First look: Roku TVs from Hisense and TCL are refreshingly simple

Susie Ochs Senior Editor, TechHive Follow me on Google+

Susie is a proud Mac geek, as well as a writer, editor, snowboarder, and mom.
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The problem with your typical smart TV is that it doesn’t feel so typical. Each TV company uses a different interface and a different remote and offers different content channels. Even if the interface is well done, like LG’s webOS version, there is still a learning curve.

One of the best parts of using a set-top box like the ones made by Roku is that the interface is the same no matter which TV you have. And the new Roku TVs from TCL and Hisense put that familiar Roku interface right on your TV. You don’t have to switch inputs or juggle remotes. And all 1,500 Roku channels are available, far eclipsing the amount of content you’ll find on other smart TV platforms.

I got to see and try out both the Hisense and TCL Roku TVs at a recent demo in San Francisco, and the most striking thing about the sets was their simplicity. Getting set up is simple, finding stuff to watch is simple, and switching between live TV, Roku’s OTT content, and your other inputs is a piece of cake, too.

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No set-top box required: TVs with baked-in Roku streaming coming in September

Jared Newman , TechHive Follow me on Google+

Jared writes for PCWorld and TechHive from his remote outpost in Cincinnati.
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Roku is about to break free from set-top boxes, with the first "Roku TVs" from HiSense and TCL shipping next month.

Instead of requiring a separate box or streaming stick, Roku TVs have the company's streaming video and music platform built-in. Roku boasts 1,500 streaming channels, with the ability to search across them all for movies and TV shows.

TCL's four televisions run from 32 inches to 55 inches, with the largest model selling for $649 according to Engadget. HiSense hasn't announced pricing, but will also have four televisions ranging from 40 inches to 55 inches.

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Report: Google to launch YouTube Music Key subscription service

Florence Ion Staff Writer, Greenbot Follow me on Google+

Florence is an Android-using yogi obsessed with all things tech.
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Why bother going to two separate sites for music and video services when you can get them in a two-for-one deal? That might be what Google's conjuring up for YouTube.

According to an exclusive report by Android Police, Google has big plans to turn YouTube into a better place to listen to music. It’s called YouTube Music Key, and it offers ad-free music, audio-only playback, and offline playback. It’ll start at $9.99 a month—which is how much Google Play Music All Access costs now—and new users will be able to try it free for 30 days. That same ten bucks would give you a subscription to Play Music All Access, which would be renamed Google Play Music Key.

youtubemusickey leaks Android Police

A few leaked screenshots of YouTube Music Key.

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Report: Xbox Entertainment Studios not quite dead yet

James Careless , TechHive

James Careless has been covering the Internet since the days of 1200 baud modems. His credits include Business Week, KM World, Network World, PCWorld, and Streaming Media.
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Like an unexpected twist in one of the original programs it had hoped to produce, Microsoft’s recently shuttered Xbox Entertainment Studios may come back from the dead. That’s according to an August 14 story in the Hollywood Reporter, which says Warner Bros. may be in the frame to revive Microsoft’s attempt to create video content for its gaming console.

Citing unnamed sources, the newspaper says that XES is in preliminary talks with Warner Bro. Under the purported deal, the movie studio would merge XES with Machinima. Warner Bros already owns part of that gaming and streaming website, and Machinima has already worked with Xbox in distributing the live-action digital series Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn.

Neither Warner Brother or Microsoft would confirm or deny the rumor, but it would make sense. Even after being axed as part of the 18,000 jobb cuts at Microsoft ordered by CEO Satya Nadella, XES still has some valuable properties under production. They include the Steven Spielberg-produced Halo TV series, a Signal to Noise documentary about unearthing the buried Atari E.T. video game, and the Halo: Nightfall TV series.

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Girl power: 10 films full of remarkable women, streaming on Netflix

Jeffrey M. Anderson , TechHive

Jeffrey has been a working film critic for more than 14 years. He first fell in love with the movies at age six while watching "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" and served as staff critic for the San Francisco Examiner from 2000 through 2003.
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It’s no secret that the movie business has long been a men’s club, but it doesn’t have to be that way. These 10 films, currently streaming on Netflix, show that great things can happen when men and women work together to create more opportunities for women behind the scenes and in front of the camera. And adding some truly interesting female characters never hurts, either. In fact, we found so many performances worth celebrating that there’s a bonus list of 10 more girl-power films at the bottom.

Amelie

ns amelie
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YouTube starts cleaning up its streaming apps, starting with Xbox One

James Careless , TechHive

James Careless has been covering the Internet since the days of 1200 baud modems. His credits include Business Week, KM World, Network World, PCWorld, and Streaming Media.
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Xbox One users should spend less time hunting and pecking and more time streaming videos to the big screen, thanks to a just-released update to YouTube’s app for the gaming console. And other set-top boxes and gaming consoles will soon follow suit.

YouTube announced Thursday that it would make its assortment of apps for streaming videos on TVs easier to use, starting with the release of the new YouTube Xbox One app. The new version features a one-click What to Watch guide on the left side of the screen. It’s similar to the YouTube channel guide already found on the desktop and mobile versions of YouTube, and it gives Xbox One users direct access to their video channel subscriptions and playlists. The updated app also features new channel pages.

“When you sign in, you can jump to all the latest videos from your subscriptions and recommendations in the What to Watch section, or pop on a playlist you’ve saved such as Blogilates’ Cardio AB Attack and turn your TV into a workout buddy,” according to the YouTube blog post announcing the Xbox One update.

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NBC comedy gets online preview on iHeartRadio and other places online

Ian Paul ian@ianpaul.net, TechHive Follow me on Google+

Ian is an independent writer based in Tel Aviv, Israel. His current focus is on all things tech including mobile devices, desktop and laptop computers, software, social networks, Web apps, tech-related legislation and corporate tech news.
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Music streaming may be iHeart Radio’s best-known service, but the Clear Channel property is getting serious about video streaming starting Thursday. The first episode of A to Z, a new comedy series debuting this fall on NBC, is available for streaming on iHeartRadio. A to Z’s NBC broadcast premiere is slated for October 2—seven weeks from now.

The iHeart Radio preview of A to Z is part of a larger marketing campaign for the new show across Clear Channel digital properties, NBC announced. Beyond the Clear Channel campaign, Comcast-owned NBC is also serving up the A to Z premiere on Hulu, Comcast’s Xfinity service, NBC.com, and on-demand services from cable providers.

While iHeart Radio does stream some video content, such as music videos, concerts, and other entertainment clips, the A to Z premiere is easily the service’s biggest video title yet. Whether this dabble into video streaming indicates aspirations to expand iHeart Radio beyond its audio streaming focus is unclear.

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