Roku 3 Impressions

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roku-3-box

I bought a streaming box for my parents place because they needed something that can pull down Netflix movies. Hooking up my Macbook Air to the big screen became a chore and I wasn’t planning on lugging it over every time I paid them a visit. So I chose to buy a Roku 3 from Amazon.com.

I chose the Roku 3 because of the praise and — more importantly — because it had has Plex support. It also has support for a variety of streaming services that are either a channel install away or a DNS change away. It even supports GiantBomb’s video feed which makes the lack of YouTube support easier to bear.

Broad channel support is very nice but it wouldn’t be worthwhile without the performance as well. Roku 3 is easily the quickest and easiest interface to use out of all the TV streaming solutions I have available to me. The remote is wonderfully designed and shames the remotes the accompany the HDTVs I own.

That headphone feature is ingenius and I’m surprised by the fact that it was a streaming box manufacturer that came up with it first. The remote is essentially a mini-Wiimote. It has an accelerometer and can be used horizontally for simple games. I’ve only tried Angry Birds: Space but its serviceable. I wonder if there are any emulators out there that can transform this box into a light gaming box as well.

The Roku 3 is such a wonderful device that I’m considering buying another one for myself. It’s a very sensible box and worth every one of the one hundred and twenty five dollars I paid for it. If you’re looking for a quick Netflix watching and Plex supporting streaming box, get the Roku 3.

 

Goodbye PMS. Hello PMS.

plexWhat am I talking about here?

I’ve retired PS3 Media Server and changed over to Plex Media Server. I’ve heard of Plex before but I always thought it was just a front end application like XBMC. I looked for alternatives to PS3 Media Server but I only found Serviio which is another Java based media server. It’s a good thing I conducted another search a few weeks ago.

Major Plusses

I’ve been trying to move from a Java based media server in order reduce memory usage and having to provide upkeep on Java itself. Plex doesn’t require Java and consumes very  little memory.

Plex is also incredibly flexible with its viewing clients including web browsers, iOS apps and DLNA clients. I don’t eve need the iOS app; I can stream by hitting the webpage via Safari. There’s one more trick up Plex’s sleeve which I have yet to try out: myPlex. If/when I sign up for it, I will be able to stream my videos from anywhere in the world.

A Minor Shortcoming

The only shortcoming worth mentioning thus far is the inability to install Plex Media Server as a Windows service. There is a workaround developed by a Plex forum user but I would like to see the developers include a native option.

So Far So Good

The next step is to try myPlex and maybe even get a copy of the iOS app. I’m also toying with the idea of getting a Plex compatible streaming client. Maybe this Roku 3?

ASUS RT-N66U First Impressions

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asus-rt-n66u

My ASUS RT-N66U arrived from Amazon.ca yesterday. I installed Tomato (Shibby) on it and have it up and running.

The build quality helps justify the $150 price tag. It has heft and a solid feel unlike any router I’ve ever owned. It even has a power button and a stand which may seem like odd things to highlight but these are the kinds of features that I expect from a router this pricey.

Initial performance impressions are positive but it did not quite achieve the level of exterior wall performance I was hoping for. The 5 GHz antenna on my E4200 was good. It was able to reach all the way from the top floor to the basement with a reasonable signal. The RT-N66U signal, however, is excellent no matter where I am.

The WDS performance is better but it’s not a night and day difference. The signal strength and quality seems to be more stable than with the E4200 I previously used though. Stability with reasonable throughput (10+ Mbps) is the goal here and so far this RT-N66U is delivering on that front. I’ll check in after some days have passed. Hopefully the link stays up.

More HP TouchPad & Android Impressions

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hp-logoThe Android on HP TouchPad experiment continues from mid-October.

I haven’t done much other than web browsing via Dolphin HD. The web browsing is competent for simple sites, but more complex ones like GiantBomb and Tested don’t seem to load properly in landscape mode — it’s a really weird problem.

Since the last post there have been several alpha releases of Cyanogenmod 7 to address various problems including the wi-fi not coming back after sleep and other little quirks. I can honestly say it’s a stable tablet now.

We still haven’t gone into great lengths to customize the hell out of the interface because of Ice Cream Sandwich. In fact, the only real customizations we’ve done was to skin it to look like Google’s latest Android release.

I’ve tried a few games, but none of them appear to render natively for tablet devices. I haven’t determined if it was an app or Cyanogenmod on HP Touch Pad problem, but to be perfectly honest: there’s not much to get excited over on the Android Marketplace.

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