Chromecast In Da House

Chromecast-Sharp-Aquos-42inchIn the first day or two of its release I ordered a Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player via Amazon, and was lucky enough to actually get one delivered. We’ve been living with it for a few weeks now, and have some thoughts to share.

At the outset let me say that we’re reasonably well-serviced when it comes to TV & movies. We have two HDTVs, each paired to a second generation TivoHD. We do not partake of any kind of surround sound playback. It simply wasn’t desired.

As TivoHD users we have Comcast Cable TV with a generous, if costly, package of channels. We also watch Netflix streams and use Amazon Unbox downloads.

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Measuring The Real Impact Of Smart TVs

Skype-For-TVSince the introduction of “Smart HDTVs” a couple of years ago I’ve been wondering just how much impact the built-in applications have on the purchase process, and the user experience. A new report from NPD Group sheds some much-needed insight into this area.

The headline of the report states very plainly that, “Internet Connected TVs Are Used To Watch TV, And That’s About All.” Beyond the traditional role of TV the leading role of the smart HDTV seems to be for using “Over-the-top” services like Netflix. Fully 60% of smart TV users report taking advantage of this feature.

The next most common use of the Smart TV is for listening to OTT music services, but that’s only reported as used by around 15% of the installed base. All other applications, including “video calling” services like Skype and Google Chat see use by less than 5% of users.

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Blogging From The Nexus7

Nexus7Not long ago I read a post by a blogger who had made the effort to give up his laptop for the day. While attending a conference he left his laptop in his hotel room intent upon using only his Nexus 7 tablet throughout that day. I thought it an interesting experiment.

The tale of his day highlighted a few worthy accessories for the Nexus 7 tablet. He pointed to a premium stylus and a Bluetooth wireless keyboard as key to his productivity. I was impressed by his logic and the tale of his experience that day. So much so that I ordered those same items so that I might try them for myself.

At this very moment I’m typing on the Logitech Keyboard for Android , wirelessly connected to my Nexus 7. Just as he described the case for the keyboard doubles as a stand for the tablet. It’s handy. To use it properly really requires a table, but it’s working on my lap at the moment.

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Netflix With Roku Hardware

NewTeeVee has a report on the new hardware device built by Roku that mates to Nextflix streaming online service. At just $99 it’s not expensive but it looks to be only SD. There is an HDMI output so perhaps it may be HD capable in the future. Without HD there’s just no point.

NewTeeVee quite rightly points out that Netflix has a woefully limited, and only SD library of content available online. We watched a couple of shows this way some months back. Not only were the available titles limited, but the compression scheme used to stream the video resulted in poor quality video. That was further exacerbated by watching it on a 42″ LCD TV. It was even really competitive with Comcast Pay-Per-View.

With large TVs (>37″) getting to be the norm anyone operating in this space is going to have to make HD a priority. At least if they propose to offer set-top hardware they should have a clear understanding of a current typical TV set.

I still hope that Amazon get it right with their Unbox service so that Tivo can compete with AppleTV & iTunes.

Now That The HD Disk War Is Over….

It certainly appears that HD-DVD lost. But it also appears that Blu-Ray did not win. Yes, this was a classic lose-lose situation. For all it’s back room dealing Sony may blow this in the end.

Blu-Ray sales peaked for a few weeks in January but have since slumped. Consumers just may not see value in the price of the players or the media. Ars Technica has the details.

Wait, the price of Blu-Ray players has actually been on the rise since Toshiba conceded the battle! Even I, who still has a first generation Toshiba HD-XA1 HD-DVD player, won’t be buying a Blu-Ray player any time soon. They’re just too expensive.

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