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AV Rant #264: Holiday Hangover

December 29th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Tom is still on vacation this week, and Liz has a bit of the post-holiday blues. Picking up the slack this week is loyal listener Will, bringing in the updates for your favorite set top boxes/roll-your-own software: XBMC, Boxee, Plex and Roku all announced updates this week. Also updated this week: the Logitech Harmony App for your favorite mobile device (iPhone, iPad and Android phones). Netflix announced that they’ve signed a deal with BBC Worldwide,  and Hulu links in facial recognition, at least for some shows. Liz found the ultimate home theater component box (yea, right). Will found the best headphone accessory for Liz, and we discuss different personality types as expressed by headphones/ earbuds. Bonus topic: Pure Music and its companion product Pure Vinyl. Thanks for listening and don’t forget to vote for us at Podcast Alley! To see our (mostly) complete collection of show videos, click here. Download Tom’s FREE ebook Bob Moore: No Hero which is pretty much available everywhere. You can also check out Tom’s new book, Bob Moore: Desperate Times on Amazon (and soon everywhere). Friend Tom and Liz on Google+ to join in on one of our hangouts.

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  1. Rob H.
    December 31st, 2011 at 01:52 | #1

    Hey, hey!

    Very cool to finally hear Will on the podcast! Nice job! Fun, isn’t it? :)

    So all of these “set top box” platforms – they’re really just content service aggregators, right? Like, instead of TV channels, now you have these separate apps, each one having access to its own library of streaming or downloadable content, with a fair amount of those libraries overlapping, it seems.

    With an HTPC, you *could just go to each content supplier’s website, no? So are these service mostly about just giving you an interface that you can control with a remote, rather than a keyboard and mouse?

    I just haven’t gotten into any of these because the selection of streaming and download services up here in Canada is still so poor. We’ve got Canadian Netflix, which is still pretty hurting for content. We’ve got iTunes. And we’ve got our handful of Canadian TV channel websites. But unless we get a VPN, we’ve got no Hulu, no Vudu, no CBS/ABC/NBC/Fox/etc. We’ve got no Amazon OnDemand. So there’s much less value in one of these “over the top” devices up here. The AppleTV makes some amount of sense if you get a lot of your content from iTunes. But it’s all piecemeal and rather pricey.

    I’m curious about these devices and PC versions, but they still seem kinda janky to me. You’ve gotta kind of go through each service to see which shows and movies they have available. Many of them are separate subscriptions or accounts. Are the interfaces even standardized, or does each service have its own look and control layout?

    I guess Google was trying to better unify all of these services using their search functionality on GoogleTV. But now you need a keyboard again, so why not just use a HTPC and go to each individual web service?

    I love having all of my discs ripped to my NAS and available in Windows Media Center with a nice interface and control via remote. But there doesn’t seem to be a ton of support for streaming and download services within Windows Media Center. Actually, the bulk of that sort of thing seems to be going on Xbox360 – which at least can access a WMC PC as well, but you have to back out of each individual service and then go into a new one with the entire look and interface changing each time. Plus, the Xbox360 can’t handle MKV or ISO files and doesn’t support HD Audio, so it’s useless for Blu-ray rips.

    It’s too bad that no one has a “complete” solution yet. I just want to watch the shows and movies that I like in non-compressed-looking HD! Is that really so much to ask? :p

    Funnily enough, at least up here in Canada, the best way to get what I want really still is a cable subscription, an HD DVR (at least we have a 6 HD tuner option!) and Blu-rays! Our only real option for HD movie rentals is cable VOD, now that all the video rental stores have closed and our kiosk situation is very sad and pathetic. If it weren’t for Zip.ca and DVDLink.ca Blu-ray disc rentals by mail, I’d really be in a pickle!

    Frankly, I don’t like this “future” the way it looks like it’s playing out. Quality seems to be a low priority. It doesn’t look like any one service is ever going to have access to ALL the content – let alone in high quality. And the price to get everything I want just keeps going up, not down! Honestly, all I want are two services. I want one monthly subscription service that has ALL the TV shows available in HD. I’m fine with additional charges for “premium” content. Honestly, cable with a DVR is the closest thing right now! I just want it to be all on demand with full access to previous seasons and episodes of EVERY show. Then I want a second monthly subscription that gives me access to EVERY movie in HD with HD Audio. There’s nothing even close to that right now, so I remain a Blu-ray disc loyalist for the time being :p

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