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9 Best Smart TV Apps

Smart TVs have become quite a phenomenon. They are not prohibitively expensive, and promise to offer a much better experience. Naturally, new TV buyers are opting for them. But, only a few of the households bother to enjoy the many additional benefits offered by smart TVs. The true potential of these television sets can only be realized when you connect them to the internet, download the apps, and enjoy a deluge of content available on them. Here are some of the best apps for your smart TVs, which may end up making your cable connection pretty much redundant.

Netflix

In the world of streaming services, Netflix is an unchallenged leader of entertainment. Its library of TV shows, movies, documentaries, and other interesting content, is simply unparalleled. Unlike cable television, you don’t have to wait for new episodes to be released each week. Netflix offers entire seasons for binge watching. It even has its own award-winning original shows that you will fall in love with.

Skype

Skype gives you the purest form of ultra-futuristic experience that you can get with current technology. You can download the app on your TV, and use it to speak face-to-face with your buddies, and family. The entire experience feels like something that is right out of a sci-fi movie. You will love it.

HBO Go or HBO Now

HBO Go and HBO Now are two apps from HBO, which allow you to enjoy all of HBO’s content on the internet. If you already subscribe to HBO on your cable or satellite TV connection, then you can use your credentials to access HBO Go. If you don’t have the pay TV subscription to HBO, then you can download HBO Now, which allows anyone to access it as long as you purchase the subscription for HBO Now.

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YouTube

The thing about YouTube is that it won’t bring you latest movies or TV shows like cable TV, at least not for free. But, it does offer a lot of excellent content in the form of viral videos, funny videos, latest music, special interest videos, educational videos, and what not. You get unlimited entertainment on YouTube, all for free when you download this app.

Amazon Instant Video

Amazon offers the app with two options – you can either pay for each video you watch, or buy a monthly or yearly blanket subscription. If you do subscribe, you get a Prime subscription, which comes with Amazon’s two-day delivery guarantee, multiple free Kindle books, and other freebies. Amazon does offer a huge library of content, which is worth the subscription. It even brings to you a lot of exclusive content to you too.

Pandora

If you are wondering why anyone would bother to play music tracks on big TV, well, it depends on the person. Perhaps, you like to keep the music playing in the background while you go about your routine, or maybe you wish to enjoy the music while you and your friends are playing games. Whatever your reasons, you can’t deny that the big speakers connected to your TV give you a great experience.

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Hulu Plus

The USP of Hulu Plus is that it not only offers you older seasons of a TV show, but also the latest episodes. In fact, it updates the episodes the very same day or the day after they have been aired on cable television. It comes with two premium packages, out of which the lower package features ads, while the higher package is mostly ad-free. If you love TV shows, it is difficult to find a replacement for Hulu Plus.

AccuWeather

AccuWeather is your personal weather channel. You don’t have to wait for the weatherman to appear on TV. Any time you want to check the weather condition, forecasts, and other relevant information in your home city or in a city you are planning to go, you can just check this app. The app provides you a mine of weather related info that your weatherman would never bother to.

MLB.TV

If you are a baseball fan, then MLB.TV is a must have for you. The app gives you access to everything baseball in America. You can stream and enjoy the latest matches and other games of the current season in HD. You can also enjoy games from the previous seasons. In addition to all of this, you get news updates, real time scores, and other information from around the league in real time. The subscription fee depends on whether it is the on-season or the off-season.

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6 Best TV remote apps for Android

Imagine an alternate universe where there were not remote controls. Every time you had to change a channel, you had to get up from your couch and press the buttons on the TV. For a majority of us TV buffs, that is worse than a Zombie apocalypse. Sure, we don’t have to suffer that because in our universe we have remote controls. But, not all the time. Sometimes, it can be a pain to locate those remote controls. Checking under pillow covers, cushions, and below sofas does not always work. That is why a lot of smartphones today come equipped with an IR blaster, which allows you to transform your smartphone into a universal remote for operating all your remote controlled devices at home. The biggest advantage of using phone for this purpose is that it is always with you. Even when it is not with you, you can just give it a call to find its location in the home. Quite handy, isn’t it! Here we bring you top universal remote apps, which you can use to control your TV right from your smartphone.

Smart IR Remote – AnyMote

Without a doubt, this is one of the best remote control apps on Android. Its interface is simple, and it is super easy to configure the remote for your devices. It supports a wide variety of devices, and it is unlikely that your TV isn’t supported. In the event that your device is not supported, you can configure the remote specifically for your device too. Also, the app provides a lot of automated functions like reducing the TV volume when you get calls, and so on. It is a premium app, but people love it.

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Peel Smart Remote

Peel Smart Remote does two jobs perfectly – replace your TV remote, and provide you a complete TV guide. The app requires you to mention a few details such as your cable provider, and/or zip code. With that info, it extracts your live cable programming schedule. It even allows you to create personalized lists of which programs you like and which you don’t. Later, it reminds you of upcoming screen times of the programs.

ASmart Remote IR

ASmart Remote IR is possibly the most user-friendly TV remote app out there. It is a universal remote that can control a host of devices, including TVs, cameras, and ACs. The best thing about this app is that you can create multiple rooms in the app to reflect the rooms in your home with sets of remotes for each room’s devices. The rooms are displayed as tabs at the top, and whenever you enter a room, you can click on it, and access the remotes configured for that room.

SURE Universal Remote

If you do not have an IR blaster on your phone, then SURE Universal Remote can easily be the best TV remote app for you. The app features for IR and Wi-Fi compatibility. So, even if you do not have an IR blaster, you can control your TV from this phone via Wi-Fi. Further, the app is compatible with the Wi-Fi to IR transmitters available in the market, which enable you to use the remote via IR, even if your phone does not have a built-in IR capability. The interface is fluid, and very intuitive to use.

Easy Universal TV Remote

The Easy Universal TV Remote app stays true to its name – it is easy, and it is a universal remote. The app can be configured for using with pretty much every device. It supports all popular brand TVs, and can be easily connected to them. If your phone has an IR blaster, then you will love your experience with using this app. If you don’t have an IR enabled phone, then the remote app works with a Wi-Fi connection to control your TV. Moreover, you can also attach an external IR blaster to your phone as well to use this app.

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Twinone TV Remote

If you are not tech savvy or have family members who find it hard to use technology, then Twinone TV Remote is the best remote app for you. The app has an amazingly simple interface that is easy to use for anybody. The app comes with all the basic functions like changing channels, changing volumes, and so on. This is a complete no-frills app, which brings essential functions, without confusing the users with too many options and buttons.

10 Things That You should Know Before Buying a Television

You will find televisions of every size and specifications in the market today. LEDs, OLEDs, UHD, 4K and now even 8K, the technologies backing the television sets are getting more sophisticated by the day. There is a dizzying array of choices in terms of price, and models. The only downside to such an excellent number of options is the confusion that they cause. Do not worry; this guide has got you covered. Here are 10 useful tips that will help you zero down on the television of your choice.

Pick a screen that everyone can see

Size always has and always will be one of the most important factors. Television size makes a huge difference to the viewing experience. So, first ascertain the number of people who will be watching the television. The television should be big enough to provide a decent viewing angle to all the people in the living room. Other than that, the buyer should also take into account the space in which the television is going to be placed. If you have a large living room, screen sizes between 55” to 65” work best.

Consider your sitting habits

The dimensions of the screen that you choose should also depend on how close you sit to the TV. You should measure the height of the television and sit at a distance that is three times that height. This is the ideal distance to watch television without any pixels. This is true even for high definition television. On the other hand, if you are planning to buy a 4K powered television, you can easily reduce that distance to 1.5 times the height.

Do not go for less than 1080p

There is a race out there among TV manufacturers to produce TV models with the highest resolutions. For the uninitiated, resolution is essentially the sharpness that a television is able to produce. Now, here is what you should know before buying a television set. The lowest resolution available in the market is 720p. These are almost a dying breed. Now, moving on to the next level, let’s focus on 1080p. This is where you will find most HD televisions today. This is the format in which you will be able to find most cable programming too.

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Buy higher resolution to be future ready

In the resolution race, the next in line is the 4K UHD. There are latest 4K TV models available from all major manufacturers. The 4K television has four times better resolution than regular HDTVs. The benefits of the extra pixels show in the form of a richer and more lifelike picture that appears on the television. This is not the end of the line as far as pixels are concerned. Many manufacturers have come up with 8K versions as well, but they are prohibitively expensive. However, the 4K programming will slowly catch on. This is the future of television and it is only a matter of time before older TVs will become obsolete.

There is a downside to 4K. Currently, there are limited options available on cable or otherwise for 4K broadcasting. So, even if your television has the capability to display such a high resolution video, there is not a lot of content in the market to enjoy it. There is absolutely no content available for 8K television as of now.

Know the Refresh Rate

This is the rate at which pictures are refreshed on the television screen every second. The Refresh Rate is expressed in Hertz (or Hz). The most commonly available refresh rate in the market is 60 Hz. However, many a time, when fast moving objects appear on the screen, the pictures can get blurred. Many of the TV manufacturers now offer higher refresh rates of the order of 120 Hz and sometimes even 240 Hz. The faster the refresh rate, the better the picture quality of fast paced scenes, but the prices will also increase correspondingly.

HDR compatibility for premium TVs

Now, before you go into the details, this is an upgrade for UHD televisions. High Dynamic Range or HDR essentially refers to the wide variety of colors that the television can showcase. In simpler words, it makes blacks blacker and whites even whiter. So, if you want your picture quality to be more lifelike, choose TVs that have UHD with HDR.

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Look for more ports

Now, this may not look like the most important factor when picking a television, but it should be one of the criteria. The reason is simple. In the future, you may need to connect the television set to a speaker, a gaming console, a plug-in like Roku, or something else. You already need 3 ports and these are just the basic add-ons. Many times, manufacturers try to save costs by providing fewer ports. So, you should pay higher attention to the number of USB and HDMI ports the television offers. Also, makes sure that if you are opting for a 4K television, then your television has HDCP 2.2 (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection).

Contrast Ratio Is What You See

The specifications for the contrast ratio are always available on the television. But, take this tip and completely ignore them. You should believe how the contrast is working in front of your own eyes. Most of the times, numbers can be misleading. Believe your eyes.

Go For Substance Over Style

Curved televisions may look grand, but the fact of the matter is that they really do not make much of a difference to the picture quality. You should understand that they add more of a pull factor than any functional feature to a television.

Smart TV Is No Big Deal

Smart TVs are everywhere and they are not a great feature for any television. So, if you are buying a television by getting wowed by only this factor, you are barking up the wrong tree. Ask the salesman for all the other features of the television and then make your decision.

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Always Buy A Sound Bar

As the TVs have transformed from old boxes to size-zero, this development has affected the quality of speakers on them. Keeping this in mind, it would be a good idea to buy a sound bar while purchasing a television. It will serve you well.

App Review: Associated Press

Many of us prefer to get our daily dose of news on our mobile phones these days. We just do not have the time to sit and enjoy the morning paper. And whenever we are in front of a laptop or a desktop, we are either working or enjoying something entertaining. News falls into none of those categories, and hence gets relegated to just those things that we do on-the-move, like on trains, in buses, or on the back seat of a car. Sure, not everybody is the same, but we all tend to check for news on our mobile phone more than we check on television or a computer. Naturally, it has become absolutely crucial for new agencies to have their own apps. Associated Press certainly wasn’t going to be left behind. Associated Press has an excellent reputation as a source of news, and is usually among the first ones to break major news. So, its app is a very useful tool for those hungry for the latest news. Here’s a thorough review of the app.

Layout

The layout of the app is remarkably simple and easy to navigate. The home page of the app features Top News by default. Each piece of news is displayed in the form of strips. Each strip features a long headline, which is usually accompanied by a photo. Clicking on the strip opens up the respective news item, which the user can then read. At the top of the page is a search button, which can be used to find and browse through any specific news.

On the left, there is an Options button. You can click on it to quickly access the left-hand sliding menu. The menu features different categories of news, such as business, sports, technology, entertainment, politics, lifestyle, health and science, and so on. In addition to news categories, there are options for choosing your region, so that the app can display news specific to your region. In the same menu, you can add another category, and also check for latest press releases. When you select a menu option, the rest of the options appear as tabs at the top, which you can click and access quickly. When the menu is open, a Settings button is provided at the top, which can be accessed to make any changes to the app.

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Personalization

The app provides a good number of customizations. Many of these are designed to be utilitarian, rather than fancy. For instance, you can change the font size to suit your preference. However, instead of providing multiple choices for font, the app only allows the users three font options. The smallest is too small, and the largest is uncomfortably large. In effect, only the mid-size font can be used. That being said, the app allows you to choose whether you wish to receive only American news, or international news as well. If you choose international news, you will get options in the Left-Hand Sliding menu to access news from different continents.

If you are running on network data, and do not wish to waste your data on downloading photos, then you can disable the Photos option in the settings. Now, you will be receiving only text news, without any photographs. When you are back on Wi-Fi, you can always enable the photos again. Further, you can turn off the notifications of latest news from the app, or enable it. If you do enable it, you can activate ‘Quiet Time’ during which you will not be getting any notifications, such as during your normal sleeping hours. Although there are not many customization options, the simple approach makes it easy to use.

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Experience

The app is very light to use. Even a below mid-range smartphone can run the app smoothly. The interface is fluid, and the app exhibits no lags on most smartphones. Each news article comes with a Share button and a Bookmark. The bookmark allows you to tag the new article to the home page. Clicking on the Share button throws up all the sharing options available to you depending on which apps you have. If you have the common sharing apps like Whatsapp, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, and so on. Some of these sharing options appear even when you have not downloaded those apps.

Verdict

The Associated Press app is a very robust app, and works with amazing speed. It is very easy to use, and is not loaded with unnecessary features that slow the app, and make for a bad experience. Instead, only necessary features are retained, which makes it a pleasurable experience to use the app. Also, the app does manage to bring breaking news most of the time, almost at the same time as other networks. Overall, it is quite a handy app.

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Rovi, TiVo, and The Battle of TV Guides

2015 marked a milestone in a relatively less known war that has been plaguing the tech and entertainment industry. This is the patent war. This is a war between what are called as patent trolls and the average organizations. Patent trolls, as they are known, are some obscure companies that buy relatively unknown patents and start bullying organizations by threatening them with lawsuits for intellectual property infringements. Whether the patents they actually own do cover the products or services offered by the other organization is highly debatable. But, fearing lawsuits, most companies simply settle for a sum. Some companies are not intimidated, and they fight their battles in the court. In some cases, they win, while in others, they fail.

If this sounds all too familiar, that is because many analysts feel that, more often than not, Apple vs. Samsung lawsuits fall in this category. Whether Apple does possess a valid justification or is simply trying to weed out the competition the dirty way is something that is for the judiciary to decide. But industry experts agree that a desperate change is needed in how patents are issued and how patent licensing should work, so that companies with genuine cases are not strong-armed by the patent trolls.

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If you are wondering what Rovi and TiVo have to do anything with all this, well, the answer is quite complicated. As you must know, Rovi provides TV programming guides. Roughly about 18 million American households use Rovi TV guides through various apps and devices. But, have you ever wondered what is so special about Rovi guides? Why doesn’t everyone else build their own TV guide? It’s not like Rovi is the only company which has a copyright on making TV guides, right? Well, the simple answer is that Rovi has about more than 1,500 issued and pending patents in the US alone. Because of its patents, it has intellectual property rights on many features and functions of TV guides in general. That’s why most other companies simply go with Rovi when they offer TV programming guides. Even the giants like Google, Facebook, Samsung, Sony, Apple, and Comcast simply prefer to sign licensing deals with Rovi rather than build their own TV guides and antagonize Rovi. However, not everybody is comfortable with this idea.

Some companies like Amazon, Netflix, Sharp, Hulu, Toshiba and others stood up against Rovi. Amazon took on Rovi head on in court, and won the case in 2014. Amazon had attracted the case from Rovi, just because it bought IMDB. The patents which Rovi claimed that Amazon’s IMDB was infringing, that they were just describing TV guides, but on the internet. With Rovi losing the case, these “but-on-the-internet” cases are slowly losing their steam. It was Netflix’s court battle against Rovi in 2015 that deserves special attention. The US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton invalidated 5 of the patents Rovi was holding, essentially making it impossible for the company to cause trouble toward other companies based on those patents. Hamilton noted that these patents were not given for new technology or revolutionary concept. Instead, those patents were awarded for generic ideas. Ideas such as combining two categories into one set of suggestions such as crime dramas, sci-fi fantasies, and so on. Hamilton noted that patents cannot be given away for abstract ideas.

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With these two lawsuits, Rovi’s death grip on the TV guide industry has taken a serious hit. It may not be too farfetched to presume that Rovi might find its customers abandoning it and developing their own TV guides instead. Perhaps, it is this reason which has pushed it to acquire another player in the industry to ensure that it continues to maintain its market share in the industry and stays relevant. A few months ago Rovi announced that it is acquiring TiVo, a DVR and TV guide company, for $1.1 billion.

This deal gives Rovi all of the 10 million customers of TiVo. Also, as TiVo brand is more popular and customer-friendly, the company, post-merger, will take the name of TiVo. This deal is expected to give Rovi the foothold it wants in the industry. Also, the company will threaten new competitors with lawsuits, as it still has a lot of patents in its bag, which it can use. Even though it is impossible to guess how many of those lawsuits it will actually win in the future, if at all it is challenged. A lot of companies might simply choose to avoid the confrontation and sign a licensing deal with Rovi. Coupled with its newfound bump in the market share after it buys off TiVo, it is safe to say that Rovi will continue to be the leader in this industry.

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TED for Smart TVs

Every year, TED hosts conferences across the world. Renowned academicians, politicians, businessmen, Novel laureates, and other people come and share their ideas, and offer a glimpse of revolutionary ideas that are changing the world in their own field. Some of these speakers bring knowledge that every person can make use of, while others share highly specialized and niche information. But, a common theme that runs across all of them is the fact that they are absolutely life-changing. What’s more, they are highly entertaining too. While the tickets to these conferences are very expensive, and difficult to get, TED does release many of its events online. So, if you want to enjoy TED talks on your smart TVs, TED apps are supported on so many platforms that chances are you already own one. So, check out here how you can use your existing hardware to enjoy TED talks on your smart TVs.

Android TV

TED for android tv

TED is available on Android. That pretty much makes the app compatible with a host of devices out there, including smartphones, tablets, and of course, smart TVs. If you smart TV runs on Android TV operating system, then all you need to do is go to Google Play, search for TED app, and download it. Once you access the TED app, you will be able to enjoy thousands of TED talks, even with subtitles, if you need them.

Xbox One

TED for xbox one

TED has been available on Xbox One platform for quite some time now. You can access the TED app on Xbox One and enjoy the talks on your smart TV. Moreover, if you have Kinect, then you can just wave your hand to enjoy TED talks. If that is not enough, Xbox One even provides you voice commands for this purpose. It really is a cool way to enjoy TED talks.

Netflix

TED app netflix

Netflix has one of the world’s biggest libraries of TV shows, movies, documentaries, and other videos. Naturally, it also features TED talks in its content library. However, Netflix does not offer all the TED talks that are online. Instead, it features some select talks on only a handful of topics. The collection of TED talks is quite small.

Amazon Fire TV

TED amazon fire tv

Amazon Fire TV is a power-packed streaming device, and gives access to a huge variety of content, most of which is for entertainment. However, some of that content is educational, and TED talks belong in that category. TED released an app for Amazon Fire TV in January of 2015. You can download the app, and enjoy the talks by using the streaming service with your smart TV.

Samsung Smart TV

TED samsung smart tv

Samsung smart TVs do not feature Android TV OS. Instead, the latest ones run on Tizen OS. Samsung has been the biggest supporter of Tizen, and hence, is trying very hard to make the platform a substitute for Android. One of the fruits of its efforts is TED app. Yes, TED is also available on Tizen. You can download the app just like you download it from Android Play Store, and enjoy the talks.

Roku

TED roku

Roku is another impressive streaming device. It has a variety of channels, which you can browse and enjoy all kinds of video content. TED talks can be found on Roku under the Science and Tech category. However, the classification under this category does not mean that you can access only Science and Tech TED talks. You can browse and enjoy all videos that are available online.

YouTube

TED youtube app

YouTube features a massive number of TED talks on the namesake channel. In addition to videos from TED, you can also comment and share your views on any specific video, although YouTube comment section can be a nasty place with comment wars being a norm. The being said, YouTube is accessible on pretty much any smart platform. So, if you have a smart TV that supports YouTube, or even a set-top-box that supports YouTube, you can enjoy TED walks without much fuss.

Bonus: For Non Smart TVs

TED for non smart tvs

If you do not have a smart TV that is compatible with any of the TED apps or platforms that support the app, there is one way you can still enjoy TED talks inexpensively. You will need a Google Chromecast for the purpose. You can plug in the Chromecast into your HD TV, and stream the TED videos from your smartphone or tablet, be it an Android or iOS device.

Virtual Reality is Succeeding Where 3D TV Failed

Remember CES 2012? LG unveiled the massive 84-inch 3D TV, which was super-thin, super-expensive, and super-everything. At the time, everyone thought that this ultra-HD 3D TV was going to start a gadget war in the industry like nothing we had ever seen. Well, for some time, it did appear that the manufacturers are jumping onto this 3D bandwagon. Sure, even customers began to purchase 3D TVs. Come 2016, and we can safely say that 3D TV is pretty much dead. Buried, really! It wasn’t like manufacturers didn’t push it. They tried, but It simply didn’t fly. Now, a new technology, Virtual Reality, which a lot of people thought bit the dust way back in the late 90s with Virtual Boy, is rising from the ashes like a phoenix. This time, however, Virtual Reality hopes to succeed for exactly the same reasons that 3D TV failed. Here’s how.

Content

virtual reality gaming

To their credit, TV manufacturers did manage to sell quite a number of 3D TVs when people still thought the technology was novel. However, to their dismay, the consumers did not get, and still do not have enough content to watch on their 3D TVs. It has been quite some time since 3D has gone mainstream and yet there is hardly enough content for consumers to enjoy over a weekend. The content that exists is minimal, and honestly, unappealing. But that’s not the case with VR. VR opens up a whole world of entertainment. Even before VR has gone mainstream, there are already games that are being designed specifically for this technology. The best part is that a lot of people are interested in developing content for VR. A Seinfeld fan has recreated the sets of the show for VR. Needless to say, when VR goes mainstream, the market will be crowded with people willing to create content, specifically for the technology. This is not even the adult entertainment potential of VR. Let’s just say that there have already been a lot of improvements in this area, and people are ‘very excited’ about this.

Ah! Those Silly Glasses

virtual reality 3D

People want new technology to be cool and fun to use. The 3D glasses are not at all comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Making the matters worse is the fact that everyone who wants to enjoy a 3D program should have 3D glasses. Well, if you have friends over, you don’t expect them to bring 3D glasses with them whenever they come, or stock a dozen glasses yourself for them. Not to mention that 3D glasses are quite expensive. Now, VRs are a different ballgame altogether.

TV shows and movies are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to VR. The real deal is sports, games, and adult entertainment. Being able to enjoy sports “in the stadium,” or playing an FPS game in VR, will be such a draw that a lot of people will end up buying a VR device. Thus, even in group meets, VR actually has the potential to complement console gaming or take people into a live sports match, etc. It will make itself indispensable. The present generation of VR devices is quite comfortable to wear too.

Experience

virtual reality glasses

Let’s face it. 3D movies are sh*t. There are no two ways about it. Occasionally, there is an Avatar, but most of the 3D movies are downright pathetic. People expected 3D to enhance the experience. Instead, those awful 3D glasses darken the screen, and more often than not, you can see that the entire movie has been made with the idea that action scenes look great in 3D. The story, screenplay, and other things that actually matter to most moviegoers are largely missing. So, why did movie producers push for 3D so much? Competition. Movie studios realized that the TVs were getting bigger, and your couch at home wasn’t getting any less comfortable. Naturally, less and less people were hitting the theaters. So, they tried to offer something in the cinemas that TVs couldn’t offer. As it turned out, neither the theaters nor the TVs back home could deliver this feature promptly to the movie lovers. Enter VR!

Unlike 3D, which compromises the movie experience instead of enhancing it, VR makes your experience memorable every single time. Those who have already tried the technology have been very vocal about how awesome the VR experience is. You don’t even need action designed for VR to make its experience great. People will simply love to be inside a Victorian world and experience its glory all by themselves, even if the movie is a drama. The promise of great experience, in the case of VR, simply cannot be ignored.

9 Best Smart TV apps for your Samsung TV

The way the TV entertainment industry is taking shape, it is difficult to predict what the future will hold. Just two decades ago, cable TV and satellite were pretty much the only options. Then came the streaming devices that totally changed the industry. Now, much of the smart TVs are seeking to even make those streaming sticks obsolete. Whether one of them will win or coexist together is a discussion for another day. Today, let’s have a look at the top apps that you should have on your Samsung Smart TV to fully enjoy its potential.

Netflix

samsung smart tv apps netflix

When it comes to streaming services, Netflix is the undisputed champion of the lot. Sure, a lot of services are slowly catching up to Netflix, but it is the top streaming service by a huge margin. Its content library is the biggest among its competition, and it allows you to enjoy pretty much any show of your liking, any time you want. Moreover, Netflix is heavily investing in homegrown original shows like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and so on which have tasted immense success. It goes without saying that Netflix will continue to be the unchallenged king in entertainment, at least in the near future.

Amazon Instant Video

samsung smart tv apps amazon instant video

Amazon Instant Video is following Netflix like a shadow. Like the leader, Amazon is also building up a huge content library. One great feature about Amazon Instant Video is that you can download your favorite shows, and watch them later offline as well, which is pretty rare. Also, it is striking deals with many content producers, broadcasters, and movie studios to bring a lot of content to your smart TV.

Hulu

samsung smart tv apps hulu

Until recently, Hulu had been plagued by ads. Now, ads are the biggest reason for cord-cutters to become, well, cord-cutters. However, Hulu has now released another tier in its packages, which is completely ad-free, barring less than 10 select shows. The service is quite affordable, and offers excellent content. In fact, its TV show library is one of the best in the industry, although don’t expect to find many movies worth watching there.

TED

samsung smart tv apps ted

While the above apps were mostly into entertainment, this one is not. If you have never heard of TED, it’s basically an organization that hosts conferences all over the world, and people discuss revolutionary ideas in their field – everything from global politics to the coolest inventions. The speakers at the events usually talk for only a few minutes but leave a lasting impact. It is a great source for learning new things.

HBO Now and HBO GO

samsung smart tv apps hbo go hbo now

If you love HBO’s programming, such as Game of Thrones, Last Week Tonight, and The Wire, then one of these two apps is a must. They are both from HBO, and there is only one difference between them. HBO Go can be accessed only by users who have a cable subscription to HBO channels. On the other hand, anyone can sign up for HBO Now.

Napster

samsung smart tv apps napster

Yes, Napster is still alive. No, it is no more the pirate king it used to be. It has taken a different form now. Currently, it is owned by Best Buy, and has been merged with Rhapsody. Napster has a good collection of music for your pleasure. It even offers the feature of downloading the content. Other than these, it has a lot of cool features worth noting. Check it out.

YouTube

samsung smart tv apps youtube

YouTube has transformed immensely over the last few years. It is no longer the place you visited only when you wanted to watch funny cat videos. Professional teams work in studios to produce high quality content for the service, under various channels on YouTube. There is a lot of outstanding content worth your time. The free version has ads, as always, but the sheer amount of good content gives YouTube bonus points.

Spotify

samsung smart tv apps spotify

Just like Napster, Spotify is another app that lets you play music in the background while you go about your routine at home. The difference is that Spotify has a bigger collection of music, and even comes with a free version. The free version has ads, and you can always go for the premium version to get rid of them.

VUDU

samsung smart tv apps vudu

VUDU is a digital video rental service from Walmart. It does not offer a monthly subscription, and you have to pay per video basis. The rates vary, but are quite affordable. The good thing about VUDU is that it brings a lot of latest movies to the table. Its library of old and classic movies is quite impressive too.

Virtual Reality Might Change TV Shows as We Know It

Just think how many times you have had this experience. You are watching a TV show, and one of the characters is startled by some sound from the kitchen. She is trying to check the source of that sound. You know that it is a bad idea because it is that kind of a show, and it would be stupid for the character to check the source of sounds. But, the character still goes to the kitchen and is promptly butchered by a demon, devil, or a serial killer. You are left cursing at the character because you have seen this all too many times. But, you tried to tell her to not go there. If only you could have somehow jumped inside the television, and stop the character, it would have saved her, right? Well, guess what! You might be able to do that soon, thanks to virtual reality (VR). A lot is being said about VR and its potential to become the next big thing. Whether it will just become another fad like 3D that will never catch on, or something that will change every aspect of our television entertainment, is yet to be seen. Regardless, there is no denying that VR may probably have a lasting impact on the entertainment industry in many ways.

Did you know that there are already TV shows out there that you can experience in VR? Well, not completely. But, they allow you to experience their world in the most intimate way. At this year’s SXSW festival, HBO’s Game of Thrones allowed its fans to experience The Wall in VR. Imagine what it would be like to enjoy the whole show in VR in the future! You can participate in the battles, bloodbaths, and all the sickening, gut-wrenching, and equally exhilarating events on the show. That future may not be too far after all.

virtual reality glasses

A Seinfeld fan has managed to create a navigable version of Jerry’s apartment for Oculus Rift. You can hang out at Jerry’s and enjoy the magical feel of being ‘inside’ a TV show. Of course, Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and George will not be waiting there to greet you at present. But, that may soon change. Yes, you could actually get inside the Seinfeld world and interact with the characters you want. As you probably guessed, the real cast will not be present there to interact with you. Instead, the showmakers have their voices, movements, and other information with them. They can just use them to give you a pretty authentic feel of the characters. Amazing, isn’t it? Being able to share a coffee with your favorite characters!

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there! You will be able to change what is happening in the TV show you are watching. Suppose you do not like a particular actor, and you believe that the character could have been better in the hands of another actor. No problem. You can replace that artist with your choice of actor. Yes, YOU will be able to do that. The new actor’s body, body language, voice, and behavior will be completely mapped digitally beforehand. So, you can choose between many such actors in the future, and see who you like the most for a particular role. Of course, there will be some ground rules. The presence of a character may even change the entire show’s plot, or even the genre for that matter. At this point, it is difficult to guess how this will pan out. But, according to the founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Jeremy Bailenson, all of this is surely going to happen.

virtual reality gaming

As far as VR is concerned, TV shows are just the beginning. The next frontier will be the sports on live TV. At present, you can enjoy your favorite sports from different camera angles, although you don’t have any control over which camera angle you would like to watch the match from. But, soon, that might change big time. No, we are not just discussing you being able to enjoy the match by being in the stadium. How about enjoying it being ‘the player’!

Yes, discussions are underway in the sports industry for some time now, about using a series of tiny cameras, networked together to project to the fans, a player’s point of view as he plays a practice session. The plan has been scrapped at present, but considering the fact that sports is a multi-billion dollar industry, there is simply no chance that the technology will not be pursued sooner or later. Not least because fans would pay top dollar for an experience like this.

virtual reality television

These are just glimpses of what VR could do for the television in the future. The true extent of the change it will bring will be realized only after it has become mainstream. So, gear up. If the potential of VR is anything to go by, traditional TV might soon be dead for good.

How Orange is the New Black Continues to Revolutionize TV (Spoiler Alert)

Every season of Netflix’s most popular original series starts a buzz across the internet. This season is no different. Orange is the New Black pushes the limit like never before in Season 4, which went live on Netflix on June 17.

orange is the new black netflix

OITNB premiered on Netflix in summer 2013, and off the bat, began to address topics that weren’t typically portrayed in popular media, including race relations for women of color, humanizing prison culture, and developing LGBTQ relationships. The show first focuses on new inmate Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) and her experiences entering Litchfield Penitentiary in upstate New York. The audience sees Schilling’s character develop (perhaps for the worst) and the show also begins to delve into the lives of the other inmates at Litchfield (who are by far more interesting than Piper). OTINB is based on a memoir called “Orange is the New Black: My Year In A Women’s Prison” written by Piper Kerman, but the show is insanely more popular than the book.

But why does a show about prisoners continue to receive stellar ratings and an immense following on social media? Like with any TV show, audience members are emotionally invested in these characters. Creator Jenji Kohan and show writers love pushing the bar and writing up ridiculous situations to enhance the shock value of the plot. Addressing social issues also spurs conversation topics on social media after everyone has finished binging each 13-episode season in one day. The rate of prison violence and alienation against transgender women of color is addressed through the storyline of Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox). The Black Lives Matter movement also makes an appearance in season 4, in addition to a white supremacist group of prisoners who combat the BLM supporters. Finally, the unnecessary death of the beloved inmate Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley) caused a ruckus from fans.

orange is the new black laverne cox

Besides the emotional attachment viewers have, Netflix does an excellent job of marketing OITNB. Months before each season premieres, Netflix plasters Schilling’s face in a banner on their home page. It’s impossible to avoid Piper Chapman and the other inmates when you’re just trying to binge The Office for the seventh time. Netflix includes videos and previews of the show before it premieres, and then features a countdown on its home page until the new season begins to stream. And since Netflix is practically a household appliance at this point, it’s impossible to avoid the on-site advertising. Netflix plants the OITNB trailers in other areas of the web too, and fans are eager to share the advertisements on their social media platforms with an excited message to accompany it. Even people who don’t watch the show seem to have some knowledge of it, considering the vast amount of fans who take to social media to discuss it (similar to Game of Thrones).

orange is the new black red

The bewildering success of OITNB also makes way for streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu to become successful in actually producing media content, rather than just streaming it. These competitors are giving cable networks a run for their money, especially since Netflix doesn’t have the FCC guidelines that cable networks like FX or TNT do.  They can produce more “risqué” content and have no consequences, except maybe from the fans of these shows or movies. More and more, Netflix and Hulu are releasing original entertainment and audiences are eating them up, just like OITNB, House of Cards, and Daredevil. Even comedians like Aziz Ansari and John Mulaney are collaborating with streaming services like Netflix to release their own comedy specials via that platform. What does this mean for cable television, or even premium networks like HBO and SHOWTIME? They better step their game up, because OITNB is living proof that streaming services are beginning to take over.

orange is the new black prisoners

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