VUDU Now Streaming on the iPad

++Originally posted on ForCarol.com++

If you have read our Movie Reviews on this blog, you may have run across the fact that we sometimes watch movies on “VUDU”.  As an engineer, and blogger, several years ago, I tested a new Internet-based streaming technology and LOVED IT!  That was VUDU (see my original blog post raving about it).

We own a VUDU box and it is the BEST…

Well word now comes that Wal-Mart (they bought VUDU a year or so ago) has released the ability for VUDU to work on your iPAD!  How cool is that?  All together now:  VERY COOL!!!

Here is the link to a Forbes article.

I’ll quote a bit of it below, if you are interested.

Walmart Launches Video Service for iPad

MarketNewsVideo.com , 08.10.11, 03:10 PM EDT

Walmart (WMT) said today it has launched its VUDU video-on-demand service for Apples (AAPL) iPad. The service will allow iPad users to rent or buy entertainment content and stream it over their iPad browser, without being obligated to sign up for a subscription, as they are with other services such as Netflix (NLFX).

Walmart said today it has launched its VUDU video-on-demand service for Apples iPad.

The service will allow iPad users to rent or buy entertainment content and stream it over their iPad browser, without being obligated to sign up for a subscription, as they are with other services such as Netflix ( NFLX – news -people ) .

VUDUs library includes more than 20,000 blockbusters, Hollywood classics, independent films and TV episodes.

VUDU movie purchases and rental can also be watched online at walmart.com or vudu.com, as well as on other consumer electronics devices like internet capable TVs, Blu-Ray players, and Sonys () PlayStation 3.

Drive Safe!  Never Forget.

Information Technology

The world is changing. Rapidly.

Bits are flying over the Internet at an unprecedented pace.

As my loyal reader…..you know my feelings about Cisco and video conferencing, but, it looks to me as though they are getting back to focusing on handling bits….a very good thing.  For everyone!

This commercial by Cisco is interesting.  I LOVE the part where they say that you do not need to be in the office to be productive.

DUH.   Telecommuting = Coworking = Telework

Comments?

Dare I say it?   Cisco rocks?   Ouch….that hurt…. :-)

Oh yeah…the bridge at the end is awesome…again, back to cisco’s roots.

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!

DotXXX URL’s Coming Soon

Sorry ’bout that.  Just reporting the news on the technical front.  And, hey, like we are all innocent here…duh.  :-)

The Washington Post reports that yesterday the Internet naming authority has approved the use of the .xxx suffix.

“On Friday in San Francisco, the California nonprofit that oversees Internet addresses gave the green light to the virtual red-light district. The vote comes after several years of clashes and deliberations by the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers.”

There are always two sides to any issue, and with this one, that does not change. Interestingly, many in the porn industry are afraid that the .xxx sites might be subject to mass blocking.

Read the Washington Post article for all the information on this up coming change.  (Sorry, I could not resist.)

Video Conferencing and Porn

I’m sure I have told this story before, but, when video conferencing was new, many of the calls we got regarding the technical aspects of videoconferencing were from porn site operators.  The questions were super technical and very detailed.

I’m sure the porn industry has had it’s own (if not very quiet) impact on the development of video collaboration, video chat, and video streaming over the Internet.

AT&T To Cap DSL Usage

`

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.

Livestream Video Streaming on Facebook

OK, this is cool.

A few seconds after I downloaded the free app “Livestream Podcaster” I was streaming live video from the AltamontCowork public computer to Facebook!

I have tried Justin TV and Ustream as our “Virtual Window” but both dropped the calls, after awhile, within a few minutes.  Hmmmm, I wonder if it was Comcast limiting me?

Sooo, I’m trying Livestream.  Looks like the same software as Justin TV and Ustream and I still have Comcast, so I’m pretty sure, one way or another, the calls will start dropping.  No matter, this is cool anyway.

One really nice feature is you can give a live presentation using slides and video and audio to a Facebook audience.  See picture below.

Sweeet.

Ads interrupt the video stream every few minutes.

I won’t be doing this long term, but, as a cool experiment (and blog entry), it was fun playing with it.

My Opinion

The world of video communication (either interactive or one way streaming) is moving at lightspeed right now and I am seeing nearly all the predictions, hopes, and dreams I had for this technology the past 20 years coming to fruition!   WhooHoo!

Great stuff!

Now all I need to do is find something that will come true now….so I can live to see it.

+++

Help us raise awareness of unsafe teen driving and the need for parents to enforce curfews.

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!!!

Justin TV: A Quick Peek

I found a gold mine of lost blog entries!  Here is another…

+++

TracyVirtualOffice Justin TV Page

TracyVirtualOffice Justin TV Page

Rating:  4 WaterTowers (Internet streaming made easy)

Justin TV allows you to stream live video and audio over the Internet.  It took me all of two minutes to sign up and start streaming.

Very easy and very cool.   :-)

I can see tons of applications for this, and I’m sure there are thousands already on Justin TV.  For us at the TracyVirtualOffice and maybe other coworking locations or businesses / education, I can see Lectures being streamed, meetings being streamed (like the TweetUP we just hosted), and when I am at home…this is an efficient security system!  We can connect coworking locations worldwide as easy as 3.14.

Official announcement:  The TracyVirtualOffice now has it’s own LIVE  stream (8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, PST) that you can watch at two locations:

1. The TVO Web Page

2. Justin TV Web Page

Take a look…just don’t get bored!  ;-)

My New Slogan: “TracyVirtualOffice TV: As Exciting as Watching Corn Grow”

I will occasionally turn the web cam inward so you can see the TracyVirtualOffice in action, but, I’ll wait until we have a few more members.  Right now, we are as interesting as the parking lot.   ;-)

What Am I Using?

I am using the TracyVirtualOffice emachines computer, running Vista, with a Logitech 9000 web cam.  I have Comcast Business Internet with 2.5 Mbps upstream and 20 Mbps, or more, downstream and the Google Chrome browser.

The Justin TV application is running in “Good” mode (see picture below) and it automatically selected an upstream BW of about 450 kbps.  I see no slowing of the Internet at that bit rate which is good.

The video quality at the viewer end appears to be very good (Comments?).  Note that I have muted audio for privacy, but, when it was on it worked very well.

Features

As a viewer:

You can watch the video at the default size or make it full screen.  You can chat with other viewers and the broadcaster.   You see updated list of the number of viewers, the number of fans, and the number of views since broadcasting started.   And you can change the audio volume.  The embed and link codes are there if you want to use them.

As the owner:

Justin TV Control Panel

Justin TV Control Panel

You can record video.

I did that yesterday but I have not been able to find it.  Maybe because I am using Chrome?  The recording seems to work ok, but, it never shows up in the designated spot.  I’ll give Firefox and IE a try over the next few days and let you know what happens.

You can change the video quality

The default is “Good” but there is a “Best” as well.  Since “Good” is running at 450 kbps, I have not yet fired up the “Best”.  450 kbps is plenty good for me.  :-)

You can personalize your Justin TV page

I uploaded a properly sized (650 x 125 pixel) logo, changed the coloring, and uploaded a background picture of our mug.  It all worked out very nicely.   See the picture at the top.

You can embed the video on your web page

Justin TV provides links and embed code that you can copy.  The picture shows how it looks on my web page.

TracyVirtualOffice TV Web Page

TracyVirtualOffice TV Web Page

You can link to it here to give it a whirl.  You have to click on the arrow button to start the video.  Once it is running, you can change the audio (we are muted), view the video in full-screen, and stop the video.  There is a link to the Justin TV site below the video feed.

I just wonder what the this will do to the data transfer rate of the web site?  Does the video feed thru it?  Or does it get fed somehow thru Justin TV?

Here is a full screen shot from the web site feed:

 

Full Screen from TVO Web Site Feed

Full Screen from TVO Web Site Feed

Summary

Not to long ago streaming video over the Internet was a difficult process requiring specialized equipment and expertise.  Those days are gone!

Justin TV brings this capabilty to the average person while providing excellent quality video and audio.  And the price is right….it is free.  Justin TV is super easy to set up and use.

All in all……a  super app!  :-)

As for my new slogan…..”TracyVirtualOffice TV: As Exciting as Watching Corn Grow”!  Believe me, I have experience there, my Masters Degree Thesis (University of Kansas) was on “The Coherent Optical Determination of the Leaf Angle Distribution of Corn”.  Many many (wonderful) hours spent in the cornfields of Kansas.

Librestream Onsight Review

 

Rating: 5 WaterTowers

Every now and then I see a product that blows me away.  It has been happening a lot lately (a good sign for technology) and it happened again last week with the Librestream Onsight.

The fact that it is one-way video (and I’m a two-way video kind of guy) is even more impressive!

TelBitConsulting says:  The Librestream Onsight ease-of-use and naturalness / robustness of communication is superb.  

What is the Onsight?

The Onsight is a hand-held device that is designed to be used in the field. Unique to the Onsight is the fact that it connects to the Internet or Intranet to send high quality video and two-way audio from the field to an expert anywhere in the world.

Using this camera and the Librestream SIP infrastructure, a remote expert on a Windows PC can work with the field person as easily as if they were both in the field.

Super cool.  

TelBitConsulting Example

I am the developer of a a new electric vehicle (yeah…I just picked up a ton of stimulus money) and there is a problem with one vehicle in Lawrence, Kansas.  Apparently the battery is not charging as quickly as it could be and the local mechanic (who has a PhD in Electrical Engineering) cannot figure out the problem.

PhD grabs the Librestream Onsight and turns it on.  The shop area has WiFi connectivity and the Onsight in Lawrence shows up on my computer screen as being available.  I double click on it and a few seconds later I see the inside of the shop from the perspective of PhD.  

PhD takes me to the car and we look at every diode, chip, resistor, and capacitor in the control system.  PhD loads the code and we observe the LCD panel’s error codes.  Working the Librestreams markup capability I see something and circle a possible problem.  An old fashioned cold solder connection.  PhD fires up the soldering iron and fixes the problem.  We both watch the charging process proceed normally.

Success!  

Installation

The installation proceeded normally on my Toshiba laptop.  Remember my laptop connects to the remote Onsight via the Internet.  I can control it, see the video, and hear the audio.  

Librestream sent me more detailed instructions for connecting to the SIP network, which was a bit more complicated, but the instructions were perfect and all I had to do was follow along step-by-step.  

Once I had SIP working it was easy to connect.

Making a Call 

Watch this Oscar nominated (I wish) documentary short showing how we used the Onsight one day last week.   

 

UPDATE:  The Librestream produced video has been uploaded….go here to see it!  

Features

There are many features, here is a quick list. 

1. Connection via 802.11 wireless network

2. Uses SIP

3. Battery operated

4. Embedded light source (see video)

5. High (~1 Mbps), medium (~250 kbps), and low (~150 kbps) bandwidth MPEG4 video.  Note that they were all VERY clear and crisp.  

 

Figure 1: High BW Connection Looking out the Window

Figure 1: High BW Connection Looking out the Window

6. Speaker and Mic controls and two-way audio.

7. Auto Focus or Manual Focus

8. Zoom (Note that there is no panning capabilty.  The field person needs to point the camera in the right direction)

Figure 2: View of Office Calendar

Figure 2: View of Office Calendar

Figure 3: Zoomed in View of Calendar

Figure 3: Zoomed in View of Calendar

9. Recording Capability (stored on computers hard drive)

10. Snapshot capability (notice the quality)

Figure 4: Penny View

Figure 4: Penny View

11. Auto Answer (I called an Onsight that was pointing out the window, figure 1)

12. Two way audio 

13. Annotations from either end.  

Pricing

I know some of you have been asking….so to get pricing information you will need to email Librestream at information@librestream.com  or, alternatively, you can fill out the contact form here.  

Summary

The Librestream Onsight is a great tool for those needing remote expertise without requiring the remote expert to be physically on site. 

Who can use it?  Travel agents, air conditioner repair, pool leak detection, police, fire, ambulances, remote health facilities, insurance, news…..

Your imagination should run wild a bit to understand the potential uses.

Hmmm, I want to see the view outside my friends condo in Kauai.  On the beach by the big log is where the original “TelBit Consulting” was born way back in 1995 or so (click on the panorama view).

Test Your Network Connection

Google has added some capabilities (via collaborations) that, when fully operational, will allow you to do some pretty detailed testing of your Internet connection. 

See this article for all the information (well, not all, but, some pretty good stuff).  One of my heros from my college days when I was learning communication technology,Vint Cerf, has something to do with this.  :-)

I have mentioned in previous blogs that if Internet providers impose limits on access; watching movies via the Internet could be adversely affected.  

Here is the link to the test site.  

The information could be especially helpful to those of us who videoconference and want the best video quality we can get.  One question you might ask is:  Is your provider providing the upstream bit rate you are paying for?  In my case I am paying for 384 kbps upstream.  

I tried a few tests and only one worked.  This may be due to traffic, or we may be a bit early and they may not have all the pieces in place.  Technology takes time.  :-)

TelBitConsulting says:  This is interesting, and useful, information for customers who want to know more about their network connectivity.  And it couldn’t come at a better time.  

Quick Test

I ran a quick test to see if my DSL provider (AT&T) was limiting BitTorrent traffic on my line.  Note, according to the BitTorrent web site, it’s technology is:  “the global standard for accessing rich media over the Internet.”

Here are the results:

Is BitTorrent traffic on a well-known BitTorrent port (6881) throttled?

* The BitTorrent upload (seeding) worked. Our tool was successful in uploading data using the BitTorrent protocol.

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits your BitTorrent uploads. In our tests a TCP upload achieved minimal 389 Kbps while a BitTorrent upload achieved maximal 394 Kbps. 

* The BitTorrent download worked. Our tool was successful in downloading data using the BitTorrent protocol.

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits your BitTorrent downloads. In our tests a TCP download achieved minimal 636 Kbps while a BitTorrent download achieved maximal 641 Kbps.

Is BitTorrent traffic on a non-standard BitTorrent port (10009) throttled?

* The BitTorrent upload (seeding) worked. Our tool was successful in uploading data using the BitTorrent protocol.

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits your BitTorrent uploads. In our tests a TCP download achieved minimal 384 Kbps while a BitTorrent download achieved maximal 389 Kbps.

* The BitTorrent download worked. Our tool was successful in downloading data using the BitTorrent protocol.

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits your BitTorrent downloads. In our tests a TCP download achieved minimal 629 Kbps while a BitTorrent download achieved maximal 640 Kbps.

Is TCP traffic on a well-known BitTorrent port (6881) throttled?

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits all downloads at port 6881. In our test, a TCP download on a BitTorrent port achieved at least 636 Kbps while a TCP download on a non-BitTorrent port achieved at least 629 Kbps.

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits all uploads at port 6881. In our test, a TCP upload on a BitTorrent port achieved at least 389 Kbps while a TCP upload on a non-BitTorrent port achieved at least 384 Kbps.

Inauguration Online Video Viewing Stats

inauguration-01-20-2009

According to this report on CNN, the Internet broke some records during the Inauguration yesterday.  

Really quickly: 

1. Akamai says that 7.7 million people watched at the same time ( I suppose that means the peak simultaneous usage was 7.7 mil).  

2. Over a time span of hours, CNN hosted almost 27 million viewers (of which I was one).  This broke a record by a factor of 5.  Pretty impressive.

3. CNN also reports 1.3 mil simultaneous users just before President Obama’s speech. 

4. Even President Obama chimed in after the Inauguration on Twitter.  Gotta love him!  

Hmmmm, I wonder what it would be like to post:  “I just finished my acceptance speech for President of the U.S.A”  “Going to a Ball now.”  “Catch u later.”

While some people had trouble, I was off and on all day and did not have any problems.  Guess the technology knows who not to mess with ;-)

 With news, entertainment (including new original content), and Internet Movies streaming to players such as VUDU, NetFlix, Blockbuster, not to mention all the IP videoconferencing…the future looks exciting.  

TelBitConsulting says:  The Internet is very quickly becoming a streaming video powerhouse.   Our new tech savvy President will help technology and science flourish once again.  

PS: Do you know how hard it is to spell Inauguration?  There a some extra u’s in there that can be deleted as far as I am concerned  :-)

CES on YouTube

ces-logo1

Can’t make it to Las Vegas for the CES Show?

Not to worry, you can still catch up on many of the happenings with live video feeds and stored video on YouTube.

Here is an example of what you can find there.  An interview with Chris Brogan (sorry, I must be out of it, but…I need to Google who this is).  Ah…a blogger!

Like me!

Errrr, richer and more famous than me.  But I taught 7th Grade for two months, and sub all the time….bet he can’t better that!  :-)

Proclaim by NetBriefings Update

This Blog has moved: TelBitConsulting.com


proclaim-screen-shot

Last year I posted a couple of entries (here is my review) on Proclaim by Netbriefings.  Today, I decided to grab another Free Trial and give it a quick whirl for all the new readers to this blog.

After I signed up for Proclaim QuickTouch Lite, I noticed that my laptop was having an issue with my web cam, so I rebooted it.  When I came back on-line a few minutes later, I had a Proclaim message from Gary Anderson at Netbriefings.

Click this link to see Gary’s message.

I then played with Proclaim for a bit and came up with this message.

Click this link for my message.

Very cool.

There are far more capabilites for Proclaim than I show here.  One of the most intriguing, to me, is the ability to embed the video into a WordPress blog.  Unfortunately, for me, it does not work on this particular version of the WordPress blog….but….there are many of you who may be on a version that does work.  As a preview, here is a blog that shows what the WordPress blog embed looks like.

NOTE: I tried the above link with both Google Chrome and Firefox.  It did not work.  I then tried IE…that worked.  So if you click, you may want to use IE.  Since many folks use Firefox, and Chrome has been introduced by a slightly well known company, I assume these will be supported soon??

Summary

In these tough economic times, your company (or educational institution) may need to improve visual communication while helping to save money and the environment. Proclaim is a terrific tool that will help you meet these goals!

(NOTE:  I will continue testing Proclaim and post new entries as I learn more)

Cisco to Introduce Home Products

Update Jan 7 2009:  CES almost has started in Las Vegas (see this CNN article).  They say attendance is down.  Still pretty darn big if you ask me!  I was CTO at the now defunct “TeleCon” Conference and we were happy to get 20,000 attendees.  But, I’m pretty sure that live shows will, over time, draw less and less people to them.  On line Virtual Conferences exist and are getting better…hmmmm, maybe I’ll research that topic and post the info here.

 

This article states that at the CES Show in Las Vegas this month, Cisco will introduce several new products for the home.

Included in these products are a “Telepresence” version for your HDTV, and a streaming player for watching video over the Internet.

Verrrryyy inteerrrtesting.

I have long held the view that videoconferencing to the home would be a natural on your TV (see this web page of an article I wrote in 1995, scroll down to 6 PM if you are in a hurry).

Of course, my views on Internet streaming to watch movies using a device such as VUDU (hmmmm, do I smell a buyout  after all VUDU is a neighbor of Cisco’s) and other Internet streaming technologies is well known to you…my dedicated readers:

I think Internet video will change the world and will shorten the life of Blu-Ray (although I am totally enjoying watching my Blu-Ray movies).

As for videoconferencing with Cisco, they need to come up with a VERY inexpensive product for the home… or it will not fly. The home user (especially in these horrid economic times) do not have the cash that a major corporation has (or had).  Since Cisco is used to charging over $300,000 per end for their “Telepresence” units…they have a long way to go.

On the bright side….

Cisco getting into home Internet streaming of video (if it is true), and giving the good college try for home videoconferencing (if it is true) can only help the videoconferencing and collaboration technology space.

TelBitConsulting wishes them luck….time will tell if they can succeed.

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”.

Blockbuster OnDemand Streaming Video Player

Blockbuster has announced a streaming video player made by 2Wire.   This article in Information Week says it competes with Apple TV and NetFlix, but, unfortunately, it completely leaves out the one participant in this space that TelBitConsulting.com uses and loves:  VUDU.

No matter what, the future is clear:  Watching movies via the Internet will happen and may happen, in a big way, faster than I had originally thought.
Gathering some information on the new 2Wire player it looks like it does support HD.  Neither NetFlix nor AppleTV (as far as I understand…can support HD).   It works via a built-in wireless or wired Internet connection.
Here are some specs I grabbed from 2Wire’s Press Release:

Technical Details
In the Box

  • 2Wire MediaPoint Digital Media Player (8″ x 8″ x 1″)
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • Power Adapter
  • Composite A/V cable (supports SD viewing)
  • Remote Control
  • AAA Batteries

Video and Audio Connections

  • Composite
  • Component*
  • HDMI*
  • Stereo Audio
  • Toslink (digital optical audio)*

Network Connections

  • Ethernet*
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g)

*cable must be purchased separately

UPDATE:  TelBitConsulting.com asked 2Wire a few questions (thank you to 2Wire for their prompt reply):

1. What size hard drives are available?

The built-in 8GB of flash memory can store approximately 5 SD or one HD and an assortment of SD movies at a time, depending on the length of the movies.

2. Can you connect an external hard drive to add capacity?

This is not currently an option.

3. Can a person purchase a movie?  If so will it be stored on the person local hard drive?  Is there a backup or archive capability to save the movies in case the hard drive dies?

At this time, you can not purchase movies through the MediaPoint digital media player.

4. Will Blockbuster make HD movies available?  How many movies are currently on the list?  How many are HD?

There are currently over 2,000 movies available through the ONDEMAND service, including a small but growing selection of HD movies. Blockbuster continues to add SD and HD movies to the ONDEMAND library.

5. Does your unit support 1080p?

Not at this time. The 2Wire MediaPoint digital media player currently supports the following: High Definition – 1080i, High Definition – 720p, Standard Definition – 480p, and Standard Definition – 480i.

6. Does your unit support 5.1 or 7.1 audio?

The 2Wire MediaPoint digital media player delivers stereo sound and supports 5.1.

7. If I want to watch an SD movie, how long do I have to wait before it starts?  HD?

This depends on factors that include the speed of your Internet connection and the length of the movie. For example, with a 3 mbps connection, you could begin watching a standard-length SD movie within 30 seconds to one minute after beginning download.

8. What is the size of your unit?

The dimensions of MediaPoint are 8 in. x 8 in. x 1 in – about the size of a box of movie candy.

9. Do you support HDMI out put to the TV?

A composite A/V cable is provided with purchase. The player does support HDMI output, but the cable must be purchased separately. The HDMI Digital A/V output jack provides digital audio and video signals to a compatible HDTV or HD monitor.

10. Are any currently in use?  Can you tell me how many?  (If not, that is ok)

We are very pleased with the sales figures since the launch, but cannot divulge specific numbers.

11. How is the streaming handled?  From a central location only?  Peer-to-Peer?  Other?

Unlike media players that stream movies over the Internet, the 2Wire MediaPoint uses progressive download to let movie fans access high-quality videos, and begin watching them during download. The video and audio quality is consistent, and does not depend on your Internet connection speed.


TelBitConsulting.com says:  If a streaming player does not support HD….forget it.  To introduce a product in 2008 that does not support HD is wrong.  It looks like 2Wire got it right. I know VUDU has it right….

Summary
The new Blockbuster player from 2Wire is significantly different than the VUDU player.  It is interesting to see how different design directions can be taken to solve a problem.
Engineering at it’s best.
For example, the 2 Wire player was designed, it appears, to watch a movie then that movie is gone.  There is some storage capacity but the smallish 8 Gig flash drive will not allow the massive storage that the 1 TB hard drive VUDU can come with.   You cannot “purchase” movies with Blockbuster, but, that is not surprising since Blockbuster is a rental organization.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few years….either way, TelBitConsulting.com thinks this is the way people will be watching movies….as long as the Internet connections stay open…
See all my Blog entries on Streaming Video including a V-E-R-Y detailed review of VUDU.

VUDU Introduces HDX

If you have not yet experienced VUDU Internet streaming of movies…..now may be the time.

As you may know, I am a big fan of VUDU and now even more so. Check out my review of VUDU here.

With over 6000 movie titles in Standard Definition and High Definition….VUDU has recently introduced a new high definition technology they call “HDX”.

Since I have an older HDTV (how did time go so fast?) with less resolution, I figured HDX would not give me much improvement over their HD offering or even SD which I consider better than my upconverted DVD player.

I was wrong. HDX is simply astounding.

Since I cannot take a picture (or a movie) that would do it justice (but I gave it a try…see below), the best comparision I can make is this: Go to your nearest Best Buy and watch a full 1080p Blu-Ray movie being played. HDX is just like that! Even on my less than full resolution HDTV, the picture quality is a major step up from HD and worlds better than SD. And our Bose sound system captures the robust audio from HDX like nothing we have yet experienced.

I can’t wait to earn enough $ (remember…starving blogger) to get a full 1080p TV…..hmmmm, anyone need a decent videoconferencing guy?

A look at the VUDU “Most Watched” list shows that people with VUDU agree. The HDX movies are at the top of the most watched list.

The only downfall is that we have to wait about 8 hours for the HDX movie to download. With SD we can watch it instantly, and with HD we have to wait a couple of hours. So some pre-planning on our part is needed. I could always upgrade my Internet service, but, oh rats, starving blogger…..

I know I sound like a VUDU commercial….but….

Our lives with VUDU have changed. We have not gone to Blockbuster in months. We have not purchased a DVD in months. Where we once planned on buying a Blu-Ray player and start a collection of Blu-Ray movies…that plan is on hold. We are perfectly happy with VUDU spending about $5.99 for a movie rental and about $20 for a purchase. What could be better?

Tel Bit Consulting says: Internet video can (will!) change the way the world watches movies. I only hope that the Internet remains open and unrestricted.

Watching the Olympics on NBC.com

Rating: 5 WaterTowers

OK..this is COOL

I went to the nbc.com web site and signed up (all you need is your Zip code and browser…yes, Firefox works). Remember I have a Toshiba Laptop running Windows XP. Nothing fancy, nothing out of the ordinary.

NBC is streaming live video using Microsoft Silverlight.

Yikes! I never heard of Silverlight but here is a blurb at the front of their web site:

Light Up the Web
Microsoft® Silverlight™ is a cross-browser, cross-platform, and cross-device plug-in for delivering the next generation of media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web.

Hmmmm, ok….great marketing, but…..does it work?

Yup…and YeOldeTechy says: This is super cool.

Cross browser….great thinking Microsoft! About time…errr, did I say that?

Anyway…..here is what you have to do:

1. Go to http://www.nbc.com
2. On the right (top corner) there is a sign up for streaming video…enter your Zip code.
3. Follow the procedures to download and use the Microsoft Silverlight.
4. Wade thru the menus and options to find what you want to watch.

I watched some LIVE (well maybe not really live, but…..) tennis and now have Yacht Racing (if you consider a one person surfboard thingy a Yacht) on…..WOW.

The control panel (below) lets you watch one of 4 live events. Apparently, as I watch this, there is only one event live. I will check later to see if the 4 events pop up. (NOTE: there are smaller windows on the left set of windows labeled 2, 3, and 4 that you can click…those fill in the empty slots so you can switch between them easily…..this is great).

Also, you get the video without commentary (a good thing sometimes) or you can select commentary. I tried it and have yet to hear commentary…I’ll keep trying.

Go U.S.A.

Gotta love the Internet…..streaming video ROCKS.

If you like this, check out VUDU….THAT is streaming video at it’s BEST.

Embed Video on a Blog

It is actually very easy to embed a video on a blog. On YouTube, there is an easy way to grab a bit of code called: embed. Hmmmm, words that say what they mean.

In a Blog, such as this one, you have to go into the “Edit HTML” mode and paste the embed code there.

Easy as 1, 2, 3….copy the embed code, enter HTML Mode, paste the code.

I have used several sources for embedded video’s on this Blog. The one from ABC News came without an end embed, so I had to add it, and it worked great. YouTube always works great, and here is a new, very up-to-date, timely (and censored) video from Funny or Die web site.

Very cool, errrr, hot (in Paris’s words, not mine).

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Seriously great idea Paris, but, hey, you gotta be 35 to run for Prez!

I can run a little over 1.5 times! Hmmmmm, maybe I should….then everyone would be Telecommuting!

Cool Application: AT&T Video Share


I was poking around the Internet looking for 3G cell phone video conferencing applications (I did NOT find one, by the way) when I ran across the AT&T Video Share app.

This is interesting even though it is only one way video (it has two way audio).

With the right phone and the right service, 3G (see lists here) you can send live video to anyone (hmmmm, do they need the same phone or one on the list to view the video?).

For example, GrandMa wants to see the new baby, or you want to visit a relative in a nursing home, or at the University of Kansas, or anywhere that has 3G access. Imagine ambulance EMT’s getting instant advice from a Doctor or a plumber getting help from his/her boss. The applications are endless.

There is a nice demo of a TV show (Tyra Banks) using Video Share here.

YeOldeTechy says: As 3G rolls out to more locations (in the U.S.) the ability to send and receive video, or to video-conference with colleagues while on the road, will become commonplace. There will no longer be a need to stay attached to a conference room or to a WiFi hotspot….the world is indeed changing.

FYI…I saw a demo of cell phone video conferencing maybe 10 years ago at the TeleCon conference. It was revolutionary, but very limited. Now it has the network to support it. Great ideas like that help push technology forward….

Check out this application of one way video sharing: