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A Review of the Roku Streaming Stick

The Roku streaming stick is simply an HDMI dongle which plugs into an HDTV then using its inbuilt wireless connectivity it gives you right of entry to many streaming channels such as BBC iPlayer, Now TV and Netflix. Far from beginners to the media streaming, this is basically Roku’s smallest gadget yet, and is obviously a reply to the entrance of Google’s Chromecast dongle.

Roku streaming stick may be marginally more costly than Chromecast but it has a larger channel selection, a bundled remote as well as several Chromecast-style abilities. It is one of the cheapest and easiest ways of making your TV smarter with modest fuss.

Roku streaming stick is a little lighter and slimmer compared to the bulbous Chromecast, hence it should not obscure any HDMI ports of your TV. However, this streaming stick does not come with an HDMI streaming cable as it is the case with Google Chromecast.

This streaming stick is powered by USB; therefore, you should have the ability to plug the provided Micro USB cable into an extra port on your television. In case you do not have one, or you discover that your television’s ports do not provide adequate power, there is a 1A mains USB adaptor for power in the box.

The streaming stick does not require you to send any content to it from a tablet or a Smartphone, but instead it runs its own independent apps as well as operating system. One benefit of this system is that the stick is very simple to set up and configure. This is because you do the whole thing on-screen with the use of the bundled remote control.

Although the remote is pretty basic, with a cursor pad, back, OK, home and playback controls, it suits the easy interface of the streaming stick. However, one downside of this remote is that it lacks a headphone port of Roku 3’s remote. This port would be very helpful as it makes it easy to watch late-night TV without disturbing other people in the house or room.

Setting up the streaming stick is easy. It might take over a minute for it to start. If you turn off your TV at the mains or utilize its physical power button when you are not using it, then you will have to wait a little bit each time you want to utilize the streaming stick. This can be a little frustrating.

The initial time it powers up, you will be required to log into your Roku account (if you do not have one, create one free of charge) and join the gadget to your house network. It contains an 802.11n Wi-Fi adaptor within and supports both 5GHz and 2.4GHz networks.

After getting the streaming stick on the home network you may then make use of the remote for Roku iPhone or Android app. The advantage of these is that you can utilize the software keyboard of your phone to enter text, which is quicker than using the on-screen keyboard of the streaming stick through the remote control.

If you are familiar with Roku’s other media streamers then you will immediately be home here, since the streaming stick comes with precisely the same interface. A big tiled home screen gives you an idea about the apps (referred to as Channels) that you have got installed. If you wish, you can add new channels through the Channel Store. The Channel Store is split into categories but there is no way of searching for a specific app (channel), which might make it quite difficult to search for a specific channel, particularly when there are more than 450 to search from. Some channels are not free, which explains why you must provide your credit card details when creating your Roku account.

While Roku streaming stick has many benefits such as being very easy to use, plenty of channels and Smartphone working great as remote control, it is not without limitations. Users of this streaming stick sometimes complain of it being a little slow when maneuvering between screens, with occasional sluggish transitions and animations. Also, it takes a while to set up. This is a real dishonor since one of the finest things about regular Roku streamers is their responsiveness and speed. Luckily, the content breadth available mostly compensates for any slight shortcomings, and users love it.

Sandlin Dormanen / November 13, 2015 / Movies, Television

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Why Netflix (or Any Streaming Service) is Better Than Cable

The popularity of online video and TV streaming services has been no doubt very high in the recent past as more viewers have been unsubscribing from cable services to join them. Netflix alone added over 4 million new subscribers in the first quarter of this year and is projected to attract a total of 180 million subscribers globally in 2020.

A survey conducted earlier this year revealed that not only were 40% of people spending more time watching Netflix than they were on traditional TV but that they would also prefer to keep it and ditch traditional TV.

The first reason these services are growing in popularity is the increased quality of content. The same survey revealed that Netflix’s decision to invest in “House of Cards” among other original content was yielding loyalty from consumers. Online-only streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video have their own hot shows, movies, and specials, which are also increasingly attracting an audience. Online streaming services are also becoming the preferred channel for many comedians and movie stars to put their content into.

The availability of more video content and TV channels over the internet than on cable simply gives users more options with regard to what to watch. The internet is also full of free TV shows, videos, and programs and you will only need to pay for the internet.

As mobile gadgets become the order of the day for anyone, streaming videos and TV on these gadgets is becoming popular too. The fact that some cable companies are launching their own streaming services is evidence enough that streaming is becoming a trend for the future. Companies such as HBO and CBS now allow users of mobile gadgets to subscribe monthly in order to stream their content on these gadgets, and this has huge potential since people would like to have TV everywhere. The Internet makes it possible to follow your favorite programs or watch TV news in order to stay up to date with current happenings from school or any other location. With regard to gadgets, people currently having TV screens can also quickly start streaming internet TV and content on those screens without making major changes to their entertainment investments and plans.

Moving on to the issues of cost and time management, for some, streaming videos and TV is a better alternative. First, it allows one to access content and programs at their preferred time. Simply put, you don’t have to keep the schedule when a favorite program is being aired on traditional TV because you can purchase and watch it later at your own free time after it has aired. Better still, you don’t have to worry about missing it after it has aired on traditional TV. This is a very popular trend for people with very tight schedules at the office. It also turns out to be preferable and easier than having to record the programs on your own. Once the online content is bought from these streaming services, you can even keep it for future use.

Secondly, people who watch only a few programs in a year do not have to pay for all the content by subscribing to cable TV because it might turn out to be more costly than simply buying only the programs you want. Of course, this is not true for those who watch almost every program. Monthly subscription on internet streaming also allows you to drop any programs or shows you are not pleased with instead of being bound to have them on board like is the case with an annual subscription on some cable TV.

There is another aspect of cost when it comes to streaming TV and video, especially for first-time users. Young people using mobile gadgets such as smartphones, tablets are likely to see online TV streaming as a cost effective way because they do not need to purchase additional equipment.

The Internet also seems to bring together many social activities and TV and video watching is not being spared. Many people are also accepting the incoming internet-based innovations with enthusiasm, given that the internet provides more resources at a go than does the traditional TV. You can easily share the video or TV program with friends and relatives while or after watching it.

Sandlin Dormanen / October 29, 2015 / Movies, Television

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5 Under-the-Radar Must-See Films Currently on Netflix

7-Tips-for-Streaming-Netflix-MoviesNetflix has grown in recent years, giving many low budget movies and documentaries the chance to shine. There have also been many television series revived through Netflix such as Prison Break which is a huge hit worldwide. With a huge variety of films to choose from, you could be sitting in front of the TV all day watching comedies or horrors. However, one of the best aspects of Netflix is that there always seems to be movies that you have never heard of popping up out of nowhere. After watching some of these films, you are left wondering how they never made it into the cinemas. Here are 5 great under-the-radar films currently on Netflix which you have probably never heard of. All of these are worth watching and hold good ratings.

1) It’s Such A Beautiful Day (2012)

Released in 2012, this extraordinary creation from the animation guru Don Hertzfeldt is definitely worth watching. It’s surprising that no attention was ever drawn towards this phenomenal tale that is full of tragedy and comedy. This is one obscure film that will no doubt have you talking about it for the following week or so after watching it. Some TV critics even described the film as one of the best releases of 2012.

2) The Guest (2014)

This spectacular thriller masterminded by Adam Wingard sees some extremely energetic action scenes that will have you glued to the TV on the edge of your seat. When all hell breaks loose, you will know exactly what I’m talking about! A fantastic soundtrack mixed with crazy action scenes almost always delivers a spectacular film worth watching. Although it is exhilarating, it is also pretty scary adding that extra excitement. The Guest is definitely a film that more people should know about; it’s crazy how these films go unnoticed.

3) The Babadook (2014)

The BabadookThis low-budget chiller by Jennifer Kent has been rated as one of the best horror films of this generation, yet it still didn’t receive the credit it was due. This could be because of the fact that 2014 saw many other good horror films released, leaving The Babadook with little chance of shining in the spotlight. The funny thing is that The Babadook is probably a much better and scarier film than other horrors such as Paranormal Activity. This amazing horror movie is full of unpredictable twists and ‘jumpy’ scenes which will have you trying to cover your eyes almost constantly throughout the movie. There is no doubt about it that you will be gripped and left hoping that there will be a sequel.

4) Frank (2014)

This classic drama sees a clueless songwriter joining a crazy prog-rock band in what seems as a great comedy at first. However, it soon develops into a hard-hitting exploration through mental illness inspired by the acclaimed writer Jon Ronson and his work with the Frank Sidebottom band.

5) The Weekender (2011)

You have to watch this movie if you are a veteran from the 90’s rave scene. This under-rated party classic would definitely have been much more high profile if it was released in 2015. This is due to the fact it actually stars Jack O’Connell of ’71 and “Starred up”. The Weekender was released before O’Connell found his fame so it’s lucky that Netflix is around to bring the credit this film deserves. This is a perfect example of how great films go unnoticed because they don’t star any high-profile actors. It’s time we started giving people a chance and letting them have the opportunity to show how good their creations really are.

All 5 of these fantastic under-rated films are worth watching. None of them received the credit they were due and films such as the Weekender never even got the opportunity to show itself. Netflix reveals these hidden gems and without it many of these films would have gone completely unnoticed. Just because a film is low-budget and “under-the-radar” it doesn’t mean it isn’t good to watch. Whether it’s comedies, crime thrillers, horrors, sci-fi’s, dramas or indie classics you enjoy, there will always be something there for you on Netflix. Make sure you watch these films as soon as possible before they are taken down and replaced. Also, be sure to search around on Netflix for any other lost treasures that could be worth watching.

Sandlin Dormanen / October 15, 2015 / Movies

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Media Streamer Comparison: Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Apple TV?

In the cutthroat media streamer business, four big names reign supreme: Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV. The pertinent question has always been, how do these media streamers compare to each other? Which one is better than the others? The answers to these simple questions, however, are not as straightforward. Each of these streamers brings with it unique benefits and setbacks. Here is a look at how Google’s Chromecast, Roku 3, Amazon Fire TV, and the third generation Apple TV streamer compare.

Entertainment Options

In general, Chromecast, Roku, Fire TV, and Apple TV are all pretty good streamers. Each of them supports 1080p HD video. All of the streamers can also be controlled using an app. Additionally, besides Chromecast, all other streams can be controlled using a remote control. With Roku’s remote control, it is also possible to listen to content more conveniently, thanks to an inbuilt headphone jack, which is certainly a very useful innovation. Chromecast also lacks dual-band wireless connection, which all the rest possess.

User Interface

It may not have the sleekest interface, but Roku has the most user-friendly interface. This streamer also comes out ahead in this regard for having great customization options and a universal search option that makes searching for content so much easier. The interfaces on the other media streamers are not so badly off, they just don’t compare to what Roku has to offer.

Memory

Amazon Fire TV beats the other three streamers by having a memory of 2GB. All the rest have just 512MB of memory space. However, Roku has a microSD slot, which none of the other streamers have.

Amazon Fire TV and Roku also possess a USB 2.0 port.

Streaming Services

All the four streamers offer Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, YouTube, and Crackle services. Vudu is available on Chromecast and Roku only, while Amazon Instant Video is available on Fire TV and Roku. PBS is present in Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV. As this clearly shows, Roku is clearly ahead when it comes to offering a connection to premium streaming services.

Channels/Apps

In pure numbers, Roku takes the lead when it comes to the number of channels/apps with over 2,000 to pick from. Amazon’s Fire TV comes second with over 1600 channels while Chromecast follows with a decent offering of over 900 channels. Apple TV has only 63 channels. All of these streamers offer news, music, sports, as well as children channels. Essentially, the streamers with the largest number of channels have the most of each of these special categories on offer.

Games

In this category, just two streamers have something to offer – Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV. However, Fire TV wins this battle by having over 700 games against Roku’s more than 90 games. Chromecast and Apple TV simply have no games at all. Roku also offers motion-controlled gaming capabilities, something none of the other streamers have to offer.

Price

When it comes to price, Chromecast is certainly the best with an unbelievable price of just $35. Apple TV is a distant second at $69. Roku 3 streamer and Fire TV streamers tie in the third position at $99.99.

Casting Media

With any of these streamers, it is now possible to cast personal media from a mobile device such as a tablet or a smartphone. Similarly, users can cast TV direct from Netflix and YouTube apps when using any of these media streamers.

Search Features

Searching for content when there are literally hundreds or hundreds of options can be quite daunting without a strong search feature. Only Roku and Fire TV have voice search capability and general search options. Chromecast, unfortunately, lacks this option despite having plenty of material to choose from.

Conclusion

By many standards, these four streamers are great options for anyone looking for worthwhile media streaming device. When it comes to the breadth of content, user-friendliness, and other important features, all of these streamers are quite effective. Each of thes streamers has it benefits. For instance, Chromecast is the most affordable of them all. Fire TV has a larger choice of games, which makes it a great choice for those who love gaming. Apple TV offers high quality content that would guarantee a great use experience. However, Roku’s streamer is unmatched when it comes to content quality, user-friendliness, and usability options, making it the best overall among the four streamers.

Sandlin Dormanen / October 13, 2015 / Movies, Music, Television

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5 Must-See Documentaries Of 2015

Everyone loves watching an exciting and interesting documentary every now and again. Whether it be on a criminal organization or the life of a famous celebrity there are many fascinating documentaries out there for everyone to enjoy. Here are 5 recent must-see documentaries released in 2015. All of these have received high ratings on websites such as IMDB and are known to be really interesting, very entertaining and extremely factual.

5. Jihad: A story of the others

This personal and sensitive examination of radicalisation and jihadism is truly intriguing and explains the causes of extremism. Possible solutions to extremism are also discussed in the documentary. If you are interested in the way the world is changing in recent years then you are certain to love this documentary. The documentary came about because of the current Islamic terrorist organizations operating right now in 2015. These organizations have grown rapidly in the last couple of years and something needs to be done about them.

4. Drag becomes him

Drag becomes him is a modern classic which provides the viewer with an insight into the life of the famous international drag performer Jinkx Monsoon. This terrific documentary looks at the troubles Monsoon has to endure every day in his life and goes into detail about his personal background. This is a truly interesting and fascinating documentary certainly worth watching.

3. CT Fletcher: My magnificent obsession

CT Fletcher, the legendary bodybuilder and gym icon describes his everyday life and the sacrifices he has made to follow the gym lifestyle. He goes into detail about the extreme training he has endured over the years and his strict dieting. Gym lovers will definitely enjoy watching this spectacular insight into the life of a professional bodybuilder. Fletcher is one of the most motivational figures in the gym with a crazy life story he is willing to share with the world. You will learn about his early life and what it takes to succeed in the life of a bodybuilder, including the abuse of steroids and other supplements.

2. Standing on water

Standing on water portrays the story of following your passion and overcoming your fears. This is the story of how Casper Steinfath became one of the world’s greatest SUP-Surfers. It is a Danish documentary from what is known more commonly today as Cold Hawaii. This classic has incredible ratings on IMDB and is loved by viewers around the world. See the background surrounding Casper and how he has dealt with a variety of challenges throughout his life. He never let anything stand in his way and this spectacular documentary proves that if you follow your passion then you will succeed in life no matter what.

1. Not Afraid: The Shady Records Story

This is one of the greatest music documentaries to have ever been filmed. It focuses on the life of Eminem and includes some other artists such as Dr. Dre and 50 Cent. Dre and 50 Cent both reflect on how Shady Records rose to become one of the greatest and most dominant labels of the 2000s. Eminem shares some of his early life and expresses his passion for the music industry. He faced many challenges simply because he is white and the vast majority of rap artists are black. He had to prove himself to a black audience to rise in the ranks and become one of the most respected and loved artists of the century.

All five of these brilliant documentaries are worth watching and will almost definitely become well-remembered classics. They have all received excellent ratings on movie review websites so you know for a fact they are enjoyed by a wide audience. Jihad is relevant right now with all the troubles in the middle east and provides a lot of knowledge on the current affairs. Drag Becomes Him is an inspirational documentary on how one man pursued his dreams and overcame unthinkable challenges due to his sexuality. CT Fletcher’s documentary is an extremely motivational documentary expressing how difficult it is to become one of the biggest fitness icons in the industry. Of course, we all know who Eminem is and his touching documentary on Shady records reveals a lot about his life and what other famous rap artists think about him. The next time you sit down in front of the TV you should definitely watch one of these inspirational and intriguing documentaries.

 

Sandlin Dormanen / October 8, 2015 / Documentary, Movies

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The Best Streaming Services for Movies and Television

Streaming TV shows and movies from the internet has become all the rage over the past few years. Online streaming has made it possible to watch anything from TV shows and live news to movies and sports on any device at your own preferred time. There is a large amount of content out there to be streamed, and there are many streaming services in the business. Owing to their content library and viewership experience, some streaming services stand out among the others.

Netflix

Owing to its exhaustive content library, Netflix is a giant in the media streaming business. It is a very good choice for movie watchers because the collection expands every week. The library has an excellent selection of movies, but the collection of TV shows is improving and constantly growing. Netflix also offers its own successful TV shows, such as House of Cards, Bloodline and Orange Is the New Black. Netflix is more expensive than the other streaming services, but it has an optimized interface and an excellent recommendation system. It is also completely ad free. It is compatible with anything from a gaming console to a smart phone. Every mainstream app store does have an app for Netflix.

Hulu Plus

hulu-plusHulu has a very modest library of movies, but it has no competition when it comes to its selection of TV shows. It has a robust collection of old shows and also has an excellent selection of current TV shows. Amazon and Netflix get their TV shows only after they are off air or after the season ends, but Hulu features fresh episodes of shows currently running on the TV. The one disadvantage would be that even after paying for Hulu Plus, you can’t avoid the ad commercials. It is easy to get Hulu Plus on any set top streaming box, smart phone, tablet and internet enabled TV.

Amazon Prime Instant Video 

Amazon expanded from a pay per view service to subscription based and on demand streaming service. The content library of Amazon Prime Instant Video used to be limited in comparison to that of Hulu and Netflix, but recently Amazon has signed partnerships with companies such as Warner Bros and Epix. Its library is constantly growing, and Amazon’s service has grown rapidly in the past few months. APIV is easily available on major set top streaming boxes, tablets and smart phones.

Sling TV 

Sling TV has a good content library and is also cheaper than cable. It has some 200 channels in different languages and is continually expanding. Sling is great for sports fans. For all those who just want to view ESPN, Sling TV is the best choice. Though its availability is limited, it doesn’t require any signing of contracts.

YouTube

YouTube enjoys its spot in the streaming world because it is a host to just about everything on the internet. There might be a lot of junk on the site, but you can search for anything that you wish for on YouTube. The site does have a good content library of both pay per view and free view. Though it is mostly free, it has a good on demand video service. Once you start, you will have 2 days to completely watch the movies. Movies can also be purchased.

iTunes

Apple has a great content selection and good purchase options, but it is not available on every device. There is a robust library of new releases, old flicks and series that have gone off air. Apple has an option to rent or buy movies and TV shows. You can also buy a Multi Pass, which will give you an access to a particular episode and the next following 15 episodes.

Google Play 

Google Play has a very good selection of current TV shows and new releases. They have an on demand video format, which is similar to iTunes and Vudu. Google Play is considered a good supplement to Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Though it isn’t available on every device, Google Play streams in HD quality on any Android device that has version 4.0 or later.

Vudu 

Vudu has a decent collection of feature films and its content is comparable to that of YouTube and iTunes. It is a pay per content service. It is available on any set top streaming box, Play station 3 and Xbox 360.

Sandlin Dormanen / October 1, 2015 / Movies, Television