Cable Stories November 11, 2015

Apple-Pencil-dock-moxiware

Accessory maker Moxiware is the first out of the gate with a dock for the new Apple Pencil stylus that launched today alongside Apple’s larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro. expand full story

Cable Stories July 14, 2015

Showtime Apple TV iPhone iPad Mac

Apple’s talks with networks for its upcoming streaming TV cable service are well underway, according to the New York Post. The four main broadcast networks are involved: ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. Apple’s 30% revenue share of the subscription fee remains a point of contention, but the report claims that negotiations are rapidly gaining momentum with Apple targeting a late fall launch of its new TV product.

Disney or CBS will apparently be the first companies to sign up with Apple and get the skinny TV package deal rolling. Apple wants to have channels like Disney’s ESPN and Discovery in the mix too. Apple is also interested in getting local live TV as part of the package, as has been previously reported. According to the report, Apple has worked out a way to speed up the process so it doesn’t have to negotiate with every local affiliate network across the country itself.

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Cable Stories April 20, 2015

travelaccessories

Traveling with any MacBook is a lot easier today than it was five or ten years ago. Apple’s latest laptops consume much less space than their predecessors, and last much longer when they’re in active use. Whether it’s on a seat-back tray or resting in your lap, your MacBook can deliver quite a few hours of productive work time, video viewing, or even gameplay without assistance. But it can do even more if you bring the right accessories along.

My goal is to help you choose the best items to carry with you on the road — the type of items I’ve spent years testing. The picks below are highly practical and focused to make good use of space and address real-world concerns that many travelers have. Read on!

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Cable Stories April 7, 2015

Apple TV HBO Now

HBO’s new standalone streaming service called HBO NOW has officially launched on Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad. HBO NOW allows subscribers to watch the premium network’s movies and TV shows online. The service is similar to Netflix as it’s delivered over a high-speed Internet connection rather than cable or satellite and doesn’t require long-term committments through contracts. Here’s how to get HBO NOW works: expand full story

Cable Stories March 17, 2015

Apple TV HBO Now

My cable provider is pretty terrible. I don’t need to name any names because this likely applies to your cable provider as well. They are all horrible. I often experience drops on popular channels, get bonus filler channels that no one wants, and see indiscriminate additional subscription fees and charges without any real reason. This Onion article, though it is satire, doesn’t stray too far from the truth.

For a very casual TV watcher, it’s not a great experience – to put it mildly.

So the prospect of an Apple web TV service with a price tag of around $40, as the WSJ and others reported last night, is highly appealing to me if it means I can catch the few shows I watch now without the hassle of my cable subscription. I’ll still be tied to the monopolies for Internet service which isn’t terrific, but the theoretical ‘Apple Cable’ service has the potential to fix a number of problems for me.

Apple started off its March event with the announcement that HBO Now, the premium network’s new $15/month web service, will be available with 3-month exclusivity on the App Store and Apple TV at launch next month. While we’ve heard for quite some time that Apple is developing a web TV service, and the upcoming HBO Now channel seems to be the best taste of what that could offer. I’m hopeful that the potential ‘Apple Cable’ can solve my cable subscription woes. Here’s how:

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Cable Stories October 16, 2014

cbs-all-access

Just one day after HBO announced that it would be offering a web-only subscription at some point next year, CBS has played leap-frog by announcing the immediate availability of a $5.99/month web & app subscription offering on-demand access to almost all content.

CBS All Access will offer subscribers thousands of episodes from the current season, previous seasons and classic shows on demand, as well as the ability to stream local CBS Television stations live in 14 of the largest U.S. markets at launch.

CBS All Access is available beginning today at CBS.com and on mobile devices through the CBS App for iOS and Android.

Cable companies have long shied away from offering access to popular, current programming without demanding that you sign-up to cable access first. But broadcasters now seem to be recognizing that it isn’t just cord-cutting that threatens their existing models, it’s also ‘cord nevers’ – young people who simply aren’t signing up for cable subscriptions in the first place, preferring to get their TV fix online …  expand full story

Cable Stories April 2, 2014

Back in December, the the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced that a next-generation of USB connectors was under development. The new standard, dubbed “USB Type-C,” introduces a new design, a smaller overall footprint, and usability enhancements such as a symmetrical, reversible connector that doesn’t require users to worry about orientation when plugging in (much like with Apple’s Lightning connector.) It will also allow manufacturers to create thinner and sleeker product designs and scale for future USB performance standards with a transfer speed up to 10Gbps. Today we get our first look at what the cable and connectors will actually look like with a rendering courtesy of Foxconn (via TheVerge). expand full story

Cable Stories January 24, 2014

Think of it as an iPhone-style dock for your MacBook. At home you might have several things plugged into your MacBook’s various ports (hard drives, USB products, speakers, etc), which means disconnecting and reconnecting everything each time you leave or return with your MacBook. With LandingZone, everything gets connected to ports in the back of the dock, allowing you to simply place your MacBook in the dock and instantly connect to all your peripherals. When you leave, you can pop out your Mac and walk away in seconds without thinking twice about all the connected cables. It also packs in a 5-port USB hub, ethernet adapter, HDMI, and Mini DisplayPort all while reducing cable clutter on your desk. I’ve been using the latest LandingZone Dock model for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro for a couple weeks and it has truly transformed my workspace. expand full story

Cable Stories January 15, 2014

simpsons1920

Last year, FX sister site FXX landed the exclusive cable and video-on-demand rights to The Simpsons, and it looks like fans of the show will finally see a payoff soon. While the nearly $1 billion deal includes cable distribution rights, the big news is that FX will be launching a dedicated app that allows subscribers to stream the entire series (all 24 seasons and counting) legally from mobile devices and the web …  expand full story

Cable Stories December 19, 2013

Apple starts selling black Thunderbolt Cables alongside new Mac Pro

The new Mac Pro is not Apple’s only new blacked-out product: to go with the new pro machine, Apple has released black versions of its 0.5 meter and 2 meter Thunderbolt cables. These cords have Thunderbolt ports on either side, and they work well for transferring data between Macs, connecting to hard drives, and connecting to various other Thunderbolt 1.0 or 2.0 peripherals. Apple is still selling the white cords, and the longer version is $39 per cable and the shorter is $29 (try Amazon for some less expensive options).

Update: Continuing the black theme, the Apple stickers that come with the Mac Pro are black (see above):

Cable Stories September 19, 2013

warning

As we suspected when Apple added a warning to a pre-release version of iOS 7 that non-certified cables may not work reliably with iPhones, the launch version is actually blocking some of them from charging the phone. Certified cables contain a chip that allows them to authenticate.

We first spotted this in a Reddit post, and have since confirmed. The warning message itself is unchanged, but it’s no longer an empty threat – though as seen in comments, some non-certified cables are still working. Possibly ones that use cracked chips. The good news is that there is a workaround for others, but it’s not pretty …  expand full story

Cable Stories August 22, 2013

Apple-hdtv2

A new report from Quartz today offers some details on Apple’s content negotiations for a much rumored revamped Apple TV. Most of the report echoes what we’ve heard several times in the past– Apple is apparently talking with HBO, Disney, MTV and others about a new TV service. According to Quartz, it could include a pay TV service that would see Apple “essentially becoming a cable company itself,” as well as the release of a “full-fledged television set”:

One alternative being considered is that Apple could essentially become a cable company itself. Under that scenario, sources say, Apple would launch what is formally known as a virtual multichannel video programming distributor. Apple is still interested in striking deals with cable companies that would allow people to plug their cable lines into the back of the TV set, bypassing a cable box, sources say. But at least two years of negotiations haven’t progressed very far.

Sources say Apple has concluded that it doesn’t need all, even most, content providers on board before it can release a TV set that people would buy. It just needs enough good programming to distinguish the new product, which will try to simplify the experience of connecting internet video to the TV.

The report doesn’t offer up any details that we didn’t hear around this same time last year (and the year before that), but it appears Apple could be closer to reaching the deals it needs to launch the next-generation of Apple TV. Earlier today we reported that former Hulu SVP Pete Distad has now officially started his new role at Apple as Product Marketing VP and is thought to be leading Apple executives through negotiations with cable and media companies.  expand full story

Cable Stories July 2, 2013

USA TV network lands on iOS with new app to watch full show episodes

The NBC-owned USA TV network has launched its own iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch application to bring the USA show viewing experience to the small-screen. The application, like many TV network apps currently on the App Store, allows customers to watch shows the day after they air. The application also includes a backlog of past show episodes.

Like some other applications of the same category, users will need to authenticate the application with their credentials for their home TV provider. If a user does not subscribe to USA on their home TV setup, they can still watch some exclusive content via the application. Besides TV shows, the application can access behind-the-scenes clips, a full programming guide, interviews, and more.

USA today airs popular shows such as Burn Notice, Graceland, and Suits.  The new app is free on the App Store.

pete_distadAccording to reports from Bloomberg, Apple is close to reaching a deal with Time Warner to offer TV shows on Apple TV, while also apparently recruiting Hulu exec Pete Distad to lead negotiations for content:

The companies plan to announce an agreement within a few months, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The iPhone maker is also hiring Pete Distad from online-video service Hulu, where he was senior vice president in charge of marketing and distribution, to help Apple executives in negotiations with media and cable companies, two people with familiar with the matter said.

Distad is currently SVP of Marketing and Distribution at Hulu and in charge of content distribution and customer acquisition/retention on the company’s management team. According to his bio Distad’s current duties at Hulu include “subscriber acquisition and retention, paid, on-channel, and brand marketing, distribution and promotional partnerships, and content marketing.” expand full story

Cable Stories June 12, 2013

We didn’t get any updates to Apple TV at WWDC this week like some were hoping for, but yesterday Comcast–one of the cable companies that has been rumored to be in discussions with Apple over a new and improved Apple TV service– unveiled its next-generation cable box arriving this fall. On top of a brand new UI and platform dubbed “X2”, the company also gave us a look at its revamped iOS apps & a new controller with voice control features that will let you search by actor, show type, series, etc.

Comcast-X2-02While showing off a new slick UI with recommendations and brand new, customizable guide views, the company also showed off integration with apps such as Pandora, Rotten Tomatoes, and zeebox for ratings. Within the new apps section (shown at 16:40), we see integration with Facebook, Pandora, Instagram, Xfinity Home apps, and much more.

An interesting aspect of the presentation, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts noted that the company sees the new open platform as being an open architecture that would allow for a “family of boxes” and a family of personalized remotes. We’re not sure if that means the company has plans to integrate third-party hardware with its platform, like an Apple TV for example, but it’s clear Comcast has no plans on completely getting rid of its own cable box anytime soon. It also doesn’t look like Comcast is waiting around for Apple to revamp its TV service with apps and voice control, and we also got a quick look at the new X2 experience running on an iPad and iPhone (pictured right). expand full story

Cable Stories May 22, 2013

iLoveHandles, a company that makes unique iOS device accessories (Facet and Pinhead come to mind), today announced availability of its latest one of a kind offering for iPhone.

TRUNK-coffeeDubbed the “Trunk,” the company has created a short, flexible Lightning cable that is strong enough to hold up an iPhone vertically when charging in the wall or elsewhere. We’ve seen similar dock solutions before that are married with wall adapters, but Trunk makes it easy to prop up your iPhone no matter where you are.

iLoveHandles, which is currently selling the cable for $19.95 through its website, shows in the images above a couple of the situations Trunk might come in handy. This is definitely a product we can see using in the car while using a maps app to navigate, and we hope to bring a full hands-on review of Trunk soon. expand full story

Cable Stories April 22, 2013

Netflix is now larger than HBO, now offers $12 family plan

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Netflix, the streaming media company who just announced huge gains in its quarterly numbers, is now larger than HBO, according to Quartz.

After several strong quarters of growth, Netflix now has 29.2 million people in the US subscribed to its $8-a-month streaming plan, which is, for the first time, greater than HBO’s domestic subscription base of 28.7 million.

Quartz notes that Netflix, while not a cable network in the traditional sense, is now viewed more than any traditional U.S. cable market.

From an internet service standpoint, Netflix is also fairing quite impressively, making up 33% of all downstream traffic, which is more than services like YouTube, Amazon Video, and most impressively, iTunes.

As part of the earnings announcement, Netflix also noted that it would begin offering a $12 monthly family plan that would allow 4 simultaneous streams.

Cable Stories April 16, 2013

Time Warner Cable announces out-of-home live TV streaming coming to iOS devices tomorrow

Time Warner Cable is launching out-of-home video on-demand and live content streaming to its TWC TV app for iPhone and iPad tomorrow.

Live channels will include Aspire, BBC America, beIn, Big Ten Network, FearNet, Fox News Channel, Fox business, GMC, Pac-12 Network and TV Guide Network; while channels like MTV and Comedy Central will offer video on-demand, according to Engadget.

The broadcast company first offered in-home VOD and TV streaming support two years ago, but allowing live content to be viewed remotely is a huge feature for Time Warner Cable customers.

Cable Stories January 3, 2013

Corning and Sumitomo unveil 100-ft optical Thunderbolt cables ahead of CES

Corning Thunderbolt Cable

Ahead of CES 2013 taking place in Las Vegas next week, Corning has unveiled a new optical Thunderbolt cable for folks who need extra long-reaching Thunderbolt access (perhaps to storage closets or for dummy terminals). Corning’s new cable, perfect for plugging peripherals into supported Macs and moving away from copper core cables, will ship in lengths of 10, 20, and 30 meters and boast the same data transfer speeds of up to 10GBbps. Corning plans to unveil a USB 3 cable as well. No launch date or pricing has been provided for the cables—only that they will be available sometime during the first quarter of this year. At any rate, you bet we’ll stop by Corning’s booth for a closer look next week’s CES.

Just last week, Sumitomo Electric got the “world’s first” Thunderbolt optical cable certification and announced it would mass-produce the cables immediately. The cables are as thick as current copper cables (4.2 mm), can be bent 180 degrees or tangled in knots, and they still perform just like shorter copper cables.

A 100-foot Thunderbolt cable could let Mac users put their whole rig in a closet, run just a Thunderbolt cable to the desktop, and connect to peripherals via the Thunderbolt display. If only there were a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac Pro…

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Cable Stories November 26, 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A member of The Verge forums, going by the name of “Knowledge”, posted the Apple TV concept below that envisions a future Apple TV OS where users could tap into multiple content sources from cable/satellite providers, local devices, and elsewhere. It would also integrate Siri (and Facetime) for scheduling recordings, changing channels, etc., and a unified search of all content.

Unified search looks for content in library, app store, iTunes, and TV Guide. Also brings the ability to use Siri for scheduling recordings, setting reminders, changing channels, playing music, playing video from library, opening an app, finds content available for purchase in iTunes, etc etc.

The full gallery is below: expand full story

Cable Stories November 16, 2012

Griffin begins shipping Lightning cables with its $25 Powerjolt Car Charger

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It isn’t just the no-named guys overseas (which actually work quite well!).

Now mainstream accessories maker Griffin has started to ship its own Lightning products—beginning with the $25 Lightning lighter adapter. Expect a lot more where that came from in the near future.

Other manufactures, including Scoche, Belkin, and JBL, have announced Lightning products, but these are the first cables we’ve seen actually shipping from a mainstream supplier.

Cable Stories June 19, 2012

They first took apart the new Retina MacBook Pro and called it the “least repairable laptop” ever, but today our friends at iFixit took apart the device’s most impressive new component: its Retina Display. Here is what they found:

The Retina display is an engineering marvel. Its LCD is essentially the entire display assembly. Rather than sandwich an LCD panel between a back case and a piece of glass in front, Apple used the aluminum case itself as the frame for the LCD panel and used the LCD as the front glass. They’ve managed to pack five times as many pixels as the last model in a display that’s actually a fraction of a millimeter thinner. And since there’s no front glass, glare is much less of an issue.

The major downside to the design noted in the report: the LCD is not replaceable. It is attached to the entire assembly, so this means you will likely have to replace the entire assembly if something goes wrong. It also noted that getting into the display is quite difficult, claiming, “Obliterating the front panel of the display was the only way to get it out.” Some highlights:

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Cable Stories May 9, 2012

Recently launched as a Kickstarter project, Jon Fawcett and his new company [Fuse] Chicken invented a flexible gooseneck accessory with a built-in USB cable that doubles as a shapeable stand and dock for your iPhone.

The benefits of the Une Bobine (which is French for “A coil”) are obvious from the images above— the ability to adjust your iPhone to an appropriate position in various scenarios, such as charging, while still being able to place the device at eye-level. It also holds your device in landscape mode, as you can see in the images.

Although the Kickstarter project already surpassed its funding goal of $9,800, you can preorder yours now by pledging $25. The company planned to start shipping Une Bobine roughly 45 days after reaching its funding goal, and it appears to still be on schedule.

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Cable Stories July 8, 2011

TechRadar is reporting that HDMI.org, the group that oversees the HDMI spec has informed them that MiniDisplayPort->HDMI cables are illegal and shouldn’t be sold. All of them.

Last week that it was rumoured that hundreds of thousands of Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cables are to be recalled because HDMI Org has deemed the cable system to be out of HDMI spec.The DisplayPort system is used primarily by Apple in its Mac range, but there’s a number of other manufacturers who use the port – including Toshiba.HDMI Org has exclusively contacted TechRadar about the situation and confirmed that any cable that has a DP male connector on one end and an HDMI male connector is unlicensed and should not be on sale.

Apparently at issue is that the “HDMI specification defines an HDMI cable as having only HDMI connectors on the ends. Anything else is not a licensed use of the specification and therefore, not allowed.”

Insane.

So for the record this is not OK (get them while supplies last):

What is OK, is these little dongles, which are actually pretty popular (we like the Kanex!)

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What is making HDMI.org so batsh!t insane?  As you can see, you still need to buy a licensed ($$$) HDMI cable to use the adapter below whereas the top adapter bypasses the licensing issue altogether…or at least it did until today.

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