Posts Tagged

Streaming

University’s mobile app streaming idea has enterprise IT potential. But, oh yes, there’s that security annoyance.

Purdue University has announced an interesting mobile concept, a means to free up lots of space that is now housing apps and app data. Why not, the university asks, stream the apps themselves from the cloud?

Let’s let the school explain its own idea: “New software streams data and code resources to an app from a cloud server when necessary, allowing the app to use only the space it needs on a phone at any given time. ‘It’s like how Netflix movies aren’t actually stored on a computer. They are streamed to you as you are watching them,’ said Saurabh Bagchi, a Purdue University professor of electrical and computer engineering, and computer science, and director of the Center for Resilient Infrastructures, Systems and Processes. ‘Here the application components, like heavy video or graphics or code paths, are streaming instantly despite the errors and slowdowns that are possible on a cellular network.’ Bagchi’s team showed in a study how the software, called AppStreamer, cuts down storage requirements by at least 85 percent for popular gaming apps on an Android. The software seamlessly shuffles data between an app and a cloud server without stalling the game. Most study participants didn’t notice any differences in their gaming experience while the app used AppStreamer. Because AppStreamer works for these storage-hungry gaming apps, it could work for other apps that usually take up far less space, Bagchi said. The software also allows the app itself to download faster to a phone. The researchers will present their findings Feb. 18 at the 17th International Conference on Embedded Wireless Systems and Networks in Lyon, France.” (Note: This press release was written before Feb. 18.)

First off, let me stress that this app wasn’t designed with enterprises in mind, so any concerns I might express could be fairly criticized as being strawman arguments. That said, the concept of freeing up space on an enterprise device — and especially a BYOD device that only gets a small partition for handling any business data and apps — has potential.

In general, of all of the enterprise complaints about mobile, insufficient space has been rarely heard in the last year or two, as handset manufacturers have sharply increased memory while app-makers have done better at shrinking their footprints. Still, IT is a greedy bunch, so squeezing more out of a finite phone is always of interest.

But unlike the Netflix example, move downloads generally don’t worry end users too much about security. As long as the end user gets to see the movie in good quality, he or she doesn’t care if bad guys out there are also watching and getting free content. The notable exception might be porn, where privacy of viewing choices becomes a concern. Getting back to enterprise IT (where, naturally, no porn is ever watched) security issues, streaming enterprise data and apps from a consumer-grade cloud is not a good idea.

Let’s flip the question, though. In an enterprise BYOD situation, if streaming corporate data and apps is a deal-killer, why not encourage employees to use something like AppStreamer to stream their personal apps and data, theoretically freeing up more space for the corporate partition to do its business fun? Is there reasonable potential there?

A problem I see is that other than doing web searches, much of the convenience of mobile devices is that they can perform many of their functions in a non-wireless environment, such as driving in a dead zone. Even more appropriately, consider instances where the mobile user goes out of the way to enter a dead zone (a.k.a. using airplane mode with Wi-Fi shut down) when the user is working on something sensitive and doesn’t want anyone sniffing into the phone. In short, the ability to actively use app executables and downloaded data is a big advantage for an enterprise device. That would interfere with any app or data streaming.

Back on security: even if the enterprise were able to set aside the concerns about the cloud’s security itself (worries about someone breaking in), there is still the issue of the consumer-grade cloud provider itself. Does your CIO and CISO want your sensitive data to exist outside of your device, on-prem systems and their hopefully heavily vetted enterprise cloud environment?

Beyond data leakage fears, there are a host of compliance privacy issues about allowing enterprise data to exist elsewhere. But if mobile memory space is an issue and employees are willing to try this on the consumer side of a BYOD phone, this might eventually have serious potential. 

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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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

Buy Now On Amazon

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

Buy Now On Amazon
$119.99

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

Buy Now On Amazon
$59.99

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

Buy Now On Amazon
$49.99

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

Buy Now On Amazon
$42.95

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

Buy Now On Amazon
$40.98

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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.



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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

Buy Now On Amazon
$234.99

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

Buy Now On Amazon
$49.99

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

Buy Now On Amazon
$45.46

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

Buy Now On Amazon
$91.99

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

Buy Now On Amazon

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

Buy Now On Amazon
$279.95

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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