Roku announced last Thursday that it will begin to include third party themes among the choices
available for Roku owners. While Roku is considerably more customizable than its competitors like Apple TV, the Vizio line of products and the Western Digital Live, it still pales in comparison to the multiple customization options available for programs like XBMC. That is set to change in the near future. According to GigaOm’s Janko Roettgers the new themes will be available for purchase in March.
Current Roku Themes
Roku currently offers 5 themes which all have the same layout and interface with tweaks in the color scheme and background. Besides its default set up which has a purple background with white writing for the menu options its other options include Graphene which utilizes a grey background, Decaf which has a brown background along with Nebula featuring Neon graphics and stars and the brightest of the options called Day Dream which adds a playful featuring look and feel to the otherwise familiar layout.
Plex is offering 50% off of its mobile apps for a limited time, the server based program offers apps for multiple mobile platforms. The mobile apps include selections for for Windows mobile 8 tablets and phones, Android tablets and phones as well IOS tablets, phones and the iPod touch. This is a perfect chance for families with multiple tablets or phones to load up on apps for their devices.
AirPlay and Chrome Cast Ready Plex’s mobile apps can be used in conjunction with both Apple TV and the Google Chrome cast though it is necessary to be a Chromecast member to take advantage of the option with the Google Dongle. Apple TV users have free range to us the App via AirPlay to view cued programs, and utilize Plex’s chanels adding tons of functionality to their set top devices.
The evolution of the GoogleCast extension for the Chrome browser continues. When launching the GoogleCast extension Google now provides a message explaining how to use Chromecast in conjunction with the browser. Users are encouraged to look for the launch button, which uses the same icon as the GoogleCast extension and is present at netflix.com and youttube.com In the past two weeks Google has opened up its software development kit to all developers to freely integrate their apps and websites to be fully compatible with the Chromecast. The developers are being invited to integrate both mobile apps as well as websites with the DIAL integrated dongle.
As Google has been working to update the Chromecast there has been an issue with the Google cast extension for the Chrome browser. In some instances the Google Cast app is not loading and instead displays a nonfunctional graphic that fails to load or allow the extension to fully load.
How to repair the problem? Uninstall the Google Cast extension from Chrome and reinstall. This can be done by right clicking on the extension itself and clicking uninstall. It can also be uninstalled by options tab in the upper right hand corner of the browser and selecting settings. From setting select extensions and find Google Cast. Click the trashcan logo to delete it. The extension can be re-added using the Google Chrome Store. Afterwards the menu should be back to normal.
The Google Chrome browser extension that allows Chromecast users to send Google Chrome tabs on to their television screens when paired with a Google Chromecast is undergoing major changes. In the
past after downloading the extension from the Google Chrome a user accessing the extension saw a simple box with a few basic options. At the moment the extension appears to be in transition hopefully providing more stability and a uniform viewing experience.
An End to Audio Syncing Issues? Since the device launched many users have complained about issues with the consistency of tab casting citing audio issues as well as choppy video playback along with inconsistency with audio delivery. Some users reported that the sound would not integrate with their TV or audio system speakers and instead only play through their laptops. Tab Casting, which has been advertised as a “beta” feature for all applications and websites besides Netflix and YouTube, could be a major addition to the user experience. We will keep an eye on this and update as the story develops. See the picture below to view the current interface. In our experience the Interface is not yet functional.
Direct TV customers can now access the popular HBO-GO streaming service on a Roku as well as through apps for tablets and smart phones along with set top devices and computers. HBO-Go offers a large library of HBO’s
original movies, series and documentaries along with a large selection major studio releases and old favorites on a rotating basis. The movies are broken down based on genre. HBO-Go is one of Roku’s most watched channels putting in in the same conversation as along with other streaming titans like Plex, Netflix and YouTube .
In order for Direct TV customers to access HBO-Go they must be able to authenticate (provide a valid Direct TV user name) and have an existing subscription to HBO.
Google made the long awaited announcement that its Chromecast SDK has been released to all developers in an action that is sure to spur the release of many new Chromecast compatible apps. The investment many early adopters made in the $35.00 dollar device is set to pay off as numerous applications are certain to become available and some of them likely very quickly.
Will you be able to use XBMC? There are already XBMC apps for Android so the ability to use the app on Chromecast will be up to the developers of the app itself to add casting abilities to the device. Google is sticking with their philosophy of letting third parties develop products around their platform. Will this lead to consumer based innovation or a fragmented market for apps? The Plex app is currently available to Plex Pass members. Even now clever people are finding ways to bring XBMC to the Chromecast using a combination of methods for more on that please continue.
The National Football League is making a momentous addition to the digital streaming landscape announcing plans to launch a free digital network NFL Now via the Internet. And while the league promises that the service will provide numerous avenues for fans to get closer to the game including original content, highlights, content produced by NFL clubs, NFL Films content, NFL.com & NFL Network content and live events including press conferences, and shows, theNFL’s vice president of digital media business development Vishal Shah, who spoke to Time Magazine in a story by Victor Luckerson may have hinted at its long term strategy saying
“Live games are certainly an option for us. It’s really figuring out the right distribution strategy on our end.”
Are Live NFL Games On The Internet A Possibility? Did Shah give us a hint at where the NFL is really going with this venture? NFL spokesman Alex Riethmiller actually disputed Shah’s statement telling Time that the NFL was” happy with our (the NFL’s) current broadcast and cable agreements”.
Are you a current Netflix customer. If you have been considering starting a Netflix streaming only account you may want to get it in place before the pricing plan changes. GigaOm’s Janko Roetgers
is reporting that the service which recently announced a subscriber base of 44 million people is exploring a pricing structure for new members that would include different prices based on the number of access points one uses.
This may be a way for Netflix to curb the sharing of accounts among multiple users . The existence of these sorts of arrangement has been acknowledged by HBO CEO Richard Plepler. According to an article by Buzz Feed’s Mathew Lynley, Phleper thinks that people who access HBO through other means especially while they are young will become paying customers later in life.
Whether it is an attempt stop such a practice or an attempt to increase revenue going forward Netlfix, in a rare case of customer loyalty, says that current Netflix members will be allowed to keep their plan in place. Netflix may have already tipped their hand on pricing as the company has recently rolled out a family pricing structure that charges 11.99 for use of four devices at the same time as well as a less expensive plan for 6.99 that only streams in standard definition.
Verizon has won a lawsuit against the FCC which will end what has been called net neutrality laws.
Until now the Federal Communications Commission has been able to set rules that prevent Internet providers like Verizon, Time Warner Cable and AT&T from having favored users or allowing a given company more bandwidth (speed and access) than another. This allowed small web based video and audio providers to have equal footing against giants in the industry like Netflix and YouTube.
The Core Argument
At the center of the ruling is a short statement on CNN summing up the court’s position on government regulation of the Internet.
“The government is tasked with overseeing crucial utilities like telephone service and electricity, but that the Internet isn’t considered to be one of those utilities under current law.”
It appears that going forward the FCC will have to prove that the Internet is a crucial utility. As Internet usage has become essential for business, education, communication between medical institutions and the avenue for major growing businesses like Netflix, Microsoft through Xbox live and Sony’s new game streaming network a case may be made successfully that stifling broadband Internet usage has the potential to affect too many businesses and services. If a link can be drawn between the cable industries interest in restricting the use of Netflix and other Video Providers it may even grow in to an anti-trust issue.
Verizon’s Reaction Verizon released a statementregarding the suit saying among other things, “the court found that the FCC could not impose last century’s common carriage requirements on the Internet, and struck down rules that limited the ability of broadband providers to offer new and innovative services to their customers “
Does “innovative services” mean pricier Internet access? Will the ruling lead to higher prices for those who have embraced streaming services like Netflix. YouTube and Hulu Plus?
The Streaming Advisor aims to teach and inform others about how to enjoy video content broadcast via the Internet through incisive stories and reviews that explore the new media marketplace and examine online media trends and how they effect consumers.
Online media includes familiar services like Netflix, Hulu, Crackle and other widely known sources along with small start up sites and companies like PlayOn. We keep tabs on Roku, Apple TV, Google TV and Android streaming so that all you have to do is keep tabs with us.