Pocket-Sized Big Screen TV

Lumex_Picomax_SmartpodPocket-Wouldn’t it be cool if you could carry around a big screen smart TV in your pocket?

Actually, that is now possible.

I recently purchased a Lumex Picomax Smartpod pocket pico projector via Amazon.Com. A pico projector is a miniature pocket-sized projector that typically has a built-in battery that can also be operated off of AC household current. Pico projectors can produce surprisingly bright, crisp projected images and traditionally have been handy for people who are traveling and need to give presentations.

What sets apart a “smart” projector from a regular projector is the same things that set a smartphone apart from a feature phone, or a smart TV apart from a regular TV. Smart projectors include not only connectivity such as WiFi and Bluetooth but also come with a built-in operating system such as Android that includes access to the Google Play Store. With the Google Play Store comes video streaming apps such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime Videos, YouTube, etc., etc.

 

Projected_80_inch_imageThis is a picture of a streaming movie projected onto an 80 inch screen in a darkened room. The photo was taken from about 25 to 30 feet from the projection screen.

I drive a truck over-the-road, so with the Lumex Picomax Spartpod projector I can easily connect it to my MiFi hotspot and project a 45 to 50 inch screen onto a blank wall area of my truck’s sleeper. I connect the projector to a high-quality Bluetooth speaker for excellent stereo sound. Watching a 45 to 50 inch image is a much nicer experience than watching the same material on a much smaller iPad Air screen. It also has the added advantage of extreme portability so I can easily carry it with me and use it in a motel room.

The projector is about the size of a Roku or Apple TV box. It also has a variety of other built-in connectors, such as mini HDMI, VGA, Micro SD Card and standard 4 pin USB port. It uses Texas Instruments DLP chip and the light source is a 20,000 hour LED lamp. The projector comes with a small remote control, and also has a touchpad built-in to the top of the unit itself.

The unit will run about an hour and a half to two hours on the built-in battery. It outputs a 70 lumens when running on battery power and automatically jumps up to 100 lumens when connected to the included AC adapter.

It produces a bright, colorful image. The native resolution is 800 x 480, so it is not 720p, but 480p widescreen.

The WiFi and Bluetooth connect and stream flawlessly.at the same time. While the integrated touchpad mouse works okay, I prefer to use a wireless three button mouse. I plug the mouse dongle into the standard USB port on the side of the unit and the mouse instantly connects. With this configuration along with a wireless keyboard it could easily be used as a computer. There is a small integrated fan that runs when the unit is running in order to keep things cool internally. The fan is actually very quiet and doesn’t produce much fan noise at all.

I do have a few criticisms of the unit. First, the manual focus seems a bit sloppy. It is easy to rotate the knob past the optimum focus. When rotating back the knob will rotate freely about half a turn before it starts moving the focus back in the opposite direction, making it difficult to zone in back and forth to obtain the maximum sharpness.

Also, the integrated touchpad does not include mouse buttons like an actual mouse does. It is possible to scroll vertically running your finger along the black vertical dotted line along the edge of the touchpad, but it takes a bit of getting used to. A wireless mouse makes for a much more fluid and satisfying experience.

The tiny integrated speaker doesn’t produce much sound, so it is close to being useless. I strongly suggest using a wired speaker or a Bluetooth speaker for an adequate sound experience. Stereo headphones or ear buds can also be used.

Despite my criticisms I am quite happy with my purchase. The Lumex Picomax Smartpod WiFi projector currently sells for $399.97 on Amazon. It really is like being able to carry around a big-screen smart TV in my pocket.

YouTube Shames Slow Internet Providers

YouTube logoHave you ever wondered why a YouTube video is taking a long time load, buffering, or refusing to play? YouTube has started pointing people towards the answer to that question. A blue bar will appear underneath the video that asks, “Experiencing Interruptions?” Click on the button that says “Find out why”, and the answer is revealed.

YouTube will automatically send you to Google’s new website, which is called Video Quality Report. It will show you the video streaming quality results for your provider in your area. Quartz describes it as “like a report card for your delinquent ISP”.

The notification system that YouTube has started using reminds me of what Netflix used to do. When a video was loading too slowly, Netflix was displaying a notification like: “The Verizon network is crowded right now”. Verizon threatened legal action, and Netflix has stopped doing that.

It has been said that efforts like what Netflix used to do, and what YouTube is doing now, are an attempt to shame internet providers who offer shoddy service. It is also a way make consumers acutely aware of which providers are better than others. That will enable people to switch to better ones (in areas where more than one choice is available).

It is also a way for YouTube (and previously, Netflix) to subtly point out what would happen if internet providers were allowed to create a “fast lane”. Those who didn’t get how net neutrality might affect them could have the “lightbulb” go on after seeing how a slow connection from their internet provider directly affects them.

YouTube Will Launch Paid Music Service

YouTube logoThe music videos that you enjoy watching on YouTube may not be available for much longer. YouTube has plans to launch a paid streaming music service. It is expected to launch at the end of this summer. It is going to allow people to listen to music without any ads. Other features include the ability to listen to music offline and to listen to an artist’s entire album (instead of individual songs).

That might sound good to some people who currently enjoy streaming music services like Spotify or Pandora. On the other hand, some feel that YouTube’s service may result in less music options than you may be expecting. There is criticism that YouTube might block the music videos of labels who don’t agree with the terms it offers in its contracts.

The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) has concerns about YouTube’s paid streaming service. WIN released a statement in which it points out that YouTube has “apparently negotiated separate agreements with three major labels – Sony, Warner, and Universal”.

WIN also commented on its opinion about how YouTube is approaching independent music companies. In their statement, the organization said:

At a time when independent music companies are increasing their global market share WIN has raised major concerns about YouTube’s recent policy of approaching independent labels directly with a template contract and an explicit threat that their content will be blocked on the platform if it is not signed.

According to WIN members, the contracts currently on offer to independent labels from YouTube are on highly unfavorable, and non-negotiable terms, undervaluing existing rates in the marketplace from existing music streaming partners such as Spotify, Rdio, Deezer and others.

Personally speaking, the music videos that I seek out on YouTube are the ones from independent artists. I’ve long been a supporter of independent artists and bands. I play their music in my podcasts, make an effort to draw attention to their latest songs and albums through social media, and buy their albums when I am able to. I find it sad that YouTube doesn’t see the value of the bands and artists that I spend the majority of my time listening to.

KineMaster Pro Video Editor

For several years I have had feet planted firmly in the two dominant mobile device camps — Android and iOS. I have a 64 gigabyte iPad Air, but I also have an original Nexus 7 as well as my third Android phone, a Galaxy Note 3. The Galaxy Note 3 is an incredible piece of hardware. It has an awesome 1080p 5.7″ display, excellent battery life, and a 2.3 gigahertz quad core processor. The Galaxy Note 3 is the most powerful computing device I have ever owned, including more powerful than every Apple or Windows computer I currently have.

In the past iOS has had a distinct advantage in the form of more sophisticated apps. However, that is rapidly changing.

I usually end up finding ways of pushing my hardware to its limits. I used to do video the conventional way by recording it on a separate device such as a Sony HD camcorder. I would have to go through the arduous task of capturing it to the computer, editing it in a video editor, rendering the file out and finally uploading it to a service such as YouTube.

Now with the Galaxy Note 3 I have a device that is capable of recording excellent video, but it also has a touchscreen that is large enough to edit on.

Up until recently, there were no good Android video editing apps available.

That has all changed with the release of an Android video editing app called KineMaster Pro. There is a free watermarked version which I tried out initially. I quickly determined that KineMaster Pro was worth the $2.99 price tag so I bought it. KineMaster Pro offers themes, along with the ability to easily add background music. It also offers different variable-length scene transitions. It’s possible to export the final rendered result in 1080p, 720p or 360p. It gives a very accurate countdown timer once the rendering process is started. On the Galaxy Note 3, a 13.5 minute long video will render to 720p resolution in about 8 minutes to a 621 megabyte file.

The seller is adding in extra themes that can be applied from within the app.

At one time, even a short video represented several hours’ worth of work to go from initial recording to the final rendered file. If the process can be fully handled on one device, video production actually becomes quick, painless and fun.

Roku Gets YouTube

Roku 3Perhaps unsurprisingly given Google’s now somewhat defunct plans for GoogleTV, YouTube has been one of the glaring omissions from the Roku platform. But not any longer. Roku has announced that a YouTube channel is now available on the Roku 3 in USA, Canada, UK and the Republic of Ireland. Older Rokus will be getting the channel next year, though the exact timing is unclear. For non-Roku owners, a channel is roughly equivalent to an app on other platforms.

The YouTube channel supports full 1080p HD and the press release suggests that subscriptions will carry over from other platforms so that your favourites can easily be seen on the Roku. The new channel also features “Send to TV”, which after pairing, lets you send a YouTube video from your smartphone or tablet for viewing on the Roku.

As a Roku 2 XS owner, I’m delighted but will have to wait a bit longer until I get the YouTube channel on my device (unless Santa has a surprise for me). Sadly, it will be one less reason to turn on my Nintendo Wii, especially with the HD support on the Roku.

Gaming Channels on YouTube are Being Deluged With Takedown Notices

Copyright violation In the last couple of days there have been thousand of takedown notice issued involving gaming footage on Youtube. There are now a number of reports that both individuals and companies that upload gaming footage are being deluged with copyright claims. The claims don’t appear to be coming from the gaming developer in fact many of them including Capcom and Blizzard has offered to help those effected. Many takedown claims are being issued by the companies that own the copyrights to the background music for gaming videos, companies such as IDOL which is a music distribution firm and Bafta (The British Academy of Film and Television Arts). In fact to make things worse many of the take down notices appear to be coming from companies that don”t have the copyrights or companies that are no longer in business. The takedown notices are being issued through the Automated Content ID system, which was recently updated. The system is now flagging videos which previously had been missed. Most of these videos involve cut scenes, game play, outtakes and in-game music.

Many of the companies and individuals that are being effected including major player such as TheRadBrad, GhostRobo and Machinima depend on these Youtube videos for their revenue when videos are pulled no revenue is coming to them. While the takedown occur automatically an appeal can take days even weeks to be settled. The videos may still visible to the user, but the revenue is now going to the copyright holders instead of the individual or companies that uploaded and created the videos. Some people think that this is related to the changes that are supposed to be coming in January in relationship to Affiliates and Managed users and the monetization review process, although that is yet to be confirmed.

Google’s response appears to be less than adequate, basically stating if you don’t like it appeal. This is going to take a while to sort out, it appears there are very few winners in this story. The people who are producing the videos are losing revenue, the game developers are losing free advertisement and viewers maybe losing the ability to see well-developed and useful gaming videos. In my opinion this appears to be another case of copyright enforcement gone amuck.

YouTube Acknowledges Spammy Comments

YouTube logoHave you noticed an increase in the amount of spammy comments on your YouTube page in the past few weeks? You aren’t alone. YouTube has acknowledged on its Creator Blog that they have received a lot of feedback from creators about the increase in comment spam.

The increase in spammy comments began after YouTube decided to make new YouTube comments powered by Google +. The idea was that this would allow the content creators on YouTube to more easily see the comments from the people that mattered to them (like their friends, for example). Instead, something unexpected happened. The YouTube Creators Blog notes:

While the new system dealt with many spam issues that had plagued YouTube comments in the past, it also introduced new opportunities for abuse and shortly after the launch, we saw some users taking advantage of them.

To combat this problem with spam comments, YouTube is going to do some updates. The updates will include better recognition of bad links and impersonation attempts, improved ASCII art detection, and a change to how long comments are displayed. They are working on improving comment ranking and moderation of old-style comments. YouTube is also going to release tools that will allow creators to do bulk moderation soon.

YouTube Identity Crisis

Google has created a real identity mess. Between my original YouTube account and my main Gmail account, I have somehow ended up with two separate Google identities with no easily apparent way of straightening things out.

Of course I had a YouTube account long before YouTube was purchased by Google. Once Google owned YouTube, they seemed to merge my previously-existing YouTube identity with my main Gmail identity. Google seemed to have a single identity across all Google-owned properties and all seemed to be well.

What The   $&!@%&)&   Were They Thinking?

That is, until now. Somehow I now have two separate Google identity “channels” when it comes to both YouTube and Google+. Of course, the 236 existing videos I have uploaded to YouTube over the years were on my original YouTube sign-in. Maddeningly, if I now make comments with that original sign-in they DO NOT appear on the Google+ identity that I have invested my time and effort into since the inception of Google+ that seems to be tied to what I thought was my main Google identity.

Google’s very unhelpful “Help” suggests that the only way to correct the situation is to delete and re-upload the videos under the so-called “channel” identity I wish to use. Are they insane? Of course, I’m NOT going to do that.

If I post comments in YouTube they will go to the Google+ identity that will only receive YouTube comments, rendering my regular Google+ identity less valuable.

If I’m forced to keep switching back and forth between these two separate identities (that somehow magically share the same Gmail address and password) in order to make a post to the Google+ identity I’ve invested my time and effort into, the net result is likely that I will completely avoid the hassle of switching back and forth and just forget about posting to Google+.

The net effect is that I now have a genuine disincentive to avoid using Google+.

People are always going on and on about how smart the folks at Google are overall. Really? With this move, perhaps not so much…

YouTube’s New Features: Offline Viewing, Play On

youtube logo

YouTube

Your Android and iOS apps are getting some interesting upgrades. Especially one that allows you to go offline and still watch the video.

YouTube announced a host of new updates on their official blog, as well as letting partners know of the upcoming changes:

We’re always exploring ways to bring more viewers to your content. As part of this effort, later this year we’ll launch a new feature on YouTube’s mobile apps that will help you reach fans — even when they’re not connected to the Internet.

This upcoming feature will allow people to add videos to their device to watch for a short period when an Internet connection is unavailable. So your fans’ ability to enjoy your videos no longer has to be interrupted by something as commonplace as a morning commute.

This is part of our ongoing updates to give people more opportunities to enjoy videos and channels on YouTube mobile. Check out the YouTube blog when this launches in November for more details on how this will work for viewers.
The YouTube Team

Other new features include a new explorer feature: you can keep looking through YouTube while your video is playing in the bottom-right corner. You can also search and browse channels for playlists on mobile apps, then watch the videos back-to-back. Finally, Youtube added the Cast button so you can send your videos to Chromecast, PS3, Google TV or other devices that accept the protocol.

These options (other than offline viewing) are available with the update.

Virgin Mobile’s YouTube Wants to “Blinkwash” You

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile is running a new video on Youtube. It’s called “Blinkwashing”. You will need a webcam connected to your computer, which the YouTube page will calibrate your face and blinking. This will act as a remote control to switch the video up.

Every time you blink, the video changes. It doesn’t lose place in the video; it just moves to another video with the exact same script. Blink your eyes and you see two girls talking on the phone about Virgin mobile. Blink again and you see an aerial view of police cars and the script sounding like its coming from the CB. Blink again and two bikers are arm wrestling.

It doesn’t matter how many times you blink, the channel will change. If you don’t blink at all, the video will continue on. There is everything from a clown to a karaoke channel talking about Virgin Mobile.

virgin-blinkwash[1]When I tried this on my Macbook Pro, it worked like a charm. However, on my desktop sits an older Logitech 9000 webcam which brought problems. You won’t be able to do this on mobile devices.

Could this be the start of something new? There is a possibility. Other head movement instructions could turn Youtube videos into a “Choose your own adventure” video. Want to walk through a door on the left – turn your head to the left.

In the meantime, I think I’m going to switch over to Virgin Mobile now…