June 2, 2017

10 Free Audio Converter Software Programs

Best free audio converters for MP3, WAV, OGG, WMA, M4A, FLAC and more!

by Tim Fisher is used to convert one type of audio file (like an MP3, WAV, WMA, etc.) into another type of audio file. If you're unable to play or edit a certain audio file the way you wanted because the format isn't supported by the software you're using, one of these free audio converter software programs or online tools can help.
Audio file converter tools are also helpful if your favorite music app on your phone or tablet doesn't support the format that a new song you downloaded is in. An audio converter can convert that obscure format into a format that your app supports.
Below is a ranked list of the best free audio converter software programs and online converter services available today:

Important: Every audio converter program below is freeware. I haven't listed any shareware or trialware audio converters. Please let me know if one of them has started charging and I'll remove it.


Free Studio's Audio Converter












Free Studio is actually a group of several programs. Just click Convert from the main menu, and then choose the Free Audio Converter option to open the audio converter tool.
Free Studio is very easy to use and lets you choose an output quality, fill out audio tags, automatically shutdown the computer after converting files, and import files from the Windows right-click context menu.
Input Formats: AAC, AC3, AIF, AIFF, ALAC, AMR, APE, ASF, AU, CAF, CUE, FLAC, M4B, MKA, MP2, MP3, MPC, OGG, RA, RAM, RM, RMM, RMVB, SHN, SPX, TTA, WAV, and WMA
Output Formats: AAC, ALAC, AMR, FLAC, OGG, M4B, M4R, MP3, WAV, and WMA
Free Studio also lets you extract audio from YouTube, audio CDs, and most video formats.
Download Free Studio Manager for Free
During the setup process, Free Studio asks if you'd like to also install additional unrelated software but it's easy to decline so long as you slow down and read what it is you're accepting or declining.
Free Studio works with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP. More »



Switch Sound File Converter.



Another free audio converter is called Switch Sound File Converter. It supports batch conversions and whole folder imports, as well as drag and drop and lots of advanced settings.
You can also use Switch Sound File Converter to extract audio from your video files and CDs/DVDs, as well as capture audio from a live audio stream from the Internet.
Input Formats: 3GA, AAC, ACT, AIF, AIFC, AIFF, AMR, APE, ASF, AU, CAF, CDA, DART, DCT, DS2, DSS, DVF, FLAC, GSM, M4A, M4R, MID, MOH, MP2 ,MP3, MPC, MPGA, MSV, OGA, OGG, QCP, RA, RAM, RAW, RCD, REC, RM, RMJ, SHN, SMF, SPX, VOC, VOX, WAV, WMA, and WV
Output Formats: AAC, AC3, AIFC, AIF, AIFF, AMR, APE, AU, CAF, CDA, FLAC, GSM, M3U, M4A, M4R, MP3, MPC, OGG, PLS, RAW, SPX, VOX, WAV, WMA, and WPL
Download Switch Sound File Converter for Free

Some of the advanced settings in Switch Sound File Converter include deleting the source audio file after a conversion, automatically normalizing audio, editing tags, and downloading CD album details from the Internet.
Another option worth noting is one that lets you set up to three preset conversion formats so that you can right-click on an audio file and choose one of those formats for a quick conversion. It's a huge time saver.
Note: This program is listed as "Trial" but the non-pro features remain free for personal use after the 14-day trial is over.
Mac OS X (10.4 and above) and Windows (XP and newer) users can install Switch Sound File Converter. More »





SUPER






SUPER is very much a superior free audio converter. The best thing about SUPER is the long list of audio formats it supports.
If you have a rare audio file you want to convert to something more common (or vice versa), you should try the SUPER audio converter.
Input Formats: AAC, AC3, AMR, APE, FLAC, MMF, M4A, MP2, MP3, MPC, MPP, OGG, RA, RAM, RM, TTA, WV, WAV, and WMA
Output Formats: AAC, AC3, AMR, APE, FLAC, MMF, MP2, MP3, MPC, OGG, TTA, WV, WAV, and WMA
You can also extract the audio from most common video formats with SUPER and save as any of the above Output Formats.
Important: During installation, be sure to quit/close the "InstallPath Install Manager" window. After it closes, you'll still be able to complete the SUPER install.
Also, bear in mind that some toolbars or other programs may install silently along with SUPER. There is an alternative download link on their download page that doesn't include such additional programs but it's not as easy to download.
SUPER for Free SUPER can seem intimidating but it's only because the program shows several advanced options by default. The SUPER audio converter is actually really easy to use.
It's said that SUPER will work with most versions of Windows. I used SUPER in Windows 10 without any issues. More »





FileZigZag




FileZigZag is an online audio converter service that will convert most common audio formats.
All you do is upload the original audio file, choose the desired output format, and then wait for an email with a link to the converted file.
Input Formats: 3GA, AAC, AC3, AIF, AIFC, AIFF, AMR, AU, CAF, FLAC, M4A, M4P, M4R, MID, MIDI, MMF, MP2, MP3, MPGA, OGA, OGG, OMA, OPUS, QCP, RA, RAM, WAV, and WMA
Output Formats: AAC, AC3, AIF, AIFF, AIFC, AU, FLAC, M4A, M4R, MP3, MMF, OPUS, OGG, RA, WAV, and WMA
FileZigZag Review and Link
The worst thing about FileZigZag is the time it takes to upload the audio file and receive the link in your email. But most audio files, even long music tracks, come in a pretty small size so it's not usually a problem.
FileZigZag should work with all operating systems that support a web browser, like Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.







Zamzar. © Zamzar






 
 
Zamzar is another online audio converter service that supports most common music and audio formats.
Input Formats: 3GA, AAC, AC3, AIFF, AIFC, CAF, FLAC, M4A, M4B, M4R, MIDI, MP3, OGA, OGG, RA, RAM, WAV, and WMA
Output Formats: AAC, AC3, FLAC, M4A, M4R, MP3, OGG, WAV, and WMA
Zamzar Review and Link
The biggest disadvantage with Zamzar is their 50 MB limit for source files. While many audio files are smaller than this, some low compression formats can exceed this small limit.
I also found Zamzar's conversion time slow when compared to other online audio converter services.
Zamzar can be used with pretty much any modern web browser on any OS, such as Windows, Mac, and Linux. More »







Freemake Audio Converter.  





Freemake Audio Converter supports several common audio formats and is extremely easy to use.
Input Formats: AAC, AMR, AC3, FLAC, M4A, M4R, MP3, OGG, WAV, and WMA
Output Formats: AAC, FLAC, M4A, MP3, OGG, WAV, and WMA
In addition to converting single audio files into other formats in bulk, you can join multiple files into one larger audio files with Freemake Audio Converter.
You can also adjust the output quality before converting files.
Download Freemake Audio Converter For Free
Note: The installer for Freemake Audio Converter will attempt to install other programs that are unrelated to the converter, so be sure to uncheck those options before finishing setup if you don't want them added to your computer.
You might also want to check out Freemake Video Converter, another program from the same developers as Freemake Audio Converter that supports more audio input formats than this converter (but less audio output formats), and more features like converting local and online videos into MP3.
Freemake Audio Converter can for sure run on Windows 10, 8, and 7, and is likely to work with older versions too. More »







MediaHuman Audio Converter. 





If you're looking for a simple program that works without the advanced options and confusing interfaces that some of these audio converter tools have, you'll definitely like MediaHuman Audio Converter.
Just drag and drop the audio files you need converted directly into the program, choose an output format, and then start the conversion.
Input Formats: AAC, AC3, AIF, AIFF, ALAW, AMR, APE, AU, CAF, DTS, FLAC, M4A, M4B, M4R, MP2, MP3, MPC, OGG, OPUS, RA, SHN, TTA, WAV, WMA, and WV
Output Formats: AAC, AC3, AIFF, ALAC, FLAC, M4R, MP3, OGG, WAV, and WMA
Download MediaHuman Audio Converter for Free
If you do want more advanced options, MediaHuman Audio Converter does let you customize things like the default output folder, whether you want to automatically add the converted songs to iTunes, and if you want to search for covert art from online, among other options.
Fortunately, these settings are hidden away and are completely unobtrusive unless you want to use them.
The following operating systems are supported: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Mac OS X 10.5 and newer. More »






Hamster. © HAMSTER soft 





Hamster is a free audio converter that installs quickly, has a minimal interface, and isn't hard to use.
Not only can Hamster convert multiple audio files in bulk, but it can merge the files into one, much like Freemake Audio Converter.
Input Formats: AAC, AC3, AIFF, AMR, FLAC, MP2, MP3, OGG, RM, VOC, WAV, and WMA
Output Formats: AAC, AC3, AIFF, AMR, FLAC, MP3, MP2, OGG, RM, WAV, and WMA
Download Hamster Free Audio Converter for Free
After importing files to convert, Hamster lets you choose any of the output formats from above or pick from a device if you're not sure what format the file needs to be in, like Sony, Apple, Nokia, Philips, Microsoft, BlackBerry, HTC, and others.
Hamster Free Audio Converter is said to work with Windows 7, Vista, XP, and 2000. I used it in Windows 10 without any problems. More »







VSDC Free Audio Converter. © Flash-Integro LLC





VSDC Free Audio Converter has a tabbed interface that's uncomplicated to understand and isn't cluttered with unnecessary buttons.
Just load up the audio files you want to convert, or enter the URL for an online file, choose the Formats tab to select an output format, and click Start conversion to convert the files.
There's also a tag editor for modifying a track's title, author, album, genre, etc., as well as a built-in player for listening to songs before you convert them.
Input Formats: AAC, AFC, AIF, AIFC, AIFF, AMR, ASF, M2A, M3U, M4A, MP2, MP3, MPC, OGG, OMA, RA, RM, VOC, WAV, WMA, and WV
Output Formats: AAC, AIFF, AMR, AU, M4A, MP3, OGG, WAV, and WMA
Download VSDC Free Audio Converter for Free
Note: The installer will try to add unnecessary programs and tools to your computer if you let it. Be sure to watch for these and disable them if you wish.
If you need to, you can choose an alternative output quality, frequency, and bitrate from the advanced options.
Overall, VSDC Free Audio Converter is just as quick as most of the other tools in this list, and is great for converting your files to a common format.
VSDC Free Audio Converter is said to be compatible with all Windows operating systems. I used the program in Windows 10 and it worked just as advertised. More »







media.io. © media.io





media.io is another online audio converter, which means although you don't have to download any software to use it, you do have to upload and download your files to make it work.
After loading one or more audio files to media.io, you just need to choose an output quality and one of the output formats from below.
Input Formats: 3GP, AAC, AC3, ACT, ADX, AIFF, AMR, APE, ASF, AU, CAF, DTS, FLAC, GSM, MOD, MP2, MP3, MPC, MUS, OGG, OMA, OPUS, QCP, RM, SHN, SPX, TTA, ULAW, VOC, VQF, W64, WAV, WMA, and WV
Output Formats: MP3, OGG, WAV, and WMA
Visit media.io
Once the files have been converted, you can download them individually or together in a ZIP file.
Unlike the above programs that may work with specific operating systems only, you can use media.io on any OS that supports modern browsers, such as on a Windows, Linux, or Mac compute

Source: https://www.lifewire.com/free-audio-converter-software-programs-2622863

May 17, 2017

Twitter still thinks it’s a TV platform — and here are its dozen new shows

Last year: NFL. This year: Bloomberg, the WNBA, Live Nation and our friends at The Verge.
Yesterday, Twitter announced it was building a 24/7 streaming video service with Bloomberg. Today, Twitter rolled out even more video plans, teasing live programs from nearly a dozen partners, including Live Nation, BuzzFeed and the WNBA.


Our Vox Media colleagues are in the mix, too: The Verge’s Nilay Patel will host a live weekly gadget show. Go Nilay!


A few thoughts:
  • Twitter’s news is the opening frame of the “newfronts” — two weeks of digital video pitches for advertisers, modeled on conventional TV’s “upfronts.” Hulu, for instance, has its big unveil on Wednesday; YouTube is on Thursday. Do bear in mind that if past performance indicates future results, some of the stuff you’ll hear about over the next several days won’t materialize. These are often pitches, not promises.
  • Assuming all of the stuff Twitter talked about today does show up, it seems like a reasonable bet for the company and its partners (again — one of whom is Vox Media, which owns this site) to make. Every digital publisher wants to distribute its video as widely as possible and hopefully figure out how to make money from its video. And Twitter wants as much video as it can get. Since the highest-value video — the stuff that appears on TV — is likely to remain on TV or TV-like platforms for some time, Twitter needs to do deals with digital publishers (Go Nilay!) or get people who have traditional TV deals (the NBA) to give them stuff that doesn’t run on TV.
  • As Facebook and others have proven, if you have a lot of people gathered on your platform, you can get them to watch video, even if they didn’t come there to watch video. So Twitter should get some kind of audience for the programming they’re rolling out today. It’s fair to ask, though, whether Twitter’s audience really wants to see video, especially since they have many other places to watch video. Bear in mind that it’s relatively easy to make a compelling text or image-based message; making compelling video is much much harder.
  • The NFL makes the most compelling video in the world, and last year Twitter had 10 NFL games, which they offered for free to anyone who asked — no login required. The streams looked nice and worked well, but the audience was ... meh. Twitter averaged 266,000 viewers for each of its Thursday night games; CBS and NBC, which showed the same games to TV viewers, averaged 15.8 million.
I wasn’t going to list all of Twitter’s new programming, but my editor Dan Frommer thinks I should. He’s right! Why not? So here’s the text, directly from Twitter’s press release:
Sports
WNBA: Starting later this month, for the first time the WNBA will live stream a weekly regular-season game on Twitter (20 total per season) during the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons. Twitter will deliver live action of the best in women's basketball and the best in fan conversation about each game all on one screen.

MLBAM: In addition to weekly live MLB games that stream on Twitter this season, a new 3-hour once weekly MLB program will live stream exclusively on Twitter. The whip-around show will feature live MLB game look-ins and highlights, and tap into the power of Twitter by delivering those top moments and discussing MLB storylines as they're trending in real-time. Stay tuned for more information regarding timing and talent.

STADIUM: A new, original, fully programmed, 24/7 linear experience will stream live on Twitter in the coming months. This network will integrate exclusive live collegiate sporting events, extensive highlights, classic games, and daily live studio programming. Combining the production quality and editorial values of TV with the speed, accessibility, conversation and interactivity of Twitter, STADIUM infuses real-time, fan sentiment and feedback into every sports conversation, covering the topics that matter most to sports fans as they happen.

The Players’ Tribune: #Verified, a modern forum for athletes to connect directly with fans, will be a live show, exclusively on Twitter, featuring athletes answering fan questions and sharing their insight, reactions and timely takes on important topics on and off the field. Driven by Twitter and fan-submitted questions, the series will debut in the coming months and will feature regular interviews from some of the most popular players across sports, including Karl-Anthony Towns, A.J. Green and Richard Sherman.

PGA Tour: Building upon the current live stream relationship between Twitter and PGA TOUR LIVE that features more than 70 hours of live competition coverage across 31 tournaments, the PGA TOUR will live stream 360 video of the iconic island 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass during THE PLAYERS Championship (from May 11-14) on Periscope and Twitter.

News
Bloomberg Media: Bloomberg will debut the first-ever 24/7 breaking news network that will be global, live, social and exclusively on Twitter. The new live streaming news network, to launch this fall, will combine the vast global editorial and news gathering capabilities of Bloomberg with the digital power, conversation and speed of Twitter.

The Verge: Coming this fall, Circuit Breaker: The Verge's Gadget Show is a weekly live program that will review and experiment with the hottest gadgets everyone wants right now, and the weirdest ones we'll want tomorrow, hosted by The Verge's Nilay Patel.
BuzzFeed News: MorningFeed, a brand new morning news and current events show broadcast live on Twitter by BuzzFeed, will reach an audience that wakes up hungry for the latest in “fire Tweets.” Hosts will bring news and memes to the audience where they are - on their timeline - from reporters in the field to special guests on set.
Cheddar: Cheddar’s hour-long Opening Bell will stream live daily at 9am ET from the New York Stock Exchange, beginning today. This expands on Cheddar’s successful Closing Bell show at 3pm ET, which has aired on Twitter since last October.

Entertainment
Live Nation: Live Nation will deliver select Live Nation concerts and original content exclusively on Twitter. The concert series launches on Saturday, May 13th with a live stream of the three-time GRAMMY-winning multi-platinum Zac Brown Band. The event kicks-off their highly anticipated new album ‘WELCOME HOME’ (Elektra/Atlantic) and their 2017 tour in their hometown of Atlanta on a sold-out opening weekend at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park. Grammy Award-winning San Francisco rock band Train, Portugal. The Man, August Alsina and Marian Hill will also live stream one of their upcoming shows. Additional artists will be announced.

IMG Fashion: IMG Fashion will bring its premium designer and brand relationships to a live content program consisting of exclusive runway shows and behind-the-scenes Fashion Week content for Twitter users, live, from New York, Milan, Paris, London and beyond in September 2017. IMG Fashion will also work closely with Twitter to leverage opportunities exclusive to Twitter users globally.

Propagate: #WhatsHappening is a new live daily, entertainment-driven, primetime show on everything in the world that embraces Twitter’s unique conversation. See every side of pop culture, music, binge-worthy television, celebrity Tweets, and top trending discussions as they unfold around the globe.

Source: https://www.recode.net/2017/5/1/15509026/twitter-live-video-tv-shows

May 16, 2017

Pluto TV Announces FREE On-Demand Movies

Today after months of testing Pluto TV announced a free video on demand service along side of their current streaming service.

The lineup of free movies available on-demand include Paramount Pictures’ “Vanilla Sky” and MGM’s “Silence of the Lambs,” “The Usual Suspects,” and “Species,” as well as complete TV shows like Lionsgate’s “ALF” and Warner Bros.’s “The Ben Stiller Show” and “Super Fun Night.”



Other movies on VOD include: “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,” “The Birdcage,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Thelma & Louise,” “Mad Max,” “The Hours,” “Defiance,” “The Kite Runner,” “Dances With Wolves,” “Paulie,” “Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away,” and “Lars and the Real Girl.” TV shows on the VOD platform include “Fear Factor,” “American Hoggers,” “I Love New York,” “The Dead Zone” and “Paranormal State.”
“We’re excited to give [Pluto users] even more ways to enjoy the content they love, and now they can pick specific movies and TV shows to watch on demand,” said Tom Ryan, CEO of Pluto TV told Variety.

Pluto TV’s already has 100-plus linear channels are accessible on a wide range of devices including the Fire TV; Roku; Android TV; Google’s Chromecast; smart TVs, iOS, Android, and Amazon mobile devices; PlayStation; and at pluto.tv.

Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news, tips, and reviews.

Source: http://cordcuttersnews.com/pluto-tv-announces-free-demand-movies/

March 8, 2017

How to Get HD TV Channels for Free (Without Paying for Cable)

Remember TV antennas? Well, they still exist. A digital TV antenna allows you to watch local TV stations for free, all without paying a dime to a cable provider.

Discover Your Local Channels and Their Signal Strength

 

To find out which TV channels you can get over the air for free, we recommend visiting a site called TV Fool and using their signal locator tool. Simply enter your address and click on “Find Local Channels”.





Give it a few moments to load the next page. Once it loads, you’ll see what looks like a round diagram with various lines inside, as well as a list of channels off to the right, highlighted in different colors.





It can be a bit daunting trying to figure out what it all means, but the only thing you really need to pay the most attention to is the circular diagram. The lines you see are in various lengths, and each line represents a channel. The longer a line is and the closer it is to the center of the bullseye, the better the signal is for that channel based on your location.
The direction of the lines are important as well. The diagram’s cross represents north, south, east, and west. As you can see from my diagram above, most of the broadcast signals are coming from the northeast, which means I should ideally place my antenna in the northeast corner of my house so that I can get the best signal possible. (More on antenna selection in a moment.)
From the list of channels on the right-hand side, you really only need to focus on the distance of the broadcasts signals, which tells you how far away they are.





Since many of the signals that I can get are fairly close to my location (only 5-10 miles away), placement of my antenna isn’t super critical. However, if your broadcast signals are farther away, you’ll need to pay extra close attention to where and how you place your antenna.
TV Fool gives you a rough idea on this by using colors to highlight which channels you’ll easily receive and which ones would be more difficult. Channels in green are channels that you could get with a basic TV antenna, while channels highlighted in yellow and red will need a more powerful antenna and strategic placement.

The Different Types of Antennas

Which type of antenna you purchase largely depends on the information that you gathered from above diagram, and different antennas are available depending on how far away you are from the broadcast signals.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Antennas

 




Not all TV antennas are weatherproof, and many cheaper ones are only meant to be placed indoors. If broadcast signals are relatively easy to come by in your area, then you’re probably fine getting an indoor antenna.
If some of the broadcast signals are farther away, though, an indoor antenna may not be powerful enough. For that, you’ll need an outdoor antenna, built to take the grunt that mother nature provides, and reach much farther. Outdoor antennas are almost always more reliable, though they take a bit more work to set up.

Directional vs. Multi-Directional Antennas

You’ll also want to consider whether the antenna you get is directional (also called uni-directional) or multi-directional (also called omni-directional). As you can guess, directional antennas grab a signal from a single direction, while multi-directional antennas can fetch signals coming from any direction.





Multi-directional antennas are more convenient, but have a significant downside: their range is usually much weaker than directional antennas, which can put all of their power toward gain a signal from a single direction. Multi-directional antennas can also suffer from noise and interference coming from all directions, whereas a directional antenna can block all that out.
Of course, a directional antenna will only work if the channels you want are all in one direction. If they’re coming from different parts of town, a directional antenna won’t work well for you.

VHF vs. UHF

Television broadcast signals are transmitted over two different frequencies: Very High Frequency (VHF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF), so it’s important that the antenna you end up buying supports either or both (ideally both).
If you go back to your TV Fool analysis, you can take a look at the section below the list of channels, which will tell you what channels use UHF and which ones use VHF.





You don’t need to know a whole lot about this, other than which frequency is used the most by the channels that you can receive over the air. If they’re mostly UHF, then you’ll want to be sure to buy an antenna that can grab UHF signals. Most antennas can grab both VHF and UHF channels anyway, but it’s good to check before you buy, just in case.

A Note on Pre-Amplifiers

Other than the antenna itself, you also may need what’s called a pre-amplifier, which is a small device that gets connected inline with the antenna’s coaxial cable on its way to your television.





If the cable from the antenna to the TV is going to be any longer than 50 feet or so, then you’ll need to get a pre-amplifier. The longer the cable is, the weaker the signal gets by the time it reaches your television, so using a pre-amp (like this one) and installing it near the antenna inline with the cable will make sure that you don’t lose any signal strength.
However, make sure to check if your antenna already comes with a pre-amp built in. Many outdoor antennas already do, since they know you’ll likely need a long run of cable to make it to your television.

Our Recommended Antennas

If you’re looking for a basic indoor multi-directional antenna, this 1byone indoor antenna ($13) is one of the most popular indoor TV antennas on Amazon, thanks to its 25-mile range and measly price tag. If you just need a cheap, basic antenna to place in a window and be done with it, that’s a good option. It has a common flat design to it that many antenna makers use, so feel free to go with another company if the price is better—The Mohu Leaf ($40) is also very popular (I have one and it works great), and The Wirecutter recommends the ClearStream Eclipse ($40, amplified version for $60).





Indoor directional antennas aren’t as common, but they do exist. This antenna from Terk ($60) is a popular option with a range of 45 miles. We’ve also used the 60-mile ClearStream 2 ($90) in the past with great results, though it’s a little big to be considered “indoor” (even though it’s labeled as such). Still, on an apartment balcony, we found it got all the channels in that direction with great clarity.





If you want an outdoor multi-directional antenna, we use this amplified 60-mile range model from 1byone ($70) and it works great. There’s no need to point it in any specific direction, so you have a lot more options as far as where you could mount it on the outside of your house, which also helps since you need to run power to it.





Outdoor directional antennas are extremely common, though, so you’ll find a lot of options in this area. 1byone’s outdoor directional antenna ($45) has an 85-mile range, which has a farther reach than their multi-directional model, but it’s also much larger. It also requires that you plug it into a power source, since it’s amplified.





Again, there are lots of other antennas out there, but these are a few popular, highly rated options (and a few we’ve tried ourselves with good results). Every antenna will work a little differently depending on your neighborhood and where you set it up, so you may have to try a couple before you find the ideal one for you. Buy from somewhere with a good return policy!

How to Hook Your Antenna Up to Your TV

Got your antenna? Great! Now it’s time to set it up and try it out.
You’ll first need to position the antenna in a good location (ideally where it has the best line-of-sight with signal towers). Again, if you get a very strong signal, a basic indoor antenna by your TV will probably be good enough. Mounting it by the window will get you a better signal, if you need it. (Don’t actually mount anything on your wall until you’re happy with the signal you get, though. You may need to move the antenna around to improve your signal and experiment with different locations.)
If you need an outdoor antenna, though, it’ll take a bit more work to install—you’ll likely have to use a ladder to climb up and mount it to the roof or side of the house using the included hardware. If you aren’t comfortable doing this, call a professional. (Check to see if your house already has a roof antenna, too—many do!)





After you’ve found a good place for your antenna, connect it to your television with the included coaxial cable. In the photo above, you can see how we’ve attached the coaxial cable from our antenna to the antenna input jack on our TV. And if your antenna is amplified, plug the amplifier into a power source. Our antenna can be powered via USB, so we plugged the USB cable that powers the amplification system into the TV’s USB port.
Once it’s plugged in, head to your TV’s channel setup menu. Your TV will need to scan for available channels, which should take just a few minutes. When it’s done, you’ll be watching HD TV channels, you can cut the cable cord for good. If you aren’t getting the best signal possible, adjust the positioning and try scanning again—hopefully, with a bit of tweaking, you’ll be watching all your local channels in crystal-clear HD.

Source: https://www.howtogeek.com/205253/give-the-gift-of-free-tv-to-your-parents-this-christmas/

March 6, 2017

What Is Android TV, and Which Android TV Box Should I Buy?

If you’re in the market for a streaming set-top box and are also an Android user, you’ve undoubtedly considered Android TV. The thing is, this is a really confusing landscape: there are a lot of “fake” Android TV boxes floating around out there, and only a handful of official boxes actually worth considering.
If you came here for the short answer, I’ll give it to you straight up: buy an NVIDIA SHIELD and be done with it. It’s the best Android TV box on the market, bar none. That part is simple.
But if you’ve been on the hunt for a while and see the other options—Razer Forge, Nexus Player, etc.—including those weird “Android TV” boxes on Amazon, we’re here to help you filter through the fluff by explaining what not to buy.

What Is Android TV?

Android TV is more than just Android on a box that you connect to your TV. A lot more. Android TV has been specifically designed for the bigger screen—it has a dedicated interface, better controller and remote support, a specifically curated Play Store, and all the other goodness you’d expect from a streaming set-top box.
In other words: it’s not like plugging your phone up to the TV and hoping for the best. Just like Apple TV has a very iOS-like look and feel, Android TV retains the familiarity of Android in a much more TV-friendly package.





But much like Android phones, Android TV is available on many different devices from different manufacturers. Google isn’t the only one making Android TV boxes—Razer makes one, NVIDIA makes one, and some TVs even come with Android TV built-in. Android TV is a platform, like Android—not just one specific device, like the Apple TV.

So What’s With All These “Android TV” Boxes I See on Amazon and eBay?

If you go to Amazon and search for “Android TV” right now, you’ll get a lot of results. The thing is, most of these aren’t really Android TV boxes. They’re boxes that run Android and hook up to your TV.





See, these sorts of “shady” manufacturers are just playing on words here. The majority of these boxes aren’t actually running the dedicated Android TV interface because they don’t have access to it. Only the core parts of Android TV are part of the Android Open Source Project, and even those parts are not permitted for re-distribution, since it requires modification of the Nexus Player source code.
Instead, what these guys are doing is taking the original Android source code—the one that’s meant for phones or tablets—and turning it into a sort of hackjob piece of software that will run on a box that plugs into your TV. So instead of getting that slick Android TV interface, you get a phone interface on a big, non-touch screen. Yuck.
To make matters worse, many of these boxes don’t even have access to the Play Store, since that requires certification from Google. Those are the shadiest of all the boxes out there, as they’re often loaded with software of questionable integrity.
So why would anyone buy these boxes? Well, they might be tricked by the naming scheme—many of these boxes make themselves sound like Android TV boxes by calling themselves something like “Android 6.0 TV Box”—which is not the same as “Android TV”.
Other people may actually want these janky boxes, since they offer fewer restrictions. Remember earlier when I said Android TV has a specifically curated Play Store? That’s to ensure compatibility with the big screen. Some people may want access to everything—even if it’ll look and work poorly on a large, non-touch device like a TV. Different strokes, I suppose.

How Do I Know Which Boxes Actually Run Android TV?

Your best bet is to stick with boxes that are well-known. As I mentioned earlier, NVIDIA SHIELD (available on Amazon for $200) is hands-down the best Android TV box on the market—it’s fast, updated often, and well supported. If you want Android TV, you want SHIELD. It’s that simple.





But there are other boxes out there, like the now-outdated Nexus Player. The latter was actually the flagship box for the launch of Android TV, but is still very much relevant today and you can often find it at a fraction of the cost of SHIELD if you look around places like eBay. So if you’re looking to stay on the lower end of the pricing, there’s no shame in going with the Nexus Player—it’s still a very solid box. Just keep in mind that it is a little long in the tooth here.
The Razer Forge is another box that sort of sits in that well-known Android TV unit market, but for all the wrong reasons. It’s the only box that doesn’t run Netflix out of the box (seriously), and just isn’t very well supported by Razer. I think the intentions were good initially, but ultimately this box was a flop and I’d recommend staying away from it. If you’re looking for premium, go SHIELD. If you’re looking for affordable, go Nexus Player. There’s no reason to waste money on a Forge.
You could also get Android TV built-in to your next TV. There are a handful of modern smart TVs out there that have Android TV baked right into the set itself, which is convenient—but it like most smart TVs, it comes with downsides. Manufacturers like this generally skimp on the hardware so it’s nowhere near as powerful as a standalone unit. These baked-in options generally are also very rigid in terms of upgrades: no expandable storage or other potential upgrades that can be done on standalone boxes.

Android TV hasn’t had quite the takeoff that many of us had hoped it would, but that doesn’t make it any less of a great set-top box setup. NVIDIA has almost single-handedly changed the course of what Android TV would’ve been with SHIELD, as the company has really picked up Google’s slack in this segment.

Source: https://www.howtogeek.com/296476/what-is-android-tv-and-which-android-tv-box-should-i-buy/

January 24, 2017

Review of USTV Now Roku Channel

You may have heard of USTVnow, the streaming service that offers cable television packages that range in price from free to over $100.
USTVnow is ostensibly designed for Americans living abroad (military service members, for instance). The idea is that Americans would normally have access to these channels (perhaps even free over the air), but no longer can. However, USTVnow doesn’t do anything to verify that you are American or living outside of the United States, so it’s effectively a free-for-all.
That means you can get USTVnow no matter where you live. But should you? Here’s our review.

 

The user experience

Device support is fairly weak on USTVnow. There is a Roku private channel that is pretty good, and USTVnow works on your phone, tablet, computer, and smartphone. That’s about it, though – don’t expect support for Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, or Apple TV. The unlimited DVR feature is a nice touch (you can only get it with the paid account, though).

USTVnow's browser interface
USTVnow’s browser interface
We weren’t that impressed with USTVnow’s UI. USTVnow’s interface isn’t bad, exactly, but it’s also a constant reminder that the service exists on the fringe of legality. It’s pretty basic, with stock photos, blue links, grey tones, and right angles galore. Using it was pretty painless, though it occasionally hit us with strange error dialogue boxes upon login. The USTVnow logo in the upper left corner of the screen indicated that the service is in Beta, and it shows.
All of this is no big deal for the free plan – you don’t expect luxury when you’re using a quasi-legal service and netting a bunch of free TV. But USTVnow’s paid customers probably deserve better.

The content

USTVnow’s paid version includes more than 25 channels. That’s not a bad selection, especially considering the big names that are included: you’ll get the four major networks, plus AMC, CNN, ESPN, FX, TBS, and TNT, to name just a few. The free version includes six channels: ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC, and PBS (those are free because they’re the ones that Americans could theoretically get free over the air at home). Here’s a quick breakdown of the pricing for the paid version:
USTV Now pricing
There’s also a “premium plan” with over 200 channels, including HBO and Showtime. That will run you more than $99 and uses a different system.
It’s hard to find reasons to complain about USTVnow’s content. The only strange thing about the content is that it comes from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Since the major networks, PBS, and the rest have regionally-specific content, this can make for kind of weird moments. Local news, NFL games, and other programming will be based on whatever Harrisburg gets. There are also lots of local Harrisburg commercials, which is amusing. It’s a little bootleg, for lack of a better word.
We mentioned the NFL up there. NFL games are a big boost to USTVnow’s content selection, especially since most games are on the channels that you can get for free (the Monday night games on ESPN are the ones that will cost you extra). NFL games are really hard to get ahold of, so it’s nice to be able to catch them. Note that the local broadcasts for Harrisburg cover the Steelers and Eagles, so you’ll have to hope that your favorite team isn’t playing in the same time slot.

Streaming quality

Streaming through USTVnow is solid but unspectacular. The quality is determined largely by your internet bandwidth, but you can choose between low, medium, high, and HD quality at will. We experienced occasional pixelation and poor picture quality. Streaming on low quality was very consistent and smooth; at higher picture quality levels, we dealt with more freezes and choppiness. Internet bandwidth determines streaming success, so your milage may vary. For what it’s worth, the low quality stream wasn’t that blurry, so this wasn’t the end of the world.


Low quality streaming worked best for us - here's what it looks like

Low quality streaming worked best for us – here’s what it looks like
One annoying thing about the stream is that it re-loads every time you change the quality (understandable) or picture size (less understandable), and it takes a fair amount of time to do it. You’ll miss 10+ seconds of your program if you make a switch from one video quality to another.
We did have some issues streaming content on Sunday, when NFL games were airing. This could have been because a high volume of users were streaming at once. Once again, it seemed like something you’d expect from a free illegal stream, but would be hard to swallow as a paying customer.

Our conclusion

You can’t beat the price of USTVnow’s free plan. Even if USTVnow is eventually shut down, individual users will almost certainly never be prosecuted, so you might as well make a free account.
USTVnow’s monthly rate of $29 for a paid plan is much tougher for us to justify based on our experience. Sling TV has fewer channels and a weaker content selection, but it’s also $9 less, features more device support, and isn’t illegal. That said, USTVnow’s day passes are a very attractive option for appointment viewing like sports events and TV specials.

Stephen Lovely
Stephen Lovely is a freelance writer and a longtime cord cutter with a passion for technology and entertainment. You can find his work on Cordcutting.com and his tweets at @stephenlovely.


Source: https://cordcutting.com/review-of-ustv-now/

The Hassle-Free Guide to Ripping Your Blu-Ray Collection

Blu-Ray may be majestic, but it also has more copy protection than any other format around, and playing it on your computer can be difficult to impossible. Here’s how to rip those movies for glorious HD movies, anywhere you want them.

Apart from its very heavy copy protection, you can only play Blu-Ray discs in a few choice desktop computer programs, most of which cost a lot of money. If you use a Mac, it becomes even more difficult, and it’s pretty much impossible on Linux. Luckily, video encoding has come a long way since the days of grainy, 700MB DVD rips, and you can get high quality Blu-Ray rips that can weigh in anywhere between 4 and 12 GB each, depending on how close to the original source you want them to be. Best of all is that even a 4GB file looks a ton better than those DVD rips, so by ripping your Blu-Rays, you can still get that amazing HD quality on any computer you want—no Blu-Ray drive or expensive software required (you’ll need a Blu-Ray drive to rip them though, of course—but then you’ll be able to play those files anywhere).
Five Best Blu-Ray Playback Suites

There are a lot of different methods for ripping and encoding Blu-Rays, several different encoding programs, and more than a few ripping solutions. We combed through the options to pull together the simplest, working method using the best free programs we could find. In addition, everyone’s preferences on quality and method of encoding are different, so you may prefer some advanced options we do not cover here, but this is intended to be a fairly simple, hassle-free guide for people who want to get the job done. It makes a compromise between being easy to execute without sacrificing too much quality. Also, this method is 100% cross-platform, as both programs are available on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
What You’ll Need

Unlike a lot of the Blu-Ray guides I’ve stumbled onto, you’ll only need a few things for ours:

    A Blu-Ray Drive. This is pretty obvious; you won’t get far if your computer can’t read Blu-Ray discs. You can get them for as low as $60 now on Newegg if you don’t already have one.


    Previously mentioned MakeMKV for the initial Blu-Ray rip. It’s about the simplest ripper on the market, rips your movie to a high quality MKV file for easy encoding, and is free while in beta (which, so far, has been a very long time). If you have another ripper that just rips the disc in its original format, like AnyDVD HD, that should work just as well, but if you don’t have a program on hand, MakeMKV will do the job brilliantly.
    Handbrake, our favorite (and your favorite) cross platform, open source video encoder. There are a few other programs out there that will encode HD video, and some of them are a bit easier to navigate, most notably Ripbot264. However, I and many others have had problems running this on 64-bit versions of Windows 7, so I decided to go with Handbrake instead. Make sure you’re using the latest version.
    Anywhere from 30 to 60 GB of hard disk space, depending on what you’re ripping. Blu-Rays are big, and we’re going to rip the whole thing to our drive first, so depending on the movie you’re ripping and the quality you want in your final movie file, you’ll need a good amount of space. An external hard drive will work just fine if you have one and don’t have the space on your PC.

That’s it. Unlike using RipBot or other similar methods, you won’t need AviSynth, ffdshow, or any of the other many installations such programs often require. Just download and install MakeMKV and Handbrake (if you don’t have them already) and you’ll be good to go.


Step One: Rip the Movie with MakeMKV

The first thing we’re going to do is rip our movie to our hard drive, which will produce a very large MKV file of your movie at full, 1080p, Blu-Ray quality. It’ll be very large, but we’ll slim it down later, so for right now, don’t worry about how big it is.

Open up MakeMKV and hit the bit “Open Disc” button. It will scan through your disc, which will take a few minutes. When it’s done, it’ll give you a list of the chapters on the disc. Find your movie (usually the longest title) and uncheck all the other boxes. Then, just choose your Output Folder and hit the “Make MKV” button. Usually this’ll take a half hour or so, depending on the size of your disc, but once it’s done you should have a big MKV file waiting for you in the folder you chose.




Step Two: Choose Your Resolution in Handbrake

Now comes the more complicated (but also more fun) part of the process. There are a lot of settings available in Handbrake, and while we won’t delve into all the advanced features it has, you still have some choices to make and some settings to tweak. Most of it is personal preference, but we’ll outline what we recommend for getting the best compromise between quality and space savings on a movie-by-movie basis, so you can fit as many of those HD movies on your hard drive as possible.



The first thing you want to think about (which will affect your output size pretty heavily) is resolution. Blu-Rays are 1080p natively, and by default, Handbrake will keep that resolution. However, you may want to consider toning it down to 720p for some movies. 720p is still HD, but takes up quite a bit less space—in fact, by bringing our test movies down to 720p, I nearly halved the size of the final file. And, if we’re being honest, certain movies just don’t need all those pixels—I love Anchorman as much as anybody, but I don’t need to see Will Ferrel running around cracking jokes in magnificent 1080p. The Dark Knight, on the other hand, probably deserves all the pixels 1080p can offer. It’s up to you to decide which movies you’d like to dedicate an extra few gigs to, but toning the less visually interesting ones down is something I’d highly recommend.

If you’re ripping a movie that deserves 1080p, you can skip this step, because 1080p is the already the default resolution. If you want to change it to 720p, then click on the Picture tab (or the “Picture Settings” button along the top of the HandBrake window, depending on your platform). Set the “Anamorphic” box to “loose” and change the width to 1280. Note that Handbrake crops out the black bars on either side to save some space, so your height will not be 720, but rest assured that it will be what you know as 720p quality. Exit that window and return to HandBrake’s main settings.

Step Three: Set Your Quality Settings and Encode

Next, hit the High Profile preset in the right sidebar and choose your output type. I like MKV; it’s open in nature, supports DTS and AC3 audio, and works great in quite a few media players, including most media center software. Choose H.264 as your video codec and head to the Audio tab. Here, you have a few options depending on the nature of your disc. It will likely be some form of either AC3 (aka Dolby Digital) or DTS—there are a few different versions of each, but for each I recommend choosing the Passthru option for your Audio codec (AC3 Passthru or DTS Passthru). If you choose the DTS-HD or TrueHD track, you’ll get lossless audio, but you can save some space by choosing the regular DTS or AC3 track with very little loss in quality.





Lastly, we’ll pick the quality of our encode. This part is pretty open to experimentation, but it’s pretty widely accepted that doing a constant quality encode is the best option, so select that. I and many others have found that an RF of 18 is the “sweet spot” for Blu-Rays. This setting will give you a file much smaller than your original MKV (around 15% the size, I’ve found), but with quality nearly indiscernible to your eyes from the original. If you have particularly sensitive eyes, you may want it closer to 16, or even 14 for some Blu-Rays. If you tend to not notice minor imperfections, maybe and RF of 20 is more your speed. Again, this is personal preference, and it can depend on the movie too—movies with lots of fast motion and dark scenes will need a higher quality setting—that is, a lower RF—to look good. So, you may have to play with it a bit before you make your final decision. I’ve found a good way to do this is to rip a single scene using MakeMKV, then test that with a few different quality settings in Handbrake before encoding the final movie, since encoding the whole movie can take a long time.





When you’re ready, hit the encode button and let it go to town. It will take a little while, depending on the settings you’ve chosen, so maybe now is a time to kick back with a cold one and, if you’ve already ripped one of your Blu-Rays, watch one (or two or five—seriously, it could take awhile). Once you’ve ripped your movies, you can watch them either in our favorite video players for Windows, Mac, and Linux, or put together a turbo charged XBMC computer for your home theater.


Like I said before, this is certainly not the only way to rip your Blu-Ray discs. A lot of people prefer different programs and settings, but if you’re not a true audio or videophile, these settings should help you upgrade your movie collection to HD without taking terabytes of space. As always, if you have your own favorite methods for ripping HD content, sound off in the comments.

Source: https://lifehacker.com/5559007/the-hassle-free-guide-to-ripping-your-blu-ray-collection

December 15, 2016

Reuters TV Comes to Roku Players With FREE News Coverage

Now you can watch Reuters TV for free, personalized video news on your Roku.
Reuters TV is your video news service. Powered by more than 2,500 journalists in 200 locations around the world, it offers exclusive news programming that’s ready whenever you are. Watch news that’s curated for you, straight from the source and made to fit your day on your Roku player.
Choose your video news program length and watch news that’s ready when you are.
Here is our full video review:




Key features include:
• On­-demand: Reuters TV is ready whenever and wherever you are
• Up to date: Insightful and unbiased coverage of national and world news that’s always current
• Relevant to you: Personalized to your interests and location
• Live feeds: Watch the world’s most important events as they happen
• Any duration: Choose the length of your personalized news program, from 5 to 30 minutes
• Quick control: Skip between each story in your program
• Follow trends: Whether it’s the migrant crisis or the race for the self-driving car, stay on top of news trends in our Featured Programs section
Access to Reuters TV is completely free with limited advertising.
You can add Reuters TV to your Roku here: https://channelstore.roku.com/details/114091/reuterstv
Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news, tips, and reviews.
Need cord cutting tech support? Join our new Cord Cutting Tech Support Facebook Group for help.
- See more at: http://cordcuttersnews.com/reuters-tv-comes-roku-players-free-news-coverage/#sthash.kq8jJh5M.dpuf

December 14, 2016

The Weather Channel Comes to Roku Players


weather


Miss the Weather Channel after you left cable? Well the Weather Channel is now available on your Roku with their new Local Now Roku Channel.
If you have had Sling TV recently you are probably already familiar with Local Now.  It brings local weather, news, sports, traffic, and other local content to your Roku. During sever weather like tornadoes and hurricanes they often flip over to a live feed of The Weather Channel in the effected markets.
If you have a login to a service that provides the Weather Channel you will be able to get a live feed of the full Weather Channel. Hopefully a streaming service will soon offer that option. Yet for now this is a great option for cord cutters looking for local weather.
weather2From The Weather Channel:
Local Now offers real-time, hyper-local weather, news, sports and traffic reports. For the first time your local news is available instantly on demand and on any device. The localized content is featured within a short loop that is updated in real-time. So if you miss something, you can catch it again only a few minutes later.
Powered by The Weather Channel and other leading content providers, Local Now delivers a unique viewing experience that gives information that is relevant to you and your day. Additionally, Local Now offers localized severe weather clips within your personally customized locations, providing you with the real-time weather information you need to stay safe if your area is impacted by a particular weather event.
Local Now also offers a live video stream of The Weather Channel television network to the majority of users that have a current TV provider subscription. Additional partners will continue to be signed and announced, you will be prompted to select your provider at time of login.
Update: Something not listed in the description is that you only get a free 31 day trial of this channel. After the 31 day trial is up you will need a service provider to continue using the Roku Channel.
You can add the Local Now Channel to your Roku her: https://channelstore.roku.com/details/97955/localnow
Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news, tips, and reviews.
Need cord cutting tech support? Join our new Cord Cutting Tech Support Facebook Group for help.
- See more at: http://cordcuttersnews.com/weather-channel-comes-roku-players/#sthash.SxTgEnK1.dpuf

December 5, 2016

Hulu now streams 4K, starting with its originals and 20 Bond films

Starting today, you can stream 4K content from Hulu on Xbox One S and the PlayStation 4 Pro. But the selection of shows and movies available at launch is pretty underwhelming compared to rivals Netflix and Amazon Video, who’ve both been offering 4K for some time now.
Hulu’s first batch of 4K includes the company’s lineup original shows and 20 James Bond films. So while that’s pretty good news for 007 fanatics, well, it doesn’t do much for everyone else. Hulu Originals (11.22.63, The Path, Chance, etc.) aren’t exactly the same award-winning critical darlings we’ve seen from the service’s competitors. Hopefully the company will waste no time in widening its catalog of things to watch in 4K. It’s also lagging behind Amazon, Vudu, and now Netflix in enabling offline downloads.
Anyway, here’s the list of Bond flicks that you can now see in UHD on those two devices:
  • Spectre
  • Die Another Day
  • The World Is Not Enough
  • GoldenEye
  • Licence To Kill
  • The Living Daylights
  • A View To A Kill
  • Never Say Never Again
  • Octopussy
  • For Your Eyes Only
  • Moonraker
  • The Spy Who Loved Me
  • The Man With The Golden Gun
  • Diamonds Are Forever
  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
  • You Only Live Twice
  • Thunderball
  • Goldfinger
  • From Russia With Love
  • Dr. No


    Source: http://www.theverge.com/2016/12/2/13821192/hulu-4k-streaming-now-available-bond-movies