Thursday, March 24, 2011

Roku XD Overview and Review

Considering cutting cable and just keeping the internet? The Roku could be for you. The Roku is a content streaming device that plugs into your TV or projector and plays internet services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and many more. When you first unbox the Roku, it comes with an easy to use remote, and RCA cables. The Roku can be used with either a standard 4:3 TV or an HDTV with 720p or 1080p, depending on which model you chose. Once you have the device all plugged in, you have to select which way you want to connect the Roku to the internet, either by wired or wireless. Then you create your Roku account, and you're all set. The Roku was originally designed for Netflix, but even if you don't have Netflix account or any other online subscription, you can still use other channels you download in the Channel Store, such as Pandora,, Revision3 and my favorite: Crackle, which lets you watch your favorite Columbia Pictures movies, for free. I use Hulu Plus and streaming videos on the device is flawless. The stream was smooth and consistent, with no skips or grainy footage. One thing I'm not too happy about is when you fast forward or rewind, it doesn't follow with the moving footage, so you have to guess how far you need to go back or forth. The menu transitions are also very fast. One great thing about the Roku is that it is always on. There's no need for long startups or making sure you turned it off when you leave the house, it just stays on. If you leave the Roku on the home screen or a menu on a channel, it turns the screensaver on, which turns on when you tell it to, and can be personalized to fit you. The Roku itself is small and quiet. You can put it anywhere on the TV stand and it blends in. The only light on the device is on the front, which indicates when you press a button on the remote. The starting price of the Roku is $59, which is cheap compared to other streaming devices. Overall, if you are looking for a new addition to the home theater, or just needing an alternative to cable, the Roku is something to think about. I definitely recommend this.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New iOS 4.3 Update Brings a Better Safari and Personal Hotspot

Apple's mobile operating system iOS has received an update today that brings improvements to software and hardware. The first new thing is AirPlay enhancements. Now you can view slideshows from one device to another. The next update is Safari performance. Safari now comes with the new Nitro JavaScript engine. Next is iTunes Home Sharing, which is similar to AirPlay, but can stream from iTunes on your computer. An update many iPad owners have waited for is an option to have the switch on the side to be a silent switch, or rotation lock. The iPad originally came with the switch for rotation lock, but when iOS 4 came out, they changed it to a silent switch which mutes your iPad. Now you have a choice. And last, the new update comes with the long anticipated Personal Hotspot. Where ever you are, as long as you have 3G, you can turn your iPhone 4 into a mobile hotspot using the data you already have for your phone. So it's free tethering, but if you weren't grandfathered into the unlimited data, then you have to watch how much data you use, especially when it's on a computer. This new update is for iPhone 3GS and 4 owners, iPod touch 3rd and 4th generation, and iPad 1 and 2. iPhone 3G owners and iPod touch 2nd generation models are not compatible with the new update. Verizon iPhone users are also not compatible yet, but the Verizon iPhone already comes with personal hotspot, so they aren't missing out on much. This isn't a huge update, but if you have waited for tethering for free, this is a big update for you, as long as you have a GSM iPhone 4. Will you be updating? Do you have an iPhone 3G or iPod touch 2nd generation? Leave a comment below leaving your opinions.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

iPad 2 to have faster processor and thinner design

On March 2nd, Apple announced the iPad 2. This new iPad included a FaceTime camera, a faster processor, thinner design, and a choice between a black or white colored iPad. Apple has decided to drop the iPad case they designed by replacing it with a cover that magnetically attaches to the device. The cover comes in many colors, and can be used to cover the screen when not in use and as a stand, by folding to the back . The new iPad can also mirror whatever is on the display through either HDMI, VGA, composite, and component cables. It is also compatible with the wireless Apple keyboard. Apps that come with the iPad and that can be purchased include FaceTime for video calling to friends on another iPad 2, iPod Touch 4th generation, iPhone 4, and on a Mac. The iWork suite of office applications can be downloaded as well as iMovie, Garageband and iBooks. If you have other iOS devices or an Apple TV, you can enable AirPlay which will have all content you have on your iOS device be shared on another iOS device or Apple TV. The new iPad will be released on March 11th in stores and online, and will sell starting at $499 for the Wifi 16 GB and $629 for the 3G model with 16 GB of storage for the AT&T; and Verizon networks. For more information, visit the iPad webpage.

Here's a video on the new iPad: