Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast

A cheep way to turn your TV in to a smart TV and stream media to it.

Chomecast and Box

Chromcast Only £30

Until now if you wanted to watch online videos on your TV you would have had to have an expensive Smart TV or have a Complicated streaming device set up on your TV.

Googles Chromcast is USB sized, cheap and easy to setup. The chromecast plugs in to your TV using a HDMI port and is powered it off of a USB port on your TV or from the mains. It takes as little as 3 minutes to get it working once its plugged in, it needs to be configured using your web browser on your computer or the free iOS or Android app for your smartphone.

Chromecast was designed to be used in conjunction with apps on iOS, Android or ChromeOS devices, these apps included YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Google Play and Netflix. Playing content can take as little as two button presses, it seemed to work flawlessly. If you use an Android device the playback controls will show up on the lock screen, which is nice and convenient.

When used like this, Video is not streamed from your device to the Chromecast instead it is streamed directly to the Chromecast, your devices is just the remote control. Do it this way ensures your device is free for other tasks, and also allows you to put your device to sleep and not worry about interrupting playback. The only way you can stream media that is stored on your device to the Chromecast is to use apps like LocalCast for Android, which works well enough, but tends to have a clumsy interface. There are equivalent apps for iOS devices but they to tend to work poorly.

There is another way you can stream whatever is being displayed on an open Chrome tab on your PC, Mac, or Chromebook to your Chromecast (which Google is calling tabcasting) but its only a beta version. Using it this way gives you access to services were there is not an official Chromcast app. It worked fine when showing photos from Flicker; but videos from 4OD and music from Spotify would not play properly. You can also drag and drop an MP4 video file that you have stored on your Computer into a Chrome tab so it can be played on the Chromcast, But for smooth play back you need a powerful computer and it tends to work better with standard definitions videos not HD videos.

Conclusion

The Chromecast device generally works well and is relatively cheap, there are a few compatible apps for the device at present, but using your mobile or laptop to control the device wont be for everyone. There could be more apps in the future making it more compatible, but for now there is are better choses out there like the Apple TV or the Now TV.

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What’s The Fuss About 4K?

What’s The Fuss About 4K?

This years World Cup Final is going to be filmed in 4K, experts claim that Ultra HD is the next big thing – but do we really need more confusing television standards?

4K Ultra HD Relative Sizes

4K Ultra HD Relative Sizes

What is it?

A new high-resolution video standard, that offers up to four times the detail of the current HD standard, and a wider range of colours. 4K refers to a format that is already widely used in digital cinemas, where the resolution is 4096×2160 pixels (4K being the number of horizontal pixels). 4K can also be used to describe a similar standard adopted by TV manufactures, but the official name for this is Ultra HD (or UHD) with a resolution is 2840×2160 pixels (2160P).

When is it due to launch?

If you are willing to spend £3,000 you can get an Ultra HD TV today. Sony, Samsung and LG have already launched an UHD-ready TV in the UK. 4K and Ultra HD TVs were everywhere at this years Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, there are many more UHD-capable devices due out in the coming months.

What other devices will use Ultra HD?

Theoretically any device that can display or record video could benefit from the resolution boost of Ultra HD. This means PCs, gaming devices, tablets, camcorders, digital cameras and even smartphones could adopt the standard.

Is this just another gimmick to get us to buy new TVs?

Unlike 3D, which proved to be a passing fad, Ultra HD is an improvement in general image quality. As such, Ultra HD is much more likely to be widely adopted.

I have not even got HD do I need Ultra HD?

If you have ever seen Ultra HD in action you will know how impressive it looks. There are many reasons why now might not be the best time to upgrade to UHD. Costs is a big one as they are still way to high at the minute, and some aspects of the format still need to be properly standardised, this includes a new type of HDMI connection. More importantly there is hardly any Ultra HD content available to watch in the UK. Broadcasters like the BBC and Sky are currently developing Ultra HD programming. Its unlikely we will be seeing much Ultra HD content via traditional broadcast methods any time soon, given there are only a handful of HD channels available on terrestrial TV, satellite or cable more than 10 years after the first HD transmission.

Amazon and Netflix have both said they are developing Ultra HD video streaming services but there is still no word on a launch date in the UK. YouTube can already support 2160p and there is a small selection of Ultra HD clip available to view. Most of these are unwatchable unless you have a high end PC with a very high-end graphics card and super fast broadband connection. You will also need to take the size of your living room in to account before jumping on the 4K bandwagon. Currently, the only Ultra HD TVs available are 50ins and bigger. There will be smaller sets one day but the benefits of 2160p are much clearer on a larger screen.

Samsungs 85in S9 Ultra HD TV costs just £35,000

Samsungs 85in S9 Ultra HD TV costs just £35,000

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Is Technology Taking Over Our Lives?

Is Technology Taking Over Our Lives?

This was sparked by watching the Tonight show which got me thinking, is technology turning people in to vegetables?

My concern is when people get board, they tend to pick up their mobile phone, tablet or laptop and not go outside. More and more people tend to communicate online not face to face, so we are starting to lose the ability to read body language, I know from past experience you have to be careful what you say in a text as it can be miss read much more easily than if you were face to face.

Over the last 10 years, technology has transformed the way we live, work and communicate with each other.

Could being dependent on devices like smart phones, tablets and laptops be having a negative impact on our behaviour and our every day life?

A few decades ago none of us had access to the type of technology or the amount of information that is available today, even the most basic computer would cost around £1500 so they would be out of the reach of most people but now they fit into our hands and cost less than a ¼ of what they used to.

Computers have transformed the way we live, work and even our personal relationships, but have we all really become a slave to the screen?

The Tonight show met Katie and Stuart Brown both 26-years old and new parents to baby Willow.

Katie admitted she is a social networking addict and she can spend up to 12 hours a day online, while Stuart is a keen online gamer.

Kate & Stuarts Sitting on the stairs

Katie and Stuart as the face the weekend without their gadgets

The couple did recognize that the time they spend online is having an impact on their relationship. They agreed to see if their relationship would improve without their gadgets, so for one weekend there would be no virtual world, texts, tweets or updates, laptops, mobiles, game consoles or the Internet.

Playing computer games for excessive amounts of time can cause problems like depression, not wanting to have any social contact and even suicide in extreme cases. But how much time is too much? I am keen  gamer and I can spend, as much as 4 – 6 hours playing online at times, but I know there are people that play for 12+.

So how much time do you spend on line, going on social networks or watching random videos on YouTube?

 

In the show Jonathan talks to neuroscientist Professor Susan Greenfield to examine the impact technology like the Internet, social media and computer games can have on our brains.

Professor Greenfield

Professor Greenfield examining some scans to look at the effects technology is having on the brain

After seeing the Chinese study on Internet addiction, Professor Greenfield has called for more research to be done.

It’s not just in the home we have to be concerned. Our working lives are also affected as they are more reliant on digital technologies; being always “connected” for many means the inability to ever switch off from work.

I know I am bad for that as I work from home and am always checking my e-mails even after I have finished work. I find having a smart phone makes it  so easy to but mean I find it hard to switch off.

For many people technology is an essential part and much welcomed part of life, many of us are prepared to go to great lengths to get the newest bit of kit or game. For the iPhone 5 launch people had been queuing for 48h+ just to be the 1st in line to get one, In the paper it was reported that someone was queuing for 7 days just to be the 1st in line to get the new Assassins Creed 3 game.

40% of adults and 60% of teenagers own a smartphone, which are more like a hand held computer not a phone. Tonight did a survey of 2000 people and 62% of those questioned believed that technology has changed their life for the better.

Ofcom did a survey of 1,138 adults and found people in the UK spend seven hours a day watching TV, surfing the net and using their mobile phone. We may spend more time than this because we multi-task using more than one device at the same time.

Is there a media overload? Do you spend more time multi-tasking? Do you find it stressful keeping up your with your friends across Facebook, Twitter etc.… or do you find technology has helped and enriched your life?

Videos Of The Tonight Show


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