If your preferred smart home assistant happens to be Amazon Alexa, then an affordably-priced 4K television that you can verbally control hands-free with Alexa will likely appeal. You’ll get that with the new Amazon Fire TV Omni Series. Is a hands-free Alexa-enabled Smart TV the convergent device you didn’t know you needed? Let’s take a look.
Movies and Streaming Video
If I had to make a list of “can’t live without it” devices that I use regularly, my Roku Ultra would absolutely be at the top of the list. If you can only have one streaming device, it would be hard to argue for a better choice. Roku is sweetening the appeal immensely by adding their phenomenal Roku Voice Remote Pro to the Ultra bundle!
We’re big fans of Roku here at Gear Diary. Roku offers a very user-friendly experience where you can aggregate all your favorite streaming services in one place as well as find new content when you’re tired of reruns of “Chopped”. They also never stop looking to the future with more features and options to consistently raise the bar, and we’re seeing that again with the rollout of Roku OS 11.
The AnkerWork B600 Video Bar packs a 2K video camera, a microphone array, stereo speakers, and a light into a small package for under $220. After trying more video cameras for Zoom calls than I would like to admit, I can honestly say that Anker is about to have a hit on its hands.
Raina and I have several different streaming boxes connected to our living room TV; the one we use most often is our Roku box. The reason is simple; Roku has created a robust streaming ecosystem that is simple to use and just keeps getting better. It’s why they remain the number one Smart TV OS, and now we have news of a new Sharp Roku TV!
Roku is an incredible company in many ways. They’re not Amazon, Apple, or Google, yet they’re the heavyweight in the streaming world because they’re a neutral party. They don’t care what you watch, but they do care deeply that your experience finding and enjoying what you watch is the best one possible. And they want to keep that exacting standard with new OS updates and hardware for your fall viewing enjoyment!
Roku is America’s number one TV streaming platform and a favorite brand among Gear Diary staff because of its easy-to-navigate UI that’s found on multiple manufacturer’s smart TVs as well as Roku’s affordable smart speakers and stand-alone streaming hardware. With Labor Day coming up soon as well, along with the fall football season, we wanted to point out some of the ways you can upgrade your TV enjoyment without necessarily replacing your television — although there are excellent Roku deals to be had on smart TVs right now, too!
Years ago, it was nearly impossible to get an internet plan that didn’t also include cable. It meant that even if you “cut the cord,” you probably still paid for basic cable. Now that it’s getting cheaper and more accessible to pick and choose with an internet connection and a variety of streaming services, are cord-cutters happier with this à la carte service? Is cord-cutting actually cheaper? Well, Roku has crunched some numbers for us!
I had one of the first Roku streaming devices when they first came on the scene but, over time, had moved to Apple TV. Last fall, I bought one of Roku’s current streaming devices, and was impressed by how much the platform has evolved; it’s fantastic! Never one to rest on their laurels, Roku has just announced Roku OS 10 as well as their latest hardware, the Roku Voice Remote Pro, Roku Express 4K+, and Roku Streambar Pro.
Do you have room in your wallet and your password manager for one more streaming service? Before you brace yourself for C-Span+, don’t worry, it’s more exciting than that — CBS All Access has morphed into the far more broad Paramount+, and its huge catalog of shows and movies is available now on Roku!
Spotify has become the go-to music and podcast streaming service for many with good reason. Breaking the traditional recording industry model and making the release of new material more accessible and monetizable for musicians and content creators, the service has made it possible for unknown talent to break out and for established talent to get their material out to even more listeners. Whether you use Spotify Free or Spotify Premium, you’ll be interested in today’s Spotify Stream On event.
Greg reviewed the very first pair of Master & Dynamic headphones. He swore by them and, in the years since, Judie and I have also become fans. The company’s MW65 Over-the-Ear headphones are among the best ANC headphones I’ve tried. It’s why they are one of only a few items we have ever designated as a Gear Diary Editor’s Choice. Apparently, we aren’t the only ones who appreciate them.
I’ve watched many TVs in my day, and I can tell you that one of the best viewing experiences I’ve ever had is with our Roku TV from TCL. Roku has partnered with several TV manufacturers, and there are some killer Roku TV deals for you to grab ahead of the NFL’s Big Game. There are deals on TVs from Hisense, TCL, Element, Onn., RCA, and Philips starting at $89.99!
Until the past September, I hadn’t used a Roku device in years. A work project required me to get one, and I was truly impressed with what Roku has become. I’m even planning to add Roku setup boxes to my other televisions! Now Roku has announced exclusive rights to Quibi’s library of more than 75 shows and documentaries.
We are big fans of Roku here at Gear Diary. They make some truly excellent hardware and strive to offer a hardware and software experience that makes streaming easy, no matter what your choice of content. It’s been frustrating, then, that they didn’t have a deal with Time Warner’s HBO Max. It was basically the only streaming service you COULDN’T get natively on your Roku…until now!
When we reviewed the Roku Ultra and Roku Streambar, we highlighted how Roku is the best choice if you’re not tied to one particular streaming service. That value proposition has only increased now that Roku has added Airplay and HomeKit support to many of their 4K devices!
Look, this hasn’t been a normal summer. Even the fun times have had a bit of a shadow over them as we stress about the pandemic. It’s not even like there’s good fall television to brighten up the end of summer because most productions have been suspended. But one bright spot that you might not have noticed yet: Ted Lasso on Apple TV.
Beyoncé’s Black Is King is debuting on Disney+ today. It’s a visual album in which Beyoncé “reimagines the lessons of “The Lion King for today’s young kings and queen’s in search of their own crown. The voyages of Black families throughout time are honored in a tale about a young king’s transcendent journey through betrayal, love, and self-identity.”
Xiaomi may not be the first brand that people in the US think of for smartphones, but they are ranked at #4 worldwide behind Samsung, Huawei, and Apple. Their smartphones have garnered praise from stateside reviewers for having excellent cameras, best-in-class features, and, most importantly, affordability. But Xiaomi makes more than just smartphones; they also sell home, health, and lifestyle products that include routers, fitness bands, LED desk lamps, air purifiers, and electric scooters, to name just a few.
Star Wars fans feeling saddened that the Clone Wars series finale arrives on May 4th are getting an early surprise: Disney+ will be launching The Rise of Skywalker that very same day!
If you’re looking for ways to keep yourself and your quarantine-mates entertained while waiting out the pandemic, and if you live in an area with Comcast Xfinity services, you should check out the Easter eggs they’ve hidden that you can access right now with the Xfinity Voice Remote.