SkyGo Brings Movies to Tablets/Smartphones

Just in time for the Christmas viewing season, Sky has announced that it is bringing Sky Movies Live and on demand on Sky Go.

This means that Sky TV customers can have access to hundreds of films via their tablets and smartphones, as well as at home on their TVs.

Sky-Movies-iPad

Sky Movies subscribers can use Sky Go to stream movies on demand over a Wi-Fi connection (there should be 3G capability by the end of the year). They will be able to see content from all 11 Sky Movies channels – films they can look forward to over the next few weeks include Black Swan, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Little Fockers and Limitless.

This is the latest expansion to the Sky Go service, which lets customers view Sky content using their iPads, iPod Touch, iPhone, PC, Mac and laptops. SkyGo was launched in July this year and has nearly two million users to date. It also offers access to channels such as Sky News and Sky Sports.

Earlier this month, Sky also launched a dedicated Sky Movies App for iPhone and iPad, offering listings for movies currently showing on Sky Movies and at the cinema, movie trailers and the option to record movies via Sky+ remote record.

A Sky Go app for Android handsets should be available in the next few months.

Sky’s attempts at world domination look set to progress next year when the Sky Go experience will be supported by the ability for Sky customers to use at least 5,700 public Wi-Fi hotspots, ins coffee shops, restaurants, pubs, transport hubs, hotels and gyms. This follows Sky’s acquisition of the Cloud, a public Wi-Fi network.

The Sky Go app is available for free to Sky customers from the App Store on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore

myTwonky and Twonky Video for Android

PacketVideo announced recently the release of myTwonky (beta) and Twonky Video for Android. These free products provide the user with easy access to an existing library of music, photos and videos, as well as new content from the Web, whenever and wherever on your Smartphone, PC or Mac. Aww, how thoughtful.

Twonky

Let’s deal with the video app at first then, eh? So this Twonky Video (bit of a weird name, but we like it) for Android gives you the option to either browse online for your favorite video clips or access personal video content stored on your phone or home network. Good start.

The whole idea here, is that you get even more freedom to enjoy your videos, music and photos on more devices, myTwonky also contains Twonky’s (patent pending) Beaming technology that allows you to beam content found within your myTwonky account with any Web-connected TV or device in your home. Proper Star-Trekking stuff!

Jim Brailean, CEO, PacketVideo says: “Our goal with myTwonky and the Twonky Music and Video apps was to re-imagine how people collect and consume media content. We’re creating a truly immersive experience that lets you easily engage with your existing media library, what you find on the web, things you already love and things you are about to love.”

The Twonky Video app works with Airplay-enabled devices, such as Apple TV, and UPnP- and DLNA-certified devices.

Right, now we’ve sorted that. What the flippin’ heck is myTwonky? Well, put simply-ish it’s a user-customised web portal that searches the Internet for new content based on your personal video, photo and music preferences. Basically, it eliminates the need to comb the Internet one website at a time for new, relevant content. Simply tell myTwonky what topics you are most interested in (e.g, Lady Gaga, Johnny Depp or Hull City…okay, so the last option is personal…whatever) and you’ll instantly receive a running stream of related videos side-by-side with videos, music and photos from your existing library of media content. Pretty sweet.

Once you create a free Twonky account, you can begin creating specific video channels and bookmarking favorite content for easy playback. Select streaming radio stations by genre (my favourite feature) and view your own music library in the same location.

If you’re an open-minded soul, then you can choose to integrate your Facebook, Flickr and other social media networks with myTwonky for easy access to multimedia stored within those networks. You can also share content found using myTwonky directly with your social networks.

Usefully enough, when it’s coupled with the Twonky Video app (the thing we’ve detailed above), myTwonky gives you the ability to access both online and personal content anytime. Preferences set within your myTwonky account translate to your Twonky Video app, eliminating the need to reset your personal settings for each platform. Adults can use myTwonky’s parental controls to ensure the young’uns are receiving appropriate media content.

myTwonky works with UPnP- and DLNA-certified devices, with Airplay compatibility to be added in early 2012.

myTwonky is currently available at www.myTwonky.com. Twonky Video is available in the Android App Marketplace. Twonky Music is available in the Android App Marketplace.

Magicbox Beam: Beam the world into your living room

We all want more and more from our gadgets don’t we? After all, cash is tight these days, not to mention space, so who needs two gadgets when one can do everything for you? I guess this must be the thinking behind the new Beam from UK-based consumer electronics outfit Magicbox.

Beam-dock

Not only is it an iPod and iPhone docking station (and there are plenty of those around) but it also offers DAB, internet radio and Wi-Fi connectivity. So, you can access your usual DAB radio, plus make your choice from more than 11,000 internet radio stations and pre-recorded podcasts and ‘listen again’ content.

Plug your Apple device into the dock (or even, dare we say it, a non-Apple MP3 player via the audio in jack) and you can access your own music library. Your iPod or iPhone can also be charged at the same time.

Content can also be streamed wirelessly from your computer.

The Magicbox Beam looks pretty stylish with its black matte and gloss chassis, and if space is short it can be taken off the base and mounted on the wall (and hooray – a wall bracket is included in the box).

Music comes through two 10-watt speakers, and control is via a 3.5inch colour TFT touch-screen or a remote control. As well as accessing all your own music, there is a digital alarm clock with snooze and sleep modes – you can choose which radio station will wake you up each morning. The FM radio receptor features RDS, so that you can easily see which radio station you’ve tuned into, and you can choose up to 20 presets to allow for quick access to your favourite stations.

The Beam costs £179.99. Find out more at www.magicboxes.com

AirTies CTO answers all your WiFi questions

If you didn’t know, you can create a home network using your home’s power cables. If you knew that, you may not know that this technology could potentially interfere with radio-based devices. And even worse, your neighbours’ systems could affect you, too.

Power Line Transmitters came about in the early 21st century, allowing you to plug-in an adapter to your wall that would then use your power cables to transfer network data. This was fine, until a demand for faster speeds led developers into the Very High Frequency (VHF). Using this bandwidth meant that data could be sent at higher speeds. However, it also led to some serious problems – radio noise.

AirTies-interview

“When signals travel on any conductor, they also radiate into the air depending on how good of an antenna that conductor is acting as,” explains Metin Ismail Taskin, Chief Technical Operator at AirTies Wireless Networks. “Today, most of the power line adaptors operate from 2 to 30 MHz – the new ones even operate up to 50 MHz. A good antenna for 30 MHz is a piece of wire that is multiple of 5m long. You can easily find that length of power cable in the home.”

“This means that the signal injected onto a home’s mains wiring will easily radiate into the air. And that can interfere with any receivers that are trying to detect very weak radio signals at the same frequency.”

This is bad news, because the HF and VHF noise these systems create includes FM and DAB radio, as well as most amateur radios, emergency alert systems in some parts of the world and nearby telephone lines carring the ADSL2+ service. And it could get worse.

“More devices mean more interference. I think this problem will worsen as more and more people start using PLAs and inject signals into power wiring in the same neighborhood. Can you imagine a 50 – 100 home hi-rise building where 50% of the apartments have at least one pair of PLA? The signals that get injected into each apartment’s electric wiring will travel to the backbone power distribution network of the whole building and add on top of each other to create a big radiator.”

So is there a solution for the power-line networking problem, or is it a technology doomed to failure? “PLAs are operating in a band that nobody thought signal would be put onto intentionally. Therefore the consequences of operating at the frequency of PLAs are not very well known, since there are not many controlled experiments done yet.”

One recent one, conducted by the BBC, suggested that PLAs could have a massive affect on FM and DAB radio signal, should the household be within signal range, but not close to the transmitter. “New standards are trying address the interference issue, but I am not sure if it will be ever possible to solve it completely.”

So why don’t we see this problem with Wifi? “Wifi has dedicated frequency bands where it is allowed to radiate certain amount of signal as long as it stays within the standards. The bands were selected based on the fact that there will be intentional radiators.”

“Wifi operates at 2.4 or 5 GHz, where the interference sources are well known. 2.4 GHz band is very much occupied with other Wifi equipment, including bluetooth devices and microwave ovens. It is not easy to avoid interference there.”

“The 5 GHz band has a lot more channels and there are not may devices operating in this band. AirTies Wifi equipment can operate in 2.4 or 5 GHz, although the 5 GHz should be preferred to avoid interference. While AirTies wireless devices operate, they continuously monitor the interference at its own and other channels within the 5GHz band. If the devices see too much interference inside the channel they are using, they automatically switch to another channel that has less noise and interference. ”

Edifier Sound to Go: Music on the move and at home

If you use a laptop or notebook, but want something better from your sound (as these devices are not well known for their speaker quality), you’re hardly going to cart around a set of speakers, which is why the Sound To Go system from Edifier is such a good idea.

This elegant all-in-one micro speaker system is housed in a brushed aluminium tube and plugs in to your device via USB. Its wedge-shaped design means it will sit nicely below the screen on your laptop, or indeed on a desk or table if you prefer.

Edifier-Ready-to-Go

With full US streaming capabilities, the Sound To Go system comes with a soft carry case to protect it while you’re out and about.

It also features an AUX input so that you can connect other digital audio capable devices. The whole kaboodle measures just 261 x 36 x 44mm and costs £49.99 from Amazon and Micro Direct. An excellent choice if you have chosen not to lash out on a high-spec multimedia device with excellent sound quality.

For home use, Edifier has just launched the Prime USB speaker system. This dyanamic 2.0 multimedia USB Hub system features USB audio streaming and regular analogue audio input capabilities.

The full range speaker drivers are mounted in white satellites (which, I have to say, are rather like Marmite, you’ll either love ’em or hate ’em) and offer a 4 USB Hub connection, which gives a single point of connectivity for keyboards, mice, data transfer and other USB-enabled devices.

The Prime USB speaker system costs £49.99 also from Amazon and Micro Direct.

Mixcloud iPhone app: The YouTube of radio?

London-based music streaming site Mixcloud has finally released its first ever mobile app which now give users the opportunity to access podcasts and mixes from you iPhone or iPod touch – finally delivering podcasts in pockets.

Mixcloud was founded by Nikhil Shah and Nico Perez, who met when they studied at Cambridge. Both of them have spent time as radio presenters and DJs and were frustrated by how hard it was discovering and promoting radio online.

Mixcloud

The on-demand radio service wants to be the ‘YouTube of radio’. Online radio is very much a digital media orphan; languishing in a fragmented space while innovations in other aspects of streaming media have come thick and fast over the last few years.

Mixcloud has gone from strength to strength with a user base full of chic trendsetters and influencers. And this has certainly been taken into a consideration as the app allows users to share content through a multitude of different social networks including Facebook and Twitter.

Anyone can upload to the site and the listeners decide who gets exposed. Of course, it has social tools built in so users can share and discover radio through friends. There’s also a radio recommendation algorithm to help users find shows they love.

More than 50,000 content creators use the site now and the app allows you to access this treasure trove of content for free – the site predominantly leans to towards club music and DJs sector, but as the site grows it is now widely becoming a go-to place for hosting podcasts of all types of music and entertainment.

You’ll have access to some of the hottest DJ mixes, radio shows and Podcasts on the go, but with 100s of thousands of Cloudcasts available, you can travel from Hackney to Harlem on their instantly accessible content for free.

The Mixcloud app has everything from Electronica to Education; from Dave Gorman to the Guardian to keep you entertained on those terribly boring commutes to work.

The app has a lot of good things going for it, there’s no synching to download tracks as they are built in to the app although you will need a 3G or Wireless connection. Searches and tagging are very accurate and there’s even social commenting too – something Apple’s Ping hasn’t really achieved.

For now, the app is free but Mixcloud will eventually wants introduce a charge. “There are a number of potential ways we may be able to monetise the app,” said co-founder Matt Clayton. “Rather than second guess which model we’d like to focus on, we think it makes much more sense to launch it and wait to get a sense of the actual usage habits and build the revenue model around that.”

For a limited time only, the Mixcloud beta app is absolutely free. So what are you waiting for – get listening!

n-Stream 2.0 apps: Power in the palm of your hand

Owners of Naim all-in-one players, network players, hard disk players and NaimNet servers can now control all their devices using apps that will be available free of charge to both new users and those upgrading.

The new n-Stream 2.0 and n-Serve 2.0 Naim Audio apps work natively with iPhone, iPod touch and for the first time, iPad. The apps work using aWi-Fi connection and allow the user to easily browse and listen to their music library.

n-stream

The n-Stream app allows you to remotely control Naim’s streaming products – the UnitiQute and NaimUniti all-in-one players and the NDX network player – and the n-Serve app offers remote control for Naim’s server products: the HDX and UnitiServe hard disk player/servers and NS01, NS02 and NS03 NaimNet music servers.

Both apps feature a new user layout, native to the iPad and include extra support for album cover artwork from hard disk player/servers, which lets you scroll through your music collection using cover art tiles. n-Stream users can control volume, input selection (such as CD, FM, iPod) and browse, search and play music libraries from network-connected universal plug-and-play (UPnP) devices such as PCs, Sky boxes and games consoles; USB/MP3 player/iPod (Apple authenticated digital iPod connection) devices; and FM/internet/DAB radio input.

n-Serve users, meanwhile, can enjoy full search facilities, extensive new data for tracks and albums; view music collections on the app even when they’re offline and remotely control playlists.

For more details go to www.naimaudio.com . The apps are available from the App Store.

Could we7 be the new radio star?

If you like a steady stream of new music, but can’t afford to keep paying for downloads, a new music service could be just the thing for you. And because it works on your mobile, and works even if you haven’t got internet access, we7 will be ideal both for those on pay-as-you go or limited data allowances, or just anyone who has a long commute on a train line that has rubbish 3G signals.

we7-app
Image courtesy of Flickr user jinxmcc

we7 is a new mobile music service that works by ‘charging’ up your handset with music. Apparently it makes use of “innovative buffering and caching mechanisms” so that it can store tunes ready for when you’re out of reach of a 3G or wireless signal.Steve Purdham, CEO of we7, explains:

“Mobile signals are unreliable for radio streaming but with the new we7 App you can still ‘use it if you lose it’ – continuing to listen to your favourite music radio stations, regardless of connection.”

The radio service is free to use (hooray!) There are a number of themed radio ‘stations’ drawing from more than seven million songs – so you should find something you like.

If you want to have more control over songs, albums and playlist, you can choose a paid-for service, which costs £9.99 and is rather like Spotify. You may wonder why you’d use this instead, as Spotify has a mobile version – but we7 has the added bonus of being able to stream sounds to you even without internet access.

You can download the free app, which is currently in beta form, from the Android Marketplace. iPhone users will get their turn in April, as will anyone with an iTouch or iPad. BlackBerry users and anyone with a Windows 7 handset will have to wait until later in the year.