August 2018 - Gadget Guy MN
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Archive for month: August, 2018

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Get your digital movies together

This post was originally published in the Southwest Journal, a Southwest Minneapolis community newspaper.

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I like watching movies, but it is rare that I make it out to the theater to see a movie. For the most part, I simply watch movies at home.

I use both Netflix and Amazon Prime for watching movies, but there are some special movies that are worth buying and adding to my permanent collection; often they are kids’ films. This month I am excited to share about a fun, new movie service called Movies Anywhere which allows you to combine your digital movies into a single collection.

Movies Anywhere is a service that lets you combine your purchased movies from various vendors (i.e. Amazon, Apple, etc.) into a single digital collection of films. Movie studios 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal, Disney and Warner Brothers agreed to allow their films to live on multiple platforms once they are purchased.

Is this sounding confusing? Let me try to break it down.

Here is an example of how I used the service: I am a big “Star Wars” fan and own all of the movies (nine available and increasing). However, I bought the original six films through Google Play Movies and subsequent films through Amazon’s video service (called Amazon Prime Video). In the past, I would have had to jump between services to watch the different movies, but with Movies Anywhere, I can link my accounts to each other and all of the movies show up together under the accounts on each service, regardless of whom I originally purchased them from.

The eligible services are Apple’s iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, VUDU, Google Play Movies, and FandangoNow. All of your eligible movies (the ones that the movie studios have allowed; all of mine were eligible) will be displayed under each movie service. I should point out that the service does not work for TV shows. 

If you like the user interface of iTunes for your movies, for instance, you will see all of your movies there and can stick with that interface; same goes for the other eligible services. You can use the Movies Anywhere website or apps to log in and see all of your movie collection in one place there as well.

The benefit of using the Movies Anywhere website or apps is that there are included bonus features, including bonus features for older films that I own and did not expect to have bonus footage. One issue that I have seen with the Amazon interface is that the movies are sorted by date added, and that can be a bit frustrating when searching for a film. Other services allow you to sort by various criteria. 

The service is easy to use and easy to link up your accounts with. Once you have linked your accounts, you can start viewing any of your movies

 If I recall correctly, there may have been a slight lag before all of the movies showed up. It should be noted that only one account can be linked per service. So you could not link together two different iTunes accounts or two different Amazon Prime Video accounts.

This really is a true convenience to have my entire digital collection available under one streaming service. When I want to browse my movies I can see them all together rather than have to jump up and back between different services.


Paul Burnstein is a Tech Handyman. As the founder of Gadget Guy MN, Paul helps personal and business clients optimize their use of technology. He can be found through www.gadgetguymn.com or via email at paul@gadgetguymn.com.

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Clip it and forget it

Google Clips

This post was originally published in the Southwest Journal, a Southwest Minneapolis community newspaper.

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Verizon Wireless loaned me the most recent product to try out, called Google Clips. Thisis a small, square camera that looks like a miniature security camera. But what is it really?

Google Clips is a smart, hands-free camera you can set up and forget about, allowing it to take pictures on its own when it deems the setting and participants to be picture perfect. Its machine learning and artificial intelligence decides when to take pictures and can recognize what it considers to be good photos.

It actually captures little motion “clips” without audio. You can then look through the saved clip frame by frame and save a single frame as a photo. There is a manual capture button, but there is no preview screen unless you are looking at the live preview on your smartphone —in which case it would be easier to just take the picture directly on your phone.

According to Google, “Google Clips learns to recognize familiar faces. The more you’re with someone, the more it learns to capture clips of them. It can also pick out pets like cats or dogs.” Additionally, “Google Clips features Moment IQ, a machine learning algorithm that’s smart enough to recognize great expressions, lighting and framing. And it’s always learning.”

In a blog post from Google, “Clips’ improved intelligence can help you capture more of the candid and fleeting moments that happen in between those posed frames we are all so familiar with.”

I love the idea of this — grabbing those candid moments effortlessly.

At $250, this is a pricey gadget that does very little. Google Clips has a 130 degree field of view, captures 15 frames per second and has 16 gigabytes of storage built in, with about three hours of capture time. Videos are captured at 1080p.

It is a simple device, and there is not much more to it than that. The rubber case that it comes in includes a clip that can be used as a stand or attached to something else.

Google Clips requires very little user interaction other than to review the motion clips on your smartphone, where you can choose to delete or add them to your Google Photos account directly. Google has announced that functionality will be added so that you can view the clips from multiple smartphones. This makes sense, as I would like to be able to share the photos with family members.

The problem for me is that I don’t quite get it. I have tried it out, placing it in stationary positions and even clipping it onto my shirt while my kids were playing outside. Google Clips has taken some decent clips for me, but nothing that seems to justify purchasing a device like this.

The demo clips that Google has on their website show clips of young kids and pets, all from great angles. In use, I didn’t find that leaving it on a table produced desirable clips.

I really like the idea of setting it up and letting it do its own thing, but I just haven’t found anywhere good to set it up. My kids don’t remain in one room long enough to get any good pictures.

With the right setup for a good vantage point, this could be a fun device capturing those candid moments and preserving them without having to be prepared for them at all times. For me however, I think I am used to being more in control of my photos.

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Paul Burnstein is a tech handyman. As the founder of Gadget Guy MN, Paul helps personal and business clients optimize their use of technology. He can be found through gadgetguymn.com or via email at paul@gadgetguymn.com.

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