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The Best Streaming Devices of 2021 to Watch Netflix and More

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Streaming services make it easy to watch your favorite movies and shows, but it can be hard to stream them on your TV. Our streaming device recommendations will make it easy to put on Netflix and enjoy hassle-free.

Read This Article on How-To Geek ›

Source: https://www.howtogeek.com/733629/best-streaming-devices/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Elizabeth Henges

What Is Contrast Ratio?

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If you’re searching for a new TV or monitor, you’ve probably come across the term “contrast ratio” in marketing materials and reviews online. So what exactly does contrast ratio mean and what does a “good” contrast ratio look like?

Read This Article on How-To Geek ›

Source: https://www.howtogeek.com/728424/what-is-contrast-ratio/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Tim Brookes

The 6 Best TVs with Google Chromecast

the best google tvs or tvs with built-in chromecast (1)VIZIO/Sony/VIZIO

A great TV is a must in a modern household. And if you love the ability to easily cast your phone screen or even Internet browser to your TV, then you should look at purchasing an Android TV or a TV with Chromecast functionality built-in.

What to Look for in a Google TV

There are so many great TV options out there, so how do you choose the right one? Well, if you’re looking specifically for a Google TV with Chromecast functionality, you’ll need to consider regular TV specs as well as some Chromecast specific bits. Here are some key points to think about:

    • How You’ll Use the TV: The most important factor you need to consider is how you’re going to use the TV. Are you primarily going to be streaming media on it or will you be playing demanding video games on it as well? Depending on how you plan to use the TV, you might need to pay more attention to specific specs like the refresh rate, resolution, display tech, and the number and type of the HDMI ports. A good TV for gaming has a high refresh rate, high resolution, and a more modern display type.
    • Size: Next, you’ll need to think about where you want to put the TV and how you want it to fit into your space. Always measure your space multiple times to ensure your TV will fit. If the TV is going into your living room, you might want to spring for a larger 65-inch TV. If the TV is going into your bedroom or a guest room, you might consider something smaller like a 32-inch or a 43-inch TV. It all just depends on how much TV your room and entertainment center can accommodate.
    • Refresh Rate: The higher the refresh rate, the smoother the picture will look, especially for gaming. If you see a refresh rate that says 120Hz or 120fps (frames per second), that’s literally how many frames present per second on your screen. This is the best choice if you plan on gaming with a modern console like the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X.
    • Resolution: With more modern TVs, you’ll typically get at least 1080p resolution. It’s becoming more customary for larger TVs to have 4K Ultra HD resolution. The4K resolution is 3840 x 2160 pixels, compared to 1080p resolution at 1920 x 1080 pixels. The more pixels you have overall, the crisper the picture is going to look.
    • Android TV vs. Chromecast Support: All of the TVs on this list will give you access to Chromecast right from the start; you won’t need to use a Chromecast dongle. However, there is a difference between Android TVs and TVs with Chromecast built in. With Android TVs, you’ll have a much more powerful Chromecast system because it’s built into the operating system. With Chromecast functionality on top of another smart TV platform, like Vizio’s SmartCast, you’ll still be able to use Google cast features, but you won’t get the benefit of extra Android-specific additions.

Best Overall: VIZIO P-Series Quantum

VIZIO 65-inch P-Series Quantum 4K UHD LED HDR Smart TVVIZIO

This 65 inch VIZIO P-Series Quantum TV is going to be the best option for most people who want a long-lasting investment. It has a 4K resolution with QLED display technology, which means that there is Quantum Color in addition to the Active Full Array backlight tech; this makes for richer color intensity.

VIZIO’s IQ UltraTM processor makes this smart TV ultra fast and more responsive, especially when loading up apps. With SmartCast, you’ll have access to popular streaming services right away like Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, and more, as well as support for Chromecast technology.

To top everything off, this TV has a speedy 120Hz refresh rate and four HDMI 2.1 inputs, so it’ll be great for gaming as well as simple media streaming. And if the 65-inch option is not large enough for you, the P-Series Quantum comes in a 75-inch model as well.

Best Overall

Vizio P-Series Quantum


This VIZIO P-Series Quantum TV is going to be the best option for most people who want a long-lasting investment.

Another Great Option: Sony A8H Bravia OLED

Sony A8H 55-inch TV BRAVIA OLED 4K Ultra HD Smart TVSony

This 55-inch A8H Bravia OLED TV from Sony is another fantastic option that will give you fantastic colors in an Android TV with Chromecast hardwired in. It has 4K resolution and an OLED display technology combined with Pixel contrast booster for even more vibrant colors. There are four HDMI 2.0 ports. Although there are no HDMI 2.1 ports, this TV does support an HDMI 2.1 feature: Enhanced Audio Return Channel, which will give you Hi Res Audio including Dolby Atmos and DTSX.

Because it’s an Android TV, you can control it via voice commands to Google Assistant and easily utilize Chromecast casting features. Alexa and Siri are also compatible with the TV in case anyone else in your household uses those virtual assistants.

If you want to splurge on a larger version, there’s a 65-inch model available as well.

And if you’re into console gaming, you’ll be happy to know that Sony’s BRAVIA line of TVs has a dedicated Game Mode to help enhance your gaming experience by making it smoother and more responsive. The refresh rate is set at 60Hz and is not a variable refresh rate like the VIZIO P-Quantum Series TV above, so if the ultimate gaming experience is your primary concern, go with the VIZIO.

Another Great Option

Sony A8H Bravia OLED


This 55-inch A8H Bravia OLED model from Sony is another fantastic option that will give you fantastic colors in an Android TV with Chromecast hardwired in.

Best Budget: TCL Class 4 Series

TCL - 75 Class 4 Series LED 4K UHD Smart Android TVTCL

This 75-inch TV from TCL is more affordable, but still gives you 4K HDR resolution and smart voice capabilities with Google Assistant. The refresh rate is 60Hz, so it’s perfect for streaming media, but is a little low if you intend to play a lot of video games on next-gen consoles.

There are three HDMI 2.0 inputs and you won’t have to waste an input for a streaming device; you’ll automatically have a lot of your favorite streaming services available as apps on this TV, like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Prime Video, and more.

And although the 75-inch option is way more affordable than others in its size class, there’s also a 55-inch version available that’s half the price.

Best Budget

TCL 75-inch Class 4 Series


This 75-inch TV from TCL is more affordable, but still gives you 4K HDR resolution and smart voice capabilities with Google Assistant.

Best Small: VIZIO D-Series

VIZIO 32-inch D-Series - Full HD 1080p Smart TV (1)VIZIO

While a small TV may not get you the highest resolution or fastest refresh rate, it’s great to have for dorms, guest rooms, or other small areas. This 32-inch TV works with VIZIO’s SmartCast system to give you access to streaming apps like Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, and more. On top of that, you’ll also have access to Chromecast functionality and Apple AirPlay, if anyone else in your family has an iOS device.

You can use the TV’s smart remote, the SmartCast mobile app, or a virtual assistant like Google Assistant, Siri, or Alexa to control TV functions, like turning it on and off and opening up specific apps.

On the more technical side, this VIZIO TV has 1080p resolution, a 60Hz refresh rate, 2 HDMI 2.0 ports, and an LED backlit display. And if you need a smaller size, there’s a 24-inch version.

Best Small

Vizio D-Series


While a small TV might not get you the highest resolution or fastest refresh rate, it’s great to have for dorms, guest rooms, or other small areas and still have Chromecast functionality.

Best Midrange: Sony X800H

Sony X800H 65-inch TV 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TVSony

This 65-inch Sony X800H will get you quite a few nifty features, like an LED display and a 4K HDR processor, while keeping the price relatively low. You can easily use Google Assistant and Chromecast with this smart Android TV. And with 4 HDMI 2.0 ports, this TV has great connectivity.

Although this Sony TV only has a refresh rate of 60Hz, it comes with MotionFlow XR 240, which is supposed to help make the picture look smoother, especially in games. In fact, there’s even a dedicated Game Mode on this TV that’ll help your gaming experience be more responsive and less laggy.

And if the 65-inch model isn’t the right size for you, don’t worry; the Sony X800H also comes in sizes of 43 inches, 49 inches, 55 inches, 75 inches, and even 85 inches.

Best Midrange

Sony X800H


This 65-inch Sony X800H will get you quite a few nifty features, like an LED display and a 4K HDR processor, while keeping the price relatively low.

Best Premium: VIZIO P-Series Quantum X

VIZIO 85-inch P-Series - Quantum X 4K HDR Smart TVVIZIO

If you want the best of the best and an excellent gaming TV, go for this 85-inch VIZIO P-Series Quantum X. It has 4K resolution, Dolby Vision HDR, four HDMI 2.1 ports, and a VIZIO IQ UltraTM processor to support everything.

The ProGaming Engine automatically optimizes gameplay on your Xbox or PlayStation, making the graphics smoother and the game overall more responsive. One of the best features for gaming on this TV is the variable refresh rate that supports up to 120Hz. On top of all that, there’s AMD FreeSync technology inside as well to help decrease gameplay lag and broken frames.

And if 85 inches is a bit too large for your space, you can still get all these excellent features in a 65-inch model or a 75-inch model.

Best Premium

VIZIO P-Series Quantum X


If you want the best of the best and an excellent gaming TV, go for this 85-inch VIZIO P-Series Quantum X.

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/82653/the-6-best-tvs-with-google-chromecast/
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Sarah Chaney

Mystery Science Theater 3000’s Joel Hodgson on Season 13, the Gizmoplex, and Leaving the Show in Good Hands

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After creator Joel Hodgson launched a new Kickstarter, it took just over a day for Mystery Science Theater 3000’s legion of fans to bring back the show (again). This shouldn’t have surprised anybody—there’s a reason why MST3K has stuck around for more than 30 years, and that’s because people love watching robot…

Read more…

Source: https://io9.gizmodo.com/mystery-science-theater-3000s-joel-hodgson-on-season-13-1846768146
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Rob Bricken

Roku launches a rechargeable, hands-free voice remote and other devices, rolls out Roku OS 10

Roku today is unveiling new hardware and software, including the latest version of its Roku OS media software, Roku OS 10, which expands support for AirPlay 2 and Apple’s HomeKit, and adds a variety of new features and optimizations focused on helping users get to content and stream faster. It’s also introducing its latest 4K player, the Roku Express 4K+; an updated version of its combo media player and soundbar; and an upgraded voice remote with a rechargeable battery and hands-free voice support via the “Hey Roku” command.

Of the three new devices, the Roku Voice Remote Pro ($29.99) may actually be the more interesting addition as it pushes Roku into the “smart speaker” space, so to speak — except in this case, the “speaker” is a TV remote equipped with a mid-field microphone that’s always listening for the “Hey Roku” command. From a practical standpoint, that means you can leave the remote laying on your coffee table and instead speak commands like “Hey Roku, launch Netflix” or “search for free movies,” or “show me comedies,” or whatever else it is you want to watch — without having to first pick up the device and press the push-to-talk voice search button.

Image Credits: Roku

This feature, of course, also comes with concerns. Consumers may be wary of bringing more voice assistants into their home, after it was discovered that tech giants Google, Amazon and Apple had initially dropped the ball on respecting consumer privacy when it came to how users’ voice data was being stored and utilized. Though they’ve all made changes since, the experience may have left its mark on consumers’ minds.

For what it’s worth, Roku says it will retain some of the audio recordings it receives for technical support and to improve the quality of its service, much like the others in the market. And users can opt out of that data collection (via Roku.com/account/voice). The company notes that voice recordings are disassociated from the consumer’s account within 30 days, and it only allows access to Roku employees, not contractor workforces.

If this doesn’t appeal to you, the remote offers a mute button for the microphone if you want to upgrade for its other features, and not use the hands-free listening.

The other features still make for a worthwhile upgrade, however, as this is Roku’s first remote with a rechargeable battery, for example. The device charges via a micro-USB cable, which is more environmentally friendly. It also offers preset buttons with access to Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and, for the first time, Apple TV+. And it offers a lost remote finder feature (which works via voice, too); private listening via the built-in headphone jack; a push-to-talk voice button if you don’t want hands-free; and two personal shortcuts for favorite voice commands.

The voice remote is on sale today via Roku’s website and will be available in retail stores in May.

Image Credits: Roku

Another new device announced today is the Roku Express 4K+ ($39.99) which will replace the older Roku Premiere.

This digital media player is targeted towards first-time streamers and secondary TVs — which are now more often becoming 4K TVs, but where consumers don’t need the full specs of Roku’s top-of-the-line players. The Express 4K+ has a faster processor than the Premiere and more storage, as well as support for dual-band Wi-Fi. It works with third-party micro-USB and Ethernet adapters, which is a plus as hardwiring your device was previously a feature only available on the pricier Roku Ultra.

The device also brings HDR 10+ to the Roku platform for the first time, though this support will soon make its way to the Roku Ultra through the upcoming Roku OS 10 software update. It additionally supports HD, 4K, HDR, and HDR 10 and ships with a standard voice remote.

Image Credits: Roku

The device goes on sale in the U.S. in mid-May online and in retail stores. Walmart, a Roku partner, will have an exclusive version of the Roku Express 4K+ called Roku Express 4K ($35) which offers a better value by dropping the voice remote for the basic one.

Along with the launch of the media player and remote, Roku is updating its Roku Smart Soundbar in mid-May. The device is being rebranded to the Roku Streambar Pro ($179.99), and will feature both 4K streaming and cinematic sound, but now ships with the same voice remote that comes with the Ultra, which means it supports private listening on headphones. And it adds support for a new Roku OS 10 feature called Virtual Surround, which aims to simulate a surround sound setup for Roku Smart Soundbar and Roku Streambar Pro owners, who don’t have another set of speakers to offer true surround sound.

Image Credits: Roku

In addition to Virtual Surround and HDR 10+ support, Roku latest OS will roll out Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support to more HD devices, including the Roku Express and some HD Roku TVs.

It will also add a customizable Live TV Channel Guide with favorites; automatic Wi-Fi network detection during setup (and it tells you which of your multiple channels is better to use); and an “instant resume” feature which takes you back to where you left off when you relaunch a supported channel.

At launch, there are over 15 channels that support “instant resume,” including AT&T TV, FilmRise, FOX Business Network, FOX News Channel, Fubo Sports Network, HappyKids TV, Plex.tv, STARZ, and The Roku Channel.

Image Credits: Roku

For gamers, a new automatic game console configuration feature, which automatically configures preferred settings, could be useful.

“Depending on the capabilities of the console and the TV, it can also mean turning on things like HDR gaming, variable refresh rates, high frame rate gaming like 120Hz, or maybe THX Certified Game Mode. So, without having to go through complex menus, a user just plugs in their console, and we know exactly how to give them the best experience on the game side,” noted Roku VP of Retail Product Strategy, Mark Ely. The feature works with both Xbox and PlayStation consoles and will also update the input on the Home Screen.

Image Credits: Roku

Roku OS 10 is rolling out to select Roku players now and is expected to roll out to all supported streaming players, including the all-new Roku Express 4K+ and Roku Streambar Pro, and all Roku TV models in the weeks ahead.

The new devices and software arrive after a year of increased at-home streaming due to the coronavirus pandemic, which forced users indoors and under lockdowns. Roku in Q4 2020 reported 51.2 million active accounts, up 39% for the year, and 58.7 billion streaming hours, while its free streaming hub, The Roku Channel, saw roughly 200% growth between just June and August 2020 when it added live linear viewing.

“Our business and streaming, in general, continues to grow and accelerate just because there’s such a shift from people that are getting rid of cable and moving over to streaming. And we saw, of course, with theater shutdowns, more people streaming first-run movies at home,” Ely noted. “So, streaming hours increased, and the volume of our products and the popularity of streaming devices increased, as well,” he added.

Roku’s continued momentum, however, cannot rely on pandemic impacts alone. Amazon remains a top competitor, and just rolled out its updated Fire TV interface months ago. There are also now rumors that Apple is planning an updated player of its own, with an Apple TV-HomePod combo of sorts, similar to the existing Roku Streambar. That will leave Roku with plenty of competition to keep it on its toes for months to come.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/04/13/roku-launches-a-rechargeable-hands-free-voice-remote-and-other-devices-rolls-out-roku-os-10/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Sarah Perez

Watch how TV news reporters go on camera from home, including bloopers

CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter looks at how the pandemic has changed news television and resulted in a slew of delightful bloopers live from reporters’ remote studios, aka their living rooms, bedrooms, and closets. (Goofs begin around 2:12 in the video above.)

Source: https://boingboing.net/2021/03/08/watch-how-tv-news-reporters-go-on-camera-from-home-including-bloopers.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: David Pescovitz

Amazon Fire TV’s Lineup Now Includes 200 Free Live Channels

A Fire TV playing 'Good Morning America.'Amazon

To bolster its free live TV catalog, Amazon is adding ad-supported Xumo, IMDb TV, and Amazon News channels to Fire TV. Amazon also plans to add Plex’s live TV service to Fire TV in the coming weeks.

You can find the four new live TV offerings in Fire TV’s “On Now” tab, or in the in the Universal Channel Guide on the Fire TV app. Xumo, IMDb TV, Amazon News, and Plex join 16 other live TV providers on the Fire TV platform, including Tubi, Pluto TV, Philo, YouTube TV, and Sling. The Fire TV platform also supports local news in some areas.

Amazon says that its live TV catalog now includes 400 channels, with 200 ad-supported, free channels. Of course, Amazon isn’t the only company to pack live channels into its streaming stick. Roku users have access to The Roku Channel, an app with over 100 channels and tons of free on-demand content.

Along with its expanded live TV offerings, Amazon is updating Alexa to support live TV voice commands. You can now ask Alexa to “play Good Morning America” or other live shows within the Fire TV service. The Fire TV interface also has a new “Peak” feature that, like the thumbnail previews on YouTube, show you what a live TV channel is playing when you hover over it.

Source: Amazon via Cord Cutters News

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/72956/amazon-fire-tvs-lineup-now-includes-200-free-live-channels/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

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