Remember when competition wasn't a bad word?

Subject: Editorial | October 2, 2015 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: google, chromecast, AT&T, apple tv, amd, amazon

There is more discouraging news out of AMD as another 5% of their workforce, around 10,000 employees, will be let go by the end of 2016.  That move will hurt their bottom line before the end of this year, $42 million in severance, benefit payouts and other costs associated with restructuring but should save around $60-70 million in costs by the end of next year.  This is on top of the 8% cut to their workforce which occurred earlier this year and shows just how deep AMD needs to cut to stay alive, unfortunately reducing costs is not as effective as raising revenue.  Before you laugh, point fingers or otherwise disparage AMD; consider for a moment a world in which Intel has absolutely no competition selling high powered desktop and laptop parts.  Do you really think the already slow product refreshes will speed up or prices remain the same?

Consider the case of AT&T, who have claimed numerous times that they provide the best broadband service to their customers that they are capable of and at the lowest price they can sustain.  It seems that if you live in a city which has been blessed with Google Fibre somehow AT&T is able to afford to charge $40/month less than in a city which only has the supposed competition of Comcast or Time Warner Cable.  Interesting how the presence of Google in a market has an effect that the other two supposed competitors do not.

There is of course another way to deal with the competition and both Amazon and Apple have that one down pat.  Apple removed the iFixit app that showed you the insides of your phone and had the temerity to actually show you possible ways to fix hardware issues.  Today Amazon have started to kick both Apple TV and Chromecast devices off of their online store.  As of today no new items can be added to the virtual inventory and as of the 29th of this month anything not sold will disappear.  Apparently not enough people are choosing Amazon's Prime Video streaming and so instead of making the service compatible with Apple or Google's products, Amazon has opted to attempt to prevent, or at least hinder, the sale of those products.

The topics of competition, liquidity and other market forces are far too complex to be dealt with in a short post such as this but it is worth asking yourself; do you as a customer feel like competition is still working in your favour?

The Hand

The Hand

"AMD has unveiled a belt-tightening plan that the struggling chipmaker hopes will get its finances back on track to profitability."

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Source: The Register

Chromecast meets Linux

Subject: General Tech | January 21, 2015 - 02:01 PM |
Tagged: linux, chromecast, DIY, stream has put together a quick tutorial on how to stream content to Chromecast from a machine running Linux, giving you an incredibly inexpensive and effective way to stream your own capture media.  With the use of a Samba group in openSUSE you can send data to the Chromecast dongle attached to your TV, something that was not initially possible with Chromecast.  The author took this a step further, showing you how to set up your Android devices to stream to Chromecast as well.  Learn how to here.


"Chromecast is one of the most used devices in my household. After using it for over a year now, I believe there is no longer a market for the so-called 'smart TV'. Inexpensive devices like Chromecast can turn any HDMI-enabled TV into a smart TV with immense possibilities to expand its features."

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CES 2015: Intel Compute Stick Runs Windows for $149

Subject: Systems, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2015 - 12:56 AM |
Tagged: x86, Raspberry Pi, Intel, compute stick, chromecast, ces 2015, CES, atom

The Chromecast (and its open siblings) and the Raspberry Pi are interesting devices because they shrunk our concept of a compute device, which put them into new roles. Whether it is streaming media to your TV or controlling electronics on a high altitude balloon, you can use a full computer to do it. Full computers in new roles sound exactly like something Intel wants to research into lately.


The Intel Compute Stick, aptly named, seems to fit somewhere between these two devices. It is an HDMI dongle enclosing an x86, quad-core, computer with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Intel eventually plans to have the device powered by the HDMI port, but it currently requires power over micro USB. Besides power, it also has a standard USB (Type A-Female) port and a micro SD card slot. It also has 802.11n wireless networking inside it. Being a full Windows device, you can stream media, browse the web, and use many other applications on it.


The Intel Compute Stick with Windows will cost $149, which is significantly more than either a Chromecast or a Raspberry Pi. A Linux version, with 1GB of RAM (half of the Windows version) and 8GB of storage (a quarter of the Windows version), but at a significantly lower price of $89.

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Source: Intel

PCPer 10 Days of Christmas: Day 4 - Google Chromecast

Subject: General Tech | December 17, 2014 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: holiday, google, chromecast, 10 days of christmas

Are you still hunting for that perfect gift for the hardware and technology fan in your life? Or maybe you are looking for recommendations to give to your friends and family about what to buy for YOU? Or maybe you just want something new and cool to play with over the break? Welcome to PC Perspective's 10 Days of Christmas where we will suggest a new item each day for you to consider. Enjoy!

Getting media from your PC to your TV is still a feat that can often take complicated software and dedicated hardware. There are several methods for getting around this headache including things like the Amazon FireStick, Intel's Wireless Display technology and Miracast. But perhaps the most interesting, and one of the least expensive, is the Google Chromecast.


Chromecast is a small thumb-stick sized device that plugs into an HDMI port on your TV and then connects to your wireless network. From there you can connect to the Chromecast with your desktop, laptop or mobile device that uses Chrome as the browser. Essentially, anything that can you watch or read or stream in Chrome can be send wirelessly to your TV. In addition, for Android smartphone and tablet users, a growing number applications support streaming to the Chromecast directly including Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Pandora, ESPN, MLB.TV, Google Play Movies and Music, Plex, MLS, crackle, Vevo, Rdio.


The only annoyance in setup is that the Chromecast requires a USB connection for power - but most TVs today have the necessary USB port so you don't have to use an AC adapter.

But damn, for only $29, this is a neat gadget worth giving a try!

If you are having trouble picking out a gift for a loved one, consider buying an gift card! Amazon has basically every product on the planet for your gift recipient to order and purchasing gift cards through these links directly sponsors and supports PC Perspective! And hey, if you were to buy gift cards for yourself to do your own Amazon-based Christmas shopping...that wouldn't exactly be a bad thing for us either! ;)

Did you miss any of our other PCPer 10 Days of Christmas posts?

KickStarter: MatchStick Is Chromecast-like with Firefox OS

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 1, 2014 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: Kickstarter, Firefox OS, web, chromecast

When Google released the Chromecast, it was a surprisingly clean solution for streaming video (my apologies if solutions existed before it). Just plug it into HDMI and connect to it with a PC or a mobile device to use the TV as monitor for content, and it is cheap. I figured that the open source community would like one of their own, but I did not think it was going to be done. Now there is a Kickstarter up, with FirefoxOS.


I constantly struggle with whether to discuss crowdfunding because, on the one hand, you never know if something will tank. On the other hand, is it really any less sketchy than pre-release information for computer hardware or video games (especially pre-release news for video games)?

In this case, I found out that it was promoted by Mozilla on their Hacks blog. It is based on a Rockchip 3066 SoC with 1GB RAM, 4GB of storage and 2.4 GHz Wireless-N. As stated earlier, it runs FirefoxOS which means that apps are websites. The SoC has a Mali-400 GPU that is capable of OpenGL ES 2.0, so it might even be able to support WebGL if the software and drivers are certified. Don't expect jaw-dropping 3D graphics, though. The GPU is rated at about 9 GFLOPs. For comparison, the Tegra K1 has a peak compute throughput of about 365 GFLOPs; alternatively, it is fairly close to later-model Intel GMA graphics (not Intel HD Graphics... GMA). Still, it might allow for some interesting 2D (or simplistic 3D) games.

Just a day-or-so in, it is already at over 150% funding.

Source: Kickstarter

Hack your Chromecast for extras and protection

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2014 - 12:16 PM |
Tagged: chromecast, root, streaming, hulu, Netflix

Chromecast and some of its alternatives have been covered previously on PC Perspective, not just their capabilities but also ways to gain more control over your content stream. The market is quite saturated making it hard for a new user to pick which peice of hardware to pick up though thankfully many are inexpensive and you can actually afford to try more than one.  The news from Hack a Day this morning makes Chromecast a little more attractive, especially for those with a technical inclination and a love of rooting devices.  With a Teensy 2 or 2++ dev board, a USB OTG cable, a USB flash drive and just a few minutes you will be able to modify your DNS settings so you can watch geographically locked programming as well as load custom apps which might protect your ears from a certain type of torture.


"Now the Chromecast has been rooted, allowing anyone to change the DNS settings (Netflix and Hulu users that want to watch content not available in their country rejoice), and loading custom apps for the Chromecast."

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Source: Hack a Day

$50 Roku Streaming Stick Is A Google Chromecast Alternative

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2014 - 02:13 AM |
Tagged: streaming stick, roku, Netflix, media streaming, chromecast

Roku has launched a new Streaming Stick for HD TVs with HDMI inputs. The small USB flash drive-sized device is powered by USB and plugs into the HDMI input of your television. From there, users can access the Roku app store to get thousands of streaming media channels including television, movies, sports, and music. For example, users can access media from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, VUDU, Pandora, and Spotify.

The Roku Streaming Stick can pass up to 1080p video and 7.1 channel digital audio to the TV. It can be controlled via a physical remote or an Android or iOS smartphone application. Roku is using RF for the hardware remote and Wi-Fi direct for the smartphone-to-Streaming Stick connection, which means that line of sight is not necessary (which is important since most TV HDMI ports are recessed on the back panel). Speaking of wireless, the Streaming Stick pulls its media from a Wi-Fi network connection, with support for dual band 802.11 a/b/g/n networks (2.4GHz or 5GHz).

Roku Streaming Stick HDMI Version.jpg

Using the smartphone application, users can browse for and queue content. In general, the Roku stick can go out and fetch media on its own without a smartphone or computer intermediary passing the content. However, it does support limited “casting” functionality similar to Google’s Chromecast. In this mode, users, can pass YouTube, Netflix, and personal (on device) media over to the TV from the smartphone. Roku has stated that casting support for other media streams and casting from a PC is coming in the future.

Roku’s new Chromecast competitor is available for pre-order now for $49.99 with availability expected in April. The price is on the high side, but it does offer access to all of Roku’s channels, a physical remote for basic playback and navigation controls, is able to stream media on its own, and is also able to do media push functionality similar to the Chromecast (but in a more limited fashion at the moment). More devices and competition in this space is a good thing though!

Will you be picking up a Roku Streaming Stick or holding out for something else?

Source: Roku

Hulu and HBO Go Streaming Apps May Be Coming To Google Chromecast

Subject: General Tech | August 5, 2013 - 09:00 PM |
Tagged: media streaming, hulu, hbo, google, chromecast

Google released its Chromecast streaming stick last month, and the device launched with support for YouTube, Google Play, and Netflix streaming. For the remaining content sources, users need to resort to "casting" an entire Chrome web browser tab from a smartphone, tablet, or computer connected to the same network over Wi-Fi. At launch, Google stated that additional apps are coming, including Pandora (and later Vimeo). Now, stories are appearing online reporting that Hulu Plus and HBO Go support may be coming to the $35 streaming device in the near future.

Variety reports that HBO is "actively exploring" the Google Chromecast as another method for subscribers to access content. As usual, users will need to be subscribers of traditional cable or satellite services along with paying a monthly subscription to HBO itself in order to access HBO Go on the Chromecast. For now, users are able to stream to their televisions by using the tab casting feature, but an app would be ideal. The company has not announced any specific timelines for an app release, however.

Additionally, Hulu has said that it is working on adding its own streaming app to the Chromecast for Plus subscribers. Specifically, Hulu representative Meredith Kendall was quoted by Variety in stating that "We are actively working with Google to bring Hulu Plus to the platform." Hulu seems to be more certain on delivering a Chromecast app for its users, so it is likely that Hulu Plus will come out before HBO Go, though free Hulu users will have to resort to casting the entire Chrome tab.

Have you received your Google Chromecast yet? Are you excited for new apps, or is the tab casting "good enough"?

Read more about Google's Chromecast media streaming dongle at PC Perspective.

Source: Slash Gear

Marvell ARMADA 1500 Mini SoC Powers Google's Chromecast Streaming Dongle

Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2013 - 11:12 PM |
Tagged: Marvell 88DE3005, Marvell, chromecast, armada 1500 mini

Last month Google launched its $35 Chromecast streaming stick. Marvell Technology Group Ltd. recently revealed that the Chromecast dongle is powered by a Marvell Armada 1500-Mini 88DE3005 SoC.

The company has not released the full specifications on the SoC, but it is essentially a cut down version of the existing Armada 1500 which features two Marvell SMP cores clocked at 1.2GHz, a GC1000 GPU, Qdeo video decoding, audio engine, and security engine that supports DRM such as Widevine (used by Dish Anywhere and other video streaming sites) and Playready.

The Armada 1500-Mini SoC is a single core variant of that chip. It supports the same security engine and has supports having USB, Ethernet, HDMI 1.4a, and SATA connectors on devices it powers. The Armada 1500-Mini supports 1080p video and the audio post processing engine supports Dolby and DTS surround sound.


Marvell is releasing a streaming stick of its own using the new SoC in addition to making the chip itself available to other companies to use in their own devices.

For more information, check out the Marvell product page for the Armada 1500 Mini.

Source: Marvell

Gain root to your Chromecast dongle

Subject: General Tech | July 29, 2013 - 02:19 PM |
Tagged: streaming, media, google. chrome, chromecast, hack

The Chromecast streaming dongle you heard about just a few days ago has now been opened up thanks to a quickly discovered exploit.  As a bonus, the page on Hack a Day also shows off more of the internals of the device including 17 unused connection just begging for hacks to be created. The exploit allows you to dial in to a root shell which will exist on port 23 although as of now there is little you can do but examine the modified Google TV OS but this should change as creative people have a chance to play with the new device.


"Well that didn’t take long. The team over at GTVHacker have worked their magic on Chromecast. The HDMI dongle announced by Google last week was so popular they had to cancel their 3-free-months of Netflix perk. We think the thing is worth $35 without it, especially if we end up seeing some awesome hacks from the community."

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Source: Hack a Day