Tag Archives | TV

One New Slingbox Caters to the Masses, the Other to High-End Users

Slingbox M1

Slingbox M1

When it debuted back in 2005, the original Slingbox–which let you pipe your TV signal at home over the Internet to a distant computer or smartphone–helped invent the whole idea that you might be able to watch your favorite programs anywhere. After being bought by satellite-TV hardware company EchoStar, however, Slingbox went a long time without changing much–until two new models showed up in the fall of 2012.

Now Slingbox is changing again. The two new models–the Slingbox M1 and SlingTV–are close relatives of the low-end and high-end models from 2012, the Slingbox 350 and Slingbox 500, respectively. But the M1 aims to be even more of a mass-market gadget than the 350, and SlingTV adds more features to the already-fancy 500.

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Shocker: Piracy Rises After Fox Delays Hulu Shows

When Fox announced that it would withhold its TV shows from Hulu and its own website until eight days after their original air date, a lot of people assumed that piracy would increase as a result. Now, TorrentFreak claims to have proof.

The site tracked BitTorrent downloads for two Fox shows — Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef — over the last week, when the delay began. Sure enough, during the first five days, downloads of the latest Hell’s Kitchen episode rose by 114 percent compared to the previous three episodes. Downloads of MasterChef spiked by 189 percent, with the season’s finale likely accounting for higher demand on BitTorrent.

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How America Clicked

Nobody is ever going to list the TV remote as one of the most important inventions of all time. Maybe not even of the second half of the twentieth century. But if the remote had never been invented, life would be meaningfully different. Think about it: if we all still had to get up from our couches and trudge across the room to change the station, there’d be no such thing as channel surfing. (Then again, we’d be thinner from the calories we burned.) Dealing with more than a handful of stations would be impossibly unwieldy, too–no remote control, no 500-channel universe.

In short, the TV remote matters–and it’s it worth pausing to remember some of the most significant models to appear since 1950, plus a not-so-significant curiosity or two. (Click on the images below to see the ads, patents, and magazine pages at a much larger size.)

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If Cord Cutting Isn’t Real Yet, Just Wait: It Will Be

96.7 percent of us Americans have one or more TVs in the household. That’s a lot of TVs–but it’s fewer than before, say a new study by the Nielsen Company. Previously, 98.9 percent of us had TVs in the house.

So did the drop–the first one in two decades–happen because people are watching Internet TV in lieu of old-fashioned cable or terrestrial TV? Nielsen says it’s a factor, but it stresses another (distressing) one: low-income households which can’t afford TVs, especially after the digital transition rendered old analog sets useless without an adapter.

Cord-cutting is sometimes dismissed as a myth. And it’s true that no data shows TV watchers fleeing to the net in massive numbers just yet. But I feel in my bones that an awful lot of people are going to do so over the next few years–it’s just a matter of how many and how quickly. I mean, wouldn’t there have been a time in the 1990s when any study would have showed that only a tiny group of folks were listening to MP3s instead of CDs? And wouldn’t it have been a mistake to conclude then that this digital-music stuff wasn’t going to amount to much?

(Photo by Flickr user avlxyz)


Bin Laden Death: Web 1, TV 0

For eons now, I’ve been struggling with a question that some of you have been confronting, too: is the Web a rich enough source of information and entertainment that I can get rid of cable TV service? So far, I haven’t cut the cable, and I keep saying that one big reason why is the usefulness of continuous TV news coverage of really big stories. But stories don’t get much bigger than yesterday’s discovery and killing of Osama Bin Laden. And the TV coverage I saw didn’t make a great case for cable being indispensable.

In the time before President Obama made his address, I mostly watched NBC News and CNN. Nobody who wasn’t involved in the operation knew much about it at this point, so the anchors on these channels mostly tapdanced to fill time. They told us, over and over again, that this was huge news. (Really?) But they didn’t even ask many of the questions I was asking–such as “how about al-Zawahiri?”–let alone attempt to answer them. The screen was full of talking heads, but they were saying very little.

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No 3D for He, See?

TechRepublic’s Jason Hiner is even less impressed with 3D movies and TV than I am. Actually, he says they’re a scam.

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Is Time Running Out for the TV Remote? Nope.

Over the weekend, the New York Times pondered whether the television remote control is on its way out, thanks to smartphone and tablet apps that can do the job instead.

Although doomsday predictions can be dangerous for any technology, I’ll gladly join the chorus of people who think the remote should be put out to pasture. But before that can happen, a lot of things need to change in the phone and TV industries, all of which will take a very long time.

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An Antidote for Blaring TV Commercials

Last Gadget Standing nominee: Gefen Auto Volume Stabilizer

Price: $299

Ever notice how TV commercials and movie trailers are decibels louder than the shows? If so, you’ll appreciate Gefen’s use of Dolby Volume Technology to level the volume on TV programs and commercials for a consistent audio experience. A simple solution for home entertainment systems, this tiny device automatically equalizes audio from different sources so everything is heard at the same audio levels. Channel surfers will appreciate the stability.  And music listeners will enjoy a consistent level of volume when enjoying random CDs.  The Auto Volume Stabilizer incorporates Dolby 5.1 digital decoding and converting to 2-channel audio. It also supports both digital (TOSlink; S/PDIF) and analog (L/R) audio formats. It will work with most popular home entertainment devices on the market, including television sets, A/V receivers, CD players, DVD players and more. Multiple audio sources can be connected at the same time, and accessed with the included IR remote or a tiny selector on the device used to switch between sources.


TV Ads May Get Quieter; Thank You, Government!

Glad to see lawmakers putting partisan politics aside for the issues that really matter: A bill that forces television broadcasters and cable companies to ratchet down the volume on commercials passed in the U.S. Senate, and will be taken up by Congress after the November 2 elections. The House of Representatives has already signed similar bills, leaving only minor details to iron out. Once approved, it’ll require FCC regulations within a year, and enforcement a year after that. Nonpartisan, sure, but still slow as ever.