Alan Buckingham

The pros and cons of smart light bulbs


Home automation, "the internet of things" or IoT, has been a popular subject for the past couple of years. Unfortunately, that subject isn't always good -- some things have proven infinitely hackable, making it a bit on the worrisome side.

One of the first items to make the mainstream was light bulbs, and we've played around with a few and here is what we have found.

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What it's like to live with the new Sling TV cloud DVR

Sling dvr

The digital video recorder has been around for quite a while now and it revolutionized home media. The way we watch TV completely changed when we no longer had to pop in a blank tape and manually plan our recordings. Now we just set a show to record whenever it happens to be on.

Sling has been rolling out a cloud DVR over the past couple of months, and I've been using it since it arrived -- so, around two months or so. I'd like to give you a bit of the ups and downs from my experience.

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DirecTV NOW comes to Roku


DirecTV is a popular satellite service for those who don't or can't get cable TV. Many people love it, especially because of its exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket experience.

Roku is also a bit of a darling to people. The tiny box continues to add new "channels" that enhance the functionality of the device.

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Wink joins up with Google Home for Assistant


Like Amazon Echo, Google Home is a device that can answer your questions, play music, and control home automation tasks. It's a handy thing to have around if you don't mind Google listening to you on a regular basis.

Now the device is gaining a bit more operability. Thanks to its announced update of the Weave platform, it can now work with the Wink home automation hub.

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Sling TV gains a new Xbox One interface, now comes pre-loaded on Windows 10 devices


You probably know Sling TV, one of the darlings for "cord cutters", and you certainly know Xbox, a favorite of gamers. The latter is also great for media with countless apps and HDMI pass-through. Microsoft hopes that is enough to make you remain on its platform and never change systems.

In conjunction with Microsoft, Sling is today introducing two big new updates -- a new interface on Xbox One, and Sling TV pre-loaded on Windows 10.

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Don't have cable and want to watch March Madness? Here's how


Now that we've had Selection Sunday, people can begin filling out their brackets and putting their money where their mouths are. From number one ranked Villanova all the way back to number 68 Mt St. Mary, and all of the schools in between.

But what if you don't have cable or satellite to watch the action? You have some viewing options. Using a set-top box like Roku you need never miss a moment.

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Amazon announces new pilot season for Prime video

amazon a

If you happen to have an Amazon Prime account then you're aware of the benefits that come along with your annual fee. There's the free two-day shipping, the streaming video service, the music, and more.

Amazon is also producing its own original shows, several becoming big hits, like The Man in the High Castle and Transparent.

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Roku hit 1 billion streaming hours in December


If you have one of the many modern and tiny streaming set-top boxes then chances are it may be a Roku. There are others on the market from Amazon, Google and Apple and plenty that have failed. Roku got in early and gained traction.

So much traction, in fact, that it has been showing some pretty serious numbers regarding how it is doing in the market.

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Babbel free six months ends soon


Been looking to learn a foreign language? Depending on your skills for such things it can be easy or difficult – we're all different. Some people seem to pick them up like a magnet and others struggle. But these days it's easier to at least try. No more classes or books, you can do it right online.

Babbel is one of many online services willing to help you and it has a number of languages available to choose from so you can learn to be bi-lingual.

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Watch the Grammys show live on Roku with CBS All Access


Are you ready for one of the biggest nights in music? The Grammy awards are just hours away from kicking off and many fans are likely wondering how they can watch the festivities live. For those without cable that is a real concern.

Everything kicks off tonight at 8pm ET and it will be hosted by James Corden. If you are one of those of a growing number that don't have cable TV then there are no worries, providing you do have a Roku.

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Hulu Profiles quietly arrives on the streaming service


If you have used a streaming service like Netflix then you know the value of profiles. In a household of two or more people, profiles keep things sane. Especially when two people watch the same show, but not always on the same schedule -- you can each have it in your profile to keep track of which episode you're both on.

It may seem like simple technology, but it's something Hulu has lacked since its inception. While the service has grown in both terms of popularity and shows available, separating things has never been possible.

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Netflix now supports Ultra HD 4K on Windows 10 with Intel Core processors


Ultra HD and 4K are all popular words these days. It's the latest in TV and everyone is jumping on board. It costs a bit of money, as it requires a new TV, something manufacturers have been looking for a way to push since HD became common and sales slowed down. 3D didn't work out so well, but 4K seems to be more popular.

Now Netflix, the popular streaming movie and TV show provider, as well as a purveyor of original content, is bringing it's 4K Ultra HD to Microsoft's latest operating system.

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My favorite tech items of 2016 [Alan]


2016 is drawing to a close and we're already looking forward to everything a new year will bring. It gets started quick when the Consumer Electronics Show kicks off 2017, but before we start ogling at all those products that may or may not ever see a store shelf, it's time to take a glance back at the year that was.

Many products showed up on the BetaNews doorstep this year and we all worked hard to bring you an overview of them so you'd know what to buy and what to avoid. Now it's time for me to take a look at a few of my favorite items from the past 12 months.

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Sling TV cloud DVR beta fills up, more openings promised


Not long ago we told you that Sling TV was testing a cloud DVR, something that previously annoyed cable providers. At the time, and now, the service is in beta testing and you must sign up and be chosen to get in.

The good news is that you can still sign up, but the bad news is that it filled up pretty quickly and you may be waiting for a while.

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Merry Christmas, Amazon runs out of Echo devices

Amazon Echo

Looking for that last minute gift? You're running out of time, and some things are simply just no longer available. Many of the hottest devices this shopping season have proven tough to come by -- not really a surprise, as it's been this way every time for years.

While Amazon is offering free shipping (for Prime customers) through today, some things simply are not there and you won't be getting them in time.

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