16 posts categorized "Future of Television"

January 29, 2013

New WiFi routers perform admirably, especially the Asus RT-N66U

Do you use WiFi (wireless internet) a lot at home? You may want to check out the new breed of wifi routers which have exceptional performance. While these routers cost about 2 times the existing routers (100-200 dollars), they are most definitely worth it.

For the past decade, WiFi has worked over the same frequency (2.4Ghz) as your cordless phone and many other cordless devices. When there are lots of 2.4Ghz devices in the vicinity of your WiFi router, interference at long distances (more than 10 feet) will step down the speed and stability of your WiFi connection. Your link may waver and even get interrupted. Some routers simply stop responding and restart on their own. In our neighborhood, we have about 15 networks around us competing for "spectrum". The chart below shows our network (A+A+Aa) on channel 8 competing with 13 other networks. Before we upgraded our router the signal (y axis) was just slightly better than everyone else's upstairs. Click on the image below to see what I mean.

Wifi routers spectrum use
Wifi routers spectrum use

New "dual band" routers do something special - they hop to a new spectrum at 5Ghz where no devices seem to tread (yet). Dual band routers allow you to run 2 WiFi networks - one at the old 2.4Ghz band for backward compatibility and one at the new 5Ghz band where there is much less interference. You can even name each network separately and distinguish them. Not all older devices have the necessary radio to pick up a 5Ghz WiFi network, but rest assured that your connection will be superior at 5Ghz.

Many new routers also "follow" your laptops and tablets by beaming their signal to each device. This provides a steadier and stronger signal as well.

I installed the Asus RT-N66U (aka Black Knight) after reading several reviews online which were very positive. Indeed the speed upstairs in our house went up 7 times (from 3Mbps to 20+Mbps). Our effective bandwidth from Bell is 25Mbps/down, so your really want to take advantage of that extra speed. Skype will work much better now anywhere in the house, as will any video streaming. I moved all of our devices over to the new 5Ghz network by simply selecting the new network name and authenticating from each device. My Dell laptop though did not see the 5Ghz network but performs much better even at the 802.11n 2.4Ghz network.

The new Asus router uses a 19V power supply, 7 more volts than my previous DLink DIR 655 router. That's more power, and to be expected for a radio that is more powerful. This router will use more electricity. Unless you have some activity running at night over WiFi, there should be no issues with turning off a router at night using the scheduling software. Just removing the power too could work but you'd have to remember to do this. 

A new WiFi router is a must if you are not getting your advertised bandwidth that you are paying for in all parts of your home. 

Let's say you get 5Mbps. If you do speedtest from your laptop or tablet in the farthest reaches of your home, and you get close to 5Mps AND your connections are stable I wouldn't consider upgrading your router. But if you pay for 10 or 20Mbps and then still get 5 or less then your WiFi router should be upgraded. I'd recommend the Asus. I will know more in 1 month but early indications look positive. 

Asus RT-N66U aka Black Knight
Asus RT-N66U aka Black Knight

August 27, 2012

The Future of TV is here today - Russian TV on AppleTV

Here's what people are thinking the future AppleTV set top box will be (from Business Insider)

  • Apple wants to make what amounts to a souped-up version of Apple TV that can function as a cable set-top box.
  • You would be able to start any show at any time using a DVR that stores TV shows on the Internet.
  • The TV interface would look like an iPhone or iPad, with icons that users navigate. (Perhaps it looks like the current Apple TV interface with a few more icons?)
  • The new interface is supposed to be better and easier to use than the current cable box interfaces. (A pretty low hurdle to clear.)
  • There would be a way for people to share on Twitter or Facebook what they're watching on TV.
  • Users would be able to get the entire season of a show on demand, as opposed to a few episodes the way cable companies offer now.

Here's the thing -- current jailbroken AppleTV v2 already do this especially when it comes to international TV programming. Using XBMC on AppleTV that has been jailbroken you can get live TV and archived programming. Recent entries have programmed video plugins for XBMC to access foreign TV. I've been using BestRussianTV.com albeit on a monthly subscription fee, and the access is terrific.

 Note that even BestRussianTV service forces you to subscribe to hundreds of channels albet it a more reasonable cost of $20 to $40 per month. The service of course is unprecedented - live TV from over 100 channels, archives of movies and TV shows, Netflix like movie library for Russian movies (and even Hollywood titles, dubbed in Russian).

The direction is clear - give people more access for a much cheaper price point, make up for the difference in the increased bandwidth usage. Or premium features like social sharing and 2nd screen access.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-how-apple-is-telling-cable-companies-it-will-make-apple-tv-work-2012-8#ixzz2462dWiBH


July 30, 2012

Why Apple will never make a television set

There is a very simple reason why Apple may never make a television. It turns out that the average upgrade cycle for a TV for the average American family is as much as 10 years or more. The last time people bought a 2nd TV was in the early 2000s, and the time before that was the mid 90s. It takes many years for people to upgrade a 1000 dollar purchase. And unlike an iPhone, a TV set will not be upgraded every 2-3 years. The margins and volume is just not there for Apple.

On the other hand, a solid Apple TV streamer that includes an intelligent over the air antenna that adjusts for the appropriate direction using a GPS and Gyro, that picks up HD signals and loads up a program guide would work well. Coupled with an iPad powered remote control as a way to stream video from apps via airplay, or a unique Apple designed video app that allows easy to access and manage video library could be a really amazing way for people to "upgrade" their DVD library to a modern cloud-based approach to video. A bundled intelligent, OTA AppleTV with an iPad could be the terrific upgrade to those HDTVs that are not "smart". The hardware required to make HDTVs "smart" and Over the Air HD savvy, with no installation and no tweaking could be the perfect way for Apple to enter TV.


No TV set required.

July 20, 2012

Synology DS112j unboxing video

Love Synology! Check out this unboxing video of the latest 1-drive Synology NAS.


And a video on the secret sauce of the DiskStation - DownloadStation!


July 18, 2012

Synology Hacking - Run a DNS Server from your NAS

If you have a Synology NAS you may have realized you can install all sorts of open source software on the box by ssh'ing in and using ipkg to install just about anything. I am thinking of installing bind to run my own DNS server. Working to get rid of my dependence on any hosting provider (good bye 1and1!). I feel the Synology NAS can do a better job with lots more control and capability.

In any case this website has over 30 hacks on making your Synology do some amazing things. As if the "apps" capability is not enough, here is more!

UPDATE: There is now a commynity of Synology hackers online with their own repository called SynoCommunity. And this fellow has made several very interesting products run on Synology.

June 19, 2012

AR.Drone 2.0 - Fly. Record. Share.

Quadcopters from Parrot that record HD videos and are controlled from an iPad or Android tablet.This is one of the coolest product videos I have seen in years. Must. Get. One.


June 11, 2012

Stream your PC or Mac screen to your AppleTV 2 or AppleTV 3 with AirPlay

Yep, it's real. $50 for a whole family worth of Macs and PCs. So worth it... AirParrot makes the PC to TV connection real. This is probably what people REALLY want to do rather than having some software inside your TV that is barely functional. Tying the PC and TV wirelessly is the killer app.


April 18, 2012

The Future TV is most definitely apps - content apps

Our family cancelled our Netflix account today. We've cut the (TV) cord after we moved into our house and decided against spending $100 per month on cable TV services. It just wasn't in the budget and seemed like an easy luxury to cut along with a newspaper subscription. The digital world is most definitely changing the way we consume content, step by step, value proposition by value proposition.

Instead, we installed a cheap $25 antenna to local channels that are within 20 miles of our house. We can't pickup the US stations in Buffalo, but that would require a multi hundred dollar installation as well. Do we miss those stations? Not really.

Instead what we've decided to do is shape our habits and become selective about what we consume. Just like a food diet, a TV/News/Media consumption diet is good for the soul. You spend less time on the couch. You are more selective about what you choose -- you listen to advice, curation and your gut feel about putting less junk into your diet.

The result is fantastic. With our AppleTV (we'll soon have 2), a Synology Diskstation and an OTA antenna we get the best entertainment money can buy. We rent videos only when they make sense and are compelling on Bluray, we only watch TV shows we can easily buy on iTunes.

With HBO Go recently launching on Xbox 360, it seems that the likely way consumers like us will be appeased is with apps that live stream content and make archives available for a monthly or yearly fee. Each app will feature a show or a network of shows. Anything less is unacceptable in this age, so it's just a matter of figuring out a transition path in terms of pricing and packaging.

March 02, 2012

Aereo Gets Sued by Pretty Much Every Media Conglomerate

Poor Aereo -- 2 weeks before launch they are hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit. The $20M funded company wanted to rent out mini-antennas all over New York City and allow you to watch OTA HD TV from any device on the Internet. And record the content. It would probably increase reach of each local affiliate but instead they are all suing them. One of the full legal filing documents is below. There are others.


Broadcasters v. Aereo

NextBox 2.0 from Rogers - "No I don't have the service, and never will."

Rogers just announced their next generation set top box and whole home PVR service called NextBox 2.0. There are a lot of very compelling features that many some people are now used to having with services like Boxee, AppleTV and FibeTV from Bell. Rogers is using the Cisco set top boxes, which is the newly minted Scientific Atlanta acquisition from several years back. Hinted at selling the full set top box business, Cisco reiterated to their support for this product line. Good for Rogers -- you would not want to offer the next generation set of hardware on a product line that is on its death bed.

The features are as follows:

  • a PVR with a 1TB hard drive to record hundreds of hours of content
  • watch TV on any TV in your home, live or recorded
  • Start watching on 1 TV show, finish on another TV or Tablet
  • Rogers Live TV allows you to use your tablet to stream many of the channels on an iPad or Android tablet

The review after the break...

Continue reading "NextBox 2.0 from Rogers - "No I don't have the service, and never will."" »