Google+ November 2015 ~ High Tech House Calls

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Confused About Wi-Fi Routers? Here's How to Buy the Right One for Your Home Tyler Lacoma, Digital Trends

These days, wireless routers are everywhere. Nearly every house, apartment, business, and sketchy van parked down by the river has one. A functional wireless router allows you to easily connect your computer to a broadband Internet service so you share data files and stream media between mobile/Wi-Fi devices.

Although you could opt for a wired router, we suggest a wireless model so you can avoid stringing Ethernet cable around your home unless you absolutely have to; besides, a wireless router is the best way to access the Internet using your smartphone or tablet. And if you ever discover you absolutely must have a wired connection, the router will have a built-in switch to handle it. While you’re at it, check out the best 802.11ac routers on the market, along with our guide on how to secure your wireless network.

Do you need a router?

Routers are not absolutely necessary if you prefer to use a hard-wired connection and run an Ethernet cable directly to your computer, but given most mobile devices lack a dedicated Ethernet port, opting for a wireless network remains the only solution for picking up an Internet connection using a smartphone or tablet.

Routers also allow you to share media, stream music and video, and seamlessly connect every device in your home — whether you want to stream music to your speaker system or simply pick up an Internet connection on the other side of the room. A single desktop may not need a wireless router, but for a house full of devices, it’s often a necessity. 

Choosing network standards

Now let’s talk about the features you should look for in a wireless router. Just like smartphones, router manufacturers are constantly implementing new and more powerful wireless standards (IEEE standards, specifically) as technology becomes more advanced. That’s why we have standards like 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac – these aren’t just random numbers, they are a description of router capabilities. The traditional single-home user will likely need a different kind of router from the heavy-gamer or media enthusiast.

The latest standard is 802.11ac, which you see on all the newest routers. That means that the router can support up to Gigabit speeds, much faster than the previous 600Mbps limit. Like previous standards, “ac” is backwards compatible with devices made for older standards. As it becomes widely adopted, 802.11ac is growing more affordable and will soon be commonplace.

If you are buying a new router, look for the “ac” standard first. However, be aware that you won’t see the new standard’s full benefit unless your devices also support it. If your smartphone only supports 802.11n, for example, then you won’t see any speed boost on that phone if you purchase an 802.11ac router. You might find none of your devices support 802.11ac, in which case an older, less expensive router could make more sense.

Capable routers touting the “ac” capability include ASUS Dual-Band AC1750 Wireless Gigabit Router and Netgear Nighthawk AC 1900 Dual-Band Wifi Gigabit Router, each of which offers considerably quicker speeds at the expense of compatibility.

Interpreting Wi-Fi network speeds

Remember, you should always take manufacturers’ speed declarations with a grain of salt. For example, many manufactures list “theoretical” maximum bandwidth on their boxes. You’ll see anything from 350Mb/sec to 1900Mb/sec (megabits per second), but you’ll rarely see throughput that high in realistic environments in which walls, doors, appliances, and other barriers separate your router from its client devices. A plethora of other specs and standards also influence real-world speeds from router to router, so use listed speeds as more of a general guideline.

Fortunately, wireless routers manufactured in compliance with the 802.11ac standard should be capable of streaming high-definition video over a reasonable distance, provided there aren’t too many obstacles in the path between the router and its client.

All wireless routers also feature built-in Ethernet for hard-wired network connections, but cheaper routers will have switches rated at only 100Mb/sec. You won’t regret spending a few extra dollars to buy a model with a Gigabit switch (that’s 1,000Mb/sec).

When buying, remember that a router’s speed only determines the speed of your home network. It won’t make your Internet connection quicker unless it was bottle-necked by your previous router. Today, that’s unlikely in most parts of the world. A typical American router on Comcast, for example, will have bandwidth between 40 and 150 Mb/s. That’s not enough to utilize all the bandwidth recent Wi-Fi standards can handle.

Wireless data security

Wireless networks are as insecure as they are convenient — if you don’t take steps to secure your network, just about any troublemaker within range can eavesdrop on your online activities, leech off your Internet connection, access any of the files stored on your computers, infect your systems with viruses, and cause all sorts of other problems.

Any router you buy should support at least WPA2 (the second implementation of the Wi-Fi Protected Access protocol), but every device you add to your network must also support WPA2 for this to work. Your network is only as secure as the least-secure device that’s connected to it. WPA is acceptable, though not ideal. It’s not a good idea to rely on WEP, which is easily cracked by tools that anyone can download for free.

Also keep in mind that some routers are designed with enterprise or advanced family security in mind. These devices come with many extra features, including the ability add extra encryption, monitor devices, block unwanted users from the network, and even see what people are browsing.

How many bands do I need?

Manufacturers have sold dual-band routers for years, but now many are starting to roll out tri-band routers as well.

Dual-band typically means that the router is equipped with two radios, one that operates on the 2.4GHz frequency band, and one that runs on the 5.0GHz frequency band. This enables you to set up two separate wireless networks, so you can improve speeds in a crowded wireless network by bumping some devices over to the alternate frequency.

Make sure you read the fine print, though. Some dual-band routers in fact have one radio that can operate on either the 2.4GHz or 5.0GHz bands, but not both at the same time.

Tri-band routers include a second 5.0GHz band. This is helpful if you have a lot of mobile devices on one network and need to spread them around three bands for greater efficiency and data management. Tri-band routers remain rare, because very few people need them. They can be useful in a dorm or office, but aren’t necessary for the average house.

Smart Wireless Management

(Bill Roberson/Digital Trends)
One of the worst problems to plague the average router is interference. A router isn’t much good if it can’t give you acceptable wireless signals everywhere you want it. Fortunately, most modern routers have a couple other tricks to deal with this problem.

The solution is using “smart” processes that identify devices or dead zones and target them with Wi-Fi signals so they they always get service. The monstrous D-Link AC3200 Ultra, for example, has SmartBeam technology to do just this. Products like Luma, on the other, encourage people to buy several routers and link them together to create a Wi-Fi web around your home that eliminates dead zones. These solutions are something to keep in mind if you’ve had bad experiences with routers in the past.

Google’s recently introduced OnHub router goes a step further, baking extensive Wi-Fi functionality into an easily understood smartphone app. Other manufacturers are also taking this route, though OnHub’s is the easiest to understand so far.

Quality of Service

Despite the label, Quality of Service (QoS) is not related to the quality of your Internet connection; rather, it’s a set of mechanisms within the router’s firmware that reserves certain resources for different applications.

If you rely on a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service, such as Vonage, for telephone service, QoS allows you to configure the router to assign that data flow higher priority. So if someone in your home is downloading a large file while you’re talking on the phone, the quality of your call won’t degrade.

QoS can also be used to optimize your network’s performance with online games, video streaming, and similar applications. QoS can’t increase your network’s bandwidth or speed up your Internet access, but it can make the best use of the online resources you do have.

USB connections

(Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends)
The last router feature we’ll examine is USB support. You’ll find USB ports on many routers, but it’s important to find out what that port is used for. On some routers, it’s merely a means of transferring setup information (network ID and password, for example) from the router to a client via a USB memory key. Better routers will allow you to plug in a USB mass-storage device to add NAS (network-attached storage) functionality. Plug a large USB hard drive into your router and every device on your network will have access to that storage resource — it’s like having a cheap server.

You should also pay attention to the generation of the USB port. Many routers have a combination of both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports. Some only have one or the other. At least one USB 3.0 port is a smart feature to purchase if you plan on attaching any accessories.

What to spend: Price vs. performance

Router prices vary greatly based on their features, antennas, ports, and much more. Generally, the best routers available today vary from $100 to $250. You can find smaller routers below this range, and large enterprise routers above it, but most fall somewhere along the line. If you’re on a tight budget, you can find some decent routers for $50 or less, but they won’t offer all the latest and greatest features.

A cheap router that delivers sub-par performance is no bargain. Product reviews will give you a hint as to what you can expect, but setting one up in your own home is the only sure way to know how the router will perform in your unique environment. When you buy yours, make sure the retailer you do business with offers a liberal return policy if you’re not satisfied.

This article was originally published by Drew Prindle November 14, 2012.

Friday, November 27, 2015

SanDisk’s wireless flash drive upgrade, easy and inexpensive by Greg Ellman

Organize and transfer content with SanDisk 3.0 photo

San Disk’s new plug-n-play Ultra Dual USB Drive 3.0 has the typical USB connection on one end, as expected from a flash drive. But this one stands out because the other end has a microUSB connector which makes it ideal for moving content on devices including OTG enabled Android smartphones.

To organize and transfer content, you must download the free SanDisk Memory Zone app in Google Play. Consider that app your file cabinet to access files and move content on or off a device.
This includes photos, music, movies and contacts. You can also access and use anything on the drive without first moving to your device.
For example, if the memory of your smartphone is full and you want to watch an HD movie, plug in the Ultra Dual drive and watch it without having to transfer it.
The standard USB works with any Windows or MAC computer (no driver needed). It measures just 0.43-by-0.78-by-1.44-inches, has a slider to expose the connection you want and is available in 16GB ($13.24), 32GB ($18.49) and 64GB ($34.24) capacities.
Check the SanDisk for a complete list of compatible devices. The USB 3.0 port is back-wards compatible with USB 2.0.

How to buy the right TV for you By Komando Staff

You've decided it's finally time to replace your current TV. Maybe you want something bigger, with a higher resolution, brighter colors, built-in apps or any number of other features. Or maybe you're looking for a second TV for a bedroom or kids room.

Whatever you're after, when you walk into the store or go online, you're going to see hundreds of TVs in all shapes and sizes with features you didn't even know existed. How do you make sure you're making the best decision? We're going to walk you through the choices you need to make when selecting a new TV.

Screen technology 
The first thing you need to decide is what kind of screen technology you want. This is actually fairly easy at the moment because the majority of TVs you see are going to be LCD, also called LED TVs because they use LED backlighting, as we'll discuss later.

The prices on LCD TVs have dropped substantially and you can find 40-inch models for under $300, and possibly even $100 this holiday shopping season. Even a nice 60-inch model is going to be less than $1,000.

As for other technology, plasma TVs aren't being manufactured anymore, although you can still find some around. These are generally going to be lower resolution or have fewer features than LCD models.

Then there are new OLED, or organic light-emitting diode, TVs on the market. The screen itself is made up of self-illuminating pixels, which has the benefit of being more energy efficient than a traditional LCD backlight. Also, because each pixel can turn off and be perfectly black, OLED TVs can have a higher contrast so images appear more vibrant.

However, there is still some question about color fading over time. You're also going to be paying a few thousand more than you will for an LCD of comparable size. A 55-inch OLED is around $3,000 while an LCD is under $1,000. True, $3,000 is quite a bit less than OLEDs used to cost, but it's still a hefty price tag. In most cases, you're going to be sticking with LCD.

Your next choice is the resolution you want. As a reminder, resolution is how many pixels are packed into the screen. In general, the more pixels there are, the more detail you get on images.

Right now, 1080p, also known as high definition or Full HD, is the standard resolution on TVs. Just about any HD broadcast, HD online video or Blu-ray movie is going to match this resolution. You might still find some smaller TVs with a lower 720p HD resolution but they're few and far between.

However, you will also see some TVs with the newer, higher resolution 4K, or Ultra HD. It's called 4K because you get four times the pixels of 1080p, which means images have a lot more detail. At least they do when you're playing 4K video, which there isn't a lot of at the moment.

In most cases, you'll be playing HD 1080p content on your 4K TV, so it won't do much for you. That's why up until even a few months ago there was no good reason to buy a 4K TV. However, there have been some changes lately.

Netflix, Amazon and YouTube have had a few 4K videos and TV series for a while, but not enough to justify a 4K TV. Now, however, Amazon and Roku have released streaming boxes, the Fire TV and Roku 4, that stream 4K video. Smart 4K TVs could already stream these videos on their own, but with Amazon and Roku in the 4K game we should start seeing even more 4K content arriving.

The other change is that 4K TV prices have dropped quite a bit. You can find off-brand 42-inch 4K TVs for $400. Even a Samsung 40-inch 4K TV is only around $700 (of course, that's still at least $400 more than an HD model).

One caveat is that 4K really only makes a noticeable difference at screen sizes of 60 inches or more. For a 4K TV that size, you can expect to pay $1,200 and up, although prices should drop further during the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Screen size
Another important consideration is the size of the TV you’re aiming for. An 80-inch TV just isn’t going to work in a small apartment, and a 32-inch TV isn’t ideal for a large family room. Fortunately, there is a formula to help you choose the ideal screen size.

Measure the distance between your couch and your TV. The size of the TV should be between one-half and one-third that distance. That gives you the minimum size and maximum size you would want to buy.

To help you out, here are some examples:

Distance    Minimum size   Maximum size
6 feet         24-inch screen   36-inch screen
8 feet         32-inch screen   48-inch screen
10 feet       40-inch screen   60-inch screen
12 feet       48-inch screen   72-inch screen

Some people recommend going a bit bigger than the maximum listed here, but it’s mostly down to personal preference. When you’re in the store, stand back from the TV the same distance you will be at home. That should tell you if it will be too big or small for comfortable viewing, meaning you don't have to strain your eyes, or move your head around to see everything.

Refresh rate
Lately, manufacturers have been making a big deal about screen refresh rate. This is how many times an image appears on the screen each second.

In the past, the highest TVs got was 60 hertz, or 60 refreshes a second. However, to make 3-D video work, manufacturers had to bump the refresh rate up to 120Hz. Even though 3-D fizzled, they kept 120Hz, claiming it allows for a crisper image. And it can, sort of.

Basically, with 120Hz the TV creates new frames to go between the usual 60 frames. Those in-between frames help reduce motion blur when there's movement on screen. It generally works fine for sports and video games, but many people don't like it for TV and movies because it gives everything a "soap opera" look.

Not content with 120Hz, many manufacturers have TV sets that have 240Hz refresh. This is supposed to make things even sharper; however, in practice there's very little improvement over 120Hz.

In other words, don't buy a TV based on the refresh rate. If you do buy a TV with a high refresh, make sure you can drop it back to 60Hz in case you don't like the look.

LCD backlight
LCD TVs require a backlight to work, and there are a few different kinds. Technology-wise, you probably won't see any old-school CCFL, or cold-compact fluorescent light, models. Those were replaced with brighter and more energy-efficient LED backlights a while ago.

In fact, as we said earlier, LCD TVs now are typically called LED TVs in advertising and in the store. Don't confuse these with OLED TVs, however. When it comes to LED backlights, there are a few styles you'll see, but the main ones are full array and edge lit.

In a full-array backlight, the LEDs are equally spaced behind the panel.

In an edge-lit system, they're in the edge. Edge lit has the advantage of allowing for a thinner TV while full array generally gives more consistent lighting across the entire panel. Each system will have a local dimming feature for better screen contrast. In other words, sections of LEDs can turn off when needed to make the blacks truly black, which improves the picture contrast and makes images more vibrant. It doesn't work as well as OLED, which can dim individual pixels, but it's something.

Full array with local dimming is the best choice, but it's also the most expensive. Edge lit with local dimming is OK, but it can occasionally produce a bloom effect in images.

Unless you're a serious videophile with a dedicated theater room, you probably won't notice much of a difference with any of these options. So, don't let the choice stress you out.

The days of having just a cable box to plug into your TV are fading fast. Now you might have a streaming box or two, one or more video game consoles, or any number of other things you want to plug in. Swapping out cables is annoying, which is why TV manufacturers have started putting more ports on TVs.

You'll want at least two HDMI ports, although three to five would be better for future compatibility. They should also be HDMI 1.4 for an HDTV or HDMI 2.0 for 4K. On a budget TV, HDMI 1.3 isn't the end of the world, but it might not always work well with newer technology.

Many TVs will have USB ports, which are handy for plugging in flash drives to show images.

However, these can also be used to power gadgets like Google's Chromecast or an HD antenna. It's best to have two or more USB ports just to be safe.

Most TVs will also have optical outs for audio receivers, and some will have component input to handle VCRs or other older technology. If you are dealing with a home theater setup or older technology, be sure to look for these.

If your TV is "smart" then it should also have built-in Wi-Fi. 802.11n is OK, but if you're planning to stream video directly to the TV, or want better future-proofing, 802.11ac would be better if it's available. If you're using a third-party box for streaming, then the Wi-Fi doesn't matter as much.

If you want solid streaming and your home has shaky Wi-Fi, look around for a TV that includes an Ethernet port so you can plug it directly into your network.

Smart TVs
As streaming online video has gotten popular through sites like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon and others, TV manufacturers have built streaming apps right into the TVs. That way, you don't need a third-party box to get online video to your screen.

On the one hand, that's convenient because you only have to buy one unit and you can control it with one remote. On the other hand, manufacturers generally develop proprietary software and have their own app stores.

This means you have to check carefully what services the TV supports (hint: None of them supports iTunes) and you shouldn't expect frequent upgrades or additions.
Some TVs do use third-party software such as RokuOS or Google's Android TV. These get more frequent updates, and in the case of Android TV lets you access any app in the Google Play app store.

The other part of the equation is the TV's hardware. It takes a lot of processing power to stream video or run game apps smoothly. Budget smart TVs aren't going to have the most powerful processors, which generally means they run slow, although video streaming should be smooth once it gets going.
More expensive TVs will have quad-core processors and tend to be snappier.

In general, you'll have better luck buying a third-party streaming box to go with your TV. It won't add too much to the cost and it will typically have more options and better hardware. Learn about the streaming boxes currently on the market.

Other thoughts 
Earlier, we mentioned off-brand manufacturers. Generally, you do want to stick with recognizable brands, such as Samsung, LG, etc. They often have better build quality and customer service when something goes wrong, although they do tend to cost more.

However, you shouldn't always discount lesser-known brands. Vizio, for example, hasn't been around long, but it's made a name for itself with solid products at cheaper prices than the big brands. It even developed its own impressive backlighting system that serves it well.

Look around online and judge a TV based on its reviews, not just the brand name. Learn how to spot fake online reviews so you can get the real story on a product.

3-D TV technology is included in a lot of TV sets now and doesn't cost extra, so you might want to give it a try. If you want to use the 3-D features, however, you'll need to choose between active 3-D, which requires battery-powered shutter glasses, and passive 3-D, with polarized filters. The active 3-D glasses are coming down in price, but are still a bit more than the passive ones.

Once you get your TV home and fire it up, you might be disappointed with the image quality. That's because TVs are often calibrated to look good in store lighting, not home lighting. You could hire a professional to calibrate your TV for your room, but most people can do a good enough job on their own with the right tools. Learn how to calibrate your own TV for better image quality.

The moocher’s guide to cutting the cord, 2015 edition by Jared Newman

Cutting the cable TV cord in 2015 is supposed to involve some sacrifice. Many cable channels still don’t stream their videos to non-subscribers, and with the growing number of streaming services that do exist, you must make hard choices about where your money goes.

But this brave new world of streaming video does have a big loophole in the form of password sharing. Borrow a login to your favorite channel app or streaming service, and you can defray or dodge the cost of subscribing on your own. Is password sharing morally dubious? For sure, but it’s also one way to protest a system that’s been stacked against consumers’ interests for years.

With Thanksgiving weekend approaching—and ample opportunity to plead for family members’ login details—now’s a fine time to look at what’s available through streaming, and any password-sharing restrictions to keep in mind.

Cable-authenticated channel apps

Thanks to an industry-wide initiative known as TV Everywhere, many cable channels offer their own apps for streaming boxes such as Roku and Apple TV, with all the latest shows on demand. Just download the app you want, and log in with a participating cable, satellite, or telco provider, which then checks to make sure the subscriber is getting that channel as part of a pay-TV package.

So far, TV Everywhere has been pretty lax about password sharing for regular cable and satellite channels, as we can’t find any hard restrictions on simultaneous streams for the channels below.

(Premium channels are a different story, and we’ll get to those shortly.)

Here’s a rundown of available apps to choose from, sorted by streaming device, with links to download the app where available:

Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick: WatchESPN, Watch Disney Channel, Watch Disney Junior, Watch Disney XD, NBC (coming soon), FX Now, A&E, Lifetime, History.

A&E is one of many channels to offer streaming access for cable subscribers.
Android TV: FX Now, Fox Sports Go, Watch Food Network, HGTV Watch, Watch Travel Channel.

Apple TV: WatchESPN, WatchABC, ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, NBC, NBC Sports Live Extra, USA Now, CNN, A&E, History, Lifetime, Smithsonian Channel, Fox Now, FX Now, Fox Sports Go, and Nat Geo TV.

Chromecast: WatchESPN, WatchABC, ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, NBC (coming soon), Fox Now, FX Now, Comedy Central, Nick, MTV, Smithsonian Channel, Watch Food Network, HGTV Watch, DIY Watch, Watch Travel Channel,. (To use these services with Chromecast, download the corresponding mobile app for iOS or Android.)

Roku: WatchESPN, Watch ABC, Watch ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, NBCFox Now, FXNowComedy Central, Nick, A&E, Lifetime, History, Smithsonian Channel, Nat Geo TV.

Xbox One: Bravo Now, Comedy Central, CW, ESPN, Fox Now, FXNow, MTV, Nat Geo TV, NBC, NFL, Syfy Now, USA Now, VH1.

Xbox 360: A&E, CW, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, ESPN, Fox Now, FXNow, History, Lifetime, MTV, Nat Geo TV, Watch ABC.

Premium cable-authenticated channels

TV Everywhere also extends to premium channels such as HBO and Showtime, letting you watch a huge selection of original series and movies. Again, all you need is a login from a cable, satellite, or telco provider, which then checks to make sure the channel is part of the subscriber’s pay-TV package. These channels tend to have tighter restrictions on how many people can stream at the same time, so here’s what you need to know before mooching from someone else:

HBO Go: The company has said that it limits streams to no more than three devices at once, and requires a fresh login periodically. TV apps are available for Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Roku, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

At this point, sharing an HBO Go login is a treasured national pastime.
Showtime Anytime: According to an Xbox troubleshooting page, Showtime’s streams are limited to three at a time, and a maximum five devices paired to a single login. TV apps are available on Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

Encore Play: Streaming is capped at four simultaneous devices. Apps are available for Amazon Fire TV, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Chromecast.

Epix: The movie provider doesn’t specify any limits on concurrent streams, but caps device activations at 10. TV support is available via Android TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Roku, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

Starz Play: Streaming is limited to four devices at the same time. Works with Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

NFL Sunday Ticket: DirectTV’s football package is available for streaming on a single device at a time. TV apps are available for Chromecast, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Roku, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

Standalone streaming services

In 2015, there are more ways than ever to watch TV without a cable subscription, but subscribing to them all can be expensive. Splitting the cost with family or close friends is an option, but keep in mind many of these services are extra strict about how many devices can stream at once.

Netflix: The $8-per-month plan with SD video allows one stream at a time, while the $8-per-month HD video plan allows two simultaneous streams. A $12 per month Ultra HD (4K) plan allows four streams at once. TV apps are available for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Roku, and all game consoles.

Amazon Prime: Two streams at a time per account, and no more than one stream of the same video. But beware: Sharing a password also means granting access to other Amazon benefits, such as payment methods on purchases. Apps are available on Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and all game consoles.

Hulu: It’s your best bet for next-day streaming of current TV shows, but alas is limited to one stream at a time. Note that this restriction also applies when you tack on an $8-per-month Showtime subscription. Apps are available for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Roku, and all game consoles.

Sling TV: This bundle of more than 20 live cable channels only allows one stream at a time. TV app support includes Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Roku, and Xbox One, with Apple TV coming soon.

Sling TV curbs password sharing by allowing just one stream at a time.
HBO Now: The $15-per-month, standalone streaming version of HBO caps simultaneous streams at three. Get it on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Chromecast, and Roku.

Showtime: The $11-per-month standalone service allows three streams at once, with no more than five device activations. TV apps are available for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Chromecast, and Roku.

CBS All Access: The $6-per-month mix of live broadcasts and ad-supported on-demand video allows for two streams at once, with apps for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Chromecast, and Roku.

PlayStation Vue: In some markets, Vue is a bundle of live streaming channels, with DVR and on-demand features, starting at $50 per month. Elsewhere, Vue offers a handful of standalone channels such as Showtime and Machinima. Either way, streams are confined to a single home (via IP address) on TV devices such as PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast. Mobile device streams are capped at three, and no more than five streams total are allowed.

4K Ultra HD Buying Guide by

 With 4K Ultra HD becoming so popular, there’s a huge array of choices from multiple brands to consider. We’ve provided some tips, definitions and other tidbits and outlined our top recommendations to help steer you in the right direction. Below you will find the absolute best from each brand, along with outstanding value exceptional picture quality.

What Is 4K UHD?
On a 1080p TV, you get 1920 pixels across, and 1080 pixels top to bottom That works out to over 2 million pixels on a screen, that’s a lot, but 4K UHD has four times that.


Get Closer
For every one pixel on a 1080P HD TV, there are four pixels in the same space on a 4K UHD TV. That means sharper lines, smoother curves and lots more detail, especially on big-screen TVs, which you can also sit closer to without seeing the little pixels. So go big if you want, it’s gonna look great.

What To Watch

Good news! 4K UHD TVs are entirely backward compatible, so you can use your existing cable box or DVR, DVD or Blu-ray player, or standard HD TV antenna, and your 4K UHD TV will make whatever you’re watching look even better than before. But to get the most out of your new 4K UHD TV, you’ll want to turn to streaming services and new 4K UHD equipment. UHD Blu-ray will be coming out soon, keep an eye out for players and software.
  • Netflix 7 Movies 4 TV Shows
  • M-GO 23 Movies 0 TV Shows
  • UltraFlix 38 Movies 0 TV Shows
  • Amazon Instant Video 33 Movies 5 TV Shows
  • YouTube 10,000+ Streaming Videos

Available 4K UHD Televisions

With many brands and screen sizes to choose from, now is a great time to buy a 4K UHD TV. Manufacturers and retailers are embracing the term “4K UHD” championed by the Consumer Technology Association to describe this new generation of television. Some also are participating in CTA’s voluntary logo program that uses the same term. Regardless of what they call them, Ultra HD or 4K, major brands all are now offering a range of 4K UHD TVs at a range of prices.
LG EF9500 Series OLED
  • Perfect black levels create incredible contrast
  • HDR-ready HDMI out of the box
  • Outstanding webOS 2.0 operating system
  • Excellent Harman Kardon audio system
  • First flat-screen 4K Ultra HD OLED
55 and 65-inch models available

LG UF9500 Series LED TV
  • IPS panel for wide viewing angle
  • Color Prime panel delivers expanded color
  • Local dimming for uniform picture/contrast
  • Outstanding webOS 2.0 operating system
  • Excellent Harman Kardon audio system
65 and 79-inch models available

Panasonic CX650 Series LED TV
  • 4K Ultra HD resolution at a 1080p price
  • Great for bright rooms and day watching
  • Simple and easy-to-use Firefox OS
  • 120 Hz native panel for smooth fast-moving scenes
  • Very good color reproduction
55-inch models available

Panasonic CX850 Series LED TV
  • Studio master drive delivers excellent blacks and color
  • Wide color range
  • HDR-ready out of the box
  • All three HDMI 2.0 ports support HDCP 2.2
  • Simple and easy-to-use Firefox OS
55 and 65-inch models available

Samsung JS9500 Series Curved Smart TV
  • Samsung’s best full array backlighting
  • Nano-crystal display produces more color
  • Fully HDR-ready (with firmware update)
  • Excellent brightness
  • Intuitive and fast Tizen Smart TV system
65, 78, 88-inch models available

Samsung JS7000 Series Flat LED TV
  • Local dimming for better contrast
  • Nano-crystal display produces more color
  • Excellent bright room performance
  • Great performance at a reasonable price
  • Intuitive and fast Tizen Smart TV system
50, 55, and 60-inch models available

Sharp UB30‑series LED TV
  • Outstanding value in 4K Ultra HD TV
  • Local dimming for better contrast
  • Fully compliant with latest 4K UHD specs
  • Full suite of Internet apps with cross-platform search
Available in 65, 55, 50, and 43-inch models

Sharp LC‑70UH30U LED TV
  • THX-Certified 4K Ultra HD performance
  • Expanded color range
  • Android TV with Google Play
  • 120 Hz-native panel for smoother motion
  • Aquodimming for enhanced contrast

Sony X830C Series LED TV
  • Affordable 4K Ultra HD excellence
  • Triluminous display for expanded, precise color
  • 4K X1 processing delivers outstanding picture quality
  • Android TV smart TV system
Available in 55, 65, and 65-inch models
Sony X930C/X940C LED TV
  • Triluminous display for expanded, precise color
  • Full Array Local Dimming and HDr for excellent contrast
  • 4K X1 processing delivers outstanding picture quality
  • Hi-Res audio capable, with stellar sound quality
  • Android TV smart TV system
Available in 65 (930C) and 75-inch (940C) models

Vizio M-Series M65 and M80 LED TV
  • Value leading 4K Ultra HD performance
  • 32-zone Full Array Local Dimming
  • 120 Hz-native panel for smoother motion
  • Dual-sided Bluetooth remote with Qwerty Keyboard
  • Vizio Internet Apps Plus
65 and 80-inch models

Vizio Reference Series RS65‑B2 LED TV
  • Vizio’s absolute best TV
  • Full Array Local Dimming with 384 zones
  • Dolby Vision HDR/800 nits brightness
  • Expanded color range
  • Comes with subwoofer and surround speakers
65-inch models available

Glossary Of Terms

In television, a display resolution that is four times that of 1080p HD. A 4K Ultra HD TV’s pixel resolution is a 3,840 x 2,160 grid in a 16:9 aspect ratio, resulting in nearly 8.3 million pixels. This increase in density adds striking detail and realism to an image and allows larger screens to be viewed from closer distances without individual pixels becoming visible.

High Dynamic Range(HDR)
High dynamic range is probably most familiar to people through the HDR mode on their digital cameras. It’s designed to deliver a picture that has greater details in the shadows and highlights a wider range of colors. HDR in televisions pursues the same goal. The color palette is wider, blacks are deeper and whites are brighter.

Full Array Local Dimming (FALD)
Refers to an LED TV’s backlighting system. A FALD display contains an array of LEDs spread out in a grid behind an LCD panel, rather than just at the edges of the TV. This LED array is broken up into zones that can be dimmed when necessary to achieve better black levels. Another benefit is more uniform brightness across the screen.

Wide Color Gamut (WCG)
The expanded color reproduction abilities of a 4K Ultra HD TV — closer than ever to what we see in a digital cinema. By approaching the Digital Cinema Initiative’s P3 color specification, a 4K UHD TV can produce billions more colors than a 1080p HD TV.

Quantum Dots
A layer of film loaded with tiny nano-crystal semiconductors that is placed in a TV’s display panel to help produce a wider array of colors with better accuracy. Quantum dots work by altering the light coming from a TV’s backlighting system before it is passed through the TV’s color filter.

Phosphor-coated LED
An alternative to Quantum Dots, phosphor-coated LEDs have a chemical coating to alter the light’s output such that is it less blue and more white. When used in a TV, this results in a purer backlight that’s more easily manipulated by a TV’s color filter, resulting in a wide color gamut and increased color accuracy.

HDMI 2.0a
The latest version of the HDMI spec. Compliance with this standard assures a 4K Ultra HD display or source is capable of providing all the digital information needed for 4K Ultra HD resolution, HDR, and Wide Color Gamut, all at up to 60 frames per second.

HDCP 2.2
The latest version of the High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection technology, which provides copy prevention specifically of 4K Ultra HD content. Any source device that requires HDCP 2.2 will require a 4K Ultra HD TV with an HDCP 2.2 compliant HDMI port for a compatible connection.

HEVC (H.265)
Stands for “High Efficiency Video Coding.” A new compression technology developed to make large 4K UHD video files smaller and, therefore, easier to stream over broadband Internet connections. HEVC is said to double the data compression ratio over H.264, the predominant encoding technology used today for 1080p videos, while retaining the same video quality. A smart TV or streaming set-top box must be able to decode HEVC in order play back 4K Ultra HD video from sites like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

An alternate to HEVC developed by Google and used predominantly for encoding 4K Ultra HD YouTube videos. In order for a smart TV or streaming set-top box to play back 4K Ultra HD YouTube videos, it must be able to decode VP9 videos.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What's new on Netflix for December By Meredith Cunningham

The first day of every month is like Christmas when you've got a Netflix subscription!

On December 5, Netflix will be adding a new exclusive-to-Netflix Christmas special, "A Very Murray Christmas" starring Bill Murray and features appearances from George Clooney, Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Chris Rock and many more.

If you can't wait until then to get the holidays started, there are other great titles already streaming including "A Christmas Carol," The Radio City Christmas Spectacular," "Bad Santa" and several Christmas episodes from favorite TV shows like "The Office," "Friends," 30 Rock" and more.

But that's not all. There are new Netflix original movies out this month too, like Adam Sandler's new controversial movie "The Ridiculous 6," and in case one Adam Sander movie isn't enough, there's also a new Netflix Original, "Real Rob," which stars Sandler's crony Rob Schneider and his wife.
For the kids, there's a new season on "The Adventures of Puss N' Boots" and "Dawn of the Croods" and "My Little Pony."

Meanwhile, the end of every month also means Netflix has to remove some titles, too. This month we say goodbye to "The Labyrinth," "The Silence of the Lambs," "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "Batman Begins." You'll want to be sure to look at the full list so you can watch these titles before they go away.

Arriving on Netflix in December 2015
December 1
#DeathToSelfie (2014)
30 for 30: Chasing Tyson (2015)
50 Shades of THEY, Season 1
A Christmas Star (2015)
A Genius Leaves the Hood: The Unauthorized Story of Jay Z (2014)
Amnesiac (2015)
Broadchurch, Season 2
CBGB (2013)
Christmas Wedding Baby (2014)
The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury (2004)
Cradle 2 the Grave (2003)
Darkman (1990)
Detectorists, Season 1
I'm Brent Morin
Jenny's Wedding (2015)
Las mágicas historias de Plim Plim, Season 1
Ray (2004)
Real Rob, Season 1 (2015)
See You In Valhalla (2015)
Sensitive Skin, Season 1
Starting Over, season 1
Stir of Echoes (1999)
Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming (2007)
That Touch of Mink (1962)
Tyke: Elephant Outlaw
Winning Life's Battles, Season 1

December 2
Stations of the Cross (2014)
Tangerine (2015)

December 3
Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine (2015)

December 4
A Very Murray Christmas (2015)
Comedy Bang! Bang!, Season 4 (new episodes)

December 5
A Case of You (2013)
Dinosaur 13 (2014)
Inside Man, Season 3

December 7
Vampire Academy (2014)

December 8
One & Two (2015)
Phoenix (2014)
Xenia (2014)

December 9
Phineas and Ferb, Season 4
Trailer Park Boys: Drunk, High and Unemployed Live in Austin (2015)

December 11
The Adventures of Puss in Boots, Season 2
The Ridiculous 6 (2015)

December 14
The Da Vinci Code (2006)

December 15
Drown (2014)
Hart of Dixie, Season 4
High Profits, Season 1
Time Out of Mind (2014)

December 16
Fresh Dressed (2015)
Helix, Season 2

December 18
F is for Family, Season 1
Glitter Force, Season 1
Making A Murderer, Season 1
Mike Epps: Don't Take it Personal

December 19
Chloe and Theo (2015)

December 20
Leo the Lion (2013)
Magic Snowflake (2013)
Santa's Apprentice (2010)

December 21
El Señor de los Cielos, Season 3