Since purchasing the Vizio Co-Star several months ago, I have become a fan of Google TV. I even considered using online services to "cut the cord". With my Amazon Prime subscription and network TV sites I will miss little. What stops me? The NFL and those networks. The league stubbornly refuses to move into the future, where other professional sports already reside, while many network websites block the Google device.
Today, PlayOn makes the barrier in front me even smaller. This is a huge move for MediaMall software. The company announces it brings full service to Google TV free of charge. It does so because of the slight that Google's living room solution has been shown by networks. "We’ve decided to make PlayOn completely free on Google TV. Why? Well, Hulu and the Networks have been discriminating against Google TV owners by not creating apps that enable folks to watch their content on Google TV", the company tells us.
No, I am not talking of the nerdtastic movie from Joss Whedon, but of an app. I have written twice now of my move from an HTPC to Google TV in the living room, with my most recent post surrounding ways to get both live TV and home media to the tiny set top box. For serving up home media I opted for Plex, which seemed the best solution.
Plex is both a server and app and both are free. Simply install the server software on an always-on computer and control it from a web browser dashboard. From there you can direct it to all of your media -- movies, TV shows, music and photos. It is dead simple to set up and maintain.
A month ago I made a major change in my living room, moving from HTPC running Windows 7 to Vizio Co-Star Google TV box. While the move saved a lot of shelf space, that was not the goal. My living room computer was old and slow, Windows Media Center no longer received real investment from Microsoft and developers had largely come to ignore the platform -- I only got Hulu on it via a hack.
Your first question may be how I can watch and record TV now, but that is not an issue. I never used WMC for that because I have DirecTV, which does not support input to WMC, although the company had once planned to do so before scrapping the idea. So, my HTPC was simply used for viewing our collection of ripped DVDs and digital photos, as well as listening to our large music collection through the living room home theater speakers and those on the outdoor patio. In other words, I never used WMC to its full potential.
I love Amazon Prime. If I had a Kindle I would probably love it even more, if that were possible. Over the past two weeks I have also come to love my new Google TV, which has taken over our living room, with control of the DirecTV DVR and apps thrown in to boot. One of those apps is Amazon and I use it quite often, keeping a string of movies and TV shows in my watch list.
Now the Google PrimeTime app for Google TV has been updated to version 1.4.3-43-79424. This innocuous little name actually comes with a huge feature update. Not only has Amazon Prime content been rolled into the service, but you can control it and Netflix and HBO GO subscriptions from within the app as well.
Third in a series. Two weeks have passed since we last visited this topic, but I wanted to be fair with this next part before writing it. As you will recall from part one, I decided to replace my Windows Media Center HTPC and the NetGear NeoTV 550, because both are so old and slow. While I wanted to do so with one box, there was a major stumbling block -- most of our movies are ripped to ISO images. I would prefer a Google TV to replace both, but in the end got a Micca box to take the place of the HTPC and then still ordered a Vizio Co-Star because I simply could not resist.
Things have not gone entirely as I planned. In fact, as you may recall from part two of this series, nothing has really gone the way I had hoped.
Over the years the little network within my humble abode has grown. It started as a way to connect a laptop and a desktop, but has since become a conglomeration of multiple devices -- a desktop, three laptops, an HTPC, a home server and even three smartphones. Not to mention that the Blu-ray player, DirecTV DVR and Netgear NeoTV are networked. It all comes together in a combination of ethernet and WiFi connections that are controlled through a router in the home office on the third floor of our old restored Victorian, an extender which resides in the entertainment cabinet in the living room -- sorry, "parlor" since it is a Victorian -- on the first floor and a network switch in the basement.
Parts are getting old however -- in the past year I had to buy a new router and replace my daughter's laptop. Recently, more things have become unreliable. My home server, which ran FreeNAS died recently. It was housed in an old tower PC that had once been our desktop. Our HTPC has grown old, despite having been upgraded with new video and audio cards and additional RAM. The Netgear NeoTV is not as reliable as it once was.
Netgear read my mind. Hopefully not all of it, but the company is welcome to my tech thoughts at least. Just recently several of us here at BetaNews wrote about the tech we used most in 2012. In my column I mentioned that my trusty HTPC grows long in the tooth -- you think dog years are rough, try computer years. I started using a Netgear NeoTV instead. As I mentioned then, and will reiterate now, the interface is not flashy, but it works seamlessly. the hardware is robust as well.
In the end though, I admitted my plans in 2013 were to move to Google TV because of the added features -- web browser, apps, you know the routine.
You can be forgiven if you recently purchased a television and came home with what is now called a "smart TV." After all, that's the market trend, and you will be hard pressed to find a boob tube without Internet capability. Honestly, I, for one, am just happy that the industry seems to have stopped trying to force 3D on what looks to me like a most unwilling audience.
Now comes this report -- NPD claims "that nearly six out of ten consumers who own a connected HDTV are accessing Over-the-Top (OTT) video services through the device". OTT means an external device -- any external device, such as a Blu-ray player, DVR, game console or other device. Even those like Roku, Google TV and Boxee.
The year has almost passed and that makes it a great time for reflection. Of course, I have thought most about my family -- what we did in 2012 and our plans for 2013. I have thought of household repairs and projects planned for the coming year, goals I would like to attain, but I also considered what technology I used the most and the changes I made.
My colleagues and I plan personal tech retrospectives. I'm first up.
Amazon is Netflix's biggest competitors, but the company had a gaping hole in its armor. While the app works just fine on the Kindle Fire tablets, it was MIA for every other Android user out there. Now the retail giant has finally made the service available to other users on the popular platform, but before you get excited, there is a catch, and it is a big one.
When you find the app in the Google Play store you will immediately notice two things -- one is that it only works with version 3.2 and up of the OS. The other is even more troubling. The app is for Google TV only. Even the new flagship Nexus devices are not capable of using it.
This week, Google brought a little something from ill-fated Nexus Q to Google TV. Even my non-techie wife is amazed, and that's the point. This little something is really big, because anyone can use it and get dramatic benefits.
The new YouTube for Android app installed on smartphone or tablet now acts as a remote control to Google TV, taking interaction far removed and clumsy and making it intimate, fun and easy. If Amazon and Netflix operated similarly -- and the set-top box got Hulu Plus -- I'd cancel AT&T U-verse, baby.
A shocking rumor hit tech and video gaming news sites Friday afternoon, claiming that streaming video game service OnLive could be shutting down or undergoing massive layoffs.
While he couldn't speak about any layoffs or condition of the company, OnLive's Director of Corporate Communications Brian Jacquet wanted to be clear that the actual OnLive service was not shutting down.
Vizio's Co-Star is one of the first new set top boxes in the second generation of Google TV. It's small, it's powerful, it's the cheapest Google TV yet, and it went up for pre-order today directly from Vizio.
In addition to the Google TV feature package, the Vizio Co-Star includes the OnLive gaming service, making it equal parts connected set-top box, and streaming video game console.
It took just about six months for the first generation of Google TV to be declared a failure. Logitech launched its Revue set top box in October 2010, and by July 2011, they couldn't even give them away. The company subsequently took a $30 million writedown on the venture, and Intel, who provided chips for Google TV, quietly divorced itself from the product.
Google aligned with Marvell, switching the platform over to the ARM instruction set, which fundamentally shifted the architecture and splintered development.
Vizio just dropped what I must say is the first killer Google TV set-top box today. The 4-inch by 1.6-inch high Vizio Co-Star with Google TV will be available for pre-orders in July on vizio.com for $99.99.
The new small form factor Google TV powered device is partners with streaming game service Onlive to promote. The device comes with support for 1080p Full HD and 3D programs. It also has built-in 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth support. There are also integrated USB 2.0 ports to connect external hard drives, keyboards and other peripherals including the recently released Universal OnLive Wireless Controller.