Over on Kickstarter, I just backed a cool looking idea: a smart TV operating system that fits in a HDMI dongle.
The Pocket TV looks like it can be added to any HDMI-equipped television and runs a full version of the latest Android. That means you can run any browser, games, apps, and other things designed for a phone. They offer two different remotes as well. I like the idea that it could be forever upgradeable by the user instead of having to wait for your TV manufacturer to update an existing TV's functionality. I'm not a huge fan of Android on a TV, since it looks pretty complicated and could use a simpler living room UI, but it does look pretty impressive in a small package that will work with most any TV. Looks like their target price after the Kickstarter campaign will be around $160 and availability looks to be this Fall.
It's already 2/3 funded so I suspect it will have an easy time making it over its first run goal in the next month.
Boxee, the creators of the beloved Boxee Box announced an interesting new product: Live TV, a $100 attachment that can connect HD over the air TV antennas and unencrypted cable to your Boxee Box. In their blog post they include a FAQ with all the common questions answered.
This is a fascinating product, clearly aimed at helping people cut the cord on their cable bill, while letting them not miss live TV events that relying on downloaded/streaming content lacks. This is clearly a stopgap measure for the weird time we live in right now where you either have to pay $100+ dollars each month for 500+ channels or you skip it entirely and just download/stream what you like and miss out on major news, sports, and events on the main networks. (via Uncrate)
Over on the Holiday Gadget Guide, I posted a quick review of three 1080p flat TV options. I haven't gone 1080p yet, but when the Playstation 3 and high definition DVDs are easily available, it'll be time to take the plunge.
The concept behind the new site Rent My DVR is something that television networks will be extremely interested in. Users of the site can pay 20 Euro Cents to request an episode of a TV show. Other users on the site are informed that the episode has been requested and if they send a video file of the episode to the requester, they get paid.
OK, but is it legal?
Dave Zatz talked to founder Micke Langberg, who said
I can’t see that there should be any legal concerns related to our service, since it is exactly the same thing as asking your neighbor to record a TV show for you. The FAQ on the site expands on this:
8. Can I get tapes of FOX Network Primetime Shows sent to me?
The FOX Network does not provide nor sell videos of any of shows, specials or movies that air on the Network.
Our recommendation is to ask co-workers, friends, family and neighbors for anyone who may have taped off-the-air the show you are looking for.
OK, but is it legal? Well, that's for the lawyers to answer, but given recent supreme court decisions you might want to play it safe and check for spare change in your couch instead.
Orb is a free software-based place-shifting service that lets you access your media from anywhere over the internet. Orb runs on computers with Windows XP or XP Media Center and provides streaming access to the audio and video on the computer. It also can stream live TV if you have a tuner attached to your computer, and it provides TV listings and scheduled recordings.
Once your computer is set up to stream, you can get your media streamed in WMV, RealVideo or 3GP. That means in addition to watching your videos on your computer, you can also see them on some PDAs and mobile phones. You can also access your photos and mp3s through the service, in case you're into that sort of thing.
This is an odd development but may be useful for some folks. The guys behind Weaknees figured out that you can interchange the front faceplates of TiVo boxes between almost any series 2 TiVo or DirecTiVo.
One of the downsides of having a standalone TiVo is that if you lose the remote or the batteries die, it's essentially a useless box. But the DirecTV versions always included basic TiVo nav buttons on the face. I've had a couple DirecTiVos for the past few years and from time to time if I'm sitting in front of my home theater setup fiddling with buttons, I tend to use the faceplate controls instead of a remote, but it's not very often that I do it.
Still, for die-hard TiVo fans a new button-filled faceplate might serve as a good backup in case your standalone TiVo remote ever dies.
Switch's blog point's to Sony's new PSX (DESR-5700 and DESR-7700), a PVR which incorporates PS2 game functionality alongside the PVR functions. The new PSX really only has one new feature. TV content that has been saved to the PSX can be moved over to your PSP (via your Memory Stick Duo) for viewing on-the-go.
I'm disappointed though that Sony didn't add larger HDDs or other obvious upgrades. This feels much more like a .1 update than a 2.0 release if you want my honest opinion.
If Sony had launched the PSX outside of Japan, what features would you want to see in a PVR that also had PlayStation2 built in?
PSX with PSP Support [a bloglines blog]
Olivelink is a new product that looks pretty impressive. It's a bit of video server software that you can run from your computer (with a broadband connection) to any number of people you specify. This allows for a sort of podcasting of video, right from your desktop to outsiders.
What's most interesting is that this builds on technology like Sling Media, which allows you to watch TV you have at home from anywhere, by letting you broadcast your own video out to anyone on earth, either to specific private users or to the world. What's also cool about this idea is that it uses your home broadband connection to transmit video, so instead of users having to upload huge video files and worry about their website bandwidth, they can provide the media from their unmetered home broadband connections.
I believe technology like this could really be the thing to give video blogging a shot in the arm and I can't wait to see what bloggers do with this technology. [via rootburn]
It features onboard MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and DivX hardware compression so your Mac can spend its processor cycles on more noble causes, like curing diseases. [While I haven't used the product, I hope that they quote this post in their marketing materials to make allusions that their product somehow cures diseases.]
The EvolutionTV has coax, composite and S-video in; USB out. Yes, it is odd that they chose USB over Firewire for a Mac product. It also supports NTSC and PAL, for our European friends. I can't find any size information on the site, which is important if you're planning to duct tape it to the back of your plasma TV next to your Mac Mini.
No HD support and no word on the software other than a mention the fact that it is inside the box. At $280 it's $20 cheaper than the EyeTV 200 and it ships March 15th. That's pretty soon, hopefully they'll replace their rendered picture with a picture of the actual product by then.
Opera, the company that makes the browser you're too cheap to use, is stepping up their PVR options. They have a software platform for set top boxes that provides media playing, web browsing and interactive TV. While we'll leave it for historians to decide if "iTV" was an idea before its time in the mid-90's or just a bad idea, Opera's voice controlled program guide sounds like a great idea. Truly, we are living in the future.