Plex Cloud now means you can watch your media without the need for an always-on PC or NAS drive
We’ve been fans of Plex for years, the way it organises our media files, fetches metadata and basically sets up our home streaming network to be as comprehensive, yet graphically rich and simple to use as Netflix or Amazon Video.
However, unless you have a PC you don’t mind being always-on, a compatible NAS drive or, in more recent times, an Nvidia Shield Android TV box there was no way to set up a Plex media server. Having your TV shows, films, music or photos on tap required at least one of them.
Not so anymore. Plex has announced Plex Cloud, which uses cloud storage to access media files instead, and therefore gives you access to your wealth of content anywhere you happen to be connected to the internet.
Thanks to compatibility with Amazon Drive, Plex Pass users can link their Amazon cloud storage membership to their Plex account and the media software will do the rest, treating any content it finds on an Amazon Drive as if it were hosted locally. That means the same data-rich information and cover art – the whole shebang.
All you need is a Plex Pass, access to the Plex Cloud Beta (which is invite-only at present) and an Amazon Drive account. The latter costs $59.99 a year in the US, £55 a year in the UK but gives unlimited storage for whatever types of files you want to upload.
It will unlikely be much use for heavy users with movies and TV programmes of questionable legalities, especially considering Amazon Drive’s own T&Cs state: “You must ensure that your files have been lawfully acquired and are free from any malware, viruses, Trojan horses, spyware, worms, or other malicious or harmful code.”
However, there’s still tonnes of legitimate, DRM-free content that you could store in the cloud and access on all your Plex-enabled devices to make cloud access well worthwhile.
Google ‘Pixel 3’ laptop running Andromeda OS planned for 2017
Google could launch its first ever laptop towards the end of 2017, at least that’s according to sources speaking to Android Police. The laptop will also be the first device to come running Google’s new Andromeda operating system.
The project is known internally as ‘Bison’ but has also been referred to as Pixel 3, following in the footsteps of the Pixel Chromebook and Pixel C tablet.
- Made by Google: What to expect at Google’s 4 October Pixel event
The Pixel 3 is expected to stray from Google’s Chromebook series and will be marketed as a laptop instead, presumably because of the Andromeda OS which merges the best Chrome features with Android into one platform.
Android Police has stressed that details of the Pixel 3 should be taken with a very large pinch of salt because anything could change between now and the expected Q3 2017 launch. However 9to5Google.com has also confirmed the laptop’s existence and has said Andromeda will also launch on a Huawei-made Nexus tablet – which is a separate story – although it’s not clear when this will be unveiled.
The laptop is expected to be incredibly thin and feature a 12.3in display, which could double up as a tablet. Whether it will be a 2-in-1 laptop/detachable tablet hybrid or a laptop with a flexible hinge remains to be seen. Power should come from either an Intel i3 or i5 processor with 32GB or 128GB of onboard storage and either 8 or 16GB of RAM.
The specs lend to suggest there’ll be two models of Pixel 3 laptop, presumably one for media hoarders and one for those who want to do general web surfing.
The rumours suggest Google really is going all out with the Pixel 3, as it will come with a backlit keyboard and a glass trackpad with haptic and force detection, putting it in the firing line of the MacBook, especially when you consider its planned 10mm thickness.
Other features are expected to include a fingerprint scanner, two USB Type-C ports, stylus support, quad microphones, stereo speakers and a 10 hour battery life.
If the rumours are true, the Pixel 3 could be a genuine contender for the Apple MacBook, especially as it’s predicted to severely undercut the price. The Pixel 3 could arrive with a $799 price tag with a Wacom stylus being available to buy separately.
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- Google Pixel vs Pixel XL: What’s the rumoured difference?
Google will unveil two new Pixel smartphones at an event next week, the Pixel and Pixel XL, both of which will come running Android 7.1 Nougat.
Apple Watch could soon track your sleep and fitness levels
The Apple Watch is billed as a fitness-focused device, but it doesn’t really make sense of fitness data — you’re supposed to interpret the numbers yourself. However, Apple might soon give its wristwear some added smarts. Bloomberg sources claim that the Apple Watch will get apps that track sleeping patterns and fitness levels. It’s not certain how the sleep tracking would work (most likely through motion), but the watch would gauge your fitness by recording the time it takes for your heart rate to drop from its peak to its resting level.
It’s not certain when you’d get the apps. Apple, for its part, hasn’t commented. However, neither of these new features would require new hardware. Sleep tracking wearables have been around for a while, and the fitness measurement would just be a matter of parsing the heart rate data you can get from any Apple Watch.
If real, the move would be part of a broader effort to transform Apple’s overall approach to health. Reportedly, it wants its HealthKit framework to help “improve diagnoses,” not just collect data. You and your doctor could watch out for telltale signs of a condition, or measure your progress on the road to recovery. This would undoubtedly help Apple’s bottom line (you’d have to use at least an iPhone to get this information), but it could also help you make important life decisions.
Actors are now virtually immortal in California
Someone once said that we’re all just meat being shoveled into a grave, but that doesn’t really apply to Hollywood actors. That’s why the state of California has passed a law barring websites like IMDB from publishing the ages and birthdates of performers. From January 1st, 2017, sites that have anything to do with the employment of thespians will also have to remove existing data within five days of a request. But this isn’t simply a sop to appeal to the vanity of your average crop of A-listers, but a serious attempt to deal with age discrimination in Hollywood.
Tinseltown is, as you might have guessed, a bit loopy for all things young, which forces performers to be a bit shrewd about revealing their age. A few years ago, a nameless actress sued IMDB for making her birthdate public, telling the world that she was “many years older than she looks.” It’s hoped that, by removing this information, working performers will be treated on their merits as an actor rather than as a birthdate. California official Ian Calderon is quoted by Deadline Hollywood that IMDB Pro’s age data is information that “should not be part of the casting decision.”
The law itself is pretty narrow and only appears to affect websites that deal with employment decision making. That includes IMDB Pro, which is used by casting agents to source talent, and other such online actors directories. What it doesn’t cover, however, is news websites and information resources, so it looks as if you’re still going to be able to use Wikipedia to learn George Clooney’s birthdate (it’s May 6th, 1961). Of course, the law is likely to face a number of legal challenges given that it essentially censors free speech, so it’ll be interesting to see how those progress.
It’s worth noting that the majority of people who are treated less like a person and more like a number are women. Gabrielle Carteris, the current president of actor’s union SAG-AFTRA, was famously forced to lie about her age to appear on Beverly Hills, 90210. She auditioned (and won) the part of 16-year-old Andrea Zuckerman, despite being 29 at the time — so clearly age is but a number, and one that casting directors would be well advised not to worry about.
Via: AV Club
Source: The Hollywood Reporter, California
Plex Cloud lets you dump your home media server
Thanks to streaming, physical formats like CDs and Blu-rays aren’t as popular than they once were. Some people choose to sign up for a monthly subscription like Netflix or Spotify, while others take the DIY approach. For many years, Plex has helped people build their own media collections and stream that content to (nearly) every connected device they own. However, it required either a computer or Network Attached Storage (NAS) to do so. Today, the company has opened a new avenue in its media streaming strategy with the launch of Plex Cloud. Gone is the need for the server in the cupboard, replaced with an Amazon Drive subscription and a Plex Pass.
Plex Cloud is basically a cloud version of the Plex Media Server, eliminating electricity and maintenance costs in the process. Amazon’s reliable hosting platform takes care of the storage and Plex has “worked a little bit of magic” to enable the same transcoding options that some of the better home network storage solutions provide. An Amazon Drive subscription costs $60 for unlimited storage for a year, while the Plex Pass is either $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year. In comparison, you’ll likely pay around the same total cost for a year of Netflix.
While Plex has worked to enable many of the same features as the Plex Media Server, they aren’t all ready for launch. The company says that Camera Upload, Mobile Sync, Cloud Sync, Media Optimizer, DLNA, and DVR are not available right away, but it will work to add them over time. Also, if you want to use your own cloud storage provider, you may have to wait. Amazon says it’ll “continue to evaluate adding support for other cloud storage providers over time.”
Plex has opened the Plex Cloud Beta and is already inviting people to sign up. Be aware that Plex Pass holders will be given priority over casual streamers, so if you don’t get in straight away, that might be why.
Via: Plex Blog
Source: Plex Cloud
Fitbit’s Charge 2 wearable is now available for $150
It’s been almost a month since wearable pioneer Fitbit unveiled a much-needed update to its Charge and Flex ranges, giving them a bunch of aesthetic and functional upgrades in the process. Customers have been able to secure their orders ahead of the loose “fall” release date but from today, anyone itching to get their hands on the new devices can now do so.
With a bigger display, the $150/£130 Charge 2 allows for a wider selection of watch faces that display more information than before. The optical heart rate sensor can detect how much time you’ve spent in specific cardio zones and its bigger battery ensures it logs more data before it needs plugging in, which helps it cement itself as the leader in its price range.
The Charge 2 is available with a Classic band in black, blue, plum or teal. However, the company also has a set of $30/£20 accessory bands available — shipping next month — that let you mix it up with blush pink, brown and indigo colorings. As usual, the tracker is available via Fitbit.com in all supported countries, as well as Amazon, Best Buy and Target in the US.
Via: Fitbit (Businesswire)
Apple will start selling Sonos speakers today
Sonos still offers one of the best experiences for those who want to keep music in sync throughout their home. But it’s not a brand that everyone knows, and in a place like Best Buy or Target it has to fight a lot of other competitors for shelf space and attention (that’s not the case in its massive NYC retail store, of course). Today, the company’s retail presence is getting a boost thanks to a new partnership with Apple. Starting this afternoon, you’ll be able to buy the Sonos Play:1 and Play:5 speakers on Apple’s website in the US. By October 5th, the speakers will be on sale in 468 Apple retail stores around the world, and they’ll be coming to more markets online in the following weeks.
If you buy a Sonos speaker on either Apple’s site or in a store, you’ll also get a gift card that gives you three free months of Apple Music, which naturally will work with your new speakers. That’ll work whether you’re a new subscriber or already paying for the service. Apple will also have demo stations set up showing off how Sonos works in more than 140 of its stores. Given that Sonos isn’t the easiest thing to explain right off the bat, being able to show potential customers just how it works could be a nice boon to the speaker company.
With its grander vision of becoming the sound platform of choice for the connected home (the first step of which is Amazon Echo integration), giving buyers more places to both demo its products and buy them should be helpful. The company’s gone through a bit of turmoil this year, but it seems its not ready to fade out just yet.
How to watch tonight’s US presidential debate
So you’re determined to watch the first of 2016’s US presidential debates, but you don’t subscribe to TV… or you live in a country that won’t have a live broadcast. What to do? Relax. This year, there are more choices than ever for watching online, and not just in the US. We’ve rounded up the main internet viewing sources for Clinton versus Trump, including the kind of commentary you’ll get. Whichever option you choose, you’ll probably want to keep our guide to the candidates on hand when things kick off at 9PM Eastern — the odds are that the grand speeches and spirited arguments won’t answer all your technology policy questions.
This is the first American presidential debate where Facebook Live will play a part, and you’ll have no shortage of choices for streaming the event on the world’s largest social network. ABC News has a deal with Facebook to livestream the debate ad-free, complete with commentary before and after (including responses to viewer questions) as well as extra details on its Facebook page. You can also expect BuzzFeed, CNBC, C-SPAN, Fox News, the New York Times, PBS, Telemundo and Univision to stream on Facebook as well, although you won’t necessarily get a TV-like broadcast.
Twitter was a go-to place for live discussion of the national conventions, and it wants to be the cornerstone of your debate viewing, too. It’s allying with Bloomberg to stream the debate both at debates.twitter.com on the web as well as through its official mobile apps. Bloomberg will logically handle the on-air analysis and commentary, but the real star may be the flood of tweets from everyday viewers.
YouTube is already big on live video, so you’d expect it to have plenty of streams, right? Sure enough, you’re getting a smorgasbord. Bloomberg, Fox News, NBC News, PBS, Telemundo and the Washington Post are all using Google’s video service to air the political showdown. You can also expect YouTube-oriented producers like Complex and The Young Turks to have on-the-ground reporting if you’re not as interested in the raw event.
Conventional media outlets
Old-school media sources may still revolve around TV, but they’ll have their share of online viewing beyond the partnerships we’ve already mentioned. ABC will offer free streams through its ABC News apps, and access for some TV subscribers through the regular ABC app. CBS will offer feeds through CBSNews.com as well as its myriad mobile and set-top apps, while Reuters will show the debate through both its Reuters TV site and its own mobile clients.
Images: AP Photo/John Minchillo; AP Photo/Julio Cortez; AP Photo/J. David Ake
The best GPS running watch
By Jim McDannald
This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best things for your home. Read the full article here.
We’ve run with more than 20 GPS running watches over the past three years, and we’ve found the Garmin Forerunner 230 is the best for both beginners and experienced runners. It carries the accuracy, long battery life, and light profile of our previous Garmin pick (the Forerunner 220), but has a larger screen with more information, offering quick-glance updates while running. The Forerunner 230 feels good enough to potentially wear as a day-to-day timepiece, and it can track steps and other metrics. It is easy enough to use as your first GPS watch, but it contains advanced running features and optional apps that expand its powers. It tracks runs better than most watches at its price and can work with cycling sensors. It’s also waterproof down to 50 meters.
How we picked
Some of the GPS running watches we considered. From left: the Forerunner 235, the Forerunner 230, the Fitbit Surge, the Polar M400, and the TomTom Spark Music. Photo: Jim McDannald
GPS devices and the companies behind them need to have a solid reputation for accuracy. Nothing on the market is 100% accurate, as mapping errors and signal drops occur under heavy tree cover. But the major players in this category (Garmin, Magellan, Timex, TomTom, Polar) each have a strong background in GPS and watch technology from their products in other fields. It’s taken time even for these experienced and well-recognized companies to work out bugs and bring a viable product to market. So if you’re intrigued by a new brand or crowdfunded device in this category, know that a sleek, first-generation product may be a little raw or unpolished.
GPS watches can now be made small enough to pass as a regular “sports” watch, so watches that still resemble hockey pucks have to earn their heft. The same goes for watch displays; a GPS watch’s ability to display and arrange information in an organized and readable fashion on the face cannot be overemphasized. It’s a huge hassle to squint to figure out which number is which.
The GPS running watch you choose should have a navigable, intuitive menu, starting with satellite connection and launching each new run. Some feature the ability to pre-cache satellite locations to avoid long waits before running. Once you push Stop, it should be easy to save data and review it right on the watch’s screen. (You’d be surprised how many watches fail at this.) Likewise, the desktop or Web software that offloads and arranges your data should let you glimpse all your running data, and dig into details when needed.
Pricing varies among GPS watches, from about $100 to $500. For about $100, you can get a GPS watch like the Garmin Forerunner 10 that records time, distance, and your route on a map, which may be just fine for some. Go up to $250, and watches can be waterproof, adaptable to other sports, and capable of working on longer runs. Go a little higher ($300 and up), and watches get even more durable, have built-in heart-rate sensors, and work with a wide variety of sensor accessories providing more detailed statistics. We sought to find watches that include as much useful stuff as they can in their price categories while ignoring features they could not perform well.
The Garmin Forerunner 230 in idle mode. Photo: Jim McDannald
The Garmin Forerunner 230 has everything we look for in a great GPS running watch. It takes the accuracy and long battery life of our previous pick, the Forerunner 220, and makes the screen larger and more readable during activities, and retaining a light and small profile that wouldn’t feel too weird as an everyday watch. The interface and data syncing are easy enough to use if you are new to GPS watches, but the Forerunner 230 also contains deep features and optional app downloads that experienced runners and statistics wonks can dig into. It can track some advanced running metrics we’ve seen only in higher-priced models and can work with cycling monitors for speed and cadence. All these features rest on top of Garmin’s unparalleled reputation for reliable GPS devices; adding up to a watch that, though currently right in the middle of the pricing curve at about $250, feels many product cycles ahead of its competitors.
A cheaper fitness-tracking pick
For the price, the chunkier feel and smaller screen of the Polar M400 may not be that much of a trade-off for more casual runners. Photo: Jim McDannald
For $100 less than our top pick, the Polar M400 does most things well, though it requires more effort from you. It connects to satellites just a few seconds behind the Forerunner 230, it’s less waterproof (to 30 meters), and its software, though improving, is not as fluid as Garmin’s. It falters because of its less informative screen and its design, which will feel bulky on smaller wrists.
The built-in heart-rate pick
If you want to track your heart rate but don’t want to wear an additional chest strap, the Forerunner 235 (farthest left) stands out as a thinner, more flexible option than the competition. Photo: Jim McDannald
If you want to track your heart rate and can’t stand wearing an extra monitor, the Garmin Forerunner 235 is a sibling to our top pick that’s far more comfortable than other watches with wrist-based monitors. It features an optical heart-rate sensor and is thinner, lighter, and less bulky than the previous generation of heart-rate-sensing watches. It’s not as accurate as a heart strap, but if you’d rather not run with extra equipment, the Forerunner 235 covers that need without much extra bulk or weight.
If you need auto-syncing or music
The TomTom Spark Music (pictured here in its heart-tracking Cardio+ variant) covers the basics of run tracking and can also stream directly to Bluetooth headphones. Photo: Jim McDannald
If you want the best run-tracking and activity-syncing experiences, for about $150 more than our top pic, the Forerunner 630 adds a touchscreen, more advanced metrics during runs and after, and automatic Wi-Fi uploading of run data. And if you want to stream music to your Bluetooth exercise headphones without bringing along a phone, look at the TomTom Spark Music, a good-enough GPS running watch with unique music powers.
This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.
Google’s Own Echo-Like Device ‘Google Home’ Rumored to Cost $130
Google will formally announced its Wi-Fi enabled smart home device, Google Home, at its upcoming October 4 press event, according to a new report by Android Police. The device is rumored to cost $129 and the company will sell different color plates so users can personalize the look of Home.
At $129, Google Home would be $50 cheaper than Amazon Echo, which offers a selection of similar services and features to users. Google originally discussed Home at its I/O Conference in May, detailing how users will be able to make voice-enabled Google searches, manage everyday tasks, enjoy music and entertainment, and more using hands-free “OK Google” voice commands.
Continuing in the vein of other smart home speakers, Home can play and control music, sync with various online services that provide traffic reports and weather forecasts, and interact with other smart home products like Nest. It’s believed that Google could use a version of its intelligent chat AI Google Assistant — which it uses in Allo — to fuel Home’s voice-control abilities.
The October 4 event is thought to be the launch pad of a few other Google products, including the $69 Chromecast Ultra (with 4K and HDR streaming), a new Daydream VR headset, and the company’s new lineup of Android phones.
The connected smart home speaker device is slowly becoming a popular platform following Amazon’s success with Echo and Echo Dot. Apple is rumored to be entering the space with a Siri-enabled alternative, which might have facial recognition but is otherwise thought to offer many of the same search inquiries, music listening, and voice assistant features of Echo and Home.
Recent reports have placed the device in prototype testing, which could mean it’s between six months and a year from making it to market, but because Apple hasn’t officially finalized any plans it “could still scrap the project.”
Tags: Google, Google Home
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