HP Reinvents the Home Desktop at CES 2015 with the Pavilion and Stream Mini

Over the last couple of decades we have seen the shift from desktop PC to laptop dominance, then netbooks, tablets, Chromebooks and now a resurgence of laptops and efficient desktops. HP has introduced the HP Pavilion and HP Stream Mini Desktops just as the desktop computer attached to a TV or large display becomes a focal point of homes again.

Roku Rolls Out Screen Mirroring for Android Devices

We love our Roku and use it constantly. It’s about to get far better, though, with a new screen mirroring feature! Android phones running KitKat will be able to beam the screen onto the TV, which will be handy for slideshows and game nights! Look for a full write-up after our Roku gets the update. Via Android Central

Traveling with the Chromecast or Any Other Set-Top Box

Two weeks ago, I went on another business trip.  Since I had just bought the Chromecast, I thought I would take it with me to have something to watch in my down time. While I was able to get it to work, it wasn’t the easiest thing to do, so that might be enough to make you rethink taking that tiny Chromecast. It’s not impossible, though!

The Synology DS415play NAS System Is a Powerhouse Data Storage Unit

Synology’s new DS415play is a 4-bay Network Attached Storage (NAS) system that was designed with the home theater in mind. With room for 4 SATA hard drives, the DS415play can hold up to 24 Terabytes of data. Combined with Synology’s excellent user interface, DiskStation Manager, the Synology DS415play  is an excellent buy. The MSRP for the DS415play is $539.99.

I Bought a Chromecast and Completely Changed My View

It’s hard to believe it’s been just a little over a year since Google released the cheapest set-top “box” there is, the Chromecast.  Initially, I wasn’t too enthused.  After hearing how my friends liked it, I figured why not make the jump?  It would give me some entertainment when I was on the road as well. Since picking it up, I’ve completely fallen in love.

Simple.TV Adds Windows 8.1 and Plex Support

If you’re looking to cut cable, Simple.TV should be on your shopping list. Combined with an over the air antenna, you get a DVR that supports iOS, Android, and Roku without having to sell your soul to the cable company. Now Simple.TV is adding support for Windows 8.1 and Plex, this is great timing considering Aereo’s loss today!

Help Me Find the Best Universal Remote, Please

Okay, I’ve had it! We have too many remotes! Apple TV, Direct TV, TV, DVD, Roku, a Vizio sound bar, and I may even be forgetting one! Has anyone tried one of those smart remotes with a screen? I’m considering a Logitech Harmony remote, but I’m wondering if there is something even better out there?

Polaroid and iLuv Announcements from CES 2014!

The stream of cool stuff continues with some cool looking new Polaroid and iLuv Announcements from CES 2014. The list of their introductions is insane and impossible to capture here, but it includes Polaroid cameras, tablets, smartphones, and Roku-ready HD TVs; and from iLuv no less than 14 speakers, earbuds, iPad folios and iPhone cases!

Roku Announces the Roku TV

We love our Roku 3, it’s a fantastic device. For those who want the Roku experience, but also crave a “smart tv”, Roku and TCL have teamed up for the Roku TV! Details are still forthcoming, but if the experience is as seamless as the Roku box, this could be a big boon for the Roku brand! Prices and availability are still forthcoming, but you can check out the full details at the Roku blog.

Farewell to Blockbuster Video

I haven’t set foot in a Blockbuster Video in at least six years. Yet when news broke this week that the final stores were closing, I felt a little bit sad. The experience of going to the video store was so much more than just clicking a button on a remote, and it made me realize how many great memories I have thanks to Blockbuster. When I think of Blockbuster, my first thought is the store I used to visit in Brighton, MA. I was working for Borders, and my schedule was always way off from my friends, so I…

Harman Kardon Nova Stereo Streaming Sound System Offers Great-looking Sound

Harman Kardon’s new $299.95 Nova system combines analog and optical inputs along with Bluetooth so it easily works with systems such as Roku, HDTV, Apple TV and pretty much any Bluetooth-enabled device. Compact and unique-looking, the Nova’s 2.5” drivers, 1.25” tweeters and passive radiators pack a punch and make this system more than just a pretty face.

Barnes and Noble Continues Their Confused Path

I’ll admit that I’ve done my fair share of kicking Barnes and Noble. I think they’ve let themselves be run in two contradictory directions (being a digital company versus being a bookstore) for too long, and their half-hearted attempts to bridge the two were too promotional and short-term to make a real difference. At this point, though, criticizing B&N feels almost mean — when so much is going so wrong, is it really helpful to pile on and point out how much worse things really look? What’s looking so scary? Well, for starters, it looks like the company has no…

Thoughts on the ChromeCast

A few days ago Google let the ChromeCast out of the bag.  For those who don’t know, the ChromeCast allows you to send Netflix, YouTube and other content to your TV from your laptop, phone or tablet. More applications are sure to come, but people are already snapping up this tiny dongle so fast that Google has had to discontinue including 3 months of Netflix.  At $35 dollars it is a steal of a deal for what people can do with it. Some are saying that it’s a big game changing device.  I am not totally convinced that it is….

What Subscription Services Are Worth a Place in Your Budget?

Sarah and I have been loving the new Netflix series “Orange is the New Black”. It’s incredibly well-written, has an amazing cast, and manages to add levity and entertainment to a relatively depressing premise (it’s not exactly happy time watching a protagonist navigate life in prison). I’ve been recommending the show like crazy and was surprised when Dan told me he recently cancelled his Netflix subscription. We use Netflix constantly and it didn’t occur to me that not everyone pays for the service! It sparked a larger discussion among the Gear Diary Editors about what subscription services we pay for…

Serenity Plex Media Server Client for Android and GoogleTV Review

Since getting the Roku box, one thing I have loved about it was that I could use the Plex Media Server to stream my personal content at home to my TV.  Plex Media Server is a media streaming server available for Linux, Windows, and Mac; it is also supported on select Network Attached Storage(NAS) boxes like those available from Qnap, Synology, ReadyNAS, ASUSTOR and unRAID. Plex is an awesome piece of software that works wonderfully in conjunction with the Roku, however I am not always in front of my TV.  While Plex does have a web server built in that you…

XBOX One Fallout – No XBOX or X360 Games, No Indies, No Used Games, and More

Well, THAT didn’t take long! In fewer than a dozen hours the XBOX One reveal went from being exciting … to a disappointment. Over at they are already calling the reveal of the XBOX One an ‘awful start’, and discussing how Microsoft needs to redeem itself at E3. Of course, leave it to Ctrl-Alt-Del to joke about how Sony hasn’t even figured out how to assemble their new console yet! Rather than pontificate on that sort of stuff, I wanted to address 5 areas of concern to me as a PC gamer:

Popcornflix Partnership Enhances Digital Movie Xbox 360 Application

The popcorn keeps expanding at the Popcornflix movie streaming service, as Unicorn Media, a leading Internet video solutions provider, announced partnerships with Cypress and Screen Media Ventures, LLC for expanding the free Popcornflix app on Xbox LIVE (gold subscribers).  Popcornflix also owns and distributes its own content via iOS and Android apps, Roku, connected TVs and online for free. Screen Media Ventures, LLC developed and owns Popcornflix. Cypress, in conjunction with Screen Media Ventures, developed the Popcornflix Xbox LIVE app using CypressX, Cypress is a digital agency that creates apps that provide interactive experiences across mobile platforms and gaming consoles….

My Roku 3 Remote Saves the Day!

Gadgets have become packed with more and more features, many of which we end up forgetting about or just never use. When the Roku 3 was announced, we had an internal discussion at Gear Diary about how the headphone jack in the remote was a useless feature — who would hook up headphones to a remote to watch TV, when they could just plug headphones into a tablet and have the same private viewing experience? We use our Roku 3 all the time but never gave the headphone jack a thought, until today when I stumbled upon a situation where…

SmartStick TV Accessory Review

When we were shopping for an HDTV, I briefly considered whether we needed a “smart TV”. Eventually, I decided we probably didn’t, but I was very excited to take a look at the SmartStick TV accessory, as it turns my decidedly not-smart HDTV into a smart version running Android. Unfortunately, it isn’t without its drawbacks, and it has left me wondering if the benefits are worth the quirks. Read on to find out my take! Physically, the SmartStick is extremely compact. It’s just a little bit bigger than a stick of gum, and it uses HDMI to connect to the…

Roku Releases the Roku 3

After what seemed like an eternity Roku has released a brand new streaming box today.  The Roku 3 finally does away with all connections for old standard definition TV’s in this iteration making the box HD only.  It has HDMI, Ethernet, USB and a power port and that’s it.  The new box has beefed up hardware and improved searching on the device itself.  Roku promises that the user interface on the Roku 3 is the most responsive they have designed as well.  One last bit of news for the new Roku 3 is that the wireless remote now includes a…

HDTV Shopping, What’s Necessary and What’s Hype?

Sarah and I are HDTV shopping (our old TV is the size of a coffee table and weighs as much as my first car). I understand the basics of HDTV like 720p vs 1080p. But when you get into features like Smart TVs, and when you look at the price difference between buying, say, a Samsung TV versus a Vizio, what’s worth considering and what’s just hype? I was lost, so I turned to the experts at Gear Diary for some HDTV shopping advice and tips: Joel McLaughlin My take on HDTV Shopping? My next TV I will not look at whether it’s…