Monday, August 17, 2015

The Best Gadgets for Watching Internet Content on Your TV

About the author:
"Neal Bricker loves writing about tech and contributing on various websites and blogs. You can find his work all over the web."

Internet content like movies, music and YouTube videos is not done justice to by watching it on a screen on your PC or laptop. The only way to maximize streaming content is through your TV but up until recently there has been no easily identifiable way to do this in a way that is simple, straightforward and cost effective. However, things have changed now as there are many gadgets available that allow us to enjoy internet content on our television screens. Plus, the easy availability of internet bundles has also made things smoother. You can get a good bundle here:

There is a lot of money in this industry, which is why big companies are producing content for the internet and hence the demand for such devices is on a constant rise.

To help you pick the right gadget for watching internet content on your TV, given below is a list of some of the best such gadgets.

Roku 3 - $80-$100
This high-end media player offers 2000 channels and services including YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Instant, HBO Go and Hulu Plus. The Roku 3 is easy to use with a clean, simple interface. As a box instead of a stick, you would expect it to have higher performance and that is what you get with its fast processor. The box is accompanied by a remote which is simple and easy to use. It comes with headphones, though, which does seem slightly unnecessary given it pushes up the price. Overall, it is an easy way to access a lot of online content.

Amazon Fire TV -$99
Amazon is clearly trying to sell this on this ability to stream content to your TV as well as gaming. It comes with a remote control and if youre willing to pay more, a video game controller. With a graphics processor to support the gaming aspect, some gamers will be tempted especially with the fairly wide range of games available. One plus is that it pre-loads content that it thinks you might enjoy. However, at the higher end of the price range, are you buying this to play games or watch content? Although no HDMI cable is included,

Google Chromecast - $36
This is an excellent budget option that plugs directly into your HDMI port on your TV. Connecting to WIFI, this enables you to watch content from Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Pandora, ESPN and MLB.TV. This a great, inexpensive way to see what all the fuss is about with streaming content to your TV. It is controlled by your laptop, PC or tablet. Be aware, though, that it does not allow to watch media that you already have saved on those devices.  Check out my review here.

Apple TV 3rd Generation
Apple will always attract attention in whatever area of technology but this time it is not wholly deserved. Whilst users can watch their own existing content on their TV, it is only compatible with other Apple device like IPod or IPad etc. Saving graces are that they now offer a HDMI cable included and as always, the box is beautiful in its design. In terms of streaming service there are plenty.  But if youre not an existing Apple user this isnt even an option and even if you are, at this price range you need to think carefully.

Roku Streaming stick $40
At the lower to mid-range, this stick offers wireless connection, no need for HDMI cables and doesnt require another device to control it as it comes with a control.  As mentioned above, the Roku interface is very user friendly and has wide range of services. It is certainly good value and probably lays out the direction of here TV streaming is headed. We love this stick but others have commented that they found the interface a little slower than theyd like . Overall, the ease of use and range of content make it a winner.
All these devices have carved a niche in the industry and have their own benefits. Roku is considered the best by many, but Amazong Fire is not very far behind. Nonetheless, the best device depends on your budget and your requirements, so shop carefully.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Virtual Reality - Games Are Just the Beginning

About the author:
Beth Kelly is a freelance writer and blogger based in Chicago, IL. After graduating from DePaul University in 2011 she traveled throughout Southeast Asia teaching English, today she’s saving up for her next adventure and writing as much as she can in her free time. Find her on Twitter @bkelly_88

Virtual Reality - Games Are Just the Beginning

Only recently has virtual reality technology begun to expand in earnest, beyond the limited sphere of gaming and towards a wider mainstream adoption. This year’s E3 event revealed a myriad of exciting new developments in the VR space - numerous booths offered the chance to try some of the most innovative products on their way towards consumer markets, from the well-known Oculus Rift to Microsoft’s HoloLens, as well as a few out-there products like a VR treadmill/bike and VR gloves.

Virtual reality appeared as a promising trend several years ago, peaking in the '90s before falling to the wayside once more. However, new developments in high speed fiber-optic and sensor technology, as well as more powerful visual software, are now helping make these headsets a reality (very Ready Player One, if you ask me). It will take more time, but it's clear to see that important strides are already being made in the VR space – all of which will have massive implications for the gaming world and beyond.

Utilized by the military for years to assist in the training of soldiers, fighter pilots, and additional combat personnel, VR has now found a home in hospital rooms and paramedic classes, even among university football recruiters. Virtual reality has also proven effective in treating a wide variety of psychological problems, from PTSD to social anxiety and symptoms of autism. According to sources at Direct Energy and clean power advocacy groups, new technology may even help us visualize the impending ecological disasters associated with climate change.

But until advanced VR devices arrive in the homes of all everyday individuals, its worth looking at a few of the best new games at the forefront of the virtual reality revolution:

Edge of Nowhere

From the company that brought us Spyro the Dragon and Ratchet & Clank, Insomniac Games is bringing something totally different to 2016’s Oculus Rift release. Designed for the new Rift headset, Edge of Nowhere is a third-person adventure game (atypical for VR) set in the arctic in which the player searches for a missing expedition. Now, in reality, it would seem like the insanely low temperatures and the fact the possibility of getting lost in the arctic would be more than enough to frighten. But this is a video simulation - when everything goes off the rails and players end up battling creatures and monsters in a chilly wasteland is when things really get exciting. The possibility of using the latest Oculus Touch software with this game adds additional intrigue.

The Walking Dead

The zombie theme may have been overdone in recent years, but fans of The Walking Dead will still likely flock to a VR game that adds to the franchise. In this game players will be able to experience this apocalyptic world just like in the show. In the VR The Walking Dead, players were confined to a wheelchair as they shot zombies off one by one with a shotgun controller, which allows you to aim and fire intuitively. A demo of the game that runs on the Starbreeze StarVR headset and soon-to-be-released HTC Vive headset has been tested by the public, but an official release date for the game itself has yet to be announced.
Monster Escape/Monster Battle

A simple but adorable-looking two section demo game comes in the form of Sony’s Monster Escape/Monster Battle. One person wears the VR headset and plays as a dinosaur as up to four others play tiny robots while using regular controllers and a television screen. The Morpheus wearer controls his actions only with the headset and tries to destroy buildings in a city. The robots must dodge the debris and throw it back at the dinosaur’s head. Although this isn’t necessarily a complex game, it looks like a light-hearted break from dramatic storylines and seemingly impossible missions. Headbutting everything in your path is also a fun way to revert back to your younger self again.
Rigs: Mechanized Combat League

Many children growing up in the 1990’s watched Mobile Suit Gundam Wing on Cartoon Network. For anyone who dreamt of owning their own mech suit and roaming through space and battling other mechs, Rigs: Mechanized Combat League, enables a very similar experience. Users might not be in space, but the game is a first person shooter that lets you form teams and fight for glowing orbs. Like Monster Escape/Monster Battle, users are able to control their movements with their head in addition to a left thumbstick, which makes it easier to lock onto a target. Since Sony’s Project Morpheus is one of the leading systems in the VR industry, we can expect even more immersive robo-fight games like Rigs in the future.

While virtual reality is far from maturity, these new games signal the coming of even more advanced technology down the road. As innovators across industries find new applications for VR tech, it won’t be long before virtual reality becomes a part of our everyday lives. 

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Home Security Gadgets You Should Know

About the author:
Neal Bricker is a blogger and tech enthusiast writing on a number of blogs and online publications.

Who doesn't like a good gadget? Consumer electronics have been making some major strides recently, and some of the coolest innovations have come in the form of new home security measures. While “gadget” implies more form than it does function, our personal favorites offer a blend of practicality and out-and-out geek appeal.

Even if you don't pick one of these gorgeous gadgets up, give them a look – many are relatively new, and may well get better and better (and cheaper) as time goes on. In the meantime, feast your eyes on:

Nest's Dropcam

The secure smart home has been a pipe dream for some time now, but it looks like it might be finally coming true. Nest is one of the industry's real innovators, and when they acquired Dropcam, we knew it was only a matter of time before we began to see security cameras integrated into Nest's existing framework.

Dropcam is plenty impressive on its own. The easy setup cameras come well-programmed, and are sharp enough to identify human faces and parse a crowded visual scene for signs of a break-in, but the possibilities that their integration with a smart home offers are even more exciting.

The ideal smart home is fully integrated, allowing input from one appliance or system to work on others. In terms of home security, a Dropcam detecting a break-in could alert police, much like a Local ADT system could, but also activate additional in-house security measures.

Bark Alarms

If we get very, very liberal with the term, then the best home security gadget of all is a large, alert dog. The presence of a territorial pooch can give just about any burglar second thoughts, and it's going to be a long time before we find a technological replacement for a loyal pack member.

But not everyone can take this option. Dogs take time, money, and a lot of love to keep happy, and it's not always easy to provide all of those. For those who are short on any of the above, you may want to consider a barking alarm.

Barking alarms are exactly what you think they are: home security systems that respond to signs of a break in by playing recorded barks at high volume. Like regular home alarms, they'll alert you, and anyone listening that something's afoot. Unlike regular home alarms, they'll give thieves some instant incentive to find another house.

TV Simulators

Much in the spirit of the bark alarm, TV simulators give passer-by the attention that there's someone home and ready to respond to break-in. Since unoccupied houses are vastly more appealing to burglars, the late-night light of an active TV is often enough to dissuade potential criminals.

Of course, you probably don't want to just leave your TV on for the duration of a business trip or vacation – it's much too expensive, and can easily damage your big screen.

Instead, consider picking up  a TV-imitating set of LEDs. These lights are electricity-sipping, and can work for years before burning out. Once set up, they'll emit flickering light meant to imitate an active television – and fool any burglars into believing that you're still there watching it.


As awesome as these gadgets are, I'd like to wind up with a quick word of warning: it's best not to put too much trust in them. Understand that they're good additions to your overall security system, but they're no replacement for basic best practices.

While I'd heavily recommend scooping up a barking alarm, it's not really a replacement for a real dog. And as good as the Dropcams are, it's much better to have a complete understanding of your neighborhood, and a couple of friendly, watchful neighbors with your best interests at heart.

Stay safe out there!

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