Tools Toys and Technology

About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Tools Toys and Technology - About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Roku 3 is here


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If you’ve been reading my streaming TV posts, you know that my favorite set-top streaming receiver is Roku. Now they’ve given me (and you) another reason to love Roku.

Roku 3 hits the streets this week as the new high-end representative to the Roku product line. They’ve changed the look of the palm-size box a little, giving it rounded sides. But it goes far beyond appearance changes in both hardware and user interface.

Hardware Changes

Changes in the hardware include:

  1. Upgraded processor – makes it faster in navigating programming and features
  2. Upgraded dual-band WiFi – for extended range and increased speed
  3. New remote with headphone jack – Headphone jack? Yes, now you can enjoy your favorite streaming programs in bed, without disturbing your partner.
  4. Supports new video file formats – H264 and MKV may not mean much to you, and they don’t have to. Suffice it to say, the Roku 3 can play significantly upgraded video standards.
  5. Upgraded audio – supports 7.1 channel surround sound.

Retained hardware features from the previous top-of-the-line 2XS include: the 10/100 base-T ethernet connection for wired Internet performance, a USB port, and Bluetooth. Roke 3 has done away with the A/V connections, relying totally on HDMI for connection to your HD TV.

User Interface Changes

Your biggest pleasure will come when you fire up the new Roku 3. The good news for Roku has always been its plethora of TV and movie content. But when you’ve got that much stuff (over 750 channels and growing all the time), how do you find what you want?

That’s gotten a whole lot easier, thanks to the new user interface (UI), which shows you 9 channels at a time on a single screen. Clicking an advance arrow takes you to a new page of content. You can easily tell a channel you’ve already added by the check mark in the corner of the channel. A two-panel design makes it easier to browse genres, with a list of genre names on the left and the channel content grid on the right.

The Roku 3 is a significant upgrade in what I already consider to be the top streaming set-top box out there. I’m sure there is one in my future.

Read More about Roku 3

 

Netflix Launches New Windows 8 App

With the eminent formal availability of Windows 8 (October 26), the big “IF” that has everyone questioning its viability for mobile devices is the limited number of available apps vs. established competitors like Apple and Android.

One big hole in the entertainment app category has been the absence of a Netflix app. That hole has just been filled. A touchscreen optimized app for Netflix has just been added to the Windows Store. While it will work on any computer running Windows 8, it is clearly targeted at Windows 8 mobile devices with touch screens (tablets and hybrid tablet/notebooks).

I suspect the disparity in the number of apps for Windows 8 vs. the established mobile competitors will shrink rapidly once the new devices start to hit the streets. When Windows 8 devices become prevalent and numerous, app developers will find this market too lucrative to ignore for long.

 

Internet TV Revisited

Copyright © 2012 Richard Beaty

I’ve got some updated news on Internet TV this month. So, let’s call this issue: Internet TV Revisited.

Paid YouTube Subscriptions? It Could Happen.

YouTube has been in business for less than 8 years. It seems like a lot longer than that, doesn’t it? In that time, they’ve created a video streaming juggernaut. They currently stream over 4 billion – that’s BILLION with a “B” – videos daily. Think about it … 4 billion today, 4 billion tomorrow, 4 billion the day after that. Try to imagine the Internet band width they have to have.

Continue reading

Google TV — Round 2

Google TV has been around for a couple of years. It was an attempt to integrate Internet TV to your big screen, much like Roku and other devices I’ve reported on at length.

It was first offered in conjunction with a Logitech product that included a wireless keyboard and set-top interface box. The product was an unmitigated  flop. Logitech lost millions. They have finally decided to stop the hemorrhaging and announced that they are discontinuing the product. Funny. I didn’t even know it was still around until their announcement.

Well, Google TV is coming back. It will be built into a line of LG smart TVs. These Google TV-powered sets will include a remote with a full QWERTY keyboard.

Will Google TV fly this time? I’ll report more as this product rolls out.

High Speed Internet in SaddleBrooke PLUS New Tablets

Copyright © 2012 Richard Beaty

I’ve got a couple of things for you today, including great news about high speed Internet in SaddleBrooke. I’ll also have something to say about those tablet thingies (technical word) you see all over the place.

Remember, you can read all current and past Two’s News articles right here on this Website by clicking “Two’s News Articles” at the top of the page. You can also select “Timely Updates” under the topics heading to read about things that come up between articles.

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Get Ready for Blazing Fast WiFi

WiFi as we know it is about to become obsolete. It’s been a good ride, but it will be blown out of the water with the new standard, known as 802.11ac.

The current standard (802.11n) can stream at speeds over 100 Mbps at close range, but that falls off rapidly with distance and obstacles within the home or office. This means that WiFi sometimes just isn’t good enough for high bandwidth applications, like streaming TV. These applications sometimes require going to Powerline Network Adapters to deliver a wired connection over household wiring. But the new standard in WiFi is reported to outstrip even direct cable connection in terms of speed.

The new protocol is expected to hit the streets sometime in the last half of 2012. To take advantage of it, you will need a new router. OK, routers don’t cost too much. But then you’ll need a new laptop with the 802.11ac chipset that can send and receive in the new standard. Want to take advantage of the new speed to stream video to your TV? Now you need a new smart television or other streaming TV receiver that can work with the new standard.

Hmm? It’s starting to get expensive, huh? But that’s the way it is with technology. When it advances, we get new performance and capabilities, and we open our pocket books to be able to use it.

Free Online TV

Copyright © 2012 Richard Beaty

We’re just about to wrap up our series on Internet TV, but I’ve got one more topic to cover first.

Review:

  1. I started out this series by discussing the hardware and infrastructure you need to deliver Internet TV to your big screen. [Internet TV – an Introduction]
  2. Then I followed up with a discussion of subscription programming services, including Netflix and Hulu Plus. [Netflix, Hulu & Hulu Plus]
  3. In my last article, I concluded subscription programming options by introducing you to Amazon Instant Video; and I reviewed my favorite Roku channels. [Amazon Instant Video and My Favorite Roku Channels]

This time I will review totally free online TV that you can access with your computer on the Internet. I’ll also show you how to connect your computer to your TV for viewing those free videos on your big screen.

Continue reading

Big Names and Big Bucks Vying to Buy Hulu

Oh my gosh!

What happens when companies with names like Google, Yahoo, Amazon and Dish Network all start competing to buy the same company?

The numbers get VERY BIG … VERY FAST!

It is reported that these same companies are competing to purchase the streaming TV company Hulu. Most of the bids for Hulu are coming in the range of 1.5 to 2 billion dollars. But Google has promised to do whatever it takes to snatch up Hulu and its content license agreements.

It’s not even clear that Hulu will sell. But the figures being tossed its way have to make them sit up and take notice … and SMILE … a LOT!

Amazon Adds 3,000 New Titles to Prime Instant Video

Amazon announced today that it was adding 3,000 new titles to its Prime Instant Video collection, bringing the total size of the Prime library to 17,000 titles. Members of Amazon Prime can stream an unlimited number of programs from this library at no additional charge beyond their annual Prime subscription rate.

Quoting from the Amazon Website:

We’ve struck a deal with Discovery Networks to bring some of the highest quality, non-fiction, informative and entertaining content about the world to our Amazon Prime customers. Rolling out over the next few weeks are TV shows from Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, and Science.