Is Amazon building a ChromeCast-type of TV product called the ‘Firetube’

We got a tip (Thanks Guy!) that Amazon had trademarked the name ‘Firetube’ in Canada and the US. With all of the news surrounding the Amazon Phone lately – I immediately thought that is a dumb name for a phone.

Seconds later it hit me. Tube=TV. Amazon needs a TV product to counter Apple and Google.

It makes a lot of sense.  Amazon has all of this content on the Fire and no way to put it on a TV yet. They have to release some type of Chromecast competitor and quick. There are, of course, rumors of an Amazon TV. Lots of rumors. Bloomberg thinks Fall 2013 is the planned launch window. That’s right now.

Quick thoughts: Will it play from the iOS app? Will it be cheap and cost ~$35 like the ChromeCast?  Bundled with Kindle? Will it work with older devices? I’ve reached out to Amazon for a comment.

With the name now public and the holidays approaching, it would be surprising not to see an announcement soon.

Hulu Plus app adds support for Chromecast for big-screen viewing

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Google has announced that Hulu has added Chromecast support to its Hulu Plus app, enabling online shows to be viewed on the big screen – something it promised back in July.

Now you can easily enjoy your favorite shows, such as “Modern Family,” “New Girl” and “Parks and Recreation,” on your big-screen TV by casting from Hulu Plus on your mobile phone or tablet. It’s the same intuitive, remote-free experience you’ve come to enjoy with the other Chromecast-supported apps, and is as simple as pressing the Cast button which will now appear in the app …  Read more

Sony’s TV stick offers full Google TV functionality, but only with this year’s Sony TVs

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The Sony TV device spotted in an FCC filing last month was briefly unveiled by Sony in a blog post that has since been deleted. Engadget spotted the post for the Sony Bravia Smart Stick before it was pulled.

It’s an MHL dongle that runs both Google TV and Sony’s own BRAVIA apps. The features are just like Google TV boxes Sony has released before, with a remote (that the FCC filings showed is at least similar to the previous ones) that has QWERTY and voice search support. Additionally, its “picture-and-picture” feature lets users see a browser in one window and TV in another …  Read more

Google ready to raise its TV profile by spending $1B+ on NFL streaming deal?

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AllThingsD reports that Google may be in discussions with NFL to buy the rights to the Sunday Ticket package when DirectTV’s contract runs out at the end of the 2014 season.

Today, according to sources, Google CEO Larry Page, along with YouTube content boss Robert Kyncl, met with a delegation from the NFL led by commissioner Roger Goodell. And the Sunday Ticket package was among the topics of discussion, according to people familiar with the meeting …  Read more

Hulu is just the latest doing Chromecast

Variety has the scoop:

“We are actively working with Google to bring Hulu Plus to the platform,” Hulu rep Meredith Kendall said. “At Hulu, we’re constantly innovating to provide our users with access to their favorite TV shows anytime, anywhere, on any device.”

What a stark contrast to when GoogleTV was released and Hulu blocked, yes BLOCKED, Google TVs from accessing Hulu content.  Yes, a few years makes a big difference and Hulu has since gotten comfortable on set top boxes, but I think the model where Google puts content owners in control has struck a chord with content distributors. They are 100% in control of what goes on Chromecast.

“Here’s how you put your content on a Chromecast. They are $35 and going to be everywhere. Do what you want” works.

Vimeo, HBO, Redbox, and many others are also jumping on board. Read more

Vimeo and Redbox Instant support coming to Chromecast, Plex and HBO Go to follow?

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Update: HBO confirmed to GigaOM that its in talks regrading offering support for Chromecast in the near future.

When Google announced the Chromecast last week, it revealed handful of content providers that are available to ‘cast’ to your TV. GigaOm is now reporting, however, that both Vimeo and Redbox Instant will soon be making their way to the new $35 streaming stick.

In a statement to the blog, Vimeo’s VP of mobile, Nick Alt had the following to say about Chromecast:

“We’re excited about the emerging opportunities bridging mobile to Connected TV and we look forward to offering Chromecast support in our products.”

The report also states that Redbox will also be bringing its Instant streaming service to Chromecast. Plex, a service that focuses mainly on brining local files to your big screen, also says that it is “actively investigating and optimistic” for Chromecast support.

Finally, GTV Hacker has also uncovered some configuration files that hint at tests for HBO Go as well as the services that Chromecast already supports.

While none of these services have specific time frames for release, it looks like Google will be moving a pretty quickly to beef up the streaming services it supports.  Read more

Chromecast already rooted, revealed to be running software closer to Google TV than Chrome OS

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Just a few days after its announcement, Google’s new Chromecast stick has already been rooted. The rooting process, as detailed by GTV Hacker, is similar to almost every Android phone. During the announcement last week, Google said that the Chromecast was powered by Chrome OS, but GTV Hacker has found something different.

The blog says that after rooting and doing a little digging around within the software, it looks like the Chromecast is running software closer to Android or Google TV, not Chrome OS as Google implied. While this doesn’t mean all that much for the end user, it does leave the door open for an eventual port of the full Google TV operating to the tiny HDMI stick or the ability to install standalone apps at some point.

We had a lot of internal discussion on this, and have concluded that it’s more Android than ChromeOS. To be specific, it’s actually a modified Google TV release, but with all of the Bionic / Dalvik stripped out and replaced with a single binary for Chromecast. Since the Marvell DE3005 SOC running this is a single core variant of the 88DE3100, most of the Google TV code was reused. So, although it’s not going to let you install an APK or anything, its origins: the bootloader, kernel, init scripts, binaries, are all from the Google TV.

We are not ruling out the ability for this to become a Google TV “stick”.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google has been working on an Android-powered set-top box, so it’s possible that it the device may be some sort of advanced variation of the Chromecast.  Read more

iFixit reveals that Chromecast is little more than two inexpensive chips

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We already got a brief look inside Google’s new Chromecast device that revealed 4GB of flash memory and a Marvell DE3005 system-on-a-chip, but today iFixit performed its ritual tear down of the device giving us specifics on everything packed into the HDMI streaming solution.

The tear down confirmed the Marvell system-on-a-chip and 4GB of flash memory, but also found 512 MB DDR3L SDRAM, and an AzureWave AW-NH387 802.11 b/g/n WLAN, Bluetooth and FM Combo chip. It’s isn’t, however, assigning a repairability score to the Chromecast, as there isn’t much inside to repair. Here’s the break down of internal components:  Read more

Google prepares for living-room push as 4k support added to Android 4.3

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Google is clearly serious about its intentions to make a sizeable push into the living-room market, as Android Police spotted a small clue revealing that Android 4.3 has added support for 4k displays.

Google has added a new DPI category to Android: XXXHDPI. This is for screens with an approximate DPI of six hundred and forty. Did you think we were stopping at 1080p?

Android engineer Dianne Hackborn is quoted as confirming the intent behind this:

A typical use of this density would be 4K television screens — 3840×2160 …  Read more

Google Cast extension now available for Chrome

At its breakfast event this morning, Google officially confirmed the Chromecast, which is a device that lets you “cast” content from your computer, smartphone, and tablet to your big screen TV. While most people don’t have their hands on the device yet, Google has just released the official Cast extension for Chrome.

The Google Cast extension enables you to find and play content on your Chromecast device from your Chrome browser. When on Cast optimized sites like YouTube and Netflix, you’ll see new options that let you play video on your TV via Chromecast – using your computer as a remote to browse for videos and to control playback. You can also cast any of your tabs in Chrome to your TV, letting you enjoy sites, photos, or even video from the best screen in your home.

The Chromecast itself is available from a variety of retailers, including Best Buy and Amazon.

Google announces $35 Chromecast, a small HDMI stick that shifts video from mobile to TV

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Google just seemingly ‘cast’ its Google TV project to the curb.  As a much simpler version of GoogleTV, the leaked Chromecast allows you to do what you can now do on Google TV: pushing content from both Netflix and Youtube to your TV.  Unlike Airplay, the Chromecast stick allows the original device to turn off or go to sleep. It functions as a standalone streaming device, awaiting orders from an iOS device, Android device, or Chrome browser on a PC, Mac or Chromebook Pixel (strangely, other Chromebooks need not apply). 

Google has also baked in iOS support, which will allow users of both platforms to control Netflix or Youtube. You can also broadcast a tab in the Chrome Browser.

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Google Play music and movies can also ‘cast’ to the best speakers in your house as long as those are connected to your TV. Pandora is coming soon.

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It will be available from Google Play, Amazon and Best Buy as well as other retailers. We’ll have a review up as soon as possible.  Read more

Google in talks with media companies for new internet TV service w/ cable TV-style programming

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Google already has its feet into the TV space with its somewhat neglected Google TV platform, as well as its recently launched cable TV service as part of Google Fiber in select states. Today, The Wall Street Journal reports that the company has entered negotiations with media companies for a new internet TV streaming service that provides cable TV-style programming:

Google Inc. has approached media companies about licensing their content for an Internet TV service that would stream traditional TV programming, people familiar with the matter say.

If the Web giant goes ahead with the idea, it would join several other companies planning to offer such “over-the-top” services, delivering cable TV-style packages of channels over broadband connections. Chip company Intel Corp. and Sony Corp.are both working on similar offerings, while Apple Inc has pitched various TV licensing ideas to media companies in the past couple of years.

Google has even apparently demoed the product in meetings with programmers in recent months. According to the report, it would differ from Netflix and Hulu by offering a television experience similar to traditional cable companies but through the internet. In other words, “offering conventional channels, allowing consumers to flip through channels just as they would on cable.” Read more