Tag Archives: TV

Why Roku Still Matters..

In an age where Apple TV, Android TV and Amazon Fire TVs are highlighted more than others, one pioneer of the smart tv falls to the background, Roku. Admit it, have you even heard of the Roku? I have and it was my very first foray into making a smarter living room in 2010, with it’s easy and beautiful interface — buying and transitioning into the smart TV world was a breeze.

Sample Roku interface.
Why does this happen? We are living in an age where the ecosystem of Apple and Google have grown significantly and they both are at phenomenal levels. One note is that on the TV side, these do mostly the same things, mostly. For example, you will not be able to enjoy your iTunes library or Airplay on any Android TV, just like you will not be able to Cast to an Apple TV or access the Play Store. This is why the Roku lineup is great — it is platform agnostic. Agnostic means that it is not going to place one certain platform over another or show favoritism to it’s own services (because Roku doesn’t have it’s own), so services like Google Play Movies, Netflix, Sling and more all work great.  
Roku is available in a variety of options. There is the Roku Express, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku Premiere/Premiere + and lastly the Roku Ultra, with both Premiere options and Ultra having being able to stream 4K content. Roku opens the user up to a variety of apps called “channels” that are easy to add from the built-in store.

Current Roku lineup as of October, 2016.

Bottom line: Try the Roku Player! With many different options to choose from, there is a Roku flavor to meet your needs, tastes and budget. Roku excels because of it’s ease of use and simple interface making it easy for new users and advanced users alike to come aboard.  Convinced?  Go here to see Roku for yourself.

Google TV Review

At this point there are more cord-cutters than ever and there are now more options of retrieving media via the web.  With options such as Roku, Boxee, Apple TV and others what makes a device with Google TV installed so special? There are two basic avenues to getting Google TV, either you can purchase a TV with it installed or you can get a set top box with it installed and hook it up to a non-internet enabled TV.

Typically the Google TV experience that I have seen and witnessed is pretty vanilla and straight-forward.  The latest devices are running Android 3.2 and hopefully will be seeing an update soon.

Setup.  Setup of Google TV is simple, just as easy as you would setup a new Android device with signing in to your Google account and restoring apps — this is no different.  In addition, Google TV not only works alone, it works with your existing cable connection and HDTV.  That is right.  Not only can you benefit from just having this set top box alone, which is a viable option, adding cable just makes your experience better by actually being able to search content from your service provider, searching and still watching your favorite shows using PIP and more.

Day-to-Day Usage.  Using this player is just like using a Roku or Boxee Box device; however, the caveat is that these devices lack a customizable operating system beneath or “flow” from one to another; plus there is no full-featured Google Chrome.  Google TV devices come with the Google Play Store, which allows you to download any app compatible to your device.  That is includes Netflix, Flixster, YouTube (more on that later) and more.  Android on a TV is unlike anything that you’ve ever experienced — simply amazing.  Not only is the transition from app to app fluid and simple, the controls on the remote mimic Android on mobile devices, as they should. google-tv-remote

Apps.  To start, there are over 700K apps available on the Google Play Store for your devices; however, for this device, there are only a few thousand available.  Now, it is arguable how many apps do you really need for a TV?  Mainly, you need media consumption apps — not Cut the Rope or Angry Birds.  The apps that are available make this an extremely functional device and once you have it in your living room it’ll be there to stay.  YouTube on the Google TV is simply put, the richest YouTube experience on a TV – period. YT_GoogleTVFrom the ability to stream every video in your subscription box, the user has full control to give ratings and also view video information; all in excellent HD resoltion.  Netflix is no slacker here either — the UI is far greater than the experience on the Roku player.  It is not like the content increases, but the manner in which Netflix for Google TV delivers it is the key.  Also, Google Play Music and Movies are available, which just makes this box even more “Googley” so all of that music that you have uploaded and those movies that you have purchased are at your fingertips for the first time on your TV.

Just the above four apps alone make this device worth the $175 that you can purchase it for; Target even had it for $129.

Bottom line:  If you are a Google-centric person a Google TV is a no-brainer, especially the model I chose — Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player with Google TV — buy [HERE]