Tag Archives: TV

Sony Dropping YouTube Support on Some Bravia TVs



youtube logoThe promise of smart, connected devices is that they give us functionality beyond what a “basic box” can offer. Consumers have been adding internet-based entertainment options to TV sets for years, usually thru external devices like Chromecast, Roku, or Apple TV. In recent years, television manufacturers began adding native apps that run inside their TV sets. These apps allow users to access different services right there on their TVs. But these types of native apps aren’t usually updated as often as their set-top box counterparts.

Media-streaming technology is constantly changing, so it’s very important for these types of apps to stay current. In an unfortunate turn for some Sony Bravia TV owners, the company announced it will no longer update its native YouTube app:

It has been confirmed that the “New YouTube on TV” app on 2012 Sony BRAVIA TVs will experience symptoms of “Black Screen and Freezing”, or an “Error Message will be displayed and the video will stop playing”.

The symptoms being experienced are not a failure of the TV, but are as a result of specification changes made by YouTube that exceed the capability of the TV’s hardware.

As a result, Sony have decided to remove the YouTube icon for the 2012 Bravia TVs on 30th September 2016.

The YouTube application will no longer be available for the 2012 Bravia TVs after 30th September 2016.

If you’ve been enjoying YouTube on a 2012 Bravia TV, you’ll need to look for another way to get those videos.


Product Review: 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna



1byone logoI recently moved my one and only television, a Samsun 52″ LCD HDTV, from the front room of my home into the back room. In doing this, I lost the connection to a TV antenna I had mounted on the outside of my home. While I don’t watch a lot of over-the-air TV, it was nice to have access to the channels I could get. I tried a basic set of non-powered rabbit ears to pick up some channels after the TV move. But it didn’t pick up anything. I figured for sure I’d either have to move my external TV antenna (not a fun task) or just give up on over-the-air TV all together. Luckily for me, I was offered the chance to review a 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna.

ibyone HDTV antenna box front
ibyone HDTV antenna box front

 

ibyone HDTV antenna box back
ibyone HDTV antenna box back

 

1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna unboxed
1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna unboxed

The 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna comes with everything you need to use it: The antenna with built-in ten-foot coaxial cable, the inline amplifier, A/C adapter for the amplifier, three double-sided 3M adhesive pads, and the product manual. Installation is pretty straightforward. Connect the amplifier to your television’s antenna input, connect the antenna to the amplifier, connect the amplifier to the A/C adapter, and plug the adapter into an available power outlet.

1byone HDTV amplifier
HDTV amplifier’s LED shows it’s powered on

Thanks to a handy guide from AntennaWeb, I know that most of the TV transmitters in my area are positioned to the northwest. My first attempt with the 1byone antenna was to hang it as high as possible in the northwestern-facing corner of my room.

1byone HDTV on the wall
1byone HDTV antenna on the wall

I ran the auto program feature on my TV. It didn’t pick up any channels.

0 channels found
Zero channels found

In the antenna’s manual, it states that if you have trouble getting TV signals, you should place the antenna as high as possible and/or put it near a window. For good measure, I moved the antenna to the opposite corner of my room, ran the auto program sequence and again, came up with nothing.

I then moved the antenna next to a window and tried again. This time, success!

6 channels found!
6 channels found!

With the antenna next to the window, I was now able to receive six channels. A nice improvement over the other attempts. The HD picture and sound were crystal clear and the stability of the signal was rock solid with no dropouts.

HDTV picture
HDTV picture

I know some readers will see the result of six channels as unacceptable. But, I think it’s great. I don’t live in a major metropolitan area, and even with my external antenna, I didn’t get many more channels than this. The 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna promises a range of up to 50 miles. I’m certain that if you live in the orbit of a large city, you’ll be able to easily pick up many more chances with this antenna.

1byone describes this antenna as “paper thin” and they’re not kidding. The antenna is very thin and light. It’s easy to move about the room and try in different locations. I’d recommend using one of the supplied double-adhesive pads until you’ve found a permanent place for the antenna. It’s light enough that one adhesive pad will hold it on the wall, but you’d probably want to use more than one to hold it in place long term.

The 1byone Amplified HDTV Antenna is available for purchase for $36.99 direct from 1byone. It’s also currently available on Amazon for $29.99.


Stream TV Ultra-D Promises Glasses-Free 3D



Stream TV Ultra D logoA few years ago 3D TVs were the hottest tech around but these days, most manufacturers don’t even mention it. 3D for the home was the biggest flop in recent years and while it’s been successful in cinema, the need to wear glasses killed 3D at home. Stream TV Networks have a new technology called Ultra-D which promises 3D without the glasses. Daniel and Todd are keen to know more from Zach Lehman of Stream TV.

Stream TV Network’s Ultra-D is a glasses-free 3D 4K TV technology for the home. The Ultra-3D custom glass screen provides a wide 140 degree 3D sweet spot for viewers, and people outside of this will see a standard 2D image without any blurriness. The Ultra-D technology includes a Qualcomm custom chip which converts 2D media into 3D in real-time with user control over the level of depth. If it’s an HDMI source, it can be converted to 3D.

Production of TVs using Ultra-D technology is expected to start this year. Stream TV have partnered with Pegatron for manufacturing capacity and the first models will be a 65″ TV, a 27″ monitor and a 32″ monitor with smaller TV and tablet screens later.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.
Daniel J. Lewis is the host of the award-winning podcast about podcasting, The Audacity to Podcast. Daniel helps others launch and improve their own podcasts for sharing their passions and finding success.

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Roku 2 Media Streamer (2015) Review



Roku LogoMedia streamers are hugely in vogue at the moment with products from Roku, Apple, Google and Amazon, and good a few of these are going to appear under the Christmas tree in a few day’s time. Although hard numbers are difficult to come back, it’s generally thought that the market leader by a good way is Roku, with Google, Apple and Amazon following in roughly that order. Once the figures are in for the Thanksgiving and Christmas sales, this could all change. Regardless, on review here is the UK 2015 version of the Roku 2, which now sits in the middle of Roku’s British line-up, between the Streaming Stick and the Roku 3. Let’s take a look.

Roku 2 in Box

In the box, you get the Roku 2, remote control (with batteries) and power supply with four plug adaptors, including UK, US and continental. There’s no HDMI cable.

Roku 2 inside box

As with the previous Roku 2 models, it’s in the “hockey puck” style, though it’s a little bit more rounded than the earlier Roku 2 models. The remote is the usual candy bar, but this model uses IR signal transmission rather than the WiFi and Bluetooth of predecessors. This may be of interest if your Roku normally lives round the back of the TV as you’ll need to bring it into view.

Roku 2 Front

Looking round the 2, there’s the trademark fabric tab on one side, with a USB port on the other. At the back you’ll find HDMI, network and DC power sockets, along with a microSD card slot. In addition to the Ethernet, the Roku 2 has dual band wireless.

Getting started is straightforward. Plug everything into the Roku 2, put the batteries in the remote and sit back on the sofa with the remote. The Roku 2 steps through the setup in a straightforward fashion, though putting in long passwords or WiFi keys can be a bit laborious. Regardless, you can be up and running within minutes.

Roku offers over 1,500 streaming entertainment channels which are great for followers of niche programming, whether travel, sport, kids, health & fitness or faith/religion. However, the vast majority of UK buyers will be interested in the offerings from the main terrestrial broadcasters plus the well known video-on-demand services. Naturally, Roku has them all. BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5, Sky Now, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play Movies and YouTube. For audio fans, there’s Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, TuneIn and Vevo. Newshounds will like the BBC News and Sky News channels. I could keep going but in summary there’s lots there and no-one will ever be able to say, “There’s nothing on the TV”.

Roku 2 RearOn the other hand if you have your own media, the Roku Media Player will play from USB storage and DLNA servers, and a Plex client can be installed too. I streamed ripped movies from a Buffalo Linkstation and while picture quality can be subject to network speeds, I had no problems at all and enjoyed HD footage without glitches from all the services that offered HD streaming. The Roku 2 has a HD optimised processor and I think it shows. The microSD slot can’t be used for media storage but can be used to boost the internal memory of the Roku 2 for extra channels.

If you’re a real film buff, you’ll be interested in Roku Search and Roku Feed. The former searches through top channels by title, actor or director to find your favourite programming and the Roku Feed automatically updates you when new films become available for streaming (or if the price changes).

The Roku 2’s main user interface is a simple menu driven affair and it’s not nearly as sophisticated as Amazon’s Fire, which combines media from multiple sources. Part of this is because the Roku doesn’t have the integrated cloud-based ecosystem behind it in the style of Amazon or Google, but part is to keep things straightforward and easy to use, much like an ordinary TV. The channels such as Netflix then have their own interface. Frankly, I prefer the channel approach as you know what you are getting, e.g. BBC programming, Netflix’s catalogue, YouTube video. Channel or app sophistication varies hugely. Most are good, especially from the big names like BBC or Netflix, though Spotify’s channel is a bit disappointing.

Roku RemoteThe remote is easy to use with a directional pad falling easily under the thumb. Other buttons function as home, back and menu controls. There are four shortcut buttons for Netflix, YouTube, Rdio and Google Movies, which is great if you use those services, but a waste of space if you don’t. It’s a pity they aren’t more generically labelled, e.g. Films, Music, News, Sport, with a configuration option for each button. Even better would be to print and label your own buttons!

To play media from smartphones and tablets, Roku offers a complementary app (Android, iOS and Windows) which can be used to not only manage and control the Roku 2, but also cast media from the mobile device to the screen. It’s great to show the photos you’ve just taken on the TV.

There’s no doubt there’s strong competition out there for the spot below your TV but the Roku 2 performed well and without issue. Pricewise, the Roku 2 has an RRP of £69.99 but can be found on-line for £10 less which is good value especially at the lower price. Of course, if you don’t need to play from local storage, consider the Roku Streaming Stick which is £20 cheaper (RRP £49.99). Overall, I think the Roku is a good choice if your intention is to “watch TV” without being distracted by unnecessary features. Go on, get one for Christmas.

Thanks to Roku for providing the Roku 2 for review.


Will you cut the cord in 2016?



Roku 2Cutting the cord simply means turning off your TV service, be it cable or satellite. You will obviously still need a cord for internet service, so the phrase is a bit confusing. Most people do this by using internet-based alternatives.

Of those, there are many choices — Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu Plus are popular choices. Sling TV launched not long ago and provides what is literally a TV service over the internet, with channels like ESPN, CNN, History, HGTV and many more streaming live.

These service aren’t free of course, but even using two or three of them adds up to considerably less than the average cable bill. And once you’ve purchased a box such as Amazon Fire TV or Roku your fee for that is done — no monthly box rental, none of those minor little charges that seem to get stuck into bills in hopes you don’t notice.

There are some drawbacks, of course. With the exception of Sling you won’t be watching live TV.  The problem is Sling doesn’t carry the major networks like CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox. However you can catch many shows on Hulu Plus, you just have to wait until usually the next day.

So, will 2016 be the year that you’ll take this plunge, or have you already? Let us know and also what services you are, or plan to, use.


Roku 4 Delivers 4K for UHD



ROKU LogoApple, Amazon and Google have all recently announced their refreshed streaming TV media players and today market leader Roku has responded with the latest iteration in the Roku series, the Roku 4. In a happy numbering coincidence, the Roku 4 will deliver UHD 4K content for the latest ultra high definition TVs. As you’d expect given the relative rarity of UHD TVs and content, the Roku 4 will work well with normal HD TVs too.

Key features of the new Roku include a quad core processor to drive 4K streaming at 60 Hz. HDCP2 2.2 is supported and there’s optical audio out for the AV amplifier. For connectivity, there’s a gig network port along with 11ac MIMO Wi-Fi.

Roku 4 Streaming Player

The Roku 4 will run Roku OS 7, the latest update to the streaming OS which boosts previous features, particularly the Roku Feed and it now allows owners to track films, TV shows, actors and directors to receive automatic notifications about pricing and availability. In a response to a much requested feature, OS 7 can now work with wireless networks where login credentials are required.

At launch, there’s a handful of 4K channels including Netflix, M-Go, Amazon Instant Video, ToonGoogles, Vudu and You Tube, though there will be some variation depending on geographic region.

The Roku remote control has the previously-seen voice search and a headphone jack, but new to this version is the remote finder, which will help owners find the remote when it’s stuck down the back of the sofa. It’s worth buying for this feature alone!

The Roku mobile app for Android and iOS has been updated too, offering full device control including playing photos, videos and music on TV from the smartphone. A big bonus for me is “pinch to zoom” on photos which will bring out the detail from the snaps. The new app offers other Roku features such as Search, Feed, Remote Control and Play on Roku.

The new Roku 4 goes on pre-order today at roku.com for US$129.99 with delivery later in October. Pricing for other countries has not been announced yet.

If you are already a Roku owner, OS 7 will roll out to current-generation Roku players in the U.S., Canada and the UK, and Roku TVs in the US and Canada through a software update beginning in mid-October and is expected to be completed in November.


Samsung responds to allegations of its TVs cheating on tests



Samsung LogoIt’s been a week of accusations, starting with car maker VW and moving on to Samsung, who was accused by The Guardian of fudging results for its televisions. The report suggests that one of the modes built into the TVs was simply for testing as opposed to actual use by customers.

The feature in question is ‘motion lighting’ which lowers the screen brightness to save power usage. Samsung explains that this is a standard feature and is on by default when a customer gets the TV.

According to Samsung, “Motion lighting is not a setting that only activates during compliance testing. On the contrary, it is a default setting which works both in the lab and at home; delivering energy savings and helping us to reduce our environmental impact”,

The TV maker says this feature was introduced back in 2011 and designed to help consumers save power. Users can switch to a different mode if they choose to.

“The setting is explained in all of our instruction manuals, and also features on our website”. It’s up to you, do believe Samsung?