Category: Purchasing

Do I Need A Streaming Device?

Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick…Do You Need One?   

Are you considering buying one of these devices or are you wondering if you need one?

These devices are designed for streaming content.  In this article I’m going to give you some basic information about how they work and and make some recommendations.

TV menu for streaming services showing Netflix and Hulu

What Is Streaming?

Streaming is a method of transmitting or receiving data (especially video and audio material) over a computer network as a steady, continuous flow.  It allows playback to proceed while subsequent data is being received.

In other words, instead of downloading a movie or song and then playing it from your device, (computer, smartphone, or tablet) you watch it as it’s being transmitted over the internet from someone else’s server. (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc.)

Here’s a good analogy:  when someone talks to you, information travels toward you in the form of a sound wave. Your ears and brain decode this information, allowing you to understand it.

  • Streaming video and audio, is a stream of data from a server.
  • The decoder is a stand-alone player like a Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick or a plugin (program) that works as part of a Web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari).
  • The server data stream and the decoder work together to show live (sports events, concerts) or prerecorded (movies, songs) broadcasts.

What Does Buffering Mean?

Buffering is the process of creating a buffer which is some data stored in the memory for playing back soon.  When your video stops or lags and you see “buffering,” that means the download has not happened fast enough and you’ve viewed more than was able to be downloaded.  This situation occurs when the internet connection is not fast enough.  After a few minutes the download catches up and the video starts again.

Who Streams and Why?

image of a smoking cable cord and the amazon, hulu and netflix logos

According to Hub Entertainment Research’s Conquering Content Report, 52 percent of people now watch streaming video and more than 48 percent of those use set-top boxes. (like Roku and Apple TV)

Two-thirds of them subscribe to at least one of the big three streaming services: Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. More than a third subscribe to two or more services.

According to another Hub study, Decoding the Default, 78 percent of people are still subscribing to cable or satellite, but 70 percent of those subscribers are also subscribing to a streaming service. It appears people aren’t “cutting the cord” but rather, adding streaming networks.

One of the reasons is that watching popular shows like Stranger Things (Netflix), The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu), or The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime), requires a subscription to their streaming services.

In addition, traditional over-the-air (OTA) networks, such as CBS are also moving to streaming. Star Trek: Discovery, is only available on CBS’s streaming service: CBS All Access.

Do I Need A Streaming Device?

Most newer TVs have streaming capability (The LG OLEDB8P or LG OLEDC7P, are considered some of the best).  If you only watch shows from the big three streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime), you may not need a separate set-top streaming gadget.

Apple TV

Picture of a TV with Apple TV menu

Do you love Apple gadgets? Do you buy and rent videos from the iTunes store? Do you use iTunes for your personal media library? Then you’ll enjoy Apple TV.  The latest Apple TV is The Apple TV 4K. The starting price is $179 and you will need a 4K TV to benefit fully benefit from the 4K resolution but it will work on older TV’s.  (Be aware that if you upgrade your TV to 4K, you will need to upgrade any other devices you have, like DVD players. It’s a seemingly never ending cycle of consumerism. LOL

In addition to letting you buy or rent content from the Apple Store or your own iTunes library, the new Apple TV supports more third-party streaming services than it used to, but it still doesn’t support Amazon Prime Video.  It has some cool apps of it’s own like slideshows of the history of art, famous places around the world. And your personal  photos.

Other advantages to Apple TV is that, unlike other streaming devices, Apple TV 4K also supports HDR10 video, Dolby Vision HDR, Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac Wi‑Fi connectivity.

A big plus in my book is the Apple TV interface and remote controller because they are so simple and easy to use.  

Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice   Picture of a TV screen with the Amazon order page for instant videos

If you’re an Amazon Echo user or a subscriber to Amazon Prime Video, you might want the Amazon streaming gadget – the new Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice. You can use it’s remote controller or any nearby Alexa device, to start showing The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and other Amazon videos.  It also supports most of the other popular streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. At $39.99, it’s an affordable, high-quality streaming gadget.

Like other devices, it supports 4K and HDR-10 but it also supports Dolby Vision, an HDR format alternative to the more popular HDR-10.  In theory, Dolby Vision HDR is superior to HDR10 because of its potential to display more colors but you may not be able to see the difference.

Roku

Picture of a TV screen with the Roku menu

If you have an older TV that doesn’t offer streaming, the Roku Express+ for $39.99 can bring it up to speed. This device has composite A/V ports that work with older TVs.

Roku builds outstanding streaming devices and they have a simple interface that’s easy to use.  This year’s top Roku device is the Roku Streaming Stick Plus. It’s a simple stick and it supports 4K video, High Dynamic Range Video 10 (HDR10) and 802.11ac WiFi for only $59.99.

Like all Roku devices, it supports many more streaming services than its competitors so people who want to explore the hundreds of video services available will want this one.

The new Roku Premiere+ available from Walmart for $49.99 has most of the Stick Plus features and a good voice interface with audio control built into the remote but it only supports 802.11n at 2.4GHz so if your WiFi isn’t strong, it may not work well for you.

Nvidia Shield TV  Picture of the Nvidia Shield console device for gaming and streaming movies

Are You A Gamer?

If you want to both stream video and play games, you have many good choices including Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro or the Xbox One X, but for streaming, the Nvidia Shield (2017) is much cheaper at $179.  It does a great job of showing 4K and HDR video and you can use it to stream many services including Netflix, Amazon, and Vudu.

It also supports Google Assistant (because it runs the Android TV operating system).  The current model comes with a microphone, so you won’t need to buy an accessory to use Google Assistant.  However, Google assistant devices are pretty inexpensive and very useful in their own right so you might want to get one anyway. (More about assistants in another article coming soon.)

Hope this puts you “in the know” and helps you decide what, if anything, to buy.  

What streaming services do you use?  Do you have a streaming device?  Will you buy one now?

Please share in the comments below.

Enjoy!

Mardi

Laptop VS Notebook?

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a laptop and a notebook computer?

The question came up last week when I was doing a purchase consultation and I thought you might want to know.  Here is a great article that explains and compares them.

http://www.diffen.com/difference/Laptop_vs_Notebook

Things To Consider When Buying a New Gadget

Mardi Speaks to Group about How to Buy The Right Gadget For Your Needs

Do you belong to a group that would like me to speak about Things to Consider When Shopping for a New Gadget?

Attendees receive a handy Needs Assessment Questionnaire, and have an opportunity to get their questions answered.

I do these presentations as a complimentary service because working with gadgets can be soooooo much easier when you buy the right equipment for your individual needs and you can save a lot of money by not buying features you don’t need.  Also, I appreciate the opportunity to connect with new people who might need my services someday.

Have you heard about Telikin?

Have you heard about Telikin?

A client asked me this recently so I looked in to it and I am impressed!  Telikin is a super easy to use touch screen computer.  It will be a great solution for many of my clients and I thought you might be interested in it for yourself or for someone you love.

My Mother saw it in the AARP magazine a few years ago and I didn’t pay much attention because she already knew a little bit about how to use a PC laptop and I didn’t think a Telikin would be the best choice for the price.  Now that she is 93 and having some vision problems, I think the Telikin would be better for her.  Even though she is my “poster child” for what “tech resistant” elders can do, (she has hearing aids that connect to her TV and iPod with bluetooth) I think she would enjoy her computer more and use it more if she had a Telikin.  They have easy payment plans so I just may be getting her one soon.

This week, I had an online meeting with Nancy Allegrezza, Director of Sales and wife of the inventor of Telikin.  Nancy is also a nurse, and her passion for helping seniors and providing excellent customer service is truly inspiring.

Nancy and her husband got involved because they had aging parents with disabilities, and wanted to help them stay connected via email, photos and video chat.  There weren’t any easy computer solutions.  The Telikin computer, its apps and customer service are all designed to make everything fun and easy.  

In my experience with clients to date, the best solution has been the iPad.  However, the screen is very small and the the apps have commands that are hard to see and sometimes hard to find.  I keep wondering why someone doesn’t come up with a better solution.
http://telekin.com/
Telikin may be the answer.  Everything is in large letters and the navigation buttons are clearly visible and well labeled.  There is nothing to open or close, you just touch the big buttons on the screen and you are where you want to be!  The price is just about right, too – $699 isn’t a lot to pay vs. a $599 for a Mac Mini without a monitor.  

You can try a Telikin for two months and get your money back if you don’t like it.  They provide VIP tech support (including remote access) to ensure that you have a good experience right from the beginning.  And it has a “tech buddie” feature so a trusted friend or relative, anywhere, can access your computer remotely and help whenever you want.

I’d love to know what you think about it.  Do you think you might be interested in getting one?  Do you know someone who might like one?

Click here to see a video and learn more about the features and benefits and let me know what you think.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

In joy,

Mardi
“Helping people enjoy the many benefits of modern technology is my passion”

P.S.  Feel free to forward this to anyone you think might be interested.

Good News – Phones Unlocked!

Good News – Phones Unlocked!

The government has agreed to the unlocking of devices in the United States  This means you can now unlock your mobile phone or tablet (iPhones, iPads, Android smartphones and tablets) and use it with a different wireless network carrier. All major service providers like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S cellular are now allowing the unlocking of devices so you can switch to the carrier service that is best for you.  Previously, if you wanted to change your network provider you had to buy a new phone.

Wireless carriers you can see if you allow images in your email app

The unlocking policy and methods vary according to the network provider. The unlocking process is free if you fit into the rules set by the provider.  Before making your request to unlock the device, check the company policy and make sure you are eligible.

Please forward this to everyone you know so they can be safe and feel relaxed, happy and confident with their computers and techie gadgets.

Thoughts or comments about this topic?
Please comment below.

Thanks!

Pre-purchase Consultation Questions

One of my services is consulting with people to help them choose the best computer or gadget for their individual needs.  So much frustration can be avoided by buying the right product in the first place, and I have already test-driven quite a few of them in order to pave the way for others to have a more pleasant experience.  See my previous posts for the gruesome details.  LOL

Here are the questions I use for my consultations.  Please forward this to your friends and relatives so they will have it when they are considering a computer or gadget purchase.   They will thank you for it.

1. What is your budget?

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?

3. What screen resolution do you want?

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

5. How much battery life do you need?

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low, Medium or High)?

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, etc.)

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer, Blue Ray ROM/Writer, etc ?

12. Please tell me about the brands that you prefer and the brands that you don’t like and explain the reasons.

13. What country do you live in?

14. Please tell me any additional information if needed.

Additionally… you should consider available support options in your area. If you buy something abroad, will you be able to have it fixed near where you live? Does the warranty apply? How quickly do local accredited technicians fix laptops?

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