Entertainment &Online Video &Video Rental Steven Kippel on 23 Apr 2014

Amazon Prime lands HBO

Amazon Prime lands HBO

Amazon.com LogoIf we haven’t told you how great Amazon Prime is yet, let’s add HBO shows to the mix. You do know HBO has some of the best shows ever produced right? The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood, Band of Brothers, Generation Kill, The Newsroom et al. (I haven’t forgot about Game of Thrones.)

That’s right! Amazon Prime has added most HBO programming free to Amazon Prime subscribers. All of those series listed above: included. Starting May 21, stream to your heart’s content. (Whatever kept you from watching The Wire isn’t an excuse anymore.)

So… What’s the catch? Game of Thrones is not included in this, and recent programs (Girls, The Newsroom, Veep, et al) will only begin streaming three years after the first broadcast.

Also announced is the Amazon Fire TV will be receiving the HBO Go app, targeting a launch by year-end, so those who do have an HBO account (or borrowing one) and a Fire TV will have access to all HBO content.

When you throw in discounts and free two-day shipping, how can you afford to not have Amazon Prime?

Update: Corrected HBO Go availability on Fire TV from May 21 to year end.

Entertainment &Online Video &Video Rental Steven Kippel on 21 Apr 2014

Netflix raising prices

Netflix raising prices

In a letter to shareholders, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced a price increase for new users to Netflix.

In the U.S. we have greatly improved our content selection since we introduced our streaming plan in 2010 at $7.99 per month. Our current view is to do a one or two dollar increase, depending on the country, later this quarter for new members only. Existing members would stay at current pricing (e.g. $7.99 in the U.S.) for a generous time period. These changes will enable us to acquire more content and deliver an even better streaming experience.

Rates for existing subscribers would remain unchanged for “a generous time period.”

This is nothing new, nor unexpected. Netflix had previously raised prices by decoupling streaming from DVD-by-mail, and to Blu-ray Disc subscribers. With the amount of content Netflix has been buying, including original content, it was all but inevitable costs would go up. And that’s not including the costs Netflix have paid to Comcast to keep their streaming bandwidth high.

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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