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    by Published on 08-30-2016 03:18 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Satellite

    All of a sudden talking is big. We've reached this critical mass with Alexa, Google, Siri, Cortana, and all those other voice-command bots that it seems like talking to your mobile device has become the norm. It's funny because we talk to people less than ever, preferring to text or use social media to communicate with our fellow humans.

    Voice control may be the new hotness everywhere else, but it's old hat to DIRECTV. You may not have realized it, but you've been able to use voice search for your satellite system for years! I first blogged about it back in 2013, and if you haven't seen our full review, it's worth a look.

    All you need is your cell phone, the DIRECTV app for smartphones, and a networked DIRECTV receiver. You probably already have all those things. You can search using your TV screen, you can even change channels by voice. That's more than you can do with most voice control systems.

    I don't use this feature much, but when I am doing a lot of searching, I use it heavily especially since my streaming box has a similar feature. I find it incredibly useful.
    by Published on 08-29-2016 12:53 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Satellite

    It's... well, it's nothing really. Actually that's kind of mean. If you go into the DIRECTV Menu, you find a menu called "Extras" which is mostly a graveyard of previously interesting stuff. You can get to TV Apps from there (but it's easier to just press the right arrow on the remote) and there's Pandora, which is great if you haven't moved over to Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, or something else. Then... you get the Active screen which, I have to be honest, hasn't seen an update since about 2008. TVApps have sort of taken its place.

    And then, there's Showroom. There was a time when DIRECTV used to actively solicit advertising through the use of "Showroom" videos. This practice started with TiVos in the early 2000s; the DVR recorded or downloaded some advertising content which was there if you were really bored. It was a nice idea and occasionally you could see bonus content from your favorite movies and such. But keep in mind these were the days before YouTube, before any sort of streaming video really, and this was more of a novelty than a genuine advertising opportunity.

    If you press {SELECT} on Showroom, you may see a few short videos that are there from advertisers. I just tried it and there wasn't any content. DIRECTV doesn't look for advertising this way much anymore, it seems, and that makes sense now that they can put targeted ads right in your favorite programs. That's right, the commercials you see may not be the same as your neighbor's; the DVR is smart enough to figure out what's interesting to you and insert those commercials instead of the more generic ones seen by people nationwide. It's far more effective than relying on people to find the Showroom menu.
    by Published on 08-28-2016 03:07 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Cell Phones
    Article Preview


    Rather than save the suspense for later in the article, let's get this one out there right now. Those little gold stickers don't do anything. In fact, it's a real problem for the cell booster industry. Too many people have been turned off by those little gold stickers to believe that there ...
    by Published on 08-27-2016 10:59 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Satellite

    Futureproof is good, but it's not always the way to go. You may be tempted to use DIRECTV's C61K 4K Genie Mini Client with a non-4K TV so that you won't need to replace it. I'll tell you, the C61K works almost as well with an HDTV as it works with a 4K TV. I have personally confirmed this. However, there are some issues that may be long-term or may simply be due to the fairly early build level of the software that runs it.

    When starting up, I got a message about 50% of the time that this was a non-4K TV and that 4K wasn't supported. Well, duh. But at any rate I had to choose "Try again" from a very sparse menu in order to get to live TV.

    Obviously, I was not able to select 2160p as a resolution and 4K content wouldn't play due to HDCP (content protection) issues. So your hopes of buying a 4K pay-per-view and having it display on other TVs in non-4K resolution are basically dashed. It does not downsample 4K programming; it just ignores it.

    Folks, I wouldn't do this. If you're going to go 4K, get the client and the TV at the same time. If you need to add a client today, add an HD Genie Mini Client instead and upgrade the system to 4K with a new client when you need it. The 4K Genie Mini is larger, uses more energy, and it's just not designed for HD use. It's just not the right way to go.
    by Published on 08-26-2016 02:49 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Misc. Gadgets

    If you didn't catch this a while back when it made the rounds of the tech blogs, check it out because it's still pretty amazing. It may be low on plot, but this cartoon, simply produced, is so small it had to be magnified 100 million times in order to be seen.

    IBM scientists working on "atomic-level memory" moved individual carbon monoxide molecules one at a time to create each frame. Each do you see is a single molecule. How crazy is that?

    The idea is that if this technique becomes viable, computer chips will be made with pathways only a single molecule thick. Even today's smallest chips are thousands of times larger that that. We're talking about making computers 10,000 times smaller than they are, or the same size computer 10,000 times more powerful. It's insane.

    And it all started with a cartoon.
    by Published on 08-26-2016 02:19 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Satellite,
    3. Data/Networks,
    4. Online/MobileTV
    Article Preview

    If you live where internet speeds are slow, you spend every day just longing for something better. You see your friends streaming Netflix in 4K or sharing large files easily. It's a drag. But hey, you've got DIRECTV, the best quality and best selection in home entertainment, so you're still doing ok. You're aware that DIRECTV has ...
    by Published on 08-25-2016 03:21 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. TV Antennas
    Article Preview

    Can you get 4K reception with today’s TV antennas? As with most things in life, the answer is yes and no.

    As a cord-cutter, you’ve probably already heard about 4K or Ultra HD programming. Someone told you that it offers four times the resolution and picture quality as traditional HD. It delivers this quality due to a superiority ...

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