Ludo Cast Review: a Chromecast Experience

Ludo Cast Review: a Chromecast Experience

Oct 1, 2015

Back when I was a kid, we didn’t have these type of toys we got today. I grew up with the “normal” batch of toys: Legos, soccer balls… the occasional catapult. I also had a soft spot for board games; a soft spot that remains to this day. I have fond memories of playing games with family and friends on the dining table.

Good times.

A special place in my heart is reserved for Ludo — the circle and cross game of international renown. It gets the ludo3Chromecast treatment in Ludo Cast .

The game layout will be familiar to folks who’ve played the traditional form: a general cross layout, with four player yards in different colors (red, blue, yellow and green) and matching hinge bases. Each yard has 4 playing tokens that match the yard color. In this version of the game, the paths from yard to home base are splashed with color and such… more on that later.

The game allows for action between player and AI in combination, from 1-4 players. Movement is determined by virtual dice roll. The main idea is to navigate all four of one’s pieces from home to endzone BEFORE any opponents.

It translates well, with a bunch of variations that make it quite interesting, like color-coded advancements. Staples like sending an opponent’s piece hinge and rolling a 6 to get out are present. The color-coding does make for a very, very busy board. A multiplayer functionality (across devices) would be great, but I wonder how feasible that would be within the Chromecast framework.

The audio is lighthearted (rolling said 6 elicits a cheery “Hallelujah” for instance), but feels a bit repetitive in places. The virtual dice roll feels realistic enough.

Overall, it is fun in that it allows itself to think outside the box, but not so much as to end up being strange.

Amazon Fire TV Review: A Gamer’s Perspective

Amazon Fire TV Review: A Gamer’s Perspective

Jan 5, 2015

The past couple of years have definitely been the years of the streaming media unit. All the big players have a hat in the Big C, and with good reason: we like content. Lots of it.

Enter Fire TV, the still-relatively-new offering from Amazon.

Amazon provided us a gaming bundle package to check out, containing the black unit, black remote, power cables, batteries, and the optional bluetooth gamepad (one should ensure one has HDMI cable). It’s fairly svelte, a bit smaller than one would guess, coming in at 4.5 x 4.5 x 0.7 inches and just under 10 oz. It has a quad core processor and 8 GB of storage, and supports output of 720 x 1080p up to 60fps.

Specs aside, there is little to dislike about Amazon Fire TV. It looks good, and is a veritable source of content. It has a lot of the go-to programs that can be downloaded to it: Netflix, WatchESPN, Pandora, Crackle, Showtime Anytime (based on provider) and, of course, Amazon Instant and Amazon Music, among other offerings. Setup is easy, and the included control is definitely a huge positive. On its own, as a streaming accessory, it holds its own against the competition.


What piqued our interest (duh) is the gaming aspect. The Amazon Appstore has grown into a veritable source of Android apps. Buoyed by great publicity, Amazon Coin program and the renown Free App of the Day offerings, it is possible for users to amass quite a trove of apps which can be used on Fire devices and compatible Android hardware in general.

Fire TV gives folks the opportunity to play select games on the TV via the box. The supplied remote can be used with games, but the optional Fire Game Controller can be purchased to really get into wireless gaming. The Controller looks and feels just like a conventional console controller and nothing beats playing Minion Rush on big hi-def screen. I didn’t catch serious lag, and the entire experience was quite enjoyable and shockingly cohesive. there’s also a software app available on the Play Store and Amazon Appstore.


No, not all games are compatible, but more are added everyday. Games that work with Fire TV are marked as such, and for now, there are several dozen available, including Riptide GP2, Prince of Persia, Sonic the Hedgehog, Asphalt 8 and more.

I do find the latent strategy intriguing. On paper, if the catalog of compatible apps continues to increase, it might help the Fire TV overcome any perceived weaknesses when compared to competing streaming hardware; the gaming aspect does take it to a a whole new level. In many ways, because of the things it brings to the table, Fire TV might be able to replicate what the original Nintendo Wii did: create an army of “casual” gamers that are already familiar with Android-based time-wasters.

Ultimately, Fire TV wins because it doesn’t take on too much, and does what it does relatively well. If Amazon keeps its promise to keep up with development, outer space is the limit.

Sony Music Unlimited Review

Sony Music Unlimited Review

Oct 8, 2014



“What is that ‘CD’ thingie they are talking about on that show?”

We’ve come a long way. Not that long ago, having one’s music on the go meant investing in a CD case or one of those hideous auto visor holders. Now, our smartphones are our streaming hubs.

And mighty Sony is on it it — in the manifestation of the subscription-based Sony Music Unlimited streaming service.

After setting up the service (which involved redeeming the review code Sony provided), the next thing was to download the accompanying from the Play Store. using the app, one is easily able to navigate the service. it’s possible to browse the catalog by genre. For premium subscribers, there is the channel feature, which parses thesum1 music into common-ground groups; channels range from “Bollywood” to “Assassin’s Creed” and beyond. There is even a “Comedy Nightclub” channel, which rocks stuff from Cheech and Chong all the way to Chris Rock, I liked the ability to create one’s own channels. There is also a Library section in the main menu which allows users to collate favorite music.

The service allows for streaming (obviously), but also gives users the ability to pin music offline; this is great for when might be lacking internet connectivity.

One of the biggest question a music service has to answer is the one that pertains to content. On this front, Sony Music Unlimited packs a major punch; not shocking, considering we’re talking about, well, Sony here. It boasts more than 30 million songs, which is far from shabby. In reality, it picked up almost every artist I threw at it across genres. I was happy to find entire albums from even obscure artists; it didn’t have ALL, but I think I could be satisfied with the selection. The audio is quite clear (320 kbps High Quality Audio), and no ads to contend with.

The ability to access the premium service on the web, multiple mobile platforms, Playstation consoles/handhelds and compatible Sony electronics adds to its allure.

I think the search engine can be tweaked a good deal; in some of my searches, it seemed to be quite reliant on exactness, which can be a tough with regards to zany spellings of artist names and songs, and even then, finding songs can be infuriating. There are some instances that I think the UI could be a bit more logical off the search too; there were times a song/artist search came up blank when the song was indeed in the catalog.

Yes, the streaming music space is pretty packed for Android, but Sony knows a thing or two about this entertainment, and it brings that knowledge to bear in this product.

Good for us.

Netflix Gets Update

Netflix Gets Update

Oct 7, 2014

The Android Netflix app is getting an update.

Per the Google Play app page, the new update brings:

• In-app profile management
• Enhanced visual search results
• Backgrounded playback with notification for quick resume (on select devices only)

The profile feature is a relatively new feature that allows a Netflix account holder to create content-specific sub-accounts via the web; this is useful for households with, say, kids to create a portion dedicated to the children. It’ll be a welcome addition to the mobile app.

Netflix mobile content for Android users remains free on the Play Store for folks with active subscriptions.

Amazon Instant Video Comes To Android Devices

Amazon Instant Video Comes To Android Devices

Sep 9, 2014

In a move that has been expected for at least a few weeks, Amazon has just made its Amazon Instant Video service available to compatible Android devices, via an update to the Amazon app.

For Amazon Prime customers with non-Amazon devices, this is big news, as the services was formerly restricted to devices in Amazon’s ecosystem and iOS devices. Now, folks with compatible devices with access to the Amazon AppStore can get the necessary add-on to make the video content available on their Android-powered devices.

This move has been hinted at earlier. In July, reports noted an Amazon executive stating an Android release was “imminent.” The move seemingly indicates a tiny shift in Amazon’s mobile strategy.

To get the app, one has to download/update (and be signed into) the Amazon app; accessing a video will prompt the download of the Prime Instant Video app (which seems to be only available in the Amazon AppStore). Now, with internet connectivity, streaming is possible on phones and tablets.

As with a lot of things Amazon, the service is restricted by geography; it is available in USA, and some parts of Europe.


Rocki Wi-fi Music System Hardware Review

Rocki Wi-fi Music System Hardware Review

Aug 6, 2014

First, I am a Kickstarter feen. There’s something infinitely sexy about crowd-sourced projects; the whole concept of sharing a dream with investors who believe enough in said dream to back it financially is one of the best aspects of new age entrepreneurship one can find today. I admit to spending more time than I should browsing through projects.

Items like Rocki Wi-fi Music System allow for us to see Kickstarter at its best.

Some background: Rocki is a small, pocketable gadget that allows music users to stream music from smartphone-borne apps via common wi-fi. The project went up with a goal of $50,000 to fund; by the time the backing period ended, it had racked up more than four times that amount in pledges. Now, in Kickstarter terms, that’s mighty impressive, especially when one considers that even a few of the higher pledge tiers received plenty of support. As such, we were more than a little eager to check out the finished product, and the company obliged us with an opportunity to formally look at this item.

Yes. There are way more horrible ways to spend a weekend. Or two.


The small review box packed a good deal of goodies that hint at just how effective the gadget intends to be: audio to speaker (red and white) cable, male-to-male coaxial cable, flat micro-USB cable, AC adapter, paraphernalia and, of course, the Rocki itself. The green unit is curiously shaped, being faintly polyhedric with antiprismatic stylings and quite palmable. The light green piece is mostly green rubbery plastic, with a hard black base. The on-button is set with the micro-USB and audio ports, and there is a small reset hole on the black underside. On the topside, the device logo is proudly stamped. It packs a rechargeable 900mAh battery and officially stands at 3.9 x 2 x 0.7 inches and 2.1 ounces.


What Rocki looks to do is provide a wireless alternative to bluetooth streaming; its tool of choice is common wi-fi. Thus, the unit can be paired to a wi-fi enabled source via Android app, and, when physically connected to a pair of speakers with the one of the included audio cables, the audio is transmitted to the speakers… much like a bluetooth puck. Setting it up is easy enough in theory, but after downloading, it did take me a couple of tries to get stuff working, after which it all came together. The fidelity is nice overall, with no noticeable delay.

Now, one benefit of using this over bluetooth is that since it uses wi-fi, there is less of a theoretical concern with regards to range and/or obstacles; as long as the source phone or tablet and the Rocki are connected to wi-fi and the app is installed, a user is set. It allows the music source to remain with the user, and even allows different units to be alternated from within the same app, and music from multiple sources can be added to a playlist. Additionally, I like that the companion app also works as a self-contained music player, with built-in compatibility with and SoundCloud.


I like the concept behind the app; I think the multiple use ability is a great feature, as is the ability to use with computers. It doesn’t handle every type of music, and the use of wi-fi is a sword that cuts both ways. Still, it’s a piece that is good to have.

The Rocki Wi-Fi Music System can be had in a host of colors (pink, purple, red, black, yellow and green) via Amazon for $49.00.

EndlessTV Releases Series of Apps to Provide TV-Like Experience for Mobile

EndlessTV Releases Series of Apps to Provide TV-Like Experience for Mobile

May 8, 2014

EndlessTV 3

EndlessTV has released a series of apps that seamlessly translate various video channels to a mobile device, as comfortably as possible, providing a TV-like experience. The apps are grouped by the genre and consist of a variety of videos that string together to make a great TV-watching experience. The apps are available from here: EndlessTV apps on Google Play

Kinoma Connect Allows Streaming Content To DLNA Devices

Kinoma Connect Allows Streaming Content To DLNA Devices

Feb 26, 2014

Kinoma Connect 3

This free app can connect a tablet or phone with various smart devices like SmartTVs and connected speakers. You can listen to your music, look through photos, or watch movies on the big screen with just a few taps. The app is available for free from here: Kinoma Connect on Google Play.

Multishare USB Jak Hardware Review

Multishare USB Jak Hardware Review

May 20, 2013

As I have become more dependent on my Android smartphone I have started working more with streamed content. Reviewing the bCoda Jak gave me an opportunity to look at another way to use my device to be a multimedia dynamo. Better yet, in a house like mine with several Android devices (and consequently several different streams), the Jak promises to allows the user to wirelessly stream pictures, music and video clips from Android devices to stuff like TVs, projectors, car stereos and other smart devices with USB input.

I am still surprised at how small and lightweight the review piece is. It is about about the size of an ordinary portable jump drive, but lighter. It came in gentle green and, in my eyes, quite humble looking.jak4

The biggest part was pairing it. With the companion app from the Play Store, it was surprisingly easy. It handled the pairing and even updating the devices firmware. In my opinion, seamless pairing like this should be the norm with regards to this type of matchups.

As noted, the Jak works as a plug-in media receiver for just about anything that has a USB port. I found the output to be far from shabby; it handled music and onboard clips well as long as I playlisted them with the companion app. In my testings with several devices, the Jak’s performance was close to flawless. On my laptop, it invoked the media player and piped it through just about as nicely as I would expect on-board music to play. I was able to stream from different devices seamlessly.

The biggest drawback was the file set-up. I had to have pre-created playlists. While that could be optimistically looked at as some needed rigidity in the needed world of Android, I do believe that I would have preferred a more organic way of accessing media. Also, it is universal, but as far as I could tell, the app is Android-only for now, so for multi-platform households, it might be a bit restricted.

I think the Jak can still be a relevant piece of the arsenal for folks who have multiple devices and/or several output peripherals. It’s handy size belies it’s overall functionality, and it is an excellent way to go BIG with media.

MLB At Bat 2013 Now Available

MLB At Bat 2013 Now Available

Mar 11, 2013

MLB At Bat is back for 2013. The official app that provides live in-game box scores, pitch-by-pitch game trackers, live audio, and live video through has been updated and is ready for 2013.

This year, the app ditches the premium/freemium model introduced in last year’s version, where subscribers (and those who subscribed to At Bat via the iOS app and tied to their account) could get access for free by logging in to the free app, but paying for the app would get the At Bat features of Gameday and live streaming audio of all games. Now, there’s just the freemium app, with an in-app purchase for either the standard At Bat features or to buy an subscription from

If you subscribed to last year, then double-check your credit card bill, as there’s a good chance that a pricey renewal happened under your nose a couple weeks ago. Also, World Baseball Classic fans will note that the At Bat app is not streaming those games; it appears the broadcast rights are different as MLB Network owns those rights, and the WBC app is not available for Android. Still, all the Spring Training action that’s available is here in this app until the season kicks off on April 1st. The onerous blackout restrictions for Fox Saturday games and in-market games are still around as well. Still, for baseball die-hards and those not in their home team’s market, this app and the subscriptions are a must-have. The 2013 update is available from Google Play and Amazon Appstore.

Control Netflix on PS3 Using the Android App

Control Netflix on PS3 Using the Android App

Sep 27, 2012

Updates have rolled out for the PS3 and Android versions of Netflix recently, and it looks like an enterprising developer has snuck in a cleverly useful feature: the ability to remotely control the PS3 Netflix from Android. Launch the app from both devices, select something to watch on Android, and a prompt to choose which device to watch on will pop up. Choose PS3, and it will start playing the movie on there, with controls available on the Android device.

Of course, good luck getting through a whole TV episode or movie on Netflix before it disconnects because Sony puts out another software update for the PS3, which they do pretty much every half-hour.

Some users are reporting this feature not working. No matter, for rooted devices, BlueputDroid will turn an Android device into a Bluetooth keyboard that could then be used to navigate the PS3 menus if necessary.

Xbox 360 owners are out of luck at the moment, as it does not appear to work, and My Xbox Live still does not support remote Xbox controls like the iOS app does. Still, at least it doesn't require an update every time a bell chimes.

The Netflix app with the clandestine remote controls is available now.

New Spotify Mobile App Review

New Spotify Mobile App Review

May 21, 2012

I’m going to start this app review by saying how much I love Spotify. I made the unfortunate mistake of getting Spotify Premium and now I am hopelessly addicted. For those who are not aware of what Spotify is, it is a service that allows the user to browse and listen to nearly every music track in existence. It is like owning the entire iTunes Store, but for free. Naturally there is a paid version that offers advanced features such as higher streaming rates, offline playback, mobile access, and ad-free listening. For subscribers of Premium, such as myself, one of the biggest advantages was being able to stream songs through Spotify onto any mobile device. Unfortunately, until now the Spotify app had been one of the most frustrating experiences on a smartphone since Facebook updated their Android app.

Now available on the Spotify website for download is a completely new app that bears no resemblance to the old clunker, and has been completely rebuilt from scratch. Because this is still in testing phase, it is not out on the Play Store but rather available for download as an .apk file to be manually installed. For any Spotify Premium user, I would definitely recommend giving it a shot, even for those who have never manually installed an application before.

The app has too many changes to name, and every one of them is for the better. It is more stable than its predecessor as well as markedly faster. The styling has changed from a dreary dark gray and green to a white and lime combo that takes definite nods towards Google’s restyling of all their web services. The giant gray buttons are now replaced by simple, flat squares and rectangles, and the obtrusive ‘Now Playing’ tab is gone. The menu is accessed in the exact same way as in Facebook’s new app, and the two look so similar that I cannot tell specifically if there are any differences. Searching for a song is finally logical and the feeling of needing to outsmart the app just to find a song is mercifully gone. While the whole app revolves around the ‘Playlist’ feature, ‘What’s New’ makes an appearance and artist and album pages have been redesigned with giant cover photos adorning the header.

With the reincarnation of their Android app, Spotify has more than likely brought themselves Premium subscribers in droves. The argument to stay at Spotify Free and not upgrade to Premium just got a little bit harder to make.