Tags Posts tagged with "Streaming Box"

Streaming Box

Ryan Michael Downey

One of the easiest ways to watch American TV stations online is a service called USTV Now. The service, which is available via its home page as well as through apps for XBMC and a private channel

US TV Now Provides US TV Channels Online
US TV Now Provides US TV Channels Online

for Roku allows users to watch an American based cable package overseas. Viewers using the service via a browser can access the basic networks; CBS, NBC, ABC, CW, Fox and PBS for free. Apple TV users can access the service via mirroring and a compatible laptop or IOS device.

Android box offers a mix of XBMC and Andriod

There are a number of Android devices on the market meant to provide users with access to the popular media center program, XBMC. One of the latest to emerge is the Rippl-TV. The system which is built on Android features a quad core processor, Android 4.4 and a number of features including the Google Play

Private channel for Roku, Tablets and other devices adds loads of content

Originally published 9/2013, this article has been republished due to repeated questions and the increased interest in Hulu with the Fall TV Schedule launching.

This article is going to focus on accessing the free version of Hulu  at home on TV’s and mobile devices via PlayOn, a multifaceted media server and DMR (Digital Media Renderer) application with many capabilities.

Everybody’s Favorite Next Day Channel
There is not a more popular legal way to watch current TV shows through a computer or mobile device then Hulu. The company which is a joint venture between Disney, Fox and Comcast has millions of users utilizing both the “Freemium” online service and Hulu Plus pay service which was developed as a mobile app for use on tablets phones and select media streaming boxes.

Apples and Apples
There are a few subtle differences between the free version of Hulu when accessed through a computer and Hulu Plus. But one of the obvious differences is that one does not have to pay to access Hulu while using a computer. For 7.99 per month Hulu Plus also provides its users with full seasons of many current shows and even shows long since cancelled along with a wider selection of movies. It’s programming is available on the go through a smart phone or tablet and at home through a streaming devices which include game consoles, Roku products and Apple TV, Fire TV and the Chromecast through wireless devices. Both services allow users to view shows after they air on broadcast television.

It seems that as long as one is anchored to a desktop or even lugging a laptop the company will give you a break, but you pay a monthly “convenience tax” for the ease of portability. Remember when a slim laptop seemed like a portable convenience? This appears to be the unifying theory of the Hulu universe. But like many seemingly absolute theories further research sometimes opens another path.

How can I use the free version of Hulu?

Enter PlayOn.  PlayOn is a media server based app for multiple platforms produced by Media Mall which allows users to access an entire universe of official and third party apps on their televisions and mobile devices. For our full article on PlayOn click here The app requires users to download a simple to install media server program to an internet connected laptop or desktop computer. Once installed one can stream content to many devices including, Roku boxes, Google TV, tablets, phones or even be utilized on dedicated HTPC’s, computers connected to TV’s for home theater entertainment purposes. For a complete listing of compatible devices see  Playon’s official site click here

In order to utilize PlayOn on an HTPC it is helpful to have some sort of media center software such as XBMC or Windows Media Center. The computer must either be wired in to the same router or have a wireless card.

The PlayOn channel for Roku has many options but one of its most popular features is Hulu and like I said, this is the free version that you would otherwise only access via a computer. The reason this works on streaming boxes and mobile devices is that the actual media is being fed to the devices from a computer instead of directly from the internet. Playon is built from Microsoft’s windows explorer so Hulu’s website interacts with the program the same way it would directly accessing from a PC based browser instead of shifting the user to a mobile based web portal. If you are a user who generally utilizes Hulu online to catch up with shows week by week then utilizing Hulu’s Free content via a TV or tablet may be the perfect solution for your media needs. The free offerings include current shows from all major networks excluding CBS, who is not a partner with Hulu. Along with the traditional networks many cable offerings are also available. The app behaves differently depending on what platform you are utilizing it on. For Instance the app/channel for Roku utilizes a side scrolling method similar to many other Roku apps while the apps for IOS and Android devices and  are optimized for a mobile platform. XBMC explores Hulu with a simple to follow list.

Where can I get the App
The PlayOn app is free to download but in order to utilize all of its features you must purchase the program. The company offers numerous special offers including lifetime access keys for $50.00 or less. Free Mobile Apps for phones and tablets are available via iTunes store, Google Play Store as well as the Blackberry  official app store. The PlayOn Roku Channel can be added to your Roku via PlayOn’s own website or by clicking here. Once there, users are linked to Roku’s add on screen and prompted enter a short code.  I personally purchased the program over a year ago and have used it on android tablets and an iPad and a Roku.

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Jumping into streaming is fun but can be confusing for new customers. To make matters more confounding the streaming landscape keeps growing. What started with Roku and a box that brought a small Netflix catalog to the television has grown into its own full sector of the technology world. Today we will be highlighting a number of the available products awards ceremony style. Anybody with school aged children has sat through an awards ceremony where everyone gets a trophy. So as not to hurt the self-esteem of any of the products featured in this story each will be given a trophy based on its strengths.

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Roku has a number of free Spanish language channels.

1. Roku is not a cable box
Customers looking to save money on their cable subscriptions sometimes look to Roku as a replacement for a cable box. Roku This is not what the Roku isdesigned to do. There is one caveat. Time Warner Cable has a Roku channel that works in tandem with the companies cable boxes. Customers who have at least one cable receiver can add the TWC channel to their Roku and access their cable channels via the Roku. This can be a fee free option for customers looking to add HBO go access to a guest room or another television in the home. As of now there are no other companies with such an arrangement.

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Media centers are great tools for organizing audio video and picture collections in one place. But if

Plex can add value to any streaming line up
Plex channel menu example. Click for larger image.

you are looking to do more than view content that you already own, Plex can add to the multimedia experience. Users can access a large group of content channels ranging from full length TV shows to niche channels. What would a media center be without content channels? Well it would be kind of like Windows Media Center. The channels are designed and maintained by the larger development community of Plex users.

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The latest challenger to Roku has been announced. This time challenge comes via the form of the QPlay. The QPlay is a new product from the co-founders of Tivo Michael Ramsay and Jim Barton. But despite the credentials this product is not going to challenge Roku. It must make its own place in the market because at least at the start it is as unlike Roku or Apple TV as it can get.

Must be used in conjunction with an IOS App
The Qplay is not a set top box in the vein of Roku, Apple TV the Western Digital Live or even the Visio Co-Star. It has no apps to speak of, despite the background of its developers it has no DVR capabilities either. All of its content is routed from an IOS app and the services it will work with as it debuts include YouTube,

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Ryan Michael Downey

What Ever Happened to that Apple TV and Roku Killer?
We have pointed out repeatedly on this site that simply labeling a product as a the “killer” of an already established brand does not Samsung Logo Picmake it so. One such ballyhooed Killer that debuted in the past year was  an item to take on Roku  line and Apple TV. No not the Chromecast. We are talking about the Samsung HomeSync. The last time I stepped in to a Best Buy there were three models of the Roku for sale The Roku 1,2,3 and the current Apple TV was also prominently on display as was the Google Chromecast, but the HomeSync was nowhere to be seen, maybe it was sold out.

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Ryan Michael Downey

Roku announced last Thursday that it will begin to include third party themes among the choices

The Nebula Theme For Roku
The Nebula Theme For Roku

available for Roku owners. While Roku is considerably more customizable than its competitors like Apple TV, the Vizio line of products and the Western Digital Live, it still pales in comparison to the multiple customization options available for programs like XBMC. That is set to change in the near future. According to GigaOm’s Janko Roettgers the new themes will be available for purchase in March.

Current Roku Themes
Roku currently offers 5 themes which all have the same layout and interface with tweaks in the color scheme and background. Besides its default set up which has a purple background with white writing for the menu options its other options include Graphene which utilizes a grey background, Decaf which has a brown background along with Nebula featuring Neon graphics and stars and the brightest of the options called Day Dream which adds a playful featuring look and feel to the otherwise familiar layout.


Plex is offering 50% off of its mobile apps for a limited time, the server based program  offers apps for multiple mobile platforms. The mobile apps include selections for for Windows mobile 8 tablets and phones, Android tablets and phones as well IOS tablets, phones and the iPod touch. This is a perfect chance for families with multiple tablets or phones to load up on apps for their devices.

AirPlay and Chrome Cast Ready
Plex’s mobile apps can be used in conjunction with both Apple TV and the Google Chrome cast though it is necessary to be a Chromecast member to take advantage of the option with the Google Dongle.  Apple TV users have free range to us the App via AirPlay to view cued programs, and utilize Plex’s chanels adding tons of functionality to their set top devices.