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Tag: streaming

TP-Link ACes Wi-Fi at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 6:22 AM on April 18, 2014

Like many families now, it’s not unusual for everyone to be using the wi-fi network at home at the same time. Game consoles, tablets, media players and smart TVs all take their share of the data stream, and with the potential for multiple HD streams, the wireless takes a real hammering. In response to this demand, 11ac wireless uses dual frequencies and multiple antennae to get gigabit class data speeds, while still being backwards compatible with the older standards.

TP-Link Stand at GSL14

Under the Archer brand, TP-Link have a range of 11ac routers and modems, starting with twin antennae 750 Mb/s Archer C2 up to the three antennae 1750 Mb/s Archer C7. TP-Link has kindly sent one of the latter to GNC for review, so I’ll be taking a look at that later.

At The Gadget Show, I caught up with Simon from TP-Link who told me a little about their design philosophy and what they’re aiming for with the new 11ac routers.

Kingston Wi-Drive Review

Posted by Andrew at 1:20 AM on April 8, 2014

Kingston Technology LogoIn the final review of this series on Kingston storage solutions for smartphones and tablets, I’ll be putting the Wi-Drive portable wireless storage through its paces. We’ve already seen the DataTraveler microDuo and the MobileLite Wireless so what’s the Wi-Drive’s niche? It’s definitely the most stylish; let’s take a look.

Wi-Drive in Box

The Wi-Drive is a slim shiny unit that’s very similar to some of the 2.5″ external hard drives that are on the market. It’s very pocketable at around 12 x 6 x 1 cm and it feels just right in the hand – not too heavy, not too light. At the bottom centre, there’s a miniUSB (not microUSB) port for connecting the Wi-Drive to a PC and for charging. On the side, there’s an on/off button that lights up green when on, turns to orange when the battery is getting low, before going red when it’s just about to die. Finally, on the top surface are two blue LEDs that display WiFi and Internet connectivity status. It’s all very sleek.

WiDrive

Connecting the Wi-Drive to a PC is the easiest way to load the drive with media and as usual, it’s simple drag’n’drop once attached with the supplied USB2 to miniUSB cable. It’s only USB2, which probably isn’t a serious handicap – I think most people will upload movies and music occasionally for more frequent wireless use.

The Wi-Drive works very similarly to the MobileLite Wireless. Turn it on, and the Wi-Drive becomes a wireless access point. Connect to the wireless network with your tablet or smartphone and then use the Wi-Drive app to access files and media on the Wi-Drive.  As with the MobileLite Wireless, the Wi-Drive can itself then connect to another wireless network so that connectivity to the Internet is maintained. However, unlike the MobileLite Wireless, I did have a problems connecting to other wireless networks – I couldn’t get a successful bridge connection to either a Sagemcom F@ST2504n or a Netgear WNR2200 router. I did successfully connect through to a Huawei E586.

The Wi-Drive app is available for Apple, Amazon and Android devices and I tested it on a Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ tablet, a Nexus 10 tablet and a Nexus 4 smartphone. Frankly, the Wi-Drive app is disappointing – it’s like an early beta of the version that was finally deployed with the MobileLite Wireless. While app broadly works and is stable, the user interface is dated, the photo thumbnails are miniscule, the music player is clunky and there’s no use of a tablet’s larger screen. Here are a few screenshots to illustrate my point.

Wi-Drive browser Thumbnails

Music Player Wi-Drive Web Interface

Handily, there is also a web interface for both configuration and for accessing the media, which is great for PCs and Chromebooks; you can see this in the bottom right screenshot. The IP address is always 192.168.200.254 so it’s easily bookmarked.

On the positive side, video playback is smooth and glitch-free, and looked great on the tablets and as with the MobileLite Wireless  you can stream to three devices simultaneously. In terms of video playback, I felt that the Wi-Drive had the edge over the MobileLite Wireless as the latter occasionally stuttered. Battery life was also good: Kingston’s specs for the Wi-Drive say four hours but I was able to get about 10 minutes more with continuous video playback before the Wi-Drive died.

That covers the main areas of the Wi-Drive and to summarise, the Wi-Drive is good-looking and convenient device which is let down in a couple of areas, particularly by the Wi-Drive app. To me, it’s still a beta product that needs the last few bugs ironed out. The 32GB version is available for a little over GB £40 and expect to pay around £70 for the 64GB one.

Looking at all three Kingston storage devices, what are the pros and cons? For a single user with an Android smartphone or tablet that supports OTG, the microDuo is hard to beat as you get lots of storage for not very much money, though it’s going to stick out the side. The MobileLite Wireless will suit those who use SD cards or USB memory sticks as it’s a useful all-round tool for removable storage and although I wasn’t able to test with Apple devices I imagine this might be particularly handy for those owners. Finally, the Wi-Drive is the most stylish and a better choice where children are involved as there’s nothing small to lose or forget. Just get it fixed, Kingston, as it could be great.

Thanks to Kingston for all the review units.

Kingston MobileLite Wireless Review

Posted by Andrew at 8:24 AM on March 26, 2014

Kingston Technology LogoLast week I reviewed Kingston’s microDuo which is a great solution if your smartphone or tablet supports OTG. Unfortunately, many devices don’t and if yours falls into this category, Kingston can still help you with both the MobileLite Wireless and the Wi-Drive. In this review, I’ll be checking out the MobileLite Wireless and will follow up with the Wi-Drive later in the week.

Kingston MobileLite Wireless Box

The Kingston MobileLite Wireless  is described as “Reader – Media Streamer – Charger” and combines a USB reader, SD card reader, media streamer and USB charger all in one. Sounds impressive, so let’s take a look.

Kingston MobileLite Wireless Left Side

As you’ll see from the picture, the MobileLite is a small rectangular unit, around 12.5 x 6 x 1.6 cm. It weighs 98g and it feels a little lighter than it should. On one end is the SD card slot and on the other two USB sockets; one USB2 and the other microUSB. There’s a power button on the side and couple of indicator LEDs on the top. As well as the instructions, a USB-to-microUSB cable and a microSD-to-SD card adaptor is included in the box.

Kingston MobileLite Wireless Right Side

Taking each of the MobileLite Wireless features in turn and starting with “Reader”, the MobileLite can act as an SD card and USB reader. Simply connect the supplied cable from your PC’s USB port to the microUSB port on the device and two new drive letters or storage locations will appear on the desktop. Drag’n’drop, view photos, play movies, all the usual activities, no problem. Obviously it’s only USB2 but right now, that’s no big deal.

Moving to the “Charger” feature, swap over the cable so that the USB connector is plugged into the MobileLite Wireless and the other end into your smartphone or other power-sapping device. The battery is only 1800 mAh, so there’s really only one full charge of a smartphone in there.

Finally, it’s time for the “Media Streamer” feature, which lets up to three devices stream movies and other content from the MobileLite Wireless over WiFi. Which it does. Here’s Todd and the GNC show on three devices, all streaming from the one MobileLite Wireless.

Streaming To Three Devices

The tablets and smartphones have to load a Kingston app to access the media, but the app is available from Apple’s App Store, Google Play and Amazon’s Appstore.  The inclusion of Amazon is great as it means I can use the MobileLite Wireless with the Kindle Fire HDX – it’s the middle tablet in the shot above. However, the app is fairly basic and largely limited to navigating the folder hierarchy, selecting different content types, viewing and playing content plus operations such as email, copy and delete. It’s designed for smartphones rather than tablets so doesn’t take advantage of the larger screen real estate. Definitely room for improvement here. The app does have a couple of introductory pages to operative the MobileLite Wireless which have a cool hand-drawn feel to them.

App FIle Manager

The MobileLite Wireless also presents a web interface which can be used by PCs and Chromebooks to access the same files, though I didn’t seem to be able to upload content. The web interface has additional tools to adjust the wireless settings for greater security. One cool feature is that you can add the MobileLite Wireless to your main WiFi network and once connected up will pass on any requests onto the Internet, so you can browse the internet at the same time as listening to music coming from the MobileLite Wireless.

Wireless Settings

Battery life is “up to 5 hours of continuous use” and I managed a little under four hours playing a film continuously. Your mileage may vary but it’s enough to watch a couple of films.

In summing up, the MobileLite Wireless is a handy little device that I feel will appeal to those who frequently use SD cards and other removable storage. Obviously it would be great for photographers who want to review material on a larger screen but it’s also handy if you need to transfer material to a smartphone or tablet from a USB memory stick as outside of the Windows ecosystem, few tablets have full size USB ports. It certainly works well for streaming video and music too, but Kingston’s Wi-Drive might be a better solution for those who simply don’t have much space on their smartphone or tablet. The negatives are that the app could do with a refresh and a bigger battery would make the charger more effective, but other than that, there’s little to complain about.

The MobileLite Wireless is available on-line for around £35.

Thanks to Kingston for the review unit.

 

XOEye Streaming Safety Glasses

Posted by Andrew at 10:08 PM on January 22, 2014

XOEye LogoThere’s no doubt that wearables are where it’s at right now, but devices such as Google Glass or Recon goggles are very much luxury toys. XOEye Technologies have taken a more practical approach, developing safety glasses with built-in video cameras and microphones for use in business, typically manufacturing, construction and field service industry. Don and Todd talk to Aaron Salow, CEO of XOEye.

Currently in the prototype stage, the XOEye solution streams HD video and sound from the glasses across the internet to a remote viewing station, where an expert can review and discuss what the wearer is seeing, usually in an attempt to solve a problem. The wearer can hear the expert through small speakers installed on the glasses, so a conversation can take place between the wearer and the expert. Although still in the early stages of development, XOEye is exploring different materials for the glasses and a range of additional sensors, such as gyros and accelerometers, and other enhancements including a torch.

The final product is expected to come to market in June and there’s more information at www.xoeye.com.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Roku Gets YouTube

Posted by Andrew at 2:00 AM on December 18, 2013

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.

4oD on the Roku

Posted by Andrew at 4:59 PM on November 26, 2013

4oDHurrah – 4oD (4 on Demand) is now available on the Roku in the UK! It looks like this is breaking news as there’s no mention of it on either Roku‘s or Channel 4‘s websites and I only happened to notice when I was checking for new channels. A few tweets are beginning to appear. Having a quick rummage, it looks on a par with the web version but without some of the personalisation features.

For non-UK residents, Channel 4 is one of the four terrestrial broadcasters (BBC, ITV, C4 and C5). The BBC’s iPlayer and Channel 5′s Demand 5 are already on the Roku, leaving ITV as the last network to get their catch-up TV service onto the Roku. Hurry up!

Redbox Instant coming to PS4

Posted by Alan at 12:10 PM on November 7, 2013

redbox instant playlists

We are only a week away from the next big gaming console launch — Sony is set to debut its PlayStation 4 on November 15, inching ahead of Xbox One by a week. Both consoles have their pros and cons, and fans residing in opposite camps may cite a particular game or feature as the defining difference, but one thing both boxes will have is Redbox Instant.

Last week the video streaming service landed on the PS3, and it was expected to also come to the next-generation console. Today the speculation becomes official reality.

Like last week’s PS3 launch, this version also comes with an only-on-Sony feature — “exclusive to Playstation, the PS3 and PS4 contain the Playlist feature containing a specially-curated, rotating collection of Redbox Instant by Verizon movies that highlight the most exciting titles and serve as a great destination for fast, simple and fun movie discovery”.

“We’re pleased to continue our partnership with PlayStation by bringing Redbox Instant by Verizon to PS4″, said Shawn Strickland, CEO of Redbox Instant by Verizon.

As with any other Redbox Instant subscription, you will pay $8 per month in exchange for unlimited streaming and four physical disc rentals per month from any of the many kiosks. If you wish to take it for a test run, the company offers the first month free as a trial.

Video Podcasts Behaving Like TV?

Posted by tomwiles at 1:23 PM on March 18, 2013
image

Roku

One of the downsides to Internet-based video content is that generally each new program being played back must be initiated by the user. This isn’t much of a problem if one is watching a full-length movie or television show via Netflix or Amazon Streaming. However, if one is watching short-form content like video podcasts such as “Film Riot” then watching a bunch of episodes in a row tends to be a bit more of a pain since each one must be started playing depending on the playback platform.

I discovered an interesting trick that the Roku is capable of using the free iTunes podcast database app that can be added from the Roku store on your Roku. The app connects with the iTunes podcast database and will display both video and audio podcasts. Select an episode and it will begin to play. If you select an older episode, either video or audio, it will play that episode and then automatically play all episodess that follow it in the correct order.

This is a very useful feature say if you want to catch up with several weeks’ worth of video podcasts. Each podcast plays automatically in the proper order. It is almost like being able to turn video podcast streaming into more of a conventional television viewing experience.

Popcornflix

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 6:29 AM on February 7, 2013

Popcorn FlixPopcornflix is an ad-supported free streaming feature-length movie platform. They stream independent movies. The ads run about every 8–10 minutes. They are careful to make the user experience the best they can, streaming the movies at the highest quality available.

Popcornflix is available on the Roku, Bravia, iOs platforms including iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch and online through a browser. Popcornflix is one of the fastest growing app on the Roku with over 700,00 downloads in just a 9 month period. They are working out contracts with other platforms included connected TVs.

Screen Media Ventures is the parent company which is a traditional movie distributor. They are self financed and have built their own apps. Working out contracts and building a separate apps  for each platform is one of the biggest problem that Popcornflix has to deal with.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network and Daniel J Lewis of The Audacity to Podcast

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Do We Still Need to Own Music?

Posted by Alan at 9:38 AM on October 19, 2012

I own a lot of music.  Well, the real truth is that it’s mine and that of my wife and kids, but all told it adds up to just over 95 GB.  The music collection started off with albums and cassettes when I was a kid, but later on those were all replaced by CD, and I traded in the albums, with the exception of a few rare bootlegs and imports that are sitting in a storage room collecting dust.  Later still, the CD’s were ripped to MP3 and also traded in and, since then, all purchases of music have been of the digital persuasion.  Time, and formats, march on.

Today all of our music resides on an external hard drive hooked to a home theater PC and backed up by CrashPlan and Google Music.  I use an Android smartphone as my MP3 Player, but it doesn’t actually have any music stored on it.  Every song we own can be streamed by the Google Music player but, the truth is, I almost never use it.  I work from home and I listen to something almost continuously but, the music we own just isn’t a part of my day because it just doesn’t command the importance it did before the digital era.

These days I listen to a lot of podcasts and, for that, I use Beyond Pod, but I also still listen to a lot of music.  I pay for a subscription to Pandora One and I have used many of my favorite artists to create stations so that I don’t need to scroll through that massive collection to find them – they just pop up and play, along with the music of other related artists.  It’s better this way.  Sure, I still bookmark a really good song thinking maybe I will buy it later, but honestly…I don’t.

Every once in a while the mood strikes me to hear a particular song but, for that, there are an untold number of sources, including Spotify, Grooveshark, YouTube, etc.  There are many others, but those three alone can provide almost any song you can imagine, even the most obscure tunes from your youth are there.

So, the question is, do we really still need to own music?  With the ability to play almost anything, anytime and create streaming stations that are tailored to our tastes, do we still have the need to buy songs, even in a digital format?  I may still be in the minority, but my answer is a resounding no.  The world is moving on and there are now better, more efficient ways.

Image: Player of Vinyl Disks by BigStock