Remotely Watch Your Home Over the Web with a Wireless Mole

astak-moleFor a while, I was using a webcam and Orb software to spy on my cats while I was out. The solution worked well, but was fairly limited. And I got frustrated seeing all of the cat shenanigans in my home office — these two felines bat at each other like Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots when we’re not around. Since my webcam is fixed, I really can’t see what’s going on off-camera though. When the Astak folks pinged me last week about their brand new $299 wireless Mole camera with tilt and pan, I said I’d be happy to take a look at a review unit.

The Mole arrived late last night, so I’ll have to put it through the paces for a few days yet. From a specification and features perspective, it sounds pretty impressive. Like many standard webcams, the resolution isn’t all that high — we’re talking QVGA and VGA at up to 30fps here. But, it’s a standalone camera so it doesn’t need to be tethered to a stationary computer. The Mole has integrated Wi-Fi so it works as long as there’s a wireless signal. And if you need to extend your viewing beyond your network, there’s an SD card slot to record what the Mole sees and hears. The Mole can also upload videos directly to YouTube which I’ll test, but I’m not sure I’d use that feature all too much.

As far as remote access, you can view the live stream from any Internet connection. Astak says that it even works on the iPhone, so I’ll have a look-see on my 3GS. Remote tilting and panning is also supported: the vertical tilt range is 120-degrees while the horizontal panning is a wide 270-degrees. 15 LED lights help the Mole see in the dark and there’s a motion sensor feature too. When the Mole detects movement, it can email or tweet. I see a number of good uses for the Mole, so I’ll get it set up and take a closer look. Kitties — you have been warned!

NBA Sinks 3-Pointer with Live Game Streams on iPhone, Android

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While all eyes are on the current baseball World Series (go Phils!), professional basketball kicked off a new season earlier this week. What’s a die-hard fan without Picture in Picture to do as our eyeballs compete to watch both sports? Even worse — what if you’re on the go when your favorite hoops team takes the court? NBA League Pass Mobile for iPhone and Android can assist in this case.

Liz Gannes at NewTeeVee takes an early look at this $39.99 season pass application and came away generally impressed. The software and subscription provides access to 40 games each week, although any local team events could be blacked out — the app cleverly uses your handset’s GPS to define “local.” You can see by the screen cap above that streaming over Wi-Fi looks great. Streaming over 3G however, was hit or miss during the NewTeeVee testing, which is semi-surprising — the application uses adaptive bitrate streaming, but of course you have to have some minimum throughput for even that to work. I like how there’s some DVR functionality in there — it’s always nice to replay that killer slam-dunk.

The new NBA League Mobile Pass is due to appear in the iTunes App Store and Android Market any time now, so with luck, you’ll have access before the next tip-off.

Hulu and the End of Free TV

Some day, perhaps soon, analysts will look back on the past week as the beginning of the end of Hulu, at least as it was originally conceived. The web TV portal, which sought to blend video-on-demand functionality with a free-to-the-user broadcast monetization model has been hugely popular with consumers. But now, its architects are now bent on dismantling it.

JVC Enters Pocket HD Video Game With PICSIO

PICSIO frontPocket-sized HD video cameras are all the rage, and JVC is leveraging years of camcorder experience with its newly released PICSIO. The little camera takes full 1080p video at 30 fps and can shoot 8-megapixel stills. The PICSIO has USB connectivity and can shoot video to YouTube and iTunes directly in MOV format. It sports a 2-inch screen and a 4x digital zoom for recording action on the go. The camera’s battery is charged via USB, and recordings are stored on removable SDHC memory. The PICSIO comes in a variety of colors for the fashion-conscious videographer. $199.