Corliss Group Tech Review: Is Google Chromecast worth its low price?

It weighs just 34 grams, is 72 x 35 x 12 mm in size, and costs only the $39: The Google Chromecast looks and feels like a USB flash drive with a glandular problem.

Cheap, easy to set up and even easier to use, there’s really nothing to dislike about the Google streaming device, except for one thing: Canadian content (which we will get to in a moment).

The Chromecast is so small that once it's plugged into an HDMI port in the back of a television set, there’s almost no indication that it's a part of your home theatre setup. Only its power cord, which can either be plugged into a wall socket or available USB port, gives a hint that it’s even there. Unlike other streaming media devices like the Apple TV or Roku 3, Google Chromecast doesn't come with a remote control, or in fact, any onboard applications or content. Everything, from setting up the device to watching a video from your personal media collection or browsing YouTube, is done through the use of apps on an Android phone or tablet, iOS device or via Google Chrome browser on a Chrome OS, Windows or Mac PC.

No matter which device you use with the Chromecast, setup is a cinch. Simply power the device, plug it into an available television HDMI port and follow the Chromecast's onscreen prompts. The device will walk you through the process of connecting it to a Wi-Fi network, pairing with your choice of source device and downloading any available firmware updates. Even with the lousy Internet speeds I suffered while testing the hardware in rural southwestern Ontario I was setup and ready to start streaming content to my Chromecast in under 10 minutes.

Sending content from your computer Chrome browser requires the download of a browser extension. Once it was installed, I was able to send content displayed in Chrome to the Chromecast with a click of my mouse. Video I purchased and rented from The Google Play store streamed smoothly, albeit at lower than HD resolutions. I was also able to access and watch movies via Netflix and YouTube just as easily, and I found that Rio, my online music streaming service of choice, worked well via Android, iOS and Chrome for Mac as well.

However, I quickly discovered that the Chromecast doesn't play well with all in-browser content: while I was able to send The Globe and Mail's website to my TV to read on the big screen, there was a noticeable second-long lag between the clicks made on my laptop to when the commands given would be displayed by the Chromecast on my TV. On the Android side of things, I found sending Netflix content, as well as video and audio stored on Nexus 7, to be a seamless experience. The same can be said for firing content over from an iPhone or an iPad, although you’ll need to download Google free Chromecast app from the iTunes App Store in order to do so.

The pain point here is the limited number of content options it provides to its Canadian users. When compared to what is available to other streaming media devices here in Canada, the content options available on a Chromecast seem pretty slim. Apple TV users in this country enjoy the largest selection of movies, TV and music to purchase or rent of any service available today. Roku users have access to hundreds of channels worth of content, in addition to Netflix and even a handful of games. Here in Canada, thanks to a lack of licensed services and content, the Chromecast can only provide access to Netflix, Google Play Video, YouTube and select content dished up from your computer browser tab. By way of contrast, in the U.S. Chromecast hardware provides users with access to such paid services as HBO Go, Amazon Prime Video and Pandora. This makes the device a much more attractive buy south of the border than it is up here. More apps and compatible services are sure to be on the way, but that doesn't help early adopters of the device.

You can argue that this lack of content can be sidestepped through VPN tunneling or downloading PLEX – a Chromecast-compatible computer program designed to collect streaming online channels and user-owned content into one interface, which can then be streamed to mobile devices or TV hardware like the Chromecast. But setting up and tweaking either of these options may be beyond the capabilities of many of the Chromecast's potential users.

The Final Verdict:

The Google Chromecast provides computer, tablet and smartphone owners an affordable, easy to use means to push Netflix, YouTube video, movies purchased or rented from the Google Play Store and music from select streaming services to their HDMI-equipped TV. Unfortunately, a lack of additional content options keep this low-cost, merely adequate device from being great.

Topic : Global Information
Genre : News

tag : Corliss Group Tech Review, Google Chromecast, low price

This is what the new reversible USB 3.1 cable looks like, Corliss Review Group

 


In December last year the technology consortium responsible for the USB standard announced that the next generation of connectors would be entirely reversible – now the first picture of the new plug has appeared online.

As expected, the new design looks pretty much identical to Apple’s Lightning connector - a proprietary standard which is also reversible and appears on the latest iPhones and iPads.

The new USB 3.1 Type-C is similar in size to the current Micro USB design used to charge most small gadgets and will break computability with current ports.

The designs are not expected to be finalized until July and it will take many months more before manufacturers start to introduce the new Type-C to their products.

This latest update to the most widely accepted connector in the tech world will offer increased bandwidths of up to 10Gbps but for most of the clearest advantage will never having to fiddle with getting our USB plugs the right way round.

Corliss Review Group on the Internet Scam That Hijacks Your Hard Drive



Viruses used to be so simple.

You’d go online with your dial-up modem, take 25 minutes to naively download an appealing-sounding .exe file, and suddenly a sheep would walk across the screen or an embarrassing e-mail would be sent to your entire address book. Some would even wish you a Happy New Year.

Annoying, maybe, but they had their own ‘90s cyber-kiddie sense of charm.

Some viruses, of course, were incredibly disruptive. Now, though, viruses and malware have become even more malicious. They’re out for more than just hacker cred – they’re out for your money.

For a long time, malware scammers used tactics known as Scare ware. The malicious software fraudulently claims that your computer has a serious virus infection then sends you to a page to buy their (useless) anti-virus software.

Related: Porn, Drugs, Hit men, and Hackers: This Is the Deep Web

While this is certainly still around, many people have gotten wise to the fraud. Now some scammers are playing hardball. Enter Ransom ware.

Ransom ware is a form of malware that encrypts files on your hard drives with a highly complicated algorithm then presents you with an ultimatum: Pay up or you lose your files forever. The inherent brilliance in the software is this: While the software can be removed, the files remain encrypted. Paying the ransom is the only chance you have to see your files again.

Although this scam has been around since 1989, only recently has it become widespread due to advancements in cryptography algorithms, the ability to extort via the anonymous currency Bit coin, and the digitization of once-analog items of sentimental value like family photos and home videos.

Some consumers are aware of the latest and most notable iteration of this trend known as Crypto Locker, which encrypts the user’s data with a 2048-bit RSA Algorithm. The scammers weren’t fooling around when they invented this complicated algorithm, which is incredibly difficult – if not impossible – to crack without a key, which will cost victims about $150 to $300.

Crypto locker has been incredibly successful. Owing to surprisingly good “customer service” — the majority of people who pay the ransom have their files restored — the men behind the Crypto locker curtain have raked in over $27 million in Bit coin over a period of three months, according to an examination of the Bit coin block chain by ZDNet.

Related: Cyber Crime Pays: A $114 Billion Industry

Due to the inherent success of the software, it seems only logical that a bevy of copycats would show up.

And they have. IN droves.

One version, which claimed the owner of the computer had been caught with illicit material on his computer, demanded a fine. The ordeal caused a Romanian man to take his own life and that of his son two weeks ago.

While Ransom ware has evolved as a threat to home computer users, it bears a sizeable risk to the business world as well. After all, the earlier versions of Crypto locker actually targeted business professionals, hiding it within emails claiming to be a “consumer complaint.”

McAfee, the prominent maker of anti-virus products, predicts that Ransom ware in 2014 will evolve to further target businesses and business owners, and that the software will shift to the mobile realm this year. Scammers will, according to McAfee, use the information gleaned from business owners' mobile devices to gain a “tactical advantage” over the businesses, which could end up costing them untold amounts of money.

It's scary stuff certainly, but home users and business owners still have one easy way out – ensuring all their files are backed up using a cloud-based service, untouchable to any scammers.

In terms of which service to pick, there are hundreds of them out there.

•           Box for Business is an affordable option, offering a terabyte of storage per user, at a price of $15 a user.

•           Amazon’s S3 offer’s a pay-per-use monthly pricing scale at 10 cents a gigabyte.

•           At $55 a month for 3 users, Sugar Sync for Business is a slightly pricier option, but boasts a collaborative sharing platform and mobile access.

Suffice it to say, regardless of the particular needs of your family or your organization, there’s a service out there’s that caters to them. There’s no excuse to keep only data stored locally.

Once everyone does this, Ransom ware will seem much less threatening.

Corliss Review Group on Identity fraud and cybercrime cost firms over €600m



AN increase in cybercrimes is costing Irish companies over €600m a year, according to a new report.

Reports of data breaches are mounting in Ireland as both foreign and Irish criminals infiltrate business computer systems, according to a Grant Thornton business report.

Common crimes include identity fraud, online scams, and cyber theft and cyber extortion.

Notifications of security breaches rose 36pc in 2012. Incidents are typically under-reported to the Data Protection Commissioner because company’s fear a hit to their reputation should they disclose their security systems failed, according to Grant Thornton partner Mike Harris, who launched the company's cyber security service.

SECURITY

Breaches since 2011 include attacks on Loyalty build, Eircom Study Hub and Recruit Ireland. Loyalty build suffered a breach of customer data and credit card information and had to invest €500,000 on security.

It is estimated that 55pc of cybercrime is by international organized crime gangs – typically operating in countries where regulation is weak.

Mr Harris said: "Our estimate of €630m is likely to be below the actual level given that many companies still do not report security breaches for fear of the reputational damage."

He said Irish businesses should be focusing... on the ability to detect and react to data security breaches.

"It is not a question of if an Irish business will be subjected to an online attack, but a question of when," he said.

Corliss Review Group on the week’s top tech news: Google Nest, iPhone camera tips, EU data roaming & Easter apps

The Google Nest thermostat goes on sale, Sony gives away some free music and we bring you a great app for the Easter holes.




GADGET OF THE WEEK

NEST • From £170 plus VAT

Your central heating is about to get a whole lot cooler thanks to Google’s new Nest thermostat.

The space-aged gadget not only looks the business but will also save you a heap of money.

Using tech wizardry, Nest learns about you and your home then decides when to switch on your boiler. You can also control the heating while away via your smartphone.

Google reckons the £249 Nest will save 20% off your gas bill.

+++TECH NEWS+++

JACKO IS BACK & FREE ON SONY'S NEW XPERIA Z2

The brilliant Sony Xperia Z2 is now available to pre-order.

And with a stunning screen, waterproof design and new 4K camcorder it’s one of the best Android phones on the market.

If you decide to fill your pockets with this phone then there's an added bonus.

You'll get a free copy of the new album from the king of pop Michael Jackson, when it's released next month.

XSCAPE features eight new tracks which have been optimized especially for the Xperia Z2. ShaMOAN!




TAKING shots of celebs on the red carpet usually requires a top-end camera.

But pro snapper Dan Rubin ditched his trusted DSLR last week in favor of an iPhone 5s.

Photographing stars like Graham Norton, above, shows just how good phone cameras have become.

Here are Dan’s top tips for shooting with your smartphone.

How did you find the experience differed to shooting with a DSLR?

The iPhone is essentially a point-and-shoot camera, so there are far fewer things to think about when shooting.

The size of the device makes a big difference when trying to connect with a subject, they see me and not just a massive camera and lens.

This allowed me to be conversational with each person as they passed by, and in many cases they returned the favor.

It was also easy to slip my arm between a few paparazzi and get a shot.

But there are certain types of images I wasn’t able to capture without a strobe or a big lens.

  



Are you happy with the results?

Once I got used to the lighting and how the celebrities were behaving, I was able to get results I was really happy with especially with a camera I could fit in my pocket

What apps did you use for shooting and editing?

I shot almost exclusively with the default iOS Camera app, with a few select shots captured using CortexCam (an app that averages multiple shots to remove noise in extremely low light).

All editing/post-production was done in VSCO Cam.


 




+++TECH NEWS+++

NEW RULES COULD SPELL THE END OF DATA ROAMING CHARGES

GOOD news for ­travellers.

The EU is hoping to put an end to data roaming charges, leaving you to tweet and text abroad without getting a nasty shock.

The new rules won’t take effect until at least 2015, so for now you’re best switching off your smartphone and enjoying the sun.

 



APP OF THE WEEK

ADDISON LEE

Apple • Android – FREE

IF you’re heading to London this Easter, pop the new taxi app from Addison Lee on your smartphone.

It allows you to book a cab for a set time or simply hit the “pick me up now” button for an instant collection.

It’s fast, friendly and will save you a sweaty trip on the Tube.
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