Roku

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 GameIndustry.biz 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…


The Good and Bad of HDMI Switching

This holiday season was the season my family finally made the jump to HD TV.  I absolutely love HD TV, and I am really looking forward to watching NASCAR and actually being able to read the tickers!  As result of getting the TV, I ended up receiving or giving products that needed an HDMI connection to the TV.  We got an Xbox 360 for Luke and I, plus I was given a Roku 2 XS and a Blu-ray player for Christmas.  One of the things on my Amazon list was a Kinivo HDMI switch as I knew right away I…


Xbox 360 Thoughts from an Open Source Guy

I know!  I know!  How could I, an Open Source guy, send my money to Microsoft by purchasing an Xbox?  Well, when my family is concerned, I need to consider them when purchasing tech. My son wanted an Xbox, so Santa got him one this year — no matter what Dad thinks. So, here are my thoughts about the Xbox system as a whole, from the perspective of an open source guy. Updates Updates Updates I swear my son was about ready to bust when it took HOURS to get the updates installed.  It’s not that there were so many,…


Content is Everything – My Mom’s Thoughts on Netflix

As I have been in Knoxville, TN visiting my folks this holiday season, I have had the opportunity to show my parents Netflix on a TV.  I have not one, but two devices with me that can stream Netflix to a TV.  My Roku 2XS and my son’s new Xbox. One afternoon I was flipping through the Netflix app on the Xbox looking for something to watch, and lo and behold my Mom said one thing: How can they expect me to pay for this when everything is so old? Boom.  There’s the problem. Every streaming service I showed her…


If You Want GOOD Service, Use the Apple Store Instead of Apple Support

Apple has a reputation and standing as one of the best customer support organizations in all of the consumer world. They top the ratings each year; due to their retail stores, the ability to quickly talk to someone knowledgeable has made using Apple products easier than ever for millions of folks. Truth is, in more than 30 years of owning Apple products starting with the Apple ][+, I have never needed service of any type. I have had a couple of questions, and had to email support about a couple of iTunes issues, but I have never had an actual…


Set Top Boxes, a Gear Chat

Over the years writing for Gear Diary, we often have chats behind the scenes about all sorts of issues.  Some are private and will never see the light of day, but many times what is said ends up in a long string of comments that would make a great post.  This one all started by a gift I received from a friend — a brand new Roku 2 XS — which I love a lot.  I posted in our back channel about it, and off we went.  Joel: Received a Roku 2 XS from a friend of mine. Best thing ever. First…


5 Reasons (Each) Why I Love the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD

I have been highly critical of Android tablets (shock, I know) for a number of reasons, and 7″ tablets in specific. But as has been pointed out, I also tout enjoying the Google Nexus 7 quite a bit for a number of reasons. I was also the last one holding on to my launch-day Kindle Fire from last year, and pre-ordered and have happily kept the Kindle Fire HD. All of that screams ‘cognitive dissonance’ to me, so I thought it was worth explaining – and what better way than to list a bunch of things I love about each…


No CW for Cablevision Subscribers!

If a network goes off the air and no one notices, do the shows still go on? Apparently my cable company is in a fight with the CW, and we haven’t been receiving it since August! I only noticed because <sob> I can’t record the premier of The Vampire Diaries if they don’t come to an agreement by next week! What caused this dispute? Money, of course. Cablevision’s statement is very clear on this: BETHPAGE, N.Y., Aug. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Cablevision Systems Corp., (NYSE: CVC) today released the following statement related to the blackout of WPIX and other Tribune…


TP-Link AV500 Gigabit Powerline Adapter Starter Kit Review

  WiFi, 3G, and 4G connections to our devices have frequently spoiled us with almost universal access to data.  Nine times out of ten, if I am connecting to the internet it is in a wireless fashion.  However, there’s always that one old desktop that you want to run Linux on or an old non-connected game system. Or maybe you just want to set up another wireless access point on the second floor of your home, but you don’t have a wire or a way to run a wire through your wall.  That’s all changed with devices like TP-Link’s AV500 Gigabit Powerline…


Amazon Instant Video Comes to the iPad!

Yesterday when we talked about Hulu coming to Apple TV, my comment was that if Amazon Instant Video was also available, I would no longer have a need for the Roku. Guess what? Amazon Instant Video is now available! Here is the description: Watch thousands of titles available from Prime Instant Video at no additional cost with an Amazon Prime membership and over 120,000 videos available from the Amazon Instant Video store by installing the Amazon Instant Video app. Download purchased and rented videos from Your Video Library for offline viewing on airplanes, road trips, or any time a WiFi…


Hulu Plus Comes to Apple TV… Finally.

Both Mike and I use Hulu Plus… a lot. In fact, I find myself watching more and more of my shows through Hulu than through my cable box. Yes, so long as the shows are available through Hulu that is where I am watching them. I especially love the ability to watch pretty much anywhere, on my iPhone, on my iPad or on my TV through my Roku box. Well, as of today there is another option. Yes, Hulu Plus comes to Apple TV today. New subscribers get a week free trial when creating a Hulu Plus account. You can…


Slacker Lands on Roku AND Windows 8 Preview!

Yesterday Slacker made me a rather happy Roku user– they launched Slacker Radio on the Roku set-top box, thereby bringing my favorite internet radio and on-demand service to the streaming media center my family uses on a daily basis. Here are details on the Roku integration: Slacker, Inc. today announced the launch of Slacker Radio on Roku, the leading streaming platform in the U.S. Slacker Radio listeners in the U.S. and Canada can now enjoy the personal radio service on Roku’s popular streaming players. The Slacker Radio lineup includes more than 200 expert-curated music stations, personalized ESPN Radio and ABC…