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  • Sling TV: Everything you need to know

    Image result for sling tv

    Sling TV is a live TV package that starts at $20 per month for more than 30 channels, including ESPN, AMC, TNT, CNN, History, HGTV and the Disney Channel. How does it work, how can you get it -- and will it let you quit cable?

    When it launched in February 2015, Sling TV was the first multichannel live TV service that streamed over the internet. Today it has some competition, but it's still the cheapest.

    Sling TV starts at $20 per month for a package of around 30 live TV channels, including ESPN, AMC, History Channel and Disney Channel. You can pay more to get additional and/or different channels, just like regular cable, but there are also plenty of differences.

    There are also a couple of alternatives. PlayStation Vue launched nationwide earlier this year, and offers more channels and extra features starting at $30 per month (and no, you don't need a PlayStation to use it). DirecTV Now is the newest and launched a week ago, but it has the most channels and starts at $35 per month (and no, you don't need a satellite dish to use it).

    DirecTV Now vs. PlayStation Vue vs. Sling TV: Which one is best for you?

    You're here to learn about Sling TV, however, so I won't dwell on those other services too much. Here's everything you need to know.

    Image result for sling tv

    The basics

    What is Sling TV?

    Sling TV is service that allows subscribers to watch a collection of live and on-demand TV channels on their TVs, computers or mobile devices. This is live TV, just like a cable or satellite TV service, except it's delivered over the internet.

    Although Sling TV is a subsidiary of Dish Network, the satellite provider, it's operated as an entirely separate service. You do not need a Dish subscription (or a satellite dish) to get Sling TV.

    Where is Sling TV available?

    For now and the foreseeable future, it's only available to people who live in the United States.

    How is it different from my cable or satellite provider?

    Depending on how much you pay for TV service, it's probably cheaper. To use it you'll need a good internet connection and a compatible device to run the Sling TV app, which takes the place of a cable or satellite box and connects to a TV. You can also watch on your phone, tablet or computer, either at home or away.

    The best part? Unlike cable or satellite, there are no contracts and you can cancel or resume service anytime, with no penalties. One way to think of it is Netflix, but with live TV.

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    Sling TV

    What does Sling TV cost and what does it include?

    As with cable, there's a set fee for a certain package of live and on-demand TV channels.

    The cheapest base package, called "Sling Orange," is $20 per month. Another base package is called "Sling Blue," which costs $25 per month. Each offers slightly different channel lineups. You can also get all of the channels in both packages with "Sling Orange + Blue" for $40 per month.

    The basic difference between Orange and Blue channels? Orange has ESPN and Disney channels, while Blue has Fox and NBC channels.

    Here's a look at all of the channels offered by Sling TV's base packages as of December 6, 2016.

    SLING TV ORANGE VS. BLUE CHANNELS

    Channel Sling Orange ($20) Sling Blue ($25) Sling Orange + Blue ($40)
    A&E Yes Yes Yes
    AMC Yes Yes Yes
    AXS TV Yes Yes Yes
    BBC America Yes Yes Yes
    Bloomberg TV Yes Yes Yes
    Bravo No Yes Yes
    Cartoon Network/Adult Swim Yes Yes Yes
    Cheddar Yes Yes Yes
    CNN Yes Yes Yes
    Comedy Central Yes Yes Yes
    Disney Channel Yes No Yes
    El Rey Network Yes Yes Yes
    ESPN Yes No Yes
    ESPN 2 Yes No Yes
    Flama Yes Yes Yes
    Food Network Yes Yes Yes
    Fox No Yes* Yes*
    Fox Regional Sports No Yes* Yes*
    Fox Sports 1 No Yes Yes
    Fox Sports 2 No Yes Yes
    Freeform Yes No Yes
    FX No Yes Yes
    FXX No Yes Yes
    Galavision Yes Yes Yes
    HGTV Yes Yes Yes
    History Yes Yes Yes
    IFC Yes Yes Yes
    Lifetime Yes Yes Yes
    Local Now Yes Yes Yes
    Maker Yes Yes Yes
    Nat Geo Wild No Yes Yes
    National Geographic No Yes Yes
    NBC No Yes* Yes*
    NBC Sports Network No Yes* Yes*
    Newsy Yes Yes Yes
    NFL Network No Yes Yes
    Nick Jr. No Yes Yes
    Polaris Yes Yes Yes
    Syfy No Yes Yes
    TBS Yes Yes Yes
    TNT Yes Yes Yes
    Travel Channel Yes Yes Yes
    USA Network No Yes Yes
    Viceland Yes Yes Yes

    *On Sling Blue, Fox and NBC's local broadcast channels and sports networks available in select markets only.

    What about other channels?

    Only the channels listed above, and others for an extra fee (see below) are available on Sling TV.

    For Orange customers, major broadcast networks, namely CBS, ABC, Fox and NBC, not to mention PBS, are not included. (And let us note, for the record, that CNET is published by CBS Interactive, a division of CBS.) The exception is ABC, which is available to subscribers in select cities for $5 per month.

    As mentioned on the chart above, Blue customers in some cities can watch local Fox and NBC broadcast networks (and regional sports channels) in select markets only.

    A few other cable channels (like other regional sports, Fox News, PBS, Discovery channels, Nickelodeon and OWN), as well as premium channel Showtime, aren't available at all on Sling TV.

    If you don't want to pay for cable TV, many of those absences can be addressed separately from Sling TV. The broadcast networks can be had for free (in some areas) with an over-the-air antenna. You can also get TV programming via broadcaster web sites or services like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus,CBS All Access or Showtime. And many individual TV programs are available within 24 hours of airing on services like iTunes and Amazon, if you're willing to pay by the episode or by the season.

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    Sarah Tew/CNET

    How can I watch Sling TV?

    You'll need to subscribe at Sling.com and set up an account, then install the app on a supported device.

    Sling TV is currently available (or not) on the following devices.

    SLING TV DEVICES

    TV devices Roku (TVs, boxes and streaming stick), Apple TV (2015 only), Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Xbox One, Android TV, Channel Master
    Mobile devices Android phones and tablets, iOS phones and tablets (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), PC and Mac computers
    Not available PlayStation (3 or 4), Xbox 360, Apple TV (pre-2015 versions)

    Once you have the device and app installed, you'll be able to sign in and start watching anywhere in the US that has stable internet connection, whether wired, Wi-Fi or cellular data.

    The devil's in the detail

    Can I watch Sling TV on more than one TV (or other device) at the same time?

    Depends. If you're an Orange subscriber, you cannot watch Sling TV on more than one device -- TV or mobile -- at the same time. The service is restricted to one stream at a time.

    You can have more than one device registered to the same account, but if you're watching one and then begin streaming on another, the service makes you choose which single device to continue streaming.

    If you're a Blue subscriber, you can watch Sling TV on up to three devices at the same time.

    If you're an Orange + Blue customer you also get three simultaneous streams, but some channels are single-stream only.

    Does Sling TV have commercials?

    Yes. It has the same commercial breaks and national ads as the standard TV channels delivered via cable or satellite TV service.

    Sarah Tew/CNET

    Can I pause live TV or skip commercials?

    Not on many channels. The pause, rewind and fast-forward commands don't work at all when watching many of the ESPN channels (including the SEC Network), AMC, TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, any of the Disney channels, ABC Family, Boomerang, HLN, IFC or Sundance TV.

    What about the other channels?

    On some other channels the pause, rewind and fast-forward buttons work as expected. You can pause a current show and rewind all the way to the beginning. You can also fast-forward, even through commercials, to catch back up to live time.

    Can I record shows for later or watch shows on-demand?

    No and yes. Sling TV lacks a DVR function, so you can't record shows to watch later on your own time (or skip commercials). If you want that, check out PlayStation Vue.

    On the other hand nearly every channel has shows you can watch on-demand, instantly. Most of channels feature "3 Day Replay," allowing you to watch any show aired within the past three days. You can't easily skip commercials on those past shows, however. Some even allow you to watch any show or movie that aired in the past 7 days.

    Can I use my Sling TV account to sign in to other TV apps, like Watch ESPN and FX Now?

    Yes, but with only a handful of apps.

    Sling Orange subscribers get Watch ESPN app access if they authenticate using their Sling TV log-in credentials. They can watch live streams of ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3. Even subscribers to the Sports Extra pack cannot get those extra channels live via Watch ESPN.

    Watch ESPN is still subject to the single-stream restriction, so you can't watch live TV via the Watch ESPN app on one device at the same time as you watch any live TV via the Sling TV app on a second device. And Sling Blue customers can't authenticate Watch ESPN at all.

    Other apps like FX Now and Bravo allow you full access if you authenticate with Sling TV credentials, as long as the app is part of your Sling package. Here's more info.

    How fast an internet connection do I need?

    Sling TV did not answer this question directly when we asked, instead referring us to the answer on its FAQ: "The same Internet speed is required to watch Sling TV that is needed to watch similar content on platforms like Netflix and Hulu."

    Does the picture look as good as cable?

    Not quite, but it's still very good. In our testing Sling TV came close to Verizon Fios' HD channel quality at its best, but did look slightly softer. It did briefly drop in quality when moving to a new channel, and there were other occasional picture quality drops, but on our high-speed connection it was mostly delivered at the highest quality with excellent stability. Picture quality on smaller screen devices was also very good.

    What about sound?

    Although Sling originally said the TV channels would be available in 5.1 surround sound where available, it now says 5.1 is restricted to video-on-demand (VOD) content. Live TV is stereo-only.

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    Sling TV

    Is it easy to find stuff to watch?

    Much easier than cable, in our book. Sling TV's app has a user interface that's more like Netflix than the traditional cable TV grid guide. It features thumbnail images of shows and easy access to on-demand content, and the interface focuses on individual channels and genres in an easy-to use way.

    The main My TV page lets you choose your favorite channels and shows, as well as continue watching on-demand content where you left off. The On Now section lists currently airing shows in categories like Sports, Kids and Lifestyle. There's a full guide too, but without a grid, just all of the channels you subscribe to, sub-divided again into categories. You also get an easy to use search function to find specific shows.

    You mentioned paying extra for more channels?

    Add-on packs, each $5 or more per month for a few additional channels, are also available. So are premium channels, namely HBO ($15), Cinemax ($10) and Starz ($9). You need to subscribe to the base package first before you can access any add-on channels.

    Current packs include Sports Extra, Kids Extra, Comedy Plus Extra, Lifestyle Plus Extra, Hollywood Extra, and News Extra. Some channels in each vary depending on which base package you subscribe to. If you're an Orange customer for example, you have to subscribe to Kids Extra to get Nick Jr., while Blue customers get it as part of their base packages. Blue customers, conversely, don't get any Disney channels.

    Sports channels vary the most. Orange customers get ESPN's extra channels (ESPN News, SEC Network, etc) as part of Sports Extra (for $5/month), but Blue customers don't. Meanwhile only Blue customers (not Orange) get access to NFL RedZone as part of Sports Extra, but that extra pack costs double for Blue customers ($10/month).

    See the chart below for all of the add-on channels, current as of December 6 2016.

    CHANNELS AVAILABLE FOR EXTRA MONEY, BY BASE PACKAGE

    Channel Sling Orange Sling Blue Sling Orange + Blue Extra package name
    ABC Yes* No Yes* Broadcast extra
    Baby TV Yes Yes Yes Kids extra
    BBC World News Yes Yes Yes News extra
    beIN Sports Yes Yes Yes Sports extra
    BET Yes Base channel** Base channel** Lifestyle extra
    Boomerang Yes Yes Yes Kids extra
    Campus Insiders Yes Yes Yes Sports extra
    Cinemax Yes Yes Yes PREMIUM
    CMT Yes Yes Yes Comedy extra
    CNBC No Yes Yes News extra
    Cooking Channel Yes Yes Yes Lifestyle extra
    Disney Junior Yes No Yes Kids extra
    Disney XD Yes No Yes Kids extra
    DIY Yes Yes Yes Lifestyle extra
    Duck TV Yes Yes Yes Kids extra
    E! No Yes Yes Lifestyle extra
    EPIX Yes Yes Yes Hollywood extra
    EPIX Drive-in Yes Yes Yes Hollywood extra
    EPIX Hits Yes Yes Yes Hollywood extra
    EPIX2 Yes Yes Yes Hollywood extra
    ESPN Bases Loaded Yes No Yes Sports extra
    ESPN Buzzer Beater Yes No Yes Sports extra
    ESPN Goal Line Yes No Yes Sports extra
    ESPNEWS Yes No Yes Sports extra
    ESPNU Yes No Yes Sports extra
    Euro News Yes Yes Yes World News Extra
    France 24 Yes Yes Yes World News Extra
    Fusion Yes Yes Yes World News Extra
    FYI Yes Yes Yes Lifestyle extra
    Golf Channel No Yes Yes Sports extra
    GSN Yes Yes Yes Comedy extra
    Hallmark Yes Yes Yes Lifestyle extra
    Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Yes Yes Yes LIfestyle extra
    HBO Yes Yes Yes PREMIUM
    HDNet Movies Yes Yes Yes Hollywood extra
    HLN Yes Yes Yes News extra
    LMN Yes Yes Yes Lifestyle extra
    LOGO Yes Yes Yes Comedy extra
    Motors TV Yes Yes Yes Sports extra
    MSNBC No Yes Yes News extra
    MTV Yes Yes Yes Comedy extra
    MTV2 Yes Yes Yes Comedy extra
    NBA TV Yes Yes Yes Sports extra
    NDTV 24/7 Yes Yes Yes World News Extra
    News 18 India Yes Yes Yes World News Extra
    NFL Red Zone No Yes Yes Sports extra
    NHL Network Yes Yes Yes Sports extra
    Nick Jr Base channel** Yes Base channel** Kids extra
    Nicktoons Yes Yes Yes Kids Extra
    Outside Television Yes Yes Yes Sports extra
    Oxygen No Yes Yes Lifestyle extra
    Russia Today Yes Yes Yes World News Extra
    SEC Network Yes No Yes Sports extra
    Spike Yes Yes Yes Comedy extra
    Starz Yes Yes Yes PREMIUM
    Sundance TV Yes Yes Yes Hollywood extra
    TCM Yes Yes Yes Hollywood extra
    Teen Knick Yes Yes Yes Kids extra
    truTV Yes Base channel** Yes Comedy extra
    TV Land Yes Yes Yes Comedy extra
    Univision Yes* Base channel** Yes* Broadcast extra
    Univision Deportes Yes Yes Yes Sports extra
    Univision Mas Yes* Base channel** Yes* Broadcast extra
    VH1 Yes Yes Yes Lifestyle extra
    Vibrant TV Yes Yes Yes Lifestyle extra
    WE tv Yes Yes Yes Lifestyle extra

    *ABC, Univision and Univision Mas available in select cities as part of Broadcast Extra.

    **Available without an extra fee as part of the base (Orange, Blue or Orange + Blue) package.

    What else do I need to know?

    That's plenty for now. If you want more info I recommend trying it for yourself. Sling TV offers a free trial, for a week and sometimes longer. If you've read this far, it's probably worth a shot.

    BY 
  • Your Guide to Cable TV Cord-Cutting

    For decades, cable television was the best way to get quality shows geared toward specialized audiences. Today, that's what streaming services do, while cable is more like a lumbering dinosaur, slowly laying waste to both consumers' wallets and their sense of good taste. Cable TV still has some great shows, but you no longer need to pay through the nose to get them — not when you can cut the cord.

    Here's what you'll need to know about life after cable TV. Tom's Guide will tell you what kind of hardware you'll need, where you can find your favorite shows and roughly how much you should expect to spend.

    Hardware

    Once you ship your cable box back to its Machiavellian overlords, you'll need a way to funnel streaming content directly to your TV. The good news is that this process is both easy and inexpensive, and you may even own the necessary components already.

    HD Antenna

    The first thing you may want to consider is an HD antenna. This doesn't provide a way to watch streaming videos, but if you want to watch live TV, it's the cheapest and simplest solution. You may remember having rabbit ears on your hand-me-down TV as a kid — an HD antenna is basically the modern-day version of that. You hook the device into your TV, put it somewhere near a window and watch as the free channels roll in.

    This process is how you get local broadcast stations and, as such, is ideal for news and sports. You can get a good HD antenna for less than $40, and like with a regular antenna, there are no subscription fees. However, your channel selection depends a lot on where you live, as well as your line of sight to the broadcast location.

    MORE: How to Get Better Reception With Your TV Antenna

    A nonamplified antenna picks up signals across a range of about 20 miles and is ideal for people in urban areas, who tend to live close to broadcast towers. The Mohu ReLeaf is a good choice for city dwellers, and costs about $40. Suburbanites and rural citizens may prefer amplified antennas, which pick up signals over a range of about 50 miles, but also cost more. Our top pick here was the $70 Mohu Curve 50.

    Streaming Devices

    If you want to take advantage of streaming services — Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and so forth — you'll need a way to display them on your TV. If you have a recent TV from a major manufacturer, you may not need to get anything at all. Smart TVs usually have these apps built in, and almost every high-end TV sold within the last two years or so has smart capabilities.

    If not, setting up your TV for streaming can still be a simple and inexpensive process. The market is positively glutted with set-top boxes, streaming sticks, game consoles and other devices. Tom's Guide has compiled a list of the best devices to fit various budgets and streaming preferences.

    In general terms, your choices boil down to devices from Roku, Google, Amazon and Apple, plus game consoles from Microsoft and Sony. The Roku Streaming Stick+ is our top pick in this category, as it offers thousands of channels, 4K resolution and an inventive interface.

    Amazon and Google also produce a 4K players: the Amazon Fire TV and the Chromecast Ultra, respectively. An Apple TV is a good choice for consumers who already own a lot of Apple devices, while if you plan to do a lot of gaming, a PS4 or an Xbox One is the way to go. Streaming devices range in price from $35 to $400.

    Finally, if you have a laptop or don't mind moving your desktop to the living room, you can simply plug your computer into your TV via HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA or DVI cable (depending on which ports you possess). Grab a wireless mouse and keyboard, and voilà: You have access to almost every streaming music and video service on Earth.

    MORE: Best Streaming Players: Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV & More

    Once you've picked up the appropriate device, all that's left is to pick the services that provide the shows you want to watch.

    Streaming Services

    While Netflix ($8-12 per month), Hulu ($8-12 per month) and Amazon Prime ($99 per year) are the most recognizable streaming services, they are not the only ones available. In fact, traditional streaming services — wherein you pay a monthly fee to consume as much content as you like on-demand — are only a small part of the market. Depending on how much you're willing to spend (from nothing up to hundreds of dollars per year), you can get just about anything you used to enjoy on cable.

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    Cable-Replacement Services

    The most expensive, but also most comprehensive, streaming services are known as cable replacements. This includes services like Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now, YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV.

    Cable-replacement streaming services work exactly the same as having cable — live channels presented in real time — except they come streaming over the Internet rather than via an analog wire. The upside is that you don't have to give up the channels that you love. Sling TV carries multiple ESPN stations, plus Cartoon Network, TBS, Bloomberg, CNN, History and dozens of others. PlayStation Vue offers SyFy, Spike, USA, VH1, Fox News, Nickelodeon and more. You can also record programs to watch later on PS Vue, just like you would with a cable DVR box.

    MORE: How to Buy a Set Top Box or Streaming Media Player

    However, you may not be saving much money. While Sling TV starts at $20 per month, the costs of adding extra stations like Epix, HBO and Univision can pile up pretty fast. Just to add HBO and the Hollywood Extra package (which includes TCM, Epix and others) raises the monthly cost to $40. PlayStation Vue starts at $40 per month, and can go up to $75, depending on your region. DirecTV Now ranges from $35 per month to $70 per month.

    Streaming Subscriptions

    Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime are the best-known subscription-based services, and for good reason. They have excellent selections of TV shows and movies, both modern and classic, and the services are quite inexpensive. Each one costs between $8 and $12 per month, depending on what kind of options you need. Even if you subscribe to all three, this will represent a substantial price break over cable.

    Credit: ShutterstockCredit: ShutterstockTom's Guide compared all three services head-to-head-to-head, and discovered that Netflix is generally the best of the three. However, the services do not offer exactly the same thing. Netflix is a good all-purpose service, while Hulu focuses on recently aired TV, and Amazon Prime is part of a larger service that also offers free shipping on Amazon orders, e-book loans and other perks. (Viewers who just want Amazon Video without any other perks can now subscribe to it for $9 per month.)

    Recent cord-cutters will probably want to keep an eye on Hulu, since network and cable shows often show up on the service just a day or so after airing on TV. On the other hand, if you want a rich backlog of classic shows (and ambitious original programming), Netflix or Amazon is probably the way to go.

    MORE: Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime: Streaming Showdown

    If there's one particular movie or show you want to watch, your best bet is to look it up with JustWatch: a website that trawls more than 20 streaming, à la carte and on-demand services to show you where your content is available. If there's a series you want to watch, for example, looking it up on JustWatch and subscribing to that service for just a few months could save you a lot of money.

    You should also keep an eye on the trend of TV networks offering their own streaming subscription channels. CBS All Access, for example, is exactly what it sounds like: a combination of live CBS TV, on-demand CBS programming and next-day episodes for new CBS shows.

    Sports

    One of the toughest things for cord-cutters to give up is sports content, since cable and satellite TV give access not only to home games, but also to matches from all around the world. An HD antenna will keep you covered for local games. Otherwise, you have two options: a cable-replacement service, or a streaming sports service. Every major sports organization offers some kind of streaming package, from MLB.TV to NFL Live to NBA League Pass. These services are expensive compared to streaming subscriptions, and can cost between $100 and $200 per year.

    MORE: How to Watch NFL Games Online

    If you're a die-hard sports fan in general, a cable subscription is probably worthwhile for that content alone. But if you follow only one or two teams in one or two sports, you can probably get away with paying $15 to $20 per month — much less than traditional paid TV.

    To learn more about streaming sports services, visit your sport of choice's website (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, etc.) and click on its streaming section. It will likely be toward the top of the page on one of the toolbars.

    Premium Channels

    By cutting the cord, you're also losing your access to premium channels, which often have some of the most daring content on TV. Networks like HBO, Showtime and Starz are the prime destination for edgy dramas like Game of Thrones, Homeland and Outlander, respectively. You can also get raunchy comedy specials, niche documentaries and newly released movies. 

    The good news is that premium channels are starting to cut out the middleman. The three aforementioned networks all exist in stand-alone formats. HBO Now costs $15 per month, Showtime Anytime costs $11 per month and Starz costs $9 per month.

    Subscribing to these channels allows you to stream shows, either as soon as they air or on-demand after the fact. You can also stream movies, comedy specials, documentaries and even specialty sports events, just like what you get on the cable channel. The price tags are not for the faint of heart, since each one is just as expensive (if not more so) than a comprehensive streaming service.

    All three apps are widely available, so you should be covered whether you use a smart TV, streaming player, game console, mobile device or computer.

    Foreign TV

    While foreign-TV streams make for a huge topic on their own, it's worth pointing out that cutting the cord opens the door to a whole world of TV from other countries. Offering entire cable channels for individual linguistic niches would be unthinkable, but there are a ton of streaming channels dedicated to just that.

    For starters, anime fans should check out Crunchyroll. DramaFever brings Korean dramas and sitcoms to Western audiences, while YuppTV broadcasts a variety of news, sports, music and serials in Hindi. Those who prefer programs in English can check out Acorn TV, which streams British TV to expats and Anglophiles all around the world.

    These channels are available on most streaming devices, but not every service is available on every device. Your best bet is to check the manufacturer's website for your streaming device and see if the channel is supported before dropping the money on a subscription to it.

    Other Services

    There are thousands of niche channels, from local live news stations to camera feeds that show nothing but goats. (Really.) Two services worth checking out are Plex and Crackle.

    Plex is a fantastic service, which allows you to make a media library on your computer, then stream it to your TV, mobile device or other computer anywhere in the world. Plex has become one of the most comprehensive media servers around, letting users record TV from HD antennas and store their media servers in the cloud. (For reference, a monthly subscription costs $5, a yearly subscription costs $40 and a lifetime subscription costs $150.)

    Crackle is not the only free streaming-video service out there, but it is one of the only ones that don't rely on public domain or cheap content. Sony owns Crackle, and as such, you can find tons of cool movies, newish anime, beloved sitcoms (Seinfeld, All in the Family, Mad About You) and even a few funny original shows (Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, SuperMansion, Sports Jeopardy!). If you remember the days of mid-'90s afternoon cable, Crackle is like coming home after school and binging on TV that’s so bad it’s good.

    Beyond that, there's a whole world of streaming content to explore. No, you can't cut the cord and continue to watch every single one of your favorite shows in real time — at least not yet. But you'll never again be shackled to an expensive service that broadcasts mostly junk, and that's worth the price of a few prime-time dramas.

    by MARSHALL HONOROF Dec 29, 2017

  • 23 Things You Didn't Know Your Chromecast Could Do

    23 Things You Didn't Know Your Chromecast Could DoGoogle helps simplify your online life—from email and online storage to news and digital maps. But it can also take over your TV with its Chromecast, a streaming dongle that got a colorful makeover in 2015 and a 4K "Ultra" upgrade last year.

    The Chromecast was atop Amazon's list of best-selling electronics for two years until Amazon stopped selling streaming devices that don't support Amazon Video. Not to worry, the gadget is still available directly from Google, as well as Walmart, Best Buy, Target, and Staples.

    The Chromecast Ultra will set you back $69, but it's really for those who already have a 4K TV; be sure to check out the differences between the two devices before picking one up.

    Whichever one you choose, part of the Chromecast's appeal lies in its pure portability, but there's also the price: just $35 to wirelessly stream Netflix, Spotify, HBO, Hulu, and more from your mobile device or PC to the TV. Not to mention apps for music, working out, and catching up on sports. When the Chromecast was released in July 2013, it quickly sold out, and is still going strong. Sales have now topped 30 million.

    While the ultraportable device is pretty much plug and play, there are a few tips and tricks that can make casting more magical. Check them out below.

    View As: 
    • 1VR Mirror

      Watching someone experience virtual reality is amusing...for a few minutes. When you can also see what the person wearing the goggles sees, though, it's better for everyone. With Google's $79 Daydream Viewheadset and a Chromecast, you can send what's on the headset to a television. 

      Just make sure the phone you have in the Daydream and the Chromecast are on the same Wi-Fi network and that you have the Google Home app (Android, iOS) installed. Open Google Home, select Cast, and then choose the Chromecast device to which you want to send the VR images. Put the phone into the headset and everyone can see what you're up to, virtually. 

      If you have a Gear VR, you can do the same thing. Make sure you have the latest version of the Oculus app and get your Gear going, hit the Cast button, and then select the device you want to view your VR journey on.
    • Facebook Live

      2Facebook Live

      There's plenty of great content on Facebook Live that would benefit from being on the big screen (like, ahem, PCMag's Random Access). To send a Facebook Live broadcast to a TV, make sure the device you're casting from and the TV are on the same Wi-Fi network. Then open a Facebook Live broadcast and hit the Cast icon that appears on the screen.
    • Ethernet Adapter

      3Ethernet Adapter

      The Chromecast is a handy gadget for streaming Netflix, YouTube, and other content from mobile devices to your TV, but it requires a strong Wi-Fi connection to deliver streams that don't buffer. Not everyone has a super-fast Wi-Fi network, though, and for those people, Google has an Ethernet adapter for Chromecast. The adapter looks like the existing Chromecast power cord, but the plug end now includes a small Ethernet port. Connect an Ethernet cable that's also connected to your modem to that port, plug the USB end of the adapter into the Chromecast, attach the Chromecast to the HDMI port on your TV, and you're ready to go. It's $15 in the Google Play store.
    • Presentations

      4Presentations

      If you use Google Slides, you can show your presentation with Chromecast since Google Cast is built into Chrome. Click the "Present" option on the top-right of your presentation, select "Present on another screen," and pick your Chromecast device.
    • Game Time Decision5Game Time Decision
      It's not a PlayStation 4, but the Chromecast can be used to play some fun family games. Test your trivia knowledge with Trivia Bash, get your groove on with Just Dance Now, or serve up some nostalgia with Sonic Jump Fever. Download games to your Android or iOS device to use your phone or tablet as a controller, while the game runs on your TV. Dozens of games for Chromecast can be found in Google Play alone.
    • Pretty As a Picture

      6Pretty as a Picture

      Use your own photos—or choose from Google's selection of beautiful art, landscape photography, and satellite images—to switch up your Chromecast background. In the Google Home app, go to the Devices tab and select the Chromecast you want to customize. In the top-right corner, tap the hamburger menu and select Backdrop Settings. There, you can pick a photo from Google Photos, Facebook albums, or Flickr, or opt to display news, weather, art, or satellite images.
    • Photos
      Similarly, Chromecast can serve as a modern-day alternative to old-school slideshows; no projectors here. Google Photos has Chromecast support, so you can cast your pics from Google Photos on iOS, Android, and the PC to your TV. Look for the Cast icon on the top of the Google Photos icon and tap to connect.
    • 8TV As a DJ

      To play music through your TV with Chromecast, download Google Play Music (Android or iOS). Open the app, select the cast icon, choose Chromecast from the device list, and select what you want to play. For more than your own music, join Google's subscription service for $9.99 a month or $14.99 for a family plan, which also includes free streaming radio and YouTube Red, where available. 

      If you want sound that your TV speakers can't provide, Google's $35 Chromecast Audio device hooks into your speakers and streams music from nearby devices via Wi-Fi.
      SpotifyIf youre a Spotify Premium subscriber, you can cast tunes through your Chromecast. Make sure your device is on the same Wi-Fi network as your Chromecast. Open the Spotify app, play a track, select Devices Available, and then select your Chromecast. It should work with new and old Chromecasts. Pandora is also an option.
    • Quiet Time

      10Quiet Time

      If you want to watch something on your TV but don't want the sound to disturb others in the room, then download LocalCast for Android. It lets you cast video to your television while keeping audio on your device. Tap "Route audio to phone" on the "Now playing" screen, and plug in some headphones. Note: the app description warns that it's in beta and might be buggy.
    • Drive-In Movies

      11Drive-In Movies

      One of the chief complaints about the Chromecast is that it doesn't support local media playback, so you can't tap into content you have saved in the cloud. But with media management app Plex, you can stream music, movies, and photos via the Chromecast. Plex organizes your scattered content and lets you watch it from tablets, TVs, phones, and more. Sign up for the service, then download the Plex app, open it, and send your content to the Chromecast.
    • 12Android Selfie

      On Android, you can mirror your Android device to your television, meaning that you can cast whatever you see on your phone to the TV. It's currently available on several devices with Android 4.4.2 (KitKat MR1) and above; see the Chromecast support page for a full list.
    • Room Service

      13Room Service

      On your next vacation, forget about having to watch the limited channels available on the hotel's TV. Using your Chromecast on the go isn't quite as simple as it is at home, but it's doable. Make sure to pack a portable wireless router, like the ZyXel MWR102 Travel Router and plug it into the Ethernet port in the wall. Then plug your Chromecast into the HDMI port on the TV and connect it and the device you're using to cast to it. (If you're at a Marriott, you might be able to get Netflix without the Chromecast, though.)
    • Can I Stream That?

      14Can I Stream That?

      A recent upgrade to the Cast app, now known as Google Home (Android, iOS) to match with the company's smart speaker of the same name, helps you find popular content from Cast-enabled apps. Let's say you want to catch up on Start Trek: Voyager, for example, but are not sure where it's streaming. Open up the Home app, type the name of the movie or TV show you want to watch in the search box, and tap your desired content. The app will tell you which Chromcast-enabled apps are streaming that content, and give you the option to jump to that service or download an app that does. 

      Apps, meanwhile, are being added all the time. To find out what its latest tricks are, visit Google's Chromecast page and click on New.
    • Make Yourself at Home

      15Make Yourself at Home

      If you really want to make your Chromecast feel at home, sync it up with your Google Home to control some TV content via voice. Open the Google Home app and make sure the device, Chromecast, and Google Home are all on the same Wi-Fi network. In the app, go to the menu, select More Settings, and then TVs and Speakers. Find the Chromecast you want to link and select the plus sign. 

      Now link the video or music apps you want to play to your Google Home. Open the Google Home app again, select the Menu, then choose Videos and Photos, and select an app like Netflix that you would want to link. Select Link Account. Now you can say things like, "OK, Google, play Narcos from Netflix on Chromecast."
    • That Vudu That You Do

      16That Vudu That You Do

      Your Chromecast can play DVDs. Well, sort of. If you have stacks and stacks of DVDs and nothing to play them on or just want the convenience that comes with streaming, then you can use Vudu to convert old media to new. Download the Vudu app (Android, iOS), sign in or sign up for an account, then go to the menu and select Disc to Digital, and scan the UPC code from the disc. Then you can watch your DVDs as a stream on the Vudu app on Chromecast. It will cost you $2 per title for standard definition and $5 per title for high definition.
    • Kid 'n Play

      17Kid 'n Play

      YouTube Kids lets junior watch age-appropriate videos from the Google-owned video site. The app restricts content on the app, even on search, and tech-savvy kids can now cast their favorite videos to the TV.
    • Amazon Video

      18Amazon Video

      You can watch Netflix with ease on a Chromecast, but there's no easy way to stream Amazon Video since Amazon has its own streaming dongle. There is a workaround, though, as long as you keep a computer with the Chrome browser handy while you're watching on your TV. Open the browser and navigate to Amazon Video and whatever you'd like to watch. Click the hamburger icon on the top right. Select "Cast" and a pop-up window will ask you to select the device to which you'd like to Cast. The downside is that you'll have to go into the browser to control the video. The quality is also not ideal. Google is testing a better experience, though. Go to chrome://flags/#media-remoting, enable the highlighted flag, then restart the Chrome browser, type in the URL of a video you'd like to play, select Cast in the Chrome menu, and make sure to expand it to full screen.
    • Guests

      19Guests

      Whether you have houseguests for a week or party guests for an evening, you might want to let them decide what to watch without giving them access to your Wi-Fi. You can now turn your Chromecast to Guest Modein the device settings, and anyone with a Google Cast Ready app that's open within about 25 feet of the Chromecast will be able to cast once the option shows up on their device. If this fails, the user can manually enter the four-digit PIN that will be displayed on the TV into the app's settings on their device.
    • Rabbit Rabbit

      20Rabbit Rabbit

      RabbitTV Plus aggregates free content that can be found online and organizes it in a way that will be familiar to anyone who uses a streaming service. While it's not revolutionary, it can save less savvy users frustration and time. The service was previously limited to smaller screens, but it has now added Chromecast support so you can watch from your TV. With the RabbitTV Plus app (Android, iOS), smartphones and tablets can be used to browse the channel guide and act as a remote.
    • Not for All Audiences

      21Not for All Audiences

      If spoilers never dissuade you, then you'll want to join the Chromecast Preview Program. This will get you the latest Chromecast features before they're released to the public. Google says the program is not beta but rather just a preview of stable features. 

      To sign up, open the Google Cast app on an Android or iOS device. Tap Devices, locate the one that you want to use for the program, and select it. Now select Device Settings, then Preview Program. Use the slider to select whether or not you want to receive email notifications of updates as they are pushed to your Chromecast device. When you're done, select Join Program, then review everything you've selected and tap OK, Got It. 

      You may not be successful in enrolling; should you not see Preview Program under settings, then Google isn't accepting members at the moment and you can try again later.
    • Remote Control

      22Remote Control

      You've probably used your phone as a remote for your cable or Chromecast, but you might not know that you can use it to bypass the process of having to change the input to cast if your TV supports HDMI-CEC. Google the model of your TV and the trade name for HDMI-CEC that matches the brand: 

      Samsung - Anynet+
      Sony - BRAVIA Link or BRAVIA Sync
      Sharp - Aquos Link
      Hitachi - HDMI-CEC
      AOC - E-link
      Pioneer - Kuro Link
      Toshiba - Regza Link or CE-Link
      Onkyo - RIHD (Remote Interactive over HDMI)
      LG - SimpLink
      Panasonic - VIERA Link or HDAVI Control or EZ-Sync
      Philips - EasyLink
      Mitsubishi - NetCommand for HDMI
      Runco International – RuncoLink


      If you have it, then use the TV remote and go to Settings and select the HDMI-CEC option and enable it. Now when you cast to your TV, you don't have to change the input. You can start casting to your Chromecast from another device and the Chromecast will send a signal to the TV, forcing the TV to switch to the Chromecast. The TV remote control will now also work to pause, play, rewind, and fast forward whatever you're watching on the Chromecast.
    • 23Offers

      Google often gives away free movies and other perks to those who have a Chromecast. Check out Chromecast's Offers page to see all current ones.

    https://www.pcmag.com/feature/326584/23-things-you-didn-t-know-your-chromecast-could-do/6

  • The best Amazon Black Friday deals 2017

    The first Amazon early Black Friday deals have arrived in the US

    From Techradar.com

    We're now seeing early Amazon Black Friday 2017 deals in the US ahead of the official November 24 shopping frenzy, and really, we're not all that surprised.

    Amazon is known to launch early Black Friday deals, letting you scoop up the best prices on 4KTVs, cheap laptops, and game console bundles in advance. That PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, or SNES Mini you want may be in stock in November, just to also lure you into buying a big-screen 65-inch 4K TV, too.

    The retailer is also heavily pushing its hardware and services among its first Black Friday promotions, namely getting then an Amazon Echo speaker into your house by all means. The price starts at $39.99 when the Echo Dot is on sale.

    How can we help on Black Friday 2017? The hardest part of Amazon’s Black Friday is that there are so many products and so many changing prices, making it hard to distinguish a killer deal from a minor price drop. 

    We have tips to help you identify great Amazon Black Friday deals, and we're assembling an epic Amazon Black Friday deals list for 2017, one that will offer our recommendations for everything from phones, Kindle e-readers and cameras, to PS4 Pro, Xbox One X and even toys.

    You'll still have to be fast to claim these on sale gadgets. Amazon often sells out of its most popular deeply discounted electronics, with limited Deal of the Day and Lightning deals. The same thing will happen on Cyber Monday 2017.

    Early Amazon Black Friday deals

    PS4 Slim 500GB Uncharted 4 console bundle
    Now $283.72  (Was $299.99) 16% off
    Uncharted 4 is one of our favorite PS4 games, so when we heard it was paired with a brand new PS4 Slim for a discount, we had to put it on top of our Amazon Black Friday list.

    New Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet Variety Pack
    Now $149.99  (Was $199.99) 25% off
    It's funny how two Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablets still cost a fraction of the price of a new iPad, and this Black Friday deal is a testament to that. Get them for 25% in a variety of colors.

    Amazon Echo (2017) speaker
    Save $50 on multiple speakers
    The newest Amazon Echo speaker is on sale – if you're looking to buy three or more. Why would you do that? Well, Alexa's new flagship smart speaker makes a good gift choice. Why not?

    Amazon Echo Dot + Fire TV Stick
    Now $69.98 (Was $89.98) 22% off
    You're probably going to buy an Echo speaker, for you or for someone else, and you should have a Fire TV Stick or some media streaming player in every TV, so why not save on both?

    RAVPower 20100 Portable Charger
    Now $39.99 (Was $109.99) 64% off
    This USB-C charger is so powerful that it can actually charge a MacBook, or your phone and tablet. Best of all, it charges 75% faster the average power baks that to quick charge.

    Amazon Prime and Black Friday

    Amazon Prime is always a must-have on Black Friday. It has major perks, like free two-day shipping, and members sometimes get exclusive deals tailored for Prime users.

    You can get early access to the Lightning Deals on Amazon that don't stick around for very long. In other cases, you might get extra discounts on prices that have dropped already, or you might get deals that don't apply to non-Prime members.

    It's hard to make Amazon Black Friday predictions, but generally speaking, you're at an advantage if you sign up for Amazon Prime (the retailer always wants to boost those subscription numbers after all).

    At the moment a subscription costs you $99 a year, or slightly more if you go month-to-month, and of course, there are a host of other benefits besides improved access to the Black Friday deals. Amazon even runs its own deals day exclusively for Prime members every summer.

    You get access to the Netflix-style Amazon Prime Video, the Spotify-style Amazon Prime Music, and a ton of cloud space to store your digital photos as well. All that and more, and faster delivery times throughout the year as well.

    Amazon Lightning Deals

    Amazon loves its Lightning Deals: as the name suggests, these are very short-lived offers that usually involve items where the stock is low, so if you don't jump in when you've got the chance, you might miss out.

    Don't feel pressured into deals you don't feel sure about - just be aware that Lightning Deals aren't going to stick around. As they're only available for a short amount of time, they often offer some very tasty discounts.

    In the words of Amazon, a Lightning Deal is "a promotion in which a limited number of discounts are offered on an item for a short period of time", and you can usually find them on the Today's Deals page. As we mentioned above, Prime members get early access to the Lightning Deals on Amazon.

    Here's everything you need to know about Amazon Black Friday 2017.

    Amazon Black Friday 2017 predictions and ads

    We don't have an Amazon Black Friday 2017 ad just yet, but we're ready to make predictions for what this year's deal will be.

    1. Amazon Echo Show

    We expect major Amazon Echo deals, and there'll be no bigger item than the new Amazon Echo Show during Black Friday 2017. It's already offered discounts as much as $100 off in the past when purchased in pairs. With more Echo devices hitting the market, there will be plenty of deals on these and other Alexa-enabled gadgets.

    2. Xbox One S bundle

    Xbox One X will be the popular new console, so we fully expect the Xbox One S to see deep discounts and bundled with free games during Black Friday. It's more than Amazon just wanting to offload its inventory. Microsoft wants to keep making the system because it allows the company to have an entry-level video game console on sale. More Xbox One systems in buyers hands means more game sales, where the real money is made.

    3. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

    Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is the e-ink reader that impresses us the most, and it's almost always on sale during the holidays. It's currently on sale for $119.99 today, so you should see be able to get one even cheaper – if you want to wait.

    4. 4K TVs

    We can't get enough of Amazon Black Friday TV deals, and it's where we predict that you'll see price cuts by hundreds of dollars. It happened last year, and we fully expect better specs via deeply discount 4K TV sets with HDR.

    We'll continue to update our Amazon Black Friday guide, as the date approaches.

    5. Galaxy S8 and Note 8

    Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 sit atop the throne of the Android market. Though the Galaxy S8 has regularly gotten killer deals since it launched, the Note 8 hasn’t seen any serious price drops to make it a less painful purchase. But Black Friday may be an opportunity for both to get great discounts, especially as Amazon has previously offered some of the best prices on the Galaxy S8 so far.

    6. Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

    Google's new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL won't have been on the market for long when Black Friday rolls around, but it will be no surprise for some small discounts or bundle deals to show up on Amazon. 

    7. iPhone 7

    It's too soon to expect insane deals on the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, but the previous generation of iPhones is fair game for Black Friday. Dropped prices will make it easier than ever to pick up an iPhone 7.

    8. Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and Alexa Voice Remote

    Black Friday is an incredibly popular time to pick up a new TV, and 4K is the current craze. It's likely Amazon will use the shopping day as an opportunity to push it's 4K-ready Fire TV streaming device, either with discounts or bundled with new 4K TVs.

    Amazon Black Friday deals from last year

    Ahead of Black Friday 2017, here are the best deals we saw during Black Friday last year, just to whet your appetite for this year's extravaganza.

    PS4 Black Friday deals - we didn't have the supercharged PS4 Pro to drool over a year ago, but we did have the newer PS4 Slim console bundled with Uncharted 4. The Sony's video game system with a 500GB hard drive and free game cost $250.

    Xbox One/One S Black Friday deals - last year the Xbox One Xwas just a rumor, but Amazon treated buyers to the 1TB Xbox One S console bundled with Gear of War 4 for just $250. That made it $50 than it normally was.

    Amazon Black Friday laptop deals - there were a host of computing deals last year, including $100 off the prior year's MacBook Pro, whether you wanted the 15-inch or 13-inch versions with a Retina display. The 12-inch MacBook saw a $100 price cut, starting at just $1,199 during Black Friday.  

    Amazon Black Friday headphone deals - audiophiles were certainly spoiled during Black Friday a few months ago, with $80 off of the Beats Solo3 headphones. Although Beats is a now an Apple company, their headphones were on sale for Black Friday. Maybe that will happen again in 2017.

    Camera Black Friday deals - You were a winner if you wanted Canon DSLR or GoPro action camera discounts on Black Friday. The Canon 80D EOS camera experienced a $400 price cut to just $1,399 on Amazon, and GoPro Hero deals were plentiful, with the entry-level version starting at under $100 for the first time.

    Phone Black Friday deals - Amazon is just getting started with Amazon Prime Phone deals, and that made things cheap if you were looking for a budget Android phone. The Moto G4 with 32GB of storage – our favorite affordable phone last year – for just $139.

    Smart Home Black Friday deals - Amazon Echo deals were popular for Black Friday, with the new product category for many buyers seeing a $40 discount. Instead of paying full price for the flagship smart speaker with Alexa, Amazon was asking for a mere $139.99 in the US. This year, we expect Amazon Echo Show to go on sale with specs that include a helpful display.

    Amazon Black Friday TV deals - There's no bigger big ticket item on Amazon during Black Friday than a brand new flat-screen TV. Forgot HDTVs, we're talking about 4K televisions with HDR. We really liked the LG 55-inch 4K OLED set for $1,797 and the Samsung 40-inch UN40KU6300 at a very affordable $347 – a great value for any budget.

    Wearable Black Friday deals - Fitbit and Apple Watch deals are hot on Black Friday through Amazon, with the retailer rivaling the sales at Target last year. You were able to save the most money (more than $70) if you went with the older Apple Watch Series 1. We're hoping the year-old Apple Watch 2 will be on sale via Amazon for Black Friday 2017.

    Amazon on Black Friday 2017: what you need to know

    Even though it has its own Prime discount day of sales, Amazon still goes all-in when it comes to Black Friday, and few retailers can match it for the breath or size of its discounts. If you're looking for Black Friday deals, you need to include Amazon on your list. 

    While the deals are great, sometimes it's hard to get to them, thanks to Amazon's notoriously cluttered interface - and hopefully, that's where we come in. We'll highlight the best offers for you to save you a lot of clicking and scrolling around.

    We've been given a sneak preview of some of the Black Friday 2017 discounts that Amazon's planning, and while we can't share them with you yet, there are some treats in store - from short-term Lightning Deals to major discounts on hot gadgets that will run through Black Friday and beyond.

    By Matt Swider

    http://www.techradar.com/news/amazon-black-friday-deals-2017

  • Best Soundbars For TV, movies And Music In 2017

    Heres an incredible article we found that can serve as your guide to get a good soundbar to enhance the hearing on your TV speakers, and your experience watching movies and listening to music because we know that sometimes the speakers on your TV just won't cut it. Also, if you need help installing / mounting your TV or soundbars you can contact TV Guy Jay at 310-663-5081

    http://www.techradar.com/news/audio/home-cinema-audio/tr-top-10-best-soundbars-1288008

  • How to buy a TV in 2017

    Heres an incredible article we found that can serve as your guide to buy the right TV. There are so many options, different brands, different sizes, different features for each one, that its a headache to find the right one. If you are considering buying a new TV, or are merely interested in the different features TV's can have, you might want to check out this article. Also, if you need help installing / mounting your TV you can contact TV Guy Jay at 310-663-5081

    https://www.cnet.com/topics/tvs/buying-guide/

  • The 50 Best TV Shows On Netflix Right Now, Ranked

    We found an incredible article that we are sure many of you will be interested in. This article lists 50 of some of the best shows on Netflix. If you have Netflix, this is probably worth checking out! Also, if you need help installing / mounting your TV you can contact TV Guy Jay at 310-663-5081

    http://uproxx.com/tv/best-shows-on-netflix-good-tv-series-ranked/

  • New Twists for the TV Plot, as Viewer Habits Change

    Heres an interesting article about the evolution of TV storytelling. If you need help installing / mounting your TV you can contact TVGUYJAY at 310-663-5081

    New Twists for the TV Plot, as Viewer Habits Change

  • How to Mount a Flat Screen TV

    Heres a helpful article if you want a DIY. Of course, the best way to install a television on the wall in Los Angeles is to call TVGUYJAY. You can reach us at 310-663-5081

    How to Mount a Flat Screen TV

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