A Cord Cutters Review of the Vizio Co-Star Google TV Streaming Media Box

For $100 I Think Very Few Consumers Will Be Disappointed!

vizio-costar-reviewGoogle keeps bringing amazing solutions to the public that many people don't even notice, because they are slowly pushing their technology through many less known channels. The Vizio Co-Star is just another example of that. This is one hot device for the price, yet most people have never even heard of it. You have most likely already heard of the Apple TV, Roku Box and other streaming media boxes in the same genre. Well, now its time to learn a little more about the newest release in the Google TV lineup of hardware.

Vizio now ships the Co-Star built right in to all of their new TV's. This is a big trend in the Television market. It gets harder and harder to buy a new television that does not have "smart apps" built in. This buzz word makes me a little sick, but then again I may be one of the rare consumers who would rather have a TV just be a TV. Then, I can add what features and apps I want using my own needs as reference, instead of being told what I need. This is exactly what the Co-Star offers!

What Is a Cord Cutter?

This is another tech buzz word that simply means somebody who no longer pays for cable television. I have not had cable TV for about a year and a half now. I use Netflix, Hulu and the Google Play Store to watch the television shows and movies I want. It is a great experience, being able to watch what you want, when you want. Not only that, no longer do I have to pay for channels I will never watch.

The problem with having cable TV has always been that people are more likely to waste their hours, days and eventually life just flipping channels looking for some crap to watch. When you don't have a hundred channels to flip through, you will become much more selective in what you watch and you will also find it much easier to limit the time you are sitting in front of the boob tube in general. This is a very liberating experience, saving money and time and still getting all the great content you want.

Tell Us About the Apps

The Co-Star offers a lot of great apps built in, but of course you can also sign into your Google account and download others from the play store. Please understand that the amount of apps that are build to work on Google TV devices are limited. I am sure as these devices become more common, the app ecosystem will grow accordingly. However, for the time being, don't get mad if you can't play Angry Birds, yet.

Apps On Board

- Netflix

- Google Play Movies

- Google Play Music

- Amazon Instant Video

- On Live (Streaming Game Service)

- YouTube

- Vudu

- Chrome

- iHeart Radio

- Pandora (Must be downloaded first)

The list goes on, but these are the big ones. You can download some simple games, and using the multi-sided remote, they are very playable. One side of the remote control has a game pad built in, ready for action!

One app that every Co-Star owner should get is the Android remote control. this app lets you use a phone or tablet to control the Co-Star through WiFi. It is fast, intuitive and even has a mouse pad and full keyboard for easy navigation and searching on it.

I Already Have Cable so Why Would I Want This?

If you add this to your home theater, you can cut down on remotes fast. Just plug your existing cable box into the Co-Star, and then run another HDMI cable directly to your TV. Simple to setup and now you have a full-fledged web browser (Google Chrome) on your TV and have the ability to stream Pandora and Google Music at will.

Of course, there are many other cool features that you will still use, even if you don't watch movies and TV shows on the Co-Star, but that option is always there. The Co-Star lets you browse what shows are on and change channels via the cable box using its remote control. Another amazing feature that many overlook, but makes it more appealing to people who do still have cable is the YouTube app. Just open YouTube and anyone in the house who has an android phone can stream videos from their device directly to the TV. This is a feature I have used many times when we are entertaining guests. Everybody just adds a song or funny video to the playlist and our TV is playing what everybody wants!

Pure Horsepower or Is It a Miniature Pony?

So what kind of hardware can you actually get for a hundred bucks? Well, you will be surprised to find what is under the hood of this little mighty black box. The system runs off of a stripped down version of the Android OS. Yes, it is the same one that is on your phone, so it does not take a lot of horsepower to make it run fast. Once you get the device, you will most likely have to run a few updates, which are kind of slow. However, once your device is up to the newest version, you will be surprised at the speed it loads videos, web pages and flips through the menu.

You will find the main Co-Star device, power cord and dual sided remote in the box. With an amazingly small 4.2" x 4.2" footprint, you can set the actual device in many places that make it easy to hide. The remote is functioning using Bluetooth technology so you don't have to have a direct line of sight to make it work, which is another undocumented but awesome feature.

The real guts of this cool little black box include a dual-core, 1.2GHz Armada 1500 CPU, 1GB of DDR3 memory and 4GB of flash to store data on. This is all the juice it needs to stream videos at full 1080p. Even though this device does have the ability to multitask and keep apps running in the background, there will never be as many threads running as you would find on an Android phone or tablet, because its uses are much more limited.

The remote control does seem a little bulky at first (but you can use your phone as mentioned earlier), but it is very usable. The fact that it has two sides and it automatically turns off the buttons on the bottom side when flipped, makes it easy to use the controls you want for the application you are currently accessing. A touch pointer and familiar channel and volume controls are one side. On the other, you will find a complete QWERTY keyboard and a directional pad and game buttons for a familiar experience when you are gaming.

It Only Gets Better With Updates

Yes, this is something that is kind of hard to wrap your head around if you are used to older devices that rely on the hardware to update, and as you go, the device only gets slower. All Google TV devices have an upper hand in this respect, since they rely on mostly web connectivity, they get better and faster as they go. This fact gives this little media box a longer life than many others on the market.

$100 - Priced To Move, Is It Worth It?

There are many other devices at the one hundred dollar price point, but most of them do not offer the Google TV features. This is one of the cheapest and fastest performing GTV devices out there. If you are ready to try something new and make your TV a complete entertainment system for a fraction of the cost of buying the next Xbox, this may be a great way to add some powerful features to your home entertainment system on a very reasonable budget.

If you are happy with flipping channels and have no need to access your online services and view pictures from websites on a big screen, this may not be for you. For me, it was a great investment and I use it all the time. I used to have a full PC connected to the television and now I have no need for that, as I can get any content I want that is not already offered in app version from the built in Chrome browser. This is a great deal for anybody looking for a little added spice to their living room experience.

Author : Nick Simpson


Free Streaming Music Service From Amazon – Is It Time To Go Prime?

amazon-prime-music-servicePrime Music is Here and Ready to Rock!

Nick Simpson, TechBloq.com Editor

When Amazon made the announcement that they were going to be hiking the yearly price of their prime memberships to $100 a year, some consumers started wondering if this group of services still carried as much weight as it has in the past. However, some thought this was going to make an opportunity for Amazon to ramp up their service offering to win even more customers. As it turns out, they have done just that with their new streaming music service called Prime Music.

How Much Does It Cost?

There is no fee for this new music service from Amazon, assuming you already have a Prime subscription. The yearly cost has recently raised to $99.99 from $79.99. This is the main reason we are now seeing new service offerings added. This membership also gives 2 day free shipping, free Kindle eBook rentals, streaming TV and movies and more to the subscribers. You may look at it like $20/year is for the music, as this is the only new service offered since the price bump. However, Amazon has added a few of their own TV series to the Prime Video selection since.

There are many music services out there today. So, what makes the Amazon Prime Music Service different? Well, the biggest difference is the price point. Most streaming music services like Spotify, Pandora and Beats Music all utilize a very similar list of artists and songs for their listeners, some slightly larger than others. Amazon may actually have one of the smallest catalogs out there, only touting 1 million songs, but they seem to have all the new hit songs and a big list of names that you will want to remember and listen too, from the past.

Amazon's Unique Approach To Music

Amazon was one of the first large digital music sellers to go DRM (digital rights management) free. They have a huge portal of digital and tangible music goods. Many people like to shop with them because once you purchase music, you can use their own cloud player to stream the song or you can download the music to the device of your choosing. Other similar services only allow you to put the song on a set amount of devices, but you will find no such restrictions here. Another interesting feature that many are unaware of is the AutoRip features offered with many of the CD's available on Amazon. This free perk puts the songs of any physical album you buy into your online music cloud automatically so you need not rip the CD and upload it manually.

Similar to Google's own music service, on Amazon you can upload your own music to the cloud as well. Utilizing this service may be one more way that Amazon will set themselves aside from other similar music services that do not allow such convenience to unify your offline and online music libraries. One service you will find on Amazon and no other self serving music cloud service, is the ability to upload your music and get higher fidelity automatically. If you upload a low quality mp3 and Amazon matches it to a song in their library they automatically upgrade the quality of your tracks.

Is Prime Worth $99.99 Per Year?

I think it is without a doubt a great deal. Prime has offered big value to any customer that buys on Amazon often for years. The free shipping is worth its weight in gold if you buy frequently from this company and there are many people that do. Now with free music, movies, TV shows, Kindle books and other specials it is a beast of a service for less than 9 dollars a month. In fact this is about the price point of most other streaming music services on the market and you get so much more, it will be hard to pass up for many consumers.


iWork On iCloud – Is It Too Late To The Game To Matter?

iWork-On-iCloud-Is-HereApple is no longer on the forefront of the technology wave in many different areas. Now, it is showing more and more. Their most recent release is an online version of their popular office suite iWork. Recently released for anybody to use for free on their iCloud account the iWork suite which includes Pages, Numbers and Keynote; the Apple equivalent to Microsoft's Word, Excel and PowerPoint for those of you who are not familiar with them. At this point, these products are of course all in beta, which means it will be interesting to see which features they will add as they actually make the official full version launch.

There Is A Lot Missing Here

For Googlers, there are a whole slue of features that are noticeably missing, like sharing collaboration and many more. Even for those who use MS Office online will notice that these are rather basic compared to their preferred office suite. It is too early to really complain about this, but if you consider Google Docs has been available to the public for over 5 years at this point, it may have made more since to release such a web app until it was at least a contender with the others already available.

A Couple Very Cool Feature After My First Look

iWork-On-iCloud-TemplatesI must admit, I am not excited about using the iWork app online to edit documents and create new ones. However, I did notice a couple of cool features right off the bat. Number one, you can drag Word documents from your desktop to the online canvas to edit them instantly, which is a nice touch, but nothing not offered elsewhere. The important thing there, is the ease of compatibility. Another very neat feature that is rather limited but available on Google Drive is the templates. You will find some nice looking and very usable templates ready for editing when you launch any of the applications from the iCloud desktop area.


Clean Layout And As Always Beautiful Apple Design

iWork-On-iCloud-Pages-EditorThis is how Apple has sold devices for three times their value for years and it is obvious they have not changed their game plan in this area. The look of the apps online are striking and Steve Jobs would definitely approve. The real shocker is that anybody with an apple id and even the free iCloud account can take advantage of these programs from any computer that has access to the web. It is interesting to see Apple give anything away for free, after all they are not known for "free" and in most every case they are well known for quite the contrary. This may be a first insight into Apple's long ball strategy to get back on top and no matter what their plan to move forward is, it sure is nice to see them moving towards a more customer first web presence, instead of dollar driven, investor mindset.


Kindle Fire HD 7 Inch Tablet Rocks All New $159 Price Tag

kindle-firehd-on-sale-amazonAmazon has been putting out some really great hardware for amazing prices for some time now. They may be seen as the underdog in the battle of the tablets, but this could not be further from the truth. In fact, they continue to offer some of the most competitive pricing on some of the hottest new tablets year after year. You may not see ads for them on TV every three seconds, but they do not need to advertise on external sources, as they get in from off millions of customers eyes every day when their shopping website is visited.

The new release has brought some big upgrades and the price of this powerful little tablet has still remained rather reasonable. If you are in the market for a new tablet and you already know you want an Android powered device, then this may be the best value out there. The Kindle Fire does a lot more than read ebooks, it also can run any app that other Android tablets can and has an amazing display that is fit for high definition movies and more.

What Kindle Fire HD 7 Inch Features Are Most Important?

The new and revamped Kindle Fire HD 7 inch, comes packed with features and it even brings some new features to the table that you will not find on the competitor’s models. Amazon has put a lot of time into this new rendition of their old classic Kindle. If you are not familiar with the “Fire” line of Kindle’s, it is important to understand that this is not an “ebook reader” it is a full blown, feature rich, color screen tablet.

Display - with a 1280 x 800 px display you can play high quality video and it actually looks amazing, even on the small screen. The Kindle Fire HD 7 inch also boasts a very special display that has an anti-glare technology that makes it easy to view in any setting, both indoor and out. The viewing angle is also impressive, so it makes no difference if you are holding it in your hand or if you are watching a movie while it is on a stand, it is going to look great.

Performance - With a Dual-Core 1.2Ghz processor and Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics core you will never have to worry about slow response or jerky loading games. Smooth, fluid and fast response is all you will find here. Another unique feature this tablet boasts is a duel band wifi antenna, which currently you won't find elsewhere.

Camera - A HD front facing camera comes on board. This is great for those who love to make video calls with Skype, Google, Facebook or other services. It is also useful for taking pictures of you and your loved ones, to share with the world.

Kid Friendly - If you are going to get the Kindle Fire HD 7 inch for a child, Amazon has packed in some other great features that you won’t want to miss out on. The Kindle Free Time app, allows parents to restrict content and even limit access for how long your child can play, watch and explore.

Get it at the sale price while it lasts below:

Why Is The Kindle Fire HD 7 Inch Cheaper Than Its Competitors?

The volume of Kindles sold may have a lot to do with the amazing price, because this has been the number 1 selling item on Amazon for years. However, another big factor is the ability for Amazon to monetize after the purchase. Many hardware manufacturers must make money on every piece of hardware they make, but not Amazon. They continue to make money from app purchases, movie rentals, ebook purchases and more.


Amazon also offers special discounts to those who don’t mind a few small ads on the device and of course you can opt out of this if you wish. This makes the current sale price of $159 and the regular price of $199 an amazing steal for any consumer that is in the market for a powerful new Android tablet.

Are There Any Reasons I Would Not Choose The Kindle Fire HD For My Next Tablet?

Yes, of course this device is not for everybody, but it sure will fit almost any consumers needs. If you are already deeply immersed into another eco system, you know the fruit company I am referring to, then this may not be the tablet for you. The simple fact that you may have already purchased a lot of content on other devices that would not be accessible from an Android device, is about the only reason that this would not be an obvious choice. However, if you don’t own other non Android devices, then this may be the perfect table at the perfect price for you.

disadvantages of iPhone

What Are The Disadvantages Of iPhone

disadvantages of iPhoneThis question was posed to me on HubPages and the question was taken down. I don't know if the guy was just scraping my own answer for another site or if HubPages hates good answers, because the question has since been removed. The question was simple, "What are the disadvantages of iPhone"?.
I don't want to write forever, but it really comes down to preference anymore. If you are simply looking for a list of the down sides to choosing an iPhone over Android, I think it would go something like this.

1. Closed Ecosystem

2. Must use software to load music, not just drag and drop

3. Many free android apps are pay only on the Apple App Store

4. No choice of anything but a pitifully small screen

5. Cannot remove battery or add storage via sd card

6. Locked OS, well it can be hacked but the Apple police are going to get you!

7. Even more crazy tracking and data collection hijinx than on Android

8. Easy to unlock password unlike many android devices

9. 1 Phone option a year, with android you have hundreds of selections for each new cycle of your contract guaranteed

10. Cmon really if you are an Apple fan boy, you know you don't care about any of this, but I will also add that the new iPhone with it's stupid long screen size makes many apps run at a mid size with black on the sides because somebody at Apple does not understand aspect ratio and though making a stretched phone would make you go...wow I got to have the longest phone ever made!

I apologize to anybody who may be offended by the truth, but for you Saif, I hope this answers your question,



Flexi Smart Phone Stand Is Pretty Darn Cool

Recently I have personally upgraded from an iPhone 4 to a Galaxy SIII and I must admit I love this phone. I was a passionate iPhone advocate for many years but there is just no comparison to the control and features that the android OS to what the iOS currently offers. I don't want to get into a mobile phone operating system rant right now, I just want to talk about this cool little smartphone accessory I ran across that will make all smartphone owners happy no matter what phone they own.

Portable Fast Action Kick Stand For Any Smartphone

There are many cool cases for different phones that will allow you to add a kickstand to your phone. This allows you to set the phone down and display it like a small monitor on a tabletop while you view videos or other content. The Evo has had a kickstand built in for a few generations, but not many other phones have ever offered this simple but powerful feature. The Flexi allows you to simply add a suction cup to the back side of any phone and use it as a portable stand for the phone. Like I said simple, but genius!

Flexi Smartphone Stand Review Video

Check out this video to see the Flexi in action and me stumble through my first video in some time.

These are really cheap and are great to keep in your pocket or just your travel bag. If you like to watch movies and TV shows on your phone, this is definitely a must have and for a few bucks you simply can’t go wrong. Please leave your thoughts on this flexible rubber phone stand and let others know your own experience using such devices below.

Get The Flexi Smartphone Stand For Less On Amazon


Google Releases New Awesomeness!

Google I/O 2012 started yesterday and there are a lot of cool new gadgets, features and more coming your way all thanks to Google. The devices that were released were not so much of a big surprise considering most of the information was already leaked on the internet before the actual presentation took place. This doesn't mean that Google doesn't have some more tricks up their sleeves for the coming days of this developer conference. Today, the second day of the conference, there were a couple more newsworthy releases too, so go ahead and keep reading to see what is new from Google.

Along with all sorts of amazing updates to the android os, they have also made some new updates to how application updates work on the Android Market. Now when you update an app, you don't have to download the whole file, just the parts that changes. Google hopes this will cut down your bandwidth and battery usage and that sounds like a pretty cool way to give you more out of a device you already own to me!

Google's Social Streaming Media Device - Nexus Q

I must say to me this was probably the least exciting of the new products that Google released on the first day of Google I/O, but it is pretty neat all the same. Using this spherical shaped device, you can in effect allow all your friends to stream their own media from Google services directly to your device. It is setup for a party type queue. Everybody that you grant access to can use their own android device to queue their own music up on a shared playlist. It comes with a 25w amp and as cool as this sounds, it seems like it will never get off the ground with a $299 price tag.

New Google Tablet - The Nexus 7

The long awaited Google tablet is going to be available very soon. If you have been waiting for this one, it was well worth it. Asus has partnered with Google to create this very cool and very powerful 7" tablet that will ship with the latest version of the Android OS (Jelly Bean). It would seem apparent that they are going to challenge the Kindle Fire market more than the Apple iPad with its smaller form factor. They are also going after a very competitive price point. The 8GB version will sell for $199 and the 16GB tablet will go for $249. When it comes to hardware this tablet offers a big quad-core Tegra processor and a 12-core GPU that should give this little mighty might enough power to run some amazing 3-d games and stream videos with no problems. Below you will find the original promo video, but you can learn even more about the Nexus 7 by watching the unboxing Nexus 7 video here.

Chrome For iOS Finally!

Here is another release that many Google fans have been waiting on for some time now. Their are so many browsers already available on the iPhone, but there is nothing like the  Chrome browser and who wants a slow browser on their phone? The speed of this browser is yet to be documented, but many who have already downloaded this #1 free app in the iTunes App Store have already reported faster page load times than the Opera browser or Safari for iOS currently offers. This browser is forced to use the same backend code that Safari uses per Apple's so called security measures, but for some reason the page loads seem much snappier.

Using this cool browser you can also sync your open browser pages from any computer that you are currently logged into Chrome on. This means from the office to the car is seamless now and that is a cool feature. Also the ability to have many tabs open simultaneously without bogging down the browser seems to be another big thumbs up for those that need 20 tabs open to feel like they are browsing.

Skydiving With Google Glass

Google Glass has been a project in the works for some time and these space aged looking terminator glasses are getting one step closer to being something that is very awesome, but not quite there yet. The current Google Glass models only offer audio and video recording which was showcased at the conference when skydivers wore them as they plummeted to earth and people repelled down the side of walls. With these first person views that were streamed to a Google Hangout, really did turn some heads. They offered to sell some to developers for $1500 but they would not be shipped until early next year.

I am very excited about all the cool new stuff Google has showcased so far and there is still one day left in the Google I/O 2012 dev conference so it will be interesting to see what else they have in store too.

Let us know what you think about the Google news below!

Thanks for reading,

Nick Simpson


Galaxy S 3 – Finally A Phone That Respects Blue

I have been using an iPhone for about 4 years now and I must say, it looks like it is time to switch! The new Galaxy S III is going to make it hard for me to rationalize buying another iPhone even if the latest  one comes with sharks with lasers on their heads as a feature.

There are a couple reasons I have been very resistant to changing to the Android eco-system and now that most of these issues are a thing of the past and the fact that Samsung has hit a home run with their up and coming release, I think it is fair to say that the tables have turned and it is now time, at least for me, to retire my old iPhone.

Do You Love Blue As Much As I Do?

As the title of this article suggests, the Galaxy S III will be coming out in blue, which I have an unhealthy affinity for. Don't get me wrong, I am not going to jump to this device, just because it is blue, but it definitely helps and how slick looking is this phone. The small curve to the back only complements the hand holding it and with a very thin case this phone is said to slip in and out of a jean pocket seamlessly. The squared edges of the iPhone may have looked nice, but definitely did not bring anything to the table as far as ergonomics go.

One of the biggest reasons that I have been ready to move from the iPhone is it's tiny screen. I don't care how many pixels the screen has, if you make it bigger, movies, games and everything look better. The 4.8” HD Super AMOLED™ screen on the Galaxy S 3 is not as high of a screen resolution as the iPhone 4, but it should be bright and very smooth looking regardless.

NFC Finally Lands With Real World Uses

The new Galaxy S 3 will also come with NFC (near field communications) on board. This will allow you to do all sorts of cool things and in the years to come you will be able to use your phone instead of a credit card using this same technology. NFC is still in it's infancy, but there are sure to be some awesome uses coming soon. Right now you can use the TecTiles app along with customized NFC enabled stickers to make your own commands.

Imagine putting a sticker on a picture of your mother that sits on your desk and when you put your phone close, it calls her for you. This is just one of the many ways you can use this phones NFC integration and ability to read and write NFC "tiles". Another cool suggestion is to use these to change your phones settings, put one by the bed and one by your breakfast table  to automatically change your volume controls and more to suite your lifestyle.

Some Cool Camera Tricks

You will find this phone a very capable device for video and photography. Taking 8MP pictures with the main camera and also a 1.9MP front facing camera make it a solid choice for video chat and more. There are some neat features built into the software, one allowing you to take 20 super fast shots to make sure you grab the perfect moment. This is not where people get blown away because after all most of these features are not groundbreaking.

The real camera tricks happen when you are not even using the camera. One cool feature keeps the phone from sleeping while you are looking at it. So you never have to worry about the screen going black while you are reading an ebook or an email, then when you set it down it instantly dims which is nice for extending the battery life. It is kind of scary thinking about the phone looking into your eyes, but the end result is pretty damn cool!

Another feature that may be more interesting to me than others is a very neat way to call your friend you are chatting with. I don't know how many times I have been texting somebody and then decide to call them because I don't want to write a long message. The Galaxy S III deals with this differently, just put the phone to your ear(the camera senses this) and the phone automatically dials whoever you are chatting with.

Siri Watch Out - S Voice Is Coming!

S Voice is a voice command application that is built in and this lets you take pictures, make calls and a lot more. In theory it sounds very cool, but until we see how well it learns you voice, it is hard to say if it is as good or even better than Siri and other similar voice recognition software around right now.