Tag Archive for ‘Home Theater’

Channels DVR Adds M3U Playlist Support ➝

Jared Newman, writing for TechHive:

Where Channels really stands out, though is in what it can record beyond just over-the-air broadcasts. Last year, Channels added support for capturing TV Everywhere streams, so if you have a pay TV login, you can use the DVR for cable channels. It also added Locast.org support, so you can record local channels without an antenna in certain markets.

Last month, Channels took things a step further: For any legal video source that generates an M3U playlist, you can now add it to Channels and record its content. That means it’s now possible to record free streams from Pluto TV or Stirr, add a live webcam to your channel guide, or even roll your own round-the-clock channels from locally hosted media.

I’ve been using Channels to watch over-the-air television on my iPad and Apple TV for years. It’s an excellent piece of software. And I’ve dabbled with their Channels DVR service in the past. I eventually gave it up because it didn’t offer anything that I didn’t already have access to through Plex — where I watch most of my content.

But this is the first that I’m hearing about some of these features. Specifically the M3U playlist support. My wife and I have been watching a lot Pluto TV lately — Match Game on Buzzr is a huge draw. And having the ability to record shows from Pluto TV for more convenient viewing sounds fantastic.

➝ Source: techhive.com

Button Remote for Apple TV by Function101 ➝

I’m one of the few that actually likes the Siri Remote — I appreciate its small size, ability to control the volume on my receiver, its ability to turn on and off my television, and way I can quickly scroll through lists with the trackpad. But if you’re looking for an alternative, this remote by Function101 seems like an excellent option. It offers a more traditional button layout and is designed to work with the Apple TV.

➝ Source: function101.com

AirPlay 2-Enabled Televisions ➝

Apple published a full list of the AirPlay 2-enabled televisions that have been announced by LG, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio.

AirPlay 2 Coming to Smart TVs ➝

From Apple’s AirPlay webpage:

Leading TV manufacturers are integrating AirPlay 2 directly into their TVs, so now you can effortlessly share or mirror almost anything from your iOS device or Mac directly to your AirPlay 2–enabled smart TV. You can even play music on the TV and sync it with other AirPlay 2–compatible speakers anywhere in your home.

Samsung was the first to announce support for AirPlay 2 alongside the ability to stream iTunes movies and TV shows on their smart TVs, but I expect we’ll be seeing more television manufacturers announcing support soon too.

The Apple TV’s Value Proposition

John Gruber, on Apple’s cultural insularity and how it affects the Apple TV:

Earlier this week I wrote about my vague concern about Apple’s insular culture. Apple TV is the product line where I think that might really be a problem. Apple charges a significant premium over the average product in PCs, tablets, and phones. It works for them in those markets. That’s what Apple does and has always done: they make superior, premium products for people willing to pay for them.

But with Apple TV, I’m hearing from a lot of people who are in the Apple ecosystem — people who own MacBooks, iPads, and iPhones — who just don’t want to spend $200 for an Apple TV when they can get a Roku or Fire TV for a lot less.

John mentions iTunes as the primary selling point for the Apple TV, but I don’t see it that way and I don’t think Apple does either. When the default behavior of the remote’s home button was changed late last year, that was a clear signal about the device’s primary function — it’s all about the TV App.

With the introduction of the fourth-generation Apple TV, Tim Cook proudly proclaimed that “the future of TV is apps.” But that all changed when they released the TV App alongside tvOS 10.1. Apps were still an important part of their strategy, but it was secondary to streaming media.

The TV App offers the best experience because it bundles all (or most) of your streaming services into a single, unified interface. That’s what the Apple TV is all about. It’s a huge disappointment that Netflix isn’t supported, but even if only two of your streaming services work well with the TV App, you’re still better off using it than not.

Is the TV App alone worth the additional cost of purchasing an Apple TV over the competition? Probably not. Especially since the Apple TV is so much more expensive than the competition. AirPlay, iTunes, and Apple Music helps, but not enough.

In the lead up to Apple’s September event, when it was widely rumored that Apple would be introducing a 4K-capable Apple TV, I whole-heartedly expected Apple to drop the price of the fourth-generation Apple TV to $99. This would have fit with the pattern that Apple has exhibited over the past several years — replace the existing product at the same price point and lower the price of “last year’s model”.

If Apple announced Apple TV 4K, starting at $149, and lowered the price of the fourth-generation Apple TV down to $99, I think it would be an easier sell for most people. And I don’t think there would be as many Apple TV users looking to switch to Roku or Fire TV. Most consumers still don’t have 4K-capable televisions and “last year’s model” at $99 would be just fine for them. But of course, that isn’t what Apple chose to do.

In most of Apple’s markets, the difference between their experience — iPhone, MacBook, iPad — and the competition is vast. But on a device that spends most of its time streaming content from another company, it’s harder to see the value in spending so much more on an Apple product. The TV App, iTunes, AirPlay, and Apple Music aren’t enough to justify the additional cost for a lot of users. If Apple wants to remain a major player in this race, they have to do something soon.

From my perspective, Apple has a handful of options:

  • Start selling the Apple TV with a bundled game controller.
  • Hire (or acquire) a game development company to build titles that are exclusive to tvOS.
  • Push hard for third-party developers to build top-tier games for the platform.
  • Lower the fourth-generation Apple TV’s price to something that’s more competitive in the current market. $99 is my suggestion, but the lower they go, the better.

The best case scenario is for Apple to do all of these things at the same time, but I’m not convinced they’ll do any of them. Apple should be well aware of the problems with their offering and the announcement of the Apple TV 4K was their opportunity to address them. They didn’t. I just hope they have something incredible coming to platform soon that will position the Apple TV as more than just the expensive option.

I’ve had an Apple TV connected to the first HDMI input on my television for a decade and I’ve owned every model ever released. I don’t want to see one of my favorite products die a slow death because Apple wasn’t willing to put in the time to make it the most compelling option. The Apple TV can be the best streaming box available, even at its current price, but Apple needs to do more to make that happen.

Apple TV 4K ➝

Support for 4K video and HDR was inevitable. This is the direction the industry is heading and Apple needed it in their set-top-box in order to keep up. And I couldn’t be happier that Apple is offering 4K titles on iTunes at the same prices that they’ve been selling HD content at for years.

The Apple TV 4K seems like a great piece of hardware, but I’m not thrilled about the lineup’s pricing. Not necessarily the 4K model’s $179 starting price, that’s fine by me, but the current Apple TV remaining in the lineup at $149 is just silly. In an era where reasonably sized smart TVs can be purchased for two or three hundred dollars, it’s hard to justify the cost of an Apple TV anymore. Pricing the old Apple TV at $99 would have lowered the barrier to entry and helped the company compete with inexpensive streaming boxes from Roku, Amazon, and the like.

Regarding the TV app’s live sports and news feature, this is exactly how I believe it should be dealt with. The app surfaces live events that you’re interested in and hides the rest alongside your other streaming library content. It’s perfect. I just hope a wide variety of streaming services add support for it — having the NBA and MLB at launch is a big deal, but I’d like to see more niche content networks like the WWE get on board.

Hulu’s New Live-Streaming Service ➝

Peter Kafka, on Hulu’s new live television service:

That $39.95 will get you several dozen channels, which you can watch on your phone or connected TV devices like Xbox and Apple TV; more devices, like Roku, are on the way. It also includes Hulu’s subscription video service, which gives you access to old TV shows and movies, as well as Hulu originals like “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

If you want to spend more, you can pay for extras like a cloud DVR. You can also add Showtime, but not HBO, to the mix.

I’m going to beat this drum until the fad ends or new services quit cropping up. But why would anyone want to pay $40 a month for, what is essentially, a cable subscription that’s transmitted over the internet?

I get it — sports, no long-term commitments. But there must be a better way.

TotalMount for Apple TV ➝

I bought this mount for the Apple TV in my bedroom a few weeks ago. It was a snap to set up with everything you need to accommodate a variety of television sets and mounting situations. Just a few minutes after unboxing, the Apple TV was adhered to the back of my television — out of sight and no longer taking up precious space on our dresser. This is a great product.