netflixABC television and Netflix have reached an agreement to add the alphabet network’s shows to the video subscription service’s library of streaming video content.

While some have criticized the lack of movie selection on the Netflix Watch Instantly service, there is no denying that the television department has been chugging along.  With huge catalogs of episodes from the BBC and CBS already in the catalog, ABC has now joined the fold with shows such as LOST, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy and more.

Some shows are available now (LOST seasons 1 – 4 are already in the store for sure), and more shows will be added beginning in September.

This is a great move for both ABC and Netflix, but you have to wonder when this is going to start impacting cable subscriptions and DVD sales.  Why buy when you can just watch on demand?

Categories: Video   

adventurelandIt seems retailers are catching a lot of grief from consumers over the 12 month unlocking window on digital copies included with movies, most specifically on Blu-ray.

Digital copies of films have become a popular bonus on many DVD & Blu-ray sets as of late, but how many consumers know that you only generally have twelve months from the initial release of the film to activate them?  According to a recent article in Video Business magazine, retailers are hearing more complaints from customers, and they’re even more concerned as big films like The Dark Knight will be expiring soon.

Considering the sales pace of Blu-ray titles, people are still picking upfilms long after the release date thinking that they have an unlimited amount of time to move the copies on to their computers or media players.  Anonymous retailer source told Video Business that they have talked with the major studios about the issues, and the majority of them have been of the mind, “So?”

Only Disney has made any move towards fixing the problem by extending the availability window out to eighteen months.  While this still isn’t a perfect solution, it is a step in the right direction so long as the cut off date is made a bit more clear.  The first title to benefit from this new release window will be the comedy, Adventureland.

I will say that digital copies have been a selling point for me on some titles and I only saw a cut-off date for the first time with a title I bought on July 28th of this year, Green Lantern: First Flight.  I grabbed my Blu-ray copy of The Dark Knight, and I see no indication on it of there being a limited window of time to get my digital copy of it.  The retailers are certainly correct that this is something that needs to be addressed by the studios, and why they don’t see the need to inform consumers is disturbing.  If you advertise a major feature on the outside of a package, then you need to also state that is available only for a limited time.  Disney can extend its window all it wants, but will they make it clear that is the cut-off?

Categories: Video   

audiomicroAudioMicro has added 55,000 new sound effects to its already massive catalog of music and sounds, but this new batch has an added edge in that they are all ones you’ve probably heard before.

Up until now AudioMicro has had only a smattering of professional music and sound effects, but with the announcement of a new partnership with The Hollywood Edge sound library, users now have access to over 55,000 sound effects from movies such as Kill Bill, Braveheart and Fast and Furious to name just a few.

These new, professionally created, sounds have the same pricing as any other clip on the site, and they also have the standard royalty-free licensing that all of the other clips on the site have.

In the day and age where videos are getting pulled off of sites like YouTube at an ever increasing rate due to copyright issues, royalty free is the way to go for your music and sound effects.  Who wants to pour all that work in to a video just to have it pulled down over a five second sound of a sword whipping through the air?

Categories: News, Video   

hulu_logoIn an unexpected move, Hulu has launched a desktop application for accessing their large video collection.

We say “unexpected” because it really only improves the viewing experience of the service for a very small percentage of users.  If you have a Windows Media Center PC or a Mac, you can hook them up to your TV and then use the remote control from your computer to control the browsing of the service from anywhere else in the room that you want.  While this is a nice idea, it still requires your computer to be hooked up to your TV, which means it has to be in phycial proximity to your television set.  If you already have that arrangement, you can already hook the computer to the TV with some cables and just stream the web site to your television screen.

This seems like an odd use of their resources as other video sites such as Joost have abandoned their desktop applications.  If they want to spend some time working on something, they should see about launching applications for devices such as the Xbox 360, TiVo or Apple TV.  These are devices already attached to the TV, in most cases people have routed Internet connections and it takes the computer totally out of the equation.  I am sure this is what we will see eventually from the company, but it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to bother with the desktop app at this time.

You can decide for yourself by watching the introductory video below.

Categories: Opinion, Video   

lg connected tvIt would appear Netflix is taking their video streaming service very seriously.

According to Video Business, Netflix has revealed they spent $75 million on their streaming service in 2008, and that the amount wil increase to $100 million this year.  These funds will be used to acquire more titles for the service, one of the areas that has kept many people from getting excited over the offerings from the streaming service.  (We here at StarterTech are thrilled with the selection, but we’re unclear what that says about us…)  They will also be looking into better technology to improve the user experience with the service.

It is also expected that some time before the end of the year the company will introduce a streaming only subscription plan.

With the expected addition of new titles to the service, and no requirement to also rent physical DVDs, it isn’t hard to anticipate a sharp increase in the number of subscribers to this program.  While they do have to pay for the bandwidth to deliver these titles to customers, it has to be a fraction of what they spend on their physical operations with mailing costs, price for the envolopes, replacing damaged discs and so on.

Expect to see a lot more emphasis put on this category of their business as it seems to only be going up and up for them.

Categories: Home Electronics, News, Video   

vhs tapeYou’ve found those old vhs or Digital 8 tapes you made years ago and wouldn’t it be fun to upload to YouTube to share with relatives and friends? But first you’ve got to get that video into your computer somehow. And how do they get those YouTube videos looking so good, anyway? Here’s a process I use on a weekly basis using free software tools.

I work with my church’s audio/visual committee and every week we record video of our church service and make the sermon available online. We record from an old Digital 8 camcorder to a digital video recorder and then make a DVD of the service which I take home with me to edit and upload. You may already have a DVR you can use to record your videotapes to DVD+/-Rs or use DVD+RWs that you can erase and reuse.

Please click “Read More” to continue reading the step-by-step instructions of how to do this.  Also, please click on any of the images in this article for a larger view of them.

Read More »

Categories: How To, Video   

hulu_logoIf the rumors are to be believed, streaming video service Hulu may soon have three of the four biggest broadcast networks showing their content on their site.

According to paidContent, ABC is deep in talks with Hulu about bring shows such as LOST, Desperate Housewives and others to the popular streaming video site.  If this comes to be, that means that ABC, Fox and NBC/Universal will all be using the site for their online content distribution.

The biggest question would be why ABC, which has been streaming videos on their own site and those of local affilites for quite some time now, would want to partner up with a third-party service.  According to sources, Hulu streamed 333 million videos in February after their big advertising push during the Super Bowl.  This made them the fourth biggest video site in the United States with 2.5% of the online video market.  While not huge, it is bigger than the networks each trying to stream their own content.

If this would come to be, it would certainly set up an interesting dynamic for broadcast television.  Would the sales of their shows on sites such as iTunes begin to dwindle?  And the bigger question is at what point does everyone just give up on tuning into the original broadcasts?  Between all of the options out there now to watch shows when and how you like, why should we continue to be slaves to the programming schedules of the networks?  So what if we watch it 6 hours or a day after it airs so long as we see it.  This is a great move for the consumers, but not sure how good it is for the networks in the long run.

Categories: News, Video   

slingplayer blackberry pearl 8120Fans of Sling Media’s Sling Box product are just about to the point where they can watch it any time and any where they want… literally.

While Sling Media has always touted how their Sling Box product allows you to watch your TV from anywhere via placeshifting technology, it hasn’t always been the easiest thing to do.  There have been ways to watch via Symbian phones, Palm devices and Windows Mobile devices, but those technologies are quickly being left behind in favor of other devices.

They had been beta testing the technology for a SlingPlayer app for BlackBerrys for quite some time, but it has now been officially released.  It unfortunately is not available for all BlackBerry models, but a goodly number of the latest models are supported.  You can see which models are supported, and download the software, from this page.

In other news, the company has submitted an application to Apple for approval, and hopefully they will soon be adding support for the iPhone and iPod Touch.  For now you will have to make do with watching the demo video they have released, but it looks like it is going to be pretty smooth and useful.

If you have to be able to see your TV while you are out of the house, Sling Media is clearly the way to go.

Categories: Apple, Mobile Phones, Video   

vuze stream

Vuze has announced they are bringing HD downloads to just about every device you can think of, and best of all, some of it is even free.

In a former life Vuze was a torrent client known as Azureus, which still exists, but they decided to go for a more legit business model and came up with a video streaming service.  Well, now they are working towards making sure you can watch their content the way you want, when you want.

For people with PS3s or Xbox 360s, you can download the HD files and then stream the videos from your computer to your console, and that in turn will show it on your TV.  The only drawback to this system is that you will need to have your computer running with Vuze opened as you watch.

vuze dragFor iPod, iPhone and Apple TV owners, you simply need to move the files from your Vuze folder to your iTunes folder, and then synch the files to your chosen device.  So if you’re using the Apple TV you can watch the files on your TV without your computer running, and with iPods and iPhones you can use them to watch your files on the go no matter where you are.

With the number of ways you can stream and download videos now, it makes you wonder how much longer broadcast television can last in this world, let alone video rental stores.

Categories: Gadgets, Video, Video Games   
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