Sling Media has unveiled the Slingbox PRO-HD, the first version of its video place-shifting boxes designed to stream true high-definition video. The catch? Due to the massive bandwidth requirements, HD video can't be streamed over the Internet--just to other locations on a home network. Still, that means that PCs running the SlingPlayer software--or TVs attached to Sling's soon-to-be-reannounced SlingCatcher--should be able to view a high-def stream at up to 1080i resolution with 5.1 surround audio. (To date, some Slingbox models have been able to accept HD video, but the output stream was limited to DVD-level standard-definition resolution.) … Read more
HP likes to hedge its bets. In addition to a couple of big-screen flat-panel TVs with built-in Media Center Extenders, the company is now offering a set-top box as well. Like the MediaSmart TVs, the MediaSmart Receiver x280N has the ability to stream a wide variety of video (including MPEG-2, DivX, WMV, WMV-HD, and H.264/MP4 files), audio (MP3, WMA, WMA-Pro, WAV, AAC/m4a), and images (JPEG, BMP, GIF, and PNG photos) from networked PCs to your living room TV via its wired Ethernet or wireless 802.11a/b/g/n connections. Local media playback is also available via … Read more
HP has updated its MediaSmart TVs for the new year. On the surface, the new SL4282N (42-inch) and SL4782N (47-inch) are very similar to their 2007 counterparts: full 1080p resolution LCD flat-panels with 3 HDMI inputs, built-in high-def and analog tuners, and--the big differentiator--the ability to stream digital video, audio, and images via their built-in 802.11a/b/g/n wireless networking connections. But the big upgrade for 2008 is the inclusion of Media Center Extender functionality, which offers easy connectivity to PCs running most flavors of Vista. Prefer a non-HP TV, but want those same media features? HP's … Read more
A new video streaming service called Qik has been getting some buzz lately. If you're familiar with UStream.tv, Veodia, and Comvu, the idea for Qik is similar: take a mobile phone with a video camera on a fast mobile connection, and stream video live for other people to watch. The service borrows a page from Kyte.tv and UStream in integrating live chat that allows broadcasters to interact with the users--although Qik steps it up a notch by letting the broadcaster simply reply using the phone's integrated microphone instead of having to type out text on the phone's keypad.
To compensate for network lag, the application will calculate the delay and show it in the corner of the screen. In testing over a 3G connection I got the delay up to about a minute, although if you're using the service over Wi-Fi, it's extremely nimble. You can also record videos for uploading later, when away from a data stream of Wi-Fi hot spot. The next time you connect, it'll automatically upload your video--which is a nice touch.
The beauty of Qik is that it's wonderfully simple to use and participate in. People viewing your video either via Qik.com or on a video embed can chat if it's live, and the second it goes offline, the player acts just like any other Web video, and turns the live chat into a comment thread. While the quality of the video leaves something to be desired when compared with Web video hosting services like YouTube, Viddler and Vimeo, it's limited to the mobile network connection and the often lackluster lenses found on camera phones. Qik's creators tell me there are plans to add a higher quality stream to the Nokia N95 and other high-end handsets in the near future.
The service is currently in private alpha, and limited to a range of Nokia phones on the S60 platform. The application itself is only a little over 300k, and downloads in seconds. We didn't get a chance to give it a spin over a slower connection like EDGE, but based on the 3G performance, you likely wouldn't want to. In the pipeline for future updates are mobile-to-mobile streaming (sending and receiving video), integration with social networking sites like Facebook, and additional handset support.
I've embedded an example of Qik after the break. You can also check out whoever's live streaming at the moment on the service's live page.
Aerielle Inc., the company responsible for engineering FM transmitters for Kensington, iRiver, and SanDisk, is launching its own wireless music-sharing device called the i2i Stream Digital Music Broadcaster. The i2i Stream allows you to take any music source (MP3 player, home stereo, computer) and broadcast it between two or more i2i Stream devices. The technology takes advantage of the wireless 2.4 GHz frequency range, circumventing the need for Bluetooth compatibility, and offering a range of 30 feet. Each i2i Stream also comes with its own independent volume control and and a USB-rechargeable battery capable of 7 hours of playback. … Read more
If the digital music business were a game of poker, Imeem can now claim to have a royal flush--sort of.
The music-centered social network, which focuses on ad-supported streaming music and video that its members can arrange into "playlists" on their profiles, has announced a deal with Universal Music Group that gives Imeem access to full-length recordings of the recording giant's entire digital music and video catalog. This means that Imeem now has deals with all four major labels as well as a large number of independent labels.
The sprawling catalog of Universal Music Group, a division … Read more
Simplify Media--a free desktop application for Windows or Mac OS X that lets you stream your digital music or your friends' from iTunes or Winamp (Simplify Media covered previously)--today released a new version of its software that is developed to run on the Apple iPhone or iPod Touch.
Rather than function as a conventional iPhone app, (i.e. a Web app built for Safari), the new program is standalone software that requires a "jailbroken" iPhone to work.
The ability to listen to your entire music collection or your friends' anywhere your iPhone or iPod Touch has … Read more
We have invitations for the closed alpha of Knocka. Read the end to get yours.
I don't care for the content on the new video site Knocka. But I really like the concept.
Knocka is an Internet television network. It has "channels" of streaming content. Unlike video sharing sites like YouTube, users can't randomly select videos to play when they wish (except clips they've already seen in a stream), nor can they embed Knocka vids in other sites. Kncoka is a destination site, not a media library.
But even though Knocka can be watched in passive mode, like television, interactivity and community are a big part of the Knocka equation. Viewers can text chat with each other in a window under a running show, and can engage in person-to-person Webcam video chats with their friends. And content is chosen through a combination of user voting and editorial oversight. On the current alpha site, users can vote on clips that play in the channels, and the voting will affect the rotation of a show: Good vote, more plays; bad votes, less. Eventually, Knocka will let its users further upstream in the editorial process. It will let users vote on videos in the submissions bin to help decide what makes it into the channels themselves.
At the moment, content is coming from some existing producers, like Aniboom and Rocketboom, as well as from users. All content is being funneled into just three channels: Music, Extreme Sports, and "Kandy," aka the lingerie channel. (There's also an overview channel.) More channels will launch soon.
Knocka puts glitzy and loud promos and graphics around the videos, making each video stream feel like an MTV production. The Web interface is also very good. It offers a decent amount of social interaction without getting in the way.
While I really like the Web interface and the concept, I found a lot of the videos on the service just plain crude. But that's only my opinion, and I'm not the target demographic. Knocka, currently, is aiming for a much younger viewer than me, with aspirations to launch channels for different audiences later.
Also coming soon, CEO Nir Erlich told me, are more live video features, like live shows that put audience members in the middle of the streams. Erlich thinks that it will be easier to pull viewers into these live shows than it will to grab people to watch the live streams on sites like uStream and Operator11. Or, I suppose, Justin.tv.
Erlich says Knocka is about, "Moving from an unlimited number of channels to a limited number. But structured." It's an old-fashioned concept, more reminiscent of television channels from the 1950s and '60s than what we currently think of as a modern video service that tries to offer everything to everybody. Knocka is not the only video site based on focus over quantity, though. There's Current, a higher-brow content and video company that is also trying to put social engineering on video consumption, and there's Mania TV, another show-based video service.
I found Knocka's social interface intuitive and fun. I complained about the rotten videos and voted them down, but I had a good time doing so. This is a very intriguing video platform.
Earlier this month I spotlighted Nexus Radio, a free Internet radio app that streams music from 38 genres and also lets you capture, edit, and save tunes.
Not being able to drag and drop music files from the desktop to the playlist was one quibble I had with a previous version of Nexus Radio, reviewed in a First Look video. Instead, users had to waste clicks going though the app interface to add songs.
This version hops the hurtle, and playlist-building is easy-peasy once again. It's a little upgrade that makes a big difference in user-friendliness, and it's … Read more