Posts Tagged ‘ new media ’

I’m at the DMZ

The Digital Media Zone

Looking for something? The Digital Media Zone (DMZ), a tech blog about the products and services available for home and mobile media consumption, is now home to my post about CableCARD and the HDHomeRun Prime. Expect to find future posts about home entertainment and consumer electronics devices there, while The World According to Richard continues to serve as the platform for my rants and perspective on all other things.

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I Don’t Want Apps on My TV

With Google throwing its unexpectedly pricey hat into the TV set top box business, I grow ever more frustrated by a move that I just don’t understand: Apps on the TV. Apps give content owners and distributors an opportunity to offer branded, custom portals to their content. Yea for them. But that’s not what I want, and I question—despite all of the tech media hype—if it’s what the masses want.

I don’t want to hunt for shows that interest me in a bunch of different applications. Will I find How Your $#*! Got Outsourced in the CBQ app, the Buena Brothers app, or the huFlix app? Why does it have to be in any of them? I just want to watch the damned show. I don’t care who claims the digital streaming rights to it, and I sure as Hell don’t want some heavily-branded experience wrapped around it. I don’t want a different library browsing, selection, and playback experience from show to show or app to app. I just want to watch the damned show. Oh…and I don’t want another accessory on my coffee table: a keyboard. (TiVo: I think you nailed this one).

What we need is an aggregator. I want to see a service and/or device that can pull together all of the digital content available to me and make it navigable and discoverable (and even purchasable) in meaningful ways. Include the stuff I own, the stuff I can buy, the stuff I can or have recorded, and the stuff available to stream freely; but don’t throw up walls between those acquisition models. Let me search and browse across all of that content. Slice it up and group it in different ways, using robust metadata beyond just genre and network. I still want to browse by network, too, because that’s still a logical association, but define network more broadly than just what you find on your cable box, and include YouTube channels and Internet-only content, like CNET and Revision 3.

Boxee tries to do all this, but it’s still too disjointed, and the UI is overly complex. Apple TV—the old Apple TV—did it fairly well, but its appeal is limited to consumers who have bought into the walled iTunes media garden, and the entry price was too high. Hulu and Netflix both get partway there, but their content is limited by distribution rights that are governed by frightened license holders and greedy attorneys. TiVo teased this with Premier but didn’t deliver, and the Roku box is fundamentally designed around the concept of apps.

It’s a tricky issue, because the content rights holders want to paint their colors and logos all over the place, and then get out their rulers. Everyone wants to do their own thing, but ultimately that makes it harder for consumers to find and consume content. Ironically, this thwarts the content owners’ opportunities to distribute and monetize their content.

So the big question is whether Google can pull this off. They have the expertise in content aggregation and discovery, but Google’s user experience record is underwhelming. The solution needs to be simple, powerful, and engaging. And the price point needs to be right. So far, the $300 Logitech set top box and $1300 Sony television with baked-in Google TV have missed that mark. That said, I’ve already pre-ordered the Revue, so I’ll know soon enough.

Thanks, Ken

The World According to Richard received a shout-out today on Ken Ray’s macinfun podcast, Mac OS Ken. Thanks, dude. You ROCK!

Feedback for News.com

I didn’t think the sound quality on the daily news.com podcast could get any worse. I was wrong. This week, it sounded like Charlie was recording his segments from his bathroom. This in addition to the jarring “remote” interviews he’s been doing lately where it sounds like Charlie’s calling from a pay phone and the correspondent is back in the studio. That in addition to the fact that the audio level jumps from segment to segment in most podcasts and nearly every podcasts gets cut-off mid-word before Charlie can finish his final sign-off. And all of THAT just astounds me considering how tight, professional, and polished EVERY OTHER CNET PODCAST sounds. I don’t understand. It’s annoying enough that after 6 months, I just can’t listen anymore.

One final (now daily) annoyance: has anyone noticed that the Mazda announcer’s diction makes it sound like she’s saying “interducing” and “mazzausa.com?” If I were Mazda and provided you with that loop, I’d be embarrassed. If I were Mazda and you recorded that loop, I’d be demanding my money back.

A message to Disney

Hey…what happened to “Walt Disney World Resort: Plugged In?” That was such a terrific podcast–great content, professionally produced, and always interesting. While there are lots of fan podcasts about Disney, it’s just not the same. If I didn’t know better, I’d think the whole podcast idea was nothing but a big publicity stunt for the new Everest attraction. The timing of your cut-off would sure suggest that….

To increase your continued listening audience, have you tried promoting it in your resorts? I’ll bet guests would love to know how to keep in touch with what’s going on after they’ve left for home from their vacation. Consider mentioning it in the TV loops that you produce for the resort hotel guest rooms. And promote it on your Walt Disney World web site home page. Give this one the chance that it deserves!

It seems that Disney has been eliminating just one after another of its programs designed for its most loyal fans and guests–first the Disney Club, then the Disney magazine, now this. Please re-establish your production schedule for “Walt Disney World Resort: Plugged In.” There are definitely Disney fans out here who listen regularly and enjoy.