There are a lot of different free streaming services out there, and it's tough to know which is worth your time. We've looked at both live and on-demand services from Pluto TV to Plex and Kanopy, and based on our reader's repeated recommendations, now we're taking a dive into XUMO — another option for free live TV as well as on-demand content. Read More
The Web as we know it today is powered by a technology called the 'Domain Name System,' also known as DNS. It acts like a phone book for the internet, linking web servers with their corresponding website domain names. DNS is what takes you to Google when you type in google.com, so as you can imagine, DNS is a critical part of the infrastructure of the internet.
While most people simply use the default DNS servers provided by their carrier or internet service provider, alternative servers do exist. Google Public DNS has been a popular option for years, and CloudFlare's 220.127.116.11 DNS is a newer service that is quickly gaining ground. Read More
VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, are a popular way to stay safe online. When you connect to a VPN, all outgoing network traffic is funneled through an external server. Your internet service provider can't tell what sites you visit (only that you're using a VPN) or inject content into webpages. VPNs are also commonly used to bypass blocked websites and to stay safe on public Wi-Fi networks.
Unfortunately, using certain VPN providers can be just as dangerous as going without a VPN in the first place. Many popular providers will log connection details of users, which can then be sold to third parties. Read More
Apparently, I've been living under a rock these last few years. There's a service out there called Pluto TV that offers streaming video with plenty of big-name shows, live news, content from folks like Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, and some sports. Beyond cable-style TV channels (of which it has ~200), it also offers some live TV and even on-demand streaming with a surprisingly decent selection of movies. Best of all, it's entirely free, and you don't even need to make an account to use it. Read More
Most of us know the big streaming service names like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, but there are a lot of smaller services out there worth your attention. If you have a library card, there's one in particular that you should look into. It's called Kanopy, and it focuses on educational series, independent and award-winning titles, plus a solid dose of the classics. In short, if you're into film and not just "movies" (or if you'd like to be), then it's worth the price. Oh, did we mention that it's free? Read More
Sometimes, the lists on Netflix and Hulu just seem to get stale, and that's doubly the case these days with so many of us stuck at home. The humble book offers an alternative solution, and if you have a library card, it's entirely free. Check out Libby. It's a free service for supported libraries that lets you rent eBooks from home, and even send them over to your Kindle, if you'd like. Read More
Amazon's Fire tablets are incredibly popular, mostly because they're incredibly cheap. However, none of them come with access to the Google Play Store, which is how most Android devices download and install applications. Instead, Fire tablets come bundled with the Amazon Appstore, which has a much smaller library and lacks any Google-made apps and services. No YouTube, no Chrome, and so on.
The good news is that it's not incredibly difficult to install the Play Store on a Fire tablet, and the whole process can take as little time as 10 minutes. This complete guide for installing the Play Store on Fire tablets has detailed instructions for every model produced since 2014, with added troubleshooting steps if you run into issues. Read More
Everyone has little things they like to do when they get a new smartphone. Set a favorite wallpaper, pick a ringtone, buy a case—personalizing your phone is obviously a big part of the experience (some might even call it fun). But when I get a new phone, as frequently occurs as part of this job, my goal is to get it working the way I want and expect as quickly as possible. When I got my Galaxy S20, I went straight to work, and these are 20 of my top tweaks, tips, tricks, and changes that I've made. Not every one will be the right change for every person, but hopefully you'll find a few things here you either didn't know or had forgotten about. Read More
So, you have a shiny new Google Assistant smart display (or you're thinking of getting one), but you're not sure what to do with it. Since most of the features are performed using voice commands, it can be difficult to figure out everything a smart display can do beyond the basics — checking the weather, creating alarms, and so on.
In this guide, we'll go over some helpful features in Google's line of smart displays: the Nest Hub (formerly named the Home Hub) and Nest Hub Max. Most of these features should also work on third-party Assistant displays, like the Lenovo Smart Display, but there are subtle software differences between the two categories. Read More
When you use Google Maps or any other service that needs your location, your Android phone doesn't only rely on a GPS signal to quickly find your position. It also uses other clues, such as which Wi-Fi networks or which cell towers are closest to you, which the company maps via crowdsourcing and Street View cars. You can set your phone to GPS-only, but what if you want to hinder Google from collecting data on your Wi-Fi network? There's a solution for that: Just add "_nomap" to the end of your SSID. Read More