Reviews

Roku recently added Comedy Central to its menu of available channels. The new channel is one of many cable everywhere channels that require a cable password in order to unlock all of its content but does contain a selections from a number of current and past Comedy Central programs. We took a quick look at the new channel today. See our video review bellow.

 Comedy Central Channel for Roku

The 4K TV box from RSH-TECH Company limited is a solid entry to the Android media player world. The weighty set-top box comes out of its packaging with a pre-configured build of XBMC 13.1 Gotham complete with a number of repositories installed to get new users off to a fast start. Though not very well known RSH has put together a solid product that zips through apps on the back of its quad core processor.

Interface
The system essentially has 3 interfaces. Its basic front end, XBMC and its Android desktop.

Front End Screen
The front simply could not be more straight forward. It consists of a simple menu featuring a quick

The 4k TV Box launch screen is very straight forward.
The 4k TV Box launch screen is very straight forward.

launch button for XBMC, A portal to Android applications, File Browser for accessing local and external data, the Settings Menu, Internet (a shortcut for the Firefox Browser), and Music (for locally stored music files).

Android Desktop
Like many Android based media boxes this device comes preloaded with some basic apps ahead of time though most are more suited to a tablet than a TV. In fact the Android desktop very much resembles an extreme close-up of a tablet. Users can access all of the key functions from here including again settings and XBMC along with Miracast, A media center shortcut for Airplay and DLNA settings, The Google Play Store, backup and a host of basic functions like email, music, a calculator for those late night math sessions on your TV, email access through Gmail and some of googles social apps. If one

The Android Interface feels very tablet like.
The Android Interface feels very tablet like.

chooses to this device can easily be converted for use as an Android based desktop computer. But as a media player some of these functions do not make sense.

XBMC
The vast majority of current XBMC builds initially launch into the Confluence skin. The Gotham build is pre-configured with a number of add-ons and their respective repositories in place. This includes numerous music and video apps that show off the media center’s capabilities. With so much in place ahead of time, the system lends itself to a quick set-up for those who already know their way around this interface. Video and audio apps are not the only thing that comes preloaded on the box. The programs are also loaded with helpful add-ons. Outside of the preinstalled repositories though it is a clean interface with little to no pre-sets in

The 4k TV Box comes loaded with XBMC Repositories.
The 4k TV Box comes loaded with XBMC Repositories.

place.

Remote
The remote for the 4k TV Box is very basic but features preset features. 4 colored buttons which access key functions on the device.

4k TV Box Remote
4k TV Box Remote

Red The Android Desktop
Green Recently/ currently opened apps
Yellow XBMC
Blue Main (MBOX) Settings
– Forward and Backward scrubbing buttons and volume for video and audio playback
– mouse/curser on and off buttons
– XBMC settings button
– Directional Buttons
– Pause/Play/OK (for selection)
– Home
– Refresh/back
-Number pad
– Backspace/Delete

Over all I found the 4K TV Box easy to pick up and use. Though I would recommend turning off hardware acceleration in order to avoid buffering. The system is simple to navigate from an Android perspective and the XBMC build is set up to get users operational in quick fashion.


Ports

HDMI Out           1
USB 2.0 Ports     2
Ethernet             1
AV Port               1
SD Card Slot       1
Optical Audio     1
Micro USB          1

Hardware
CPU Amlogic S812 Quadcore Cortex A9r4
GPU Octo-core Mali-450MP
Flash 8GB Nand Flash
DC Input 5V 2A
OS Android 4.4 KitKat

Remote              IR

Included in Box
The 4k TV Box
1 Power Cable
1 AV Cable
IR Remote Control
2 AAA batteries
Manual

Review for Salem Rogers: Model of the Year 1998, Point Of Honor, The Man in the High Castle and Cocked

We recently had a chance to site down and take in a group of Amazon’s new Pilots. In a one night binge we took in four new series. I can see some real potential with these shows but of course one a few will have a chance to make it. Amazon has yet to launch a Pilot that had staying power. Will this group have a breakout hit? Bellow are the Streaming Advisor’s reviews of Salem Rogers: Model of the Year 1998, Point Of Honor, The Man in the High Castle and Cocked. The rest of the grown up fair will come later this week.

Salem Rogers: Model of the Year 1998
A self-obsessed former supermodel tries to rebuild her career after 10 years in rehab. I am just going to say it. I wanted to hate this show as soon as I saw the plotline. I was surprised to find myself chuckling a number of times. It is not a brilliant show and is a plot that has been used again and again but I found the leads just endearing enough not to turn it off. Unfortunately every time this plot device has been used in the recent past (most recently Selfie and Don’t Trust The B in Apartment 23) it has failed. The show feels predictable and shallow but that never stopped something from making it big. I have to admit I sort of like how mean everybody is to each other. Reminds me a bit of the film Zoolander, which also presented the world of modeling in a very over the top and cartoonish light. Not a great show by any stretch and would likely die quickly on a normal TV network, but has potential as an Amazon show. Would have preferred to watch this story play out in “Selfie”.

Point Of Honor
This show is not very well thought out. I found the dialogue poorly written and plot poorly conceived. The concept actually felt like 1980’s mini-series the North and the South without the strong acting and writing or the slightest attempt at historical accuracy. At times I almost expected someone to pull out an iPhone. The show also dealt with the slaves in the middle of the struggle depicting family life on the plantation as though it were normal and expected.

The characters could not be more black and white and I am not referring to the plantation owners and the slaves. Every character feels like a cookie cutter type. There is the Abolitionist soldier fighting for the Union, the honorable southerner (who hates slavery) fighting only for his home, there are the three sisters including “the whore” (who somehow never developed an accent), “the sensible one” and the “witless flower”,  an over-the-top buffoon who I call the anti-Abraham Lincoln,  (a pro slavery bumpkin who wears a Straw Top Hat) and the honorable aging patriarch or (Mr. O’hara).

Some reviewers are giving the show a pass on accents but I don’t. The actors are all making up their own dialects even one family member to the next. Even if an accent is incorrect at least everyone in the town should have the same one. But it looks like the director told the cast to watch My Cousin Vinny, Andy Griffith and Forrest Gump and just choose whatever accent felt best to them. And the central tenant of the show (the union emphasis on abolition) is terribly historically inaccurate.

The Man in the High Castle

This show is well filmed, decently written and very imaginative. The story centers around two spies in an alternative version of world history where Germany and Japan won World War 2 and conquered the US. The backdrop was intriguing enough to get me to watch this one first. The creators did a good job of rebranding iconic American spaces like Times Square and Golden Gate Park with the symbols of Imperial Japan or Nazi Germany. The show has received incredible buzz on Amazon’s site itself where it has nearly 3000 5 star reviews at the time of this writing. If that is any indicator of things to come then I expect this will be one of the shows Amazon will produce moving forward. In general I found the story gripping. Some of the characters are not as well developed as I would like but as you watch you can see the potential. As a full series its weakness would be figuring out what to do with it. Will it be a limited run that concludes or will it be a never ending struggle as TNT’s Falling Skies is.

Cocked
Cocked is a series about a somewhat dysfunctional family that owns a firearms production and manufacturing company. The story is built around a family man who is coerced into helping his father and brother save the floundering business from itself. The pilot played out like Sweet Home Alabama and other “You can never go home” genre films. Awkard adjustments, realizations about the past and hope for the future. The writers appear to be working with three different story lines. One is a grandfather (Brian Dennehy) connecting with grandchildren he never knew. Another is the relationship between Grady Paxon (Jason Lee) and his tween aged nephew and third the relationship between the protagonist (Sam Trammel) Richard Paxon and the entire situation. This is a tried and true formula that works well as a movie. I have to wonder if it will have staying power as a series.

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OTA DVR could be worthwhile investment for cord cutters

Tablo Pic 5 Program guide not Feature Image
Tablo organizes over the Air TV like Netflix.

Streaming and cord cutting are becoming more common. In some cases the two go hand in hand. For this reason we took a look at the Tablo a device that combines over the air TV with streaming devices. As more people look into the idea of walking away from pay TV services they must take a look at the services they receive from the cable company in their “bargain” bundle. One feature that a lot of people enjoy very much is the DVR. People weighing the cost benefits of dropping cable ask me often “can you have A DVR without cable?” Having long since replaced VCR’s (Kids that’s the thing we watched movies on and recorded with before DVDs and Blu-ray) with the cable box based recorders, the end of cable seems like the end of that function entirely. This is not the case. Despite poor reporting by some outlets cord cutters can in fact record shows digitally for later viewing with OTA based DVR’s.

Is this a service like Tivo or a piece of equipment like Roku?
Tablo offers a subscription service priced at $4.99 US/month, $49.99 US/year, or a lifetime subscription for $149.99

Does Everything I need come in the box? No

Tablo Pic 7 Live Guide
Users can browse by category and explore their OTA options.

The Tablo only comes with part of what you will need to get started.

Included in the box are:

  • A network cable
  • A power supply
  • The Tablo unit itself
  • A simple start guide

You will need to supply

  • Antenna
  • A wireless router with an open network port to connect the Tablo
  • A Portable USB hard drive
  • An iPad with IOS 7 os or later, an Android device
    or a laptop/PC to use as the control for the video interface

Apps for Tablo
There are Tablo apps for Roku, iPad 2 and above, Android tablets 7 inches or bigger running Android 4.1 and higher and a web based app. There is also a Plex app for Tablo available on

Tablo has apps for most major platforms.
Tablo has apps for most major platforms.

 the site but the company does not provide support for it. Find the one you need here.

Is there a remote?
There is no physical remote. Like a Chromecast you are expected to supply the controls through your own devices and use their free app.

Getting Started
Hook up all of the equipment as the instructions suggest.
1. Connect an Antenna to the Tablo
2. Connect the network cable to your router (the device also supports WI-Fi.
3. Plug in the USB Hard drive

Tablo pic 1
Tablo will guide you through the set up process.

After the physical set up is done it is time to dive in to the software side of things.

1. Download the Tablo app to an IOS or Android device on the same wireless network OR use a computer preferably a laptop and navigate to http://my.tablotv.com/
*If you are going to access the Tablo and set up with a computer you must use either the Safari or Google Chrome browser.

2. Follow on screen instructions.
(Make sure there is nothing of value on the portable hard drive before you format it)

When the Tablo scans your local channels it will also indicate the signal quality you receive on them.

Tablo Pic 4
Once your channels have been found you are almost ready to stream live TV.

Once the Tablo is done scanning the local channels it will download a schedule guide for the channels that you have installed to the lineup.

Next You will likely be prompted to upgrade the software. Give the Tablo permission to do so.
*Note: If the interface gets hung up while syncing unplug the Tablo, plug it back in and start the process over. Once synced if the program guide does not populate after 2 minutes or more refresh the page on your browser.

All Done
Once the program guide loads subscribers can scan through their favorite shows and choose which ones to ask the Tablo to record. The device will set up to record which ever shows you chose when they air.

If you would like to record shows that are on at the moment you can do so by accessing the live TV Grid. From the live TV grid you can record current programs by selecting them and choosing record.

Tablo Channel Grid
Users can access a TV grid interface for playing live TV and setting recordings through its mobile app and browser based access.

Live TV through Apps
One of the the most helpful features of the Tablo is the ability to view Live TV through its apps. Its Roku channel (To add Tablo channel Click Here) allows users to access all of the channels that the antenna can receive. The antenna actually operated far better and clearer when using the Tablo. What this means for Tablo users with a 4 tuner unit is that if that is a family has one antenna but a Roku in every room then multiple people will be able to view HD quality live TV channels (up to 4 at one time) without the need for antennas hooked to each TV or even worse a splitter with multiple wires. You can also watch live TV a computer. It is like having a sling box. The playback on both the Roku and computer was perfect. The apps will also let users choose shows to record ahead of time. Roku owners are not the only set-top users who can stream OTA TV on the big screen. Apple TV owners can send video from an iPad to the set top box. Tablo is also Chromecast friendly. Users can cast video from both their Android devices and their computers though the web based version uses the still less reliable Beta screen casting feature. In our test we experienced buffering when sending video from a

Tablo will use your zip code to determine your TV listings.
Tablo will use your zip code to determine your TV listings.

laptop to the Chromecast. Either way the device provides users with many options for TV viewing both on TV and via a myriad of wireless devices.

Aero Replacement
The functionality that allows a user to view live HD TV through devices like an iPad, Roku or compatible Android device reminds me very much of what Aero provided. The key difference of course is that the DVR and antenna one uses is actually present on location (and the lack of injunctions). But the performance of the antenna in conjunction with the unit was impressive. There were no pauses or skipping on any of the channels I sampled, which was all 24 that I installed. It must be noted that the antenna on its own has its up and downs. A representative from Tablo told me that the DVR does not have an amplifier or anything that implicitly boosts the signal from the antenna and explained that the likely reason I saw a better performance was due to the tuner in the unit was likely less sensitive then the one built in to my television.  Some of the channels the Tablo picks up officially have fits throughout a broadcast affected by weather and other factors like digital noise. In the case of the Tablo I could not even tell I was using an antenna.

Overall take
The Tablo fills a very important function that would otherwise be lost without cable. Its ability to increase the stability of an over the air antenna to cable like performance (though not an officially advertised feature) was a major surprise to us and a pleasant one. I would recommend mounting the device out of view as the antenna wires can crowd a good home theater set up. Considering that it is controlled via wireless devices over your Wi-Fi network there is no need for line of site. The need for a portable hard drive is somewhat hidden cost as is the need for compatible set-top technology. I get the impression that Tablo expects its buyers to have already committed to an over the top solution before hand. If one does not want to purchase a set-top device there is always the option to connect a computer to the TV via an HDMI connection.

Purchasing a Tablo
Want one click here to order from the Tablo home or its partners here.
Price: For the Unit $219.00-$299.00 depending on features

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Apple TV was once the most popular streaming device. It could be again.

No new Apple TV will in 2014
Apple TV is getting some updates amid multiple reports that the hardware will be current through 2014. There have been near constant rumors that Apple was set to release a new model for Apple TV with speculation that the new device would contain everything from an app store, 3D video games and live TV capabilities. This has never come to fruition. Now reports are that an updated product will not be seen till 2015. The Streaming Advisor will continue to monitor this story.

Update for current system adds CNBC and Fox Now
Fox Now is a free streaming service from the FOX broadcasting network that allows users to watch episodes of Network programming via set top and mobile devices. The service operates very much like Hulu Plus except that it does not have a monthly fee and of course it only has Fox content. To fully unlock its features one must sign in using a participating pay TV provider by going to settings and following the prompts. There is a surprisingly scant group of participating providers. If your provider does participate you will find as many as the last 8 episodes of numerous seasons though some such as the already cancelled Almost Human only provide assorted clips. There are selected episodes of some current shows available without authentication including episodes of the new Cosmos.

CNBC App
Financial Network, CNBC, has also joined the Apple TV family of apps. The offering allows viewers to see recent episodes of CNBC television series such as

CNBC offers a number of viewing options especially to those with a pay TV provider.
CNBC offers a number of viewing options for business news

Restaurant Startup, The Profit and American Greed. There is a live feed option for those who can authenticate a pay TV subscription. Also available are fresh clips from the day’s financial news stories, select on-demand episodes of its original programs and multiple segments from its business reporting shows. Even those without cable can follow what is happening in the financial world via this app though the full experience can not be achieved without being able to sign in. With the addition of CNBC and Fox Now Apple TV offers 44 app/channels to US customers.

Apple TV adds Brazilian Sports Channel
Apple TV has released its first live sports channel for a Brazilian audience adding Esporte Interativo to its lineup. The move gives Apple an offering that will appeal to one of the fastest growing countries in the world. Esporte Interativo offers 24/7 sports for $5.00 a month in Brazil but is unavailable to US customers at the moment.

 

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The Real Hip-Hop Network, featured on the Streaming Advisor here is currently offering new customers a free viewing plan. Customers need only go to the network and register. RHN does not ask for any payment

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Todays Roku channel update comes a few days late. The Streaming Advisor owed wife and family some vacation time. We took a look at 7 new Roku channels for the week. If you enjoy animals we may have a winner in te Big Cat TV.

Tex FlixTEXFLIX
TEXFLIX is a small collection of country western videos along with movies based around Texas culture. The app does not have a great deal of fresh content but it is easy to navigate and broken up in easy to follow grids. Has potential


Click To Add Channel To Your Roku

 

Big Cat TVBig Cat Rescue TV
Big Cat TV has educational videos featuring exotic cats from lions and tigers and more. This is a great channel for nature enthusiast. The sort of thing one might find on Animal Planet

Click To Click To Add Channel To Your Roku

 

SlideSlide (1.99)
Lovely high quality pictures phase through your Roku. Another what we call on line coffee table books. Stunning pictures always make you feel good about that big screen.

Click To Add Channel To Your Roku

 

 

Flight TV PlusFightTV  (4.99 per month)
Selection of videos categorized based on the form of fighting. Visitors will find the sweet science (boxing) MMA style fighting and even scripted fighting from European professional wrestling organizations. This is a channel that delivers what it advertises which is a lot more than we can say for a number of Roku Channels.

Click To Add Channel To Your Roku

 

 

UHCTVUHC TV
UHC TV is a public outreach of United Health Care. Meant to be a resource for self help and education it operates on what I refer to as the classic Roku left to right scroll. Rather poorly organized and hard to find specific information quickly.


Click To Add Channel To Your Roku

 

Live with CeCe & CezerLive with CeCe & Cezar
Collection of videos chronicling the life and times of the family and friends of the people titled in the app. It kind of reminds me of watching somebody’s home movies. Videos are decidedly not in HD. Limited reach.


Click To Add Channel To Your Roku

 


Blind Cat Rescue and SanctuaryBlind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary
Live feed of cat’s who live in a shelter for cats. Not much else to say. Do you love watching cats sleep, and hang out? This is what cat’s do best of course. If so then this is definitely the right channel.