Our Danish niece loves her Google Chromecast, a $35 gizmo that can beam movies from your smartphone to your TV and opens the way to video services like Netflix. Unfortunately, the whole world has already written about it, so here’s something new from Apple TV.
VizioFandemonium is a fan site for owners of Vizio TVs, but anyone can join the site and win prizes there. You get 10,000 points for signing up. Earn more points for things like connecting your account to Facebook and joining their email list. For 40,000 points, get a free three-month subscription to Netflix.
Online TV is on. Amazon.com has announced six new pilot programs, leading off with “Alpha House,” starring John Goodman. It was created by Gary Trudeau, the creator of the Doonesbury comic strip. Alpha House is about four senators who rent a house together. Viewers will get to vote on whether this program or one of the five others becomes a full series.
Americans watch the most online videos but haven’t been buying Internet-connected TVs. According to NPD Display Search, only about 20 percent of TVs shipped in North America connect to the Internet. Ours doesn’t either, so we bought a Google box, which lets us watch PBS extras and plenty of other shows. It costs $150. If you feel like going big-time, LG sells an $1100 model that responds to voice commands: if you want the History Channel, you just say so.
Get ready to donate your Roku box. Roku’s “streaming stick,” for $99 will be out sometime in October. Stick it in the back of a TV, and it will let you stream 600 channels, 75 percent of them free. Roku has Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Pandora music and Vudu’s “Pay per View” movies, among many choices. The tough part is that you will need a TV that has a “Mobile High-Definition Link” or “MHL” on the back. There will be 50 kinds of MHL TVs by the end of the year. For older sets, there will probably be adapters.
Last year, 1.5 million Americans used antennas to get free over-the-air TV programs, according to Nielsen Research. We decided to try it ourselves. We tested a TiVo box for recording shows with an antenna from Antennas Direct. This is like a pumped-up set of rabbit ears.