Before You Buy 152 (Transcript)
Show Tease: Coming up! It’s the Fire TV versus the Nexus Player. The Bose SoundLink Color versus a pair of stainless steel headphones. And I’ll review the very first smartwatch with its own phone number. It’s time to watch Before You Buy. Netcasts you love, from people you trust. This is TWiT. Bandwidth for Before You Buy is brought to you by CacheFly, at CacheFly.com. Hi, this is Leo Laporte, and if you’d like to help us design our new website, I invite you to visit twit.to/navtest, we’ve got eight quick questions we’d like to ask you, that will help make the navigation easier to use. That’s twit.to/navtest. Thanks a lot. Before You Buy is brought to you by SmartThings. SmartThings lets you control and monitor your home from anywhere in the world, using your smartphone. To get started, visit smartthings.com/twit and you’ll save 10% off any home security, or solution kit, when you use the code TWIT10 at checkout. And by IFIXIT. You can fix it, and IFIXIT makes it easy with free step by step repair guides, high quality replacement parts, and all the tools you need. For 10 dollars off your purchase of 50 dollars or more, go to IFIXIT.com/twit and enter the code BEFOREYOUBUY at checkout.
Leo Laporte: Welcome to Before You Buy, that’s the TWiT product review show where we get the latest and greatest stuff, give it to our hosts and say what do you think? How is living with this device in the real world? We’ve got a real faceoff coming up here, because we’ve got two devices designed for your living room to help you watch internet television on your big screen TV. Jason Howell will kick things off with Googles Nexus player. This is Googles returned to this space.
Jason Howell: It’s like a platter, a platter of Nexus stuff right here.
Leo: It’s all nexus. This is the cue which came out two years ago was kind of like this, right?
Jason: Well, you know the cue was a sphere with a rotating top, that was like the beginning of this world.
Leo: Right. And Google has tried google TV, I had Logitech, Google TV box.
Jason: Yeah. Google IO, we had the ADT1, which is the developer kind of edition of what ended up being a Nexus player more or less.
Leo: But this is now for sale and available.
Jason: This is for sale through the play store, it’s the Nexus player. 99 dollars.
Leo: All of these are 99 dollars?
Jason: Yes, this is just 99 dollars flat. You can get the optional game pad that I have here for $39.99, it connects VIA Bluetooth to the Nexus player. And I mean, I think the gaming is a big reason why you would want the Nexus player, so I would definitely you know, encourage people to consider that, it’s not a horrible price, and it’s pretty great quality controller. But so yeah, you see the Nexus player right here. It’s a low profile, kind of hockey puck design here. You know it’s on because of that tiny little dot up there.
Leo: HDMI cable that plugs into the back of your TV.
Jason: HDMI, we’ve got micro USB for developer interest basically.
Leo: It doesn’t really do anything?
Jason: It doesn’t do anything for most people. And power. No Ethernet.
Leo: It’s WIFI only, okay.
Jason: No Ethernet, and that’s definitely a downside to this as far as I’m concerned. So 1.8 gigahertz quad core Intel Adam processor. 1 GIG of RAM. 8 GIGS of storage, and there’s no SD card slot. So right off the top, no Ethernet, no SD card slot, and 8 gigs of storage for a living room device that also plays games. So incredibly underserved I think for this kind of device.
Leo: Interesting. Okay.
Jason: 8 gigs of storage, where the system is eating up 2, 3, 3.5 gigs, somewhere around there, right off the top. Leaves you with 5 gigs to play around with. And if you’re installing games, if you’re using this as a game device, it’s not very much. Particularly because a lot of these games are being retooled for the living room and they end up being a little bit larger.
Leo: I’m kind of surprised to hear you focus on the games in this. This, of course, plays Netflix, it does all the things the standard.
Jason: It does. But we’ll definitely get there.
Leo: But you think the games are what makes it different? Or better?
Jason: Well it’s certainly a differentiator for something like the Roku.
Leo: Right, which plays games, but not well. Or the Oyea which was really the Android based game thing which never took off.
Jason: Right, partially because it was like a third party approach to gaming on Android. This is Googles official kind of console, more or less, if you want to think of it that way.
Leo: Yeah, that’s a different way to think of it, it’s not just a TV thing. It’s a gaming device.
Jason: Exactly. The HDMI out, this 1080P 60 frames per second. Of course 802.11 Bluetooth 4.1. And actually if you buy this before December 31a, you get a 20 dollar google play credit.
Leo: That’s pretty good.
Jason: Its, you know, 100 bucks for this and then 20 dollars of credit.
Leo: Now you can buy the controller extra for 40 bucks. But it does come with a remote control.
Jason: It comes with this remote control. So we can do the remote here. It’s a small, you know, more or less functional remote, and I don’t know if we have the interface to where I can kind of…
Leo: We’re not able to watch television on this, or the fire TV later in the game, because these guys have copy, HTCP on them, so they won’t let us stream this.
Jason: Yeah so I don’t know if it’s going to let me pass through any video, in fact I have…
Leo: Look, there’s Leo Laporte on this week in Google. I love that show…
Jason: Are you okay, Leo?
Leo: So you can get podcasts on this too.
Jason: Yeah, so I mean right out of the package, you know, its linked up to obviously all of Googles things, so that’s why you see a lot of play movies suggestions happening here. YouTube suggestions. You also see haystack. I installed haystack, which is a third party app that’s more news based. And thankfully that seems to be tied into here. One thing you don’t really see up here is Netflix. Oh hey, my little Pony, thank you Lucy, I appreciate that. One thing you don’t see up here is Netflix, and you also don’t see that at this point, which is probably the service I use the most, in the integrated search, the search is definitely one of the powerful things.
Leo: Does it not have? There’s Netflix at the bottom. So it has Netflix app but you can’t search Netflix.
Jason: It came preinstalled. And suggestions inside of it. So let’s see, I’ll do a search for…
Leo: I wonder if that’s… Netflix has an API doesn’t it?
Jason: Well, I think it’s a Google API that Netflix hasn’t worked into their app yet. But I don’t know, I thought it was weird that they’re a launch partner, and they didn’t have it kind of baked in, but I suppose you can hold that against Netflix. So let’s see here. Search. Let’s see if this works. Science Fiction movies from the 60s.
Leo: Oh you can talk to it!
Jason: Okay, so that just picked up the app.
Leo: So that’s probably our fault.
Jason: I apologize about that. Movies with Monkeys.
Leo: For 300 Alex.
Jason: Come on! Are you going to do it?
Leo: Hey! That’s impressive!
Jason: Funky monkey, Curious George!
Leo: Now Monkey has to be in the title I guess.
Jason: Yeah. Let’s see here. Walking Dead.
Leo: I’m sorry, got my wow in there. That’s alright, it’s still smart enough.
Jason: It still got it. So it’s able to do a lot of this kind of searching. Right now, it seems to kind of search into play movies database. Actually, if I do this again, Walking Dead. Should give me a card. Yeah, there we go. And it’ll give you the option to, you know, hey this is on Google Play Movies, do you want to just go right to it?
Leo: Does it push you to the paid version, even if there’s a free version?
Jason: That’s the thing. That’s why other services really need to tap into the search functionality. And so I suppose you can kind of hold them accountable. But once they do, like I know Walking Dead is for free on Netflix, I expect that when I use this search. And if I don’t get that, it kind of feels a little bit like, you know, hey we’ve got this paid version, why don’t you just get it from us instead? You know, you can probably blame Netflix for that.
Leo: That was one of the complaints about the Amazon Fire TV too. It pushed you towards Amazon content.
Jason: Which I suppose is part of their reason for having their own ecosystem in this regard.
Leo: Now I noticed you have your Nexus 6 out, can you control it with an Android phone as well?
Jason: I can. So there’s an Android phone TV app. And it’s not the most beautiful app in the world. I honestly, this was available when they did the developer preview during the summer.
Leo: So they haven’t updated it.
Jason: I truly thought they were going to revamp this before the official public release of the Nexus player.
Leo: Hard to pair it, or you just see it on the WIFI network and say, I see you have a Nexus?
Jason: And it pairs with a four digit kind of code.
Leo: So is it Bluetooth or is it…?
Jason: It pairs VIA Bluetooth. Actually, you know, that’s a really good question. I know that it has to see it on the WIFI network, but then you’re presented on the screen, and on your device with a four digit pin. And so that’s done manually. I’m not sure if that pairing is done VIA Bluetooth or not. And then, of course, the controller can be paired as well. Let’s see here, so you... Oh and by the way, this remote, I don’t know how it comes across on video, it’s super hollow. Kind of plastic and cheap and whatever.
Leo: You know, it’s not that much different than the Roku remote, or the Fire TV remote.
Jason: It does the trick.
Leo: None of them are super sophisticated.
Jason: So let’s get to some of the things..
Leo: This is what I’m curious about is the gaming.
Jason: So let’s cut back to the video feed here.
Leo; Can we play games, or are those also copy protected?
Jason: Absolutely. So I can go home here, let’s see here.
Leo: Oh goat simulator! What games are available? Is it everything on the play store, or?
Jason: No! And that’s one big down side right now, is that compatibility has to be built into the apps. And so early on, we’re seeing a small amount of apps that are actually compatible.
Leo: This is my favorite game though!
Jason: Oh have you played this before? I just got this last night, and I just started it.
Leo: I love this game.
Jason: It’s a lot of fun.
Leo: I played it on the Xbox all the way through with my son.
Jason: So I actually really, did I just turn on Dutch? I did not do that!
Leo: Do the… It’s in many languages!
Jason: Apparently it is! I just want English!
Leo: There we go.
Jason: There we go, okay.
Leo: How is performance on it? Now this game was a big hit on the Xbox, the original Xbox.
Jason: I think performance is fine. With gaming…
Leo: You could play it on an iPad now.
Jason: With gaming I find the, I don’t find this menu system to be very intuitive. With gaming I find the performance to be pretty smooth. Pretty fluid. A little, you know, a few slowdowns here and there, but…
Leo: Oh, I’m excited!
Jason: I’m horrible.
Leo: I’m going to go buy this just to play Strangers Wrath from Odd world. I love this game.
Jason: Yeah, you know, so…
Leo: Looks good too.
Jason: This is the kind of stuff that excites, me because long ago I stopped buying consoles for my living room. So it’s kind of nice to have something that’s 100 dollars that has the potential expansion of a library as I think Android, you know, will be capable of.
Leo: So you want to get that chipmunk right there. Fire.
Jason: There we go, was that it?
Leo: Okay. Now watch, the bad guy comes out and the chipmunk, oh, blew up the dock. There you go.
Jason: Alright, cool. So there you go, I’m not going to play through this game because that’s not what this is all about.
Leo: But I’m actually interested to see the quality is good?
Jason: The quality is pretty good.
Leo: And it looks smooth.
Jason: But you run into a limit with storage, so the more games you install, you are obviously running up to that storage limit.
Leo; You only have 8 games.
Jason: So here’s the play store, so you can kind of get a sense. Entertainment apps, there’s some. Not a whole lot. Some of the, I mean, a lot of the biggies are in there.
Leo: Is there anything obvious missing? It looks like it’s all there.
Jason: You’ve got your main staples.
Leo: You have Sony’s Crackle
Jason: You have Crackle, you have TED.
Leo: Do you have Crunchy roll?
Jason: Yes. Crunchy roll I don’t believe is in here. Hay stack, Hulu, Netflix.
Leo: it seems like there’s some games and content for kids. Like Madeline was in there. That’s good.
Jason: Yeah, the game selection is pretty low, and you know, I know there’s a lot of games in the play store that are game pad compatible, but they’re not necessarily cleared for Android TV yet, so I’m hoping that happens soon, because I really, with this just want to play games with it for some reason. It just feels like the obvious thing to do. Especially when you have the game pad, but I would say the thing that you expect it to do, living room device, is play video pretty fluidly and all that. And more often than not, I would run into issues with video play back. I’m not sure exactly why, it’s probably not going to do it right now, because I’m showing it to you.
Leo: this is coming to us from YouTube, right?
Jason: Yes, this is YouTube for example. It’s probably not going to do it right now, because it’s extended use of hours and hours of watching video at home.
Leo: But you’d find some buffering or stuttering or?
Jason: It would freeze up for a second and then go. I’m not sure if it was buffering or if the processor was having a hard time keeping up with things. This is probably really confusing for people to watch.
Leo: Now, wait a minute, aren’t I watching a twit show?
Jason: But I noticed it regularly actually, and enough where it was obvious that it was happening. And I don’t feel like I see that with other devices in this kind of thing.
Leo: Is there a TWIT app on there.
Jason: No, there’s no TWiT app on the app. Android TV.
Leo: This is a limited app store.
Jason: Limited app store, yes. People are going to have to update their stuff. The UI I think makes sense. Nice graphical touch. Voice search is awesome.
Leo: No amazon instant?
Jason: No! That’s not on there, so you’re missing out on that, but I think for a video player, to not play back video as obvious, as fluently as possible, that’s like at the top of the list.
Jason: And that was kind of a bummer. Also, another thing, before I get to the pros and cons. It has Google Cass support. So it does have,
Leo: This is in fact a google cast dongle, in effect?
Jason: More or less, but here’s where it gets kind of tricky, right? So on Netflix, if I had just had my chromecast connected to a TV and I activate Chromecast on my Netflix app and send it to a TV it plays. Here there’s a Netflix app also on there. So regularly, I would load up my Netflix on here, connect to it VIA Chromecast and send a video. And instead of just launching into a video, it would launch the Netflix app, and then ask me to log in. So then I had to find the remote and log and then I could...
Leo: Even if you were already logged in?
Leo: That’s not good.
Jason: There’s a little bit of confusion there, don’t know if it sits on the developers side or if it’s on the under pinning’s of android TV, but things to figure out.
Leo: So this is the first Android TV implementation from Google.
Jason: Yes, the first consumer version of Android TV.
Leo: How is Android TV different from Google TV? That’s probably a long and deep question.
Jason: And you know what? I’m probably not the right person to ask that, because I’ve never had a Google TV personally. Ron Richards would be the perfect person…
Leo: It’s very different from the interface point of view, and much, much superior to Google TV. Google TV had a browser in it. It was much more elaborate. This and this has more apps available.
Jason: And that’s probably it, I think what they’re doing with Android TV is they’re pairing it back and saying these are the limited amount of things you can do in the living room, instead of go hog-wild.
Leo: Pros and cons.
Jason: Pros I would say android TV just as a platform has promise, and I’m looking forward to what is to come. Gaming is a lot of fun on here. I’d say it was one of my highlights with the Nexus player. Voice search definitely has potential. It’s obviously powerful. But it has a ways to go to become even more powerful, which is what you expect as a user. The cons, choppy video playback, which I think is kind of a killer to a device like this. Critically low storage with no expandability. You’re going to run into that limit pretty fast. If you get this device. WIFI only, feels kind of locked down and kind of unnecessary. I feel like it’s a living room device, I should be able to plug it in through Ethernet, and not have to worry about the downsides of WIFI, and app compatibility, both from a search perspective and from a section perspective, just isn’t quite there. So I would probably have to say don’t buy the Nexus player, unless you’re an Android fan, an enthusiast and you want to get in on Android TV from the beginning and kind of see where it evolves, and who knows, maybe updates are going to help this, but there are critical things to the hardware that kind of hold it back right now. I think there’s going to be third party solutions soon enough that are going to be compelling on right.
Leo: Also running Android TV.
Jason: Yes, absolutely.
Leo: Just with more storage, higher CPU, and all that.
Jason: Yeah. They’re going to fix those problems.
Leo: Jason Howell. He’s the host of All about Android, every week on this network. Every Tuesday even at 5 PM pacific.
Jason: That’s right.
Leo: He’s also producer for my shows, and there’s something else. This Android App arena, what’s that all about?
Jason: Android App arena, that’s every Wednesday 4:30 PM pacific live here on TWiT, and I basically review 4 to 5 great Android Apps.
Leo: Every week?
Jason: Every week!
Leo: That’s crazy! How do you do that?
Jason: Let me tell you Leo, It’s not easy. Sometimes I have to ask myself that question to. But I do it.
Leo: Thank you Jason. Jason Is the best, we
really love Jason Howell, thank you for being here.
Jason: Thank you.
Leo: Coming up in just a bit, we’re going to take a look…we found some stainless steel headphones. Do they sound better than plastic headphones, or those wooden headphones you see? We’ll find out, Tonya will be here with her review, but first let’s talk a little bit about smartening your home with SmartThings. A smart home, what does that mean to you? Would you consider your home smart if when you came home the garage door opened, you walked in and beautiful music was playing, dinner was on the oven, and perhaps the temperature had been turned up to a balmy 72 degrees. Would you consider that a smart home? That’s the kind of things SmartThings can bring to you. This is a Kickstarter product, with one main idea. To get all of the smart devices in your home talking to one another. There’s plenty of smart items out there, but they don’t all speak the same language. The SmartThings hub unifies them all, whether it’s your hue lights, your Sonos sound, your schlague lock. Plus SmartThings now, as they’ve become a mature company, have added many more of their own SmartThings. I call them SmartThings doohickeys. This one is the smart power outlet. It can turn on the lights when you arrive home for instance, because it integrates with the SmartThings presence sensor. So the kids walk in, the lights come on, for instance. Or perhaps an alert, if something is left on. That you don’t, like the Christmas tree, and then you can go on your phone and turn it off. That’s one of the things that’s so cool about SmartThings, you can control it with your IOS, Android, or Windows phone with your free app. Here’s a moisture sensor that will protect your valuables from water damage, put it in an area that’s prone to leak. I want to put this up in the eaves because a big storm is coming and I want to make sure that before the water breaks through the ceiling of my office that I know it’s coming through the roof of my house, right? Take this, you could use this to automate your home to keep a small leak from becoming a major flood. I could go on and on, but what you should do is go to smartthings.com/twit, browse around, they have a number of home security, and solutions kits. Like the moisture solution kit. They all start with a SmartThings hub, and then add the devices you need to make the kit work for your home security, to save energy, to automate your lights. They even have a SmartThings maker kit, this is so cool. If you’re a developer you can create your own SmartThings items using your arguendo. They also will allow you to publish your SmartThings scripts and solutions so others can use them. I think SmartThings is well, just so darn Smart. Imagine with a smart power outlet and moisture sensor, triggering your coffee maker to start when you get in the shower, right? Hey, it’s wet in here, let’s start the coffee! I love that idea! SmartThings.com/twit, by the way, if you want to pick up a home security or solution kit, use our offer code TWIT10 and you’ll save 10% off with that discount. Solution kits start at 170 dollars. And home security kits start at 350 dollars. And, of course, you always get that hub, which means it just the beginning of your SmartThings journey. And free shipping in the US. Smartthings.com/twit, use our offer code TWIT10 at checkout to save 10%. I’ve seen headphones made from so many different materials. I even have a moto hint that’s got leather on it. But when we found the stainless steel headphones, from RHA, we knew only one person could review these. We call her Mrs. Wolverine, no she doesn’t have that many claws, but she does have stainless steel ears. Tonya Hall! What do you think?
Tonya Hall: Hi! I’m Tonya Hall, marketing Mavericks here on TWiT TV, and I’m going to review the RHA T10i in ear headphones. RHA is actually a Scottish company that specializes in really high quality earbuds, and earphones. This specific set is injection molded steel. Which is kind of different, right? It’s, besides being very sophisticated looking with this nice round edge, it actually has a fine tuning system built in that is actually going to help you listen to different types of music better. You can adjust for treble, you can adjust for bass, or all around listening. It also comes with lots of extra caps, which you don’t always get, and invariably one falls off or you lose some. There’s all kinds of sizes and extras, which is great. Also in the box is, as I mentioned, the listening system that you can actually adjust for bass, you can adjust for treble, and that actually fits right here on the end of the earbud. The earbuds themselves are over the ear. So you have to like over the ear listening. In fact, it was something that in the past I’ve had a problem with, because I wear glasses. And the over the ear competes a little bit with that real estate. These however, were quite comfortable so I changed my mind. The actual wire has got a spring in it. It remembers exactly the shape that you want, so it’s very adjustable. They were really comfortable for me. I listened to them in bed, while I was watching Netflix, reading a book, and I was very comfortable wearing them. The cord design is really flexible and soft. With this kind of soft rubber. It’s got a microphone and lots of extra cable. It’s really long. It also comes with a carrying case. Let’s talk about the sound quality. The sound quality was great. I listened to Jazz music, and I listened with the regular driver, and it sounded great. All the music sounded great. But I adjusted with the treble driver and it was really nice! You could really pick up on all the detail. So I also tried the bass driver. The bass driver was a lot of fun to listen to. I’m not someone who likes a lot of bass but it was just the right amount. And it actually sounded really good, and made listening to music fun. You could really pick out all the details with all the drivers. You can tell these are very high quality ear buds. They’re a little weighted, but not so much that you could, they’re uncomfortable in any way. For pros I would say definitely the different drivers. The options that you have to listen to music the way that you like. Another pro is the adjustable wire, the memory wire. And as a con, I would say the memory is also a con, just for me and it’s more personal preference. If you like over the ear earbuds, you’re going to like those. These just came out, they haven’t been out very long, and they are listed at 200 dollars. So for really good quailty earbuds. And I believe the only ones in this price range that offer this kind of listening quality with the drivers. It’s a really good deal. I highly recommend them and I give them a buy.
Leo: A buy from Tonya Hall, host of Marketing Mavericks. One of our great bookers too, and producers here at the TWiT brick house. Thank you Tonya! We appreciate it. Tonya by the way, is now sleeping on a Casper bed.
Jason: Oh really?
Leo: She likes it a lot! She’s very happy. If you notice she’s been a lot less crabby lately.
Jason: No comment.
Leo: I’m just teasing. She’s one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. I’ve never seen here in a bad mood. Now let’s take a look at sound now. I have Bose, the big sound link 2. Which I really like as a portable Bluetooth speaker, I take it with me when I travel. But it’s a little big, a little bulky, it even has a leather cover and all this. Bose has come up with some more jazzy looking and smaller sound links. This is the Bose SoundLink color. We gave it to Snubs for her review. Let’s see what she thinks.
Shannon Morse: Hey, ya’ll. My Name is Shannon Morse, and this is The Bose SoundLink Color. This Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth speaker comes in white, black, blue, green and red, and you can find this online for $129.95. This Bluetooth speaker is going to give you about 8 hours battery of listening and awesome quality. Now it is very simple to pair and it does include some voice prompts whenever you turn it on. It’s only 5.3 inches by 5 inches by 2.1 inches, and it’s 1.25 pounds. Slightly heavy, but not bad enough to make you not want to carry it in your backpack. Or I could just toss this in my purse very easily. It is made for portability. It comes with some rubberized texture on all sides, so it’s not going to bang around and it’s curved, so it’s very easy to throw into a purse, or throw into a backpack. Now a problem with this is that it does not include a speakerphone at all. It’s just made for listening. Now it does have very, very strong clarity. Whenever you’re listening to different vocals, or you’re listening to a podcast, or you’re listening to a chorus line from Christmas music. On rock and roll it was very fun to listen to but some instruments, I noticed, they tended to distort at louder volumes. The bass quality on this speaker is excellent. I was able to listen to bass up at max volume and it really, really surrounds your entire room with sound. It was awesome. I was very, very proud of this. And, unlike other Bose speakers on the market, this one charges via micro USB, so it’s very easy to just find a simple micro USB cable from any device, and charge it as long as you need. And it only takes about three hours to charge to full maximum capacity for the battery. Now for the pros and cons of the Bose SoundLink Color. First of the pros, very clear vocals. I love the excellent bass, and it’s a great price, especially for a Bose speaker. And on the con side, there is no speaker phone, and there is no NFC, and there was a slight instrument distortion with different songs, if they included lots and lots of different instruments. So do I give this a buy, try or don’t buy? Given that I listen to a lot of bass music, and that’s very important to me that it actually sounds good, I give it a buy. Again, this is Shannon Morse, and this is the Bose SoundLink Color.
Leo: The Bose SoundLink Color, Snubs says, two thumbs up. Oh I can’t do that, it’s trademarked!
Chad: Is it?
Leo: Yeah, two pinkies up!
Chad: Really? Two index fingers up!
Leo: Yeah! Don’t do that! We’ll get in trouble here! Actually I have a Bose SoundLink Color, and you know what it’s really good for is audio books. I take my audio book with me, because it’s little, it does best on voice. I think it really does a great job on voice. Hey you recognize that guy. The old Redhead himself, Chad Johnson is here or OMGcraft. Patreon.com/omgchad. Youtube.com/omgchad. There it is, Chad on the street. What/s that?
Chad: So for the Patreon which we just talked about. We got above a certain amount of money and so I promised them a Chad on the Street every month. So I just did one for Thanksgiving and we talked to people and asked them about their thanksgiving.
Leo: Oh Fun. And of course on the gizwhiz on this network. Episode 1500 is coming up!
Chad: I know! It’ll be the first episode of the New Year.
Leo: I will stop by!
Chad: That will be great.
Leo: I will have been sleeping after our end of the year, New Year’s party, but I will stop by.
Leo: So we, earlier you saw the Nexus player, which is Googles first entry into this little inexpensive Dongle, actually not really, because Chrome Cast is in there, but your competition is Roku, Apple TV, and this is the Fire TV. But this is the Fire TV Stick.
Chad: This is the Stick, this is the HDMI dongle, that’s way smaller, and its super portable.
Leo: But you can’t see it, because it’s plugged in here, right?
Chad: We also, for technical purposes. Movie Magic reasons. It’s actually way back there.
Leo: But there’s nothing to see, it’s like a USB key with a HDMI port.
Chad: Yes, exactly. It’s a little bit longer than the Chrome cast.
Leo: Now the chrome cast gets its power from USB, does this need USB?
Chad: Yes, as well. It needs USB. I saw some reviews on Amazon that said that, I know with the Chrome cast I have it plugged in, my TV has a USB on it, and I can plug in the USB onto the TV and into the Chromecast. There were some reviews on Amazon that said it couldn’t do that, it needed to be plugged…
Leo: Oh into the wall.
Chad: Yeah, the fire Stick needed to be plugged into the wall. So it must be some voltage thing that some USB sticks can.
Leo: So beware of that.
Leo: There is some, Roku also makes a stick, but it uses a technology called MHL, which is in everywhere, TVS have powered HDMI and if your TV had a MHL port, you could have plugged it into there, but I think Amazon decided wisely we’re not going to require an MHL port, nobody has them.
Chad: Exactly. So you do have to plug it in to USB, and size is comparable. Everyone is going to compare this to the Chromecast and the Roku stick.
Leo: And the Roku, let’s compare it to the Roku stick.
Chad: I’m going to compare it to both. In terms of speed it is much faster. Let’s go ahead and show the interface.
Leo: Oh boy, that popped right up.
Chad: It is way fast.
Leo: Oh look at that!
Chad: you can hear me clicking, I clicked an ad by accident.
Leo: It’s very responsive, I’m watching you work.
Chad: Yeah, it’s super responsive, when it comes to…
Leo: That’s actually something the Roku does…even the Roku 3 doesn’t do as swiftly. That is very fast.
Chad: Yeah, it really is, I have to say I really like it, every once in a while there’ll be a hang-up of a few frames. But other than that it’s incredibly responsive.
Leo: Even my X-finity cable box isn’t that fast!
Chad: And it only has the worst interface in the world too. So I can play, it has all sorts of different features, including video, including audio, if you have anything on your library. Let’s skip back over here. You have your home, which is sort of a… their featured lists are, you know, things you’ve had recently. Prime video, and then movies and TV. Which is basically prime video but broken out into those two things. If you have something on your Cue that’s your watch list. Your video library you can either buy things, and this are the things you’ve bought. Or you can also upload things.
Leo: Oh that’s interesting. So because it’s from Amazon anything from Amazon store will be in your video library, but you’re saying I can upload stuff?
Chad: To your locker, to your storage locker.
Leo: To my Amazon locker.
Chad: Yes absolutely.
Leo: Interesting. So home videos..
Chad: Home videos can be on there, which is really nice. It has games, and it does include, or it does not include, but you can buy separately, a game controller just like with the Nexus player that we just saw. That game control is also $39.99. Same price basically.
Leo: And there’s so much competition in this space. What’s interesting, you compare it to the chrome cast, certainly its’ very different functionality, but pricewise..
Chad: Four dollars more.
Leo: That’s what’s really interesting about this. 39 dollars.
Chad: 39 dollars, instead of 35 dollars.
Leo: Wow! Now is there any reason, did you ever play with the fire TV big boy?
Chad: No I didn’t.
Leo: I have that at home, I should have brought it in.
Chad: I did want to compare it to that so I went in and specifically searched for the Fire TV on the Amazon reviews. Here’s some of the things.
Leo: Because that’s 100 bucks.
Chad: Yes, now the things the reviews were saying is that is faster, it includes the voice search remote.
Leo: Oh you don’t have voice search on this?
Chad: This remote does not have voice search on this.
Leo: Oh okay. That was something the Google product does have.
Chad: You can buy the voice search for 30 dollars.
Chad: For $29.99.
Leo: Got it.
Chad: You can also use the app, the Amazon fire TV app, but it’s not out on IOS yet. So I never got to use it.
Leo: Is it on Android?
Chad: It is on Android, or…
Leo: Or do you have to have a Fire phone?
Chad: No you don’t have to have a fire phone, but it is out for Fire phone and Android. It’s not out for IOS yet, but that will give you the voice search for free. Because you can use the…
Leo: So if you have an Android Device you don’t have to worry about it.
Chad: Exactly. So, okay, so you can do some games on it. Let’s go back to the TV interface. You can also, you have your apps, which allows you to get to Netflix, and it has Vimeo, Bloomberg, crackle…
Leo: There’s such similarity between here.
Chad: There’s a lot of similarity. It does have a YouTube…
Leo: HPO Go on there?
Chad It does not have HBO go, and the only other thing I saw missing was sling player.
Leo: I saw ShowTime. It doesn’t have Plex probably?
Chad: It does have Plex. Which allows you to send your own content to it. That’s really, really nice.
Leo: Interesting. Okay.
Chad: There is a YouTube on here, but it’s like a weird, I feel like it’s a third party YouTube.
Leo: It might be. Google has been funny about putting YouTube on these devices, they only recently upgraded their Apple TV version.
Chad: Right. Then you can also get to your music. And this is all through my Amazon music library.
Leo: So if you use Amazon music this is a great choice.
Chad: Right. And at one point I had uploaded all my songs, a lot of these albums I’m a little embarrassed by because this is back in high school days.
Leo: Come on slow down, I can’t read the guilty pleasures.
Chad: Artic monkeys.
Leo: Nothing wrong with that!
Chad: Right. So this is one issue I found with scrolling.
Leo: It’s fast.
Chad: It’s fast.
Leo: Too fast.
Chad: Well, I felt like, if I have 500 things in this.
Leo: Oh that’s going to take a while.
Chad: It’s going to take forever. But there wasn’t any next page, sort of thing.
Leo: Right, or an alphabetic list or something.
Chad: Well there are, I’m in the recently played, but I can go into playlists and I can break down by artists and what not.
Leo: is there a search for music too, there must be.
Chad: Yes there is. Now one really cool thing. Let me find something it’s going to know. It’s going to know A Wall nation. I start playing any of these songs, let me play some of these. It has a really neat…
Leo: So you’ve heard of them? A wall nation. I saw them at the 49ers game, I thought…
Chad: No big deal. You didn’t like them much?
Leo: I was wondering if they’re famous.
Chad: Yeah they are. Sail, have you heard of the sail?
Chad: yeah, they do that. So this is really neat. Its showing the lyrics for the song as it’s playing. I started playing it and I was like wait, do I have a song called I was born to rage? But no, it’s playing, it has sort of like that,
Leo: I like it! So it’s a little karaoke thing going on here.
Leo: Wow, they sang this at the Niners game.
Chad: Yeah. So I thought that was really neat that it would show you lyrics. You know, of each thing. It’s almost like that X-ray feature that’s built in to the Kindle, it kind of felt a little bit like that.
Leo: I think this is their X-ray. I bet you X-ray is in the movies too, on this.
Chad: Oh yeah. So any way that’s music, and then you have your photos if you uploaded any of your photos. I didn’t. So here, let me quickly also go over the mode.
Leo: Amazon announced right after this came out that they were going to give people unlimited photo storage on the amazon servers.
Chad: Yes. So the remote is very basic. It has a select, up, down and then a few menu keys. This will look a lot like Android keys. So you have a dedicated menu, home, and back. And then pause, play, and forward.
Leo: That’s all you need.
Chad: That’s really all you need. So let’s go over some other things. It does come with a remote, which the Chromecast does not, so for your grandmother, that might be a nice thing. It is faster, coming in at a dual core 1 gigabyte of memory, which is nice.
Leo: Significantly more storage than either of the other devices than.
Chad: Absolutely. And it does have a better WIFI antenna in there as well, which I felt like I noticed it would start up streaming, I felt, a little bit faster. That could be the processor, that could be the RAM, it could also be the dual antenna.
Leo: It’s probably worth mentioning as with the Nexus player, because there’s no Ethernet port, you have to have WIFI to use these devices.
Chad: yes, so for the Chromecast, the Chromecast is cheaper, I feel like it’s a little bit smaller. But setup is way easier, because with the Chromecast you’ve already signed into your apps, and if you haven’t you can use the onscreen keyboard. Anytime that I got to this type of keyboard, it just drives you nuts!
Leo: Where you have to scroll letter to letter.
Chad: Absolutely, I had to sign in. The first time I had to sign in to Amazon.
Leo: But you don’t have to do it more than once, right?
Chad: you have to do it for things like Netflix, things like YouTube.
Leo: For each app once.
Chad: Each app once, but on the Chromecast, you never do. Or you do when you sign into the app the first time, right?
Leo: You sign in on the phone, right.
Chad: That’s a much better experience. I felt like setup was a little bit slower on the fire TV. Anyway, so moving on to the Fire TV box.
Leo: One big advantage this has over the Chromecast is it has Amazon streaming, Amazon prime.
Chad: Yes, it does.
Leo: Which Chrome cast does not.
Chad: It does. But this does not have things like you’re, you play movies, basically…
Leo: That crap YouTube experience.
Chad: Yes exactly.
Leo: For some people that’s more important than Amazon streaming. I want to be able to watch Youtube playlists and now with a music key on Youtube, that’s a big deal, right?
Chad: Yeah, it really is. So the Fire TV is a little bit faster than this. It does support more games, it has more RAM and things like that, but it also has an Ethernet port, which might be a big deal, and an audio out port. Which is also…
Leo: Like optical out?
Chad: Yes, exactly. And that is about it. So let’s go into… Any other questions.
Leo: You don’t need that on this, because it’s HDMI so the audio is going right into the TV digitally so.
Chad: It’ll support Dhobi 7.1.
Leo: And most TV’s if you have an AB receiver it’ll talk to the AB receiver and hand it off to the surround sound.
Chad: Right, exactly.
Leo: So that’s fine. I think we get this.
Chad: Right. I don’t think it’s a big deal, but there might be a few people who are like that is the thing I need.
Leo: It’s worth mentioning. That’s what’s so hard shopping for these. Each of them has things missing. And so it’s hard to piece it. It’s like a puzzle. Well this is what I need and you have to figure it all out. It’s very complicated.
Chad: Yeah, I agree.
Leo: No one thing is right for everybody.
Chad: So pros. It’s very fast. And I felt like it was really easy to use and had a really polished interface. Just all around the user interface, and it includes a remote. And I think that’s a big pro for a lot of users who just want a very simple experience, the remote is going to be a really nice thing.
Chad: On the cons, the remote doesn’t support voice search. You do have to either download the app, which is currently only for Android, and not for IOS, or you need to spend 30 dollars for another remote. The setup time was a little bit slower, I felt, on this than the Chromecast. And, of course, the search is also only the Amazon content is searchable. And then of course no HBO go, and no sling player, so there’s a few apps that haven’t quite made it over. And I’m a little bit worried. I feel like the Amazon ecosystem gets developed for a little bit slower, than say the Roku or the Google ecosystem, so that is a worry as well.
Leo: Amazon, may just set back and say we’ve got Amazon on there, what more do you need?
Chad: Or just build our own. They seem to not play with other people quite as well because it’s not their core business, is web services. So coming in at $39.99 for the Amazon Fire TV stick, I’m going to still give it a buy!
Leo: Alright. At that price.
Chad: It was fast, it’s super cheap, and it’s portable. I do feel like it’s faster than Chromecast and now, you might be sold on the Google ecosystem, then it’s not for you. But if you’re someone like me who’s played with both and has content in both, or can easily switch. I think it’s great.
Leo: You know who it might be great for, somebody who already has an Apple TV, but Apple TV doesn’t give you Amazon streaming, so and I think that’s sometimes how people are solving this by, because no one thing does everything, cobble a couple of them together, as long as you have enough DHMO ports on your TV.
Chad: As long as you have enough 40 dollar bills to around to buy enough of these.
Leo: That’s a good point. So a buy on the Amazon…
Chad: A buy on the Amazon TV stick
Leo: Amazon Fire TV stick. Very nice. Thank you Chad, It’s great to see you.
Chad: Yeah, no problem! Great to see you too.
Leo: We’ll see you Thursday, Gizwhiz.
Chad: Be here Thursday.
Leo: OMGchad is the host of OMGcraft on YouTube at youtube.com/omgchad, and you can support him and I encourage you to do so on patreon on patreon.com/omgchad. Coming up we’re going to review a smartwatch with its own phone number. Who knew? But first, I’m going to show you how I fix things here and at home with IFIXIT. IFIXIT is such a great little company. First of all, one of the things IFIXIT does is they put repair manuals online for just about everything. Really that’s their business I think. Sometimes people don’t know what IFIXIT does, you see those great IFIXIT teardowns that they do all the time, where they take stuff apart, but what they’re really doing, and the point of taking all these things apart is putting repair manuals together. Those repair manuals are free and, man, there are thousands of repair guides online. And then they also will sell the parts you need to do the repairs. For everything! From your phone, to consoles, to appliances, you can fix it with IFIXIT.com, but you know there’s one other piece to this puzzle, and for the holidays, a great gift for the geek in your life, and that’s the tools. The IFIXIT pro-tech tool kit. 70 tools to help you with any maud, malfunction or misfortune. Including, Chad is playing with it right now, the 54 bit driver kit.
Chad: It’s beautiful.
Leo: You just want to, you don’t even need to fix anything.
Chad: No, I just want to pull it out and look at it.
Leo; It’s just beautiful. The aluminum driver, they’ve got a flexi driver in there too so you can get around corners. There are all sorts of interesting security bits and specialty bits in here. And each of them fit, of course, in the swivel top and flexi extension. ESD safe precision tweezers. You know what? Even some of the bits are kind of fun.
Chad: You know what my favorite bit is?
Leo: Which bit?
Chad: It’s the triangle bit.
Leo; yeah, I know what that’s for.
Chad: Do you?
Leo: Yes! McDonald’s toys! Isn’t that hysterical! They’ve got pentalobe, they’ve got torques. They’ve got all of it. So if you’ve ever wanted to fix a happy meal toy, you can!
Chad: Or put some…
Leo: Or hack it! Actually that’s what it’s for. I didn’t even think about it. Take that little rolly, Ronald McDonald rolly polly and turn it into a killer monster robot.
Chad: I’ve been wanting it forever. They also have a magnet which I love.
Leo: Yeah, you’re probably like me you drop screws and stuff all the time.
Chad: I drop it right in the middle of the case and need to magnet it out.
Leo: Inside here, plastic spudgers, nylon spudgers, these are all the devices you need to pry open things. They’ve got the ruler, suitable for your pocket protector. I’m a big fan! This is a great gift. Now normally this kit itself is what 60 bucks, let’s just put it that. They’ve got a really nice bundle. They’re going to include that with the IFIXIT, fix it mat. You kind of need this too, because when you’re taking apart stuff it’s nice to be able to actually draw on here with a white erase marker and say these are the internal screws, and the screws stick, this is magnetic so you don’t lose parts, and that’s always a problem when you’re putting stuff together. This has saved my hiney many, many times. It is, you’ll never lose another screw. You’ll organize parts so you’ll know when they go back, how they go back in. You know, one of the fun things about taking stuff apart, well it’s fun to take stuff apart, one of the hard things about taking stuff apart is putting it back together again. And I’ve never been every good at that, this mat helps you. So imagine, the two of them together, this is great for the geek in your life. The pro-tech tool kit, the magnetic mat, 75 dollars. $74.95, and if you use the offer code BEFOREYOUBUY at checkout you’re going to save 10 bucks off. That’s actually off any purchase of 50 dollars or more. So now we’re talking 64.95 and the gift, I promise you, the geek in your life will just give you a big old smooch and a hug. Santa Claus will be making somebody very happy this year. Just check it out. Oh you need that.
Chad: Yeah, this is the…
Leo: Grounding u.
Chad: Grounding u. Love it.
Leo: This will even ground you. IFIXIT.com/twit. Chad is going to take ours home I think. I think he likes it!
Chad: I’m just playing. I’ve got some McDonald’s toys at home that I’m ready to put some…
Leo: I, you know what, we always talk about fixing the McDonalds toys, I didn’t think about hacking the McDonalds toys. That’s a good idea.
Leo: Alright. So we saw this, remember the Samsung event not so many months ago where they showed the Galaxy Gear S? Well it’s now available. This is kind of a watch that has some limited appeal, because first of all, you have to use a Galaxy phone. In fact, I think you need the Galaxy Note 4 to even use this. That’s ironic because this is a Tizen based watch that is essentially the closest thing to a Standalone device, Dick Tracy watch there is. It has 3G and 2G built into it, it has its own phone number. In fact, when you first set it up they suggest you forward your phones number to this watch, so you can answer calls on your watch. The watch faces are pretty, it’s a super amulet display. 2.0 inches. 360 by 480, but already you’re seeing one of the problems. To save battery, like all of these devices, it turns itself off. But turning it on is not the easiest thing in the world. And that isn’t even fully on. You might have to press the home button to get the full screen. This is a nice watch face. These, of course, are interchangeable. This one has a little dial for steps, the weather forecast, here is the date, and there is the number of notifications. There are notifications on this watch, as there are with many smartwatches. If you swipe over, and this is one of the issues with a watch like this, a lot of controls. This might be a preview of what the Apple watch ends up looking like. These are all notifications. Here’s actual emails I can read. You can dictate messages. It uses Samsung’s S voice technology. So anything you can do with S voice, you can do right here on your watch. As a result, it’s kind of a big honking watch. They also have music playback. There’s 4 gigs of storage in here, so let me play, this is one of the songs that comes with it. Samsung’s Mother Nature, you hear that? No, of course you don’t, because it’s coming out of a speaker the size of your pinkie. Here, let me, I’m going to hold it up to my mic. You ready, show the... Yeah.
Chad: Does it have a head phone hookup or anything?
Chad: Oh that makes more sense okay.
Leo: That’s true with a lot of these watches. Even the moto 360 has music play back and Bluetooth on this.
Chad: But not a teeny tiny speaker.
Leo: That’s actually kind of funny.
Chad: It’s working really hard.
Leo; The charger. This is kind of like the old school smartwatches. It’s got pogo pens and you have to use a specialized charger that connects to a micro USB port. I don’t like that. I think one of the things I loved about the Moto 3360 is its wireless. This is not. You have to connect it up and it’s got to go ka-chunk. But listen to what they have built into this, there’s an accelerometer, a gyroscope, there’s a compass, there’s a heart rate monitor that actually does a pretty fair job. It’s one of the optical heart rate monitors in the back of it that can actually read your blood pulsing through your veins through your skin. An Ambient light sensor, UV meter. So this will tell you if you’ve had too much sun exposer. And a barometer so you’ll know what your altitude is. WIFI is built in, GPS is built in. So this is really, in many ways, a stand-alone watch that would be suitable for runners. In fact, besides notifications, Samsung does focus on the health aspect of this. This is the S health app step meter, you can measure your heart rate. Should I measure my heart rate? Alright, let’s see how accurate it is on here. 300 milliamp hour lithium ion battery. That’s enough to get me through the day, especially since the screen turns itself off pretty much instantly all the time. But with a super.
Chad: I can hear that music.
Leo: You still hear music, don’t you? I probably should turn that off I don’t know. This isn’t running Android. There you go. That’s pretty accurate. That’s amazing, huh? It did that fairly quickly, it’ll also log, and continue to log it throughout the day. So that’s nice. Let me turn off the music, and you’re going to see as soon as I start doing this, why this is too complicated. There’s too much stuff going on. You slide up, you slide down, you slide left, you slide right, and it is, but that’s kind of the nature of this, you really put almost the entire functionality of a smartphone into a watch face two inches in size. I even have got news on here. Yes, there’s news!
Chad: Click bait on your watch!
Leo; Click bait on my watch! Can you believe that? Here’s my calendar! And I can add more pages too, this is very much like an Android watch. Not running Android, it’s running Samsung’s own Tizen operating system. Let’s see, what happens if I tap that. You want to read that article? I think it’s pretty legible, but I’m not sure I’d want to spend a lot of time holding my wrist up reading this text. One thing you can say about this watch, you’ve got to give them points for ambition. They really decided, well if they were, you know, no, if we didn’t cut any corners, what could we do on a watch like this? Check mobile device to view content. So I’ve now send that to my mobile device, so it’s going to start, I can read it back on my mobile device. It does tie into your Samsung Galaxy note 4, but it doesn’t require it. Only to install apps, and to control it, and to get. But it can go online by itself, it can even ring. I mean, you can actually have a phone conversation on this thing. I really like the watch face. And as I said…
Chad: That’s why they have the speaker.
Leo: Oh yeah, you need that so you can talk so somebody. Hello! What? I’ve seen this as low as 250 dollars. Verizon is selling it right now for 250 dollars with a two year contract. Yes! You get a contract with this watch.
Chad: Oh my gosh.
Leo: But wait! There’s more! I think the list price is 100 bucks more, but, of course, the contract means that you’re going to be paying that and a lot more over the two years of the life of your watch. So you know, on the pros and cons, the pros, hey this is a really interesting and good looking, I think, watch. Kind of large, but not uncomfortable, and you’ve got to give them points for ambition. They’re really trying to see what you could put in a two inch screen. How useable, the screen is by the way, as you’d expect from Samsung, very legible. There super Amulet stuff, you can see how easy this is, it’s really crisp, it’s really bright. You can get a lot of work done on the watch itself.
Chad: It’s curved. It looks really nice.
Leo: It’s curved. Yeah. Nobody is going to. I wore this around quite a bit and no one pointed at me and laughed, so that’s a pro.
Chad: Your pros are so. You know they had ambition, they had gumption. No one laughed at me while…
Leo: I’m trying to find good things to say about this! On the other hand no one said, oh that’s a good looking watch, as they often say on the moto 360. It’s not a good looking watch, but it’s not a hideous watch. Cons, of course, you have to have a Galaxy Note 4, the battery life, it’ll get you through the day but only because you can’t see what time it is. So I think, not making it easy to see what time it is, kind of takes away some of the most important functionality of a wrist watch. And you have to pay for a two year contract because it’s got, its own network, its own phone number. This is a little mini phone, strapped to your wrist. I’m going to, I hate to do this, I’m going to give it a do not buy. Obviously you’re not going to buy this, no one in their right mind would buy this. But I do think it’s great that we’re trying these things so when Apple finally does release a watch, they’ll know what not to do.
Chad: They’re going to be able to pin it so fast. They’re going to be able to copy the Apple watch so quickly.
Leo: Right. This is just a holding pattern until the Apple watch comes out. Pretty impressed by how much technology they got. From a technologist point of view, it’s an impressive watch, from a user’s point of view, it’s an absolute don’t not buy. And that’s it for this edition of Before You Buy. Thank you Chad Johnson, great to see you again, Shannon Morse, Jason Howell, and, of course, Tonya Hall, Thanks to our technical director over there. He’s hiding out, Bryan Burnett, good to see you. And good to see you. We do before You Buy every Tuesday afternoon about 4 PM, 3:30 to 4 PM pacific, 6:30 to 7 PM eastern time. Tune in and watch life if you want, sometimes some of this stuff is pre-taped, so you won’t necessarily see the whole show. For the whole show you’ve got to go to twit.tv/byb. Or our YouTube channel. Youtube.com/beforeyoubuy. You’ll also find individual reviews there, so if you see a product you know a friend or family member is about to buy, and you want to send them that review, you can just send them that review right from our Youtube page, at youbute.com/beforeyoubuy. Email us at byb@Twit.tv, we’d love to hear from you, your thoughts, your complaints, your criticisms, your suggestions, most importantly, products you’d like to see reviewed next time on Before You Buy. Thanks for being here, I’ll see you next time! And remember, you’ve got to watch Before You Buy! Bye, bye.