Entertainment &Hardware &Online Video &Video Rental Steven Kippel on 06 Mar 2014

Roku Streaming Stick impresses

Roku Streaming Stick impresses

Roku_logo_white_on_purpleWhat was I thinking when I ordered you to buy a Chromecast? It was cheap, and it had loads of potential. Since then, Chromecast has been shut down by some sites, and not many have signed up to be on Google’s streaming stick. Which means Roku had a great opportunity to revamp their own Streaming Stick, adding some of the Chromecast features.

So what’s new? The old Roku Streaming Stick was powered with Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL), something not every TV had, and something older TVs never had; the new stick is powered with USB, just like the Chromecast. This means the new stick can be powered from a wall socket, or from the USB port on your receiver, TV, Playstation, Xbox, etc. (Discerning consumers may get USB charging stations for their AV system to keep USB products powered, and to keep game controllers charged. Smart chargers can be programmed to stop charging after a set amount of time to not over-charge nor waste power.)

RokuSSThe new Roku Streaming Stick is dual-band wireless-N capable, providing high speed wireless connectivity. It also features 720p and 1080p video, as well as 5.1 and 7.1 audio (HDMI only).
And how about that killer app? A remote control. Maybe not for everyone, but for those with kids or guests, the remote will free up your phone or tablet for your personal use while they watch whatever they want. Speaking of your mobile device: Roku has a free iOS and Android app that allows you to chose what you want to watch without navigating the on screen menu.

But what about the Chromecast? The new Roku Streaming Stick allows YouTube and Netflix content to be “cast” straight to the TV the same way the Chromecast works. With how many partners Roku has, this may also expand the way Google is doing.

So does the Roku Streaming Stick kill the Chromecast? Maybe. The Chromecast is only $35, but the Roku Streaming Stick is a bargain at $49.

Mobile Phones &Software Wesley Novack on 02 Mar 2014

Now writing for Greenbot

I am now freelance writing for Greenbot, a new website by IDG Media (publishers of PCWord, TechHive, etc) dedicated to all things Android related.

Check out a few of the initial articles that I’ve written for them.

No Kindle? No problem! Score free Android apps at Amazon’s Appstore

One tidbit that didn’t make the cut in my Greenbot piece: Amazon also doles out ‘Amazon Coins’ as an added bonus with select app purchases. For example, the ‘GoneMAD Music Player Unlocker’ is currently on sale for 0.99 on both the Play Store and Amazon’s Appstore, but Amazon also throws in 30 coins. Each coin is equivalent to 1 cent in credit, so you’ll earn 30 cents towards a future purchase at Amazon if you buy there.

Jelly for Android: Diving deep inside the new image-based Q&A app

Jelly was launched with a lot of hype due to the involvement of Biz Stone (Twitter’s co-founder). Unfortunately, I just didn’t find the service very useful or compelling.

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Random Guest Author on 28 Feb 2014

Suwit Muay Thai Training Camp

This is a sponsored post brought to you by Suwit Muay Thai Training Camp in Phuket Thailand. All opinions are 100% owned by the author, Eric Novack.

Muay thai newsMuay Thai or Thai Kick Boxing, is a martial art or form of one-on-one sport combat that utilizes punches, vicious knee attacks, elbow strikes, thrust kicks with the foot and kicks that aim to slap your opponent with the shin bone. One of the premier “Stand up” Martial Arts that has been adopted by many if not all Mixed Martial Artists (Cage fighters), Muay Thai is a must know for basic street self defense. Beyond the obvious self-defense benefits lie great health side effects that come with the intense cardio needed for practice of the art form. Muay Thai is designed for everyone, ranging from the extreme hardcore Martial Artist to the average day Joe looking for some serious lifestyle change.

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Hardware &Mobile Phones &Software Wesley Novack on 09 Feb 2014

Zubie Key can turn your vehicle into a smartcar

This post brought to you by Zubie. All opinions are 100% mine.

These days we’re all connected to the ‘net at home with PC’s and tablets, and on the go with smartphones, but what about while in the car? The majority of automobiles on the road today just aren’t taking advantage of mobile network Internet connectivity, smart apps and the diagnostic code information that is available via the built in vehicle dumbputers.

Zubie

The proliferation of smartcars is assuredly in our future, but until then, Zubie is rushing to bridge the gap with the Zubie Key product and its associated services.

Here’s the abbreviated product rundown from Zubie themselves.

“Zubie is a connected car solution that makes driving and owning a car safer, easier and less expensive. It uses a smart plug-in device, the Zubie Key, to plug directly into the car’s On-board Diagnostics (OBD) port and capture valuable vehicle and driving data for car owners and drivers — location tracking, driving patterns, vehicle health and alerts, and more.”

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Entertainment &Online Video &Reviews &Software Wesley Novack on 07 Feb 2014

GATHR by AOL: a subscription bundling train wreck

This week I received an email offer from “GATHR by AOL”. I don’t know how I got dumped into their mailing list and I’ve never heard of the service, but I decided to check it out due to a $10 discount offer.

GATHR

Here’s a snippet from the email that I received from them.

“It’s official: Gathr is ready to save you a bundle on your favorite brands in movies, music, shopping and more. In fact, if you sign up for Gathr today, AOL will give you $10 off the first month of your subscription—with our compliments.”

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Entertainment &Online Video Wesley Novack on 04 Feb 2014

Why does Hulu Plus still suck so bad?

Every once in awhile, a new free trial for Hulu Plus crawls along, like this new 60 day offer at Bestbuy Mobile (the promo page also offers free trials for Spotify Premium and Zinio digital magazines). All offers are for new customers only, or — psssst — just a new email address.

HuluPlus

This latest offer got me to bite, so I have once again joined the ranks of the Hulu Plus ‘elite’. What do you call a Hulu Plus subscriber anyway? Hulu Plusser? Huloser? In any case, that’s me again. Yip-diddy-do-da, I can now watch Hulu from my Roku, my Dynex Wi-Fi Blu-ray player and my smartphone.

Well, *I* haven’t really been watching it, as my leisure time is heavily restricted currently, but my lovely wife Tera has been giving it a go.

The latest Hulu Plus experience

Here are a few of the comments I received from Tera about her latest Hulu Plus binge.

“Advertisements suck”
“What the hell? I think they took off the season I was watching”
“It doesn’t just freeze, it starts going in slow mo with no sound”
“Why does Hulu suck so bad?”

The last comment refers to the fact that the Hulu Plus service STILL has freezing and lock up issues when you play videos from a streaming media device such as our Roku and Dynex players. We experienced these same issues during our last Hulu Plus trial over a year ago. Netflix streaming works wonderfully on both of these same players, so we’re not looking at faulty hardware here. Our broadband speed is 40MBps down and the players use 802.11g Wi-Fi.

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Hardware &Mobile Phones &Online Video &Software Wesley Novack on 03 Feb 2014

Dropcam cloud-based Wi-Fi video monitoring

This post brought to you by Dropcam. All opinions are 100% mine.

Networked and DVR-connected video cameras targeted for home use have been available for years, but what has been missing from the market is an easy-to-setup and easy-to-use Wi-Fi video camera and associated services.

Meet Dropcam

Dropcam Pro

Dropcam has filled the void with its line of feature-packed Wi-Fi video cameras and services, designed to be used for home security and home monitor purposes.

“Dropcam is a cloud-based Wi-Fi video monitoring service with free live streaming, two-way talk and remote viewing that makes it easy to stay connected with places, people and pets, no matter where you are.”

Sounds good so far. Let’s take a look at the main advertised features of Dropcam, with my commentary added below each one.

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