TURN YOUR TV INTO A COMPUTER

Asus has made a “Chromebit.” It’s an $89 four-inch black stick you plug into your TV to turn it into a Chrome computer. Temporarily, of course.

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FLASHBACK: THE VISION THING

The 20th anniversary of the first news broadcast on the Internet is coming up on November 23. In 1995, our friend Victor Dorff made history by talking ABC TV News into letting him put “World News Now” on the web. They thought he was crazy, but gave it a try.

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ROKU PLAYER VERSUS ROKU STICK

Why pay $130 for the “Roku 4 Player” when the Roku stick only costs $47?

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GOING WITHOUT CABLE TV

Going without cable TV is getting easier and easier. Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, Hulu, Showtime and HBO Now are obvious choices. But here are a couple we’ve overlooked:

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BEWARE OF TV ADS

We’re amazed at the info a website can collect about us without our doing anything but visiting.

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A BETTER REMOTE

We felt like we had been dropped back to 1960 when we temporarily lost our TV’s remote control. On modern TVs, it’s difficult to find the volume control – or any controls for that matter. A gizmo called “Pronto” could have saved our bacon. (Which after all that time trying to find the controls, was burning in the oven.)

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TV APP

“Plex” is an app for users of the Roku, a device that brings in hundreds of extra channels — Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, for example – on your TV.  Plex gives you shortcuts to your favorite content and lets you pick up where you left off in a movie or show. You can also get it for laptops and tablets.

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SHARING NETFLIX

Almost half of Netflix subscribers share their password with someone, according to a Consumer Reports survey. We’re a bit shocked, but can understand how it could happen. It’s perfectly legal to share with a spouse, or someone in your household. It gets questionable when you tell a friend, “hey use my password to get on.” Netflix allows up to four different locations to be streaming a movie at once. Go over that limit, and someone will be shut off. Hulu is stricter. Only one movie can be streamed at a time. If you give your password to a friend, they might be watching when you want to watch. Amazon Instant Video allows two at a time, but you both must […]

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NUMBERS REPORT: STREAMING

Consumer research outfit NPD.com projects that within two years, 40 percent of households will get TV, movies and apps from a streaming stick plugged into their TV. So far there are five: Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and Walmart’s new Spark. This is a hot area for innovation and we can expect fast and wide development; basically, everything is going to come from the Internet.

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ANOTHER WAY TO ESCAPE CABLE TV

More and more people are getting TV channels without paying a monthly cable bill, often called the movement to “cut the cord.” Now Walmart has entered the fray, with its $25 “Vudu Spark.” The Spark comes with its own remote control and plugs into the USB port on your TV or laptop. It comes pre-loaded with the Vudu movie and TV app, and that’s it. But it’s $10 less than the Google Chromecast and comes with a $25 credit for Vudu movies. The downside of these movie and TV-streaming sticks is you have to pay for most of the things you watch. You don’t have to pay much, but obviously it adds up depending on how much watching you do. […]

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