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    November 14, 2015
    Get A Roku Streaming Box For $25

    I love to have streaming video at my disposal, but I’m getting tired of being held down by my slow, glitchy built-in streaming.  I have a Blu Ray player with Netflix and some other streaming services, but it’s very, very slow and it’s prone to crashing or disconnecting in the middle of streaming whatever goofy movie I’ve picked out for the night.  I’m frustrated with it, and I think it’s time to make a change.  I have an Amazon Fire TV stick for the upstairs TV, and I think now it’s time to get a Roku SE for the living room.  Roku will have their SE box for $25 on Black Friday.

    It’s actually a really good deal, cheaper than pretty much all the other streaming options out there with the addition of some 3000 channels that come as part of Roku’s services.  Here’s the full run-down on what the Roku SE provides, and even if it was only used for Netflix and some of the streaming from my premium channels, it’d be worth the $25.

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    November 6, 2015
    Hands On With Apple TV


    I just spent probably 30 minutes setting up a new television box.  It promises a lot of fun features that I’ve been lacking previously, like on-demand television shows and ordering movies and connecting my TV to the Internet through my DVR.  It wasn’t all that bad, to be honest, but it was still a process.  Much easier is the process of setting up an Apple TV; it won’t let you connect to DirecTV, but it will do a lot of other fun things, like games and streaming media from iTunes and all kinds of other fun things.  Engadget spent a weekend with the new Apple TV and has a full run-down.

    One of the big surprises about Apple TV, at least for me, is how far behind the technological curve it is.  After all, Roku and Amazon Fire have 4K support on their newest editions, but for whatever reason, Apple TV has yet to jump into the future with the rest of them.  After all, 4K TVs are rapidly taking off, and 4K support is going to be something necessary sooner, rather than later.  I guess it’s all part of Apple’s plan to roll out 4K with the NEXT update of Apple TV’s hardware.

    Of course, the trackpad browsing is still not good–none of them are–but the voice searching has been improved, and it even responds to natural questions rather than boolean-type sentence fragments.  That’s always fun.

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    September 30, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Redbox Blue

    Via Reddit.

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    September 23, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Serif TV

    Via Slate

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    September 16, 2015
    Sharp To Sell World’s First 8K TV

    Have you gotten your 4K tv yet?  Well, if you haven’t, I suggest saving your money, because it’s already rapidly growing obsolete.  How is the latest thing in TV already getting surpassed?  Simple, you up the ante and improve the quality.  Turn that 4K television into twice the power and twice the screen and see just what happens.  Sharp is going to be the first company to bring an 8K television to market.

    That’s a staggering detail. 4K televisions are just finally getting off the ground, and now they’re already being bested as we speak.  The Sharp Super Hi-Vision TV will have an impressive 7,680 pixels by 4,320 pixels of resolution, double that of a 4K TV.  That’s even better than digital screens at the movie theaters!  The power does come with a cost; the first screens won’t be available until October 30 and they’ll sell for a hefty $125,000.

    Still, it’s going to be awhile before Blu-Rays and the like catch up with it, but still… that’s a lot of resolution; finally, they can have cinema quality viewing at home.

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    July 30, 2015
    Subscription YouTube?

    How much would you pay to look at videos online?  I don’t mean full-length movies or television shows, though you can certainly find those throughout YouTube’s murky depths, but normal, everyday viral videos.  Care to part with $5 a month?  Maybe $10?  Well, consider it, because you may be asked to do so in the very new future.  YouTube is going to launch a video subscription service that strips the ads from its videos.  That’s right, it’s going to be ad-free YouTube, but it’s going to cost you something.

    Of course, that’s going to be a hard sell.  The only thing I ever rented from YouTube’s On Demand service was “The Interview”, the Seth Rogen/James Franco movie at the center of the Sony hacking scandal.  I usually skip the ads when they give me the option to bypass them after 5 seconds.  Most of the things I end up watching on there are ad-free, or they only have the little pop-up ad at the bottom.  And like most folks, the reason why I use YouTube so much is because it’s free and supported by ads like broadcast television.

    So, long story short, I’m not going to be subscribing to YouTube unless it’s very, very cheap and they make the ads unskippable.

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    June 10, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Dinner And A Movie

    image: The Verge

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    June 4, 2015
    Ads On Netflix?

    There’s a reason Hulu isn’t very popular, and it’s not their offerings.  There’s a distinct lack of commercial-free programming on the network, even for paying customers.  Even if you pay, you have to look at ads, and that’s too much like cable for the cord cutters out there.  Hence, Netflix is awesome and everyone seems to like it, but there’s something scaring devoted streaming addicts:  Netflix is testing ads in some markets.

    Now, before you start screaming and throw your Netflix subscription away, just take a deep breath and listen.  The ads aren’t for commercial services.  They’re for other Netflix shows.  Like how you get trailers for stuff between HBO shows, Netflix is just trying to get more eyes on its original programming, and testing the waters for self-serving ads for stuff the company thinks you might like.

    “For some time, we’ve teased Netflix originals with short trailers after a member finishes watching a show,” wrote Cliff Edwards, Netflix’s director of corporate communications, in an email to NBC News.  ”Some members in a limited test now are seeing teases before a show begins.”

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    May 22, 2015
    Turn Your XBone Into A TV/DVR

    Increasingly, the future of television is going to the cord-cutters.  I have an over-the-air tuner hooked to my television upstairs, as well as my Amazon Fire TV Stick.  Between the two, I’m pretty set on entertainment, but the antenna isn’t the best antenna out there, and it seems like other folks like myself are looking for a way to branch out and increase their free television consumption.  That’s where Microsoft comes in.  Did you know your Xbox One can be turned into a TV/DVR system?  It’s true, and it only costs $99 to make it happen.  Microsoft’s Xbox One now has a TV tuner.

    The Tuner comes from Mohu, and a glance at the Mohu website tells me that I have 34 over-the-air channels, most of which I currently can’t watch becuase they’re not offered by my satellite television dish.  The tuner and antenna is quite a deal at $99; the Hauppauge tuner by itself is only $59.99.  It provides a lot of fun functionality, from 30 minutes of pause time to the ability to watch TV and play games at the same time.  You can also stream over-the-air television to your wireless device (phone or tablet), which would have been great back when it was March Madness NCAA basketball tournament time.

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    April 17, 2015
    Verizon’s New FiOS Skinny Bundles

    One of the problems with cable television is the fact that you’re paying a lot of money for channels that you might not want.  Not everyone wants ESPN.  Not everyone wants SyFy or E! on their dials.  Some people have very specific television tastes and needs, and for those people, there’s not a ton of choice.  Cable networks have a vested interest in bundling, so rather than getting a sports-only package, ESPN has to come bundled alongside a lot of other ABC/Disney channels.  Verizon is looking to shake up that status quo with a bunch of new FiOS ‘skinny’ television packages.

    The new offering is called FiOS Custom TV, and it sounds pretty awesome.  First of all, there’s no required commitment, so the two year contract is only for those that want to lock in slightly lower rates or who know they’re in it for the long haul.  After 30 days, you can drop any package you don’t want without fees.  The basic cost is $55 for the base package, which comes with two of seven other packages:  sports, sports plus, kids, pop culture, lifestyle, entertainment, and news & info.  Other additional packages are $10 a month.  For those looking for TV and Internet together, it’s $75 a month (before taxes and fees) for a 2-year commitment.

    “This is an entirely new way to personalize TV,” said Tami Erwin, president of Verizon’s Consumer and Mass Business group, in a statement.

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