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Streaming Media Player Showdown: Chromecast vs. Roku Premiere

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Digital entertainment offers all the convenience fixings for a relaxing day (or night) in. Whether you watch flicks on a computer, tablet, or TV, binging on the latest Netflix series or Hulu exclusive series is a good excuse to skip brunch and other weekend festivities. For the ultimate binge-watching experience though, investing in a good streaming media player is key.

There are two companies you might want to consider for streaming media players: Google and Roku. Google’s Chromecast increases streaming speed and offers voice control ability when paired with a Google Connected Home device, while the Roku Premiere provides 4K HD (high definition) picture quality and a Roku Remote with channel shortcut buttons. Even though the Chromecast and Roku Premiere share a similar objective, which is to upgrade binge-watching sessions, each model has different perks and drawbacks when it comes to digital entertainment.

Ready to watch movies, TV episodes, and exclusive series without streaming hiccups? You’ve come to the right place. From basic specifications to streaming perks, here’s what you need to know if you’re deciding between the Chromecast and the Roku Premiere for your binge-watching needs.

Basic Specifications

With speedy streaming, easy access to digital content, and voice control capabilities, Google’s Chromecast will take your binge-watching sessions to the next level. At $35, this streaming media player is one of the more affordable models on the market, yet it provides many streaming perks at a fraction of the price. 

This device weighs 1.41 ounces and its dimensions are 2.04 x 0.54 x 2.04 inches. It comes with a circular shape and HDMI plug that seamlessly fit behind your TV. When you buy the Chromecast, you’ll get the following: a Chromecast streaming media player, a power adapter, and a power cable.

Chromecast (Photo Credit: Google)

The Roku Premiere is a great streaming media player if you would like movie theater settings right in your living room. High-quality 4K picture and audio, access to free digital content, and a Roku Remote with channel shortcut buttons to Netflix, Hulu, and Sling are a handful of benefits offered by this small device. Even though it’s slightly more expensive ($57), the Roku Premiere gives you most of the tools you need to create an above-average streaming experience.

Compared to other streaming media players, the Roku Premiere has a tiny USB stick shape. Its dimensions are 1.4 x 3.3 x 0.7 inches and it weighs 1.28 ounces, so it won’t show behind your TV. Each Roku Premiere set comes with a Roku Premiere streaming media player, a premium high-speed HDMI cable, a USB power cable, a power adapter, a remote with pre-set channel shortcut buttons, a removable adhesive strip, two AAA batteries, and an owner’s manual.

Roku Premiere (Photo Credit: Roku)

Ease of Setup

Some streaming media players can be challenging to setup, but the Chromecast and the Roku Premiere have easy assembly instructions.

To get started with the Roku Premiere, connect it into your HDTV’s HDMI port, plug it into the wall outlet, and place it near your HDTV to connect to your home Wi-Fi. Then, use your TV remote to turn on the HDTV, select the input, and insert batteries inside the Roku Remote. Lastly, create a Roku account to start streaming content.

Chromecast setup is also seamless, and you’ll be able to watch digital content in a pinch. First, plug the Chromecast into your TV, go to chromecast.com/setup to download the Google Home app on your smartphone or tablet, and connect the Chromecast to your Wi-Fi network. Then, tap the Cast button in a Cast-enabled app (via smartphone or tablet) to use Chromecast on your TV.

Streaming Differences

Roku Remote (Photo Credit: Roku)

After covering specifications and setup, we can now get to the good stuff: the streaming benefits. Even though the Chromecast and Roku Premiere share some similar streaming benefits, there are some key differences to note.

Chromecast has one leg up on other streaming media players: its fast streaming speed. When you use the Chromecast, it streams 1080p at up to 60 fps (frames per second). You won’t have to worry about buffering issues or pixilated images when you’re watching flicks on TV. Speaking of TVs, the Chromecast works well with many TV models. All you need is a TV with a HDMI port to start streaming. The Chromecast doesn’t come with a remote, but you can stream from other devices and connect it with another Google Home device for easy voice control.

Unlike the Chromecast and other streaming media players, the Roku Premiere offers 4K HD streaming perks, including high-quality images and audio support for DTS Digital Surround. The Roku Premiere does come with a Roku Remote, where you can pause, play, and launch digital content. There are also channel shortcut buttons to Hulu, Netflix, and Sling TV, so you don’t have to get up from the couch to launch your favorite streaming media service.

Streaming Similarities

The Chromecast and Roku Premiere might have some streaming differences, but they also share similarities when it comes to convenient digital entertainment.

Unsure of what to watch? Both the Chromecast and Roku Premiere can help you find flicks in a pinch. The Chromecast gives you easy access to Hulu, Netflix, and Sling TV, where you can search by genre or title within a few clicks. When you use the Roku Premiere, you’ll have access to more than 500,000 movies, TV episodes, and exclusive programs. Whether you’re looking for a rom com or sci-fi action film, Chromecast and Roku make binge-watching an effortless process.

Smartphone app control is another similar perk between the Chromecast and the Roku Premiere. Streaming on your smartphone is easy with the Chromecast. Hit the Cast button in any Cast-enabled app to control whatever you’re watching on TV. With the Roku Premiere, you can use your iOS or Android smartphone to pause, play, or rewind content. Plus, you can search titles on your keyboard, opt for a private listening mode, or activate voice search with this streaming media player.

The Bottom Line

Still stuck on which streaming media player to buy? Here are some important factors to consider.

If you’re on a budget, the Chromecast provides good streaming perks at a fraction of the price. At only $35, you can get speedy streaming, voice control if synced with a Google Home Device, and HDMI TV compatibility. You won’t get a remote with the Chromecast, but the above-average streaming quality makes up for it.

For all the 4K HD fixings, the Roku Premiere is you go-to streaming media player. When you use this tiny device, you’ll have access to high-quality pictures and sound for a theater-like experience. At $56, the Roku Premiere is slightly more expensive than the Chromecast, but you’ll also have additional features, like access to over 500,000 films, TV episodes, and exclusive series and a remote with direct buttons to Hulu, Netflix, and Sling TV. For the price, that’s definitely worth it to upgrade your home entertainment atmosphere.

Buy Chromecast Here

Buy Roku Premiere Here

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Pick: Fossil Sport Is a Stylish Smartwatch for Everyday Use

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If you need a wearable accessory that doesn’t look or feel like a bulky device, you might want to consider the Fossil Sport. This smartwatch has a versatile design, extended battery life, and it comes with great tech features, including fitness tracking and heart rate monitoring.

According to our sister site PCMag.com, Fossil Sport is one of the best smartwatches for everyday use. It doesn’t come cheap at $275, but this device features the latest Google Wear OS hardware and software, coordinates with many wardrobe items, and offers accurate health stats if you want to count your steps or check your heart rate. The Fossil Sport is available on Amazon and Fossil’s website.

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The Fossil Sport might seem like an athletic accessory, however, its minimal design works for casual or formal attire: You can definitely wear this sleek wearable to brunch, the gym, and work. If you want to customize your Fossil Sport, you can choose from 28 different watch straps, which are $25 each and sold separately.

Unlike other smartwatches, the Fossil Sport is easy to use: There are three controls on the side of the smartwatch, including a rotating crown. The rotating crown will take you through the menu and notifications, while the other two buttons can be set to open your preferred apps, including Google Fit and Spotify.

Love working out? The Fossil Sport can help accurately track your steps and monitor your heart rate throughout the day. Whether you’re jogging, walking, or lifting weights, the Fossil Sport will keep you posted on health stats and your mileage. However, if you need more advanced fitness tracking and ECG readings, you might want to consider another smartwatch since Fossil Sport covers the basics in both areas. Additionally, this smartwatch is water-resistant up to 5 ATM, so you don’t have to worry about damaging it in the shower or pool.

One more important feature to note is the Fossil Sport’s battery life: Fossil said the watch can last roughly 24 hours, however, it might require additional charging if you use it for 12 or more hours. Thankfully though, if the smartwatch battery drains to 10 percent, it will go into Battery Saver Mode, a Wear OS feature that gives the battery two extra days of power.

For more specs on the Fossil Sport, you can read the extensive review on PCMag.com. And, if you need help choosing another wearable accessory, check out our Geek Pick Review for the Fitbit Charge 3 and our Fitness Tracker Roundup for Tech Lovers.

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Oops: Facebook Stored ‘Hundreds of Millions’ of Passwords in Plain Text

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It’s time to change your Facebook (and Facebook-adjacent-apps) password.

Security researcher Brian Krebs on Thursday revealed that “hundreds of millions” of user passwords have been stored in plain text—easily searchable by social network employees—for as long as seven years.

Facebook said it spotted the breach during a routine security review in January (yet kept it a secret for two months, until Krebs forced their hand).

“Our login systems are designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable,” Pedro Canahuati, VP of engineering, security, and privacy at Facebook, wrote in a blog post.

In security terms, the company “hashes” and “salts” codes, allowing it to replace actual passwords with random, incomprehensible sets of characters.

It’s unclear, then, why so many private keys—between 200 million and 600 million—were exposed to more than 20,000 Facebook employees.

“In this situation what we’ve found is these passwords were inadvertently logged but that there was no actual risk that’s come from this,” Facebook software engineer Scott Renfro told KrebsOnSecurity.

Citing an anonymous Facebook insider, Krebs reported that access logs showed some 2,000 engineers and developers made approximately 9 million queries for data elements containing plain-text user passwords.

“To be clear, these passwords were never visible to anyone outside of Facebook,” Canahuati confirmed. “We have found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed them.”

The social network has since fixed the issue, and is notifying anyone whose passwords were stored incorrectly—including Facebook, Facebook Lite, and Instagram users.

It’s always a good idea to switch up your passwords following a security breach. Folks are encouraged to choose strong, complex, and preferably unique phrases, and enable two-factor authentication when possible.

“There is nothing more important to us than protecting people’s information,” Canahuati wrote on the blog. “And we will continue making improvements as part of our ongoing security efforts at Facebook.”

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Watch 20 Minutes of Ads to Earn Free Movie Tickets

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Summer blockbusters and Oscar contenders don’t come cheap: The average price for a cinema ticket in 2018 was more than $9, according to the National Association of Theater Owners.

But what if you could watch first-run movies, in theaters, absolutely free?

That’s the idea behind PreShow, established by Stacy Spikes, co-founder of MoviePass and the Urbanworld Film Festival.

Since it launched Thursday on Kickstarter, the project has collected more than $9,000 from 251 backers, putting it well on its way to reaching Spikes’ $10,000 goal.

Inspired by the $11-billion-a-year product placement business, the movie-loving entrepreneur wants to bring advertising and audiences closer together.

Enter PreShow, a platform that allows people to attend films for free by watching branded content ads.

“The only people that will be able to participate are from the Kickstarter community,” Spikes said. “This is your invitation.”

Get your invitation on Kickstarter (via PreShow)

Choose from one of three Kickstarter tiers to join; each member also receives a limited number of codes to dispense among cinema-going mates:

  • $15 for you and five friends
  • $25 for you and 10 friends
  • $60 for you and 30 friends

(The obvious tactic is to charge pals per code, easily earning your money back.)

After the campaign ends in April, PreShow will start rolling out computer-generated keys to backers—first to big spenders in July, then second-wave supporters in September, and finally cheapskates in November.

Once connected, download the mobile app and log in to choose any 2D film playing at any theater.

You’ll need to watch a 15- to 20-minute video of branded content before receiving a virtual credit, which can be used to purchase tickets in advance, “the same way you normally would,” according to the project page.

Don’t expect to simply press play and walk away, though. A built-in facial recognition feature automatically pauses the video as soon as you look away from the screen or move out of view.

But with great technology comes great responsibility: PreShow promises privacy is a “top concern.”

“Nobody is recorded, no personally identifiable data is shared, all data is aggregated and anonymized to brand partners,” the site said. “If a member chooses to opt into a brand offering, they will be connected directly to the brand.”

You have 36 days to join PreShow, or convince a friend to back the campaign.

Spikes’ former firm MoviePass this week launched a new version of its “Uncapped” subscription service, now available for a limited-time price of $9.95 for 12 months, or $14.95 per month.

For reference, the standard price of MoviePass Uncapped will be $19.95 per month.

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