Monthly Archives: December 2016

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I don’t tend to report on deals for services or products but for the sake of those looking to drop cable and experiment with otherTV delivery services should know that the DirecTV Now ending soon might be the only chance they get to receive 100 channels for $35.00. We took a look at the service when it launched and it offers a really solid group of channels for the price. There is now a definite date for the promotional price to end and it should be taken seriously.

DirecTV Now has a countdown clock on its website and as of right now there are 10 days and 13 hours left in the promotion before it ends. Afterward, the same package will cost $60.00. The package includes multiple ESPN options and other popular networks and like all tiers users can even add HBO for $5.00.

DirecTV Now Deal Ends Soon and they are not hiding it.
DirecTV Now Deal Ends Soon and they are not hiding it.

Does it work?
I took a look at the service for 7 days. During that period I had no trouble accessing the service via Apple TV and an Amazon Fire TV. Since that time there have been reports from customers of problems regarding the service. When you see stories about problems regarding streaming services there are a few things that can be at work. First of all maybe there is actually a problem on the service’s end. It could be a capacity issue, too many users at one time before its network is ready to handle the load etc. Problems can also be caused due to operator error, incorrectly setting up a home network, Internet Speed or reliance on Wifi in a spot too far from a router. I am sure DirecTV Now will have issues because all of these services have run into issues. The question consumers should ask themselves is how much of a hassle is too much?

I found no problems during my time with the service and plan to do more with it in the future. I recommend anyone looking into options to take a good look at the deal before it expires.

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While some studios and media entities appear to try and lock their content into a branded app as seen with streaming apps like the Warner Archive or Flimstruck, a collection of films from Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection, Disney’s strategy is to go where the viewers are. The company which owns ABC, ESPN The multiple Disney branded Networks and of course multiple theme parks and film properties, has eschewed the exclusive app model and has instead set up multiple deals to put its content on an array of partners including Hulu, Netflix and EPIX. A recent deal with Hulu will make a number of Disney properties, many from the 1990s available for streaming. Some of the films had been available on Netflix until recently.

Disney streaming rights not all cartoons

While a number of the properties were not branded as Disney, such as films like Con Air Gone in 60 Seconds, Pearl Harbor, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, the deal shows that Disney sees value in diversifying its portfolio a bit when it comes to distributing its material. What has not been discussed by either company is why Netflix was not the choice for the content in the first place. Netflix has famously dropped a number of titles in favor of original content production over the past 2 years which has been a help to Hulu in its negotiations. This was the case when Hulu picked up content from EPIX. Netflix and Epix both have a number of Marvel properties available.

Disney streaming options are numerous now as it has major deals in place with Epix, Netflix and Hulu and has shown flexibility in working with cable alternatives like Sling TV, PlayStaion Vue and DirecTV Now for the rights to stream its major TV properties. This is a far cry from the old Disney vault model of the 1980′s which made its movies much more difficult to find on home video. It shows that Disney believes in a strategy of going where the people are instead of an “If you build it they will come” model. The philosophy should be a winner for consumers either way.

Right now there are three companies offering cable alternatives via live streaming services. Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now. All three services offer a similar group of channels at varying prices but no one service has really taken the market. There are a number of reasons why this has not happened from people’s lack of understanding as to what the services do to a reluctance to drop traditional pay services. But there are some things that providers can put into place that will take things to the next level. The service that can pull together these features first will have a big edge against the competition.

The Best Live TV Streaming Service Will Do These Things

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By Chris Brass
Staff Writer

Roku Express VS Roku Express+

I’ve been using Roku products and watching the streaming world march towards 4k and HDR for years so when I heard that the 4th generation models were coming out I half expected to see the Roku 1 done away with and the budget minded entry level Roku be limited to the Stick, but I was pleased to see the Roku Express models coming out as not only a budget minded Roku, but even dropping the price point below the $50 mark into the $30 territory.  So getting my hands on an Express and Express+ model I decided to do a side by side comparison to see if there was any significant difference between the two budget models, which of course there wasn’t.

The Roku Express line is pocket sized.
The Roku Express line is pocket sized.

What’s the difference Between the Express and Express+
Both models are exactly the same in every detail save one.  With the Express+ you have the ability to connect to the TV using RCA inputs (the red white and yellow cables) which you can do on the 4×3 square T.V.’s of the past, plus you can set your display to be at 480 (DVD quality) even in the HDMI mode.  Although it costs you about $5 to have that feature, it’s well worth it in my opinion which I’ll explain later.

Power Options Both Can be powered by USB
Having the ability to get power using the USB port is a home run in my opinion due to the device shutting down when the TV is off as well as cable management. Users also have the option to plug in the power via an outlet adapter.

Mounting Equipment included
The Express and + can be mounted on your TV, much like a Nintendo Wii bar with Sticky tape.

Once you have signed in to your WiFi you are ready to get your streaming on.
Once you have signed in to your WiFi you are ready to get your streaming on.

Although I’ve not used the sticky tape, as a rule I have never had good luck with those so don’t really care for it much but if it does work for you it would mean mounting the little device someplace where it can get the IR signal. Unlike some other Roku models, these two require line of site with your remote. If you would prefer mounting it to the back of the TV you can. But you will need to use the mobile app in place of the remote (again because of the line of site issue).

Private listening through the mobile App

Speaking of the phone app, one new feature with all 4th generation Roku’s is the ability to have the TV audio be played on your Roku Phone App in much the same way as the often sited Roku 3 headphone jack for the remote control.  Two of my more commonly used Roku channels is iHeart and TuneIn Radio which allows me to listen to the audio, on my phone through my hearing aids, even while not watching TV.  Plus with the ability to send the TV audio directly to my hearing aids I have the option to cut out all background noise except what’s coming through the phone….

The Roku Remote app will allow users to mount the Roku Express behind their TV.
The Roku Remote app will allow users to mount the Roku Express behind their TV.

SCORE!!!! The mobile app will support normal headphones also.

Why get a Roku Express instead of a Roku 1
You may be able to find a Roku 1 on sale somewhere on via ebay etc. But the reason I would say to look at the Express or Express + is that there are some big upgrades from the Roku 1.

One big time improvement is that its Netflix channel allows for multiple Netflix user profiles. This was missing from the Netflix on Roku 1.

Performance differences. Using the Express models on Pluto TV and Sling TV is much better on the Express models than it is with the older Roku 1. When I played with Pluto TV on a Roku 1 and it was pretty obvious that it was pushing the limits of the device. The Roku 1 had long load times, longer times to flip through the available channels and with a very similar set up on services like Sling it was beginning to become obvious that the single core CPU was being pushed to its limits.  Other services, ABC and the other Roku channel providers, as well as the typical basic free channels it still worked fine, but if you limited yourself to the Roku 1 you would never be fully happy.

Other similar devices in the Roku Family
I’ve not had the occasional freezing and locking up that I experienced with the Roku (purple) stick.  In every way it is a superior product to the one that it’s replacing.

Why have two models?
Think of it this way. When you buy a car you should always invest some money into putting jumper cables in the back because it’s always better to have it and not need it then it is to need it and not

RCA Cables used to rule the audio video world
RCA Cables used to rule the audio video world

have it.  I view the Express+ in the same way.  I realize that the majority of TV’s out there are HD and have HDMI abilities, but I still see older square TV sets at people’s homes all the time, so to me it makes sense to continue to have the abilities to use Roku on them when you can because I foresee those TV’s to be available for the distant future. Roku should be commended for offering such an option in the face of competitors who don’t. Plus, and I don’t think enough individuals see the benefit of this, when you can set up your Roku to be at 480 instead of 720 or 1080, in a few cases you can actually improve the quality of the picture by getting rid of the pixilation that you occasionally encounter, especially when dealing with the common denominator of low download speeds you may encounter with some internet providers.

Recommendation
I will always get or push the Express+ because of the ability to connect to the TV with RCA cables. For me it’s better to have it and not need it then it is to need it and not have it.  If you think you will never ever have the need or desire to connect with RCA cables, save yourself the $5 and get the Express model, but I do think that it’s highly unlikely for the foreseeable future.  If I’m giving it as a gift I’m going to make the assumption that they will become addicted to the Roku and at some point in time they will decide to upgrade to one of the more capable and popular Premier and Ultra models so this may end up getting delegated an older TV.

Conclusion
Although I experienced some slight sluggishness with it compared to the more advanced models, compared to the Roku 1 it is crisp and responsive making it potentially the best introductory and budget minded streaming device on the market. I’ll be handing out Roku Express+ as gifts to many individuals in the future because it’s under $40 price tag makes it too appealing NOT to do it and I encourage others who are in love with what it has to offer to do the same, provided of course that Roku keeps its standards high.

See The Roku Express+ video from our fearless leader The Streaming Advisor

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By Josette Downey

Associate Editor

Christmas is only for a few days away and for many part of their holiday tradition is watching classic Christmas specials and movies even though you know them line by line. Unfortunately sometimes when these shows  air during the holiday season you may not have a chance to see them. Holiday time is busy you may forget to DVR something and if your child has a holiday play or there is a work party scheduled at the same time the show airs, you’re out of luck.

Luckily, though, the ABC app is making one classic available on demand: Charlie Brown’s Christmas. Now viewers can kind find a convenient time to gather the family and make some hot coco to watch this beloved tale, that attempts to remind everyone that Christmas isn’t about glittery Christmas trees or receiving abundant presents but about a child born in a manger.

The Watch ABC is a TV everywhere option that requires a login from a participating provider and is available on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, IOS and Android. It is free to use and access.

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By Josette Downey
Associate Editor 

1. A Christmas Kiss
This charming movie features a sweet character named Wendy who shares a magical kiss with the man of her dreams. There is just one problem. He happens to be her 
over-demanding boss’s boyfriend. Watch Wendy try to navigate the perils of her job while falling hopelessly in love. How can she not risk losing her job when she has already lost her heart.

christmas-belle2. Christmas Belle
This Story tells a tale as old as time as it recaptures the magic of a much-beloved fairy tale. Auctioneer Belle travels to the estate of a reclusive man who is known for his overbearing rude personality in order to get his late grandparents estate ready for sale. As Belle tries to capture the worth of his inheritance, she also finds herself wanting to turned this beastly man into her prince charming. Will she be able to capture his heart before the last petal falls?

12-dates3. 12 Dates for Christmas
plays on another too familiar theme. Kate is trapped in a time loop and there is only one way out. She must solve the problems of the people she meets one Christmas Eve. If not she is doomed to repeat it forever. But as she navigates these problems, she learns to tell the difference between a crush and true love as she gazes into the eyes of a local hockey player.

kissmas4. Merry Kissmass
A heartwarming tale of a young woman who has given up her dreams for a fiance that takes her for granted. That is until she has an elevator rendezvous with a local cater. When the two find themselves standing under mistletoe they can’t help but share a toe tingling kiss. But as Kayla begins to lose her heart to this local caterer her fiance tries remain in possession of her love. Who shall she choose?

5. All I want for Christmas is a tale that will touch a many of mother’s hearts. A young boy wants to bring some joy to his widow mother’s life so he enters a contest that will grant him a wish. His being a husband for his mom. As his mother becomes an overnight celebrity, his wish becomes harder to fulfill. But don’t worry. Christmas magic has a way of granting every christmas wish

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TV Shows                                                                  Season            Year

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt                                           1             1/9/17
Sneaky Pete * (AMAZON ORIGINAL)                               1             1/13/17
Just Add Magic * (AMAZON ORIGINAL)                           2             1/13/17
Red Rock                                                                         2             1/17/17
The A-Word                                                                     1             1/17/17
America Divided                                                              1             1/26/17
Z: The Beginning of Everything *                                    1             1/27/17
Mercy Street                                                                    2             1/29/17

Movies

13 Hours: Secret Soldiers of Benghazi                                           1/1/17
Across the Universe
Happy Feet
Rent
Hellboy (2004)
Radio (2003)
Stardust 2007
American History X
Norm of the North
Are We There Yet
Are We Done Yet
Maid in Manhatten
She’s All that                                                                                     1/3/17
The Infiltrator 2016                                                                           1/9/17
Where to Invade Next                                                                        1/22/17
The Choice                                                                                         1/23/17
Dirty Grandpa                                                                                     1/27/17
Swiss Army Man                                                                                 1/30/17

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Sling TV, PlyaStation Vue and DirecTV Now are all attempts to deliver a cable-like TV experience to viewers via streaming apps at a lower price.  And to their credit they all provide a great number of cable channels. But something that has been missed repeatedly by a number of reviewers, bloggers and much more disappointingly, supposedly authoritative sources is that none of these services, despite claims to the contrary, truly deliver major network channels to the majority of their viewers. And it’s time for the people who make money by talking about these and other services to be real with their readers. We have discussed this issue regularly in multiple contexts let me explain here why you may not receive any network programming on any of these streaming TV services no matter what kind of package you pay for.  

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The Roku Ultra finally got it’s OS update and with it came the ability to screen mirror on the Roku ultra. I am not sure why this was not a function from the start. But it is active now and works well. Take a look at our simple tutorial video on how to do this here.

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