Verizon Moto E 2015 PrePaid

Motorola released the second generation of their Moto E in 2015. I was curious about this device because of its near-stock Android experience. Best Buy has this phone in its prepaid flavor for $69. I thought I would give it a try. The Verizon store also has the device but they will not sell it to you unless you activate it before leaving the store.

Unboxing

The package is simple, nothing fancy. The phone is enclosed in plastic. It comes with a sim card and wall charger. It also comes with a manual and information about the radio frequency. Two things right off the bat I had a hard time with. The first is taking off the plastic screen protector advertises some of the phone’s feature. A trick you can do is peel it from the top where the speaker is. If you try to peel from the bottom left as it suggest, you will have a difficult time. The second is removing the plastic band was a little tricky. Once you remove it though, you will find the sim card slot and the micro SD card slot.

unboxing

Box contents

Hardware

For the price, the phone is a good deal. It has a Snapdragon 400 quad core processor running at 1.2GHz with 1GB of ram. You shouldn’t have issues with basic gaming. It comes with 8GB of storage but approximately 5GB of that is useable. With the microSD slot you can add an additional 32GB of storage. It has a 4.5″ qHD (960×540) with Gorilla Glass 3 display. It also has Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC support.

Software

You get near-stock Android experience. As of May 2015, you get Android Lollipop 5.0.2. Motorola has announced an update to 5.1 soon to be available as an OTA. The latest is 5.1.1, but at least you have a newer version than many expensive flagship phones out there. There are some Motorola apps preinstalled as well as some from Verizon. You can disable them but they still use up storage resources. Based on my searching, this model (XT1528) has a locked bootloader. Hopefully in the future it changes. The phone is also locked to Verizon even though most of the LTE smart phones come unlocked.

Camera

The phone comes with a 5MP camera and 0.3MP front-facing camera. I have taken some shots indoors and the outcome is not that great. At full view, it’s a bit grainy. I’m not sure if I’m just used to view photos taken at higher resolution or I had higher expectations on the camera.

sample1

4.9MP | 2560×1920 | 551KB | f/2.2 | 1/19 | 2.471mm | ISO640

sample2

4.9MP | 2560×1920 | 508.4KB | f/2.2 | 1/30 | 2.471mm | ISO640

The video can capture up to 720p at 30fps.

Conclusion

The phone is affordable and the specs are reasonable for the price. On top of that, I was able to activate as a postpaid device – without waiting for the 6 month period. I just called customer service and provided the IMEI and SIM number.

X99 Desktop

It’s been a couple of years since the last time I built a computer, a hexacare at that. Back in 2013 I built one off the X79 platform. I didn’t want to build off the X99 platform until price on DDR4 has gotten better. But after the holidays, I came upon a few extra bucks so I decided to build one. You can check out my X79 build here. Here are the parts I used for the 2015 X99 build. You can visit my PC Part Picker page. Below I break down the parts I used.

CPU

I was torn between the Z97 and the X99 platform. More particularly, it was between the Intel i7-4790K and the Intel i7-5820K. It was a tough decision since Microcenter is selling the 4790K for $250 while for $50 more, you can get the 5820K. Sounds like a great deal but where the price difference gets offset is the price between DDR3 and DDR4. DDR4 ram is outrageously priced at the moment. Fortunately, there were a few deals going on during this build. So what are the differences between the two processors? Well, below are the differences I considered.

Intel i7-4790K
(1150 Devil’s Canyon)
Intel i7-5820K
(2011-3 Haswell-E)
Base Speed 4GHz 3.3GHz
# of cores 4 6
Cache 8MB 15
TDP 88W 140W
PCIE Lanes 16 28
Memory Channel 2 4

What I listed above are not all the differences, but the ones I considered. You can view the comparison chart from Intel at http://ark.intel.com/compare/80807,82932.

The price difference, number of cores, number of PCIE lanes pretty much solidified my decision to go with the 5820K.

Motherboard

The next part is the motherboard. I originally wanted my next build to be a smaller form factor so I looked into MATX (Micro ATX). Out off all the available motherboards in MATX, ASROCK was the only one (as of January 2015) that has the most features. Asrock has 2 boards – X99M Extreme4 and the Fatal1ty X99M Killer. Compared to the motherboards from other manufacturers, these two from Asrock come with dual gigabit ethernet ports, 10 SATA3 6Gbps ports, and M.2 port.

I chose to go with the Fatal1ty X99M Killer motherboard for two reasons:

  • The Killer NIC is suppose to reduce network latency when gaming. I haven’t experience much lag when gaming so this should improve what I’m already getting from good to better, in theory.
  • I like the color scheme of the motherboard.
Asrock X99M Fatal1ty

Asrock X99M Fatal1ty

Power Supply

Next was the power supply. I wanted to get a larger power supply than what I’ve used in the past. I wanted to get around 1000W just in case I wanted overclock and add more hardware. I had my eye on Corsair. I’ve used many in the past. Not only have they been realible, but they are quiet. I almost settled for the Corsair RM1000 with Gold certification and fully modular. What made me go with the EVGA SuperNOVA 1000W G2 instead is it uses Japanese caps. Surprisingly, the Corsair didn’t. The length of the power supply is longer than the average, so be aware of this when using it in a smaller case.

Memory

I would have loved to go with 32GB quad-channel for the ram but it’s so expensive. I settled with 16GB. I also looked for 2400MHz that can be overclocked a little bit if I wanted to. Originally, I went with the Node 804 case so I had to consider the space between ram with heatsink and the CPU heatsink. I ended up looking for ram without a heatsink. So the ram I went with is the G.Skill F4-2400C15Q-16GNT (4x4GB). I’ve used G.Skill ram often in the past and it works flawlessly.

Heatsink

Ever since I started using closed loop water cooling, I’ve always used Corsair. This time was no exception. I went with the H100i. My previous X79 build I used the H80i. It’s a bit louder for my taste but I’m thinking it may have something to do with the stock fans. This time I swapped out the stock fans with the Noctua NF-S12B. It is an improvement from the stock fans and runs at 1200RPM.

Video Card

I didn’t buy a new video card since my last one still works great. I have an EVGA 03G-P4-3788-KR GTX780 Classified. I took it from my X79 computer and replaced it with a MSI GTX 660 Ti Twin Frozr. This was the upgrade from my old EVGA 470SC. Then I upgrade from the 660 to the 780. Great card overall. Handles all the games I play at ultra settings without any issues. I may skip the 900 series from nVidia and see what AMD will come out for their 300 series cards. I’m also curious about FreeSync. G-Sync is a bit expensive right now. Either way, I’m due for a monitor upgrade soon.

Case

Because I went with a MATX form factor, I also wanted to use a MATX case. I went with the Fractal Design Node 804. This is a cube design case that uses two compartments to separate components. One compartment is where the motherboard sits. You can also mount up to two hard drives on the bottom of the case, below the motherboard. The other side is where the power supply, two drive bays (up to eight 3.5” hard drives), and the cable management. After building inside this case, I ran into some quality control issues. A few screw holes got stripped and the wiring for the power button didn’t work in a consistent matter. I also felt cramped while doing my build so rather than RMA and get the same case, I just returned it for a refund.

Fractal Design Node 804 - Motherboard Side

Fractal Design Node 804 – Motherboard Side

All my components fit. The video card I used is an EVGA GTX780 Classified. As you can see from the picture above that it fits. The Corsair H100i also fits.

I still went with Fractal Design but this time I went with the Define R5. My X79 uses the Define R4 and I loved it. Why not build another one with the newer version of the case. I will post more once I get the R5 and move in.

Seagate RMA Experience 2015

I’ve been using a Seagate STCA4000100 USB3.0 4TB external drive for a few years now. I noticed the transfer speed slowed down to about USB2.0 speed. I plugged it in to different computers, ports, and even bought another cable. It didn’t solve the issue. I ended up contacting Seagate support via email. After a few exchanges in messages, they want me to RMA it and get it replaced. They informed me that the model no longer exist so they’ll be replacing it with the newer version. So I wanted to document my experience with Seagate’s RMA so I can share with others.

2015-02-04

I created a new RMA request found at http://www.seagate.com/support/warranty-and-replacements/. You will need to provide the serial number. This will be checked against their system to see if the product is still under warranty. My warranty doesn’t expire until May 2015.

You will have to chose from three different shipping method.

  1. Standard RMA: You will need to ship the item first and pay shipping to them. They will ship back a replacement at their cost.
  2. Ground Advanced Replacement (US & Canada only): They will ship you the replacement first at their cost. Once you receive it, place the broken drive and ship it back using the same box – so don’t tear it open. Shipping cost will be your responsibility. You will need to provide a valid credit card. A $1 temporary authorization will be placed to ensure the return of the broken hard drive. If not returned in a timely manner, they will charge $200 fee for an asset recovery fee. It’s recommended that you include tracking with your shipping.
  3. Premium Advanced Replacement (US & Canada only): For $9.95, it’s the same as option 2 but faster. The cost to ship back is also included.

You can find more information at http://knowledge.seagate.com/articles/en_US/FAQ/202271en?language=en_US#8. I chose to go with option 2.

2015-02-05

I received an email notification that the label has been created.

I tried to use Seagate Seatools to format the contents of the hard drive, but it only has diagnostic tools. I believe the DOS version has the formatting tools but I didn’t want to go through the hassle. I ended up using my Macbook Pro’s Disk Utility to format the drive. I used the Zero Out Data option – only 1 pass. That format took close to 48 hours. I much prefer to do the 3 pass but I’m sure that would’ve taken several days, probably close to a week. I’m not sure if it’s because it was done on a laptop (late 2011 model with Sandy Bridge i7) or it was on USB2.0 speeds. Although it is 4TB and to write out bit by bit will take a long time.

zero out data

It took close to 48 hours to complete.

2015-02-06

The replacement drive arrived. It came from East Rancho Dominguez, CA. I guess that’s why it arrived so quickly since it’s headed in the same state, so your time of delivery may vary.

safe shipping

Seagate’s packaging with lots of foam.

The drive is packaged well. The inside is fully foamed, even the cables. It came with the AC adapter and USB3.0 cables. The drive is recertified and the model is SRD00F2. It looks like a newer version of what I have – but it’s recertified. I’m assuming this Amazon product is what I got http://www.amazon.com/Seagate-Expansion-Desktop-External-STBV4000100/dp/B00BFFQN3M.

I plugged it in to a USB3.0 and transferred some files to check the speed. This is what transferring in USB3.0 should be like.

usb3 speed

USB3.0 transfer speed

I will be sending off the old drive and updating this post once the next steps happen. So far the experience has been good and no surprises.

HP Stream 7

Over the holidays, Microsoft discounted the HP Stream 7. I was curious about the device, so I picked one up. The hardware itself isn’t that powerful but it matches the budget price.

box contents

Box contents

Hardware

  • 7-inch HD IPS touchscreen 800×1280
  • Intel Atom processor Z3735G
  • 1GB DDR3L-RS 1333 MHz ram
  • 32GB SSD for storage

It doesn’t sound too appealing but for under $100 it hits the spot. The performance itself surprised me. It actually ran quite well. I’ve always stayed away from Atom processors since I messed around with netbooks. The experience with those were just horrible for me. This tablet ran quite well. Navigating around Windows was pleasing and responsive. Where you’ll be reminded about the low-powered processor is during installation of software. Other than that, the experience is great.

tiles

Windows 8.1 with Bing tiles

It has bluetooth capabilities. I have yet to try that out but I’m glad it’s there if I wanted to use bluetooth peripherals.

It has 1 micro USB 2.0 port and a combo port for headphone and microphone. It can connect to 802.11b/g/n with Miracast enabled. You may want to purchase an OTG adapter if you want to play around with other peripherals. I purchased mine from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GM0OZ4O.

OTG cable

OTG cable

You can use MicroSD cards to add storage space. It is found inside by removing the back panel.

back panel

Back panel
SD card slot

SD card slot

The tablet can be charged via micro USB port. I really love devices with this port because cables are easy to replace and are inexpensive. The cables are included but if you lose them or forget them, I’m sure you have other devices that use the same cable.

Software

The tablet is running Windows 8.1 with Bing at 32bit. It is a full version of Windows 8.1 but notice the reference of Bing in the name. From what I’ve read, this is how Microsoft is able to compete in the low-cost device game. This version of Windows is provided as a free license to OEM manufacturers for devices that are sold under $250. You can read more about it at http://www.howtogeek.com/195934/what-exactly-is-windows-8.1-with-bing-do-i-have-to-use-bing/.

windows 8.1 with bing

Windows 8.1 with Bing can run in landscape
windows 8.1 with bing

Windows 8.1 with Bing can run in portrait

Conclusion

Overall, if you’re looking for an inexpensive device that runs Windows, this could be a winner. Don’t expect to do more than web browsing and some light Office documents. If you’re a student or faculty, you may even get additional discounts off the price. On top of that, you get 1 year of Office 365 access. That alone is valued at about $70. Not a bad package for MSRP of $99.

No restore media is included. There is a hidden partition for restoration. If you want to back that up onto an external media, this is where the OTG cable comes in. Because of the absense of a USB port, OTG will allow you to gain access to one. It’s basically a micro USB to USB adapter. You will need at least 8GB to back up the partition. To be safe, just use a 16GB.

I would like to mess with the OS more. I want to install Windows 10 tech preview and try to dual boot with Ubuntu. Or even wipe out the drive and just run Ubuntu. I’ll post my results once I start messing with it. Right now I’m having issues backing up/restoring the factory defaults. I’d like to ensure this is possible just in case I had to revert back to its original condition.

iPhone 6Plus

I finally was able to pick up a brand new 64GB iPhone 6 Plus off contract and wow it’s pricey. I don’t like contracts, so I have to pay the price. This time I opted to go with a larger 64GB capacity. I filled up my 16GB iPhone 5S quickly with media and apps. I started to hate the experience after that. It’s good that Apple got rid of the 32GB model and replaced it with the 64GB. Overall, the experience on iOS 8.1.2 hasn’t been to bad, nor has the transition from Android 4.4.2 (for a few months) wasn’t difficult either.

What about that size?

I could have gone with the regular iPhone 6 with a larger screen size than my old iPhone 5S but there were features I was after that the 6 Plus had.

  • I wanted 5.5” display size versus 4.7”. I didn’t want a smaller screen coming from the LG G3.
  • I wanted a 1080 (401 ppi vs 326 ppi) display.
  • I wanted the optical image stabilization.
  • Larger battery – 2915 mAh vs 1810 mAh.
  • Landscape mode!

landscape mode

Landscape mode

The size itself isn’t that bad. I’ve always preferred larger phones, as long as it fits my pocket. I didn’t mind. Except for the iPhone 5S, the last few phones I’ve had have been generally big during its release.

  • HTC Sensation 4G – 4.3”
  • Samsung Nexus – 4.65”
  • Samsung Note 2 – 5.5”
  • Apple 5S – 4”
  • LG G3 – 5.5”

For the a over 3 years now, I’ve been using smart phones that have larger than 4” display. So it’s nothing new. I enjoy the larger screen. I spend more time digesting content on my phone, than actually making phone calls. If I do make phone calls, I usually use a bluetooth headset. Also, this phone is thin. I did buy a case that bulked it up again but I’m more concerned about protecting the phone and keeping it in good, functioning conditions. I’ve seen too many iPhones with cracked screens.

iphone 6 plus without case

iPhone 6 Plus before I installed the case.

iphone 6 plus with case

iPhone 6 Plus after I installed the case.

Same old camera?

Many may think it’s the same 8MP camera. Many also believe that the higher the megapixel, the better. It’s true to an extent. Even though the 5S, 6, and 6 Plus have 8MP camera, the 6 Plus is the only one with optical image stabilization (OIS). This enables the phone for faster focusing and less chances to have blurry photos. On top of that, it’s hardware, not software. With OIS, low lit photos come out better. We were in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. I had my LG G3 (13MP) and Abby had her iPhone 6 Plus (8MP). We took some photos at night and the experience and results were far better with the 6 Plus over the G3. This was one huge reason why I left Android once again. Her iPhone 6 Plus focused a lot quicker and the noise (ISO level) weren’t as apparent as the G3 photos. I’ve always been impressed with the iPhone’s photo taking capability and now this solidifies it even more. Unless you plan on printing poster size photos, 8MP is plenty specially on an iPhone. Besides, you’d want to use a camera not a camera phone for that.

Video recording

The iPhone, from my experience, has always given me great results with taking video. It’s amazing that a phone can do such good quality. What I’m excited about is the addition of slow motion video capture. It can capture up to 240fps. I’ve had such a great time with it and I find myself shooting videos I don’t normally do in slow motion.

iOS 8.1.2

At the time of writing this, I’m currently using iOS 8.1.2. It’s been stable compared to the horror stories I’ve read online with iOS 8. I guess they worked out a lot of the major bugs now. I did notice a little lag when waking it up after not using it for awhile. The Reachability (one-handed mode) is a nice touch, though I haven’t used it yet. You access it by double-pressing the home button. It moves the screen to the bottom half of the phone so that you can navigate around the phone with one hand.

reachability

Reachability helps with the bigger iPhone.

Siri

I have noticed Siri being more sensitive. I find myself repeating commands less. The text also appears as you are giving it commands. Another new feature found in iOS 8 is the ability to access Siri by saying “Hey Siri” while it’s plugged in. It doesn’t matter if the screen is off or on. Neat feature that Google has had but now is on iPhones. So far I’ve had mixed experiences. It’s a very quick way to set alarms and reminders accross the room. I just can’t seem to get it to work after successfully doing the first command.

Conclusion

I’ve had the iPhone 6 Plus for a few months now and have been happy with it. Going for the larger capacity is a great decision but cost a lot. The investment is worth it I may have to consider purchasing iCloud. I have been taking more photos and videos and the free 5GB is nearing capacity. Starting at $.99 per month, it seems like a good deal. I could also use Google+ app and store it in my Google account or use Amazon (free storage for Prime members). But for the price, the integration is cleaner.

I have noticed some lag when turning on my phone from standby. Also, with the Verizon network, you still can’t be on a call and browse the internet.

no talk and surf

No talk and surf…

You can enable VoLTE (Voice over LTE) which supposedly allows talk and surf. You can enable it in your settings.

enable VoLTE

Enable VoLTE in your settings.

I have found it to not be available in many areas yet. I hope the coverage improves. It really limits the smart phone’s capability. This didn’t happen when I was using an Android powered phone on the Verizon network. I have also heard from iPhone users with AT&T and T-Mobile that they don’t experience as of late.

If you’re curious about the case, I got it from Amazon. It’s by Cineyo. It protects well and has a kickstand. It’s a nice case but it does make the phone bigger than it already is. You can get it fromhttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QH2D0J8. It comes with a cheap screen protector that does what it’s supposed to do (I’ve had better – has bubbles) and a stylus (I don’t use it).

case with kickstand

My case with a kickstand. It makes the phone bigger than it already is.

Going back to iOS

In just three months of using Android from iOS, I couldn’t wait to go back to iOS. I’ve been getting a lot of “I told you so” from friends because I went back to Android a few months ago and now I’m back to iOS. Like I said, I am a curious person and from time to time I bounce between the two to see what I’m missing. But my Android experience this time was a bit different. You can read about my LG G3 review here.

First of I’d like to address the limitations that iOS had that made me switch to Android and the solutions I came up with.

  • The bandwidth caps that most cell phone providers give their customers are horrible and doesn’t promote the use of the internet – unless you pay additional cost. I came up with a way to download content locally on to my device before leaving home so that I can access them when away without impacting my bandwidth limitation. In iOS, you are restricted to only using iTunes. It’s a pain and it will only work on one computer – and I use at least two on a daily basis. Solution: Currently we are using 4GB shared between two phones. We easily hit that every month. For $10 more per month, we can increase it to 6GB. Rather than add to an already expensive bill, we chose to watch our use. Recently, Verizon had updated their bandwidth tiers. Instead of increasing our cap by 2GB for an additional $10 per month, they increased it to a total of 10GB. For the situation, I guess this is a reasonable solution and we'll be considering it. I'd rather have unlimited bandwidth but that's another story.
  • For a user like myself, 16GB is no longer ideal. It is very expensive to purchase a larger capacity iPhone.Solution: Starting with the iPhone 6, Apple no longer has a 32GB model. It is now 16GB then it jumps to 64GB. I STFU, ate the additional cost, and got a device that fits my storage needs, haha. If it's truly an important, you have to shell out money.
  • Google Now actually bothered me more than I thought it would. I got mixed feelings using it. Sometimes it was helpful, other times it was creepy.
  • Verizon network still won’t allow data consumption while on the phone, unless you use VoLTE.
  • Multitasking is still limited in iOS, if not nonexistent.
  • Transferring files between devices is still limited. Although with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, you can useContinuity and Air Drop. Unfortunately, it’s only compatible with devices that have bluetooth 4.0 (2012 or newer – my Macbook Pro is late 2011). I can swap out the bluetooth card out of my MBP. The part cost around $70 but I’ll see if it’s worth doing. Some of the capabilities are still there like Messages integration, answering phone calls – those kinds of things.

I’m going to miss having a smart watch. It’s not perfect but it had the “cool” factor for me. Plus I still catch myself checking my regular watch whenever I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket. I gotten used to it. At this time, I don’t think I’ll be in line or pre-ordering the Apple Watch. Smart watches are great but for the price, it doesn’t do enough. I’ve already sold my Moto 360 so that’s a good thing. I returned the Nexus 9. All that’s left is to sell myLG G3 and I won’t have any Android powered device. I’ll still have a Chromebook though.

Stay tuned. I will have a review of the iPhone 6 Plus that I just picked up.

iPhone 6 Plus VS LG G3

The iPhone 6 Plus will be replacing my LG G3 as my daily driver.

Amazon FireTV Stick

So I recently got an Amazon FireTV Stick. Actually, I got a few of them. Amazon had a really good deal for Prime members, 50% off for preordering it. My whole goal is to find the most flexible, compatible, and inexpensive solution to use throughout every television in the house. This might be it.

Upon opening the box, you will find the device, a micro USB cable, and AC adapter. If the USB port on your TV is powerful enough to provide power to the FireTV Stick, you don’t need to use the AC adapter. If you go this route, you will see a warning that it is recommended to use the AC adapter so that it’s always on and receive updates.

The first time I started up the device (USB powered), I ran into a few problems. It wanted me to log in using my Amazon account but it kept rejecting my credentials. I contacted Amazon support for FireTV Stick. I was only on hold for under five minutes. It turns out, the device needed to be updated. There are some bugs associated with my issue but since it wasn’t using the AC adapter, it didn’t install any updates, even though it checked for updates prior to me entering my Amazon account credentials. So I unplugged everything for a minute and used the AC adapter. This time, it found updates and installed it. After it restarted, I was able to log in with my account.

When you first log in and turn on your Amazon FireTV Stick, it will play an introduction video. You cannot skip the video. It’s kind of annoying and I hope there’s an update that will allow you to skip it in the future.

With kids in the house and having them “accidentally” purchasing apps on our smart phones, I decided to use the parental controls feature. Enabling this, you will need to enter the five digit code set in your Amazon instant video account. If you forgot the pin, you can visit http://amazon.com/PIN and reset it. This pin will be used throughout the environment from viewing content to installing apps – even if it’s free. One of the surprising apps it wanted me to enter a pin is the NBA Gamete app. I guess it’s because of the app rating system.

The only thing you’re able to do is watch off Amazon’s streaming service. For Amazon Prime members, you will be able to access the library included with the service. You can also rent and purchase digital content off Amazon. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, the FireTV Stick comes with 30 days trial. You can also use other providers like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Youtube, Showtime Anytime, and others. I was surprised and disappointed to not find HBO Go. Unsurprisingly, you will not find any Google Play services. For local network content there isPlex support as well. I haven’t tried this yet since I haven’t fully moved to Plex. Many of my media is still usingXBMC (now Kodi). I’ve had issues with Plex transcoding many of my files. These services come in a form of apps. Just install from the list. They should be free. Hopefully, they will add support for HBO Go in the future. I won’t hold my breath on Google Play services – it would be great though.

One thing I noticed is the keyboard layout. When you first turn on the device and enter your Amazon credentials, it is using a keyboard where the keys are in alphabetical order. But when entering account credentials within apps, it will use QWERTY. It’s a minor thing that many may not even notice, but I wanted to bring it up. It may change in future updates if Amazon cared about consistency.

Also, I would review the default settings. Here’s a couple of things to check out.

  • By default “Collect App Usage Data” is on. You can change it under Settings > Applications.
  • In-App purchases are on. You can change it under Settings > Applications > Appstore.
  • The software version during this post is 54.1.0.1.

Here is a list of why the Amazon FireTV Stick has an advatage over Google Chromecast.

  • No need to look for a device to stream from. This is great considering it supports HBO Go. It’s even more flexible with the Chrome browser on your computer since it can stream anything that can be played within the browser. I just didn’t like how unnatural it is. I prefer to have a device that’s a bit more capable without being dependent on another device.
  • The remote control for the FireTV Stick gives it a more natural feeling.
  • It is slightly more expensive but hardware is slightly better (wifi antenna, cpu, and ram). Which is why it is not a streaming device and can work on its own.

CNET has a quick comparison between the Google Chromecast, Amazon FireTV Stick, and Roku Streaming Stick. It also has a nice chart outlining the available service support.

For streaming content at home, I have an Apple TV2, a couple of Google Chromecast devices, a few Amazon FireTV Stick devices, an Amazon FireTV, and a Roku2 😄. I also have a media server running via DLNA. I have yet to find the perfect platform where it has all the services. I also haven’t figure out if I were to go pure digital, which service provider should I buy digital content from. For instance, if I wanted to purchase a license for a movie, should I buy from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play? It’s unfortunate that consumers have to play this game – which is why I haven’t moved toward purchasing digital copies of media yet. I still go the store and buy discs. I am glad that Ultraviolet digital copies come with many movies and hopefully that content is accessible outside of a computer.

With the smaller form factor like we see with the FireTV Stick and its lower price tag, I don’t see why you shouldn’t have at least 1 of the 3 (Google, Amazon, Roku) devices to increase accessibility at home. It is somewhat inconvenient but it increases assurance of compatibility.

DSC08120

FireTV Stick Box
DSC08121

FireTV Stick and remote control
DSC08122

Box contents
DSC08123

Chromecast next FireTV Stick