Monthly Archives: October 2013

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Matircom has updated the firmware for the G-Box Midnight MX2. When the MX2 hit the market it came packed with ports and processing power along with expectations that the Android based set top box would deliver an easy to update system and feature many high end multimedia features. Version 1.1.6 of the company’s firmware is beginning to deliver on the lofty promises. The new set up features an Integrated XBMC launcher designed in to the system. The update improves the performance of the system from top to bottom including setup, responsiveness to the controller, menus and performance of XBMC. Matricom says that the update also fixes a number of errors including one that prevented certain apps from being loaded on to the system via the Google Play Store.

Getting Started
Set up time for the device has been greatly reduced. Language selection is simple and self-explanatory. Setting the screen size is as simple as turning up and down the volume on a TV. Once these tasks are completed choose how the device will work at start up. The MX2 can use both Android and XBMC as an OS but If you would like to easily tweak the settings we recommend launching from Android and not from XBMC. It is also far easier to use the Android based apps when launching from Android instead of XBMC.

Apple TV No Longer Has a Monopoly On Set Top Air Play
A significant addition to the MX2 is its new ability to utilize Apple’s AirPlay with IOS devices.  Air Play is a versatile protocol developed for compatible Apple mobile devices and computers that allows the devices to share video and audio from the device with other devices including the Apple TV 2 and 3 as well as some speaker systems. While Air Play was possible through various computer configurations involving programs like XBMC it was not enabled on any other set top box.  Developers promised AirPlay when the product launched but the early builds of the firmware did not support it. Once the function, which can be found in the All Apps menu, is opened and enabled an IOS device will recognize the MX2 as a receiver in the same manner that it would see an Apple TV or Airplay speakers.  I tested the service with an Ipad 4 and the watched videos from ESPN.com in full HD. The GBOX does not currently allow for screen mirroring or airplay directly from IOS apps. But this is a big step forward for the device. Along with AirPlay capabilities the MX2 also offers Android users with compatible devices the option to use AirPlay alternative, Miracast. Miracast is like AirPlay in that it will mirror the screen of a compatible Android device and is available via some smart TV’s as well as through other Android based dongles. The only major protocol missing from the MX2 is DIAL (DIscovery And Launch) which is the protocol that the popular Google Chromecast utilizes.

Fully Charged version of XBMC
XBMC an app that is considered a major selling point for the device is now integrated in to its main Android based menu. It is available via its carousel and launches quickly. XBMC was included with other builds of the MX2 firmware but the current version has eliminated the bugs in the coding that hurt its performance including a lag between audio and video content. The MX2 can even be configured to launch directly in to  Matricom’s custom version of the popular media aggregator which comes pre installed with a number of the most popular internet based apps including a portal to access Hulu’s Free computer based service on your TV and YouTube. Also preloaded is the USTV Now app which provides free access to major network television to Americans living overseas. All of the video apps we tried load faster than ever. Netflix is famously absent on XBMC. To Access Netflix on the MX2 the mobile version of the app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.

It’s all about the Repositories
Repositories are basically libraries of apps from individual developers. The MX2 ships with over 50 repositories including the xbmc.org repository pre-installed on the device. The version of XBMC on the MX2 is a full version of the program fully capable of adding downloader server links through the settings menu in order to add any new apps as soon as the debut. One of the strengths of XBMC is that it has many third party apps that can provide unlimited hours of entertainment and educational programming. They include The Onion.com, Aljazeera World, iTunes Podcast, apps covering tech news, entertainment news, full seasons of television shows movies and so many other things. But like other open source programs XBMC has inspired many creative people to develop other apps to meet the needs of the public.

Hardware

Controller Improved
The new firmware improves the basic functions of the included remote from the start. Most of the basic functions such as app selection and closing apps can be taken care of via the directional button and “OK” button. A major upgrade from the previous firmware is the the controller is fully capable of text selection using its directional buttons and no longer requires the use of the cursor button. The company also launched a new branded controller with an included physical Keyboard. The item, called the G-Mouse III, has multiple functions including a “mouse” function that will allow users to point to items and select them similar to the functionality of Nintendo’s Wii remote. The G-Mouse will also allow user to use a swiping motion that will greatly improve the Android experience. Having a keyboard will speed up searches for content in XBMC as well as web browsing as well as shopping for apps. It can be added to the purchase price of the MX2 for $14.00 or bought individually from Amazon or the Matricom home page for $18.90.

Very Strong Entry
The improvements to the MX2 both from a software perspective through its firmware updates and the new controller have made the item a very compelling product going forward. It appears that developers have been paying attention to reviews and suggestions from their audience and implemented suggestions that could make it far more marketable to a general audience. The product has maintained a strong presence on Amazon since its launch. It will bear watching as customers begin to post reviews based on the upgrades.

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Amazon Set top Rumors Creating Unrealistic Expectations
It is being reported by multiple sources that Amazon is scaling back plans to release a set top box for the holiday season. This is the story being reported on many Tech blogs. In fact each blog is more or less cutting and pasting the same story. Amazon certainly appears to be working on a project because there has been heavy chatter, strategic hiring  and new patents filed.

The reason that tech sites are reporting “delays” is that rumors of a new product, (that may be in development), have taken on a life of their own. Consumers and in some cases the media confuse the repetition of a rumor from “un named sources speaking with The Verge” with verifiable information.  The truth about the “reporting” is that the Amazon set top box delay has little basis in fact. In order for Amazon to suffer a setback they would have to first officially announce that there was a plan to release a set top device at all and it has not. The New York Times and many other publications had reported unnamed sources shared a plan to release something by the fall, this turned in to Amazon will release a product during the holiday shopping season and now the non-story has changed again. If we take a step back it should seem obvious that Amazon was not planning on releasing a new product in November and if it does we should all be surprised. There are a number of reasons.

Wrong Timing
Last month it was reported that Amazon was inviting developers to submit apps for the unnamed device.  If Amazon expected to release a product by November it would have been illogical to begin gathering apps 30 days or less before its release. Amazon does not rush products on to the market before they are ready. It would be setting itself up for a mountain of bad press concerning apps not working.

Focus on Wrong Name
Because Amazon has filed a patent for something called Firetube many observer expect that their product will be called Firetube. The patent filing is probably related but it does not necessarily mean that any set top box or the also rumored Android game console will be called the Firetube. In today’s tech world the word “tube” usually means a delivery service of some type of video delivery service. The most well-known is of course YouTube but there are others including the mory shady Tube Plus. If you see Tube then it is usually a media portal of some type. While Amazon may break with this pattern and call their device the FireTube it is also a possibility that it will be a video delivery protocol used to send local content from a Kindle Fire to the set top device. Maybe Amazon is trying to create a product to rival Apple TV’s popular Air Play. How do we know that Firetube is not related to the also rumored Amazon Phone .

Rumors Come And Go
Last week tech fans were treated to the latest slew of “Apple will release a television” rumors in anticipation of the “We have more to cover” announcement event held Tuesday. As has been the case every time the major announcement had nothing to do with an Apple Television. The event instead concentrated on the newest iPad along with hardware and software in its currently established categories. The only thing that can be confirmed concerning Amazon is that there has been a patent filled for Firetube and that there was a hiring announcement aimed at the development of a new product “that will allow us to deliver Digital Media to our customers in new ways and disrupt the current marketplace. We believe this new product will be even bigger than Kindle,” Linkedin. The announcement was dated in May of 2012. The patent filling was official as of October 2, 2013. Read it here.
This is all we or anybody else knows officially. Any other report is likely the pure speculation of a tech fan surfing message boards and nothing else.

Something Is Coming
While nobody should claim to know when it will happen, there is a strong chance Amazon will release a set top product. While the Apple TV and Roku lead the market with over 17 million units sold combined there are millions of homes without any means to stream content to their TV’s. Other products such as the Western Digital Live and the Matricom G-Box have dedicated fan bases and great specs but do not have much of a market share. Streaming is the future of media and Amazon will benefit by being a player in that side of the market. The Streaming Advisor laid out a concept for an Amazon player based on current offerings from the Kindle Fire with an eye towards what is possible within their existing ecosystem.

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Ryan Michael Downey

Apple has added an iMovie Theater app to its lineup of choices for its industry leading Apple TV. The app makes it easier than ever to share personally recorded movies produced with the iMovie app with friends and families via the cloud. Once a file has been uploaded it is just a few short swipes away from being viewed in full HD glory. The video portal marks the latest addition in the set top box that has recently added HBO Go, Watch ESPN, The Disney Channel and Vevo in recent months. It might be noted that the iMovie Theater is the second app in a row that is based on an existing IOS app, the last being iTunes Radio.

Apple appears to be expanding the scope of its set top product by both forging new ground with new content partners as well as optimizing the experience of their mobile apps in to a home television environment. Expect more additions as the company continues to aggressively pursue partnerships that may benefit the viewing experience of their customers.

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The Google Chromecast has been a top seller since its debut.

The Streaming Advisor looks at The Hot Device In the Streaming World

Today we are reviewing the Google Chromecast. The Google Chromecast is a simple and elegant streaming receiver priced at image$35.00 and available at Best Buy and online retailers Amazon.com and the Google Play Store. While the device has some definite limitations It has received strong media buzz after its release for a number of reasons. We will explore both its strengths and weaknesses bellow.

What Does It Do?
The Chromecast has two primary functions. It can be paired with a smartphone or tablet in order to send the signals for Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, HBO GO and Google Play media to a TV.  Its other primary function is that it can mirror tabs a using Google’s Chrome browser via a laptop or desktop computer. The Chromecast does not allow that same functionality via the mobile version of the chrome browser found on Android devices.  For those who have both a mobile device and a laptop there is a lot to be done with this space smart dongle.

Easy Set Up
Setting up the Chromecast is done in minutes. Before plugging the Chromecast in to an HDMI port the free Chromecast app must be added to a smartphone. The Chromecast can be powered via a USB connection on the television set if one is available or by its USB plug adaptor. Once this is done launch the app and it will prompt you through the short set up process.

Less Is More
The Chromecast has often been incorrectly categorized as a set top device like the Apple TV or Roku line of products. This is not the case. While a typical set top device is not large or cumbersome they take up about as much surface area as a stack of coasters and sit next to a TV or on an entertainment center. The Chromecast is a dongle, which is a small piece of equipment that is about the size of a thumb/flash drive. It is designed to plug in to an HDMI port on an HD television and depending on where your HDMI ports are can be hidden from view completely. Set top devices also have to be connected to a television via an HDMI cord, the Chromecast on the other hand already has its HDMI connecter designed into its 2 inch construction providing a clutter free way to add new functionality to any HD TV.

Weaknesses

Only HD Compatible
Because the Chromecast requires an HDMI port to connect to a TV this means that the device can not be used on any television without one. This means those without an HDTV are out of luck. Any modern HDTV will have at least one HDMI port. If you have none open it might be worth it to buy an HDMI splitter. Because it has become the standard for video and audio delivery each HDMI port is worth its weight in gold.

Bring your own Apps
The Chromecast has no preinstalled apps. Purchasing the dongle will not automatically provide a portal to Netflix, Pandora or any of the well-known sources for streaming content.  Anything that is seen via the Chromecast must be sent via a mobile device or computer using the Chrome Browser. Think of the Chromecast like an antenna for receiving internet content and your computer or mobile device like the broadcaster. Without a local affiliate to produce and beam out the 5:00 news there would be nothing to tune in to whether you use cable, rabbit ears or even the new flat antennas that are all the rage. This is one of the major differences between the Chromecast and the popular set top boxes which come preloaded with video and audio streaming apps.

No Remote Control
The Chromecast does not ship with a remote of any kind. The device utilizes mobile devices and laptops for all of its control functions. Once the mobile device is casting to the dongle all of the normal control features are available on the smart phone or tablet screen including play, pause, volume etc. When using a laptop it is easier to use a TV remote for volume functions. Unfortunately if a household does not have such devices available the Chromecast is functionally useless.

Strengths

Using A Mobile Device As A Remote
Yes this function is listed as a weakness for the device. But for those who do have a smart phone or tablet it is a convenience. It means there is one less controller to keep up with. Most people keep better track of their cell phones than anything else that they own. Apple and Roku along with other set top device makers figured this out a long time ago and released free mobile apps to control their devices even though they also do ship with remotes. It also may allow for the device to be sold at its price point because there is so little hardware.  The difference here is that there is no app to launch because the device morphs into the control mechanism only when a compatible program is launched.

Chrome Browser Mirroring
The term mirroring in the context of computers and mobile technology means that what you see on your computer screen is what you will see on your TV. In order to use a laptop for mirroring with a Chromecast you must download the latest version of the Google Chrome browser and add the “cast” extension. Once this is set up you are ready to watch Internet content from a computer on television. In the case of the Chromecast for instance whatever your computer accesses via the Chrome browser will be seen on the TV screen. If you navigate to the National Geographic website or IMDB your TV will display the full site minus the URL bar at the top. Some websites have their video content formatted so that it pops out in another box for viewing. This poses a problem that can occur when mirroring with Chrome. While this is not a common feature it does occur. Chromecast is unable to mirror video content on sites that operate in that manner. The good news is some of the most popular websites for streaming including Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go are fully capable of supporting the Chromecast through its Chrome browser. This is a plus for Hulu fans because it means that the Chromecast allows users to watch Hulu on their televisions without the need to sign up for Hulu’s pay service “Hulu Plus”. Of all the devices and services on the market the Chromecast is the easiest one to use in order to view the Hulu website on a TV. The a laptop casting with Chromecast can also mirror full episodes of CBS television shows via CBS.com. There is currently no CBS video app available on any device so again this is a coup for Chromecast and its mirroring. Important note, if a website has a video window that can be maximized to fit your computer screen it will be reflected on your television screen too. This is especially helpful when viewing video on news sites. For the record the videos from the CNN and Fox News websites can be viewed via Chromecast mirroring but MSNBC uses a pop out window for video content and therefore cannot be seen on the TV screen. A notable website that is not compatible with Chromecast mirroring is the popular Watch ESPN website.  While the Chromecast can display the website, its video feed appears in a pop out box that can be seen on a computer but cannot be seen on the television.

Great For Traveling
If you like to access your Netflix queue while on the road whether it is to relax after a business trip or let  the kids wind down at the end of a long day the Chromecast is a handy item to have on a road trip. Simply access your hotels wireless network or even use a phone as a hotspot, if this is an option and view away.

Inexpensive Compared To Other Devices
Part of the popularity of the Chromecast is its price tag. For households with an HDTV, a mobile device and a laptop computer already on hand the Chromecast can add a great deal of functionality to a living room.

Does the price tag of the Chromecast make up for its lack of native apps? If someone has the necessary hardware to access their favorite apps and websites the overall performance of the device can make it a worthwhile purchase. This product is a step in the right direction for Google and may be the first popularly adopted method for mirroring computer content to a television.  After many failed attempts to license full set top devices Google has captured the imagination of the public with The Google Chromecast.

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The Google Chromecast has been a top seller since its debut.

The Hulu Plus app for the Apple iPhone is now capable of being utilized by the Google Chromecast in the same way that Netflix is. Hulu Plus was already available via Apples iPad but will now be available on both of Apples signature mobile devices. The increased functionality comes on the heels of an update to the Hulu Plus app for IOS 7. The Chromecast which burst on to the scene this summer costs $35.00 but has no native apps The device acts as a receiver relying on mobile devices and computers for the supply and delivery of features. The Hulu Plus update brings its integrated mobile app selection to four including YouTube, Netflix and Google Play. Google play is not available on Apple products.

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Understanding The Similarities And Differences Between Two Popular Media Mirroring Methods

Ryan Michael Downey

Two popular devices for streaming media to a television are the industry leading Apple TV and the Google Chromecast. Head to head comparisons are very popular when looking at two devices in the same category but in the case of these two there is very little they have in common. While the Apple TV is a set top box that runs 25 or so official apps via a wireless or an Ethernet connection. The Chromecast is a small dongle, which is a tech term for an inch long or less device that can be added to a piece of hardware to add functionality. There are dongles for everything from streaming media to a simple keyboard. Chromecast has no preloaded apps and must access every service that it uses through either a computer using the Chrome browser or a mobile device like a smart phone or tablet. Chromecast is more of a receiver for content “cast’ from a computer or mobile device while Apple TV is both a receiver for Airplay and a small single use computer with storage capabilities programs and operating system and so on. Where Apple TV and the Chromecast are similar is that they both share the ability to mirror devices to a TV. Both have strengths and weaknesses.

Google Chrome Cast: Works with: Computers running the Google Chrome Brower
How: Computer owners download a Chrome Extension called Google Cast. Once the app is installed then users utilizing the Google Chrome  browser can send the entire image from their computer screens to their television.

Apple TV Airplay: Works With: Current Apple computers with at least a dual core processor. This covers models released from 2011 and everything since. The list of mobile devices includes the iPad 2 and the subsequent models, the iPhone starting with the 4 and the iPod touch starting with generation 5.

Limitations
Apple TV: Airplay on a mobile device is capable of rendering any video source that does not require Flash. While all IOS apps are of course set up to work with Apple’s standard web video can be more problematic depending on the site. This is not an issue when using airplay on an Apple laptop or desktop computer because they are fully capable of running Flash. Another issue is that mobile devices are often shuttled to mobile versions of websites and some content providers do not allow mobile devices access to all of their content. One example is CBS.com. While CBS lists full episodes as a viewing option from their site choosing that option on an iPad will only play a brief preview for the show. Some popular though questionable websites such as project free TV are not accesable on an Apple mobile device.

Chromecast: Chromecast does not cast from mobile devices outside of its featured partners Netflix, YouTube, Google Play and Hulu Plus. You must have these apps on your mobile device in order to access the features. Apple products are not able to access the Google Play Store. When using these services simply press the cast icon on your mobile device and the content will play on your TV screen.
When using a computer the Chromecast can access anything that is capable of playing on a computer screen via a Google Chrome tab though there are limitations. The major limitation with the Chromecast is that some websites have their video content formatted so that it pops out in another box for viewing. If a video pops out as a separate box then you will not be able to cast it. A notable website where this occurs is the popular Watch ESPN website.  While the Chromecast can mirror the basic website its video feed appears in a pop out box that can be seen on a computer but cannot be seen on the television.  The lack of the ability to mirror from a mobile device is a major drawback for the Chromecast. With so many households replacing laptops and desktop computers in favor or sleek tablet with blue tooth keyboards this cuts off its market for the feature. 

Strengths
Chrome Cast: Mirroring with the Chromecast is wrapped in its ability to mirror Google Chrome tabs on a computer. This opens up a universe of viewing opportunities. A major coup for the dongle is that it can access the free version of Hulu and play it on a TV screen. It mirrors the screen as you see it online. If you choose to select full screen viewing on the website the screen will mirror in full HD aspect ratio. The Video and audio quality is strong but its overall performance is tied to the computer it is casting from. There have been reports of syncing problems between the audio and video signals but I did not experience this in my tests. Another notable strength is that CBS television shows can be cast from its website to the TV. Like Hulu if you chose to view the video in full screen on the computer screen the video will play in full screen on the television. Because the Chromecast must mirror using a computer and not a mobile device there is no limitation for Flash based videos. Chromecast will also allow the user to explore the internet using a TV screen as a monitor though there is a second or so delay. Possibly the greatest strength of the Chromecast is that it is not wedded to any format. Any computer can access its casting features as opposed to the Apple TV which acts as an Airplay receiver in concert Apple devices. Google is slowly expanding its supported device with support for the Samsung Chromebook “coming soon”.

Apple TV: Apple TV allows full screen mirroring of Apple computers and mobile devices. All apps and programs can be mirrored which lends itself to being both an entertainment device and a presentation device. When viewing online video. Any video that can be accessed on an Apple mobile or computer device can be viewed on a TV screen. While there are some exceptions a majority of internet video can be viewed on an Apple mobile device and all Internet based video can be viewed on a compatible apple laptop or desktop.  Because it can mirror any of the apps on any mobile device the Apple TV becomes the center of a versatile ecosystem. Though it is not part of an open streaming ecosystem the Apple TV can work as an amazing addition to any household with compatible Apple products.

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Ryan M Downey

Target has launched its own on demand movie and television service with an offer that sounds too good to be true, and it is. New subscribers to the service are promised 10 free rentals with the service which carries newly released movies and recent episodes of multiple television series not unlike Apple’s iTunes Store or Amazon Prime Instant Video. Once users provide their mailing address, credit card information they are taken to a menu containing 23 films and most are not exactly new releases. The list includes Big Trouble in Little China and Crocodile Dundee (1986), as well as more serious tittles including Ghost (1990), and Legends of the Fall (1994). If you never got around to seeing some of these titles or want to enjoy them again the Target is a great opportunity but don’t count on checking out Pacific Rim or any of the Spring and summer hits.

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 Will Netflix Displace HBO?

Netflix may well be part of a major shift in the television industry. According to the Washington Post the home of House of Cards may be coming to a cable box near you. Already available via its website and a variety of mobile and set top formats the company is having conversations with major cable distributors Comcast and Sudden Link about adding the service to their cable boxes. Such a move would be a crowning achievement for the service which eschewed releasing a branded set top box less than a decade ago in favor of becoming a partner with multiple devices. While in the process of developing a top secret dedicated box Netflix scrapped the idea in favor of building partnerships with multiple media devices. The company is the streaming industry leader at over 30 million subscribers.

Expanding their reach
The implications for Netflix are huge just based on the numbers. Despite the cord cutting trend especially among young adults, around 95 percent of American TV viewers utilize cable or satellite services to watch television. The current population of the US is about 315 million. While that number of course includes children and adults living in the same household this means that despite Netflix’s current subscription base there is potential for astronomical domestic growth.  While sales in the set top box industry which includes Apple TV 13 million units sold and Roku 5 million sold are steady game systems actually account for at least half of Netflix consumption. The thing about the video game console industry is that many annalists believe that its sales are starting to flatten out. If all current Play Station 3 owners bought a new device this does nothing to build Netflix’s market share. But there are millions of potential Netflix customers who do not have a game system, set top box or internet connected blue ray player, but the numbers indicate that almost all of them have cable or satellite. While these talks have not reportedly involved Time Warner Cable such an arrangement with even just two of the major cable systems would boost Netflix’s Net Worth.

How will it work
If such an arrangement comes to fruition the interesting thing to look at will be how the financial arrangement will work. What incentive will cable companies get from Netflix in order to make the deal happen? There has never been a standalone company integrated in to a cable service provider as a partner. Will the cable companies get a cut of the profits from any new subscription authenticated through their hardware? Will Netflix pay a fee to be on the boxes like an advertising fee? Will cable companies pay Netflix a fee cents per each of its customers the way it does with a traditional channel like Nickelodeon or ESPN.  The most profitable arrangement for Netflix may be for the cable boxes to work with Netflix in the same manner that set top boxes and other distribution platforms do. If Netflix is allowed to continue to collect its normal monthly fees from millions of new customers than it will build a war chest that could outstrip all of its competition.

How Could It Effect Netflix?
If it substantially increases its profits subscribers can likely look forward to more high end original programming and more exclusive content. Such an arrangement could give Netflix much more bargaining power than its competitors when the next big distribution contracts come up with film studios. Netflix already has deals lined up with EPIX, Disney, DreamWorks and many other distribution partners. Netflix could also become the landing place for the next Firefly, Terra Nova or Eureka when a traditional network gives up too early. It’s alternative approach to series production gives it leeway that traditional networks do not have and if people can access Netflix separately from a digital tier it may grow past HBO and Showtime as living room staples. Imagine how established players in the television industry would react if Netflix picks up a cancelled series and wins an Emmy. These could be very real possibilities.  We will continue to monitor this story.

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Ryan Michael Downey

Company Is Looking to Boost Its Set Top Image

As dominant as Google has been in the search engine world and the mobile operating system world it has yet to launch a strong set top box concept using the Google TV platform. Chromecast which is very popular is not a set to box I the sense that Roku and Apple TV are and it is totally absent the Google TV system. The company announced last week that it will no longer refer to its set top technology as Google TV but instead will rebrand it as Android TV. Will this work?    

What’s In A Name?
Rebranding is a strategy that smacks of bad planning in the first place. It is usually an effort to divert public attention from something negative that weighs down a company. When Firestone tires became associated with blowouts and fatalities the company changed its name to Bridgestone, Blackwater a paramilitary security firm changed its name to “Xe” after a metric ton of bad press.  Google has not brought on death or destruction. The biggest problem with Google TV is that it has not ever established itself as a reliable and popular platform in the public eye. Google’s rebranding of Google TV as Android TV is a prime example of something that should never have been necessary but was bought on because sometimes even brilliant people make bad decisions.

What is a Google TV?
Google TV is a platform not a product. The problem is really not with the name of the product. The problem is that Google has made repeatedly bad decisions about how it licensed it brand. The many Google TV products including the Logitec Revue, and Neo TV were made by third party hardware companies. The products failed to capture the imagination of the public and in some cases were just poorly manufactured. Google has also failed to build partnerships the way that Apple and Roku have with distributers.  When a partner produces and sells a hard to understand product with utilizing the Google TV platform it makes the whole idea of Google TV appear inferior and consumers then think that the platform is flawed. If a new product debuts with the Android TV branding with the sorts of flaws that Google TV Considering the numerous Android boxes on the market this problem may well persist. There are many Android based devices including the G-Box MX2 and the recently released Samsung HomeSync.  The device utilizes Android OS and can only be fully utilized by Samsung Galaxy products.  Uninformed customers may read about the new set top box and think that Android TV boxes only work with Galaxy branded hardware.

Take The Reins
Google should produce its own branded set top that highlights the best features of Google/Android TV. There is a trash heap of examples of how not to use the format that the company can learn from. They can market it as the official Android TV Box.

Build a Better Interface

A set top device needs clean simple interface that can easily be navigated with a remote instead of a mouse or track pad. Users should not have to open multiple screens to access their apps and or search for them. Having used Google TV products and Roku I can tell you that the ease of use with Roku is for greater.  Its app discovery should be TV centric. There are thousands of apps in the Google play store but only a fraction of them are meant for television based viewing and use.

Stop Acting Like It’s a Tablet
Yes Android is a mobile Operating system but a set top device is not a mobile piece of hardware.  Too much of the navigation of android based boxes it requires a track pad and or keyboard. No other set top device on the market expects that of their customers.  Providing a responsive simple remote instead of continuing the theme of using smart phones as a remote would be helpful also. Remote apps on phones and tablets are excellent but should not be the only option. A lot of the Google TV products seem to try to be set top box/computers. But what happens is that they try to be all things for all people and fail to provide any service well.

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Google is no longer going to refer to its interactive television product as Google TV. It is re-branding the platform as Android TV. The change comes after numerous products utilizing the Google TV branding have failed to make an impact on the marketplace. The hope is that by identifying the TV product with the popular mobile operating system that it will appear more appealing. This may come as a surprise to many observers who thought that Google may have been abandoning the platform entirely with the release of the Chromecast.

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