May 5, 2018

The 10 Best Free Movie Streaming Sites

Although streaming movies for free might sound synonymous with piracy, there’s a bevy of free, legal streaming content on the internet. In fact, there’s almost an overabundance of streaming services.
Whether you’re looking for movies or television shows, finding streaming video is totally feasible. It just requires you to search in the right places. With that in mind, here are the best free movie streaming sites to check out.

What to Expect From These Streaming Sites

There’s a ton of free and legal video online, and as such you’ll find a real mix of content. A healthy portion of the movies available to stream for free are public domain works. Because these films have lapsed in ownership and fallen into common property, many sites host such video treasures. These are the sorts of films Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) used to watch and comment on.
Yes, You CAN Watch TV Online Legally & For Free Yes, You CAN Watch TV Online Legally & For FreeEveryone knows that there are lots of illegal ways to watch your favorite shows online, but there are also plenty of perfectly legal (and free) ways. Here are some of the best... Read MoreBut it’s not just B-movies available to stream online. Rather, many big budget releases can also be found. Often, these are ad-supported. Like watching a movie on television, you’ll have to sit through limited commercials. Nevertheless, movies are usually presented uncut. Just don’t expect to see the latest releases.
Instead, you’ll mostly see movies dating back anywhere from a few months to many years. Additionally, you can find some original productions, such as the Snatch TV series on Crackle. Need help figuring out what to watch next? These sites will help you find what to watch next.
5 Sites to Find Anything Shown in Movies and TV Shows 5 Sites to Find Anything Shown in Movies and TV Shows Movies and TV shows have a big impact on what we like. They go beyond product placements. If you saw something in a movie or a TV show, you'll find it on these sites. Read More

1. YouTube

The Best Free Movie Streaming Sites - YouTube
It’s no surprise that YouTube ranks among the best free movie streaming sites you can find. There’s a ton of free films to pick from, including many public domain films from channels such as the aptly titled Public Domain Films and Public Domain Cinema. Furthermore, sites such as Popcornflix host full movies via YouTube.
There’s a fantastic mix, from gems like Plan 9 From Outer Space, to action movies such as Recoil with Danny Trejo and Steven Austin, cult classics including Curse of the Puppet Master, and more. You may have to dig for what you most want to watch, but for those with patience, YouTube is a treasure trove of free, legal streaming cinema.

2. Crackle

The Best Free Movie Streaming Sites - Crackle
Boasting a solid array of syndicated content and original productions, Crackle is a must for any film buff. Its rotating selection varies, but you’ll find quality movies such as action comedy Hot Fuzz, gothic horror flick Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the masterful 1988 remake of The Blob, Rodney Dangerfield comedy Back to School, and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Aside from films, Crackle features television shows such as Blue Exorcist, Seinfeld, and even original programming like its Snatch original series. With its robust lineup of movies and shows, we think Crackle is one of the best free Roku channels.
The 20 Best Free Roku Channels You Shouldn't Miss The 20 Best Free Roku Channels You Shouldn't Miss Having already recommended the best private Roku channels for you to install, here is our pick of the best public Roku channels you really shouldn't miss. And even better, they're all free. Read More

3. Viewster

The Best Free Movie Streaming Sites - Viewster
Although it’s anime-centric, there’s a mix of movies you can find on Viewster. Notably, Viewster features a robust line up of documentaries, films like Street Fighter II, and Lily C.A.T. Plus, you can legally stream shorts and television series including Murder Princess.

4. Vudu Movies on Us

The Best Free Movie Streaming Sites - Vudu Movies on Us
While Vudu is best known for its digital video rentals and sales, the Vudu Movies on Us section makes it one of the best free movie streaming sites. With a comprehensive array of movies such as Bull Durham, Showgirls, and Return of the Living Dead, it’s a fantastic service.
Vudu Movies on Us operates in a similar way to Crackle by providing full, uncut movies with limited commercials. Through hosting films with ads, Vudu is able to offer free movies and TV shows.
You still need to register for a Vudu account to use this service, but it’s totally worth doing so. Moreover, you can use your account to activate digital copies of movies and shows, as well as buy and rent movies from Vudu.
Vudu: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started Vudu: Everything You Need to Know to Get StartedVudu is a streaming service you have probably heard of, but maybe never used. In this article we'll explain what Vudu is and help you get more out of it. Read More

5. SnagFilms

The Best Free Movie Streaming Sites - SnagFilms
For a free Netflix alternative, check out SnagFilms. With unique categories such as “Before they were stars” and “Athletes & their triumphs,” SnagFilms specializes in fresh content. The library of more than 2,000 videos includes films, shows, and documentaries. Additionally, there’s a portion of original comedy shorts.
There’s a fantastic classic movies category as well. Don’t expect a ton of well-known fare, but for under the radar movies and more, SnagFilms is a gem.

6. PopcornFlix

The Best Free Movie Streaming Sites - Popcornflix
Like Crackle, PopcornFlix presents full movies with limited ads. Here, you’ll find a range of movies in a rotating selection, from Sunset Boulevard and A Clear and Present Danger to Murder on the Orient Express and There Will Be Blood.
Flicks are segmented into categories such as popularity, genre, new arrivals, and staff picks, making PopcornFlix easy to use. With a beefy lineup and excellent navigation, PopcornFlix is an awesome choice for free, legal movie streaming.

7. Tubi TV

The Best Free Movie Streaming Sites - Tubi TV
Providing free movies and shows, Tubi TV is a fantastic service. Here, you’ll be able to view newer movies including Lords of Salem, A Most Wanted Man, and Bulletproof Monk, as well as older titles such as sci-fi cult classic The Running Man.
Helpfully, Tubi TV offers a “Leaving Soon” category so you can stream movies and shows before they become unavailable, and thus prioritize your streaming queue. You will need to register to watch mature content, but creating an account is painless enough.

8. Pluto TV

The Best Free Movie Streaming Sites - Pluto TV
Because Pluto TV features a live TV section, it’s easily one of the best free movie streaming sites. You can stream from the likes of Pluto Movies, Fox Sports, and specialized channels like Classic Movies and Horror 24/7. Plus, there’s an on-demand video library for instant movie watching.
With the live television aspect, Pluto TV is a must-have for cord-cutters.

9. Classic Cinema Online

The Best Free Movie Streaming Sites - Classic Cinema Online
As the name suggests, Classic Cinema Online focuses on older, classic content. Even its website aesthetic captures a decidedly retro vibe with a backdrop of red theater curtains. You can find classics such as Casablanca, Jane Eyre, and The Wasp Woman.
However, the inclusion of movies such as Muscle Beach Party does call into question the definition of “classic cinema.” Nevertheless, Classic Cinema Online is pure gold for old school movies.

10. Veoh

The Best Free Movie Streaming Sites - Veoh
On Veoh, you’ll be able to stream tons of movies and shows. There are a lot of older films, such as Nosferatu. It’s akin to YouTube in that Veoh hosts user-submitted content and videos from established sources like CBS.
Since Veoh boasts a solid filtering system, you can select options such as language and video length to find what you want to watch. Veoh ranks as one of the alternatives to YouTube. Just beware of the popups.
10 Video Sites That Are Better Than YouTube 10 Video Sites That Are Better Than YouTube Here are 10 great alternatives to YouTube, although the "better than" is obviously open to debate... Read More

You Just Need to Know Where to Look

If you know where to look, you can find loads of sites for (legal) free movie streaming. And if you’re looking to watch on something other than your computer these are the best media streaming devices worth considering.
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January 19, 2018

10 Best And Free Media Players For Windows PC (2018 Edition)

Which is the best media player for Windows PC — If you’re looking for this question’s answer, you’re at the right place. Apart from being a feature-rich software, a media player also needs to be simple, intuitive, and lightweight. If we take these factors into account, players like VLC, GOM, Media Player Classic, etc. are recommended. But, what about their features?
As there are tons of software available for Microsoft Windows platform, choosing the right one for your computer isn’t an easy task. Also, with the increasing number of newer media formats, not all free media players are capable of running all popular file formats like MKV, FLV, AVI, MP4, MOV, etc. That’s why very often people send us emails asking the question “Which is the best media player for Windows?” This has prompted me to prepare a list of the best free media players for Windows operating system. You can also check our previous lists of top video players for Android and Linux.
Apart from being a free video media player, it should also be lightweight to make sure that your multitasking doesn’t take a hit while watching movies and TV shows. So, let’s take a look at different options and help you make the best possible decision:

10 Best Media Players for Windows

1. VLC Media Player

best media player
VLC media player
Whenever we start any discussion of the best media players and how great they are, the name VLC automatically comes at the top. But, why is it so? What’s the reason behind its massive popularity? VLC Media Player is a free and open-source media player that’s available for all popular platforms. Created by the VideoLAN project, VLC Media Player is known to support a vast number of audio and video compression methods and file formats. Over the years, VLC has earned the reputation of being the “play everything” video player. VLC has also inspired the development of many other media players with the same focus.
VLC is one of the best PC media players due to its fast and simple nature that doesn’t involve any painstaking steps. The software also features different customization options that can help you improve your viewing experience and change the look of the player. It’s also often used a streaming media player. Being an open source media player, you are free to examine its source code. This amazing Windows Media Player alternative also receives frequent updates and has a large user community. It runs on all Windows versions, from Windows 10 to Windows XP SP3. From time-to-time, this free movie player keeps receiving new features and updates. It’s my de-facto choice for fulfilling all media playback needs. You can also check out our dedicated article on VLC tricks.
Supported Platforms: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP
– VLC Media Player website


2. PotPlayer

best media player
Pot Player in action
Competing with other video players like VLC, PotPlayer has managed to earn a good reputation in the recent times. This multimedia software for Windows platform has been developed by South Korean internet company named Kakao. PotPlayer has tons of features and specialties that can easily give VLC a run for its money. This recommended media player comes with a wide range of customization options that allow you to make this software fit for your needs. Using the techniques like CUDA, QuickSync, and DXVA, PotPlayer is able to deliver maximum performance and a lightweight experience. That’s why PotPlayer is the second best media player on the list.
Compared to VLC, PotPlayer might be less popular but it supports even more file types. It goes without saying that it’s a great player for MP4/FLV/AVI/MKV files, which are very common. You have the option to make a choice between sound cards, bookmark your favorite scenes and preview them, etc. You also get filters for brightness, contrast, hue, noise reduction, etc. It also comes with lots of built-in keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys. But, what makes VLC more popular than PotPlayer? Well, for most of the users, the long list of features and settings might be just too much. Also, PotPlayer is limited to Windows. Overall, PotPlayer is one of best media players around if you want to ditch VLC Media Player.
Supported Platforms: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP
– PotPlayer website


3. KMPlayer

best media player
KM Player
KMPlayer is another great and free Windows 10 media player that possesses the ability to play almost all mainstream video and audio files. As it has an inbuilt codec for Windows 10, the users don’t need to look for any different codec. To increase its compatibility even further, you can add external codecs. With the support for 3D, 4K, UHD support, the users can enjoy high definition videos on your devices.
KMPlayer is also known for its wide range of support for formats. The users have lots of choices when it comes to audio and video effects which makes sure that you don’t feed the dearth of any feature or support. You can choose the parts of videos as favorites, make them repeat, remap the keys for remote interface, etc. You also get the feature of editing subtitles right inside the player. First released in 2002, KMPlayer free media player was acquired by a Korean streaming company Pandora TV in 2007.
Supported Platforms: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP
– KMPlayer website


4. Media Player Classic – Home Cinema


best media player
MPC-HC for Windows
Just like its name signifies, Media Player Classic is a classic media player that was bound to be featured on our list of best media players. Build after the halted development of the original Media Player Classic, the Home Cinema version is an effort made by the community of its fans. Together, the developers have improved the older version and made a speedy and lightweight software. The other fork of the original Media Player Classic is the Black Edition. If we compare both of them, Home Cinema ranks better and keeps improving its feature set to rank among the best media players.
Talking about all the fancy features, just like other software on this list, Media Player Classic doesn’t come loaded. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to disappoint you. This free multimedia player can be used even on your old computer without any hassle. Media Player Classic is a great Windows 10 Media Player alternative and it also features a DVD player software on Windows 10, subtitle download option, Skype integration, etc.
Supported Platforms: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP
– MPC-HC website


5. ACG Player


best media player
ACG player for Windows 10
If you’re looking for a UWP media player app for Windows 10 that’s clean looking, it’s time to stop your search becauase ACG Player could be your final choice. It’s a lightweight media player that has all the essential features like audio and video effects, music visualizer, art font subtitle, gesture control, background music. etc. ACG Player supports most media codecs out-of-the-box and follows no-nonsense policy. It also supports playback from external devices, files, and discs. An even more lightweight version of ACG Player is available in the form of Ax-Lite, which is its faster version without some features. Do give it a try for its clean and zippy interface.
Supported Platforms: Windows 10
– ACG Player website


6. GOM Media Player


best media player
GOM Player
GOM Player, or Gretech Online Movie Player, is a completely free Windows media player alternative that comes with inbuilt support for the most popular video and audio formats. That means it can play all the most popular video formats like AVI, MKV, MP4, FLV, MOV, etc. Apart from the basic functionalities that come loaded with other popular PC media players, GOM Player comes with lots of advanced features like A-B repeat, Media Player Capture, speed control, audio and video effects, screen capture, etc. It also gives you the choice to change skins and make the whole look of GOM Player highly customized.
Using GOM’s own library, you can download lots of subtitles and enjoy movies and TV shows in your preferred language. You can also link this awesome media player for PCs with the vast database of It could be possible that this media player software might not support some uncommon types. For that scenarios, GOM Player’s Codec Finder service will let you search for the missing codec. GOM Player for Windows supports a wide range of operating systems, ranging from Windows 10 to Windows XP SP3.
Supported Platforms: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7
– GOM Player website


7. DivX Player


best media player
DivX Player
The #7 entry on our list of best media players is DivX Player for Windows. It calls itself the first of its kind media player that offers free HEVC playback. With this popular and useful media player, you can also enjoy UltraHD (4K) playback. It goes without saying that DivX player is optimized for played video files in the most popular formats like MP4, MKV, DivX, and AVI. DivX also acts as a streaming media player that lets you stream music, video, and photos to any DLNA-compatible device.
DivX player also comes with advanced features like Trick Play, which lets you jump to your favorite scenes easily. With the support for Chapter Points, you can simply play different scenes. Its smart media library keeps track of the purchased as well as private video content. The support for multiple audio means that you can switch among different soundtracks without hassle. With its Resume Play feature, you can simply jump to the point where you left off.
Supported Platforms: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP
– DivX Player website


8. Kodi


best media player
Kodi for Windows
Kodi, formerly called XBMC, is a free and open source media player. It’s a highly customizable media player that you can use on your laptop or desktop to get a media center experience. Just in case you’re missing Windows Media Center on Windows 10, Kodi is a great alternative. This contender for the top media player for streaming content is even better if you’re using it with an external, larger display because of its 10-foot user interface. In the recent past, Kodi has been in the headlines due to pre-loaded Kodi boxes and add-ons that support piracy.
Kodi plays almost all popular video and music formats, podcasts, and other digital media stored locally or on the internet. Initially, Kodi was independently developed and called Xbox Media Center for the 1st gen Xbox gaming console. This recommended media player also has plug-ins that can be used to expand its features and include functionalities like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Veoh, etc. Kodi’s source code is open source and developed by a global community of unpaid volunteers.
Supported Platforms: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7
– Kodi website


9. Plex


best media player
Back in 2015, Plex made a big change and replaced their Plex Home Theater with its new Plex Media Player. Plex lets you easily take care of your large media collection, which can include anything like videos, TV shows, movies, photos, personal videos and music, etc. It organizes your collections and makes it look great. With its easy-share nature, you can pick and choose what to make public and give your family access.
It supports almost all file types, including hi-fi music and video formats. As it’s Chromecast supported, you can cast the videos on your larger TV screen. You can also use the Plex app on your phone or tablet to take control of your player. Use this app to streamline your video content library and get the advantage of a feature-rich video media player as well.
Supported Platforms: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7
– Plex website


10. 5KPlayer

5KPlayer for Windows
5KPlayer for Windows
5KPlayer, the final entry on the list of recommended Windows media players, is a top-rated video player for Windows 10 as it’s extremely compatible. It claims to play almost all kinds of videos and music without any plug-ins, and it actually delivers. Its interface is very clean and simple. It’s also known for its more streaming options. 5KPlayer also lets you import videos and music from websites like YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, MTV, etc. It goes without saying that it’s compatible with common formats like MP4, MOV, M4V, MP3, AAC, etc.5KPlayer
Supported Platforms: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7
– 5KPlayer website

So, which free media player is best in your eyes? Which one do you use to enjoy movies and other media content? Don’t forget to share your views and become a part of the discussion.


Another article:

The 5 Best Free Music Players For Windows

Joel Lee. These days, I mostly stick to Spotify for streaming my favorite music and Pandora for discovering new music. Gone are the days of downloading gigabytes of data and trying to fit them all on a device. Now I can just listen to whatever I want, wherever I want, as long as I have a Wi-Fi connection. This Smart Trick Keeps Your Pandora Stations Fresh This Smart Trick Keeps Your Pandora Stations Fresh Pandora is a great music service, but sometimes your stations get a little stale. Here's an easy way to improve them without any effort. Read More
But there are benefits to downloading music instead. The best one? Being able to play music even when you don’t have internet access. You also only need to download songs once (which preserves bandwidth) and you can keep your music forever (as long as you don’t delete any of it).
If you’re going that route, you now have a decision to make: which music player are you going to use? Truthfully, there are a lot of great ones out there, but here are the ones we’ve found to be the best.

1. foobar2000


As far as I’m concerned, foobar2000 is one of the wonders of Windows. It launched way back in 2002, making it one of the oldest surviving apps that people still recognize. And in all that time, it has avoided the biggest mistakes that most apps make: losing focus, becoming bloated, and not staying relevant.

The 5 Best Free Music Players for Windows windows music player foobar2000

We praised the virtues of foobar2000 several years ago, and still sing those praises today. It’s lightweight enough to let you listen to music on any system, no matter how old, without bogging down performance. And it’s simple enough that you won’t feel overwhelmed. Yet, it’s extensible through plugins, so you can incorporate new functionality if you want.
There’s a reason why we have it on our list of Best Windows Software. And as long as it doesn’t lose its way or make any huge mistakes, it will stay in that spot for years to come.
Notable features include:
  • Lightweight interface is fast, responsive, and customizable.
  • Supports all major audio formats, including AAC, AIFF, FLAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, WMA, and you can always add more support by installing components.
  • Transcodes between all supported audio formats.
  • Accepts third-party plugins.
  • ReplayGain and gapless playback.
  • Advanced media tagging.
  • Customizable keyboard shortcuts.
Downloadfoobar2000 (Free)


2. MusicBee


MusicBee calls itself the ultimate music manager and player, and based on what I’ve seen, it deserves that description. This player really cares about delivering the best music experience it possibly can and giving you the tools to tweak everything to your liking.

The 5 Best Free Music Players for Windows windows music player musicbee

Perhaps the best thing about MusicBee, which seems to be missing from a lot of music players these days, is the lively and active community around it. The forums have thousands of active members and hundreds of new posts every day — not just for support, but also for user-contributed content like plugins, skins, tips, and tricks.
Notable features include:
  • 10-band and 15-band equalizers for maximum audio quality.
  • Automatically tags your music for instant organization.
  • Handles WASAPI for serious audiophiles with high-end audio equipment.
  • Supports skins and plugins.
  • Imports iTunes and Windows Media libraries.
  • ReplayGain and gapless playback.
  • Available on Android and Windows Phone for mobile sync and playback.
DownloadMusicBee (Free for personal use)

3. Winamp


If you can believe it, Winamp is even older than foobar2000 — by more than five years! Having launched in 1997, the road has been bumpy at times, and Winamp nearly shut down altogether back in 2013. But the current version as of this writing is pretty good. If you ever gave up on Winamp, now might be a good time to try it out again.

The 5 Best Free Music Players for Windows windows music player winamp

That said, Winamp has always been a love-it-or-hate-it kind of program. It’s packed full of features that are definitely useful, but the interface is unique and some consider it to be a bloated mess that received too many unnecessary additions over the years. But is it terrible? Not at all.
Notable features include:
  • Supports all major audio and video formats, including AAC, AIFF, FLAC, FLV, MKV, MP3, MP4, OGG, WAV, WEBM, WMA, WMV.
  • Handles skins and plugins.
  • Imports iTunes libraries.
  • Discover new artists with dynamic song recommendations.
  • Smart views and dynamic playlists for variety.
  • Available on Android for mobile sync and playback.
DownloadWinamp (Freemium)

4. MediaMonkey


MediaMonkey is crazy useful for anyone who has a massive media library — we’re talking hundreds of thousands of songs. A lot of music players slow down and choke when trying to manage and process that much data, but MediaMonkey handles it with aplomb.

The 5 Best Free Music Players for Windows windows music player mediamonkey

The downside to MediaMonkey, if you can even call it a downside, is that it’s perhaps too advanced for a lot of users. Not that it’s tough to use, but the interface can be a bit overwhelming to navigate, especially if you’re used to something more streamlined like foobar2000 or Winamp. Overall, however, MediaMonkey’s feature set is impressive and worthwhile.
Notable features include:
  • Supports all major audio and video formats, including AAC, FLAC, MKV, MP3, MP4, OGG, WAV, WMA, WMV. Also has a WASAPI plugin for serious audiophiles with high-end audio equipment.
  • Handles transcoding between most supported audio formats.
  • ReplayGain and gapless playback.
  • Jukebox and Auto-DJ features for parties and public events.
  • Advanced media tagging, including auto-identification of songs.
  • Batch and automatic renaming of filenames according to your preferred pattern.
  • Available on Android and iOS for mobile sync and playback.
DownloadMediaMonkey (Freemium)

5. Dopamine


You may not have heard of Dopamine before. Most people haven’t, which is such a shame. Because this nifty little music player specifically targets Windows users. It aims to provide a solid music-playing experience with all of the essentials and none of the bloat.

The 5 Best Free Music Players for Windows windows music player dopamine

If you ever used Zune Player, you’ll feel right at home.
Dopamine has a dark and light theme as well as an accent color (which can be set as a custom color or it can automatically match your Windows accent color). Point it to however many music library folders you have and it will automatically update based on changes therein. Simple and straightforward.
Notable features include:
  • Extremely simple and lightweight, essentially barebones.
  • Supports the following audio formats: AAC, FLAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, and WMA.
  • Convenient quick controls in the Taskbar, the system tray, and notifications.
  • Multiple player modes, including cover, micro, and nano modes.
  • Works well on desktop and mobile versions of Windows 10.
DownloadDopamine (Free)

A Final Note on VLC and Groove Music


These two are suspiciously missing from this list. One is a favorite of fans all around the world and the other comes pre-installed on all modern Windows systems. Why did we exclude them?
VLC is an excellent way to play media, but it’s more of a video player than a music player, whereas some of the apps we highlighted above are music players first and video players second. This is most evident in the interface, which is better suited for video management than music management. But it’s also apparent from the heavy feature set, which may not be desirable for simple music playback. The Top 5 Free Media Players for Windows The Top 5 Free Media Players for Windows Strong media player apps always rise to the top and it's not important which one you use. The best media player for you is the one you most enjoy using. We suggest the following... Read More
Groove Music is okay as well, but perhaps a little too primitive at the moment. You can play local music with it but the interface is a bit too clunky to recommend. However, if this article was expanded to include 10 apps, Groove Music would absolutely be on there.

The 5 Best Free Music Players for Windows windows music player groove

For now, I’d only use this player if you’re also subscribed to Groove Music Pass, which lets you stream millions of songs like Spotify or Apple Music.

At the end of the day, it comes down to whatever you like best. So which one is your favorite and why? Share your thoughts with us in a comment below! And if you think we missed a great app, please let us know!


January 1, 2018

The vinyl resurgence is real, but it won’t save the record industry

By Kelsey McKinney 

A vinyl record is breakable: not terribly, but obviously. Pull it from between the sheaths of its cover, and the rings shine. Drop it, and it won’t shatter — but bend it, and it’ll snap. To keep a vinyl record in good condition, to make sure it will last to be a thing that can survive you, you have to be careful with it. You have to appreciate its very existence.
For years, critics and market researchers have treated the vinyl medium’s resurgence in the digital age with the same kind of tentative caution. Connoisseurs are grateful for the format’s return, for the permanence and tangibility it offers. But vinyl’s resurgence is always tinted by a looming question: Is vinyl really back, or is it just a trend?

Vinyl is selling, but it can’t save the industry

For the 11th year in a row, Nielsen Soundscan reported an increase in vinyl albums sold in the United States. Consumers bought 13 million vinyl albums in 2016, an increase of 10 percent over 2015. That’s more vinyl records sold last year than from 2008 to 2012, the heralding of the genre’s comeback, combined. Compare that data with sales of CDs (down 16.3 percent) and digital sales (down 20.1 percent), and vinyl is the only music format with stable sales; everything else is in rapid decline.
The Nielsen Soundscan numbers make clear that the only sector of the music industry that’s succeeding these days is vinyl, which makes it an easy “savior” for a music industry that hasn’t figured out how to make money off streaming as other physical formats continue to decline. Due to the streaming market, artists are making less money off listens to their music than ever before, and major (and minor, indie) labels haven’t figured out how to reliably make money without physical sales. Many of these labels are now pinning their dreams of the profits of yesteryear to these spinning plastic disks that sell at higher prices for nostalgic value.
But the vinyl obsession is still difficult to predict, making it a problematic savior figure.
Using the midyear vinyl numbers in July 2016, Michael Nelson argued for Stereogum that not only have we reached “peak vinyl” but we’d passed it. Nelson looks at the year-over-year increases in percentage sales of vinyl from 2012-’16 midyear reports to show a bell curve (14.2, 33.5, 40.4, 38.40, 11.5), and uses this to argue that the bell curve will continue downward. “If that arc continues on that trajectory (and I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t), vinyl sales are gonna plateau sooner than later,” Nelson argues. “And not long after they plateau, they’re gonna crater.”
Nelson’s not alone in his fear that the vinyl obsession might be a Band-aid to the industry’s profit issues more than a solution. Doomsday rhetoric around vinyl began in 2015 when Marc Hogan wrote a piece for Stereogum titled “Have We Reached Peak Vinyl?” which argues that because the music industry has lost any semblance of an idea for how to make money off art, vinyl is a doomed product.
Both Nelson’s and Hogan’s arguments gloss over a key factor in the life of vinyl records, though.

True vinyl success might not actually be a win for the labels

Both of those Stereogum pieces write about vinyl in the context of the ever-in-danger record store, the majority of which closed fairly quickly over a very brief period of time in the early 2000s. This was a shock to the industry, and signaled a lack of interest that very quickly led to a lack of profit. Without stores to ship new music to, how could consumers find it?
Some of the concern regarding where and how the actual vinyl transaction occurs has been mitigated as major corporations like Amazon begin to offer robust vinyl selections. But all of that vinyl — the vinyl that Nelson’s and Hogan’s articles are concerned with — is newly produced and pressed. And therein lies the complicating factor in vinyl’s supposed savior status.
“What these mainstream stats never capture is the massive secondhand market and independent stores that have never gave up on vinyl,” Dominik Bartmanski, the author of Vinyl: the Analogue Record in the Digital Age, tells me. “That's important, and these sections of the market continue to be important for vinyl's relevance as an economic good, and above all a cultural good.”
Anecdotally, when I think about the vinyl albums I (a music person) bought in 2016, this assertion makes sense. Of the 10 vinyl albums I bought in 2016, I purchased seven of them secondhand at record stores. None of those seven albums got counted in the Nielsen consumer report, and the year-over-year change in percentage of secondhand albums bought isn’t counted at all right now.

A man browses through secondhand records.
Stuart Freedman via Getty Images

My experience isn’t unique, either. Many people buy secondhand vinyl because labels reprint very few older albums. Sure, if you want, say, David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane (a 1973 album), you can buy it as a new edition on Amazon for about $13 — but that’s because Bowie died last year, and consumer interest in his records shot up. But what if you wanted to buy another 1973 album, like Call Me by Al Green? You can buy that on Amazon, but it’ll cost you $43.12. At the secondhand shop in my neighborhood, I found it for $17.89.
Unlike some other formats, vinyl records hold up over time, meaning their secondhand market is pretty well-stocked (not to mention those records that are handed down between generations). To find an obscure or specific album from the original vinyl era, you’ll very likely have to go to a secondhand shop, where it’s been purchased from a previous owner. Under this model, the question then becomes: Which part of the music industry is vinyl expected to save?
Let’s say I take my shiny three-year-old Lana Del Rey Born to Die vinyl to a secondhand store. When I bought it the first time at a concert, everyone made money: Lana, her label, the songwriters and engineers, the people working the booth. But on second sale, only two people make money: me and the owner of the secondhand shop. That’s how all secondhand sales work, but if vinyl’s resurgence is mainly taking place in resale markets — which I’d argue it is — it’s not going to help the industry at large at all.

Vinyl doesn’t seem to be going anywhere

Because the secondhand market is untraceable and doesn’t really make any money for the greater industry, almost all of the focus (both in vinyl-as-savior narratives and in doomsday narratives) is on how well new vinyl is selling. And while it’s selling better than CDs and digital albums, it might not be sustainable for the larger industry.
The discussions around peak vinyl and whether or not vinyl will continue to boom often circle around a deeper, greater fear: that the music industry is broken in a way that cannot be fixed. Because the industry is still largely controlled by major labels, and there is no clear way to pay artists for work that is streamed hundreds of thousands of times, only to make them a few hundred dollars, vinyl has become a false messiah for an industry that’s forgotten how to make a profit.
“The drop-off in CD sales after the industry’s 1999 peak coincided not only with Napster but an early-2000s U.S. recession; meanwhile, real wages for Americans on average have barely budged in decades,” Hogan wrote for Stereogum. “To a degree, the fate of the current vinyl boom is inextricable from what happens to the broader economy.”

Employees at Erika Records work in the record pressing plant in Buena Park, California.
Frederic J. Brown /AFP/Getty Images

To a degree, Hogan is right. During the next recession, consumers will probably buy fewer $20 vinyl records, just like they will buy less organic food, and fewer hardcover books, and less bespoke fashion. But that doesn’t mean those trends will die, or even that they won’t be able to recover. In the last US recession (in 2009), for example, book sales took a huge hit that some stores, like Borders, never recovered from. Since the economy has recovered, book sales have returned — and, as with vinyl, they’ve mainly returned to independent and secondhand stores.
One thing is clear: Vinyl is not going to fix the greater problems with pay in the music industry. But that doesn’t mean vinyl itself is dying.
“I do not think the rekindled interest in vinyl is a passing trend, or a mere retro fashion or a short-lived vintage craze,” Bartmanski tells me. “If mainstream demand continues to grow, new pressing machines can be built, and prices are likely to grow too; if it plateaus and stays at this relatively healthy level, it means it can live on, certainly in cities with vibrant music cultures.”
The resurgence in vinyl, as Bartmanski’s book argues, doesn’t just show us something about the music industry; it shows us something about ourselves. “Music is more than data, more than convenience,” Bartmanski says. “Vinyl's an equivalent of quality slow food in music consumption.”
And that seems to make all the difference in whether people perceive vinyl as thriving or dying: satisfaction. According to Bartmanski, people buy vinyl because it sounds different (not better, just different), and because it’s an object they can hold in their hands. Consumers are attracted to vinyl because they like the big-format art covers, and they like to keep the music in their collection. Sometimes they even buy vinyl just because they like how fragile it is. Just because the format can be broken doesn’t mean it will.


December 20, 2017

Turn your TV into a winter wonderland with these free screensavers

If you don’t have a fireplace, or live somewhere where you can see peaceful snowfall outside your window…don’t fret! After you’re done watching Christmas movies, the free screensavers below can provide some great scenery for holiday parties or while the family is opening presents on Christmas morning.
Fun fact: the yule log virtual fireplace is scientifically proven to make your room feel warmer!
The Roku Channel – In addition to hundreds of free movies and TV shows, The Roku Channel has a special row this month titled ‘Classic Holiday Sounds & Specials’ with the screensavers below plus much more holiday entertainment.
Roku Winter Wonderland

Yule log fireplace with crackling

Holiday fireplace with music and crackling

Snowflakes with music

The magical Christmas window with music

The cowboy fireplace with holiday music

Christmastime – Features the tree and fireplace scene and snow-themed screensavers

The Menorah 2017 – This free virtual Menorah has a scene and traditional blessing for each of the 8 nights of Hanukkah

Best Christmas Channel Ever 2017 – Highlights include the Christmas tree and fireplace screensaver seen below along with other fun Christmas TV episodes, movies and more

Seasons Streamings!


October 18, 2017

How to Install Private Roku Channels and Unlock More Content

These days, it’s a toss-up between the Nvidia Shield and the new line of Roku hardware when it comes to being king of the streaming devices.

Even though the Nvidia device is more powerful and boasts a more user-friendly operating system in the shape of Android TV, the Roku devices have one huge advantage: private channels.
Sure, you can sideload apps onto your Android TV device, but they don’t come close to Roku’s private channels in either ease-of-access or ease-of-installation. How do you install private channels on a Roku? Keep reading to find out.

Installing Private Channels on Roku

Private channels aren’t listed in the main Roku Channel Store. Therefore, before you can install one, you need to know its unique code. Where can you find private channel codes? Your first port of call should be the Roku subreddit, where some of the best private channels are available.
Second, check out the many websites dedicated to cataloging private channels. Some of the best are,, and
When you’ve got a code, follow these step-by-step instructions:
  1. Use a web browser to navigate to
  2. Fill in your account credentials and click Sign In.
  3. Go to Manage Account > Add channel with a code.
  4. Enter the channel code and click Add Channel.
  5. Click OK on the next warning screen.
  6. Confirm the installation by clicking Yes, add channel.
How to Install Private Roku Channels and Unlock More Content roku add channel
Technically, the channel can take up to 24 hours to appear on your device. However, you can make it appear instantly by turning on your Roku and going to Settings > System > System Update > Check Now.


October 17, 2017

14 Classic TV Shows Worth Watching on Amazon Prime Video

Television shows have come a long way over the years and not just in terms of switching from black and white to color. The days when TV couples slept in separate beds and curse words were bleeped are over. However, if you miss those good old times of wholesome television then you’re in luck.
Amazon Prime Video has an awesome collection of classic TV shows available to watch with your membership. So why not make a snack, gather the family around the old gogglebox, and step back in time with these favorites from yesteryear.

1. I Love Lucy

Real-life couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz star in this hilarious comedy debuting in 1951. Lucy is the zany wife of Ricky Ricardo, a Cuban bandleader who never gives in to her desire to get on his stage. And Lucy, along with her neighbor and best friend Ethel, certainly gets into some silly and sticky situations.
From the job-switching episode where they stuff their mouths with chocolates, to the trip to Italy where Lucy squashes grapes with a local, I Love Lucy is a true classic.

2. The Honeymooners

amazon prime video the honeymooners

In another husband and wife sitcom, Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows will make you laugh from their tiny Brooklyn apartment. This first episode aired in 1955 and, using comedy, follows the couple through their struggles. Ralph Kramden is forever scheming for an idea to make big money while his wife Alice is always there to rein him in at the end.
If you have never seen The Honeymooners, then check out the show that coined the phrase, “One of these days Alice — Pow! Straight to the moon!”

3. The Beverly Hillbillies

You may have seen the 1993 movie of the same name, but if you never watched the original TV hit, The Beverly Hillbillies, then you are missing out. Follow the Clampett family as they strike it rich in their country cabin home and head to high-class Beverly Hills with their millions. The humor comes in every episode as members of the family try to fit into city life.
When you are ready to check out their cement pond, follow Jed, Granny, Jethro, and Ellie May as they move to Beverly (Hills, that is).

4. The Andy Griffith Show

amazon prime video the andy griffith show

The Andy Griffith Show tells the story of a widower sheriff named Andy Taylor. Living in Mayberry, Andy, his son Opie, Aunt Bee, and Deputy Barney Fife will definitely make you chuckle. Starring Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, and Ron Howard, you already know this is the perfect crew to give you a laugh. The show debuted in 1960 and includes comical characters bumbling through their daily lives in small town USA.
The Andy Griffith Show ran for many years, turning from black and white to color and keeping audiences laughing along the way.

5. Petticoat Junction

You may not have heard of Petticoat Junction, but if you plan to visit Hootervile, you will enjoy your stay. A mother and her three daughters run the Shade Rest Hotel in the heart of another small town sitcom. But in a boring train-stop town, what is there for three beautiful young ladies to do? Tune in to find out what fun they concoct in this 1963 comedy.

6. My Favorite Martian

amazon prime video my favorite martian

It may not be even close to The X-Files, but My Favorite Martian is a funny take on an alien story. Premiering in 1963, this sitcom follows a Martian who is stranded on earth after his ship crashes. He stays with a reporter and is disguised as the young man’s uncle.
Busybodies sense something is up and the Martian uses his powers here and there, bringing you a bundle of giggles.

7. The Three Stooges

You likely recall The Three Stooges, but have you ever actually watched an episode? With silly, slapstick humor, the comedy team of Moe, Larry, and Curly have been making people laugh since the 1920s. While the stooges went through their stages, from Curly to Shemp to Joe, Moe and Larry remained to keep the crew in check.
For a comedy that spans decades, check out at least one episode, if not more, of the iconic show The Three Stooges.

8. Family Affair

amazon prime video family affair

Do you remember those cute little twins Buffy and Jody and their big sister Cissy? If not, then it is time for you to watch Family Affair. All three kids are taken in by their uncle, played by Brian Keith. And the British butler Mr. French, played by Sebastian Cabot, keeps his eye on them as much as possible.
Considered a comedy and debuting in 1966, this timeless show will touch both your heart and your funny bone.

9. The Twilight Zone

Enter a different dimension with Rod Serling in the supernatural series, The Twilight Zone. The show first aired in 1959 and ran for five years bringing a suspenseful look at the unexplained. This series can be described as science fiction, horror, or drama, depending on the story. But one thing is for certain: The Twilight Zone is entertaining and enjoyable within each 30-minute episode.

10. The Cisco Kid

amazon prime video the cisco kid

If you enjoy the Lone Ranger and Tonto in the old west, then take a look at The Cisco Kid and his sidekick Pancho. What started as a one-shot comic turned into a six-year show beginning in 1950. This serious but comical team fights to keep the locals safe from corruption.
Filmed in color, you will enjoy the humor that Pancho brings to every episode of The Cisco Kid.

11. Star Trek

Star Trek is one of the most popular science-fiction dramas of all time, and loved by many. The original series premiering in 1966 stars William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and George Takei. The crew pilots the Starship Enterprise as it travels through space exploring the unknown.
Find your favorite episodes or check out entire seasons. Captain Kirk and Dr. Spock away your visit, so say “Beam me up, Scotty” and head to Amazon Prime Video for Star Trek. And while you’re there, take a peek at shows you can download and watch later How to Download Amazon Prime Videos to Watch Offline How to Download Amazon Prime Videos to Watch Offline Amazon has announced that Instant Video now allows offline viewing of movies and television shows on Android and iOS devices, and we have the full lowdown on how you can initiate this fantastic feature. Read More .

12. Mission: Impossible

Well before Tom Cruise starred in the movie, Mission: Impossible was a popular television show. This drama series, premiering in 1966, follows a group of spies on various, dangerous missions. Known as the Impossible Missions Force (IMF), the team tackles espionage with tact and talent.
If you want to see where it all began before it hit the big screen, check out the original Mission: Impossible.

13. The Rifleman

amazon prime video the rifleman

Maybe westerns are more your speed Love Classic TV? 4 Websites For Your Time Traveling Tube Love Classic TV? 4 Websites For Your Time Traveling Tube We all know that modern television just can't beat classic TV shows. You have to love the melodramatic acting, the cocky charm and wit, and the innocent story-lines (golly-gee-willikers, right?) Yes, I know I'm generalizing... Read More and if so, The Rifleman is your show. Starring Chuck Connors, you can watch this rancher take on desperados in the old west. While keeping his son safe and his land secure, this Union Civil War veteran and widower knows how to handle his rifle. For a good, old-school western series, check out The Rifleman.

14. Bonanza

On for almost 15 years, Bonanza takes you into the Cartwright family home on their ranch, the Ponderosa. The show stars Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Dan Blocker, Pernell Roberts, and David Canary, for a wonderful lineup of talent.
Become a Cartwright for three episodes as these men defend their land and help their community in this classic TV drama.

What’s Your Favorite Classic TV Show?

There are still so many more classic televisions shows that would be great to see on Amazon Prime. Hopefully the oldies but goodies keep coming. And, if you need even more television shows that are worth your time on Amazon Prime Video, check out this cool list 10+ TV Shows That Make Amazon Prime Worth the Money 10+ TV Shows That Make Amazon Prime Worth the Money Netflix is undoubtedly the king of the movie and TV show streaming services. However, Amazon Prime has some fantastic television shows that make it worth the asking price. Read More .


September 3, 2017

3 Graphical User Interface Applications using FFmpeg

FFmpeg is a freeware video and audio encoder. There are versions for Windows, Linux, and MacOS.

FFmpeg GUIs
A GUI is a graphical user interface that makes it easy for a user to work with FFmpeg. Since FFmpeg is open-source, various developers have built software to utilize it with simple GUIs.

Benefits to Using a GUI
Since FFmpeg is used through a command line interface (CLI), there is a relatively steep learning curve for users who are unfamiliar with this type of interface. Using a CLI requires that the user understand how to write commands with the proper language and syntax. Software that provides a GUI makes using FFmpeg as easy as clicking a few buttons and setting a few parameters.

Limitations to Using a GUI
Using a GUI allows the user to jump right into FFmpeg, but it obfuscates what’s happening “under the hood.” Some users may want to know the FFmpeg command generated by using the GUI, and that is not always accessible. Also, GUIs are not always up to date with the latest version of FFmpeg.


Other helpful links:

Windows -

Download FFMPEG:

Download PeaZip: Full

FFMPEG Documentation:

FFMPEG Filter Documentation:

All FFMPEG features:

August 29, 2017

H.264 vs H.265 — A technical comparison. When will H.265 dominate the market?

Stream4S opinion on when H.265 will become the standard codec on the market.

Remember those frustrating times when you were watching a video or a movie online and all of the sudden you experienced a loss of quality? Now it can be possible to stream high-quality videos in congested network environments in a faster and virtuous way. Conceived to boost video streaming, High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), or H.265, is a video compression standard designed to substantially improve coding efficiency when compared to its precedent, the Advanced Video Coding (AVC), or H.264. With an increasing growth of video streaming on the Internet over popular websites such as Netflix and YouTube, and with 4K cameras gaining new ground in the market, a considerable amount of storage and bandwidth is required. HEVC promises a 50% storage reduction as its algorithm uses efficient coding by encoding video at the lowest possible bit rate while maintaining a high image quality level.
As many of us, Stream4s believes HEVC will revolutionize how video data is displayed, either online, on television and even in the surveillance industry. With this new format, image resolutions around 8192×4320 become possible to display and stream. To demonstrate the incredible power of this codec, a subjective video performance study was made between these two codecs to understand how intensely is this bit reduction. The study showed the bit reduction is inversely proportional to the video image quality, where HEVC/H.265 presented a bit reduction of 52% at 480p and 64% at 4K UHD when compared to H.264. Besides this outstanding bit reduction, when compared to H.264, HEVC/H.265 delivers a significantly better visual quality, when compressed to the same file size or bitrate.


 Powerful Streaming — at what cost?

Even though HEVC is already finalized, it is still not popular. Apart from the fact that the codec is patented by various parties and it is associated with high licensing fees, HEVC/H.265 comes with the trade-off requiring almost 10x more computing power. This new technology is on standby until the hardware market adapts to it, as it happened already with H.264, launched in 2003 but only gaining popularity a few years later. Hardware manufacturers are already starting to adjust their products to support this new format to fulfill the intense market need. Even though some softwares such as VideoLAN are capable to decode such codec, software decoding, although more flexible, is not an option since hardware decoding is usually faster and saves battery life tremendously. Nevertheless, hardware still takes up valuable disc space on either the CPU or GPU.


HVEC vs H.264 — a technical comparison

Both codecs work by comparing different parts of a video frame in order to find the ones that are redundant within the subsequent frames. These areas are replaced with a short information, describing the original pixels. What differs HEVC/H.265 from H.264 is the ability to expand the size of these areas into bigger or smaller blocks, called coding tree units (CTU) in the HEVC/H.265. The pattern CTU sizes can be from 4×4 to 64×64, whilst H.264 only allows a maximum block-size of 16×16 (CTU is particular feature of HEVC). An improved CTU segmentation, as well as a better motion compensation and spatial prediction require much more signal processing capability for video compression, but has a significantly less impact on the amount of computation needed for decompression. Motion compensated prediction, another great progress in HEVC/H.265, references blocks of pixels to another area in the same frame (intra prediction) or in another frame (inter prediction).
As mentioned above, CTU are one of the HEVC’s main coding tools. Apart from this, the codec relies on paralleling processing computing techniques to make it even faster and supports advanced extensions as AVX/AVX2 and FMA3/FMA4. The individual rectangular regions that divide the image are independent and enable parallel processing. Besides, HEVC also has another feature that H.264 doesn’t possess: Wavefront Parallel Processing (WPP), a sort of decision tree that grants a more productive and effectual compression.
Several other coding tools used in H.264 are continued in this new codec, although with some slight, yet unprecedented, changes. The lossless data compression entropy coding, the Context-adaptive binary arithmetic coding (CABAC), is preserved in HEVC/H.265 but in a slightly upgraded version. Intra prediction is another feature that suffered significantly improvements in relation to H.264. HEVC stipulates 33 directional modes while H.264 limits them to 8 and allows DC intra prediction as well as planar prediction. An additional improvement is mainly due to the Adaptive Motion Vector Prediction, the newest method for inter prediction as it uses the picture information in a more concise way.

Thanks to the notably improvements that can be seen in this new codec, Stream4s is confident that HEVC/H.265 will become the universal standard codec, as soon as the hardware catches up.

HEVC/H.265 not only has a better visual quality at a low storage and bandwidth but also a dexterously coding algorithm by encoding motion vectors with much greater precision and minimal residual errors. Besides the preeminent method used for inter prediction, this new codec also presents an improved deblocking filter and sample adaptive offset to reduce even more artifacts.

Another excellent tutorial on it:

Here is a YouTube demo. The difference is dramatic for h.265: