Daily Links: Weekend Edition

daily_links_1This weekend’s interesting article finds:

The Smartphone Lifetime Challenge (ReCode) _ The future of the smartphone market may be driven not by innovation, but by how often we choose to upgrade our devices.

Reservoir Devs: Why apps really hit iOS before Android (The Next Web) – As an Android owner, I always get frustrated by the IOS-first tendency for apps. This is an interesting look at why.

Streaming TV Isn’t Just a New Way to Watch. It’s a New Genre. (NYT) – Fascinating article that looks at the evolution of how we are watching.

Abbott and Costello heirs lose copyright suit against Broadway play over ‘Who’s on First’ bit (USA News) – What? Is it any wonder we are confused about what constitutes fair use?

The Evolution of Autoplay (Nieman Lab) – A look at that feature we all love to hate…

Decode those weird symbols on the back of your phone (CNET) – We see these all the time, but do you know what they mean?

Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.

 

 

Daily Links: The Secret in the Old VCR Tapes

daily_links_1Today’s interesting links and finds:

The Secret in the Old VCR Tapes (ReCode) – This speaks on so many levels. With rapidly changing technology, who do we entrust our memories to?

No headphone jack? Some tech writers can’t imagine it (Talking New Media) – Are plug-in headphones going the way of the CD and DVD drive?

Town that has no cell phone service loses its primary Internet provider (Ars Technica) – Disconnected. This is truly terrifying.

Why We Need a Streaming Service for News (Media Shift) – Is this really the next logical evolution of news?

Amazon’s Fire tablets now have a blue light filter to help you sleep after nighttime reading (The Next Web) – The latest update to the Fire aims to make it easier to read at night on a backlit device.

Deals and Finds of the Day:

On the Kindle Daily Deals pages, Amazon has several lists of booksin the history, mystery, thriller and sci-fi and fantesy genres that are reduced in price through December 31, 2015.  I found a book on Sumi-e: The Art of Japanese Ink Painting in the history category.

Barnes and Noble has 19 Christmas-themed romances and mysteries for the Nook Daily Find.

Kobo has The Bees by Laline Paull for only $1.99 at , Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iTunes.

Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.

CBS All Access Video Review (Updated)

CBS_blogI signed up for the CBS  All Access video service when they were running a promotion for a month-long free trial (no longer available). The service runs $5.99 a month. I tested the service on my Roku box, my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 tablet (Android) and my iPad Mini first generation (IOS).

Sign Up: 

Sign up was super easy. I just had to create an account, enter billing and credit card info and I was good to go.  I didn’t need to wait for a confirmation email to use the service.

Content:

CBS has a lot of long-running shows and  most of that content is available on the service.  NCIS and its spin-offs. Criminal Minds. MacGyver.  CSI and spin-offs. All 175 episodes of Family Ties. All 264 episodes of Frazier.  All of the Star Trek series are available on demand. The content also includes current shows and the option to watch live TV.

The few shows that were missing seemed to be tied in to current licensing deals. When I started my free trial, there were only clips  from the series EXTANT – no full episodes -Amazon had exclusive streaming rights to the show.  When season two of the show started, the season one episodes finally appeared on  ALL Access.  There are no season two episodes because Amazon still has exclusive rights to those.

CBS’ Elementary is another strange situation. Right now, seasons one through three are streaming exclusively on Hulu Plus.  CBS All Access is only showing episodes from season three on demand.  Hulu Plus’ original announcement seemed to indicate that its agreement for Elementary only covered past episodes, not the current ones.

Most new episodes appear the day after the show airs on television. The Kindle version of the app lists an 8 day delay for episodes in HD.

The Experience:

I tried the CBS app on three different devices. The experience was slightly different on each one of them, but the two things in common across all three platforms were the excessive adds and the video glitches and quality problems.

The advertisements on this service are, quite simply, awful.  There are tons of ads and they played before, during and after the show episodes. The sound volume of the ads was extremely loud compared to the video volume. The ad choices seemed especially irritating. The fact that they were played repeatedly through out an episode only increased my annoyance. The series of Jack Link’s Jerky commercials featuring the abuse and bullying of Sasquatch stood out as being particularly noxious.

On the Roku, ads played an average of every eight minutes.  The cutting process was really awkward. After the commercials, the show would replay the last few seconds before the break and playback would repeatedly stall and need to reload. I have DSL, and the app did not handle a slow connection well; at times the quality was very poor and the audio would be slightly out of sync.  This was especially noticeable compared to Netflix, Amazon and Hulu which seem to do a better job of balancing slower connections.

Viewing on the Android app showed most of the same problems with ads and audio sync issues as the Roku. For the most part, the video quality was somewhat better on the Android than the Roku box.

The picture quality on the iPad Mini was the best out of the three devices, although the audio sync problems were still there.The IOS app had full page ads built into the app that were really disruptive.

Both the Android and IOS app still showed a large number of commercials, but they seemed to be less frequent at the beginning  and more frequent towards the end of the episode.

All three platforms had closed captions, although the settings were a little more difficult to figure out on the Roku app as they worked a little differently than I was used to on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. On the IOS app, I could turn on captions from within the app for streaming, but the app defaulted to the main IOS setting when watching live TV.

I live right outside of Chicago and had no problems with the app recognizing and streaming my local CBS station live. The commercial ads shown during the live didn’t seem the same ones I saw on the on demand side of the app. There were a lot of very short commercials but I didn’t see anything I recognized as strictly local to Chicago.

With a price tag of $5.99 a month, the advertisements and the poor video quality on the Roku box were deal breakers for me, especially after trying Hulu ad-free.  I canceled the service near the end of the trial.

Cancellation: 

Canceling the service was very easy. I simply clicked a link on my account page to cancel, although a toll-free number is also listed on the cancellation page. I was asked to give a reason for canceling (it was optional) and given an opportunity to  provide feedback (also optional). I received an immediate email verifying my billing cancellation. I was also informed that I still had access to the content until my trial period actually ended.

Today, CBS Studios announced a new Star Trek series to air in 2017. According to the announcement in Mediaite:

Unlike previous series, only the first episode will air on television. The new series will be the first exclusive series for CBS’s “All Access” online streaming service, which currently costs $5.99 per month.

I am a die-hard Trekkie, but unless this service gets significantly better,  I will be waiting on the new series until it is out on DVD. I don’t get making the show exclusive to All Access unless they are just trying to boost the adoption of the app.

So, how about you? Have you tried the service? How do you feel about CBS making it exclusive?

UPDATE: In today’s earnings call, CBS CEO Les Moonves is hinting at the possibility of an ad-free service for a higher price:

“How about $9.99 with no ads? It’s very possible,” he says although he adds that “it’s still very early.”

It is good that CBS is looking at a version without ads, but $9.99 for one network’s offerings seems a bit steep compared to Netflix, Amazon and Hulu Plus.

HBO Go now available for the Fire TV

hboAmazon announced today that the HBO Go app is now available for the Fire TV. The app is said to be completely compatible with the Fire TV’s voice search feature. The app will be coming to the Fire TV Stick this spring.

To celebrate, the Fire TV will be on sale until December 28, 2014. The free HBO Go app is available at the Amazon App store.

Please note that in order for the HBO GO app to work, your must subscribe to the service through your cable or satellite provider. Your provider must also provide you mobile access to the app. To see if your provider is listed, check here.

HBO has announced plans to release a streaming app for non-cable subscribers in 2015.

 

Stream Unlimited Audiobooks

SkybriteIf you are an avid audiobook listener, you may be interested in Skybrite, a subscription service that offers unlimited streaming of audiobooks for your phone or tablet for a flat rate of $9.99 per month. The service is mobile only (no web service) and has apps for both IOS and Android.

However, according a CNET review of the service, there are a few limitations. First, you can only stream content. That means no download and offline listening. So unless you have a constant Wi-fi signal or a truly unlimited data, plan, this may be a deal breaker.

The Google Play store description  sounds promising:

With Skybrite, you can instantly stream thousands of best-selling audiobooks, entertaining performances, how-to courses, revealing interviews, spiritual talks, informative lectures, and more, on your Android phone or tablet.

You can listen to every title, as much as you want, wherever you are, unlimited to you.

FEATURES

* Discover a huge selection of premium audio programs from best-selling authors, entertainers, teachers, celebrities, and more.

* Enjoy unlimited fiction and non-fiction audiobooks, contemporary novels, classic literature, famous biographies, engaging memoirs, and more.

* Be entertained with unlimited stand-up comedy albums, audio theater performances, celebrity interviews, music biographies, and more.

* Improve your life and relationships with unlimited personal development, business trainings, spiritual talks, guided meditations, and more.

* Get healthy with unlimited fitness classes, yoga classes, self-help classes, nutrition classes, and more.

* Kids will love the selection of unlimited children’s stories, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and more.

* Take unlimited courses to quickly learn Spanish, learn Chinese, learn French, learn Portuguese, learn Japanese, learn Russian, learn German, and more.

* Never any ads, commercials, or interruptions. Available worldwide.

* Stream every title instantly at the push of a button. It’s easy and fun to use!

The feedback in the Google Play is mostly positive, although the app has few download and reviews yet.

The CNET review describes the content a bit less favorably:

Even so, there’s very little high-profile content to be found at the moment. Save for the “Hunger Games” trilogy, most of the titles in the Literature & Fiction category are from little-known authors, or are public-domain works like “Les Miserables.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but anyone hoping for mainstream, Audible-caliber selection will be disappointed.

Skybrite says that it is working on expanding content in 2015.

The service offers a 7 day free trial and doesn’t require a credit card for sign up.

I may give the trial a whirl to check it out. How about you? Does the service sound tempting?