Archive for category: Home Theatre

Netflix streaming speeds on Comcast jump 65 percent after controversial deal

Netflix customers on Comcast are already seeing the benefits of a controversial pact between the streaming service and cable provider. Comcast jumped five spots in Netflix’s ranking of ISP performance for the month of March. It now sits in fifth place, delivering an average streaming speed of 2.5Mbps — up from the 11th place spot it held in February, when Comcast delivered a pitiful 1.15Mbps average to Netflix subscribers.

“This month’s rankings are a great illustration of how performance can improve when ISPs work to connect directly to Netflix,” said Netflix. It’s also a great illustration of what happens when Netflix pays off cable providers to speed things up: Comcast now charts above Verizon FiOS and even Time Warner Cable,…

Continue reading…

+Continue Reading

Amazon Enters Media Streaming Hardware Arena with Fire TV

b-slate-01-lg-hover2It was only a matter of time…

Amazon has been building its digital media library (music, movies, television shows) for quite some time; and while they’ve happily allowed third parties to deliver their content over numerous platforms, it only makes sense that they’d eventually commit to some first-party streaming hardware. Available now for $99, Amazon’s brand new Fire TV not only packs a punch on the hardware side (quad-core processor, 1080p output, 2GB of  RAM, and dedicated graphics processor), it also brings some innovation in its user interface, allowing voice commands through a microphone on the included Bluetooth remote. Along with Amazon Instant Video, the device streams content from some of the most popular 3rd party providers, including Netflix, HuluPlus, Vimeo, ESPN and Pandora. Fire TV also has something called ASAP (a clever acronym that stands for “Advanced Streaming and Prediction) that uses your viewing history to predict what shows you may like and pre-load them for you, thus cutting down the time it takes for your media to begin playing. Amazon has also forged relationships on the gaming side (a $40 Fire remote is sold separately), making it a good choice for casual gamers. There’s lots to see here, and we’ll have even more once we get one in-hand; but for now, you can head to Amazon’s product page to learn more about Fire TV.

+Continue Reading

Hulu Plus Gets Injection from CBS and Leans on Kids

20140210102530Hulu_CBSHulu Plus’ repertoire of entertainment is getting an injection from CBS in the form of classic shows. CBS has agreed to add more programming to the mix in the form of 2,600 episodes–including classics such as The Brady Bunch, Cheers, Happy Days, Everybody Loves Raymond, and The United States of Tara.  On the kids side of the spectrum, Hulu is planning an expansion and has signed a deal to be the exclusive U.S. distributor of The Doozers, a spinoff of the popular ‘80s show Fraggle Rock.

+Continue Reading

SIM2 USA Aims to Bring Hollywood into Your Home

Immagini 309SIM2 multimedia is a name you may not be familiar with…but home theater enthusiasts may want to pay attention, as they have just launched a new line of next-generation DLP projectors bringing home cinema to new heights. The italian manufacturer, known for video performance and innovation, has released its latest lineup of 3-chip DLP projectors to bring Hollywood-quality movie experiences to your home. Promising state-of-the-art image quality, the new Grand Cinema projectors may be a bit hard on the wallet for some (with prices ranging from $26,000 to $120,000); but for those with the means, as well as the space, they could be the perfect centerpiece for your home theater. For more on the new offerings from SIM2, check the full release after the jump.

+Continue Reading

Karaoke Fun For at Home or On-The-Go

unnamed

Do you like singing? Do you like  your friends yelling notes that sort of resemble sounds that may or may not be in the song you were attempting to recreate? Then you need to check out Singing Machine’s newest addition: “The Home.” Built with fun and convenience in mind, The Home is a big party in a relatively small package. Featuring dual functionality as both a Bluetooth speaker and a karaoke machine, The Home offers instant access to over 8000 HD karaoke music videos while connecting to your home theater via HDMI.  A sleek remote (that also functions as a mic) rounds out the features and helps create a seamless experience from selecting a song to singing it. The Home retails for $299 and can be found at BestBuy.com or your local Best Buy store.

+Continue Reading

YourTechReport Radio on SiriusXM Channel 167

ytr_siriusxm1-280x141-e1370573020220Sure, it’s fun to read all of the latest tech news and reviews; but while in your car, wouldn’t it be easier (and safer) to simply listen to us? Well you can…on YourTechReport Radio–every Saturday at 1pm Eastern on SiriusXM channel 167. On this week’s show, Marc and I will fill you in on Samsung’s new Galaxy Round–the first smartphone with a flexible display; we’ll also be giving you the latest news from Apple and Microsoft, as well as answering your questions in our “You Asked for It” segment. For those without a SiriusXM subscription, we’ll be posting the show right here after it airs.

Enjoy!

+Continue Reading

[Updated] Apple TV Updated to v6.0, New Features, More Fun

apple-tv-update-1379703762Apple TV finally got its rumored software update bringing iTunes Radio, AirPlay from iCloud, and new channels to the “hobby” device. Version 6.0 allows you to browse and buy music from the iTunes Store, sync podcasts across your Apple devices, view photos and videos from your Photostream, and a couple of more goodies under the hood. The UI itself has not changed much, making it a breeze to navigate if you already know your way around. Check it out, and let us know what you think!

[Updated: Apple has silently pulled the update after reports that it rendered some Apple TV devices locked up and bricked.]

+Continue Reading

Hello Xbox 360 Dashboard Update, Goodbye Microsoft Points

IMG_5183The message I was greeted with upon turning on my Xbox 360 today represented more than just an update to my dashboard–it represents a huge shift in Microsoft’s console business model, as “Microsoft Points” no longer exist. You heard that right…from this point on (assuming you’ve received the Fall Dashboard Update that’s rolling out as you’re reading this), all transactions made through Xbox Live will now be made in your local currency instead of with MS Points. As for your existing points? Don’t worry…they haven’t gone anywhere; as soon as you go to make a purchase, the system notifies you of the switch and converts your existing points into their equal value in your local currency. Also, if you still have Microsoft Points gift cards that you haven’t used, they will also convert to the proper dollar amount once you’ve entered the code through Live. Sure, I’ll miss the carefree feeling of spending points as if they had no real monetary value–but I won’t miss having to buy more points than I needed simply because I was a few points short when trying to make a purchase.

Bravo, Microsoft!

+Continue Reading

Google Shows Off $35 Chromecast – Stream Content to Your TV Through Android, iOS, or Chrome

chromecast hdmi drive dongle tv streaming yourtechreportWhile there were a number of exciting announcements today (really confirmations) about Android 4.3 and the Nexus 7, one piece of gear actually took me by surprise. Google is making another push into our living rooms.

Chromecast is a $35 HDMI dongle, about the size of flash memory drive, which connects any TV to the web using a scaled down version of Chrome OS. It’s controlled by iOS or Android apps. For example, search for a video on Youtube, and press a Cast button to send it to your TV. Chromecast will see that signal, turn your TV on, switch it to the correct input, then stream the video. We also saw a demonstration of a new Netflix app where control of what was streaming was seamlessly passed between a Nexus 7 and an iPhone. No surprise that Google Play Movies & TV will support this control as well.

Chromecast will also support Chrome browser tab sharing. If you’re looking at something on your laptop, you can send the tab to your TV. This functionality is currently in BETA, but already seems to be working on Chromebook Pixel, Windows 8, and OSX Chrome browsers.

chromecast connected to tv hdmi yourtechreportLastly, this same streaming is being added to music apps like Google Play Music and Pandora, as it’s likely that the best speakers in your home are connected to your TV.

This appears to be a slightly more robust solution than some of the DLNA apps I’ve seen. Chromecast is actually pulling from the web on its own, so your phone or tablet doesn’t get tied up. We’ve seen pushes into this kind of streaming before using devices like game consoles, but it looks like Google wants more control over the whole experience. Plus, people who order early will also receive three free months of Netflix streaming. Not bad.

It would appear Google TV and Nexus Q type solutions are dead now?

Chromecast will be available for sale today, and orders placed today should ship by August 2nd.

Chromecast on Google Play
Chromecast on Amazon (Prime Free Shipping)

+Continue Reading

Samsung Buys Boxee, Shutting Down Unlimited Cloud DVR July 10th

boxee logo wallpaperThe perils of being a moderately successful start up. You create a popular service, but it can’t quite sustain itself. When you become attractive, and your feature set is desirable, a larger company swoops in and gobbles you up. Then changes happen, and your users get scared.

Tel Aviv based Boxee is now a perfect example of that  transition. The people using Boxee were passionate devotees of the service, but they never quite cracked into the same kind of mind share occupied by companies like Roku, or game consoles for streaming video.

Unfortunately, this buyout will come at the expense of Boxee’s unlimited cloud DVR. For $10 per month, Boxee users were able to keep recordings forever and store an unlimited amount of video to the cloud. I can’t say I’m surprised this feature is getting the axe as it’s somewhat unsustainable, and this Samsung acquisition stands to push this service into a bigger spotlight.

For around $30 million, Samsung will now absorb the Boxee team of around 45 people into its stable of talent. We’re not entirely sure what that will resemble yet, if the Boxee service will be exclusive to Smart TV’s and other devices, or if we’ll see a new generation of Boxee Boxes which can be connected to smart and “dumb” TV’s. Seeing as how previous generations of Boxee Boxes were built by D-Link, we can at least be confident in future hardware being brought in-house.

We can also be confident that this acquisition will push Samsung’s ecosystem. Sammy has been very aggressive in embracing protocols like DLNA which allow people to stream audio and video between different devices–like phones and TV’s. Boxee is an excellent service for improving and evolving their media environment.

Now we play the waiting game to see what Samsung will do.

+Continue Reading