Tag Archives: Xfinity

Five things to wish for in 2011

Home theater projection screen displaying a hi...

Image via Wikipedia

So here we are at the beginning of Decade Deux of the 21st century! Fresh media horizons, new technological landscapes to explore! I think it is an appropriate time to come up with my list of things I really wish we could address in 2011.

  • Truly seamless viewing. Would like to watch TV shows and movies on different devices like Android/iPhone, iPad/Tab, PC or TV with one account and with simple set of controls. Google’s idea of using your Google account to maintain universal access to books in their Google Books product is an example of what such an approach might look like for TV/Video.
  • Create communities/friends on Netflix. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find your friends and family on Netflix? Share comments on movies you watch together? Share lists and suggestions? This is a no brainer that will seriously improve the Netflix experience. Here is a sample app that allows you to share your queue on your blog, a step in the direction. Why Netflix has not jumped on adding a social interaction component to their site beats me.
  • Streaming your laptop Wirelessly to TV. There are a number of halfbaked solutions that try to address this, but the one that comes closest to what I have in mind is Intel’s Wireless Display as implemented in the Netgear Push2TV box. With it you can essentially push your laptop screen to a TV connected to this box and view what you have on your screen including streaming content from Hulu or Netflix. According to the CNET review,

“Intel Wireless Display’s biggest perk is that it can turn your TV into a second monitor, streaming content to it while you browse the Web or do other work on your laptop.”

While you cannot watch DVDs from your laptop due to HDCP copy protection, one expects most users would prefer to view them from a connected DVD device in any case. Waiting to see this become embedded in TVs and available on all laptops.

  • A user friendly universal remote. A truly user friendly interface, perhaps like the one Xfinity has developed for the iPad, that allows you to browse and search for content as well as across the 800 plus channels on your cable system. I had mentioned this earlier when I wrote about this and the Netflix app for Android phones. And while we are at that, perhaps also a user friendly universal remote to control the different devices (see below).
  • Get rid of the cable clutter. I am not a real TV/Video addict and I have four devices stacked up next to the HDTV and gazillion different cables connecting them to each other and to the TV. Not really sure how one does this but a simple bus that all devices can plug into might be a solution?

Well that is my list for now for 2011. I am sure the year will bring more interesting technologies and changes as the TV/Media landscape evolves. Hope you all have a great 2011 – Happy Viewing!

Wishlist items – A Smartphone app to select onscreen channels or movies

With most of the hardware all set up, I settled myself down anticipating many evenings of enjoyable TV viewing. The picture was perfect and the sound great. However the more time I spent on the couch, the more I realized the shortcomings of the TV selection interface. Whether it was the kludgy TV guide app that came with the set top box, or the jittery Wii controller mechanism for controlling the Netflix feed, the act of selecting, searching and scanning for items from the cable smorgasbord was really frustrating. Searching for a specific title onscreen at best meant pecking letter by letter with a remote on a virtual onscreen keyboard.

Look around you and there is a perfect device that is increasingly ubiquitous  that could make this process a whole lot simpler and intuitive. I mean the Smartphone. Whether it is the iPhone or its Android competition, these devices have made it so easy to search and select for stuff online with a flick of the wrist. As more people get used to this interface, it is a natural candidate for a universal remote control. With the larger iPad type UI, you have an even more user adaptable screen.

The Smartphone UI should allow you to view channel selections while watching TV or view your Netflix queues while watching Netflix. Searching with the soft keyboard should allow you to easily find the items and add to add them to your queue, to switch channels or to record to your DVR.

Xfinity iPhone App

Xfinity iPhone App

I had been ruminating about these apps a couple of months ago and recall not finding anything quite like it when I looked online. Then the other day I came across this post about a nifty Xfinity app for the iPhone/iPad. The review sounded like the real thing with easy to use functionality that allowed one to channel surf from the iPhone and more importantly switch channels. As the reviewer states:

“What makes this app interesting to me is that, to change channels, NO IR device is needed. This is a good thing because the iPad/iPhone devices do not have onboard IR (although there are some third party add-on devices available). The iPxx device actually communicate with the DAC (Digital Addressable Controller) via some web service that sends commands to the local DAC when you make a channel selection over your WiFi or 3G Internet connection. To accomplish a real time channel change, a lot of moving parts need to communicate and work seamlessly. I’m impressed.”

Not having an iPhone or Xfinity, I cannot really comment on the usability but it looks like a step towards fulfilling this wish list item.

Looking at the Android market online, I also found a couple of Netflix apps. I downloaded the one from Pyxis Mobile, as it is a relatively well established team. The app allowed me to browse my queues on Netflix, search for titles and add them to either queue. It did not allow me to shift titles up on the queue and also did not allow me to browse them on the device. I assume both limitations of Netflix as you cannot do the former on streaming Netflix on the Wii.

These two apps are baby steps in the right direction. I am eagerly waiting for the day when I can select, search and view movies and TV channels as I move seamlessly between my Smartphone and my TV.