Category Archives: Amazon

Streaming TV Comparison: Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku


Reviewing TV Streaming Devices

I should preface this by saying I own all 4 and use them for a variety of tasks so I think my experience is pretty complete. I love my streaming TV solutions to watch NetFlix, HBO-To-Go, Amazon Prime Movies and TV, listen to Pandora and Internet Radio (listen to NPR and Music Radio Stations on my TV is nice).


If you have questions, is the place to ask them.


Roku HD

Here is what distinguishes Roku from the others:

  • The best remote (at least the HD version). Best feel. Includes headset support.
  • Excellent Remote apps for Android and iDevices.
  • More apps (which they call Channels) and better apps than all others.
  • Better on screen keyboard for password entry (although app can be used too)
  • Worse sound quality than Apple TV, close to same picture quality.
  • Best search in terms of being able to search for contents across multiple apps.
  • Amazon Prime app (the main thing Apple is missing among others)
  • Dedicated Ethernet port (can reduce traffic on your WiFi to use it, plus unless you have gigabit Wifi, out performs WiFi)

If one can only buy one, Roku is a GREAT choice. Many more Apps/Channels than anyone else has. Dedicated Ted Talks, College Classes, CrunchyRoll, Silent Movies, Crackle, etc. You name a content item and Roku has a channel for it. It even has private channels see


Apple TV

Here is what makes Apple stand out:

  • Best sound quality
  • Decent remote. The lack of key labels and back button makes it a bit clumsy if you are spoiled by Roku remote.
  • Less Apps than Roku most importantly missing Amazon Prime*
  • Purchase support via iTunes is multi-device and Apple’s cloud more likely to be here in a decade or 2 compared to Roku cloud apps.
  • Airplay (playing screen from Mac, iPad, Phone) and playing screen from Windows or Android is most mature here. It has to be with the shortage of apps.

Fire TV

Fire TV is about same price as Roku and Apple TV. the stick version is way cheaper but also crippled so I feel not worth it.

  • Remote is better than Apple (more and better buttons, right “feel”) and worse than Roku.
  • Have not tried the remote apps no opinion yet.
  • The UI is a bit clunky and treats content and apps as equal which is a blessing or curse. In other words if you play 3 albums and 6 movies and access 5 apps you will have 14 choices on screen as if the content is an app. Neither Roku or Apple TV does that.
  • Less Apps than Roku, less apps than Apple TV. The Amazon Cloud player is much much much better than the Roku one. The Amazon Prime player has a clunkier UI and information overload compared to the Roku app/channel.
  • Better on screen keyboard for password entry than Apple (although app can be used too)
  • Picture and sound quality are very good.
  • Voice search rocks! Needs to be copied by Roku and Apple.
  • Dedicated Ethernet port (can reduce traffic on your WiFi to use it, plus unless you have gigabit Wifi, out performs WiFi)

Chromecast by Google – a dissapointment by comparison

  • No Remote 🙁
  • Ties up your Android device or PC when playing content (Roku and Apple TV do not)
  • Disconnects a lot.
  • Way less Apps than Roku, less apps than Apple TV. The Amazon Cloud player is much much much better than the Roku one.
  • Only works with Chrome browser extensions. NO Airplay (playing screen from Mac, iPad, Phone) and playing screen from Windows, unless its a Chrome browser tab. Android airplay yes.
  • Picture and sound quality are decent, not as good as Apple TV.
  • No content search!
  • No dedicated Ethernet port (can reduce traffic on your WiFi to use it, plus unless you have gigabit Wifi, out performs WiFi)

Stick TVs in General

Crippled version of above but cheaper. Not recommended unless you are really broke and cant afford Roku HD or Apple TV. The stick Roku and Fire are still both better than Chromecast.


Roku TV is the winner. Apple TV and Fire TV are very good. Chromecast is far from it’s potential and the wrong kind of device – remotes DO matter.



What Do Other Reviewers say:

They come to similar conclusions and offer some more depth if you need even more data:

Buiid your own Streaming Box

There are a few mays for the patient, frugal, super skilled types:

Hopefully you have all the data you need to make an informed decision.


Need any Questions answered or help using the device?

If you have questions,
is the place to ask them.

Browser Add-Ins every Power User will love


Add-Ins & Extensions: Enhance YOUR browsing!

Must Haves

Here are the must haves to browse the web on your PC, Mac or Linux:

  • Clearly – available for the big 3. This or Readability is a must have. It allows you to right click on any page and it can strip the ads and set the whole article in a gorgeous typeface perfect for reading or printing.
  • FlashBlock – improves stability, speed and reduces memory consumption. Stops all Flash from playing till explicitly clicked on. Most browser crashes and memory leaks happen due to Flash ads and videos that Autoplay whether you look at them or not.
  • AdBlock – really cleans up the ads off the screen. More room for Facebook feeds and the like.
  • Nimbus – great for scrolling screen shots. And every other kind of screen shot from within your browser. The most important thing I need in a browser.
  • Readability instead of Clearly, if you are a Kindle E-Reader (not Tablet) owner. It allows you to right click on any page and it can strip the ads and set the whole article in a gorgeous typeface perfect for reading or printing. And it can send the whole page to your Kindle account to read at your leisure and keep the article on hand outside of a browser.
  • Lazarusavailable for Chrome and FireFox, and NOT IE (one more reason to never use IE – there are many).
    THIS ADD-ON CAN RECOVER any text you typed into a text box
    even after a browser crash, or the tab gets closed, or the web page moved away from 😀

These above are vital. They should be built into the browser. BTW Clearly and Readability was stolen from the Safari for Mac “Reader” feature.


Just say no to IE

Many reasons:

  • Internet Explorer is missing all the cool add-ins.
  • Despite Ms claim it is behind on HTML 5, SVG and all modern browsing
  • It is slow and a memory hog


Tablets and post-PC Browsers

BTW I can’t wait till iPad and Android and Metro Browsers support browser add-ins. They need to, because browsing is so much better with these, and once used to them their enhancements to the browsing experience is addicting. But to an iPads credit it has a “reader” feature so the lack of clearly is not as big a problem for it. Unfortunately Chrome/Android or Metro does not have any reader feature like I love on Safari for iPad.


Chrome Only

  • Tab Manager – if you have lots of open tabs which are way too small since Chrome does nod to multi-row Tabs (ala Tab-Mix Plus for Firefox) this IS the magic bullet rescue kit.
  • Save to Pocket – easy way to save entire web pages to read later, even offline.


FireFox Only

These 2 ad-ins and and the huge per-tab memory consumption of Chrome, are why I use it AND Chrome.

  • Tab Mix Plus! – necessary for anyone who uses more than 6 tabs (I might have dozens of tabs or 100+ so Chrome not having this is a liability.
  • Colorful Tabs – Tab Mix Plus does a lousy job of differentiating tabs. This helps.

Tab Mix Plus Vital Tweaks

However once you install Tab Mix Plus, I recommend you do some things:

  • Setup The Multi-Row Defaults correctly.

mac screenshot
Screenshot 2014-11-02 20.30.22


windows screenshot
coming soon

  • Setup Tab Display so that colorful tabs can do it’s magic.

screenshot coming soon

  • Setup the Main Menus – the default menu setup is woefully incomplete.

screenshot coming soon

  • Setup the right click menus – defaults are no good.

Coming soon – get the most out of Tab Mix+ Tutorial.

DRAFT – E-Reader: The Kindle PaperWhite, Ebooks vs. a Tablet


Why an E-Reader?

The Kindle PaperWhite delivers the experience much closer or better to reading physical books.

  • It has a simple UI oriented towards reading books and buying books only.
  • My 76 year old Mom has a much easier time using Kindle PW than tablet/Kindle Fire which is a very cluttered UI.
  • The Kindle Paper White is not intended to be used to run apps or compute, just read books. The lightweight and thinness and “fit in jean pocket” size, and hold one handed form factor makes in a dream to read books.
  • The 2-4 week battery life and visibility in full sunlight means I can read books on beach while getting a tan (my tablets are washed out by glare of sun) or reading in outdoors and not need to find a charger. My phone and tablets I am constantly finding chargers (I use them a lot for non-reading tasks)
  • I also read in bed next to GF (and Tablet’s weight is not as easy for me lying in bed) and brightness of tablets disturbs my GF – the Kindle Paperwhite does not. Bright tablet screens also, like computing screens tend to aid insomnia because bright screens tricks brain about time of day. The Kindle PaperWhite ha a very mildly lit but very easy to read screen.
  • I can carry it in 1 hand and read it, and because of light weight I am less likely to drop it. This allows many reading situations that do not involve 2 hands. Waiting in line at airport gates, walking onto planes, in lines at Fast Food joints, etc. Carrying any device with both hand just feels like more of a chore and requires more focus.

Kindle-Fire-HD-vs-iPad-Mini Amazon-Kindle-Paperwhite-Black-Friday-and-Cyber-Monday-Deals

How is an E-Reader used that is different from a Tablet?

Well for starters…

  • Phones and tablets and computers have many temptations that can distract me from reading.
  • Also since I am a heavy tablet and phablet user I run my batteries down quick and need to stop using them and charge them frequently. On long flights I have been known to run down my Tablet and even my MacBook Pro Retina battery. My Paperwhite can run for weeks so I always can read it without stopping to recharge.

How is an E-Reader used that is different from Paper Books?

Many things:

  • Ability to set the print size helps me retain what I read better.
  • If I have WiFi (unless I spend a little more for the cellular option) I can buy books and read them any time of day or night.
  • When I wait at my dentist or doctor appointment (or in line at an event or waiting in airport) sometimes I use my phone hotspot to connect and buy books to start reading now or later. No spending gas heading to the books store, or inability to get a favorite book because stores do not carry it.
  • My newspaper and magazine subscriptions appear on my device without going to my front lawn, mailbox, etc.
  • If I read my newspaper or magazine outdoors the pages don’t blow away in the wind 😀
  • If I alternate between reading several books the E-Readers remembers the exact page I stopped at when I re-start.
  • If I fall asleep reading, the next time I pick up reader it is on the page I left off next time I open the book.

Hope this gives you an idea how it differs from paper books.


Why the Kindle paperWhite?

Well there are many. I think Amazon has:

  • A really easy way to carry a few dozen, hundred or thousands of books. No more big tote bag on long trips full of books.
  • the best customer service if you buy the device from them.
  • the most “likely to be here a decade from now” cloud.
  • The new Voyage (as of December 2014) is a better screen but as a version 1 device has some defects I will wait till the next version fixes.

index keep-calm-and-choose-wisely-33

Why Not the Kindle Paper White?

There are reasons not to buy one. I have gathered these counterpoints from my own experiences and friends that bought and ditched their Kindle E-Readers.

  • If you are a comic book reader Tablets provide a better reading experience.
  • If the kind of magazines you buy have lots of graphics and color illustrations and diagrams Tablets provide a better reading experience for them.
  • You are not a heavy reader* so reading books on a Tablet is a “good enough” experience for you.
  • Money is tight and you can buy a Tablet OR a E-Reader, not both.

I hope his helps your decision.

* I owned 28 bookshelves of books prior to getting my first Kindle (I have owned 3, and gave away my older ones to friends or family) so obviously I fall into the heavy reader category.

How does Buying Books from “the Cloud” works?

When you sign into your Amazon account you can buy E-books (or IBooks on iPad or Google Books).

Any E-Reader you buy or E-reader app you downloaded can be attached to your account and can “see” and download any books you bought or got for FREE via the account above.

If your device is broken and you get it replaced once you associate your new device with your Amazon account you have all your books you bought in past you can see in the “Cloud” and download.

Where else can I get reading material?

If you have a Word document or PDF you can email it to a special email address you setup at Amazon and the book will appear on YOUR Kindle device.

You can download and install a browser extension so that when you want to read a web page on your Kindle, you can click a button and “send to your kindle”.

Won’t my Tablet or Phone or Phablet read E-books?

Any book I buy from Amazon Kindle store, iBooks and Google play can be read on

  • my phone
  • Kindle Fire, iPad or other Tablet
  • or Windows or Mac machine
  • Although I only do that when I forget my Kindle Paperwhite because the experience is less pleasing to my eyes and getting in comfortable reading positions.

If a Kindle E-Reader is so nice, why do you own a Tablet too?

I own tablets (iPad and Android) and I own an E-Reader (the Kindle Paper White). Many people ask me why I own both so here are my answers to that.

  • iPads and Tablets like Kindle Fire have bright screen like cell phones get washed out by sun and are bright like computer screens. The E-Ink screen can be read outdoors in direct bright sunlight so different beast.
  • Paperwhite much lighter physically and thinner.
  • Kindle Paperwhite the battery life measured in weeks, not hours.  These days I use “send to Kindle” browser add in and dont read articles at tablet or computer. Read on Paperwhite away from computer, tablets and distractions.

Tablets are great for Internet and Facebook and music and Movies and games and personal computing, and casual business computing. They can be used to read books, but it is one of many things they do.

I own several tablets: Kindle Fire, Nexus 10 and iPad. The iPad has the most apps and the smoothest UI. In fact my girlfriend replaced her Kindle Fire with an iPad because many apps she wanted are just not available on Kindle. She is a gamer and too many of her favorite games are iPad only. I don’t game on any of my tablets, but many of the apps I love are only available on iPads or if available on iPad and Android are better.

If you get an E-Reader, enjoy… Hope this helped – Chaz