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The 8 Best 4K Streaming Devices for 2019

With Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+, we really are in a golden age of streaming. And to make the most of it, you need a great streaming device to access them all.

But which one is right for you? We can help you out. Here are the best 4K streaming devices available today.

If you’re tied into the Apple ecosystem, then the Apple TV 4K is probably the best TV streaming device for you. It’s rammed with features; there’s 4K HDR video and Dolby Atmos sound, multi-user support, and you get a Siri-enabled remote for voice controls. The box works with all major services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.

Apple even throws in a full year of Apple TV+ for free. On top of that, you can play games through the Apple Arcade service using your Xbox One S or PlayStation Dual Shock 4 controllers. As for downsides, it’s pricey, of course, and YouTube support is limited—it can’t do either 4K or HDR.

Nvidia Shield TV Pro

Nvidia Shield TV Pro

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Apple doesn’t have a monopoly on premium streaming gear. The Shield TV Pro is ridiculously powerful. In fact, the Shield TV Pro may even be the best streaming device available today. It offers everything you’d expect, plus a whole lot of unique features on top. Most interesting is that the box uses machine learning to upscale 720p and 1080p videos to 4K, and reviews suggest it’s really good at it.

The Shield TV Pro runs Android TV so you can add apps like the Kodi streaming player, and it’s compatible with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. If that’s not enough, you also get access to Nvidia’s GeForce game streaming service. While the box only has 16GB of storage, you can use a USB flash drive or hard drive to add as much extra storage as you need.

Don’t want the gaming options? The slightly cheaper Shield TV, with its unusual cylindrical design, might be a better choice.

Amazon Fire TV Cube

Amazon Fire TV Cube

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The Amazon Fire TV Cube is a 4K streaming box and an Amazon Echo smart speaker with Alexa into a single glossy box. It provides high quality video streaming, with support for the latest formats like Dolby Vision and HDR10+.

You can even use the box to control your TV or soundbar, plus countless other compatible smart home devices. It offers all the main streaming TV services, including Apple TV+. You can watch local videos, too, by connecting your own USB flash drive.

Xiaomi Mi Box S

Xiaomi Mi Box S

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If you want the benefits of Android TV but don’t have the budget for an Nvidia Shield TV, the Xiaomi Mi Box S is the device for you. It supports the full range of streaming services, works with Google Assistant, has a Chromecast built-in, and is certified for Netflix UHD. You can also install your own choice of apps and games.

While it shares its looks with the Apple TV, the lower price does mean lower specs, with some compromises. Some users suggest it can be a little laggy, especially when playing 4K content. Maybe it’s a better choice if you’re happy to stick to 1080p content instead.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

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The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is one of the cheapest 4K UHD streaming devices, and is may be the best 4K streaming device for most people. It’s a tiny stick but packs lots of power. There’s 4K HDR support, along with Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos. The Fire Stick 4K also has improved Wi-Fi performance over previous editions.

You get access to the full range of streaming services, including Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, and Apple TV+, plus many more add-on channels, and rentals via Amazon. The impressive package is completed with Alexa integration, the ability to control your smart home devices, and support for many Android apps and basic games.

Roku Streaming Stick Plus

Roku Streaming Stick Plus

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As good as the Fire TV Stick 4K is, it does heavily prioritize Amazon’s content and services. For a platform-agnostic alternative, you want the Roku Streaming Stick Plus. This Roku unit makes a strong claim to be the best 4K streaming device available right now. It comes with a voice remote and long-range Wi-Fi, which Roku says results in four times the coverage you’d normally expect.

For content, you get 4K HDR support, as well as 4K upscaling for 720p and 1080p videos. All the main channels and services—both free and paid—are here. Among the interesting extras is the Roku mobile app. It includes a clever private listening mode that lets you use headphones to listen to shows through your phone. You can set the volume to your preferred level without disturbing anyone else in your house.

Unlike the other devices here, Google’s Chromecast Ultra needs a smartphone to set up and control. It works with any Chromecast-enabled app. This includes options like Netflix and Hulu, all the way to video player apps like VLC, so you can cast the movies stored on your phone. The Chromecast Ultra is a dongle that hangs from the back of your television.

This design works well for TVs that have cramped HDMI ports. It’s also a great choice if you have slow Wi-Fi. There’s an ethernet port in the power adapter that lets you use a fast, stable wired connection instead. The Chromecast Ultra works with the Google Stadia games streaming platform. If gaming is your thing, it’s a no-brainer.

Roku Premiere Plus

Roku Premiere Plus

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A cheaper alternative to the Streaming Stick Plus, the Roku Premiere Plus is a basic player with 4K HDR support and Roku’s trademark simple interface that makes it so easy to just plug in and use. The Premiere Plus is a very small dongle that hangs loose like a Chromecast, but also comes with a couple of pieces of velcro-lined tape that you can use to stick it to the side of your TV.

It has a basic voice remote and supports all the major streaming services, just like the other Roku products. Unlike the more high-end Roku streamers, it doesn’t offer the neat 4K upscaling option. You also don’t get the enhanced Wi-Fi performance. But if you’re on a tight budget, these compromises shouldn’t be deal-breakers.

The Best 4K Streaming Device for Your Home

There’s a lot of competition for the best 4K streaming device for 2019 and beyond. Deciding which one is right for you will depend mostly on your budget and whether you’re tied into a particular ecosystem by companies like Apple or Amazon.

Once you’ve made your choice, you can further upgrade your 4K viewing experience by picking up one of the best budget soundbars

The Best Soundbars for Audiophiles on a Budget

The Best Soundbars for Audiophiles on a Budget

Soundbars are a great way to upgrade your home audio experience. Here are the best affordable soundbars.
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BritBox Streaming Service Launches in UK

BritBox has launched in the UK. BritBox is a streaming service which (as the name suggests) is focused on British television. This helps to differentiate it from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which mostly stream American TV shows.

In March 2017, BritBox launched in the US

You Can Now Stream British TV Using BritBox

You Can Now Stream British TV Using BritBox

Thanks to BritBox, expats and Anglophiles alike can now stream British TV to their hearts’ content.
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. This meant that expats and Anglophiles alike could streaming British TV shows to their hearts’ content. However, while viewers in the US have been enjoying BritBox for some time, it’s only now arriving in the UK.

Everything You Need to Know About BritBox

BritBox is now available in the UK. It’s priced at £5.99/month ($8/month). This buys you HD video playback and multi-screen viewing. BritBox offers viewers a chance to watch both old and new shows, but classic British TV makes up the bulk of the BritBox catalog.

BritBox was created by the BBC and ITV, both of which are providing programming for the streaming service. However, thanks to partnership deals with other broadcasters, BritBox will also provide content from Channel 4, Channel 5, and Comedy Central UK.

BritBox claims to have “the biggest collection of British box-sets available in one place.” The service features thousands of hours of programming, including “all 627 available episodes of Classic Doctor Who, originally broadcast between 1963 and 1989.”

Other shows available at launch include Downton Abbey, Gavin & Stacey, Wolf Hall, Love Island, Broadchurch, Only Fools and Horses, Extras, Miss Marple, and Poirot. BritBox is also producing its own shows, starting with a drama called Lambs Of God.

BritBox Is Perfect for Fans of British TV

This is a solid option for Brits keen to watch classic British TV. Sure, some of the shows are already available on other streaming services, but if you generally enjoy watching British shows more than shows produced elsewhere, BritBox has you covered.

While UK residents now have a streaming service entirely focused on homegrown content, Americans already have two such services competing for their money. Thankfully, we’ve previously pitted Britbox versus Acorn TV

BritBox vs. Acorn TV: Which Is Better for Streaming British TV?

BritBox vs. Acorn TV: Which Is Better for Streaming British TV?

Between BritBox and Acorn TV, you can stream the best British TV content. But which one should you subscribe to? Which is better?
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to help our readers know which is best.

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What’s the Best Streaming Service Deal?

Philo vs. Sling TV… which is the best streaming service? As more and more players enter the market, it’s becoming increasingly hard to determine an answer.

For many people, the decision is driven by cost. Philo and Sling are two of the leading budget streaming services available, but which offers the best deal?

In this article we pit Philo vs. Sling TV. We’ll tell you about both services, compare their streaming plans, discuss additional features, and pick a winner.

Philo vs. Sling: Background

Although Philo has been around since 2009 (then called Tivli), it only began offering a streaming service in late 2017. At the time of writing, it has amassed 50,000 subscribers and a string of high-profile investors, including Mark Cuban, HBO, and Facebook co-founder Andrew McCollum. Today, it is jointly owned by A&E, AMC, Discovery, and Viacom.

Sling is a newer company (it was founded in 2015) but has offered streaming services since its inception. It is owned by Dish Network. Unlike Philo, Sling TV benefits from extensive brand recognition and a much larger userbase. At the time of writing it has 2.5 million subscribers.

Philo vs. Sling: Cost

sling price and channels

Philo offers a single package to its users. It costs $20/month and includes 58 television channels. If you’re a new subscriber, you can benefit from a seven-day free trial. And when you do sign up, you will not be tied down to a lengthy contract; you can cancel and restart your plan at any time and as frequently as you wish.

Sling TV has two packages: Sling Blue and Sling Orange. They each cost $25/month. Sling Orange offers 32 channels; Sling Blue includes 47 channels. If you want access to the full set of content, you need to sign up for the $40/month combined package. Like Philo, you can take advantage of a seven-day free trial before you commit, and you’re free to cancel your plan at any time.

Philo vs. Sling: Channel Availability

philo channels and price

Aside from price, another key aspect of establishing which is the best streaming service is the availability of channels.

Firstly, let’s look at Sling TV Orange vs. Blue. There is some channel overlap between them. Both packages include TNT, AMC, CNN, Comedy Central, History Channel, A&E, The Travel Channel, Cartoon Network, Newsy, BBC America, Comet, Food Network, HGTV, and TLC.

The differences appear when you look at the premium channels. Channels that are exclusive to Sling Orange include Disney Channel, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, Freeform, and Motor Trend. Sling Blue has more exclusives, including Discovery Channel, E!, FOX, FOX Sports, FS1, FS2, National Geographic, NBC, NBC Sports, NFL Network, Nick Jr., and Paramount Network. Sling Blue also offers local channels from FOX and NBC in some markets.

These variances cause issues for sports lovers and families with kids. ESPN is on Orange, while FOX Sports is on Blue. Disney is on Orange, while Nickelodeon is on Blue.

Philo has no such discrepancies. It only offers a single plan to its users. Some of the most noteworthy channels on the service include A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, BBC America, BBC World News, Comedy Central, Discovery, DIY Network, HGTV, History Channel, MTV, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, VH1, and TLC.

Readers with a keen eye for detail will have noticed some glaring omissions. Significantly, Philo does not carry any sports channels and does not offer any domestic news channels. Philo also does not offer any local channels. For many users, that makes the service entirely unsuitable.

Philo vs. Sling: Add-Ons

sling add ons list

Philo’s channel lineup is fixed; the company does not provide any add-ons or additional packages.

In contrast, Sling offers a few add-ons for users with niche interests. For example, several Spanish-language add-ons are available. For $5/month/region, you can watch channels from Mexico, Spain, South America, Central America, or the Caribbean.

There are also additional packages for comedy, premium channels, sports, kids, news, lifestyle, Hollywood, outdoor living, and international channels. Again, each additional package is $5/month.

Philo vs. Sling: Country Restrictions

Both Philo and Sling are only available to people living within the United States. If you want to access the plans from other territories, you need to use a high-quality paid VPN.

If you don’t have a VPN plan, MakeUseOf recommends signing up with either ExpressVPN or CyberGhost.

Philo vs. Sling: App Availability

philo apps list

Philo has apps available for Roku, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, iOS, and Fire TV. Sling supports those six platforms, but also has apps for AirTV, LG webOS, and Xbox. And unlike Philo, Sling TV is also Chromecast-enabled.

Both services have browser-based web apps.

Philo vs. Sling: Other Features

If you still can’t decide which is the best streaming service for your needs, perhaps some of the services’ additional features might help to crystallize your thoughts.

For example, Sling has some differences between its packages regarding the number of simultaneous streams. Sling Orange only allows you to watch one stream at a time, whereas Sling Blue increases the number to three. And if you subscribe to Orange + Blue, you can watch on four screens simultaneously. Philo offers three simultaneous streams for all of its subscribers.

Philo also includes the ability to record shows and watch them for up to 30 days after they aired. There is no restriction on the number of shows you can record.

If you want to record shows on Sling TV, you will need to subscribe to the Cloud DVR add-on for $5/month. All your recordings will be available forever; you do not need to watch them within a 30-day period. Furthermore, your recordings will still be available if you leave as a customer and then return at some point in the future.

NB: Check out our article looking at the best streaming services with family plans

The 9 Best Streaming Services That Offer Shared Family Plans

The 9 Best Streaming Services That Offer Shared Family Plans

Family plans for streaming services come with many benefits, the best being that it ends up being much cheaper than having separate individual plans.
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for more information.

Philo vs. Sling: Which Is the Best Streaming Service?

So, Philo vs. Sling TV Orange vs. Blue—which is the best streaming service for you? It’s a difficult question to answer. If money is no object, then the Sling Orange + Blue package with the entire suite of add-ons is the best solution. However, if you’re an occasional TV watcher with no interest in sports content, we’d recommend going for Philo as the budget option.

To learn more, be sure to read our article listing the best TV streaming services

The Best Streaming TV Services (Free and Paid)

The Best Streaming TV Services (Free and Paid)

Here are the best free streaming TV apps and the best paid streaming TV apps for all your entertainment needs.
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available right now.

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The Best Plex Clients for Streaming Media

Plex has cemented itself as the best software for managing your media library, streaming content to the various screens in your home, and watching your videos remotely when you’re on-the-go.

To run Plex, you need two things—a server and a client. The server is responsible for hosting your content and sending it to other screens; the client is the app that allows you to access and watch your media on those screens.

So, which devices are the best Plex clients for streaming media? Let’s take a closer look.

Nvidia Shield

Nvidia Shield

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The Nvidia Shield is the best Plex client that money can buy. It’s blazingly fast, packed with best-in-class hardware, and can handle any task you throw at it.

The device is a set-top box. You need to connect it to your TV using an HDMI cable. The box runs Android TV, supports 4K video at 60 frames per second (FPS), and offers Dolby Atmos audio. Under the hood, the Nvidia Shield has an Nvidia Tegra X1 processor, 16GB of storage, 3GB of RAM, and a 256-core GPU.

It also comes with Google Assistant and Alexa compatibility. And if the 16GB isn’t enough for your needs, you can use USB storage or an external hard drive by connecting the extra memory to one of the two USB ports.

The other premium device you can use as a Plex client is the Apple TV 4K box. Even though it’s more expensive, we recommend the newer 4K version to make sure that you future proof your purchase.

The Apple TV 4K supports Dolby Vision and HDR10 video, and has Dolby Digital surround sound. Inside the device, there’s an A10X Fusion chip with 64-bit architecture. The box is available in 32GB and 64GB versions.

However, an Apple TV box has a few drawbacks compared to Nvidia’s product. Firstly, because it’s made by Apple, it is far less customizable. Secondly, there are no USB ports; you cannot expand the memory with external devices. Finally, it only offers Siri—there’s no Google Assistant or Alexa.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

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If the Nvidia Shield and Apple TV 4K are out of your price range, you should consider the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. It’s the best Plex client for people who are on a budget. Despite the lower price point, however, the Fire TV Stick 4K is still a highly capable streaming device. It supports Dolby Vision and HDR10 video, along with Dolby Atmos audio. The stick comes with 8GB of storage and a quad-core processor.

When setting up a Plex client, it is always preferable to connect your set-top box or streaming stick directly to your modem; you’ll enjoy a faster and more reliable experience. Sadly, unlike the Nvidia and Apple devices, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K does not have a built-in ethernet port. You will need to purchase the official Amazon Ethernet Adapter separately. This will add around 30 percent to the overall cost.

Raspberry Pi 4

Raspberry Pi 4

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Another cheap device that can be deployed as a Plex client is the Raspberry Pi 4. Unlike the other three Plex clients we’ve looked at, however, it does not work straight out of the box. It’s a DIY solution that you’ll need to program yourself. If that’s not your cup of tea, you should give it a wide berth.

Although the Raspberry Pi 4 is the latest model, a Raspberry Pi 2 or Raspberry Pi 3 will work just as well. The Pi 4 comes with 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB of RAM, two micro HDMI ports that support 4K, four USB ports, and an ethernet port. It has a 1.5GHz quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A72 CPU.

Keep in mind that the price you see above only covers the cost of the board. You’ll also need to buy a case and a power cable.

Roku Ultra

Roku Ultra

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The Roku Ultra is a solid mid-range Plex streaming client. It’s more expensive than a Fire TV Stick or Raspberry Pi, but considerably cheaper than the Nvidia Shield and Apple TV.

Roku manufacturers several different set-top boxes. In truth, they are all capable Plex clients. But the Ultra is the company’s best device. It has a quad-core processor and includes both USB and microSD ports for expanded memory. There’s also a voice-controlled remote control (with support for Google Assistant and Alexa) and an ethernet port for faster connections. The Ultra offers 4K playback at 60FPS and supports HDR10 video.

Importantly, Roku has also developed a reputation as being one of the agnostic streaming devices on the market. If you plan to use your device for more than watching Plex, it is a great choice.

Xbox One X

Xbox One X

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If you own an Xbox One X, you don’t really need to buy any of the other devices on our list—you already have one of the best Plex clients.

Unlike the basic Xbox One, it supports native 4K video (rather than using upscaling). There’s also voice support and an ethernet connection. Inside the console, you’ll find a 2.3GHz x86 AMD Jaguar eight-core CPU, 12GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and three USB ports.

PlayStation 4

PlayStation 4

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Similarly, the PlayStation 4 also doubles as a solid Plex client. Remember, though; only the PS4 Pro supports 4K video. If you have an extensive collection of 4K content and only own a regular PS4, you might still want to buy one of the other devices we’ve recommended.

The PS4 has a 1.6GHz 8-core AMD Jaguar CPU, a 1.84 TFLOP AMD Radeon GPU, 8GB of RAM, 500GB or 1TB of storage, and two USB ports. The console is also Bluetooth-compatible. If you go for the Pro instead, you’ll get a 2.1GHz 8-core AMD Jaguar CPU, three USB ports, and 1TB of storage.

8. Your Smart TV

Finally, keep in mind that your smart TV might be able to run Plex. If it has an Android TV or Roku OS, it definitely will. But Plex is also available on some proprietary smart TV operating systems. Check with your manufacturer or in the appropriate app store before you hit the shops and buy one of the other devices with have discussed.

The Best Plex Clients for Your Home

Once you’ve made your decision and bought the best Plex client to suit your needs, there’s still lots more to consider before you’re ready to start streaming.

For example, make sure you’ve also bought one of the best devices to use as a Plex server

The Best Devices to Use as a Plex Media Server

The Best Devices to Use as a Plex Media Server

What are the best devices to use as a Plex media server? Here are the pros and cons of various options.
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. It will help you maximize your Plex experience.

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Is xCloud – the Xbox game streaming service – a glimpse at the future of the desktop?

 [Disclosure: The companies mentioned are clients of the author.]

We are in the early stages of moving local processing to the cloud and transitioning from the modern PC to something far closer to a terminal. This week, for example, HP launched their new Chromebox Chromebooks and added them to their DaaS (Device as a Service) plan. Chrome-based products initially anticipated a cloud future at a time when Microsoft didn’t seem that interested in the cloud.

Man, have things changed: the Windows Virtual Desktop is now the lead contender for this eventual migration.

Thin client solutions have been around for a while, but – outside of tightly targeted groups with low-performance needs – it’s been a niche market, largely due to latency and wireless performance. With 5G and WiFi 6, according to Qualcomm, both become nonissues. But the market needs something that’s a solid proof point, and that appears to be the xCloud gaming service.

What gaming brings to the table

While latency is annoying in desktop apps, in competitive eSports, it’s a deal-breaker. You can’t be competitive with a twitch game if you have too much latency. Latency is even more problematic for MMOs (Massive Multi-Player Online games), limiting the size of groups and badly damaging the overall experience.

For cloud gaming to work, gaming latency not only needs to start low, it also needs to remain low regardless of network and system loading. And the loading is significant because current-generation gaming requires massive levels of performance, increasingly realistic levels of realism and increasingly powerful AIs for NPCs (non-playing characters) that will push the limits of both the network and the servers providing the service. It’s also forcing Microsoft to rethink the design of those servers to optimize for these heavy loads.

To assure the xCloud effort, Microsoft will have to work to reduce latency but also to ensure it remains low regardless of system loading. And because games can ramp users massively as players get home from work or school, the ability to scale up near-instantly when people come to work is also covered.

On that last, the loading times are almost exactly opposite. In general, desktop loading would occur during work and school hours while game loading will occur after work or school hours…allowing the flexible use of the same hardware. This usage model should help reduce the cost, and therefore the price, for both groups (which is generally the same group, just doing different things).

So, the result of the xCloud effort is that it will drive needed performance and latency improvements that will benefit the Windows Virtual Desktop effort and reduce the cost of both by providing a path to full utilization of the hardware.

It will also open up technology that will provide better rendering, better voice communication and tighter AI coupling, which are all part of online gaming and could broaden the feature set for desktop users as well, as Microsoft moves to make use of that otherwise-unused gaming capability in their desktop effort.

Our cloud-based gaming – and desktop – future

The anticipated move to the cloud for the desktop has and will have many hills and valleys. With the move to cloud-based gaming, however, Microsoft will be able to not only blaze a trail to desktop performance but create a level of headroom that could revolutionize what we do on our business desktop.

With the kind of performance available such capabilities as telepresence, dedicated user AI support, new ways to collaborate and a whole host of new features we currently aren’t even thinking about become possible over the next few years. I expect we’ll see changes that will be in-line with what we experienced when we moved away from terminals, as we effectively move back to terminals again.

The only thing we can be sure of this that this will change things. A lot. I think we’ll be surprised about how much.

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Vudu Now Offers Family Friendly Streaming

Vudu has introduced several new features designed to make its streaming service more family friendly. This includes the option to skip objectionable content, a new kids mode limiting what children can watch, and ratings by parents for parents.

Vudu is Walmart’s streaming platform. It offers a selection of movies and TV shows to stream online. Vudu offers content for free

Vudu Offers 1,000+ Free Movies On Us

Vudu Offers 1,000+ Free Movies On Us

Vudu has launched a new offering called Vudu Movies On Us. This lets you watch thousands of movies and television shows for free with “limited commercials”.
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(ad-supported), and even more content to rent or purchase. And now it’s becoming a little more family friendly.

Vudu’s Family Friendly Streaming Features

In a post on The Vudu Blog, Vudu announced a suite of new features. According to the company, these “offer customers the ability to control and customize their entertainment viewing experience to better meet the needs of their family and their values.”

The first new feature is Family Play, which lets customers “skip or mute objectionable content, including substance abuse, language, violence, sex, and nudity, based on their own preferences.” Family Play is currently available on over 500 titles.

Next up are Ratings and Reviews From a Parent’s Perspective. Vudu has partnered with Common Sense Media (which offers recommendations for families) to help customers “gauge if a film or TV show is appropriate for the little ones in their homes.”

Finally, a new Kids Mode gives customers “the ability to provide a safe watching experience for their kids.” When enabled, Kids Mode limits the content kids can browse and watch based on their age. Again, with the help of Common Sense Media.

How to Get Started Using Vudu

All of these features are available across Android, iOS, the web, and living room devices. And Vudu claims to be the “only streaming service to offer a comprehensive solution to safeguard content for viewers.” Which is certainly a bold claim.

For many children, streaming media is now the norm. Which is why it’s so important streaming services offer parental controls. And Vudu has outdone itself here. If you’re new to Walmart’s offering, here’s everything you need to know to get started using Vudu

Vudu: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Vudu: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Vudu is a streaming service you have probably heard of, but maybe never used. In this article we’ll explain what Vudu is and help you get more out of it.
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Nebula Soundbar, Fire TV Edition: Amazon’s One Stop Shop for Streaming

Nebula Soundbar Featured Image

Amazon and Anker have teamed up to create a soundbar complete with Fire TV, which they announced at IFA 2019 in Berlin. The Nebular Soundbar—Fire TV Edition costs $229.99 to pre-order and can attach to any 4k UHD ready display.

Amazon Nebula Soundbar

The audio features a total output of 100W with 2.1 channel cinematic sound. It has dual built-in sub-woofers designed to give a full sound from a single unit rather than separate speakers.

The image supports 4K UHD up to 60fps, Dolby Vision, HDR, and HDR10+, meaning that even if you are yet to upgrade to a 4K display, you can still use it.

The soundbar will be Alexa enabled and comes with an Amazon Fire remote with voice control capabilities.

Amazon Nebula Soundbar Fire TV Remote

The decision to launch the soundbar under the Nebula name fits with the other Anker products in the line. While the other products are predominately projectors, a 4K enabled soundbar slots nicely into a range known for high-quality video products.

The Nebular bar is simply designed and has a thin profile at 920 x 114 x 60 mm (36.2 x 4.5 x 2.4 inches). In terms of connectivity, it has an HDMI port, a 3.5mm auxiliary input, an optical port, and a USB port. It is also said to feature a near-field voice control microphone for use alongside the remote.

Amazon Anker Naebula Soundbar Detail

At the time we saw the Nebula Fire TV soundbar we were not able to test it, so how this thing will perform is pure speculation at this stage. Anker is known for reliable, well-designed products. Amazon is unlikely to be pushing this out unless they think it will compete with the recently announced Roku soundbar—its direct competitor at the slightly lower price of $179.99.

At this stage, there is little to go on in terms of which will be the better product. If you already use Fire TV and want to streamline your setup, the Nebula soundbar could be just what you are looking for.

Pre-orders are due to ship in late November.

Read the full article: Nebula Soundbar, Fire TV Edition: Amazon’s One Stop Shop for Streaming

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Which Streaming Platform Is Best?

There are various live-streaming platforms available these days. The big three being Twitch, Mixer, and YouTube Live. But which is best if you want to start streaming today?

In this article we’ll briefly introduce you to all three of the big live-streaming platforms, and help you decide which is best for your needs. This is Twitch vs. Mixer vs. YouTube Live.

Twitch vs. Mixer vs. YouTube - Twitch Logo

Twitch is currently the undisputed king of online streaming platforms. The Amazon-owned site, which started out as Justin.tv, now has more than 15 million active daily users.

While most Twitch streams feature popular games, the platform also caters to art and music channels, along with talk shows and live vloggers (also known as IRL channels).

Twitch streamers can earn money through advertisements on their streams, or through tiered viewer subscriptions starting from $4.99/month. Amazon Prime users get one free subscription per month.

Right now, if you are serious about becoming a streamer, Twitch is still the best option. You’ll have a hard time getting started, but the rewards for building a popular stream are bigger.


  • Huge potential audience which is continuing to grow.
  • Stream on every platform or device (OBS or similar required for computer)
  • Powerful community and chat tools
  • Amazon Prime users get a free channel subscription


  • Huge userbase can make it hard to stand out.

Twitch vs. Mixer vs. YouTube - Mixer Logo

Mixer is Microsoft’s answer to Twitch. Originally called Beam, it was bought and rebranded in 2016. Mixer initially struggled to gain traction, but things have changed recently.

In August 2019, Ninja, one of the most popular streamers in the world, switched from Twitch to Mixer. The news made waves, and has helped Mixer gain a significant foothold since.

Much like Twitch, Mixer is focused on gaming and gamers. You won’t find much other than gaming streams, although there are growing IRL and Talk Show scenes on the site.

One of the great benefits of Mixer is just how easy it is to use from Windows and Xbox One. To see just how quickly you can start streaming on PC or mobile. Here’s how to start streaming on Mixer

What Is Mixer? How to Start Streaming on This Twitch Alternative

What Is Mixer? How to Start Streaming on This Twitch Alternative

Here’s everything you need to know about what is Mixer and how to start streaming on Mixer.
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for more details.

Mixer streams currently have no adverts, so streamers rely on subscribers. The subscription cost on Mixer is slightly higher at $7.99/month. Mixer’s high level of interaction (with some games even supporting chat controlled integration) may make up for this difference. While still small, the platform has already attracted some loyal audiences.


  • Currently gaining users fast due to Ninja’s move.
  • Smaller userbase makes it easier to find an audience.
  • Easy to use for Windows and Xbox One users, no need for OBS or Xsplit.
  • High level of viewer interaction with MixPlay.
  • Streaming from mobile devices from day one.


  • No native PS4 support.
  • Smaller userbase may mean a longer road to any financial gain.
  • Not many opportunities for non-gaming streams.

Twitch vs. Mixer vs. YouTube - YouTube Logo

While YouTube is still by far the most popular video hosting service, it’s catching up in terms of streaming too. The Google-owned company recently scrapped its YouTube Gaming platform, consolidating all video and streaming into the main YouTube site.

This means that anyone with a following has an audience already waiting for them when they choose to stream. Much like Twitch, users can stream from a computer using OBS, or a mobile device. However, mobile users will need over 1,000 subscribers to start live streaming.

Confusingly, following someone for free on YouTube is called a subscription. To get paid membership benefits from channels on YouTube, you must “join” them. Other than the name difference, the $4.99/mo cost and viewer benefits are much the same.

YouTube frequently comes under fire for blocking ad revenue from its users. Out of the three here, it certainly seems to be the hardest place to pursue a streaming career. Which is something worth bearing in mind if you are setting your sights high.


  • Streams can be rewound, and are saved automatically after they end.
  • Great if you already have a YouTube following.


  • YouTube is very strict in terms of offensive content and copyright violation.
  • No Xbox One support.
  • Streaming from mobile devices possible, though requires at least 1000 channel subscribers.

Twitch vs. Mixer vs. YouTube Live: Which Is Best?

All three of these services provide something subtly different to audiences and streamers alike. If you are already active on YouTube, then that’s probably the place for you.

If you are a completely new streamer looking to get experience and recognition quickly, Mixer might be for you. It’s undoubtedly the strongest in terms of ways viewers can interact with your stream.

In truth, though, Twitch is still the top dog in streaming. There’s no bigger potential audience pool, and almost all the biggest streaming celebrities and esports players use it. If you are willing to put the time in to stand out from the crowd, Twitch is the place to do it.

Why Choose a Live-Streaming Platform?

Restream.io multistreaming platform

Choosing a service is one of the first things you’ll need to do as a streamer. Or is it? There is another option called Multistreaming.

Platforms like Restream allow you to broadcast to multiple platforms simultaneously. Why choose between Twitch, Mixer, and YouTube when you can stream to all three at the same time?

If you aim to reach as many potential viewers as possible, this is the option for you. There is, however, a catch. Twitch affiliates are not allowed to stream on multiple platforms simultaneously. Part of the affiliate agreement states that Twitch owns the broadcast during, and up to 24 hours after.

Given Twitch’s domination of live-streaming currently, that might be enough to put off potential multi-streamers.

How to Build a Live-Streaming Audience

If you are serious about streaming, you can turn it into a career regardless of which platform you choose to use. No matter which of the three you choose, here’s how to build an audience for your live streaming channel.

As it stands, however, Twitch is still king, and our Twitch tips to help you build a bigger viewership

9 Twitch Tips That’ll Help You Build a Bigger Viewership

9 Twitch Tips That’ll Help You Build a Bigger Viewership

These tips will help you stream games like the pros. You may consider them simple, but they’re designed to help you build the foundation of your channel.
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could help kickstart your streaming career.

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What Is Mixer? How to Start Streaming on This Twitch Alternative

Live-streaming can now be considered mainstream entertainment. Popular streamers attract thousands of viewers, and are celebrities in their own right.

Streaming has become a lucrative career option. Anyone can become a streamer. All you need is a computer and a streaming service like Twitch or Mixer. Here’s everything you need to know about what is Mixer and how to start streaming on Mixer.

What Is Mixer?

Mixer Logo

Mixer is a live streaming platform owned by Microsoft. Formerly known as Beam, Microsoft acquired the platform in 2016 in an attempt to compete with similar platforms like Twitch and YouTube.

All Mixer streams feature a live video feed and a chat room for the viewers to communicate in real-time with the streamer and other viewers. Most streams are of gameplay, though other channels specialize on music, or talking to the audience via camera (also known as IRL streaming).

Mixer is available as a website and a smartphone app and is part of the Microsoft Windows 10 Game Bar and Xbox One Menu.

How Does Mixer Work?

For most people, Twitch is synonymous with streaming. While Twitch is undoubtedly the most popular streaming platform, it doesn’t do anything particularly unique when compared with others. Mixer and Twitch both work by streaming whatever is on the broadcaster’s screen into a web browser for a live audience.

Both Mixer and Twitch allow viewers to interact with streamers directly. This can be through alerts triggered by donations, or by paying a monthly subscription to the streamer. Full streams and short clips from past streams are also available when a streamer isn’t live.

Mixer offers the same features as Twitch, along with many other forms of interaction and progression. Whenever you’re streaming or viewing, your Mixer account will gain Sparks and EXP, which can be used to earn rewards both as a streamer and a viewer.

Why Is Mixer Gaining Popularity?

Mixer has been active for several years, and many people have chosen it as their platform for streaming. Despite this, it was still relatively unknown. Streaming itself has only gained mainstream traction in recent years, so this is perhaps not too surprising.

What changed? In a word, Ninja, otherwise known as Tyler Blevins. In August 2019, Ninja announced he was leaving Twitch in favor of Mixer.

This was an incredible coup for Microsoft, as Ninja is among the biggest names in live streaming. His Fortnite streams on Twitch have broken every record previously set for streaming, and he had close to 15 million followers before leaving the platform.

The move from Twitch to Mixer attracted many of Ninja’s Twitch followers. It has also inspired many streamers to try and get involved with Mixer, hoping to gain audiences from the hype surrounding Ninja’s move.

Who Streams on Mixer?

Mixer front page

Different streaming platforms specialize in different things. Since Mixer is relatively young it doesn’t have many celebrities as yet, but it has firmly placed itself in the same position as Twitch as a gamer-friendly place.

While Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter support live streams, they rarely feature gaming.

YouTube streams are more gaming-oriented, but frequently also feature coverage of events like E3, GDC, and other gaming conferences.

Currently, Mixer mostly accommodates gaming and IRL streams, though the company plans to branch out in the future.

Regardless of the platform, games like Fortnite, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, and Minecraft are the most popular. You’ll find them all well represented on Mixer.

How to Get Started With Mixer

Diverse Streams available on Mixer.com

Mixer streams are viewable using any browser. Head to Mixer.com, and you can start watching streams straight away. The home page features streamers who are currently live. You can also choose to browse via game, or view one of the many curated Mixer channels which show a variety of content from across the platform.

While you can watch without an account, you’ll need one to interact with streamers and chat rooms. If you already have a Microsoft or Xbox Live account, you can use this to log in to Mixer.

Alternatively, the Mixer app is available for both Android and iOS and features optimization for smartphone and tablet viewing.

Download: Mixer for iOS | Android (Free).

How to Start Streaming on Mixer

One of the benefits of Mixer compared to other platforms is the ease with which you can start streaming. Usually, an extra piece of software such as Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) or Xsplit is required. This software acts as a bridge between your game and camera and the streaming platform.

Windows users can skip this step by streaming to Mixer straight from the Game Bar: press Win + G to bring up the Game Bar, and select the Start Broadcasting icon on the right.

Windows/Xbox Game Bar

Sign in if prompted, and choose your camera and microphone settings. Name your stream, take note of your Mixer URL, and click Start Broadcast to begin streaming.

Broadcasting options with Mixer

That’s it! Your broadcast will begin and be viewable at your Mixer URL.

How to Stream on Mixer From Mobile Devices

You can also stream on Mixer using a Smartphone or Tablet. You’ll need to download the Mixer Create app for iOS or Android. Once downloaded, open the app and sign in.

You’ll be greeted with a broadcasting menu where you can choose your stream title and category. You can also add a recommended age range for the stream audience. Click the broadcast logo, to select whether you’ll stream your camera, a game, or both.

Mixer app streaming screengrab

It is worth noting that you will need a reasonably beefy device like a dedicated gaming phone to stream gameplay. This is true no matter which streaming platform you choose.

Download: Mixer for iOS | Android (free).

Is Mixer the Future of Streaming?

With all the hype surrounding Ninja’s move to Mixer, and the new streamers starting to use the service every day, Mixer is on the rise. That said, streaming is about the celebrities who people tune in to watch gaming.

If you want to start streaming, most tips to build an audience for your live streaming channel have nothing to do with the platform you choose.

There’s Twitch, Mixer, and, despite the fact Google has killed the YouTube Gaming app, there are plenty of YouTube Gaming alternatives for gamers

The Best YouTube Gaming Alternatives for Gamers

The Best YouTube Gaming Alternatives for Gamers

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as well.

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The Best Streaming TV Services (Free and Paid)

Streaming TV services can be broadly split into two categories: free and paid. Everyone likes free stuff, but paid options obviously offer more (and newer) content. In this article we list the best free streaming TV apps and the best paid streaming TV apps.

The Best Free Streaming TV Services

Let’s begin with the best free streaming TV services.


crackle channels

Owned and operated by Sony, Crackle has been a staple app for cord-cutters since its launch back in 2007. The company has content partnerships with several leading film and TV studios, including 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, Disney, MGM, and Warner Bros.

And because its owned by Sony, you’ll get free access to a massive back catalog of the company’s hit shows such as Seinfeld, The Shield, Damages, and Rescue Me. In more recent years, Crackle has also started to invest in original shows. Some of the most critically acclaimed are The Oath, Sports Jeopardy, and Start-Up.

Crackle is available in 21 countries, all of which are in America. It has not been available in the UK since 2014, though you can always use a VPN like ExpressVPN or CyberGhost to bypass the geo-blocking.

If you’d like to learn more, check out our article listing the best free TV shows to watch on Crackle

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Tubi TV

tubi series

Tubi TV is a free alternative to Netflix. It has a library of more than 12,000 TV shows and movies for you to dig into. The company has partnerships in place with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, Warner Bros., and, since late 2018, NBCUniversal.

Despite the partnerships, we don’t feel the quality of the content is as high as that found on Crackle. Yes, there are some gems, but there’s a fair number of sub-par shows that you’d never realistically want to watch.

Sadly, the app also has an even smaller list of supported countries than Crackle; it is only available in the US and Canada. Again, a good VPN will let you get around the geo-blocks.

The Tubi TV streaming service is ad-supported.

Pluto TV

Rather than offering on-demand video, Pluto TV is a live TV streaming service. Again, it’s free to use. Although the service has been around since 2013, it’s currently receiving considerable investment thanks to a January 2019 buyout by Viacom for $380 million.

Some of the channels you can expect to find include NBC News, CNN, Bloomberg, FOX Sports, Eleven Sports, and an adapted version of MTV.

There are also 24/7 channels devoted to series such as Doctor Who, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, and many more. You’ll even find content from Paramount, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon on Pluto’s own in-house streaming TV channels. For sports fans, there’s a dedicated MLS channel.

The Roku Channel

the roku channels shows

The Roku Channel is an on-demand TV streaming app. Since its launch in October 2017, it has rapidly risen to become one of the best free TV streaming services available.

It features TV series and movies from Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Warner Bros. There is also content from streaming TV providers who already have apps in the Roku Channel Store (such as American Classics, FilmRise, OVGuide, and Popcornflix).

Sadly, The Roku Channel is only available to people in the United States. The service is ad-supported.

The Best Paid Streaming TV Services

While those free options are good, there are also streaming TV services available to those willing to pay for a subscription.


netflix price

Despite the increasing competition, Netflix remains the gold standard for paid streaming TV services. It invests billions of dollars in producing its own original content while also offering hundreds of your favorite TV shows and movies from other creators and studios.

Today, the company has expanded to be available in more than 190 different countries. The only major exception is China, though it’s also unavailable in locales where US businesses are banned from operating (such as Syria and North Korea).

The available content differs between locations, but Netflix’s original shows and movies are available everywhere.

In the US, a Basic plan (one screen and no HD) costs $8.99/month, a Standard plan (two screens) costs $12.99/month, and a Premium plan (four screens and 4K) costs $15.99/month.


hulu content

Hulu offers two TV streaming packages—an on-demand video service for $5.99/month and a live TV service from $44.99/month.

Disney owns the company, so there are masses of Disney’s shows and films available in the on-demand catalog. However, you will also discover numerous Hulu originals and plenty of non-Disney content too.

Hulu + Live TV comes with more than 65 channels as standard. You’ll get access to major networks like NBC and CBS, sports content from ESPN and FOX, and other mainstream channels such as CNN, National Geographic, History Channel, and Cartoon Network. You can buy add-ons for more sports and foreign-language content.

Hulu is only available in the US.

Amazon Prime Video

amazon prime video signup

Amazon Prime Video is Netflix’s greatest rival. Like Netflix, Amazon invests heavily in its own original content while simultaneously providing a vast library of content from other networks and studios. Much of the streaming service’s original content has been met with critical acclaim.

The app has a similarly large worldwide reach as Netflix; the only countries where it is unavailable are the usual suspects such as Cuba, China, and Iran.

In order to use Amazon Prime Video, you have to be an Amazon Prime member; there is no way to open a standalone account. The benefits and the cost of Amazon Prime vary from country-to-country. In the US, a Prime subscription costs $12.99/month.


HBO Now is a US-based streaming tv service that’s only available within American borders. The service went live in 2015.

As the name suggests, the service is HBO-centric. Sure, you get access to much of the company’s huge catalog of content, but you won’t be able to watch any non-HBO TV shows or movies. There are also some notable shows missing from the library, even though HBO has the rights. These include Tenacious D, Da Ali G Show, and The Ricky Gervais Show.

Only one package is available. It costs $14.99/month. For that, up to three users can stream simultaneously.

Learn More About Watching TV Online

The apps we’ve discussed above are the best TV streaming services available today.

If you’re still not satisfied and would like to learn about even more options, make sure you also check out our articles listing the best live TV streaming services

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and the best sites to watch TV on your computer

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