Saturday, March 11, 2017

Google Chromecast Audio Review

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

One of my favorite things about the evolution of technology is digital music and how easy it has become to play our favorite songs crystal clear and wherever we go. I'm not sure how I survived before the days of wireless Bluetooth speakers but I know I never want to go back. I have amassed a small collection of them over the past few years which means not only do we have one on every level of our home (3) but also in multiple rooms per level. Now one complaint I've had over wireless speakers is their inability to link together so that I can have the same music streaming on more than one speaker at the same time.

Enter the new Google Chromecast Audio. This cute little gadget brings a new level to streaming your digital music. Not only can you use it with current wireless speakers, but also with older speakers that have an audio jack in them. And because the Google Chromecast Audio uses Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth, you can stream in hi-res sound.

  • Wirelessly stream millions of songs, radio stations and podcasts from your favorite apps like Pandora, iHeartRadio, NPR, Spotify and Google Play Music.
  • Lets you play music throughout your home. Group Chromecast audio devices together so you can listen to the same song on multiple speakers.
  • Built-in 2.4GHz/5.0GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi connects to the Internet through your wireless home network (wireless router required and sold separately)
  • Just plug Chromecast Audio into your speakers via the auxiliary input, connect to Wi-Fi and tap the Cast button from your favorite apps.

Kitchen Speaker

Now as I mentioned I have quite a few speakers in my home so I thought I would test the two Google Chromecast Audio devices I received on my most heavily used speakers. The one that gets the most usage by far is the one located in our kitchen. The other is on the third level and uses in the master bedroom and bathroom. Before dealing with the hardware you first need to download the Google Home app which is what you use to set up and control the Chromecast Audio devices. They need to be plugged into an outlet as well as plugged into your speaker in order to set up and play music. Once you have individual speakers set up in the app, then you can form a group with as many speakers as you like, so long as each speaker has a Chromecast Audio attached to it. So I went ahead and created my "house" group with my two speakers. Overall it maybe took me 5-10 minutes to set up everything and be ready to listen to music throughout my house.

Spotify is my favorite music app and luckily is compatible with Chromecast Audio, so I was able to launch it from the Google Home app, select playlist and then stream the music to my group of two speakers. It was awesome! The feature is hands down the best part of this device and is a game changer for me. The music was clear and though each device was on a different level of my house, there were no breaks or issues with the sound.

There are a few cons that I have in regards to the Google Chromecast Audio that I am hioing newer models will address down the road.  The first is that right now they aren't compatible with your iTunes music. This is a bit of a drawback as I am sure many iOS users out there have a ton of music purchased and saved on their phones. I do believe that this feature is coming soon though, so that will be great. In the meantime you can use it with other popular apps like Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio.

The second con for me is that the Google Chromecast Audio does not have a battery so it has to be plugged in to a wall outlet in order to stream music. Now part of the reason why I have rechargeable wireless speakers is so I can use them anywhere in my house without needing to plug them in. When using them with the Chromecast Audio I have to make sure they are placed near an outle which is not always in a convenient place for a speaker, particularly in our faimly room. I sincerely hope that future models of the device include a rechargeable battery so it can be used anywhere.

Overall, I do really like the new Google Chromecast Audio especially the ability to have multi-room play. That is really a huge deal for me and I love it. Since I have yet to find something else that does this for me, that alone makes it worthwhile if you don't mind spending the money to get one for each speaker. A few tweaks in the future could really make this product perfect.

The Google Chromecast Audio is available now at Best Buy for $35.00.

Google Chromecast Audio - Black $35.00

Monday, February 27, 2017

Are You Guilty of Netflix Cheating? #StreamTeam

I am a Netflix Stream Team member and have been given a Netflix membership to help facilitate my posts. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

There seems to be a global epidemic on the rise and it's Netflix Cheating. You can sit there and pretend you have no idea what I am talking about, but you know. Maybe you're a serial cheater or you've only thought about cheating, but either way you know the struggle is real. For the few of you out there who claim to not understand, I'll break it down. You and your significant other (or whoever) start watching a show on Netflix together and promise to not watch more episodes without yourself. However, your schedules don't always a line and you find yourself with time to sit in front of Netflix while he or she is at work. Or sleeping in bed next to you while you are wide awake. You stare at your "continue watching" queue debating if you should watch without them. Some of you are strong enough to click away, but 46% of streaming couples admit to cheating.

Now I fully admit that I have thought about cheating on my husband with the most recent season of The Fall. Between work schedules and kids activities we just haven't had time to binge watch together, and I've been tempted to start without him. Luckily, there are plenty of others shows I need to catch up on to distract me, so I've been able to hold out. For now. I am not sure how much longer my will power will last though.

Are you guilty of Netflix cheating on your streaming partner? Which shows tempt you the most?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

#Giveaway: Fifty Shades Darker Prize Pack #FiftyShadesDarker

Do you love all things Fifty Shades and Christian Grey? Would you like a chance to win some Fifty Shades Darker swag to wear to the movie next week? (Next week! Eeeeeek!) Enter below for your chance to win a Fifty Shades Darker Prize pack. The prize includes 2 t-shirts (sizing not available), 1 candle, 2 mirrors and some lip balm.

Giveaway is open to all United States residents, age 18 and over and ends on February 6, 2017 at 12:00AM. Two winner's will be chosen at random using Rafflecopter. Winner's will be notified via email and have 24 hours in which to respond and claim prize, otherwise a new winner will be drawn.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Fifty Shades Darker
Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson return as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades Darker, the second chapter based on the worldwide bestselling “Fifty Shades” phenomenon.  Expanding upon events set in motion in 2015’s blockbuster film that grossed more than $560 million globally, the new installment arrives for Valentine’s Day and invites you to slip into something a shade darker.

When a wounded Christian Grey tries to entice a cautious Ana Steele back into his life, she demands a new arrangement before she will give him another chance.  As the two begin to build trust and find stability, shadowy figures from Christian’s past start to circle the couple, determined to destroy their hopes for a future together.

Also returning from Fifty Shades of Grey are Academy Award® winner Marcia Gay Harden, Jennifer Ehle, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Victor Rasuk, Eloise Mumford and Max Martini, who are joined for the first time by Oscar® winner Kim Basinger, Hugh Dancy, Bella Heathcote and Eric Johnson.

Fifty Shades Darker is directed by James Foley (Fear, House of Cards) and once again produced by Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti and Marcus Viscidi, alongside E L James, the creator of the culture-spanning blockbuster series.  The screenplay is by Niall Leonard, based on the book by James.

Genre: Drama          
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Hugh Dancy, Eric Johnson, Jennifer Ehle, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Victor Rasuk, Eloise Mumford, Max Martini, Bella Heathcote with Kim Basinger and Marcia Gay Harden
Directed by: James Foley
Screenplay by: Niall Leonard Based on the
Novel by: E L James
Produced by: Michael De Luca, E L James, Dana Brunetti, Marcus Viscidi

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