With winter in full swing, quite a few folks are choosing to stay in and avoid the cold weather by getting their entertainment from streaming devices such as Apple TV and Roku. These little boxes are affordable; they typically run around $50-$100 and can easily keep you occupied for hours on end. They hook up to a TV by standard HDMI or RCA cables (depending on the model) and run off your Wi-Fi network or direct Ethernet connection. I was flipping through my Apple TV this week when I noticed a few different apps underneath the Netflix box, which is the standard go-to for most people. I decided to check out a couple of them to see what they were all about, and ended up with some swell new entertainment options.
Vimeo: This is a cool app that allows you to edit videos directly on your TV or Smartphone. You can play around with a variety of different photo filters and add music right before uploading and sharing your video on their platform or any social network of your choice. Vimeo was originally founded by a crew of film makers in New York City who wanted to record and share snippets of their lives in the form of short video clips. This idea caught on like wildfire, and now this app is hugely popular.
Crackle: This video app is owned by Sony and features a large choice of video categories to browse through, including: crime, documentary, music and horror; most of which are uncut and unedited. Through this app you can also pick from a variety of full-length movies and TV shows, with no subscription required. This app is free, but to avoid the litter of advertisements there is a choice to upgrade to a paid premium version. One of the coolest options that Crackle has to offer is what they call “minisodes,” which are basically just short clips of old TV shows from the 1960s through the 1990s. The “Married with Children” and “What’s Happening!!”minisodes are my personal favorite, they are good for a few laughs without any particular time commitment.
This music based app is all about watching a live concert from home. They have over 30 genres of music performances to choose from such as punk, reggae, metal, folk and new wave. It has some classic concert clips from the likes of Sublime, The Pixies, The Doors and some newer acts like The Decemberists. My personal favorites were all the retro clips from Dean Martin, Lou Reed and Johnny Cash. There is a little something for everyone. There are also music documentaries and unauthorized biographies available to check out. The previews are free, but the full viewings cost a few bucks.
Crunchyroll: This is an anime app for die-hard Japanese animation fans. This app offers over 25,000 different Asian dramas and anime episodes to pick from. With a paid membership viewers are offered a chance to catch selected new anime episodes within one hour of when they originally air in Japan. A definite must for any hardcore “Japanimation” lover.
There’s a bunch of other apps to play around with, like Red Bull TV and Hulu Plus. Some other media players are available too, such as Google Chromecast and PS3. It’s awesome to have so many options without ever having to leave the couch.