Monday, April 7, 2014

Seniors: How-To Use Online Movies & TV

I heard from a senior over the weekend who was having problems with all of these new video streaming delivery services online which I mention Weekly in my Entertainment Recs. That inspired this entry which is my take on the movie and tv resources online in 2014. It is not hard making use of these resources once you have the complete picture.

When we first entered the online world, we were using modems. Typically we were on aol and our connection went through our phone line. Our web pages were fine as long as they were primarily filled with text but any use of non textual material on web pages immediately slowed our ability to load pages. A few pictures on web pages could hang up our loading ability much less videos, ads, huge pictures, music videos and so forth. We have gotten used to seeing and using one media saturated web page after another and thinking nothing of it as each page loads in the blink of an eye.  One word was responsible for this transformation, broadband.

When you started connecting to the online world over cable's fiber optics network or DSL through the phone companies (broadband), the text based online world disappeared so that today it is rare to see a web page which is not rich in media of all sorts.  It all loads quickly because of that fast broadband connection. The day Jim and I connected via broadband a friend predicted to me, "You can never go back once you have a broadband connection." I agree. It would be easier to fork over my art work to someone than it would be to give up my broadband connection online. Anyone still using just a modem connection today is very limited on what use they can make of the online world. They certainly cannot stream any entertainment resources.

Once a huge number of us in America were connecting via broadband, our access to entertainment changed dramatically. We could either download or stream entertainment files. Video files in particular were huge, although today their size is being steadily reduced making them easier and easier to access. This led to the creation of online entities which sell entertainment to you which you can use immediately because of your broadband connection.  This is why both Netflix and Amazon were huge DVD resources before broadband and now are busily embracing instant video aka streaming and downplaying their DVDs. They fully expect DVD to become a very small or non existent part of their businesses.

The simplest way to use these entertainment resources is to use them on your computer or your mobile devices. The mobile devices are easiest because you just put an app on the device and play the content over the app. This is what your grandchildren do and maybe even your children. Just like they don't buy watches but instead use their cell phones to check the time. So when I want to watch a movie or tv show, I just go to the app for it on my iPad.  You need no computer skills to do this as apps are downloaded and installed automatically onto your mobile devices by simply clicking a few buttons on the app in the App store, pictured above. Click the free button, then the install button and finally the open button. With the open button, the app opens and you are inside the app, ready to use it.

Amazon and Netflix are two huge players in this new world but iTunes, PBS, HBO GO, Hulu+ are also providers with iTunes being as huge as Amazon and Netflix. Now your public library also streams video either to your computer or to your mobile devices.  Just install the Overdrive app onto your mobile devices and the free video from your public libraries becomes available to you. In the photo above, I have image captured the movies in my Overdrive app on my iPad, ready for me to view. I am able to use the huge resources of Cleveland Public Library because I use the Clevnet consortium of libraries even though I live in a different county from Cleveland. The consortium covers northeastern Ohio.

You can hook up your tv set to these devices.  Jim and I did this in the early days with the Roku player. One day it died on us and rather than buy another we simply tuned in via our mobile devices or laptops. There was no turning back.

Apple wants to integrate everything for you with its Apple TV, your iPad, your iPhone, your iMac, your Mac Air,  iTunes, iPod, etc., but I'm like your grandkids, I don't need or want a tv set. If you are a senior who wants all options, including an actual tv set, but you have low tech skills, a nearby Apple store to completely set you up and integrate everything may be your best bet long range.

As I understand it, you buy the small box of apple tv which you place somewhere around your HDTV tv set. Then you use an iPad to control everything you watch as a kind of super remote control.  The iPad and your tv become mirrors of one another. So the tv is showing what is playing on your iPad. So no new tv set is involved. If I wanted to watch an actual tv set, this is what I would do.

If you have an Apple store in your actual suburb, like my sister does in Naperville, Illinois, that is the place to go if you have zero interest in bettering your tech skills. Some seniors flat out say, "I don't want to better my skills.  I want this the simplest way possible." If this is you, you really need to pay a visit to the Apple Store. Apple is steadily making everything it does suitable for techno idiots.  I see this in every new software installation on my laptop and mobile devices. Last night my Mac Air simply announced via a bubble message that it had updated my spreadsheet, word processing and slide show making software.  I hadn't had to do a thing. The bubble disappeared and I continued doing whatever I was doing. It also gave me the newest operating system and versions of its own Office and Photo software to me for free. I need no CD or DVD to install any software.  It all installs directly from Apple over the internet.  I have no personal stake in Apple and I am not saying it is perfect. However, if you want to get away with having low to no tech skills, it really is for you.

Late breaking news: Amazon Prime signed a deal with HBO in which older HBO shows will play on Amazon Prime. For all of Prime members, this means those shows are now free for us to watch.

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