Commercials on Fast Forward? – In early 2005 TiVo test-marketed static image advertisements on fast forward as an alternative revenue source. The idea was that as users sped thru the TV commercials on their DVR they would be treated to a static image ad superimposed over the broken video stream. The test brought outrage from subscribers, some of whom said they purchased TiVo more for escaping commercials than for time-shifting programming. It was shelved, but now is being offered on a similar service owned by all the commercial TV stations in Australia. And now there are new annoying TiVo ads in the U.S. which pop up now and then when a program you have recorded ends and even during fast-forwarding. Even when viewing at normal speed, there is often a message in the corner during commercials offering “more information” – which turns out to be another, even longer commercial. Thanxalot.
Apple to Manage Home Electronics’ Energy Use – Apple has applied for two patents to give people tools to optimize how power is supplied to their various electronics, thus lowering their electric bills. With users increasingly reliant on computers and various mobile devices that require recharging, the issue of power management and its costs is becoming more acute. One device would control the amount of power supplied to different electronics. Data between devices would be shared over a building’s existing wiring using HomePlug Powerline Alliance’s communications protocol. Outlets and junction boxes would incorporate “power-enabled data ports.” Another application parses out power to different electronics in a more efficient manner. It calls for building wiring to be changed to all-DC, eliminating the need for the AC-to-DC “wall warts” so many devices now have. Apple observed “Rather than continually upgrading standards such as USB or FireWire, a variable power supply may be provided for the power conductor of a port.” Consumer could get advice concerning when to schedule gadget-charging to take advantage of off-peak rates, or they could manage their devices to go to “hibernate mode” after a set amount of time, like computer displays. There are other tools to curb electricity use, such as Google’s PowerMeter, Microsoft’s Hohm, and in-home displays which some appliance makers are building into their products. Most use either wireless home network protocols or smart plugs.
Explosion of Open-Source Applications – In addition to major promotion of 3D technology at January’s CES, an equally important trend is the migration of open source software apps from mobile gadgets to living rooms, kitchens and cars – making many other devices more personal, flexible and powerful. The LA Times dubbed it “Planet of the Apps.” New cars are set to integrate mobile phone apps into their audio systems and dashboard display screens. It’s amazing the variety of apps that are already available to smart phone users. Now that TV sets and Blu-ray players are coming equipped with Ethernet jacks, the door is open to the developers of software apps to extend their reach into the living room and elsewhere.
Las Vegas CES No Longer Features Mainstream Home Audio – Few show reports of the January event mentioned that aside from the “Speciality Audio” exhibits at the Venetian Hotel, traditional home audio is now almost absent from the world’s largest home electronics show. Audio manufacturers have moved to the simultaneous T.H.E. Show, to CEDIA, the occasional Stereophile Home Entertainment Show and the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.