Jun 20, 2012 Contest/Giveaway
[This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winner, Wendy, comment #12. Thanks for entering!]
I’d always assumed that WiFi routers were all pretty much the same: just get the latest one from a known brand name, and you’re good to go. We’ve been using one from our cable company that’s very new. It worked fine, as far as we could tell.
Our main TV, a Samsung, connects to the internet via WiFi. We can access Netflix, Vudu, and lots of other services. The picture is always good. The only problem is that we never hooked it up to our surround sound system (and it would be hard to do at this point), so while the TV’s sound is very good, it’s not surround sound good.
This is why we usually end up watching Netflix through the XBox, which also connects to the internet via WiFi. Only problem with that is, after a few minutes of playing an HD movie or show, it drops down to non-HD. I searched the internet for a solution, and most message boards and reviews discussing my particular situation said the same thing: XBox throttles the signal. I had no idea why Microsoft would do that, but it didn’t seem like there was anything we could do about it. So, we choose between excellent sound, or excellent picture.
Jun 19, 2012 Contest/Giveaway
[This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winner, Stephanie, comment #12. Thank you to all who entered.]
The ability to play Netflix movies and show the pictures from my laptop on a TV is so prevalent at this point, I get annoyed when I can’t. With the WD TV Live Streaming Media Player from Western Digital selling on Amazon for a price so low they wouldn’t even show it to me unless I put it in my cart, there’s little excuse not to have every TV in your home connected to the internet and your home network.
My favorite thing about this box is its size. Its footprint is smaller than a standard square napkin:
In fact, it’s so small and light that you can hang it on the wall with just a couple of screws or nails.
Setup was extremely easy. I hooked up the included power cord and RCA cable and put the batteries into the remote. It scanned for WiFi signals (you can also hook it up directly to a modem if you don’t have WiFi), and I chose mine and put in my password. I have to admit I was worried at this point – the WiFi signal was only showing one bar. I’ve never gotten anything to work on one bar. To compare, my laptop in the same location gets four or five bars.
I went right to Netflix and signed in with no problem, and started streaming an episode of The Office I’d been watching the night before. It loaded quickly and played all the way through! On one bar!
Mar 5, 2010 Contest/Giveaway
My XBox Life
XBox has been a big part of my life for years. We started out with an original XBox – it was actually our very first DVD player! When the XBox 360 came out, I got my husband one for Christmas, then an XBox Live membership, and as a reward got to sit next to him on the couch as he talked into a little microphone strapped to his head. I amused myself by telling him that yes, I would like fries with that.
Once Jake was old enough to hold a video game controller – a day I think my husband had been waiting for since our firstborn had emerged from my womb, pointy-headed and be-penised – the two of them would sit on the couch together, shooting two-dimensional people and blowing things up and driving fast in cars to get to other places to blow other things up. Sometimes it’s a plane. Sometimes there are soldiers, sometimes girls in bathing suits. I think I might be talking about more than one game here, but they all look basically the same to me. When Jake and Daddy play XBox together, Fiona and I exchange a look that says it all: we don’t get it, and we don’t want to.
But then Rock Band came out, and suddenly I had a use for the XBox. Fiona, who was born singing, grabbed the mic immediately (she had always been a loud child and definitely didn’t need amplification, so we learned quickly how to turn off the mic’s sound and still have it register in the game). We discovered that Jake actually had a talent for drums, complete with rock-star like tantrums when he can’t master a section of a song (seriously, he’s throwing his sticks at a fifth-grade level). The Ass showed his inner Hendrix on guitar. And then there was me, all thumbs, stuck in the back playing bass: our little band’s very own Mike Huckabee, playing the same few notes over and over again, knowing I would never be as cool as the rest of the band.
Well, eventually I got better. Actually at this point I kind-of kick ass at Rock Band, on bass and guitar (but no drums, it’s truly embarrassing how uncoordinated I am). And thanks to the good people at XBox we’ve got more family games to play together, like Sing It and Scene It, and an XBox Elite to play them on. We’ve moved beyond just gaming with our XBoxes, using them to watch Hulu and Netflix and stream music from our computers. Someday I expect them to cook me breakfast.
XBox Live Giveaway – enter by March 8th
XBox Live is running a fantastic giveaway, the XBox Live Just Press Play giveaway, but you have to hurry: entries will be accepted until a minute before midnight on March 8th. And you want to enter, because here’s the prize:
- a $2,500 gift certificate to Crate & Barrel
- an XBox 360 Elite
- a 47 inch LG HDTV
- a Bose speaker system
- an XBox 360 game pack
- a Netflix account
- 4,000 Microsoft points
- some wireless stuff to help you get everything set up and play wirelessly
It’s all worth about $5,000. That’s right, $5,000. You can register here, and good luck!
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has Compensation Levels of 1 & 8. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, and the NYC Moms Blog.
Dec 27, 2009 Uncategorized
A couple hours ago, completely by accident, I stumbled across a way to save $36 a month from my cable bill while actually increasing the number of options I have for watching TV. I was googling about something – I don’t even remember what – and I accidentally stumbled onto a site called PlayOn. I downloaded a free two-week trial of their software, which allows you to stream Hulu, YouTube, CBS, Netflix (if you have a subscription) and other channels through your networked XBox 360, PS3, or Wii onto your TV. Then, I downloaded a free two-week trial of Netflix. It was all set up in under five minutes, and I was watching Family Ties.
Truth is, we had been thinking about giving up some of our cable services for a while. We definitely didn’t need all of the premium channels we were paying for. We have two dual-tuner DVRs going at all hours, but a lot of what we record is available on Hulu or Netflix, sometimes the day after it airs. We knew that we could use our XBox 360 for streaming Netflix, and could hook up a computer to the TV to stream Hulu, but I know us, and we’re lazy. We don’t want to hook up a computer and runs wires every time we want to sit down and watch TV (plus, we could only stream Netflix through the XBox that has the XBox Live membership – if we were going to get rid of premium channels, we wanted to access Netflix from both XBoxes without having to pay additional fees to Netflix for the privilege). I was looking for a simple solution that wouldn’t cost much money, but all I was finding were devices. I didn’t want to add another device – the TV in question already has an XBox and a DVD player.
This is the perfect solution for us. Going forward we’ll be saving $45 a month from our cable bill, and paying $8.99 a month for Netflix, for a net savings of $36 (with a one-time charge of $30 for the PlayOn software).
We did the following things:
- We canceled our premium cable channels. We can access the same movies and shows via Hulu or Netflix. Yes, we may have to wait a little while for some of them, but they usually sit on the DVR for weeks anyway, so who cares? Savings: $33 a month
- We’re turning in one of our two DVRs. At this point we’re basically recording the same stuff on both. We’ll survive just fine with only one. Savings: $12 a month
- I dug our HD antenna picture frame out of the closet and hooked it up to the TV, so that we can watch local channels on that TV
- We’re purchasing the PlayOn software for $30, which allows us to stream Hulu (including my queue), Netflix, and other channels to our networked XBox 360
- We’re subscribing to Netflix for $8.99 a month, which will give us instant access to TV shows and movies that we used to watch on our premium cable channels. That’s on top of being able to get two actual DVDs in the mail at a time
Of course, there are a few downsides:
- A computer running the PlayOn software has to be on if you want to use it to watch TV
- I’ll have to teach the kids how to access shows from the XBox (not to mention anyone who babysits, housesits, or stays with us)
- If our internet goes out, then we won’t be able to watch most TV upstairs (just what’s coming in from the HD antenna)
- I’ll have to pay attention to things like Hulu subscriptions and Netflix queues (and it looks like we’ll have to share the queues! Gah!)
- Unless we buy a universal remote for the XBox 360 (which I’m sure we will eventually) we have to use the XBox controller to pause and fast-forward – a little annoying
- Sometimes the quality isn’t quite as sharp as it is with cable (then again, our cable often skips or pixelates, so that’s probably a wash)
- Some of the shows and movies I want to watch on Netflix are only available through the mail, and I promise you I will bitch and moan every time I have to lick an envelope and go a block out of my way to a mailbox
But the advantages are huge:
- After taking into account the start-up software and Netflix cost, we’ll still save $400 a year
- We don’t need to connect a computer to our TV to stream Hulu
- Instead of randomly stumbling upon movies we want to see when they happen to be available on premium cable channels, we can organize our viewing options with queues on both Netflix and Hulu, and even get alerts from Hulu when new shows have been added
- I feel better giving Time Warner a little less money every month
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 1 (for the XBox). Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.