Plex will now let you stream your own video’s on your Xbox

Plex for Xbox

Gaming and video are growing closer and closer to each other. One can see others play on Twitch and the game Myst will get its own TV series anytime soon. So it does make sense that gaming and video hardware are becoming more integrated as well. For instance by using your game console to watch your favourite series.


The Microsoft Xbox platform already has apps from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus but now it is also possible to stream all video you have stored on your own computer, NAS or external harddrive directly to your TV using the Plex for Xbox app.

Plex has been around for some time and offers a great service by generating a nice overview of all your video and photo’s and helping you to sort them and download posters and other metadata.

Plex for Xbox will be available for free for Plex Pass premium subscribers. Users of the free service have to wait a little and will be asked a small one-time fee for using the app.

SlingPlayer is now available on Chromecast

SlingPlayer

TV-on-the-go company Sling announced an updated version of their SlingPlayer app to support Chromecast. With the latest version one will now be able to watch live TV and recorded content on the Slingbox on any TV with Chromecast as long as it is in the same network.

The new app is available for IOS and Android smartphones, Android tablets will follow later. As for hardware, a Slingbox 350 or 500 or the newer SlingTV or Slingbox M1 devices is needed.

Although this sounds very interesting at first glance, one cannot help wandering what problem this solves for as one the mobile device and the Slingbox need to be on the same network and live television is usually already available on… the television. As is the recorded content on a slingbox. So the most interesting development here might be a cheap and easy way to connect multiple television sets to the Slingbox using Chromecast.

It is finally here, the Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV

The long rumoured Amazon streaming media box has finally arrived. Meet Amazon Fire TV. The Fire TV is a small, black box that runs on a special operating system, has 2GB ram and a quad core processor.

The box connects through wifi and has a small remote control that also has a small microphone to enable voice search

Content comes from its own Amazon Instant Video library as well as from a large number of partners like Netflix, HBO GO, SHO Anytime, Hulu and ESPN.

But it is not all streaming video that one can watch on the Fire TV. Amazon added a photo app, there are several music services like Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn and Amazon is promising to grant access to thousands of games as of next month.

The media box costs only USD 99 and is already for sale at… Amazon.com

New Apple TV software will make it more like Chromecast

Apple TV

According to AllthingsD Apple will release a new version of their TV product, but it will only a new version of the software. That is why it will be released next week (September 18), together with the release of iOS7. The biggest change is to make the Apple TV act more like Chromecast in the sense that it is no longer needed to download the content to your mobile device and stream it to the Apple TV but the content will stream directly from the cloud to a Apple TV using Apple’s AirPlay.

 

Watch live events from Livestream now on your big screen with Roku

Livestream

Sometimes an event is too expensive, too far away or one just does not have enough time to go there. In that case it is nice to watch the live stream of an event. Some events stream their event themselves, some companies already work with the Livestream to broadcast their event. Until now, it was possible to watch the live stream via internet but now there it is also possible to watch it on the big screen. That might create a better experience and also solves the problem of working on the same computer as the live stream.

In order to watch the events, the only thing needed is an app on the Roku media player.

Both companies could benefit from this and there will probably more platforms that will try to integrate live streams as the difference between various sorts of streaming content are rapidly disappearing and a lot of live events (presentations, red carpet events, talks) are just as interesting as “normal” TV.

“Sony close to a streaming deal with Viacom”

Sony Internet TV

Sony has been experimenting with streaming & on demand video / TV with their Google TV set-top box, the Sony NSZ-GS7 (discontinued) and its successor the Sony NSZ-G8 as well as a on demand library that is available through their PlayStation gaming console. However, that did not stop them thinking about future developments. Today, the Wall Street Journal brings the news that Sony is close to a deal with Viacom allowing them to stream all the Viacom content like Comedy Central, MTV, BET, CMT, VH1, Nickelodeon and Spike trough their own Bravia and PlayStation platforms and maybe even their Xperia Smartphones and eReaders.

Since Sony is rumoured to be negotiating deals with Walt Disney Co., Time Warner Inc. and CBS Corp as well, this could the want to create a serious competitor of Amazon, Google and Apple on the one hand and Netflix and the like on the other.

Update for Apple TV on its way including iTunes Radio, Conference Room and one-tap set-up

Apple TV

Apple’s hobby project that remains to be mysterious in the way that it seems not to be a focus product but despite that has a growing number of owners (Apple sold over 13 million units so far) is getting new features. At least, that is what the new Apple TV 5.4 beta 3 shows.

To begin with, the new version will include iTunes Radio. One could argue why they did not include it in the first place (legal reasons?), but no matter the reason, you will be able to select your music from your TV any time soon.

Connecting your iDevice with your TV is also getting more easy. With the introduction of the one-tap set-up all you have to do is, well, tap once and you are good. Although apparently this will only work for the latest iPhones and iPads as it needs Bluetooth 4.0 (low-energy Bluetooth) to make this happen.

The new Conference Room feature is a Display mode to be used in a conference room. Apparently Apple is expecting a lot of office users or already knows this from looking into their customer base.

Oh, and one more thing, subtitles will be adjustable in the new version. A very welcoming feature as nothing can be more irritating and distracting than a subtitle that is out of sync.

“Amazon will launch a Kindle TV set-top box”

Kindle TV

According to Businessweek, Amazon is getting ready to launch a streaming media device. The set-top box would allow users to access the content library of Amazon (Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Prime) and the suggestion was made that the box could be  named Kindle TV.

In a way it does make sense that Amazon is coming with dedicated hardware. Microsoft has its Xbox, Google has Google TV en Apple is still selling a lot of Apple TV’s. And with the Kindle, Amazon has shown that it can build hardware and that they feel that having own hardware is vital to ensure customers enjoying your product. However, there they do not have a very impressive library. And without that, no service is going to fly. Luckily Amazon knows this and is currently testing 14 different new episode of which at least one of them will become a full show.

Next to that, I think there is still a big chance that smartphones and tablets will take could be the main device for discovering video content and streaming it to a bigger screen. In that case, Amazon can still call it Kindle TV, but all they have to do is to add the feature to their Kindle.

 

Illustration by Tom Cheredar

Microsoft takes on Google TV with the new Xbox

Xbox

According to The Verge, the new Xbox (Xbox 720) will be  much more than a game console. Already it is possible to use the current Xbox as a video player, but the new Xbox will go much further.

The sources that talked to The Verge mention that the new Xbox will be able to create an overlay on top of the existing TV channel showing extra features and menu items. You will have to plug the TV cable into the Xbox. The enhanced signal will then be distributed to your TV screen via a HDMI cable. This could mean real-time additional information and features for TV shows and films. Real-time enhancements of TV shows has been promised for a while now, but so far we have not seen a successful implementation. And although I would love to try it, I am still not convinced that people are really going to use it. Especially not when there are more than one watching.

Obviously, the next Xbox will have a Kinect sensor as well. The Xbox 720 Kinect sensor is supposed to detect multiple simultaneously and will be able to pause the program when viewers look away. I am not really sure if this would be a feature I would use as I love to look at my phone or do other things whilst watching. And I guess I am not the only one.

With a Xbox event planned in May, we hopefully do not need to wait much longer for the final specifications.

Roku 3 is here

Roku 3

Roku is introducing their brand new version called Roku 3 today. The new streaming media player is, according to the manufacturer, 5 times faster than its predecessor and comes with a brand new interface and a remote with built-in head phone jack.

On the content side, Roku brings a lot of entertainment to the living room. Over 150,000 movies and shows can be streamed in a quality up to 1080p HD. It offers access to Hulu Plus, Crackle, Amazon Instant Video, VUDU, HBO GO, Blockbuster on demand and EPIX.

The Roku 3 is available for USD 99 through the website of Roku. Amazon and some other online retailers. With that price, it will prove a serious competitor to Apple TV.

See for a demo the video below