If you’ve never heard of Humble Bundle, it’s a collection of games from indie developers that ‘bundle’ together their games for the sake of charity.
Purchasing the bundle gets you instant access to Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android versions of all the games, many of which are making their Android and Linux debut! All the games are DRM-free, and you can redeem them on Steam as well. You can also donate a portion of your purchase to vital non-profits: the Child’s Play Charity and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Pay-what-you-want to get BIT.TRIP BEAT, Fieldrunners, SpaceChem, and Uplink, and if you beat the average price, you also get the beautiful platform-puzzler Spirits.
Don’t let the phone fool you, these games work great on Mac, Windows, and Linux and are redeemable on Steam and the Ubuntu Software Center as well! As a bonus, all of the soundtracks to the games are included in both MP3 and FLAC format.
More details at humblebundle.com/
by Brian Booher
So what can I say about the new Apple TV that hasn’t been said already? It has been out for a couple months since I wrote this article, but I figured I would write my own review. Yeah you can go read the reviews from famous writers like Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal, David Pougue of the New York Times, or various tech review companies like CNET, Revision3, PC World, etc. Do realize that many of these people who write the reviews get the devices from Apple in advance before it goes on sale, so they tend to be biased in Apple’s favor. There’s nothing really wrong with that, but if there is a flaw in the device, they don’t want to shine much light on it since they’re trying to help Apple sell them. Fortunately for me, I am not bound to any contract with any company when it comes to reviewing the Apple TV. This should be to your advantage as a consumer because I am giving my good, bad, and ugly, or G.B.U., review of the Apple TV 2012 edition. I bought the device with my own money.
It’s made by Apple, so we know it works and works very well, so all you Apple fans can get up and cheer hysterically now.
The Apple TV is very easy to set up. All you have to do is plug in the power cord, HDMI cable, and ethernet cable if you don’t want or have a home wireless network. It does have an optical audio port if you want to connect to a sound system using fiber optics. There is also a micro-USB port that is said to be mainly used for servicing the device.
As for the power cord, the Apple TV does not really use a proprietary kind of plug or power system. I am currently powering my Apple TV using the power cord that came with my old Sony PSP and it fits and works. Since there is no external power adapter to have to connect to, I don’t see any problems.
The Apple TV is about the size of a standard hockey puck. It is square shaped with rounded corners. Each side measures about 4 inches long. It’s about 1 inch tall. All of the ports or on the back side. It is all black color. The Apple logos are on the top and bottom of the device and are shiny as well as the sides.
Each Apple TV comes with a remote that is about 5 inches long and made from aluminum. The buttons on it are black with white lettering. It has a Menu, Play/Pause, directional pad, and selection buttons on it. It does have a battery in it. The battery is a CR2032 3-volt disc battery. Remember the model of battery when you have to replace it sometime in the future.
The software is based on iOS like on the iPhone and iPad, only customized to work with the remote. When you turn it on for the first time, you will have to do the basic setup like language, network connectivity, location, and logging in. After that, it’s much like using iTunes on the PC.
The Apple TV is a great device when it comes to connecting on a network. If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you can use the Apple Remote app to control the Apple TV rather than using the original remote. Believe me, it is better with app because you then won’t have to pick and choose letters to spell stuff, you just type it out.
When you activate Home Sharing on iTunes on your PC or Mac, you can stream all your content to the Apple TV.
Airplay allows you to connect your iOS device to the Apple TV and watch movies, pictures, or play music that exists on the iOS device.
The coolest feature I have found is Airplay mirroring, where you can share your screen on your iOS device to the Apple TV and see it on the TV. This is especially great on the iPad. Some apps will give extra features on the iPad when you mirror it to the TV. One idea is turning the iPad into a driving wheel for racing games. Angry Birds will just do mirroring, but it can be fun to show off your pig bashing skills.
You can rent movies and TV shows and stream online radio and music from the device. It does have Netflix access as well as MLB TV, NBA Network, and NHL TV for those who have subscriptions. You can stream podcasts, both video and audio from iTunes. I could go on, but it’s better that you find out yourself.
The Apple TV is priced at $99. Depending on where you buy it, you might have to pay sales tax too. I don’t know what else to say about the price point. For an Apple product, this is a great thing to get.
Now that we have gone through the good parts of the Apple TV, it’s time to go into the bad parts. I won’t categorize the parts, but mainly just list them off with explanations.
The Apple TV can ONLY be connected using HDMI. Long gone were the days of the analog component cables that the old versions of Apple TV once had. You might be able to get converter from digital to analog, but with the amount of copy protection Apple uses on the movies and TV shows, that may not work.
I guess in order to save costs and maybe try to push people to buy more Apple products, the instructions for the Apple TV are very basic out of the box. You have to go to the Apple website to get more info on how to do certain functions. As much as a computer geek as I am, I had to search the website just to find out how to use Airplay and mirroring.
The remote for the Apple TV still uses the infrared (IR) signal like most other remotes, meaning that it is a line of sight device. One competitor of the Apple TV, the Boxee Box, uses a radio frequency (RF) remote, so you don’t have to point at the device to operate it. But to counter this issue, Apple released the Apple Remote for iOS that can turn your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch into a more functional remote. It is also a pain to have to use the directional pad on the remote to spell out stuff for like addresses or passwords. I suggest using the app instead.
Now that we have gone to through the bad parts of the Apple TV, let’s go through the ugly. This part is more focused on what could be improved on the Apple TV to make it a truly superior product.
Apple TV is basically nothing more than a $100 version of iTunes. Whatever iTunes on your PC or Mac will play, Apple TV will play too. If iTunes does not play a certain video or audio format, Apple TV will not either. Any home networking of video or audio has to be done through iTunes. Whereas the Boxee Box can detect external hard drives used for streaming, the Apple TV only focuses on Apple products.
I will say right here that for those of you who have Macs and did not upgrade to Lion yet, “Front Row” is much more functional than Apple TV. It will play formats that Apple TV will not. Apple took “Front Row” out of Lion, though with some searching on Google, you can get that capability back on Lion.
For all the amazing things that Apple does for their products, I was fairly disappointed in the limited capabilities that the Apple TV can do. I did some research and found that the Apple TV can be jailbroken, though the newest version has not been yet. I am hoping that when I do get to jailbreak this device that it will open up capabilities and make it much more functional than before.
Although I wasn’t blown away by this device, for $100, you really can’t go wrong. I like the ability to use Airplay and stream the content of the iPad on my TV, giving me a bigger picture.
The Apple TV is a great extension for those people who are locked into the Apple ecosystem, where all their music and videos come from iTunes. This is not a universal media player. If you want a media player that is more universal with video and audio formats, go get a Boxee Box for $180. I have one and it’s awesome. I like having the best of both worlds, so I will use both devices when I want to. I do not like limiting myself to one spot.
Please do not look at this review as a purely positive or negative point of view. I am merely stating my experience with it. I will keep this device and hope to have lots of use out of it. I hope that jailbreaking it in time will make it work even better. For $100, it’s a good media center choice, if you don’t mind the “walled garden” experience.
Have fun and geek out!
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by: Brian Booher
Ever since I got my Amazon Kindle Fire, I have been wanting to find a way to stream my music and movies from my external hard drive and PC to my Kindle Fire. While most searches ended with having to convert the files to be compatible with the Kindle Fire, I didn’t want to deal with converting and copying to the Kindle Fire’s small 8GB storage drive.
I found a video on CNET by Brian Cooley on how to stream audio and video from your PC or Mac to the Kindle Fire using Splashtop, found here. The app itself cost me 99 cents on the Amazon Appstore, which was on sale from $4.99. It is well worth the cost, even if it is not on sale.
Splashtop is a remote desktop app that allows you to take control of your PC/Mac like doing remote desktop from another regular computer. The cool thing is that you can control your PC/Mac with your finger, though you will be controlling the PC/Mac with the mouse cursor. You will be required to enter a password on the desktop side for security of which you enter again on your mobile device.
The coolest feature I like about Splashtop is that you can stream movies to your remote device, whether it be on iOS or Android. If you are on your home network, the sound will sync with the videos, so they look awesome. There might be a slight, and I mean slight, slowdown due to the speed of the processor, but it’s not a big deal and if you watch the movie long enough, you don’t notice it.
You do have to get the Splashtop streamer program to run on your PC/Mac. The nice thing is that this program is free. It is the app that you access the PC/Mac that you have to pay for. I bought mine for as low as 99 cents from the Amazon Appstore and from Apple App Store, though they were on sale at the time. The iPad app is currently on sale for $4.99 in the U.S. Just realize that the prices can change anytime.
One minor downside I did find with Splashtop is that when you connect to your PC/Mac, the resolution will be changed on the computer to fit the smaller screen of your device, though you do have the ability to change it back in the settings. I have not found a feature that keeps the resolution of the remote computer’s resolution the same. It can be a slight annoyance, but nothing major. When you log off the computer, the resolution will return to normal if you did not change it on the mobile device.
You do have the ability to access your PC/Mac through the Internet if you might be at work or on vacation. Splashtop will do this using your Gmail address. There is a feature in the desktop settings that you enter your Gmail username and password. When you are on different networks, all you have to do is do a search on your mobile device and it will find the computer using your Gmail account. How cool is that?
I do recognize that there are other remote desktop apps for mobile devices that may offer more functionality as well as apps that may be a lot more expensive or cheaper, like free. I could have done the same thing, but since I was able to get the app for a good price, I think it is well worth the money. There are other great apps that Splashtop makes as well. Products include Splashtop Touchpad that makes your device into a virtual keyboard and mousepad and Splashtop XDisplay that works by turning your iPad into a second monitor.
You can get all the info from the Splashtop website.
If you want to follow me on Twitter, you can find me @BrianBooher
I can also be found on my Google+ page as well here.
Have Fun and Geek Out!!
os: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition – Service Pack 3 (5.1.2600) up: 4days 7hrs 4mins 54secs cpu: AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 5000+ (x86) at 2600MHz (10% Load) gfx: NVIDIA GeForce 8400 GS 512MB res: 1440×900 32bit 75Hz ram: 1150/2046.5MB (56.21%) [||||||—-] hdd: C:\ 68.18GB/149.04GB net: NVIDIA nForce Networking Controller – Packet Scheduler Miniport – 100MB/s 527.59MB In 1.13GB Out