Category Archives: Internet Movies

Amazon Kindle Fire

Today, Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire tablet.

I watched a few news reports and to summarize:

The Kindle Fire is fast using a dual processor, it can run Android Apps but you gotta get them from Amazon (not a bad thing).

One analyst says it is NOT an iPad killer since the Kindle Fire is a consumer of media not a producer of media / content like the iPad can be.

Makes sense.

However, this same analyst says it can put a dent in Barnes & Noble’s Color Nook.

It works on WiFi only and costs a “reasonable” $199 U.S.  Storage of your media is via the Amazon cloud and they say that is for free.

The Fire will be available in mid-November but they are taking pre-orders now.  When you get it, it will be pre-configured with your Amazon account information…that is cool.

Here are two videos:

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–From the techy’s at CNET.com

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–Some guy playing with Fire (sorry, I had to say that…)–

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You gonna get one?  Comment below!  :-)

Logitech Harmony 650 Remote

Lori could not learn the process I had for watching a movie on the blu-ray or on VUDU.

Geeez what is her problem?  Using a combination of three remotes, 27 button pushes, and moving one wire (just kidding)….it was easy!

She wanted me to write the process down….well, I do not have time to write a book, so get over it.

Luckily, Lifesize (a Division of Logitech), had a contest recently that someone at Lifesize entered one of my blog entries for (Anytime, Anywhere…) and I won 3rd prize!!!!

A Logitech Harmony 650 remote!  How cool is that!  :-)

This remote promises to replace up to 5 remotes!  Well, there ya go….maybe the Harmony 650 can simplify the movie watching process and give Lori the ability to watch movies in case I croak sooner than expected.

My Home Theater Configuration

An old (see this blog entry…one of my very first!) 55 inch Sony projection HDTV (only about 720p resolution, but, still good), an older Bose audio system, a Comcast cable box (HD), an old VUDU box for movies, an old Sony Blu-Ray player, and finally a Black Box HDMI switcher. Lots of old stuff (I really need to start making money again) but everything is working fine.

All of these devices need a separate remote!

Thankfully, I could make the Comcast remote work with the Bose, and the Cable box.

And I figured out a way to keep the TV on line 7 for the Blu-Ray, watching TV, and VUDU so the TV remote is not needed all the time.

<–See the pic for the three remaining remotes I hope to replace with the Harmony 650.

(No wonder why Lori was having such a problem, I am having a hard time keeping it easy to understand here….)

Harmony 650 Remote

OK, so I open the box, and read the directions very carefully….yeah, and if you believe that, I have some ocean front property in Arizona you can buy (thank you, George!).

I did know (from reading the back of the box) that the Harmony 650 could be configured using the Internet assuming you have a Windows or Mac computer and the CORRECT browser (see my browser bitch further down).

Very cool!

Sooooo, I plugged the USB cable (supplied by Logitech) into one of our laptop computers and fired it up.

Oooops, wrong browser (see my browser bitch further down).

I switched to another browser, and I was allowed to enter the devices (very cool by the way) and I was damn surprised that it had VUDU (even though the VUDU is on all the time, and I still am using it’s remote….so far).

After I was done naming my “activities” (Watch TV, Watch Movie, and Watch Movie VUDU) I hit the “Sync” button and waited…..and waited……and waited…..then fell asleep……woke up the next morning, unplugged the remote from the computer and brought it to work.  Arrrghhh…..(see my browser bitch further down).

Syncing at Work

Firing up my new Toshiba laptop, I plugged in the Harmony 650 to finally get it synced.

Shit….wrong browser again (!!!!!!!) (see my browser bitch further down).  So I tried another browser….damn….that did not work either (see my browser bitch further down).  Finally, I used the worst browser known to man and it worked!  Yeah……Arrrghh….(see my browser bitch further down).

Taking the remote home that night, I tried it.  I had to answer a few inane questions on the remote, and it had to try each of my devices again…but, in the end, it WORKED!

Joy to the World!

Using the Remote

This is the best part.

Pick up the remote and the display comes on (motion sensing…cool).  Hit the soft buttons on either side of the “activity” and magically….the correct devices turn on!  WhoooHooo!

Hit the top left button and all the devices turn off!  Wheeeee!

I tried all three of our “activites” and the remote turned on the appropriate devices every time!  Lori tried it and…..drum roll…..it worked for her too!

Life is good!

The Browser Issue

As promised, there is one major issue (major to me anyway).

I had to use the awful, terrible, Internet Explorer browser to finally get the remote synced up and working.  The latest version of IE absolutely sucks….it is just awful.  Terrible.

As a tough little hairy guy with big ears would say:  Total crap, that is.

Logitech REALLY needs to fix that, and get it working with Chrome and Firefox (they say Firefox works, but, not on the version I have…the VERY latest, 6.0).

Conclusion

The browser issue aside, the remote so far is working fine.

It has simplified the process for Lori and it works much better than the Comcast remote (faster, and the button pushes feel better).

I like the Logitech Harmony 650 remote!

Just gotta fix that browser issue and it would be nearly perfect.

So much for that (a few weeks later):  it died.  Arrrghhh……

 

VUDU Adds Glee and Modern Family

 (Our VUDU)

As my loyal reader….you know what I feel about VUDU (and here, and here).   Also see our movie reviews on ForCarol.com, a lot of what we watch is on VUDU.

Now that VUDU is embedded in new TV’s, Blu-Ray players, etc., you no longer need the separate box that we have.  There is also the ability to connect to Facebook, Twitter, and a zillion other features via the Internet.

It ain’t just movies anymore….

Although the user interface has gotten more bloated and harder to use (hint to VUDU designers) this is still the best streaming video service under the sun.  My hope is that is stays that way….note to Wal-Mart:  Hands off!  Let the VUDU folks do what they do better than anyone…

Anyway…on the TV side, the choices kinda stunk.  Until now.  NOW, I see this article that says they are adding “Glee” and “Modern Family”.

OK….this is GREAT news.  We LOVE “Modern Family”, and “Glee”…..well, it is ok too.  :-)

If you have not tried VUDU (’cause you are using Netflix streaming…which actually came after VUDU)…give it a try.

Now that we have Comcast Internet…we can watch HDX movies in real-time….the quality is awesome!

AT&T To Cap DSL Usage

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I was surfing this morning and came across this bit of disturbing news from the good folks at Mashable (and also at Broadband DSL Reports).

AT&T will cap DSL users to 150GB (I assume Bytes…not bits) and Uverse users to 250GB per month.  If you go over that cap more than 3 times you will be charged $10 for every 50GB over.

I sent an email to my favorites, VUDU, and they replied with some byte estimates for me.  Thank you VUDU!

For SD (standard definition which is great for us) you can estimate (depending on the length of the movie but for a typical 2 hour movie) about 1.5GB. For HD the estimate doubles to about 3GB, and for HDX (which is awesome by the way) 8GB.

Soooo, if I watched nothing but HDX movies, I would burn through the 150GB cap after watching 18.75 HDX movies.  Hmmmm, I would be happy with that, but, we use the Internet for sooo much more than movies…

I remember a year or two ago Comcast announcing the same kind of capping…what ever happened to that?  Is that still in effect?  Well, now, DSL users will be getting it.

What does this mean?

Well…..if you are like me, you are watching TV and Movies (all kinds….) via the Internet, or you are a heavy duty gamer or surfer, or you participate in video conferencing, web conferencing, video chat, etc.  The Internet provides a great transport mechanism.

Maybe that will be changing….?

We watch VUDU movies in HDX, HD, or SD all the time (4 to 5 times a month…see ForCarol.com for my short movie reviews).

If I am subject to capping…will that limit the number of movies I watch?  If so, I am not happy about that.

VUDU Review 2

my-vudu

Rating:  5 WaterTowers (still nearly perfect)

After you are done here:  See my original review of VUDU.

This weekend we recieved our new Vudu system.   As you may already know, we love Vudu and we used it for a long time before I actually had to remind Vudu that we had the demo unit.

Life was miserable without Vudu.  Now we have our own, and in the two months or so we have been without it, there have been some cool additions to the service.  Not surprising since they update a lot.

Cool New Features

The first new feature I noticed was the addition of a rating by the “community” in addition to the rating by the “critics”.  In my opinion, the “community” rating means more to me.

The next feature I noticed was “Vudu Labs”.  This is an area where Vudu is testing new applications.  I really love this!  Figure 1 shows a screen shot.

Vudu Labs Experimental Features

Figure 1: Vudu Labs Experimental Features

Within Vudu Labs, we can:

  • View YouTube videos (including our own)
  • View publically available Flickr pictures (again, including our own)
  • Watch special streamed video from categories such as New, Sports, Entertainment and more.  For example, I watched a CNN update for Sunday. Very cool.  :-)
  • There are games.  The old Asteroid game from, I believe, the Atari (how many of you remember that?)  days has been upgraded….and I still lose.  There are also several versions of solitaire.

Adult content has also been added.  I suppose to be totally objective, I will have to review this portion as well.  ;-)  Stay tuned.  What I have seen so far is that Vudu “After Dark” takes you into a different set of tabs.  I believe (I will check and update) that that can be password protected to keep the young’uns away.

Installation

Installation proceeded normally until I got to the page that said it was “Updating Content”  (see figure 2).  I got to that stage pretty late at night and decided to let it run over night.

Updating Content Page

Figure 2: Updating Content Page

Unfortunately, when I woke up it was still on that page.  I pondered what to do and finaly rebooted Vudu.

After the reboot, it found my account, did a bandwidth test, and took only about 10 or 15 minutes to move past the offending page.

TelBitConsulting says:  Not sure if this happens a lot, but, it would have been nice to have the option of getting out of that mode without rebooting.

Updated Diagram

Figure 3 shows the latest schematic.  The video and audio from every component is terrific.

Schematic Diagram of Home Entertainment

Figure 3: Schematic Diagram of Home Entertainment

We now have a full complement of clickers lining up under the TV (Figure 4), and the new Black Box 3 to 1 HMDI interface box is now full.

Clickers Galore

Figure 4: Clickers Galore

I connected the Vudu to port 3 of the Black Box, and to the Cable / Sat audio input on the Bose since my TV inputs have run out.

Summary

We now have our own Vudu.  How cool is that!

Let’s hope that Vudu can stay in business in this awful economy (I have seen some web pages referring to this).  From my point of view, escaping reality by watching movies, is something we all need.  Our own stimulus package.

Vudu ROCKS!!!

Wal-Mart Buys VUDU

You may already know that I think the world of VUDU.

Here is the most recent blog entry written after we received our very own VUDU box (yeah..that was before they were embedded in TV’s and Blu-Ray players…and way before Wal-Mart).

I suppose you could say, I know how to pick ‘em!

Sure hope I am right about coworking and the Tracy Virtual Office :-)

What is the point of this entry (other than finally posting something new on my Technical Blog)?

Here is the latest Press Release sent to me by VUDU:

“”Walmart Announces Acquisition of Digital Entertainment Provider, VUDU

Company takes next step to enhance home entertainment
and information delivery options for consumers

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Feb. 22, 2010 — Walmart announced today a definitive agreement to acquire VUDU, Inc., a leading provider of digital technologies and services that enable the delivery of entertainment content directly to broadband high-definition TVs and Blu-ray players. The deal is expected to close within the next few weeks.

VUDU is a revolutionary service, built into a growing number of broadband-ready TVs and Blu-ray players, that delivers instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows directly through the television. Customers with broadband Internet access and an Internet-ready TV or Blu-ray player can rent or purchase movies, typically in high-definition, without needing a connected computer or cable/satellite service. New movies and features will be added continually, enabling customers to enjoy a product that continues to become more robust long after they have left the store.

“The real winner here is the customer,” said Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman for Walmart. “Combining VUDU’s unique digital technology and service with Walmart’s retail expertise and scale will provide customers with unprecedented access to home entertainment options as they migrate to a digital environment.”

VUDU has licensing agreements with almost every major movie studio and dozens of independent and international distributors to offer approximately 16,000 movies, including the largest 1080p library of video on-demand movies available anywhere. Via their broadband Internet connection, users have the ability to rent or buy titles and begin viewing them instantly.

VUDU will continue developing entertainment and information delivery solutions such as VUDU Apps, a platform that delivers hundreds of streaming Internet applications and services to TVs and Blu-ray players with built-in Internet connectivity. VUDU has partnered with some of the leading names in Internet and media entertainment to offer applications on its platform including Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, The New York Times and The Associated Press.

“We are excited about the opportunity to take our company’s vision to the next level,” said Edward Lichty, VUDU executive vice president. “VUDU’s services and Apps platform will give Walmart a powerful new vehicle to offer customers the content they want in a way that expands the frontier of quality, value and convenience.”

VUDU, based in Santa Clara, Calif., will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walmart. The company is not disclosing financial terms of the agreement as the acquisition is not material to its first quarter earnings for fiscal year 2011.

About Walmart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT), or “Walmart,” serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week at more than 8,400 retail units under 53 different banners in 15 countries. With fiscal year 2010 sales of $405 billion, Walmart employs more than 2 million associates worldwide. A leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity, Walmart ranked first among retailers in Fortune Magazine’s 2009 Most Admired Companies survey. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting http://www.walmartstores.com. Online merchandise sales are available at http://www.walmart.com and http://www.samsclub.com.””;

VUDU Integrates Technology

 

VUDU_Logo (2)

Rating:  5 WaterTowers (awesome integration of technologies in the home)

What is VUDU?

VUDU is a device that uses peer-to-peer video streaming to deliver high definition (or standard definition) movies to your TV via the Internet.

As you may know from my previous posts on VUDU, I think it is one of the best technologies to come around in a long time.  It is reliable, relatively inexpensive, very easy to use, and it works extremely well.  It also has that WOW factor that gets my heart pumping.

Example of VUDU User InterfaceExample of VUDU User Interface

Last week, VUDU made a couple of, in my mind, groundbreaking announcements concerning the integration of their technology in home electronics.

LG Announcements

VUDU, Inc.’s industry-leading on-demand high definition (HD) movie service is now available on the BD390 Network Blu-ray Disc player from LG Electronics, giving consumers a whole new way to access the largest on-demand HD library of Hollywood movies in their living rooms, the company announced today.”

LG Blu-Ray Player with VUDU
LG Blu-Ray Player with VUDU

“The VUDU HD entertainment service is now available on LG Electronics broadband HDTVs, the companies announced today.  The VUDU service is available on LG’s LH50 1080p LCD series and PS80 1080p plasma series with “NetCast Entertainment Access.”**

LG HDTV with VUDU
LG HDTV with VUDU

Mitsubishi Announcement

“Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, Inc. (MDEA) today announced it has begun shipping VUDU integrated 1080p flat panel TVs in its Diamond models of Unisen Immersive Sound LCD Televisions. MDEA will provide the consumer the opportunity to experience the seamless delivery of thousands of high definition movies and TV shows.”

249_Solo2_Rt

Summary

You may not have felt the ground shake (and may not feel it even after glancing at this blog entry), but, mark my words……this is something that 10 years from now you will look back on and say:  ”That was the beginning of the end for the stores that rent DVD’s.”

The ability to browse VUDU for a movie (and search for tidbits on the actors, directors, etc) as well as download and watch a movie in high definition is extremely powerful.

I’ve said this before and after using VUDU for over a year now, I will say it again.

VUDU is awesome!

VUDU Price Reduced

next-web

If you have not read my VUDU Review blog, now may be a good time.  

The basic VUDU unit (good enuf for me) is now selling for $149.00.  

Watching movies downloaded from the Internet has never been so easy and so enjoyable.  I gave VUDU 5 WaterTowers a year ago and only recently had to send it back (hey….I finally reminded them I had it, since they did say they would call me if they needed it back).

Not to worry, for $149.00 we are buying one (from Best Buy)!  It should be here in a day or two since, apparently, Tracy, CA is not the hot bed of activity for VUDU’s.  It should be!

I recommend VUDU to anyone reading this….you will not be disappointed.  

When I get it, I’ll post another review, as an update, and also post new schematics which include the Black Box Catalog HDMI 3 to 1 device I got for Christmas.  

Even though we have a Blu-Ray player now, I expect VUDU to be our primary movie watching mechanism.  One seemingly insignificant thing:  We miss searching for an actor or director to see when they were born…VUDU made that easy!

Have a nice weekend!  

I’m gonna take a few days off….and watch some movies!

LG HDTV to Stream NetFlix Movies

good-lg-pic

 

OK, here it comes.  The battle for streaming movies over the Internet has taken the turn that I have been waiting for.

This article on CBS tells us that LG will embed a streaming player in HDTV sets.  No additional box will be needed.  How quickly this is happening!

I have been covering this exciting area of technology from some time and am convinced that the future of watching movies via the Internet is the future.

Note:  If Internet service providers restrict the number of bits users can transfer over their Internet connections, all bets are off.   

TelBitConsulting says:  VUDU, Blockbuster, AppleTV players are all stand-alone devices.  I believe embedded devices will eventually rule.  

See all my posts, including this one, on this topic here.  

Thoughts?

Internet Movies and Blu Ray

next-web

I’ve been thinking.  

A very dangerous thing, I know.  But I was wondering how the likes of VUDU (see my review), AppleTV, the Blockbuster (see my blog entry) and NetFlix (see my blog entry)  streaming video players will effect (hmmm, is that right?  effect, affect?) the life of Blu-Ray.  

A few weeks ago, I posted a more formal written opinion that I have copied below. 

Let me know what you think.

Overview

1. Streaming of movies (and other content) over the Internet will grow in the coming years.

2. High speed digital services to the home (DSL and cable modem) continue to increase.

3. High definition movies can be viewed at home without the need to rent a DVD or Blu-Ray DVD.  

This is an important future direction that could shorten the life of Blu-Ray or at the very least lessen the impact Blu-Ray could have in the home.

Tel Bit Consulting’s View

Several companies are now offering high definition movies over the Internet.  These movies can be viewed on a high definition TV and require only a DSL or cable modem connection to the Internet, and a player.  There are technical issues the homeowner must overcome (for example they will need to bring DSL or Cable Modem Internet connectivity to the Family Room) but, the ability to rent a movie and watch it in high definition two to eight hours after renting it (without the need to go to the store) is compelling.

 

Apple TV came out with a set-top box over a year ago.  Although that required a computer to work properly, the latest versions do not, thus, in my opinion increasing the usability for the average person.  In the past year, more (non-computer based) devices (or players) have been introduced:  VUDU has advanced rapidly from standard definition and a small selection of HD movie titles to a significant number of high definition movies that rival the quality of Blu-Ray (they call their latest HD technology HDX).  More recently, NetFlix, Sony, and Blockbuster have announced players or Internet streaming of movies, or both.  Comcast (and other cable companies) have their own on-demand services.

 

In short, as these new Internet streaming players come into the marketplace, and more movies become available in high definition, the need (or desire) to purchase, or rent, a Blu-Ray DVD could diminish or never reach its full promise. 

 

One stumbling block for Internet streaming of video concerns the fact that Internet providers have been clamping down their connections (i.e. restricting the number of bits).  If that practice remains in place, or increases, that could spell trouble for Internet streaming of movies. 

 

But, if free and open Internet connectivity remains, and Internet streaming technology improves and more widely available, the life of a “Blu-Ray DVD” may be shorter than the life of the old, original “DVD”.

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