A new Chromecast challenger appears: Vudu Spark streaming dongle hits FCC

Ian Paul ian@ianpaul.net, TechHive Follow me on Google+

Ian is an independent writer based in Tel Aviv, Israel. His current focus is on all things tech including mobile devices, desktop and laptop computers, software, social networks, Web apps, tech-related legislation and corporate tech news.
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It appears Walmart-owned video streaming and download service Vudu wants to get into the HDMI dongle game, too. A Chromecast-like device dubbed "Vudu Spark" recently popped up on the Federal Communications Commission's website, as first noticed by GigaOm.

Walmart didn't make the filing itself. Instead South Korea-based Inkel Corporation, an electronics maker, is behind the FCC filing. Presumably, Inkel is the white label manufacturer for the device and we can expect an announcement from Walmart in the coming weeks.

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The Vudu Spark as pictured in documents filed with the FCC.

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CBS brings a round-the-clock streaming news network to cord cutters

Jared Newman , TechHive Follow me on Google+

Jared writes for PCWorld and TechHive from his remote outpost in Cincinnati.
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CBS is looking to cover one of the biggest blind spots for cord cutters with a free, 24-7 streaming news network.

Dubbed CBSN, the streaming channel offers a continuous feed of news stories around the clock. On weekdays, 15 of those hours will be live, anchored coverage. Unlike CBS’s new $5.99 All Access service for TV shows, the news service is completely ad-supported, with commercials occasionally working their way into the feed.

CBSN is available now through any web browser and in apps for Roku players, Roku TV sets and Amazon’s Fire TV. It’s also part of a new CBS News app for Windows and Windows Phone, and is coming to Android and “other leading platforms” (the iPhone, presumably) by year-end.

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SoundCloud's premium subscription music service will launch in 2015

Jared Newman , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Jared writes for PCWorld and TechHive from his remote outpost in Cincinnati.
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SoundCloud users who can’t wait to get those new ads out of their streams will have to hang on until next year for a commercial-free version.

Alexander Ljung, the streaming music site’s CEO, told the Wall Street Journal that an ad-free subscription service will launch in the first half of 2015. SoundCloud first revealed its subscription plans in August, after it started rolling out audio and display advertising for all users.

The subscription service is guaranteed as part of a licensing deal with Warner Music Group, the Journal reports. SoundCloud will pay royalties to Warner and its publishing division any time users play one of the label’s songs on either the ad-free or ad-supported version. Warner will also get some equity in the company.

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Xbox Music appears poised to release OneDrive-powered music locker service

Ian Paul ian@ianpaul.net, PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Ian is an independent writer based in Tel Aviv, Israel. His current focus is on all things tech including mobile devices, desktop and laptop computers, software, social networks, Web apps, tech-related legislation and corporate tech news.
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Nobody knows exactly when it's coming, but it appears Microsoft is close to putting an Google Play Music-esque Xbox Music locker inside of OneDrive for personal audio files. Reports about a OneDrive-Xbox Music mash-up have been circulating since at least May, but recently more tangible signs of the service have been popping up.

Windows Central reported on Friday that if you click on https://onedrive.live.com/?id=music a music folder will be automatically created for you in OneDrive. Presumably, this folder would eventually be linked to Xbox Music. 

Windows Central also reports the new OneDrive-Xbox Music mash-up would be free.

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Nexus Player review: Google’s third attempt at TV is a fine first draft

Jared Newman , TechHive Follow me on Google+

Jared writes for PCWorld and TechHive from his remote outpost in Cincinnati.
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It didn’t take long for Google’s Nexus Player to realize I was hooked on the Food Network.

Within just a few days, the strip of recommendations on top of the screen ballooned from a single cooking show to three of them, all at the front of the queue. Each recommendation was a direct link into the Food Network’s app, which offers free episodes for many of the channel’s recent shows.

Google’s recommendation engine perfectly illustrates the potential of Android TV, the platform on which the $99 Nexus Player runs. When it works, it’s a speedy way to dive straight into something you’d actually want to watch instead of wandering aimlessly through apps. But like many other parts of Android TV, its appeal is dependent entirely on developer support, which is sorely lacking in these early days.

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RealPlayer Cloud heads to Xbox One to take on Plex's personal video streaming

Jared Newman , TechHive Follow me on Google+

Jared writes for PCWorld and TechHive from his remote outpost in Cincinnati.
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With RealPlayer Cloud, Xbox One users now have another option for streaming their personal video collections to the console.

The new app lets users access videos that they've uploaded to RealPlayer's cloud storage service, or have stored on other connected devices with RealPlayer Cloud installed. The app supports a wide range of file types, including FLV, WMV, MKV, DIVX, XVID, MOV, AVI, and MP4, and handles all the necessary formatting to ensure that videos will run on the console. Users can also share videos with other users, and if you have RealPlayer's app installed on other devices, it supports picking up on a video from where you left off.

The Xbox One version supports several of the console's unique features, such as Snap view, motion controls and Kinect voice commands. Later this fall, users will also be able to upload their recorded gameplay videos to RealPlayer Cloud, so they'll be instantly available through other devices.

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Internet TV services would get a massive boost from FCC's proposed rule changes

Jared Newman , TechHive Follow me on Google+

Jared writes for PCWorld and TechHive from his remote outpost in Cincinnati.
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New Internet TV services would have a much easier time getting off the ground under new rules proposed to the Federal Communications Commission.

The proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler would require broadcast TV stations and cable-owned channels to offer their content on Internet-based services, like the one Dish Network is trying to build. These services would effectively be regulated in the same way as cable, giving them the same negotiating power for basic channels like NBC and CBS.

Currently, broadcast stations and cable operators have no rules requiring them to negotiate with Internet-based services. That’s why Dish reportedly won’t include basic channels in its upcoming Internet TV service—to get them, users may instead have to install an antenna—and why Aereo can’t reboot as a direct provider of basic channels over the Internet. These are potentially disruptive services, so it’s no surprise that they’re getting the cold shoulder from major networks.

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