NEW YORK —
Tis’ the season for connected TV add-ons as set-top box options continue to launch to bring broadband entertainment to connected TV screens this holiday season.
New products or extensions of existing products were recently announced by Orb, Vudu and D-Link.
Orb Network’s just launched a hockey puckshaped Internet TV set-top enables the watching of online TV shows from Hulu, Netflix and others.
The advantage of the Orb TV over some other systems on the market is its low price ($99 retail from the OrbTV website), and ability to bring PCcentric streaming to the TV, in some cases bypassing extra subscription fees that are applied to TV systems.
What’s somewhat unusual is that Orb TV requires installing special software, called Orb Caster, on the PC and leaving the PC running when using the device to view content on the TV screen.
However, the software enables Orb to select such services as Hulu to play TV shows without the Hulu Plus subscription fee requirement.
Also available are Netflix, with a user account, and YouTube. Others will be added down the line.
The system also does not include a remote control, relying instead on users downloading a smartphone app to their iPhone, Android, iPad or iPod Touch to control the device.
The Orb controller smartphone app features a global index of TV shows. Consumers can type in the name of the show they want and then Orb quickly finds the show, without requiring the user to specify its source.
Meanwhile, Vudu, which started out offering its own set-top box before expanding into an app available on other connected devices, said it is now delivering HD streaming to the Sony Play- Station 3 gaming console, and is rolling out a next-generation 2.0 user interface.
The Vudu streaming service will be available on the Sony PS3 in Nov. 23, offering HD, HDX and Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound streaming service directly to the console.
The game console joins other Vudu enabled devices already in the market including various Blu-ray players, Vudu set-top boxes, the Boxee platform (for PC and Mac) and the justlaunched D-Link Boxee Box.
The new Vudu 2.0 interface has been redesigned and optimized for high-def wide-format TV screens.
It features a more intuitive structure organized around tabs, speeding up navigation.
Also added is a “social feed,” and enhanced browsing and filter capabilities.
It will also support next-gen input devices, including the PS3 Move controller, mice and pointer remote controls.
Meanwhile, D-Link’s new Boxee Box is shipping, after several delays, at a $199 street retail and is available from
. The device offers a range of entertainment options, although the previously announced Netflix streaming and Hulu Plus applications will be added as an update a little later down the line.
At launch, the box will offer users the ability to view movies from Vudu, OpenFilm and IndieMoviesOnline, among others.
The box is also designed to link with networked PCs in the house to stream personal content, and is compatible with a wide variety of file formats for audio and video.
The Boxee Box also features a full web browser and includes integrated search functions to scan content available both from Boxee service partners and HTML 5-based websites on the Internet.
The Boxee Box is powered by Intel’s 1.2GHz Atom processor, and includes integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi access and support for HD video streaming, including full 1080p with 5.1- and/or 7.1-channel audio.