Amazon finally added AirPlay streaming to its Instant Video app. Prime members should rejoice!
I’ve been a Netflix subscriber from damn near day one.
I’ve certainly appreciated having the service there as an entertainment alternative long before video streaming was a remote possibility. I’d have three DVDs out at a time and often forget I was holding onto them for months on end. You could say that I’ve wasted a lot of money on Netflix – far more than I would have spent at a local video rental store.
So, last year, I decided to drop the 3-disc option and go with the 1-disc plan plus the on-demand streaming – even though the streaming selection was seemingly stunted (though nowhere as bad as Hulu’s lackluster movie library). For the most part, that’s worked out well – but I still feel like I’m overpaying for media that I’m not remembering to digest.
This morning, news came down the pike (yes, pike – not pipe) that Netflix is staging new subscription plans for us. Yippee? Nope.
There are now 2 DVD-Only plans:
- $8 a month for one disc at a time
- $12 a month for two discs at a time
Now there’s a separate option:
- Unlimited Streaming (no DVDs) for $8 a month
They think that this change “is a terrific value.” I think it’s a load of shit. This is “forcing” me to drop their disc-only plan altogether (based on my patterns). When I want to rent a DVD, I’ll simply make an online reservation for my local Redbox station. I’d be tempted to drop the Netflix streaming plan if there were a viable alternative elsewhere – but judging by how many documentaries my girlfriend loves to watch, that’s not practical.
I guess at the end of the day, I’m going to be spending less money with Netflix (by $2). Thanks?
Thunderbolt was announced by Apple some time ago. New Apple computers are featuring the port in their design. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a big rush for manufacturers to produce products that support the platform.
Storage devices including the LaCie Little Big Disk and the Sonnet Fusion RAID have joined the slow-growing list of devices that support Thunderbolt. At up to 864 MB/s, the data transfer rate offered by Thunderbolt is lightyears ahead of other standard currently on the market.
Even so, it appears manufacturers are opting once again to support the latest USB standard with its backwards compatibility over a faster technology. This is almost directly reminiscent of the competition between FireWire and USB that resulted in a divide between convenience and performance.
I brought this question to the community to get their take on why Thunderbolt seems to be taking so long to get off the ground. Here is what they said:
Sean Cooper – I might also note that Thunderbolt is the new Firewire. Give it two years, somebody will come out with a cheaper faster standard.
Blake Sabatinelli – On Apple’s enterprise RAID servers, where they belong. Does the average user really need 10 Gbps?
John Thompson – Thunderbolt devices will come much quicker when more companies adopt the technology. It’s a numbers game; USB 2.0 was/is more popular than Firewire 800 not because it’s the better technology but because it’s in every consumer laptop out there, so companies are bound to target the market where they can have the most impact.
There’s no doubt that Thunderbolt is great technology, but if it isn’t adopted by more manufacturers apart from Apple and Sony, then it will only lead to (i) less adoption by manufacturers of peripherals such as external hard drives and (ii) higher prices of those products when they hit the market.
Speaking of higher prices, $50 for a Thunderbolt cable from Apple is not going to win many fans, either. Just my two cents!
Max Huijgen – Thunderbolt is the Firewire of the future. Limited to Apple only environments where there is a need for high throughput otherwise know as the lower grade video editing world.
The masses will live with USB 3.0 which serve their needs for a lot less money and the serious people and the Linux and Windows world will go for the External PCI solution because it will be an open standard. No licenses to be paid, no manufacturer tie-in and a clear future. Check for instance this, or one of the many other sources of info.
Thunderbolt and PCI External will both need to wait for optical cables to deliver a revolution in speed instead of an incremental upgrade over USB or external SATA which is already available. The good news is that Intel already integrated PCI external in their newer chipsets so even they didn’t fully commit to Thunderbolt so it will go the Firewire way: a limited number of external devices with the connector mostly targeted at the smaller sized video editing studios.
In addition to my earlier comment I agree with +John Thompson that there needs to be a killer application to reach critical masses. USB 3.0 will find its way as it´s already on your new PC/notebook/tablet and is backwards compatible. PCI External´s killer application will be the gamers market.
The PCI-E connector is smaller than the Thunderbolt so will fit in the new generation of Thinbooks and tablets. It will enable external graphic cards to be connected to every laptop. No longer being restricted to a PC box just because you are into serious gaming. Getting rid of the super heavy weight Alienware notebooks which get hot, eat batteries for lunch and are a nuisance to carry around.
No, the future is a thin and slick portable, be it a thin book, a netbook or a tablet with keyboard with an external box which only leaves home for a gaming party connected by PCI-E. The bandwidth is sufficient, the market is for grabs and people will happily buy the latest and greatest video card in a box which can be upgraded separately. Gamers have an above average spending pattern so there are your numbers to warrant implementation of a new standard connection.
The Apple Digital AV Adapter allows you to mirror anything on your iPad 2 screen to an HDTV or computer monitor with HDMI input. Use this compact little cord to show your apps, presentations and more right on your big-screen television or computer monitor. While most displays render in full 1080p, movies will play at up to 720p.
Watch your movies and slideshows simply by connecting your iPad, iPhone 4 or iPod touch 4th gen using this av cable. A second 30-ping adapter allows you to charge and sync your device while it is connected to your HDMI display.
As you can see in the video, I can view nearly everything on my iPad right on that television. Audio and video both come through very clearly. My device is not jailbroken in any way: I simply used the av adapter. Being able to output your files onto a much larger screen is nearly priceless in some instances. It has certainly made the iPad even more useful than it already was!
I’m sure by now you’re wondering why – exactly – you would even care to do something like this. After all, you bought the iPad because it is small, light and portable. However, there truly could be instances where you would want or need to see what’s on the device on a much larger screen. Perhaps you have put together a presentation you need to share for work. Instead of praying anyone other than the person next to you can see it on the iPad screen, why not plug it in to an external HDMI display?
Use your iPad to create a slideshow for your parent’s anniversary dinner and share it on a bigger screen with everyone gathered together. Shoot a video on the device to propose to your significant other and broadcast it on the television when she (or he!) least expects it. There are so many things you could do with this one tiny little white cable that it boggles the mind.
Go ahead – grab one for yourself and watch as I grin quietly instead of saying “I told you so.”
Streaming content in your home is quickly becoming much more than just a fad. People are cutting the cord in favor of set-top boxes such as Roku, Apple TV and Boxee. Using a device such as this gives the consumer more control over the content they can watch as well as being more cost-effective than traditional cable or satellite television connections. The question is, though, which box is right for your home? The three major players – Roku, Boxee and Apple TV – have many things in common. However, you’ll be surprised at how the differences between them can sway your purchasing decision.
Both the Roku and the Apple TV boxes can be purchased for under one hundred dollars, while the new Boxee model will set you back two hundred smackers. However, the Boxee alternative has quite a bit more to offer. At this point in time, Apple and Roku have some catching up to do in the content delivery department. Boxee now offers both Netflix and Vudu for your viewing pleasure. With Vudu, you can purchase movies on-demand – the same day they are released on DVD even – at a cost of $2.00 for two nights. Stream your favorite Internet content and connect with your Twitter and Facebook account in order to get suggestions from your friends. Additionally, personal recommendations will be sent straight to your television, based on your previous viewing choices. The unit is Flash 10.1 compatible, another feature the others don’t offer. There are more than 400 apps at this time, offering you third-party content distribution choices you haven’t even begun to think of. The remote control is double-sided, offering both a browsing experience and a full QWERTY keyboard. There’s an SD card slot and two USB ports built in.
The Roku box offers Netflix and Hulu, movie rental and purchases and even popular sports packages. There are more than fifty channels at this time – including Amazon video service. Stream your iTunes collection without a computer connection or tune in to your favorite online radio stations such as Pandora. The unit is capable of viewing YouTube and Flickr content, much as the others are. There is also a USB port which allows you to view media on your favorite USB stick.
Apple TV has a partnership with both FOX and ABC, allowing you to access your favorite shows for .99 per episode. If you want to watch an entire season, though, it could end up costing you quite a lot. This unit also offers Netflix, YouTube and Flickr access. Movies will cost you $2.99 or $3.00 for HD versions. There is one Micro USB slot and the cool remote allows you to access your iPod touch, iPad or iPhone with the press of a button. That in itself is seriously cool. Have you tried playing Angry Birds on the big screen yet?
Even though the Boxee set-top box has more to offer at this point in time, don’t count the Roku and Apple TV out just yet. I’m sure we will be seeing revisions to both machines sometime this year. Competition in this market is fierce, and I have a feeling that we’ll see even better features coming in the new versions.
Are you using a set-top box in your home? Which model do you own, and what do you prefer about it?
Look, I’m a tolerant man. When Pixie wakes me up and asks for a trip to the little doggy’s room at 3am, I don’t yell at her. If Wicket throws up on my MacBook Pro, I forgive him. Eventually.
But seriously, I am out of forgiveness for people who can’t figure out the name of Apple’s iPod Touch.
According to the Apple press event yesterday, it’s the most popular iPod and the #1 game player in the world. It’s been used for over 1.5 billion game and entertainment downloads. It’s cute. It’s thin. It even has an HD video camera and video editing now.
Yet people still get its name wrong. So let me explain it for you in a nice, simple way. There are even pictures to help you out.
This is a cool Apple device that you can use to play games, listen to music, and watch videos.
What you can’t do is call it the iTouch. That is not its name. Please call it the iPod Touch.
This is a simple sentence. It’s made up of the pronoun I and the verb touch.
You can also use those words in more complex sentences like "I touch the base whenever I hit a home run," or "When I think about you, I touch myself."
Although on second thought, if you’re touching yourself, just keep that between you and your naughty little hands. The rest of us really don’t need to know.
Stop that. What the heck is wrong with you? Why would you stick your finger in my eye?
Jeepers. You do have naughty hands, don’t you?
Seriously, dude, eye touching is completely inappropriate.
Now, enough of that. Don’t make me call Wicket. He’ll throw up on your computer.
Are we clear now? The little music/video device is an iPod Touch, not an iTouch.
I won’t be responsible for my actions if you call it an iTouch one more time. In fact, I’ll take suggestions. How should I punish people who call it the iTouch?
DISCLAIMER: I thought the first Apple TV was relatively useless.
Today, Apple announced significant changes to Apple TV at the press event held in San Francisco (which, by the way, was streamed LIVE for the world to watch). The new Apple TV, available by the beginning of October, comes in at 1/4 the size of the original. It’s smaller than a sandwich. You can use a Tupperware container as your carrying case now – provided you’ve cleaned it first.
But there are tastier details to sink your teeth into!
There’s no media to keep track of anymore (through klutzy synching processes and whatnot) – everything will stream live into the tiny slice of digital heaven through either a network cable or WiFi (802.11n). As someone who hates storing media, this change is most welcomed. There’s a reason I use and love both Pandora and Rhapsody for my music, and why I’ve taken to Hulu for available TV show viewing. And on that note…
Once you’ve set up your new Apple TV, you’ll be able to “choose from the largest online selection of HD movies to rent, including first run movies for just $4.99, and the largest online selection of HD TV show episodes to rent from ABC, ABC Family, Fox, Disney Channel and BBC America for just 99 cents.” That’s quite a competitive price for legally-attainable media in conjunction with a convenient interface and service. Not sure I’ll take advantage of this part of the Apple TV, though; I’m not into à la carte media consumption.
Netflix subscribers (like myself) have access to the entire streaming library of Netflix videos. If the video is in your instant queue, you’re just a few clicks away from watching it with Apple TV. You can also view streaming media from YouTube and Flickr – plus watch your favorite podcasts (like a certain someone’s) and access streaming media and images on the computers in your home.
Job(s) well done.
Oh, did I remember to tell you that the price of this sophomore effort has also been cut by 66%! That brings the Apple TV price point to US$99 – a great impulse buy for gadget geeks and mediaphiles. I’ll buy one, pick up a few extra HDMI and power cables, then tote a single unit around the house with me.
While I never considered purchasing the original Apple TV (not once), I can’t wait for this to ship (available in about four weeks to consumers in the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany and Australia).
Am I alone with being impressed?
For the longest time, we knew where our data existed – it existed on our computers, typically on a hard drive or potentially a floppy disk. So now when we create files, let’s say on a Web service like Google Docs, for example, we may never actually know where that file sits. We know we can get to it from anywhere, of course, but it’s out there. In The Cloud. We don’t know the physical location of that file, but do we need to know, anymore? No, we don’t. That’s for someone else to worry about and track.
Our whole life is eventually going to be stored in The Cloud, no longer tied to a physical machine or hard drive. I’m not even really tracking any of my media, anymore. I have a Rhapsody account for my music; I subscribe to Netflix and Hulu. I’m not really buying any physical media, anymore. I’m not storing them on my local network. This data exists in The Cloud on these Web services that I pay to access. I know that, somewhere, the file is sitting on a hard drive waiting for me to point and click my way to it, but the responsibility of holding on to it is no longer mine.
Think of a public library – you can check out books, read them, and then put them back on its shelves without cluttering up your own at home. The archives are there for your benefit without requiring you to be their ever-vigilant custodian. The Cloud doesn’t charge you overdue fees, either, so don’t go saying the 21st century’s never done you any favors!
Storing your life remotely has its benefits, but as with any service that offers to simplify your day-to-day doings, be sure to research these places in The Cloud and make sure they’re reliable. Let your vision look toward The Cloud, but keep your head on Earth when you’re making the decision about what chunks of your life to stow away there.
You have content scattered all over your network, I’m sure. The problem is when you want to watch your media on your HDTV. That’s where the FreeAgent Theater + from Seagate comes in handy! It allows you to not only access files from across your network, it also accepts input devices, such as memory cards. It has a variety of inputs, including full 1080p video and Dolby audio! It’s also compatible with the FreeAgent Go portable hard drive. I have to thank Seagate for sending me these products to review. It’s been fun to navigate my way through all of my content.
It’s a good system, and it works. However, it’s not all that easy to use. There are a ton of options. However, the user interface is kind of sluggish at times, and confusing for some people. This can be used with either a Mac or a Windows computer, which is something that I love.
Use the included sync software to copy all of your media to the FreeAgent Go drive. Or, just drag-and-drop your files directly onto the drive. Then, dock the drive into the FreeAgent Theater + HD media player. When connected to your television, it puts your entire media library at your fingertips!
Video quality is excellent. It has HDMI and allows resolutions up to 1080p. h264 video playback is smooth, as well. It supports multiple audio tracks, so you can encode the commentary into the same file as the main audio. It’s also quite responsive, quickly moving into play, fast-forward and other modes.
Get your media onto your tv with a great deal of ease. At only about $120.00, this is definitely an excellent option!
Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:
Trying to convert things from one file format to another can be a royal pain, as we all know. There are many programs out there that will do the job for us, but most of them will cost you an arm and a leg. Format Factory is a piece of freeware that is quite powerful. Matthew’s first screencast for us is going to show you how to use Format Factory to manage all of your file formats, conversions and more!
Not only can Format Factory convert video files, it can handle audio files and image files as well. Use it to reduce your file size, repair damaged files and even rip DVDs! It supports more than 50 languages, so you don’t have to wonder whether you’ll be able to fully understand the English version if you aren’t from the US.
Matthew says that the amazing thing about this program is the huge number of file types that are supported. Videos can be converted to: MP4, 3GP, MPG, AVI, WMV, FLV or SWF. Audio files can convert to: MP3, WMA, AMR, OGG, AAC, or WAV. Last – but not least! – image files can convert to: JPG, BMP, PNG, TIF, ICO, GIF, or TGA! Best of all, MP4 files support iPods, iPhone, PSP and BlackBerry format!
As you can see from the screencast, it’s exceedingly easy to use, and it won’t cost you a penny! Grab Format Factory for yourself and start managing your files more efficiently.
Thanks, Matthew, for an excellent first screencast!
Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video: