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August 30, 2015


Adobe launches Adobe Media Player and Adobe TV

by Brad Linder, posted Apr 9th 2008 9:04AM
Adobe Media Player
Adobe has launched a desktop media player capable of watching online video streams and downloaded videos from Adobe partners. Adobe Media Player has been available as a public beta since last year, but the version that officially launches this week is much more stable and has a much improved library of content.

You'll need to install Adobe AIR before installing Adobe Media Player. AIR is a platform for applications that bridge the gap between the web and the desktop. And Adobe Media Player fits the bill, letting you view web-based videos from sources including MTV, CBS, PBS, Universal Music Group, Revision3, and Blip.TV

Adobe has also launched Adobe TV, a video channel featuring Adobe-related tutorials and content. You can watch Adobe TV videos on the web, or using the Adobe Media Player.

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Online video platform Joost to go US only

by Brad Linder, posted Apr 6th 2008 3:57PM
JoostIf online video service Joost were to fall in a forest and nobody was watching, would it make a sound? Wait, no, that's not right. What I meant to ask is, if Joost stops streaming videos outside of the US, will anybody care? It looks like we're about to find out, because that's exactly what Joost plans to do.

The streaming video platform that was supposed to change the way we watch television really hasn't. While more and more people are watching videos online, it's not particularly clear that many of them are using Joost to do it. In the UK, the BBC iPlayer has gotten a lot of attention for providing residents with the ability to watch any program that's been broadcast in the past seven days. And in the US, Hulu provides viewers with a chance to watch many TV shows and movies from Fox, NBC, and other content partners.

Apparently Joost has decided to pull out of the international market and focus solely on the US, because that's where the majority of its users are at the moment. But with a lackluster content library, and few high profile content partners, I think it might just be a matter of time before Joost folds completely. To make matters worse, I think Joost overestimated the consumer demand for a non-browser based online video solution. Flash and Silverlight have made it easy to not only embed videos in web pages, but to allow users to click a button and watch those videos full screen.

When all is said and done, I think that people like to watch TV on their TV sets, not their computers. While there's a growing number of ways to watch full length TV shows and movies online, I really wish it was easier to make those existing services work with Windows Media Center and other media center applications designed to bridge the gap between computer and television. If Joost had focused on media center integration or set top box software, maybe the company would have had a chance. But if I can't watch my videos from 10 feet away with a remote control, I'd rather visit Hulu in a web browser than launch a standalone application that gives me access to hundred of videos I don't really want to watch.

Update: It looks like a spokesperson for Joost denies that the company has any plans to layoff employees or go US-only.

[via Mashable]

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Blinkx releases internet video player with speech recognition

by Brad Linder, posted Apr 2nd 2008 10:08AM
Blinkx BBTV
Online video service Blinkx has decided to take on Joost, Babelgum, Vuze, Miro, and VeohTV by launching a non-browser based internet video player. Blinkx Broadband TV looks like a run of the mill internet video browser at first. It's got pretty decent video quality and a pretty sparse collection of videos, made up of independent films, video podcasts, and movie trailers.

But there's one thing that sets Blinkx BBTV apart. It uses Blinkx's speech recognition technology, allowing you to click on a dialog button to bring up a list of lines spoken in the video. Click on a line of dialog and you'll jump to that point in the video. This feature isn't available in every video at the moment, but it is kind of nifty, and gives you a lot more control over your navigation than you'd typically get from internet video, or even a DVD chapter menu.

You can also pull up IMDB pages with with more information about the actors, directors, genres, and other movie metadata without launching an external browser, which is pretty cool. Again, this feature isn't available for all videos.

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Joost to launch browser-based video player

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 21st 2008 10:57AM
Joost web application
Almost a year ago, Flash developer Paul Yanez put together a web-based application that looks and feels like Joost, but displays online video from other sites like YouTube, Veo, and MySpace. But if you want to actually watch Joost content, you still need to download and install a standalone application to access Joost's peer to peer network. There's no web player... yet. But Joost CEO Mike Volpi tells Portfolio Magazine that a web based player is in the works.

It's not entirely clear at the moment how the player will work, or how Joost hopes to set itself apart from other services like YouTube or Hulu. The former has the lion's share of the online video market, while the latter has a much wider selection of popular full length TV episodes and movies than Joost. But considering the fact that only 6 million people have downloaded and installed the Joost client, while more than 10 million people watch YouTube videos every single day, it's clear that Joost had to do something.

What do you think, is Joost grasping at straws here? Or does the company's recent test of live streaming video and its plan to launch a browser-based player make sense as a competitive business strategy?

[via Silicon Alley Insider]

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TiVo Desktop 2.6 adds podcast support

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 18th 2008 9:54AM
TiVo Podcasts
As expected, TiVo has rolled out a new version of TiVo Desktop with support for any online video accessible through an RSS feed. TiVo Desktop Plus 2.6 for Windows uses will automatically download videos from any feed you subscribe to, and convert them from H.264, Quicktime, or MP4 into TiVo-compatible MPEG-2 files.

TiVo has a list of RSS feeds that you can choose from. If you want to watch videos that aren't available from the TiVo interface, you'll need to download your videos using a separate client like iTunes or Miro. You can then tell TiVo Dekstop to monitor your download folder for new files which will be transcoded.

TiVo Desktop Plus features proprietary codec support, so you'll have to pay $24.95 for a license. The basic TiVo Desktop software is free.

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TiVo to add YouTube to its lineup

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 12th 2008 9:08AM
TiVo on YouTubeTiVo plans to let users find and watch YouTube videos on their television sets later this year. The service will be available for customers with broadband-connected Series3 and TiVo HD boxes. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the lack of Series2 support means two things:
  1. TiVo isn't really focusing on Series2 development much anymore
  2. TiVo may be waiting for YouTube to officially roll out higher resolution videos before launching the service.
Anyone who's ever hooked up a computer to a TV set and tried to watch YouTube videos can tell you that they tend to look pretty crappy. While low resolution video might be good enough for a small window in your web browser, when you blow that same video up on a 27 inch or larger screen, it just looks like bunch of pixels. If TiVo plans to roll out YouTube video support on its HD-capable boxes, I can't imagine they'll want to do so before YouTube upgrades its video player.

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Babelgum gives up on TV content, invests in independent film

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 11th 2008 3:27PM
Babelgum may have started its life as a Joost-killer, but since Joost doesn't really seem to be catching on with the general public, it's not clear that anyone really needs to kill it. But while Joost is still working to sign major TV networks and movie studios as content partners, Babelgum appears to have given up on that endeavor and has instead created a $15 million fund to invest in independent films.

Right now when you fire up the Babelgum peer to peer video client, you're confronted with a ton of short videos from independent filmmakers. There's even a sort of online film festival, where Babelgum users can rate videos.

Overall, the Babelgum player provides an awesome interface for viewing internet video content. The video quality is far superior to what you'll find on YouTube. And since the client provides has a full screen interface you don't need to constantly hit a button to make your videos toggle between full screen and in-browser modes. But there's one big problem with Babelgum: It doesn't have much content you've heard of. So while it might make sense for Babelgum to focus on independent film while the big guys go to Hulu, Joost and other sites, I can't help but wonder if the service will ever see a return on the investment.

[via paidContent]

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Hulu public launch coming Wednesday

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 11th 2008 10:56AM
Online video site Hulu officially launches tomorrow. The site which was founded as an online content distribution clearinghouse for NBC and News Corp TV shows, movies, and clips, has added a ton of content partners over the last few months. And when it emerges from private beta tomorrow, there will be a few more, including:
  • Warner Brothers
  • Lionsgate
  • NBA
  • Wine Library TV
  • NHL
  • CNet
  • MGM
All told, the site will have a few dozen content partners, about 100 movies and full length episodes from about 250 TV shows.

I've been relatively impressed with Hulu so far. The video quality is good, and it's relatively easy to find the content you're looking for by searching or browsing. But as the content library gets larger, I'd like to see Hulu improve its site navigation a bit or browsing is going to become nearly impossible.

[via NewTeeVee]

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Watch network TV online with Prime Time Rewind

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 4th 2008 6:05PM
Prime Time Rewind
Pretty much every network has full episodes of at least a few shows online. You can go to ABC, NBC, CBS, or FOX web sites and click around until you find the show you're looking for and start watching. But one of my pet peeves has always been that there's no one place where you can find every show, even if you don't know what network it airs on. Prime Time Rewind addresses that problem by creating a one-stop web site that's sort of like a cross between TV Guide and TiVo. But it's slightly less useful than either of those things.

What Prime Time Rewind does is present every network show that's available on the face of a cube. You can shift the cube side to side to see what's on each network. Or you can shift it up and down to find comedy or drama programs sorted by category.

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Will Amazon Unbox add HD video?

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 3rd 2008 11:02AM
Amazon Unbox survey
Do you use Amazon's video download service, Amazon Unbox? Would you be more likely to use it if you could get HD video, burn movies to disc, or browse your library via your TiVo? Apparently I'm not the only one who wants to know. Amazon is sending out surveys to selected users, including Dave Zatz and a member of the TiVo Community Forum going by the name of BlackBetty.

While it's not clear whether Amazon actually plans to implement any of the changes suggested in the survey, the company is asking which "improvements" would make users more likely to use the service more. Several suggestions include the ability to watch streaming video. Right now you have to wait for your video to start downloading before you can watch. But if the survey is anything to go on, Amazon is considering offering free, ad-supported video streams as well as paid ad-free streams.

Another improvement would be high definition downloads, which kind of speaks for itself. Amazon is also asking a number of questions related to DVDs. For example, if you bought a DVD from Amazon.com, one option would be to download and save a digital copy of the movie or TV show for a small additional fee, while another would be the option to watch streaming video of movie or TV show while waiting for your DVD to arrive. Another suggested improvement would allow users to burn downloaded movies to DVD.

Honestly, I'd love to see all of these options added to Amazon Unbox. I can understand why the company might not want to overload customers with choices that could make their purchase or rental decisions or complex. But Amazon already has one of the easiest to use video download services. I'm fairly certain they could find a way to give customers a few additional choices without cluttering up the interface.

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Warner Brothers set to join Hulu

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 28th 2008 8:38AM
Online video site Hulu is already one of the best places to find full length episodes of network TV shows. And it looks like Hulu could be adding to its content library soon. Warner Brothers president Bruce Rosenblum says a deal with Hulu is "imminent." Right now, all of the content available on Hulu comes from NBC and FOX News Corp.

At first glance, that means that you might be able to find WB-produced shows that air on the CW network on Hulu. But Warner Brothers also produces TV programs that air on other networks, such as NBC's ER. The studio also produces movies, and while the movie section of Hulu isn't as fleshed out as the TV section, we might soon see a few more feature length films on the site.

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Hulu expands private beta

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 8th 2008 5:27PM
Hulu invites
On the off chance that you haven't already managed to snag an invite to Fox and NBC's online video site Hulu, we've got good news. The company is expanding its private beta by giving all users the ability to invite 10 friends to try out the service. All you have to do if you're an existing user is click the new "invite a friend" tab" on the Hulu homepage.

Of course, there are plenty of ways to watch Hulu content even if you don't have an account. But it's nice to see TV shows the way their creators intended: crouching in front of your tiny computer screen, but visiting an official website. Or something like that.

Before you ask, we don't have any invites to give away. All of ours are accounted for. But now might be a good time to hit up your friend who's been going on and on about how cool Hulu is and how he's been catching up with episodes of Flipper during the writer's strike.

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MiraWorldTV: Watch live TV Streams in Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Jan 30th 2008 1:58PM
Here's a suggestion for weathering the writer's strike: check out some international TV content. MiraWorldTV is a Windows Media Center plugin that lets you browse through a nice long list of internet TV streams and watch them from the comfort of your couch.

The application is quite well designed and integrates beautifully with Windows Vista Media Center. You can browse TV streams by category, country, or mark your favorite channels for easy access later. When you click play, MiraWorldTV will attempt to load up your video stream in the background. Or you can choose to play the video in fullscreen mode.

The only problem with MiraWorldTV is that the plugin developer has no control over the content. And that's kind of a big problem when it comes to usability. Some of the video streams are high quality and look great in full screen mode (on a standard definition TV anyway), while others look like they're optimized for dialup connections. And some of the streams we couldn't get to play at all.

Content ranges from Discovery Channel nature documentaries to BBC World News with some Japanese pop music videos thrown in for good measure. I can't guarantee you'll find something worth watching, especially since there's no electronic program guide. But if you're tired of complaining about how there's nothing to watch on TV, MiraWorldTV might be worth checking out.

[via Missing Remote]

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First look at SyncTV video download service

by Brad Linder, posted Jan 28th 2008 4:57PM
SyncTV is a spinoff for Pioneer Electronics, focused on providing a video download service that gives customers far more control over how they purchase and view videos than any almost any existing service. We first told you about SyncTV back in November, but over the weekend I got a chance to check out the service which is still in private beta.

The software client does pretty much everything you'd expect. You can browser through several existing channels of content, download, and view programs. There's no HD content, but videos are encoded with the H.264 codec and look decent enough in full screen mode on my 1280 x 800 pixel display. You can watch a video shortly after you start a download and download speeds seem pretty zippy.

What really sets SyncTV apart from the competition is that you can subscribe to channels of content and watch any content in the channel. Or you can purchase individual episodes which you can watch at any time, even if you stop paying your monthly subscription fee. Or you can purchase an entire season of episodes. Unlike many online video stores SyncTV aims to host every single episode of the series it distributes.

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Coming soon: Watch Netflix online video using Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Jan 27th 2008 12:58PM

Sure, Netflix is great if you like waiting for DVDs to show up in the mail or if you don't mind watching online video using a web browser. But I kind of like watching movies on a TV screen. And while I've got a computer permanently plugged into my TV, the last thing I want to do is pull out a keyboard and mouse and open up a web browser to watc my movies, when I've got Windows Media Center and a remote control.

Fortunately, it looks like someone's developing a Windows Media Center plugin that will let you watch Netflix videos without a web browser. Development is still in the early phases, but the promise is that you'll be able to find available movies and stream them in full screen mode all without visiting Netflix.com in web browser. When it's complete, the plugin should let you login to your Netflix account, browse and search Netflix "watch now" movies, and possibly even add DVDs in your queue for ordering the old fashioned way.

[via Missing Remote]

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