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Tag Archive for ‘Entertainment’

Disney+ and Hulu Merging Into Single App, Beta Coming in December ➝

Merging the apps makes sense from a business standpoint — it will give them more opportunities to promote the subscriptions to users that only have one or the other.

But I suspect they will go beyond that — I’d take this as an early signal that Disney+ and Hulu’s existence as separate subscriptions isn’t long for this world. It seems inevitable that they’ll eventually be merged.

If you’re still paying for subscriptions like this, I’d suggest setting up a Plex server and spending the equivalent of a streaming subscription each month on purchased media — be it DVDs and Blu-rays to rip or digital downloads that you can strip the DRM from.

Start building up a library of content that you own to eventually opt out of this whole subscription nonsense.

➝ Source: macrumors.com

Christmas Gift Guide

It’s been several years since I’ve published a gift guide on Initial Charge. But I thought it was a great time to bring it back. I’ve maintained a private wishlist site where my family and I post links to things that we want and we can all view each others’ lists. The site isn’t just for gift giving, though — I also use it throughout the year to keep a running list of things I want to purchase for myself.

I happen to have a number of items that I’m pretty excited about acquiring, though. So you can think of this as a gift guide for people who happen to share my interests.

Retroid Pocket 3+ — an excellent retro emulation handheld. I already own the Retroid Pocket 2+ and the 3, but the 3+ includes a pretty decent performance boost over the 3. It’s far from perfect, but the more powerful internals allow it to better emulate PlayStation 2, GameCube, Wii, and Nintendo 3DS games.

8bitdo Pro 2 — I love 8bitdo’s controllers and this seems like the one to get right now. I’d mostly pair it with my Retroid handheld for playing on a television, but I’d also use it with my Apple TV, MacBook Air, and Nintendo Switch.

Apple TV 4K, Wi-Fi + Ethernet — I’ve purchased every Apple TV iteration since the first generation. This one would go in the living room and the old one would be moved to the bedroom. The old bedroom one would likely get handed down to my in-laws.

20TB WD Red Pro — These are priced at $330 at the time of this writing, which is an unbelievable deal. The 8TB drives I’m currently using for media storage are nearing their capacity, if I’m going to upgrade, I’d want to go a lot bigger and this capacity offers the best price per terabyte from my preferred hard drive manufacturer.

CyberPower 1500VA UPS — My current uninterruptible power supply is maxed out in terms of power outlets. This model only adds two, but that should give me enough room for the new hardware I’m planning to add.

ThunderBay Flex 8 — This is a bit expensive, but the ThunderBay 6 I’m currently using will eventually reach capacity and I’ll have to move to something with more bays. The ThunderBay 8 only offers two more, but it also has a PCIe slot, which can be used for additional storage or accessories.

2012 Mac Mini, Quad Core — You can pick these up from OWC or eBay for under $200 at this point. I would install Ubuntu and run it as an Umbrel. And for the price, they offer pretty decent performance in a chassis that matches the rest of my server hardware.

Anker 40W, 521, Nano Pro — This is the charger I have in my laptop bag and I love it. I’d like another one to keep in the living room for more flexibility in our charging setup — we’re just using Apple’s 18W USB-C power adapter at the moment.

Ledger Nano X — I still dabble in cryptocurrencies and would like a hardware wallet for more secure storage, rather than keeping everything on an exchange. From what I’ve researched, this is the best option on the market.

Spotify Premium Now Bundled With AT&T’s Top Unlimited Plan ➝

Bundling entertainment services alongside connectivity will inevitably end poorly — if cable companies have taught us anything. But in the meantime, I guess you’re better off taking advantage of these deals than not. We currently have free HBO through our AT&T plan and have been more than happy with it. Just keep an eye out for rising prices or signs of overall service degradation. That’s when we need to start complaining.

My Favorite Apple TV Apps

I haven’t seen much Apple TV discussion as of late. Most of the usual suspects have spent the past few months talking about the iPad, Apple’s education offerings, and the continuing mediocre state of the Mac. But I think it’s time to highlight a handful of my favorite apps on Apple TV — a platform that has lived on my TV’s first HDMI port since it was just a silver box that ran a modified version of Mac OS X.

TV: This may go without saying, but Apple’s TV App is probably the best application on the entire platform. It aggregates dozens of media apps into a single interface, features a fantastic Top Shelf extension, and has become the center of our Apple TV experience. I currently have it connected to Classix, Crackle, CW Seed, HBO GO, Hulu, PBS, Pluto TV, Amazon Prime Video, The CW, and Tubi TV. Even if you only use two of the supported services, you should probably be using the TV App.

Provenance: It’s not available in the App Store and requires sideloading through Xcode or Cydia Impactor, but it’s definitely worth the trouble. Provenance is an emulator that supports NES, Super Nintendo, all flavors of Game Boy, Sega Genesis, and more. It’s also recently added support for PlayStation and Nintendo 64, although my experience has been less than stellar — I haven’t been able to get playable frame rates for either of these consoles on my Apple TV. But I’ve had a blast playing Pokémon Red, Mega Man X2, and Rocket Knight Adventures.

Infuse: This is a new addition to my tvOS home screen, but its quickly become a favorite. My wife and I use Infuse in place of the Plex app for streaming video from our Plex server. It might not sound like much, but Infuse let’s us ignore the photos and music that we keep in our Plex library. We can continue to backup our photos and playback music in the Plex app on our iPhones without that content getting in our way when we want to watch Back to the Future or an episode of Boy Meets World on our Apple TV.

I’ve also found Infuse to be much more pleasant to use than Plex, which often felt a bit clunky to navigate. Infuse’s interface is gorgeous and simple — exactly what I’m looking for in a media app.

Player2: Another new addition to our Apple TV’s home screen. Player2 is the best Twitch app on tvOS. It features a minimal interface, a great Top Shelf extension, and a handsome icon.

Pandora: One of the longest running streaming music services on the internet and our go-to app for playing audio when we have guests at our house. We just turn on our finely tuned “90s Alternative Radio” station and let the audio play in the living room or AirPlay to the HomePod in our kitchen. And I expect Pandora will see even more use when AirPlay 2 ships and we can play music in both rooms at once.

Quiplash: My favorite party game on Apple TV from the fine folks at Jackbox Games. Each player is presented with a number of questions on their smartphone and they give their best or funniest answer. The answers are then pitted against each other and players must vote on which they like best. Points are awarded proportional to the number of votes and the player that earned the most points by the end of the game is the winner. The game can be a bit vulgar at times, but it offers a family-friendly filter if you’d like to get the youngsters involved.

Alto’s Odyssey: I’ve written briefly about Alto’s Odyssey before and what I wrote still stands — “all I want to do is bounce off hot air balloons and wall ride over chasms”. It’s the best game on the platform for a quick gaming fix.

Channels: If you’re interested in cutting the cord, but don’t like the idea of paying through the nose for all the necessary streaming video subscriptions, an HDHomeRun, an inexpensive antenna, and Channels on the Apple TV is a pretty sweet solution. This setup lets you watch free, over-the-air television on every Apple TV in the house. You won’t be able to DVR your favorite shows without additional software — Plex and Channels DVR are great options —but you’ll have access to sports broadcasts that would be expensive to watch by alternative means.

Minecraft: The game was initially released in 2011 and runs on just about every platform under the sun, but its still a lot of fun to play. I’ve spent dozens of hours building shelters, running from Creepers, fighting Skeletons, and mining for diamonds. It’s everything I loved about LEGO wrapped in a survival video game. And no matter how much I play, I always end up returning to it a few times each year.

Apple to Announce ‘Watch List’ App ➝

Dawn Chmielewski, reporting for USA Today:

Apple plans to announce this week a new way for viewers to discover TV shows through an app, people with knowledge of the project told USA TODAY. […]

Described to network executives as “the Watch List,” the app will recommend shows based on the content viewers access through their Apple TVs. For example, a subscriber to FX Networks might be encouraged to check out the new dramatic series Atlanta.

There’s no indication as to whether you’ll need a cable subscription or not, but I really hope the app is cord-cutter-friendly.