Wednesday 21 February 2018

Digital Life: Looking for God? He's coming direct to your TV for a small fee

Late one night, perhaps out of boredom, or perhaps maybe drunkenness, you may have explored the far reaches of Sky's digital TV channels (no, not THOSE channels). Maybe you found wonders such as Psychic Today or the God Channel.

You possibly didn't conclude that what you need would be even weirder, more niche programming. But if you did, the Roku LT set-top box is just the ticket.

In fairness, the Roku doesn't cater just to eccentric tastes. It sells itself as the cheapest way to get internet programming such as Netflix on your TV.

And it achieves that goal with ease. Like similar devices such as Apple TV or Philips' HMP2000, the €60 Roku LT connects to your home broadband via WiFi and enables you to stream high-quality video direct from the worldwide web to your big screen.

The simple remote control is much more pleasing to use than that of the Apple or Philips. The only clunky note is the requirement to set up a Roku account and hand over your credit-card details. That's necessary though as the Roku provides over 100 channels, many of which are free but some are subscription-based.

In addition to the usual TV suspects (Netflix, Euronews, Vimeo -- but not YouTube, oddly), this little purple box also hosts less common brands such as Fox News and Major League Baseball.

Alas, unlike the UK, here in Ireland the range of catch-up TV is pitiful. The lack of BBC iPlayer or 4OD is obviously due to licencing reasons but no RTÉ or TV3 puts a serious dent in its armour.

The terminally curious will be intrigued by the wide range of ethnic channels and quirky stuff such as Hypnotherapy and Mexican Food. But you'll wade through a deep pile of sh.., er, dross before finding a nugget.

So consider instead the Roku LT set-top box the most affordable solution to get Netflix on your telly. The Roku doesn't have the Apple TV's smarts nor access to a catalogue of big movies. But hey, look at that price -- just €60.

Overshadowed by the launch of its big brother, the HTC One X, the smaller One S phone deserves a second glance. Although possessed of a lesser screen (4.2 inches versus the monstrous 4.7 of the X), it holds its own performance-wise and comes with the same hotshot camera that makes the X a standout.

OK, so the design is far too redolent of previous HTC models but the smaller screen actually makes it more usable and ensures battery life is adequate rather than mayfly-like as with its sibling.

The HTC One S is available from most networks, for example costing €80 on the cheapest €40pm contract with O2.

Irish Independent

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