covered.

Will the networks be able to block this? Nope. Well, not easily. Google
tells me that all the content fetching comes from your Chrome browser
itself. That means the networks can’t block Chromecast in the way they
could block Google TV. To block Chromecast, they’d have to block anyone
using Chrome. That’s a huge audience to alienate.

By the way, Apple TV can do mirroring and more with its Airplay feature
(see The Verge’s comparison here). Plus, if you have Apple TV, you might
find you just want to use Hulu Plus rather than firing up your computer
to mirror.

They’re All Pretty Great

There are other factors to consider beyond content. For example, if you
have a lot of Apple devices, you might want the support Airplay offers
for talking with your TV. If you’re a big music fan, there are music
options I’m not covering here.

In terms of major video content choices, I’d say the Roku gives the most
options for the least price. Still, at $35, you’re not risking much with
a Chromecast — and it can be pretty fun to have various people sitting
around “flinging” YouTube videos at it.

As someone with all of these devices, I’ll say that you’re not going to
make a bad choice whatever you decide. All offer great value and make
getting video content from the internet to your TV much easier.

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PostSubject: Re: Web-Nuts Revisited   Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:16 pm

Tech Crunch: Review: Google Chromecast
http://techcrunch.com/2013/07/28/review-google-chromecast/

GREG KUMPARAK Posted 2 hours ago

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

It’s probably the most overused quote in tech writing… which sucks,
because I’d really like to use it to describe how I feel about the
Chromecast.

The Chromecast is deceptively simple: you plug it into your TV, then
stream video and music to it from apps running on your iPhone, Android
device, or laptop. The Chromecast itself has no remote; whatever device
you’re streaming from is the remote. The Chromecast has next to no user
interface of its own, either; it’s got a single screen that shows the
time and whether or not it’s connected to your WiFi that appears when
nothing is being streamed, but again, the device you’re streaming from
largely acts as the interface. The Chromecast is a wireless portal to
your TV, and doesn’t try to be anything more.

A Box Full Of Surprises:

I’ve been thinking about it all night, and I don’t think I’ve ever been
as surprised by a device as I am by the Chromecast.

The price? Surprise! It’s $35. Are you kidding me ? According to Google,
they’re not selling them at a loss . Even after accounting for the WiFi
chip, the CPU, 2GB of flash memory, the RAM, licensing the right to use
HDMI, assembly, packaging, and shipping them to the states, they’re
somehow making money selling these things for thirty five dollars. Sure,
their profit margin is probably like, four cents — but that they’re not
selling these at a loss at that price point is kind of absurd.

The setup? Surprise! It’s ridiculously easy. Plug it into HDMI, give it
some juice (through USB, which most new TVs have, or a standard
wallwart), then run the Chromecast app on a laptop to tell it what WiFi
network to connect to. Done.

App compatibility? Surprise! It’s already there on day one in some of
the most notable online video apps, including Netflix and YouTube. I
didn’t even have to update the apps — I just launched’em on my phone and
the Chromecast button was sitting there waiting for me. They’ve even
already built an extension for Chrome that drastically expands the
functionality of the device (though, in its beta state, it’s a bit
buggy. More on that later.)

Hell, even the very announcement of the Chromecast was a bit of a
surprise. Google somehow managed to keep the Chromecast a secret until
right before its intended debut, even with a bunch of outside parties
involved. Netflix, Pandora, teams from all over Google, everyone
involved in the manufacturing process — all of them were in the loop,
yet nothing leaked until someone accidentally published a support page a
few hours too early.

Now, none of that is to suggest that the Chromecast is perfect. It’s
not! Not yet, at least. But its biggest issues are quite fixable,
assuming that Google doesn’t look at the “overwhelming” sales of the
Chromecast and say ‘Oh, well, screw this thing.’ And for just $35, the
few blemishes it has are pretty easy to overlook

Taking The Bad With The Good:

Video streaming quality is quite good (on par with what I get on my Xbox
360 or my Apple TV, at least) particularly when pulling from an app or
website that’s been tailored for compatibility — so Netflix, Youtube, or
Google Play, at the moment.

If you’re using the Chromecast extension for Chrome on your laptop to
project an otherwise incompatible video site (like Hulu or HBOGO),
however, video quality can dump quite a bit depending on your setup.
It’s using your laptop as a middle man to encode the video signal and
broadcast it to the Chromecast, where as the aforementioned compatible
sites just send video straight to the dongle, mostly removing your
laptop from the mix. When casting video tabs on a 2012 Macbook Air
running on an 802.11n network, the framerate was noticeably lower and
there were occasional audio syncing issues.

While we’re on the topic, the Chrome extension packs a bit of an easter
egg: the ability to stream local videos from your laptop to the
Chromecast. Just drag a video into Chrome, and it’ll start playing in a
new tab. Use the Chrome extension to cast that tab, and tada! You’re
streaming your (totally legitimate, not-at-all-pirated-am-i-right)
videos without bringing any other software into the mix. I tried it with
a bunch of video formats (AVIs, MOVs, MKVs), and they all seemed to work
quite well, albeit with the lowered framerate I mentioned earlier.

Even within the apps that have already been tweaked for Chromecast
compatibility, there are some day one bugs. Sometimes videos don’t play
the first time you ask them to, instead dropping you into a never-ending
loading screen. Other times, the video’s audio will start playing on top
of a black screen. These bugs aren’t painfully common, but they’re not
rare, either.

Fortunately, it’s mostly all good — and it can only get better:

Even with a bug or two rearing its head, the Chromecast is easily worth
its $35 pricetag.

Remember, this thing just launched, and it came mostly out of nowhere.
Those bugs? They’ll get patched away. The sometimes iffy framerate on
projected tabs? It’ll almost certainly get better, as the Chromecast
extension comes out of beta.

Pitted against the AppleTV — or, in a fairer comparison, against the
AppleTV’s built-in AirPlay streaming feature — the Chromecast’s biggest
strength is in its cross-platform compatibility. Whereas AirPlay is
limited to iOS devices and Macs, Chromecast will play friendly with any
iOS, Android, Mac, or Windows app that integrate’s Googles Cast SDK.
Having just launched, the Cast protocol obviously isn’t nearly as
ubiquitous as AirPlay, either in terms of Apps that support it nor in
terms of other devices (like wireless speakers) that utilize it — but
assuming that developers embrace the format (and really, they should),
both of those things could quickly change. If developers support the
protocol, Google could quite feasibly open it up to third parties to be
integrated directly into TVs, speakers, and other types of gadgets. If
that happens, AirPlay could be in trouble.

On the topic of its cross-platform compatibility: the experience on
Android is a slightly better than it is on iOS, as Google has
considerably more freedom on the platform; for example, apps that use
Chromecast can take priority over the lockscreen, allowing the user to
play/pause/skip a video without having to fully unlock their Android
device. That’s just icing on the cake, though; for the most part, all of
the primary features work just as well on iOS as they do on Android.

Conclusion:

It’s one of the easiest recommendations I’ve ever made: if the
Chromecast sounds like something you’d want, buy it. It’s easily worth
$35 as it stands, and it’s bound to only get better as time goes on, the
bugs get ironed out, and more apps come to support it.

[Disclosure: Google loaned me this Chomecast for me to tinker with, but
it goes back as soon as my review is done. With that said, I liked it
enough that I've already ordered one of my own.]




Last edited by GFyre on Tue Oct 29, 2013 2:07 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Web-Nuts Revisited   Tue Oct 29, 2013 2:06 pm

Wow!

Finally, I get it!

I like...

Carl
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PostSubject: Re: Web-Nuts Revisited   Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:50 pm

Hi

As we head for the next segment of GTV News (VII) I'd just like to thank
all the folks that have contributed & posted comments to this thread.
Also, I want to acknowledge the many viewers of this thread and offer an
invitation to anyone who would like to post news articles pertinent to GTV.

Whether you are using Google TVs, devices or Chromecast, GTV is moving
steadily forward toward the Jelly Bean update.

Here's to the future & what it may bring to this platform.

Thank You

Carl
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PostSubject: Re: Web-Nuts Revisited   Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:51 pm

GTV Source: Chromecast rooted, discovered to be based on Google TV
http://gtvsource.com/2013/07/29/chromecast-root-google-tv

Posted on Jul 29th 2013 at 7:27pm By Edgar Cervantes

Chromecast is undoubtedly a neat and affordable device. Many Google TV
fans felt it was taking hype away from Google’s smart TV platform, but
we now believe both devices may be able to co-exist. This is because
Google TV is getting all the Chromecast features soon. New discoveries
may prove that Google TV and Chromecast are more related than we
thought, though.

The Chromecast dongle was rooted only a few days after its release,
which is nothing to be surprised about. What should be surprising is
what developers found under the hood. Google mentioned during the
announcement that the device was based on Chrome OS, which is now said
to be false information.

According to the developers who discovered the root method, the code
proves that Chromecast is more similar to Android and Google TV. More
specifically, Chromecast runs a modified version of Google TV, but with
a few edits and replacements.

Impressive, right? This still doesn’t mean much for Google TV users, but
now we know why Google didn’t seem to mind the idea of bringing Cast to
Google TV at all. The Chromecast and Google TV are family, and good
things may come of this duo.

Maybe developers can soon get a full Google TV flash into the
Chromecast, even if it will lack live TV. Maybe we can get apps to be
unofficially compatible with the streaming dongle? I mean, one user
already managed to get a gameboy emulator running on it. Things are
looking bright for Chromecast and Google TV.
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PostSubject: Re: Web-Nuts Revisited   Tue Oct 29, 2013 6:03 pm

Bloomberg News: Silicon Valley’s Bid for $100 Billion Slowed by
Hollywood
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-30/silicon-valley-s-bid-for-100-billion-slowed-by-hollywood.html


By Alex Sherman, Ian King & Andy Fixmer - Jul 30, 2013 12:01 AM ET

Armed with billions in cash and promising advanced features, Intel Corp.
(INTC), Google Inc. (GOOG), Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Sony Corp. (6758) are
gunning to take on cable, phone and satellite companies by offering pay
TV via the Web.

The tech giants plan to use existing cable, fiber and wireless networks,
just as Netflix does, to offer Web-based TV in living rooms and on
tablets and smartphones. In just the latest sign of change in TV
viewing, Google last week introduced Chromecast, a $35 device that lets
mobile-phone and tablet owners watch YouTube and Netflix on their TV sets.

First the companies need content. And broadcast and cable networks are
determined not to make the same mistake of the hollowed-out music
industry, done in by the economics of digital distribution. At stake is
the $100 billion a year in fees the networks share with cable, phone and
satellite providers, which charge viewers about $80 a month for
programming bundles.

“In music it was getting stolen and then Steve Jobs came to them and
said, ‘Let me sell songs at 99 cents and you’ll get paid for
something,’” said Laura Martin, a Needham & Co. analyst in Los Angeles.
“But that unbundled the album, which has been disastrous.”

TV networks are “deathly afraid,” of the same outcome, said Martin.
That’s why they are refusing to unbundle their channels for Silicon
Valley companies, which want to offer TV to a new generation of viewers
already accustomed to finding shows on the Internet.

Industry Upheaval

Technological upheaval is nothing new for TV programmers. It began with
stringing cables in the 1960s to improve reception, evolving into
hundreds of channels of paid programming. In the 1990s, DirecTV (DTV)
and Dish Network Corp. (DISH) began beaming TV from satellites to homes
equipped with small dishes. A decade ago, phone companies laying
fiber-optic lines crowded in. Today 101 million U.S. households pay for TV.

In addition to monthly fees, the TV industry collects $59 billion a year
in ad sales, with most going to network owners like Walt Disney Co.
(DIS), parent of ESPN and ABC, CBS Corp. (CBS), Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s
NBCUniversal, 21st Century Fox Inc. and Time Warner Inc.

To obtain their shows, tech companies will have to agree to offer
programming bundles and pay a 20 percent premium above what current
providers are assessed for packages that include broadcast TV and cable
channels like CNN, Discovery and ESPN, according to Martin. Those are
the terms Hollywood demanded of telephone companies when they were
getting started.

The price may be worth it, as tech companies seek new revenue in the
wake of slumping personal computer sales and as they try to cash in on
the soaring mobile ads market.

Utopian TV

Technology companies have been trying to shake up TV for years with
little success. In 2007, Intel introduced Viiv, a PC designed to work
with living-room TVs. In 2010, Qualcomm Inc., the largest maker of chips
for mobile phones, closed FloTV, a service for small screens, citing a
lack of customers.

“It isn’t clear to me that there’s a different formulation that will be
as popular and as profitable to all the participants,” Glenn Britt,
chairman and chief executive officer of Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC),
said in an interview. “There’s a sort of shallow view where others think
they can disrupt this whole thing and it will be wonderful.”

Intel and Sony are both working on pay-TV products. Intel is developing
a set-top box for sale in stores this year, Eric Free, a vice president
and general manager, said in June. The product will be sold with a
monthly subscription providing live and on-demand entertainment.

Media Talks

The Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker has held talks with
companies including Viacom Inc. (VIAB), the owner of MTV and
Nickelodeon, and Comcast’s NBCUniversal, people with knowledge of the
situation said in March.

In talks with content owners, Intel has touted something called frame
accurate dynamic ad insertion, technology that replaces commercials with
more user-relevant ads when a show is watched on demand.

“The television experience is approaching an inflection point with
changes in consumer behavior and significant advancements in the
business rules and technology,” said Jon Carvill, an Intel spokesman.

Tokyo-based Sony, which runs successful film and TV studios alongside
its electronics business, has also held talks with Viacom Inc. and
NBCUniversal, according to people with knowledge of the situation who
sought anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Program Bundle

The company is considering selling a bundle of programming over the
Internet that can be seen with almost any Sony device, including
PlayStation game consoles, Bravia TVs and Blu-ray players, said the people.

Dan Race, a Sony spokesman, declined to comment, as did Mark Jafar, a
spokesman for Viacom. Cameron Blanchard, an NBC spokeswoman, didn’t
respond to a request for comment after normal business hours. The Wall
Street Journal reported in late 2011 that Sony was considering such a
service.

Apple, in Cupertino, California, is seeking to work with pay-TV
providers, at least in the near term, to offer services letting current
cable subscribers watch using an Apple device. Tom Neumayr, a spokesman,
declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Mountain View, California-based Google is again discussing
buying streaming rights from Hollywood, according to people with
knowledge of the matter, after years of investing in original YouTube
channels and faltering with Google TV, a home screen and navigational
tool built into some sets from Sony and LG Electronics Inc. The company
would still have to address the industry’s concerns about piracy.

Leslie Miller, a Google spokeswoman, declined to say whether the company
is talking with network owners.

Hulu Factor

Price and channel choices aren’t the only obstacles tech companies face.
Broadcasters and cable networks are pursuing their own Web initiatives,
through services like Hulu, which is owned by Disney, Fox and
NBCUniversal, and with incumbent pay TV providers to offer shows on
tables and smartphones.

“Cable operators today are extremely strong because people are watching
more TV than ever and have a dependence on broadband,” said David
Zaslav, chief executive officer of Discovery Communications Inc., owner
of the Discovery and Animal Planet networks. “The overall package of TV,
broadband and phone is still the most compelling offering out there, and
it doesn’t look like there’s anything in sight right now that has that
kind of strength and value to consumers.”


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PostSubject: Re: Web-Nuts Revisited   Tue Oct 29, 2013 6:15 pm

Forbes: Apple TV, Google Chromecast And Aereo Put Broadcast Television
On Death Watch
http://www.forbes.com/sites/chrisversace/2013/07/29/apple-tv-google-chromecast-and-aereo-put-broadcast-television-on-death-watch/


NVESTING | 7/29/2013 @ 10:14AM

Over the last few years, there has been a significant shift in how we
consume digital content from music and movies to books and television
(TV). The intersection of new technologies, devices and high speed
networks has served to accelerate that change, particularly for TV. If
we were to hop into the way back machine, it’s hard to believe that TV
consisted of only a handful of channels, programming ceased at some
point each night and the picture was in black & white, not color let
alone 3D. Yet for all the changes we have seen, the recent past and the
coming future are poised to radically shift TV to the point that other
than live sporting events and maybe news, we may not be able to
recognize broadcast TV any longer.

Video on demand (VOD) has become a staple of the cable companies ranging
from Comcast and Verizon Communications to Cablevision and Charter
Communications . Streaming services from not only Netflix and Apple ,
but also from the aforementioned Comcast and Verizon Communications
(check their iPad apps) and HBO as well as others is fueling not only
the time shifting consumption of content we have come to rely on in this
post Tivo world, but also fostering place-shifting as well. Watch any
teen or ‘tween and they firmly expect to watch what they want, when they
want but where they want and on the device they want.

With smartphone penetration well past the tipping point and tablet sales
maturing, many companies are turning their sights on the next
battlegrounds. One of them is the Connected Car and another is the
Connected Home. Inside that Connected Home, there will be several
battlegrounds — security, home automation (temperature, appliances and
so on) and the living room. How that all shakes out has yet to be
determined, but rest assured while companies like AT&T, Verizon, and ADT
are working on the first few, Apple, Google , Microsoft , Slingbox, Roku
and others are targeting the living room as part of their digital
content offering.

Apple TV. Apple has shipped more than 13 million Apple TV units and at
the recent D11, CEO Tim Cook shares that TV is not just a hobby, but
rather the company has a “grand vision.” Rumors over the next iteration
of Apple TV continue and before too long that rumor mill is likely to
kick into high gear once again as Apple prepares for the official
unveiling of iOS 7. Like the soon to be released iRadio, Apple TV is a
work in progress, which means we keeping our eyes and ears open on this
digital content streaming and portal device. Combined with the full
power of Apple’s digital hub — iTunes – it could be a powerful new
weapon for Apple as well as a very sticky one for consumers.

Google’s Chromecast. Last week, Google introduced a potential game
changer to media consumption in the form of Chromecast, a $35 thumb
drive sized device that that plugs into the back of your TV, allowing
you to stream content from any device. Well almost any device. If you
have an Android tablet or smartphone, an iPad or iPhone, use Chrome for
Mac and Windows then you are in luck. If you use a BlackBerry or Windows
Phone, at least for now you will be stuck using either a PC or tablet.
This just introduced product has already sold out online at Best Buy,
Amazon.com, and Google Play.

Aereo – one to watch. While both Apple TV and Chromecast allow for the
streaming of TV and other digital content, it is Aereo that has or at
least should have the major broadcast TV networks – Walt Disney ’s ABC,
CBS , Comcast’s NBC and News Corp .‘s Fox — concerned if not worried.

Backed by IAC’s Barry Diller, Aereo is a Web video service that offers
local TV channels and a DVR-like service, which can be viewed on a PC or
Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple TV or Roku device. While Aereo doesn’t support
Android as yet, given the existing support for Google’s Chrome browser
one has to wonder how long until it and Chromecast are supported.
Currently offered in New York, Boston and Atlanta, Aereo has plans to
expand to another 20 markets, with Salt Lake City in August and Chicago
in September.

Arguably, success at Aereo poses a problem for the broadcast industry in
that it collects fees to the tune of billions by allowing cable networks
access to local channels. Like any company that sees a high margin
revenue stream under potential attack, last March, broadcasters filed
two federal lawsuits accusing the service of violating copyright law. In
March, a New York federal appeals court upheld a ruling in favor of
Aereo. Given the fees and profits at stake, it’s more than likely we
have not heard the last of this. I for one can’t wait to sample Aereo’s
service as the company expands its footprint in the coming months.

How to invest in this? Whenever I see so many companies looking to
compete in one market, I tend to step back and look at the food chain or
ecosystem for those players that offer critical solutions vs. commodity
components and serve many of the would be players. A great example of
such a merchant supplier in the smartphone and tablet space is Qualcomm
, which counts Samsung, Apple, LG, HTC and most if not all the other key
players as customers.

In this digital content and Connected Home battleground, the teardown
analysis on the latest Apple TV unit and on a Chromecast performed by
iFixIt.com as well as similar analysis on the Roku 3 and the Slingbox
500 reveal key supplier to be Toshiba, Broadcom , Marvell Technology
Group , Micron, Atheros (now owned by Qualcomm) and AzureWave
(TPE:3694). Toshiba and Micron are supplier of NAND flash memory, while
the key connective technologies are provided by Broadcom , Marvell and
Atheros/Qualcomm. It’s the latter group of companies that investors
should be focusing on.

Disclosure. Subscribers to PowerTrend Profits were alerted to the
long-term investment opportunity in Qualcomm shares on April 9th.

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PostSubject: Re: Web-Nuts Revisited   Tue Oct 29, 2013 6:17 pm

USA Today: Did Google 'Crack The Code' On TV Before Apple?
http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/07/31/google-apple-tv/2603527/

Mike Schuster, Minyanville 1:12 p.m. EDT July 31, 2013

Steve Jobs famously said he "cracked" the code to the TV industry, but
it appears Google beat Apple to the punch.

"'I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely
easy to use,' he told me. 'It would be seamlessly synced with all of
your devices and with iCloud.' No longer would users have to fiddle with
complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. 'It will have the
simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.'"

This is an excerpt from Walter Isaacson's biography of Apple co-founder
Steve Jobs. In it, Jobs makes the briefest of mentions to the mythical
television set that has been rumored to be on the precipice of release
for years now. And giving it the stratospheric hype that only the CEO of
Apple could give, Jobs claims he's "cracked" the code to an unbelievably
simple way in which users can operate an integrated TV.

However, it would seem that Google has now cracked that code before
Cupertino could make good on that promise.

Last week, Google unveiled three products in a press event that was much
more low-key than its annual I/O conference. It debuted Android 4.3, the
new Nexus 7 tablet, and an odd little device called Chromecast. And of
the three products, the most unassuming garnered the biggest reaction.

Chromecast is a small, two-inch dongle that can be plugged into the HDMI
port on an high-definition television (HDTV) and stream YouTube and
Netflix content directly to the set. Users can also mirror websites,
images, and video displayed in their Chrome Web browsers onto the screen
with a simple extension. The Chromecast has no dedicated remote control
and is instead controlled by any number of Android, iOS, Mac, or PC
devices on the same Wi-Fi network.

But arguably, the best feature is its price: $35.

People went nuts for the Chromecast. The device sold out almost
immediately, buoyed by a limited-time offer of three free months of
Netflix, which effectively dropped the price of the Chromecast to $11.
Although the extremely feature-light dongle didn't have much in the way
of whiz-bang specs, its simplicity, operability, and rock-bottom price
point proved to be all that was needed to whip customers into a frenzy.

And not a moment too soon.

The media center arena has been in desperate need of a device to shake
up the industry as it languishes in a holding pattern with unexciting
product lines and woefully safe features. Apple TV and Roku boxes have
been the lowly kings of the anthill and, despite delivering solid
performances, they feel wholly lackluster in a field that should have
killed off cable subscriptions long ago. Even the latest rumor of the
elusive Apple television set -- that it will automatically delete
commercials from a live recording -- seems boring and antiquated for an
industry that already has commercial-free programming in the way of
Netflix, iTunes, and Google Play store.

And the less said about the botched handling of Google TV, the better.
Although I've called the Boxee Box the most frustratingly broken and
bug-ridden device I've ever had the displeasure to own, Google TV
doesn't fare much better as a media device, and customers who bought
into that service deserve a product that delivers on its promise as soon
as it's plugged into a TV.

So imagine the surprise of users and analysts to see Google deliver a
media device that not only made good on its promise of simplicity and
function, but also generated frothing excitement to boot. Very few, if
any, pieces of Google hardware have sparked such an immediate and
red-level response from users. Seemingly, not even Google expected the
demand to be as high as it was, judging from its hasty and unfortunate
cancellation of free Netflix service for customers who purchased the
Chromecast after its first day of sale.

But the demand isn't only good for Google, it's good for the industry.
Although Chromecast debuted with limited content partnerships, the
unforeseen flurry of excitement has drummed up interest from a bevy of
companies, greatly expanding the short list of future partners that
Google mentioned during the event. Already, Pandora, HBO GO, Redbox,
Hulu, Vevo, Vimeo, Songza, TWit.TV, and Plex have each hinted at or
outright expressed forthcoming support.

This partnership scramble stands in stark contrast to the difficulty and
very public frustration both Google and Apple had when finagling deals
with content producers during their respective device launches. And
while the companies originally had to sort out messy business like live
broadcast integration and profit sharing to get their products off the
ground, Chromecast eschews most of those headaches and just streams
existing services outside the box, so to speak, while being controlled
by other devices.

And therein lies the code-cracking.

When Steve Jobs spoke of the "simplest user interface you could
imagine," he might have been referring to the very same UI that Google
delivered for Chromecast. As mentioned before, the product comes with no
dedicated remote control and connects to the many devices one normally
has by their side when watching TV. In fact, any device on the Wi-Fi
network can operate the Chromecast, which makes party viewing far more
enjoyable than passing remotes or huddling around a laptop. What could
be simpler?

The Chromecast isn't the most feature-laden device in the field, but
it's one of the most user-friendly, celebrated, and -- most importantly
-- cheapest. As it stands, the product is well worth its price and, if
demand and future partnerships are any indication, it's promised to only
get better.

It's still up in the air if Apple will deliver an actual television set
that "cracks" the code in the way Jobs had in mind. But if there was one
code that needed to be cracked, it was to how to finally inject
excitement into the media center industry.

And Google beat Apple to the punch.

This story originally appeared on Minyanville
http://www.minyanville.com/sectors/technology/articles/google-inc-chromecast-apple-inc-chromecast/7/31/2013/id/51075#ixzz2ad1dGQE7?refresh=1.

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PostSubject: Re: Web-Nuts Revisited   Tue Oct 29, 2013 6:18 pm

USA Today: Netflix Adds Personalized Profiles To Streaming Service
http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/personal/2013/08/01/netflix-adds-new-profile-feature/2603675/


Mike Snider, USA TODAY 8:03 a.m. EDT August 1, 2013

Netflix wants to develop a more personal relationship with its millions
of subscribers.

To that end, the streaming video service today adds a feature called
Profiles that lets different members on the same account get their own
specific recommendations and connect to their own Facebook pages.

In testing the feature so far this year, Netflix found that subscribers
watched more programming, says Neil Hunt, the company's chief product
officer.

Subscribers to the service, which offers unlimited movie and TV show
streaming for $7.99 monthly and a separate disc rental service for $7.99
monthly, can now add up to five Profiles to their Netflix accounts.
Then, when family members log into the service, they'll see an icon for
each Profile. After selecting theirs, they get "an experience
personalized for that individual based on (their) viewing history,
favorites and favorite genres," Hunt says.

Each member will also have an individual Instant Queue of saved programs
to watch and social suggestions based on what Facebook friends have
watched and rated recently. Netflix added Facebook connections to the
service in March, but a shared account might result in kids' or parents'
viewing choices winding up in one another's Facebook feeds.

Now, "you won't have to be embarrassed by the content your kids are
watching showing up in your Facebook feed any longer," Hunt says,
"because it will be confined to their Profile, instead."

Profiles can also provide quick access to the Netflix Kids section,
which houses programming aimed at those ages 12 and under.

Tech news sites such as Cnet.com and TechCrunch reported Tuesday that
some Apple TV users came across the Profiles feature while using the
service. In addition to the Netflix website and Apple TV, the Profiles
feature can be found on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, iPad, iPhone and
most smart TVs. The feature will be coming to Nintendo Wii and Wii U,
Hunt says.

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter thinks the new feature can
"be very effective in keeping subscribers happy." However, ultimately,
it's the available content on the service that promotes member
retention, he says.

Netflix's stock price has dropped about 7% since the company released
its quarterly financials last week. Revenue, net income and customer
numbers all rose, but a bit below Wall Street expectations. Streaming
subscribers now number about 30 million in the U.S., up from 29.2
million, and 36.3 million globally. The stock closed at $244.48
Wednesday, up 72 cents.

The company had gotten a lot of attention from the 12 Emmy nominations
it earned for original shows such as House of Cards and Arrested
Development. However, CEO Reed Hastings noted in a post-earnings
conference call that "we're fundamentally in the membership happiness
business, as opposed to in the TV show business."

That's what the new feature is about, Hunt says. "That's what we will
generate, more happiness," he says. "Long-term, people who are more
engaged tell their friends more enthusiastically, and that will lead to
faster growth and a bigger business overall."
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PostSubject: Re: Web-Nuts Revisited   Tue Oct 29, 2013 6:19 pm

USA Today: 3 Simple Steps To Create A Home Media Server
http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/komando/2013/08/02/home-media-server-netflix-itunes-hulu-spotify/2596051/


Kim Komando, Special for USA TODAY 7:09 a.m. EDT August 2, 2013

Streaming video and audio from the Web is now commonplace. Netflix,
iTunes, Hulu, Spotify and other services make it simple to watch or
listen to what you want when you want.

You don't even need a computer. Most services have apps for smartphones
and tablets. Many newer TVs are Internet enabled, so they can stream
online video and audio with no extra gear.

For non-Internet TVs, you can grab an Apple TV or Roku box for $100 or
less and plug it in. You might already have a Wii U, Xbox 360 or
PlayStation 3. These all include media streaming.

Google's new $35 Chromecast takes a different approach. It plugs in to
your TV via HDMI and connects to your Wi-Fi network. You can stream
online video from your smartphone or tablet, or the Chrome browser on PC
and Mac, right to the TV.

That's all fine for bringing in outside media, but what about media
already in your home? You might have a collection of music that isn't on
any service. You probably have thousands of photos. Don't forget any
home videos or purchased movies you have on your hard drive.

How do you bring these to your TV? You could just connect your computer
directly and use the TV like a monitor.

Of course, that doesn't help you stream to mobile gadgets. And you might
already have a streaming box plugged in to your TV. Who needs more
clutter in your entertainment center?

There's another solution: Set up a home media server.

Don't let the name intimidate you; it's actually not that hard once you
know how. And that's what I'm going to tell you.

There are three things you need for this to work.

1. A media server to stream content

2. A fast home network to carry the content

3. Gadgets to receive and display the content

Let's start with the server. A server is just a computer that stores and
shares information. Any computer can be a server. You could use your
existing home computer or an unused older computer you have sitting around.

If you're just serving photos or audio, you don't need a high-end
system. Almost any Windows Vista or 7 machine will do fine. Just make
sure the computer's hard drive is large enough to hold everything.

As a side note, I know people still have Windows XP computers at home or
sitting in a closet. I wouldn't use that. Most of the software I'm going
to talk about won't work as well on it. Plus, Microsoft is dropping
support for XP in less than a year. At that point, no one should be
running XP.

For streaming video, you'll want a something a bit newer. It should
really run Windows 7 and have 4 gigabytes of RAM.

Once you have the hardware, you need software. There are some paid
options out there like Pogoplug PC ($30) and PlayOn ($40 a year, $25 a
year on sale). These make it simple to stream your media to mobile
gadgets and other compatible electronics. Plus, they include plenty of
other online media sources.

However, there are free options as well, such as Orb and Plex. When I
say "free," I mean the computer-based streaming software. Additional
hardware and apps will cost some money.

For example, Orb has hardware you can plug into your stereo ($79 per
unit) and TV ($99 per unit). The Orb software detects these
automatically, making streaming simple.

I should point out that Orb is the only service with an easy solution
for stereos. So, if that's what you're after, start there.

Orb can stream to other hardware, like a video game console and some
streaming gadgets. Orb also has apps for smartphones and tablets. You
can watch your media on your home network or on the go.

If you're looking for the most powerful system, however, check out Plex.

You download the Plex Media Center for free and install it on your
computer. It works on PC, Mac, Linux and some standalone network
attached storage (NAS) units.

Plex organizes your media and streams it wherever you want. It has apps
for iOS, Android, Windows 8, Roku, Internet-enabled LG and Samsung TVs,
and Google TV. These apps range from free to $5, depending on the
gadget. Of course, Plex also streams to newer video game consoles.

Then there's the free myPlex service. This streams your content to a
smartphone or tablet on the go. It even streams to an Internet browser
on any computer. You can use it to share photos and videos with friends
and family. Not a bad deal.

The one drawback to Plex is that it can be a little harder to set up
than some other systems. However, every new version makes it easier, and
it's free. So, there's no harm in giving it a try.

A media server doesn't work if you can't send the information anywhere.
You need a network.

Any wired network set up in the last 10 years is going to be fast enough
for streaming media. For wireless, however, you really need an 802.11n
router. This has the speed, range and signal strength you need for
streaming media.

An older 802.11g router could work if you're only doing a little
streaming here and there. However, you might find your network bogging
down very quickly.

Then, of course, you need gadgets on the other end to receive and
display the media. I mentioned most of them already: mobile gadgets,
streaming video gadgets, video game consoles, and so forth.

Given the number of gadgets out there, this can seem overwhelming. How
do you know what works and what doesn't?

Start by listing what gear you already own. Then compare it to what each
streaming service says is compatible.

When you do this, you might find you already have the gear you need.
That's thanks to DLNA.

DLNA stands for Digital Living Network Alliance. It's a set of standards
built into many network-connected electronics. DLNA makes it easy for
various gadgets to communicate and do just this kind of thing. There is
a certification system, so DLNA-compatible electronics will list it as a
feature in the manual.

Any DLNA gadget should be able to receive streaming media from your
server. That includes many TVs, Blu-ray players and audio receivers.

That's enough to get you started on your media-streaming project. Have fun!

Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer
electronics, computers and the Internet. To get the podcast, watch the
show or find the station nearest you, visit www.komando.com.
E-mail her at techcomments@usatoday.com
.
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PostSubject: Re: Web-Nuts Revisited   Tue Oct 29, 2013 6:21 pm

Gigom: Making TVs smart: why Google and Netflix want to reinvent the
remote control http://gigaom.com/2013/08/02/making-tvs-smart-part-3/

By Janko Roettgers 4 HOURS AGO ( 8-02-2013)

SUMMARY:

For users, one of the most painful things about using a smart TV is the
remote controls. That’s why Google and Netflix are now looking to
reinvent the way users communicate with their TVs.

Making TVs smart is a three-part series that looks at why smart TVs have
failed to take off — and what needs to happen for these devices to
realize their vast potential. You can read part one here
and part two
here .

When Google TV debuted back in 2010, it represented a radical take on
smart TVs. Google wanted to combine live TV with internet content, and
offer viewers a seamless way to switch from an ABC broadcast to a
Netflix stream. The first generation of Google TV devices failed for a
variety of reasons.

But all many people remember are those crazy remote controls.

Logitech’s Revue companion box shipped with a full-size QWERTY keyboard
better suited for an office desk than a living-room couch, and Sony’s
Google TV devices introduced a monster of a remote control that had no
fewer than 80 buttons.

Google has learned from these mistakes and, along with a number of other
companies, is trying to rethink how people interact with their TVs.
Keeping this kind of interaction simple as TVs get smarter turns out to
be a big challenge. Cracking this nut could open the door to a whole new
range of applications, which is one of the keys to getting users excited
and finally turning smart TVs into a success story.

Changing the channel without knowing the number

Google’s initial decision to make Google TV devices with a full QUERTY
keyboard was prompted by a problem anyone who has ever tried a streaming
box like Apple TV or Roku knows well: Search, or even entering account
credentials, is a royal pain.

Most streaming boxes come with remote controls that are built around a
so-called D-Pad — buttons to navigate up, down, left and right. To
search, devices use on-screen keyboards, leaving users with the slow,
frustrating task of manually jumping from one letter to the next to type.

Google TV has always heavily emphasized search, and the D-Pad simply
wasn’t the right solution for that approach. After failing with the full
keyboard, Google took a different route for its second generation of
devices: remote controls with microphones. After pressing a mic button,
you just speak up to change the channel, search for a YouTube video or
launch an on-demand movie.

“Voice has been around for decades, but for a long time, it wasn’t very
good,” Eric Liu, Google TV Product Manager, told me during a recent
interview
.

He explained that Google TV uses the same cloud-based voice recognition
technology as Android phones. That means that the millions of people who
use voice to interact with their smart phones are also helping to
improve voice control for Google TV.

Google is trying to make sense of what people want so they’ll be able to
change the channel without knowing complicated voice commands, or even
channel numbers. Instead of entering channel 47, users simply say “CNN,”
and the TV automatically switches to the right channel. “This is a
Google problem to solve because we know what channel CNN is on,” Liu said.

Your TV is not your friend

Google isn’t the only one using voice to control smart TVs and
TV-connected devices. Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console has had voice
control for some time, and Samsung is also using voice for its new smart
TVs.

Other manufacturers have been experimenting with other ways to move
beyond the D-Pad. LG TVs come with a Wii-like remote control that can be
used to control a pointer on the TV screen. The Xbox can be controlled
by gestures when combined with a Kinect motion sensor, and TV
manufacturer Haier even showed off eye tracking at the 2013 CES as a
possible way to interact with the smart TVs of the future. It would
allow users to simply look to the bottom of the screen to scroll through
menus or select menu items.

“Remote controls aren’t bad,” Liu said, they’re just not the best
solution for every type of situation. Instead of trying to replace the
entire remote control with voice or even gestures, Google concentrated
on those types of interactions that would take a long time with a
traditional remote control.

For example, you can change the volume just fine with a volume button–
trying to create a new process for that would just be adding unnecessary
complexity. Text input, on the other hand, is something that the
traditional remote doesn’t do well.

Another challenge is ensuring that the technology doesn’t make users
feel uncomfortable. Speaking to a computer, or even a TV, puts users on
the spot. “People have a real nervousness when interacting with
technology,” Liu said. That’s why Google TV uses a dedicated button to
start voice controls, giving users some time to prepare. Google also
consciously skipped any type of Siri-like spoken interaction. It leads
the user straight to relevant apps and content sources instead of
pretending to do small talk. “This is not a friend,” Liu said of the
remote control.

Almost like AirPlay, but open

Speaking of Siri: The one company that has arguably been the most
successful at redefining interaction with the TV is Apple. AirPlay,
which Apple added to its mobile operating system in 2004, allows users
to stream audio, video, photos and even a mirror image of their entire
desktop straight from their iPhone, iPad or Mac to an Apple TV.

In this scenario, the smart TV once again becomes merely a display — the
content itself is on users’ mobile devices. And the best thing about it?
No setup is required to make AirPlay work. Devices simply find each
other as long as they’re on the same network.

Play Video

AirPlay works great if you use other Apple products and services, but
what if you’re like most consumers, with a patchwork of different
devices and platforms? “Homes are complicated places,” said Netflix
Partner Devices Director Scott Mirer. The reality is that your phone may
be an Android phone, and your TV may be manufactured by Samsung.

That’s why Netflix has banded together with YouTube and others in the
industry to establish an open standard dubbed DIAL, which is shorthand
for discovery and launch. The idea: An app on your phone or tablet will
automatically discover any DIAL-capable TV in the same network, kind of
like iOS devices automatically discover Apple TVs. Once that connection
is established, the app on your phone will be able to launch an app or
web app on your TV. What the two apps do after that is up to each
developer.

Bringing competitors together

Talk to YouTube Product Manager Sarah Ali, and you get the sense that
DIAL may have far-reaching applications. “We think this is really
powerful,” Ali said. With this technology, users of YouTube’s mobile app
can automatically send videos to TV screens without first pairing the
devices. The feature first launched on Google TV devices, and has since
quietly found its way onto select Blu-ray players and TV sets from
manufacturers like LG, Panasonic and Sony. “We want this experience
everywhere,” Ali said.

Mirer echoed that sentiment, which also explains why the two competing
video services cooperated on the product.

Indeed, DIAL seems to have struck a nerve: There hasn’t been much talk
about the technology, but numerous companies have signed on to
participate. An online registry includes entries from the BBC, Hulu,
Pandora, Disney, Turner and others. On the hardware side, there’s
participation from Intel, LG, Samsung and Humax.

Netflix also uses DIAL for remote playback, allowing users to select a
movie on their tablet and then start playback on the TV screen. The
company eventually wants to offer additional second-screen
functionality, and Mirer told me that he is “excited by the potential” —
but he cautioned that it may take a long time before some of the more
advanced functionality makes its way into every living room. “What gets
lost a lot in the public discourse is how long this game is,” he said.

Chromecast is Google’s Nexus approach, taken to the living room

That lesson wasn’t lost on Google, which quickly realized that not every
publisher had the same resources to develop its own remote playback and
mirroring applications on top of DIAL. “It wasn’t enough,” Google
product manager Rishi Chandra told me. That’s why Google developed
Google Cast, which lets users launch and play content on the TV straight
from their mobile devices, on top of DIAL. Google Cast comes with what
Chandra called “a much more robust set of APIs,” which should help
developers to integrate the technology into their own apps.

And to prove the point that consumers are interested in this, Google
launched a new product called Chromecast at the end of July. Chromecast
is a $35 dongle that plugs straight into a TV’s HDMI port and that’s
capable of playing back content that’s launched on a tablet or mobile
device.

It comes without a remote control, and is likely the most minimal smart
TV solution so far. Instead of burdening users with yet another app
store on TV, or forcing them to navigate through menu items with a
remote control, it outsources the entire content discovery and control
part to the mobile device, and turns the TV into a canvas that simply
plays back the selected content. And unlike AirPlay, which works only
with iOS devices, Chromecast works with devices outside the Google
ecosystem, too.

Chromecast also reflects the lessons Google learned from its mobile
operating system Android, said Chandra: “The best way to define the
right user experience is to build it end to end.” The device is “very
similar to the Nexus model that you see with Android,” he added.

That approach seems to be working. Chromecast immediately sold out
online and in Best Buy retail stores. Google even had to end a Netflix
promotion about 24 hours after launching the device due to what the
company said was overwhelming demand.

DIAL and Google Cast could make TVs not just smart, but social and fun

Google has already said that it wants to make Google Cast available to
other TV manufacturers as well, but Chandra told me that he doesn’t
expect devices from other manufacturers to support the technology until
next year. He also emphasized that Google is working to expand the
functionality, and bring more publishers on board.

What kinds of cool features and services might smart TV consumers get
down the road? One hint is in YouTube’s current DIAL-based second-screen
implementation, which is also available on Chromecast. YouTube’s mobile
apps allow users to build collaborative playlists on the spot, with
everyone in the room adding videos to the queue. That basically allows
users to band together for instant YouTube parties — and gives the
overused buzz phrase “social TV” a whole new meaning.

Smart TVs and mobile devices, working together, could in the future
enable a whole range of new social experiences, with family members
competing against each other while Who wants to be a millionaire is on
TV, dorm-room buddies acting out real-life versions of Turntable.fm, and
people singing into their smart phones to participate in impromptu
karaoke sessions while American Idol is playing in the background.

DIAL, Google Cast and other emerging technologies could be key to
enabling these kinds of apps– and helping smart TVs finally to become
fun TVs.

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