Monthly Archives: November 2013

Google Chromecast

Chromecast is a $35 streaming dongle that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port and plays audio/video content on a high-definition TV using your Wi-Fi connection.

The basics: what it is and what it does:
You can use it to stream online videos from YouTube, Netflix and elsewhere, and use your computer, mobile phone or tablet as a remote control. It doesn’t have any kind of separate app store or user interface on your TV – everything gets controlled from your PC or mobile device.

The key word here is control: Your phone doesn’t stream videos directly to your Chromecast dongle. Instead, it just tells the device which video it should stream from the cloud. That means that you can use your phone for something else, or even turn it off, once the stream begins. This also helps preserve your smartphone battery

This kind of remote control capability only works with apps and sites that directly support Chromecast. In addition to that, users can also stream any web content directly from their computer’s Chrome browser, as long as they have a special Chrome extension installed.

The setup:
The setup is remarkably easy if you follow Google’s directions and download the setup app on your computer or mobile device.  Just get those apps, and the setup is literally done in two minutes. Plug the dongle into your TV, connect it to a power source and fire up the app on your computer or mobile device. Enter the password of your local Wi-Fi network, and you’re good to go.

Streaming Netflix:
Chromecast is a great device for Netflix viewing: Streams look as good as on any other device and navigating the Netflix catalog on a computer or mobile device works much better than on a connected device like the older WII we have for streaming Netflix.

Streaming YouTube:
The other use for Chromecast right now is streaming videos from YouTube. One limitation though is that streaming videos to Chromecast from your PC is only supported if you are on, and not if the video is embedded in a third-party website. That means that you’ll need to click through to before you can start watching on the big screen.

When Chromecast was introduced it was thought that the HDMI-CEC standard would be its secret killer feature and it is. Chromecast can automatically turn on TVs that support HDMI-CEC and even change the HDMI input, switching from live TV to whichever video you selected on your mobile device.  One complaint is that turning on the TV doesn’t work if you plug your Chromecast unit into the TV’s USB port, which is why it makes sense to use the extra power adapter that Google ships with the device instead of USB.

Netflix and YouTube are clearly just the beginning for Chromecast. Hulu, Vimeo, HBO Go and others have already pledged their support, and many developers have begun creating apps and games for the device. All of this means that Chromecast will get substantially better over the months to come.

No additional monthly fees and only $35 to bring Netflix to a TV in your bedroom or den is really a no brainer even if you already have a smart TV, or watch Netflix with the game console that’s otherwise collecting dust in your living room. The device makes it easy to bring online video to the living room or kid’s room and in turn makes TV watching a lot more enjoyable. I’ve just ordered 3 more dongles for 2 TV’s at home and one here at the office.

More information is available here:

Coin To Replace Credit Cards

The title may seem like we’re taking agiant step backwards… but read on….

Coin is a new app and gadget that combines all of your credit and debit accounts into a single card.

If your wallet’s starting to get a little too thick to fit in your pocket, Coin might be able to lighten your load. That’s Coin, not coins.

It looks no different than a standard credit card, but it’s actually a small device that can act as a credit card, debit card or gift card. The device is available for pre-order and expected to start shipping next summer.

Coin CEO Kanishk Parashar said that the company was born from the ashes of the failed company Smart Market. That app, another mobile payment system, failed to notify customers when they were near a store that accepted the app. “There was no need for a card or wallet, but we didn’t see payments going through the system,” he told reporters.

Coin isn’t another system of payment, but a way of uniting several different methods of payment into a single device. Coin users plug a magnetic strip reader into a smartphone, swipe their cards, and sync their information through the company’s app.

In order to make a payment, users tap a button on the Coin card and pick which account they want to pay with, whether it’s a business credit card or a personal debit card. After picking an account, the Coin card is swiped just like using any other card.

It may seem a little risky to keep all your financial accounts bound to a single card. However, Parashar and his colleagues have engineered security measures into Coin. All communication between the Coin card, app and servers are heavily encrypted. All your financial information would be secured.

In addition, Coin cards themselves broadcast a low-power Bluetooth signal that detects where your smartphone is. It works on the concept of being on a leash. If you’re walking away from your card and go out of range of the Bluetooth, Coin locks itself from use and your iPhone will then signal you with an alert.

But even if you miss that alert, you don’t have to worry about other people using your card. After a certain period of time (determined by the user), Coin will automatically
deactivate and stop other people from using it.

Coin is currently available for pre-order for $50. It may seem like a hefty price to pay for a lighter wallet, but Coin executives are optimistic.

I see this as a big step forward in mobile payment processing and simplification but believe that the ultimate solution would be for your smart phone to manage and make all your mobile payments as well as manage all the different courtesy and awards cards stores hand out today.

For additional info:
Watch the video on YouTube here:

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