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How to Play Video Smoothly on Your PC: Here’s What You Need

Watching choppy video playback is like sailing choppy waters: rough, frightening, and may lead to nausea. While modern hardware can handle most tasks you can throw at it, every so often, you’ll encounter an issue. Choppy video playback, whether through a DVD or online, happens.

Here’s how to fix it!

What Factors Affect Video Playback Quality?

Smooth video playback boils down to a few hardware and software choices. These choices affect offline and online video playback differently. Here’s what can negatively affect video playback:

  1. An outdated media player
  2. A low-performance PC which would stifle high-quality Blu-ray playback
  3. A souped-up PC, but a bad internet connection

Whatever the case, smooth video playback is within your sights.

Two other factors impact playback quality: offline or online video.

Offline Video Playback Quality

Choppy offline video playback concerns playing video from video files or DVDs. This is different from online video playback, due to network connection or other service issues (more on these in a moment).

There are certain steps you can take to ensure smooth video playback with an offline source.

  1. Update your media player
  2. Install and update video and audio codecs
  3. Check your hardware capabilities
  4. Update your GPU drivers

Let’s take a look at those steps in a little more detail.

1. Update Your Media Player

The first thing to do is to update your media player. There are many excellent free video players for Windows. If you use a third-party media player, head to the company’s website and download the latest software version.

2. Install and Update Video and Audio Codecs

Second, ensure that all video and audio codecs are installed properly. Codecs, to put it simply, process audio and video data. Sometimes certain video formats are not playable on your PC. This is because you do not have the appropriate video codec installed.

Codecs sometimes become damaged or corrupted, which may lead to jarring playback. To fix them, download, and install codec packs.

Microsoft has an official codec pack for these exact purposes. Download the file, then double-click to install, following the on-screen instructions.

Video codecs are a little confusing. If you want to learn more, here’s all you need to know about video codecs, containers, and compression.

3. Check Your Hardware Is Capable

Ensure that your PC is within the hardware range necessary to playback these videos. Video formats come with different qualities that determine their ease of playback.

For example, a 1080p video playing at 30 FPS (frames per second) will require slightly less performance than the same video at 60 FPS. The difference grows when comparing 1080p video with 4K or UHD video.

The same goes for video rendering. While video playback consumes less performance than video rendering, both involve PC performance. Generally, the more powerful hardware you have, the better the video playback will be. If you have very old hardware, video playback can struggle for a few reasons.

For instance, an old 5400RPM hard drive (or even a 4800RPM) might struggle to process a massive 4K video file quickly enough for stable video playback. You might run into similar issues using a drastically underpowered CPU, or if the system has a seriously small amount of RAM.

There are solutions for these issues. For example, the VLC media player is well known to assist with smooth video playback on older hardware. Or, you might have an older system with a discreet graphics processing unit (GPU). Some media players can use the GPU hardware acceleration to shift some of the video processing load from the CPU, helping video playback.

There is no exact rule of thumb for minimum hardware required for smooth video playback. If you have a PC built in the last few years, you should not struggle with offline video playback of 4K and other high-resolution video formats.

Hardware and Video Encoding

There are other issues with hardware, such as GPU and video encoding compatibility issues. Even some modern GPUs that can play the latest games on high settings won’t work with certain video encoding types.

If you have a modern GPU and powerful system yet still encounter video playback issues, double-check if your GPU supports the video encoding type you’re trying to use.

vlc media player show codec information

4. Update Your GPU Drivers

Fourth, and finally, ensure you install up-to-date GPU drivers.

The GPU drivers will allow for the maximum output of your hardware. As the CPU and GPU are often the main indicators of PC performance, updating their drivers will ensure video playback. At the very least, it can eliminate some video playback stuttering issues.

Find out how to replace outdated Windows drivers with our handy guide.

Online Video Playback Quality

Smooth online video playback often comes with the same requirements as offline video playback. Yet, there are a few additional parameters to look out for.

  1. Is your internet fast enough?
  2. Are other programs using your internet?
  3. Disable hardware acceleration in the browser
  4. Update your web browser

1. Is Your Internet Fast Enough?

The first question you must ask for online video playback relates to your internet speed. Streaming Full HD, UHD, and 4K video online is a data-intensive task. The data requirements vary slightly, but in general, you need:

  • 2-4Mbps for standard-definition video playback
  • 5-10Mbps for high definition video playback
  • 25Mbps minimum for 4K video playback

There are variations between online video streaming services, too. Netflix requires at least 3Mbps for standard-definition video playback, whereas Amazon Prime Video requires just 0.9Mbps.

With online video playback, a faster internet connection will always yield better results.

2. Are Other Programs Using Your internet?

Second, ensure you are not clogging your network with data-hungry programs.

You can do this by right-clicking on your Taskbar and selecting Task Manager. You will see the Processes tab of your Task Manager.

Click on Network tab (and percentage number indicating network usage) to see which programs other than your browser are hogging up data.

windows task manager show network use

That also goes for RAM usage. Remember, smooth online playback requires optimal hardware.

Click on the Memory tab to order your selection from most usage to least. Right-click any program not necessary for video playback (that is also not essential to your PC use) and select End task. This will free up some performance power.

The Windows Task Manager is a versatile tool. Here are some Windows Task Manager tricks you can use to manage your system better.

3. Disable Hardware Acceleration in Browser

Third, disable hardware acceleration.

Hardware acceleration allows browsers to hand off certain tasks to certain hardware parts. While your CPU can render, say, 3D models, it’s better to use a specialized hardware component, such as the GPU, to render that model.

That’s because it can do so more quickly and usually has more processing power available to complete the activity. Sometimes this process can lead to playback issues.

Check the Video Player Type

Google Chrome is permanently disabling Flash Player at the end of 2020. The majority of browsers are switching to HTML5, a more secure and stable video playback option. If the video player is attempting to use a Flash Player, your browser may no longer support that option.

As Adobe will stop officially supporting Flash at the end of 2020, the Flash Player will become (even more!) insecure.

4. Update Your Web Browser

Update your web browser. Current browser versions can handle high-quality video playback, as more video repository sites like YouTube allow for higher quality footage uploads. Old browser versions, or bugged browser versions, may limit video playback.

How to Smooth Out Choppy Video

To summarize, here’s how you stop your video playback problems:

  1. Are you using the most recent version of your media player?
  2. Do you have the codecs required to watch that video format?
  3. Is your hardware powerful enough?
  4. Do you have the latest drivers installed?
  5. Is something clogging up your network or consume your RAM or CPU capacity?
  6. Have you disabled your browser’s hardware acceleration?
  7. Is your web browser up-to-date?

Fortunately, ensuring smooth video playback is a simple and non-invasive procedure.

VLC Media Player is one of the world’s most popular video players. Here are the best VLC features you’re not using—but absolutely should be!

Image Credit: Dmitriy Kozhanov/Shutterstock

Read the full article: How to Play Video Smoothly on Your PC: Here’s What You Need

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The 15 Best True Crime Documentaries on Netflix

There is evil in this world. The kind of evil that you can’t even imagine. To get a glimpse into these stark realities, watch the best true crime documentaries on Netflix. True crime is an addictive genre, and these are the best examples of the genre to binge-watch.

This list of true crime documentaries is available on Netflix USA and most other regions. And if something is not available in your area, you could always try one of the VPNs that work with Netflix in order to watch them.

1. Making a Murderer (2015)

  • How long is it? 20 episodes, one hour each.
  • In one line: Don’t always trust the cops.

This is Netflix’s biggest hit in the true crime documentaries genre. Making a Murderer tells the story of Steven Avery, and it gripped viewers across two seasons. Having been proved innocent for one crime, the same cops charge him with murder. Is he guilty or is he being framed? This eye-opening documentary is one of the best shows to binge-watch on Netflix.

2. Strong Island (2017)

  • How long is it? 1 hour 47 minutes.
  • In one line: A rare insider’s look at a family’s struggle to deal with injustice.

If you get the rare 100% Tomatometer rating on Rotten Tomatoes, you’re definitely among the best true crime documentaries on Netflix. Strong Island is a filmmaker’s internal search for answers. It’s the story of a murdered brother, a killer that goes free, and a family that struggles with grief and injustice. This deeply personal film is like nothing you’ve seen before.

3. Wild Wild Country (2018)

  • How long is it? 6 episodes, 64-71 minutes each.
  • In one line: A religious cult takes over a country, plans mass poisoning and bomb blasts.

Controversial Indian guru Bhagwan Rajneesh Osho and his follower Ma Anand Sheela bought a large piece of land in Oregon. The idea was to set up a commune for their followers. But the local townspeople weren’t happy with how Osho, Sheela, and their followers conducted themselves. It quickly devolved and escalated into a violent battle.

This true crime documentary gets plenty of interview footage with Sheela from 2018, who makes no denials about what she did, making this a riveting watch.

4. The Keepers (2017)

  • How long is it? 7 episodes, 1 hour each.
  • In one line: Can you solve a murder mystery 50 years after it happened?.

What starts off as a murder investigation of a case from the 1960s turns into something far more sinister in The Keepers. This mini-series uncovers the corruption of officials and exploitation of children in a school in the US And it’s remarkable how as the investigators find more clues, the stories of witnesses start changing.

This one is a must-watch for fans of Twin Peaks.

5. Casting JonBenet (2017)

  • How long is it? 1 hour 20 minutes.
  • In one line: Revisit an infamous murder mystery from the 1990s in a whole new way.

Another one for Twin Peaks fans, Casting JonBenet is a different kind of true crime documentary film. It’s about the unsolved death of six-year-old child beauty pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey in 1996. Now, filmmakers try to cast people from the local community in a re-enactment of the murder mystery. And in the process, they uncover startling tales from all participants.

6. Amanda Knox (2016)

  • How long is it? 1 hour 32 minutes.
  • In one line: An international miscarriage of justice in the new media world.

Amanda Knox is a name you probably already know. In 2007, as an exchange student in Italy, Knox was jailed for murdering another student. It was an international media sensation, as she spent four years in prison. Eventually, she appealed her ruling and the Supreme Court of Italy freed her in 2015.

This documentary traces the whole saga and shows how the media and social networks affected this trial. It’s one of the best Netflix documentaries of 2016.

7. Evil Genius (2018)

  • How long is it? 4 episodes, around 50 minutes each.
  • In one line: One of the most bizarre crimes in US history has an even stranger backstory.

Pizza delivery man Brian Wells shot to fame as the “pizza bomber.” In 2003, Wells was in a live televised standoff with the police, where he had a bomb around his neck, which eventually went off. If that sounds bizarre, wait till you see the backstory about the people who forced him into that situation.

The tapes and interviews of purported mastermind Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong will send chills down your spine. In our opinion, after Making a Murderer, this is the best true crime documentary currently on Netflix.

8. The Confession Killer (2019)

  • How long is it? 6 episodes, around 45 minutes each.
  • In one line: Henry Lee Lucas confessed to over 100 murders, but did he really do it?

Henry Lee Lucas confessed to killing over 100 people, and was convicted of killing 11 of them. It was a sensational case in the 1980s, earning him the notorious title of America’s most prolific murderer. But once this Netflix documentary shines a harsh light on the facts, things start to unravel.

Was Lucas not mentally sound? Did the police lead him to confess crimes he didn’t commit so that they could shut cases? The fallout of the investigation is as interesting as the case itself.

9. The Confession Tapes (2017)

  • How long is it? 7 episodes, 50 minutes each.
  • In one line: A signed confession doesn’t mean it’s the truth.

Once the suspect gives a full confession, that’s the end of the case, right? It has to be the truth, our brain says. Watch The Confession Tapes to see why this couldn’t be farther from it.

The seven-episode series is a shocking look at police tactics to make a suspect confess to something he or she didn’t do. These are cases where the confession was overturned, so the victims get to talk about how they were duped by the people meant to protect us.

10. Don’t F*** With Cats: Hunting an internet Killer (2019)

  • How long is it? 3 episodes, around one hour each.
  • In one line: Internet sleuths try to figure out the identity of a cat murderer before things escalate.

The internet loves cats. But one day, a grisly video went viral about a boy suffocating two cats to death. The killer was careful to leave no clues, but internet sleuths banded together to figure out who he was. It was only a matter of time before he escalated his crimes. And as they started getting closer, an even ghastlier video surfaced.

Don’t F*** With Cats isn’t earning points for its narration or editing, but it’s a must-watch true crime documentary for the internet age.

11. The Staircase (2018)

  • How long is it? 13 episodes, 45 minutes each.
  • In one line: A high-profile murder trial under the media glare, and often touted as one of the best true crime documentaries.

Several critics hail The Staircase as one of the best true crime documentaries of all time.

In 2001, Author Michael Peterson’s wife Kathleen fell down the stairs and died. But investigators were quick to point out that the injuries were not consistent, and suspected the husband of murder. And slowly it emerged that a friend of Peterson’s died 18 years ago at the bottom of a staircase with injuries to her head.

The media and the documentary closely follow Peterson’s trial over 18 years to make for a riveting binge watch. Originally a 10-part series, Netflix produced three new episodes on updates to the case, and you can now stream all 13 episodes.

12. Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019)

  • How long is it? 4 episodes, one hour each.
  • In one line: Extensive interviews with one of the most famous serial killers of all time.

After Ted Bundy’s imprisonment, journalists Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth interviewed him extensively, with over 100 hours of conversation. Conversations With a Killer exposes these tapes, mixed with interviews of Bundy’s family and friends, law enforcement officers, and survivors of his attacks. It’s a unique look into the mind of one of the most famous serial killers of all time.

13. The Fear of 13 (2015)

  • How long is it? 1 hour 36 minutes.
  • In one line: The greatest “standup crime” act you’ll ever see.

Nick Yarris is a death row inmate who petitions the state for the only thing he can ask for: an execution. And to plead his case, he stars in this tell-all documentary.

Like the best stand-up comedians, Yarris has a gift of verbal storytelling that will give you goosebumps. He makes you live ever single moment with him. No recreations, no silly effects. It’s just a man talking into the camera. And it’s the greatest true crime story you’ll ever hear.

14. The Innocence Files (2020) and Exhibit A (2019)

  • How long is it? 8 episodes, around one hour each.
  • In one line: Attempts to set free those inmates who were wrongfully convicted

Both Exhibit A and The Innocence Files have a similar theme: wrongful convictions. Exhibit A focuses on how prosecutors can misinterpret and manipulate forensic evidence. The Innocence Files follows eight cases by The Innocent Project, which seeks to exonerate inmates who don’t deserve to be behind bars.

Neither series necessarily has a happy ending, so keep that in mind while you watch. It’s more about facing the realities of a harsh legal system. While separate, these are some of the best true crime documentaries to watch.

15. Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)

  • How long is it? 90 minutes.
  • In one line: One of the strangest crimes where a girl is kidnapped by the same man twice, while the family knows about it…

It’s almost impossible to believe what’s happening on the screen while watching Abducted in Plain Sight. A teenage girl in suburban America goes missing. And it turns out that a neighbor and family friend abducted her, drugged her, and molested here.

However it then gets even stranger, with extramarital affairs involving the kidnapper, alien conspiracy theories, and a second kidnapping and abuse of the same girl by the same man. Abducted in Plain Sight is a shocking revelation of how criminals use grooming and manipulation.

Go Beyond Documentaries for More Crime Viewing

In case you missed it, there’s a must-watch Netflix show called American Vandal that parodies this new genre of true crime documentaries. Plus there are plenty of true crime shows that aren’t documentaries but faithful recreations. You should check out Wormwood, American Crime Story, and The Legend of Cocaine Island.

While true crime documentaries are currently in vogue on Netflix, don’t miss out on crime shows either. Many of them use true crime for inspiration. In fact, if you like them gritty, shows from the UK tend to be better than American series. Try the best British crime dramas on Netflix to get a taste of high quality television.

Image Credit: Syda_Productions/Depositphotos

Read the full article: The 15 Best True Crime Documentaries on Netflix

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The A-Z of Netflix: The Best TV Shows to Binge-Watch

Netflix is the best video streaming service around, especially if you prefer watching TV shows over movies. It has such a wide variety of content available, we saw fit to make an A-to-Z list of the best shows to binge-watch on Netflix.

All of these shows are available on Netflix USA, while most of them should be available worldwide. And if you can’t access them in your country, you can always watch Netflix through a VPN.

A is for Altered Carbon

  • Seasons: 2
  • Episode Runtime: 45-60 minutes
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Action, Thriller

Altered Carbon mixes a murder mystery with science fiction to make for compelling binge-watching. In the year 2384, anyone’s memories and consciousness can be transferred to a new body. To investigate his own death, a wealthy man in a new body recruits a rebel soldier. It’s a story full of twists and turns.

B Is for Black Mirror

  • Seasons: 5
  • Episode Runtime: 48-60 minutes
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror is a bleak look at how the gadgets you take for granted are shaping your present and future. Each episode is self-contained, with the common theme of looking at how science and technology affects society.

You don’t need to watch episodes in order, so you can start with the best Black Mirror episodes to mess with your head. Once you’re done with the series, watch the interactive movie, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

C Is for The Crown

  • Seasons: 3
  • Episode Runtime: 60 minutes
  • Genre: Drama, History, Period

Queen Elizabeth II has overseen some of the most tumultuous times in modern history. The Crown takes a deep look at how she came into power, the early years of her reign, and her relationships with important political figures of the 20th century.

The actors deliver stunning performances, with Claire Foy leading the first two seasons and Olivia Colman taking over from the third. John Lithgow is especially great as Sir Winston Churchill.

D Is for Daredevil

  • Seasons: 3
  • Episode Runtime: 52 minutes
  • Genre: Action, Superhero, Crime

It doesn’t matter whether you’re into comic book heroes or not. Daredevil is one of the best Marvel shows on Netflix. The world has gone gaga over the show’s breathtaking action scenes, and the acting performances by the villains.

Make sure you start watching this on a long weekend though, as you won’t be able to stop binge-watching it. Unfortunately, Netflix pulled the plug after the third season for corporate reasons, but it remains one of the best action shows you’ll watch.

E Is for Easy

  • Seasons: 3
  • Episode Runtime: 30 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama

Easy is one of the Netflix originals everyone should be watching. Set in Chicago, it tells the stories of different people in each episode, usually played by recognizable actors like Orlando Bloom, Emily Ratajkowski, and others.

Easy has finished its three-season run, so you can get through all the 25 episodes in one weekend. Easy is a slice of life comedy that will appeal to fans of shows such as Master of None.

F is for Fauda

  • Seasons: 3
  • Episode Runtime: 45 minutes
  • Genre: Action, Thriller

Israeli series Fauda is among the best TV shows on Netflix, earning critical acclaim across the world. The New York Times even voted it as the best international show of 2017. Fauda is set in the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Israeli counter-terrorist forces tracking down a mysterious Hamas terrorist.

With high production values, Fauda exposes the nuances of the conflict while being packed with action, drama, and politics. It’s hands-down one of the best foreign Netflix shows worth watching.

G Is for GLOW

  • Seasons: 3
  • Episode Runtime: 30-35 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Sport

In the 1980s, during the peak of the pro-wrestling culture, an ambitious entrepreneur launched the Glamorous Ladies Of Wrestling (G.L.O.W.). This is the story of the women of GLOW, told with panache, dollops of humor, and plenty of throwbacks to 80s glam culture. Alison Brie is incredible as the lead, ably supported by the rest of the cast. The show gets Emmy nominations every year, and wins the stunt coordination award.

H is for Hemlock Grove

  • Seasons: 3
  • Episode Runtime: 45-60 minutes
  • Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Mystery

The small town of Hemlock Grove is full of secrets: supernatural beasts, psychological and biological experiments, superpowered humans, and mysterious murders. Poor werewolf Peter must now uncover these secrets to clear his name, aided by his rich friend Roman. Hemlock Grove wrapped up its three seasons, so you can binge-watch it from start to finish.

I Is for Iron Fist

  • Seasons: 1
  • Episode Runtime: 60 minutes
  • Genre: Action, Superhero

Iron Fist is, in some ways, “Batman Lite”. The heir to a billion-dollar company returns after being missing for years, with mystical powers and insane kung-fu skills. He is “Iron Fist,” tasked with the solemn duty of stopping the evil forces of “The Hand”. This is another collaboration between Marvel and Netflix, so superhero geeks will have a good time with it.

J Is for Jessica Jones

  • Seasons: 3
  • Episode Runtime: 52 minutes
  • Genre: Drama, Action, Superhero

While Jessica Jones is also a part of the Marvel-Netflix franchise, it’s not only for those who like comic book characters. The show is far more nuanced, with plenty of commentary on feminist issues. Of course, there is also plenty of butt-kicking thrown in for good measure.

With its three seasons wrapped up, you can binge-watch the adventures of Krysten Ritter in the titular role with plenty of guest appearances from other Marvel characters.

K Is for The Kominsky Method

  • Seasons: 2
  • Episode Runtime: 22-30 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy

Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin star in this buddy comedy that anyone who wants a lighter, sitcom-ish show will enjoy. Douglas plays the titular Kominsky, a grouchy acting coach, with a grumpy best friend in Arkin, who is also his agent and a recent widower.

The show has an excellent star cast of supporting actors in Nancy Travis, Jane Seymour, Paul Reiser, Lisa Edelstein, and Sarah Baker. It’s perfect binge-watching for some light fun.

L Is for Last Chance U

  • Seasons: 4
  • Episode Runtime: Around 60 minutes
  • Genre: Sports, Reality, Drama

Last Chance U is like one of the typical American sports movies coming to life. A team of talented athletes, who come from challenging backgrounds, struggle with their academic performances. A tutor has to get them to graduate on time. The coach has temper issues.

Spread across four seasons with different cases, by the end of it you’ll start believing in the old adage that reality is stranger than fiction.

M Is for Making a Murderer

  • Seasons: 2
  • Episode Runtime: 60 minutes average
  • Genre: True Crime, Thriller, Documentary

This documentary series focused on Steven Avery is like no other. Wrongly imprisoned for a crime, Avery finally got justice when DNA testing proved his innocence. But just as he celebrated his freedom, a new case was filed against him, and it seems like the authorities don’t want him free. Is the evidence against him real or planted?

Critics and fans laud Making a Murderer as one of the best true crime documentaries on Netflix.

N Is for Narcos

  • Seasons: 3
  • Episode Runtime: 50 minutes average
  • Genre: Crime, Biography, Drama

Colombia is notorious for its cocaine exports, and drug lord Pablo Escobar was the kingpin. Narcos is a recreation of his infamous lifestyle and control over the country, and how American and Colombian forces took him down. It’s a gripping series for anyone who loves crime dramas. And once you’re done with it, watch the Narcos: Mexico spin-off about the drug trafficking world of Mexico.

O Is for Orange Is the New Black

  • Seasons: 7
  • Episode Runtime: 52-60 minutes
  • Genre: Crime, Comedy, Drama

Piper Chapman, just another New Yorker, is convicted of an old crime and sentenced to 18 months in prison. Orange Is the New Black is a look inside women’s prisons, and the trials and tribulations of an outsider trying to adjust. That’s just the first season though; Chapman adjusts by season two, and the series then takes new twists and turns. Look out for “Crazy Eyes” Warren, the show-stealer.

P Is for The Punisher

  • Seasons: 2
  • Episode Runtime: Around 50 minutes
  • Genre: Action, Thriller

After his debut in the Daredevil series, Frank Castle AKA The Punisher quickly became a fan favorite and got his own show. Jon Bernthal stars as The Punisher who is here to take out bad guys without any mercy. It received particular praise for its portrayal of PTSD and war veterans, a recurring theme in the grimy action-thriller series.

Q for Queen Sono

  • Seasons: 1
  • Episode Runtime: 30-45 minutes
  • Genre: Action, Spy, Thriller

Are you looking for a good ol’ action-packed spy thriller? Queen Sono doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but instead gives it a new world. Set in Africa, the titular spy played by Pearl Thusi is full of attitude, action, and allure.

She and her geeky partner, both spies in a South African firm, will do what they can to rid the continent of violence. And behind it all, Queen Sono is out to find the person who killed her mother.

R Is for Riverdale

  • Seasons: 4
  • Episode Runtime: 42 minutes
  • Genre: Drama, Young Adult, Mystery

Archie Andrews and the gang are back in this new take on the lives of the teenagers from the famous comic books. Apart from getting a 21st century makeover, Riverdale is also dark and gritty, unraveling a murder mystery in this small town. There are some consistent mature themes throughout this series, so it’s not exactly kid-friendly like the comics.

S Is for Stranger Things

  • Seasons: 1
  • Episode Runtime: 50 minutes
  • Genre: Fantasy, Horror

Set in 1983, Stranger Things takes you back to an innocent time, reminiscent of how Steven Spielberg’s E.T. did. One among a group of 12-year-old friends goes missing, and his buddies will do anything to rescue him.

Enter a world of supernatural monsters and experimental mad scientists, as Stranger Things takes you on the ride of your life. And once you’ve finished it, here are some other shows for fans of Stranger Things.

T Is for Trailer Park Boys

  • Seasons: 23-30 mins
  • Episode Runtime: 50 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy

Originally a TV series, Trailer Park Boys was saved by the internet and now resides on Netflix. Set in a fictional trailer park, the show follows the lives of three pals who frequently find themselves on the wrong side of the law. It’s an endless cycle of one scheme after another, but somehow it never gets old. Once you finish the series, check out the three mini-movies and the animated series.

U Is for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

  • Seasons: 4
  • Episode Runtime: 25 minutes
  • Genre: Comedy

Kimmy Schmidt was held captive for 15 years in a bunker, conned into thinking the world had ended. Finally freed at 29-years-old, she is now trying to adjust to life in the 21st century, with her actor roommate and socialite employer. Created by 30 Rock’s Tina Fey, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has finished its four season run so you can binge it from start to end.

V Is for Versailles

  • Seasons: 3
  • Episode Runtime: 52 minutes
  • Genre: Drama, History

King Louis XIV, the king of France in 1667, decided to make the grandest mansion in the world. But while the Palace of Versailles is a historical landmark today, there were a lot of complications that went into building it. As noble families had to adjust to rural life, politics, intrigue, and drama weren’t too far away. Revisit this fascinating history through the now-finished series.

W Is for The Witcher

  • Seasons: 1
  • Episode Runtime: 47-67 minutes
  • Genre: Fantasy, Action

Henry Cavill stars as Geralt of Rivia in a Netflix adaptation of the popular book and video game series. The Witcher is a “monster of the week” show with high production values and inspired action sequences. This is a show for mature viewers only, with unabashed gore, strong language, and nudity. Catch up on the first season now, with the second season slated to release in 2021.

Y Is for You

  • Seasons: 2
  • Episode Runtime: 45 minutes
  • Genre: Psychological Thriller

Bookstore manager Joe Goldberg becomes obsessed with a customer, writer Guinevere Beck. In an exposition of how little privacy we have, You shows how Goldberg feeds his obsession by using technology to stalk Beck and get close to her. If you want to see how your gadgets can lead to a slow unraveling of your identity, while following a thriller storyline, You is for you.

Z Is for Z Nation

  • Seasons: 5
  • Episode Runtime: 42 minutes
  • Genre: Action, Horror, Drama

A zombie virus has spread across America, and only one man has survived being bitten by a zombie. The man is in New York, and he needs to make his way to the last functional lab in California to help them create a cure with his sample. The remaining uninfected humans across the U.S. must help mankind’s last hope travel across the country, through hordes of zombies.

The five-season series has wrapped up, so get ready for a zombie-hunting binge-watch.

Binge-Watching Beyond Netflix

As you may have noticed, X is missing from our A-Z list of shows to binge-watch on Netflix. Simply because we couldn’t find a show worth recommending. However, if you know of one, feel free to recommend it in the comments below.

And remember, Netflix isn’t the only streaming service in town. An Amazon Prime subscription comes with Prime Video, and Disney+ is the hottest new streaming app on the market. All of which provide ample opportunity to binge-watch TV shows.

For more recommendations, check out our list of the best TV shows to binge-watch across streaming services.

Read the full article: The A-Z of Netflix: The Best TV Shows to Binge-Watch

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How to Watch HBO for Free

If you’ve been feeling left out from your friends’ conversations about Game of Thrones or Westworld, you might be looking for ways to watch HBO. For years, HBO has been producing binge-worthy content that’s only accessible to paid subscribers and people who pay for TV packages.

While HBO doesn’t come free (at least by legitimate means), there are still several ways you can sign up (and even stack) free trials. Not to mention that you can still watch some HBO shows and movies online for free, and some services even offer a complimentary subscription to HBO.

Do you want to start watching HBO for free? Then read on to find out the many ways you can get a free trial to HBO, and other ways to get HBO free.

1. Sign Up for a Free Trial on HBO.com

HBO Free Trial HBO Website

HBO offers a seven-day free trial of HBO Now right on its website. That means one whole week of streaming free content to your phone, tablet, computer, or TV before you have to start paying $15/month.

If you don’t cancel your subscription at least 24 hours before your trial ends, HBO will charge you the price of the subscription. You should also keep in mind that the free trial is for new customers only, so you won’t get to start a trial twice.

Get: An HBO Now Free Trial on HBO.com

2. Get an HBO Free Trial on Hulu

Hulu HBO Free Trial

Already have Hulu? You’re in luck—Hulu offers a week-long HBO free trial for its subscribers.

Once you sign up for the trial, you can start watching HBO alongside all of your favorite shows on Hulu. When the trial ends, you’ll have to pay for the price of the Hulu subscription, as well as the $15/month HBO add-on.

Get: An HBO Free Trial on Hulu

3. Get an HBO Free Trial on Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime HBO Free Trial

Like Hulu, Amazon Prime Video also offers an HBO add-on for current subscribers. You can start a seven-day free trial of HBO through Amazon Prime, giving you access to HBO’s library of movies, TV shows, and documentaries.

If you decide to keep your HBO subscription, you’ll have to pay $15/month in addition to your Amazon Prime subscription. It’s also worth mentioning that Prime Video already comes with a handful of HBO shows that don’t require the Amazon Prime HBO add-on. That said, make sure you’ve exhausted the existing HBO options before starting the free trial.

Get: An HBO Free Trial on Amazon Prime

4. Get an HBO Free Trial on The Roku Channel

HBO Free Trial Roku Channel

Although The Roku Channel has tons of movies and TV shows available for free, you’ll have to pay to stream any HBO content. The only way to access HBO for free on Roku is with a seven-day free trial.

Once the trial ends, you’re subject to a monthly fee of $15. The free trial through Roku is the way to go if you don’t want to pay extra for Hulu or Amazon Prime, and if you want access to a library of hundreds of free content.

Get: An HBO Free Trial on The Roku Channel

5. Take Advantage of Free HBO Max With AT&T

Watch HBO Max AT&T

HBO is bundling its newest streaming service, HBO Max, with any AT&T plan. With HBO Max’s library of popular HBO shows, Max Originals, and other WarnerMedia content, HBO Max is set to become one of the best TV streaming services out there.

If you already have any of these AT&T services (or plan to get one), you can stream HBO Max free of charge:

  • DirecTV Premier
  • DirecTV Lo Maximo
  • AT&T TV Now Max
  • U400 and U450 TV
  • AT&T Unlimited Elite wireless plan
  • AT&T Internet 1000

To access your complimentary HBO Max subscription, simply sign into HBO Max with your AT&T login information. Without an AT&T plan, you’ll have to pay $15/month for an HBO Max subscription.

Get: HBO Max

6. Watch Free Episodes on the HBO Website

Watch Free Episodes HBO Website

There are a ton of amazing shows to watch on HBO. If you’re not ready to make the commitment (or just want to see what HBO has to offer), you can watch free episodes and documentaries on the HBO website.

Although the site gives you access to several full-length documentaries, most of the free episodes are just pilots—you’ll have to get a free trial or a paid HBO subscription if you want to see more. That aside, it’s still a great way to get a feel for some of HBO’s best series, such as The Wire, Game of Thrones, and The Sopranos.

Watch: Free Episodes on HBO

7. Watch Clips from HBO Shows on YouTube

Watch HBO Clips Free on YouTube

Not comfortable getting an HBO free trial? Luckily, you can always watch clips and trailers of HBO shows and movies on YouTube. The short videos from shows like Westworld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Big Little Lies can help you decide whether you want to pay for a full-fledged HBO subscription or not.

For the largest collection of clips and trailers, head to HBO’s own YouTube channel. Otherwise, searching for videos of an HBO show or movie you’re interested in will yield tons of results from third-party channels.

Watch: HBO Clips on YouTube

8. Check With Your Cable or Satellite Company

HBO Free Online With TV Package

If you haven’t ditched cable yet, you might be able to get HBO for free or at a discounted price. Several popular cable companies like Verizon FiOS, DirectTV, Comcast, and Cox include HBO in certain packages.

For example, with the DirecTV Choice package, you’ll get HBO included with the price for one year, and that’s in addition to an HBO Max subscription. Even if your cable or satellite plan doesn’t include HBO, it doesn’t hurt to call up your service provider to see if they’re offering any special HBO deals or free trials.

The Best Ways to Watch HBO Free Online

Once you run out of free HBO trials, you’ll have to pay the price of the subscription. The monthly price of HBO isn’t cheap, so taking advantage of any introductory free trials, free HBO videos online, and special offers for cable customers is a good idea before you commit.

Now that so many TV shows and movies are available online, it’s the perfect time to consider getting rid of costly cable and satellite TV. And these awesome live TV streaming services might just convince you to cut the cord.

Read the full article: How to Watch HBO for Free

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You Can Now Watch Together on Plex

Plex has launched Watch Together, a new feature which lets you watch movies and TV shows together with friends far away. So, whether you want to watch on-demand content or something from your own library, you can now do so with the people you care about.

An Alternative to Yet Another Quiz Night

The COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent lockdowns around the world to stop it spreading, have changed everything. Shops, bars, restaurants, and movie theaters have all closed their doors, leaving many of us at a loss for what to do for fun and relaxation.

Some people have turned to hosting quiz nights on Zoom or Houseparty. However, if that sounds too much like hard work for you, perhaps you would prefer to watch your favorite movie with friends. Which is where Plex’s new Watch Together feature comes in.

How to Watch Together With Friends on Plex

As announced in a post on the Plex Blog, Plex has launched Watch Together. As the name suggests, this lets you watch content on Plex with your family and friends. However, crucially in these troubled times, they don’t have to be in the same room as you.

Watch Together lets you watch content together with family and friends online. Whether it’s a free, on-demand movie or TV show, or content from your personal media library. And Plex will keep the content in sync for everyone, allowing you to sit back and relax.

To use Watch Together on Plex, just find the movie or TV show you want to watch, click the three-dot More menu, and select Watch Together. Then, just invite your friends and click Start. The content will play on everyone’s devices at the same time.

Everyone watching together can control playback, which means you need to be careful who you invite. Watch Together is supported on Android, iOS, tvOS, Fire TV, NVIDIA SHIELD, and Roku. Just update to the latest release to ensure compatibility.

Other Ways to Watch Together With Friends

Plex is keen to point out that this is currently only an experimental feature. So beware that there could be bugs and frustrations involved. Still, the company is actively seeking feedback, so why not give Watch Together a go and let Plex know what needs changing?

Plex isn’t the only platform to offer its users a way to watch content together with friends online. So, for those who are bored while stuck at home, here’s how to watch Netflix with friends far away and how to watch YouTube videos with people online.

Read the full article: You Can Now Watch Together on Plex

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10 Relaxing Movies to Fall Asleep to on Netflix

Sometimes you want to get away from loud action movies and watch something quiet and contemplative. That’s why we’ve rounded up these relaxing movies to watch on Netflix.

These are movies to fall asleep to. Not because they’re bad, but because they don’t have any loud explosions and action sequences likely to wake you up with a start if you doze off.

1. Julie and Julia

Julie and Julia is a comedy drama starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Stanley Tucci. Do you really need to know more? OK, it features lots of cooking because it’s based around the life of chef Julia Child and food blogger Julie Powell.

This is really two (true) stories in one, but it never feels bogged down by it because it’s light, breezy and ultimately a whole load of fun.

2. Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection

Disney not only produces great feature-length movies, but lots of innovative and fun shorts too. This collection packages up 12 of them, including The Little Matchgirl, The Ballad of Nessie, Tangled Ever After, and Frozen Fever.

Each short is introduced by different members of Disney, briefly-yet-interestingly talking about their work. The great thing is that if you feel yourself falling asleep, you can pause and not feel like you’re stopping something halfway through.

If you enjoyed watching this, you should also check out the best movies and TV shows available on Disney+.

3. The Edge of Seventeen

The Edge of Seventeen is worth watching for the always spectacular Hailee Steinfeld alone. She plays young girl Nadine, who is trying to make it through school with her best friend. However, when that friend begins dating her older brother, Nadine’s life is thrown into turmoil.

This is better than the usual coming-of-age movie. The Edge of Seventeen is well observed, witty, and modern. If you like John Hughes movies, or comedies like Clueless and Mean Girls, you should enjoy this.

4. The Little Prince

The Little Prince is a fantasy adventure based on the novella of the same name by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Much like the source material, the story is full of childlike wonder, framed as an elderly aviator telling his young neighbor about his life.

The Little Prince blends different styles of animation together gracefully. It’s a great watch for younger children, but its timeless message will surely appeal to all ages. Besides, you’re never too old to hear a fairy tale before bed.

5. The Artist

The Artist is a superb choice to fall asleep to because it’s a silent film. That means there can be no shouting or screaming dialogue to suddenly wake you up. It won lots of awards on its release in 2011, including three Oscars, and it’s easy to see why.

The Artist is about a young actress and a silent film star and their relationship as talkies are coming into fashion. It feels simultaneously old school and modern, with two dazzling stars, sly comedy, and a pitch-perfect score.

6. Mary and the Witch’s Flower

If Mary and the Witch’s Flower looks like a Studio Ghibli film (all of the Studio Ghibli films, ranked), that’s because the studio behind it was founded by some former employees. It’s just as charming as Ghibli’s productions, with evocative drawings, delightful animation, and enchanting music.

The story centers around young Mary, who finds a rare flower that grants magical powers. She enters a floating magical academy, but soon discovers that not all is as it seems. While it’s a simple tale, it’s still charming and makes for a relaxing watch.

7. Always Be My Maybe

Ali Wong and Randall Park are on top form in Always Be My Maybe, a movie about childhood friends who reconnect years after their teenage relationship went down the drain.

While this is a romantic comedy, it skirts the usually clichés and the end result is a feelgood, infectiously charming watch. You should try to stay awake long enough to witness a great cameo from Keanu Reeves.

8. Song of the Sea

Song of the Sea is an animated film set in Ireland, which is an appealing concept in itself. What’s more enticing is that this mixes stellar visuals with a melancholy fantasy story, as a young boy discovers that his sister is a mythical being who can transform herself into a seal.

You should definitely pay attention to the story if you can, but even if you don’t then you’ll be transported by the colorful and otherworldly art. Perhaps you’ll dream that you’re in the same world, if you’re lucky!

9. The Princess and the Frog

While Walt Disney came to fame with hand drawn animation, the studio relies more on 3D nowadays. That’s exactly why The Princess and the Frog is such a breath of fresh air and stands alongside classics like The Little Mermaid and Aladdin.

With a twist on the traditional tale, here the lead character Tiana kisses a frog and turns into one herself. She then goes on an adventure to try to become human again and achieve her dream of owning her own restaurant. The Princess and the Frog is full of great songs that will be perfect accompaniments to your slumber.

10. Saving Mr. Banks

You can’t go wrong with Tom Hanks. Saving Mr. Banks sees him take the role of the ultimate dream maker: Walt Disney. The film is set during the early 1960s, during which time Disney was trying to get the rights to author P.L. Travers’ (played by the great Emma Thompson) books—one of which is Mary Poppins.

Of course, we all know that he succeeds in that quest, but it’s the journey that’s interesting because P.L. Travers is unimpressed by Disney’s bright lights. Saving Mr. Banks is a sentimental, sweet watch that won’t offend. Perfect for bedtime viewing.

Relaxing TV Shows to Fall Asleep To

Not only are these all excellent movies in their own right, but they also make for quiet, contemplative watches. Which makes a refreshing change from the usual Hollywood action fare. And makes them perfect movies to fall asleep to.

If you want some more things to watch as you nod off into dreamtime, here are some relaxing TV shows to watch on Netflix when you’re stressed.

Read the full article: 10 Relaxing Movies to Fall Asleep to on Netflix

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Video Cable Types Explained: Differences Between VGA, DVI, and HDMI Ports

As technology has progressed, so, too, have the cables we need for our devices. Even though many manufacturers are moving to wireless solutions, you’ll likely always need some form of cable.

This is especially true for video devices. Televisions, monitors, and peripherals need a wide variety of cables and connections to work correctly. So, what are the differences between them all, and which ones do you need?

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular video cable types and when you may want to use each one.

VGA Cables

VGA display cable

VGA stands for Video Graphics Array. The connection was developed by IBM in 1987, making it one of the oldest video connections still in use today. It was widely used for video cards, TV sets, computer monitors, and laptops.

VGA can support resolutions up to 640×480 in 16 colors, although you can increase the colors to 256 by lowering the resolution to 320×200. This is known as Mode 13h and is commonly used when booting your computer into Safe Mode. Mode 13h was often used for video games in the late 1980s.

VGA is capable of transmitting RBGHV video signals, which includes, Red, Blue, Green, Horizontal Sync, and Vertical Sync. The iconic blue adaptor comes with a screw on either side to secure the connection. The socket consists of 15 pins, arranged in three rows of five.

It has since been surpassed by digital connections like HDMI and DVI but is still popular thanks to the resurgence of retro gaming and its inclusion on cheaper monitors and displays.

RCA Cables

RCA cable
Image Credit: William Krapp/Flickr

The RCA lead is one of the most visually identifiable video cables. The red, white, and yellow plugs are synonymous with audio/visual equipment produced in the 1990s and early 2000s. It was also the primary connection for many games consoles, including the Nintendo Wii. Most televisions no longer support RCA inputs, but there are still plenty of ways to connect your Nintendo Wii to your TV.

The name doesn’t refer to the technology itself, but to the company that popularized it, the Radio Corporation of America. The red and white connectors provide audio, while the yellow offers a single channel composite video.

When used together, the three cables transmit stereo audio with video up to 480i or 576i resolution. Just as with VGA, the once-popular RCA cable has been superseded by the digital DVI and HDMI connections.

DVI Cables

DVI video cable

The Digital Visual Interface, or DVI, was launched in 1999 by the Digital Display Working Group as the successor to the VGA cable. DVI connections can transmit uncompressed digital video in one of three different modes:

  • DVI-I (Integrated) combines digital and analog in the same connector.
  • DVI-D (Digital) supports digital signals only.
  • DVI-A (Analog) supports analog only.

DVI-I and DVI-D can come in single or dual-link varieties. Single-link can support 1920×1200 at 60Hz while adding a second digital transmitter for dual-link means the resolution can be increased to 2560×1600 at 60Hz.

To prevent forced obsolescence of VGA devices, DVI was developed to support analog connections using the DVI-A mode. This meant that DVI connections and devices could be backward-compatible with VGA connections.

HDMI Cables

HDMI cable
Image Credit: Lord_Ghost/DepositPhotos

The most popular digital video connection is the High Definition Media Input, also known as HDMI. This proprietary interface was created by a group of electronics firms, including Sony, Sanyo, and Toshiba. HDMI connections transfer uncompressed video and audio to computer monitors, TVs, and DVD or Blu-ray players.

There have been many iterations of the HDMI standard to accommodate advances in technology. The most recent is HDMI 2.1, which was launched in 2017. Among other technical changes, this update improved support for 4K and 8K resolutions and increased the bandwidth of HDMI up to 48 Gbit/s.

Importantly, HDMI cables are backward compatible, so that you can use a cable with the latest features on older devices. The reverse is also true, meaning you can use an older cable on devices made to the HDMI 2.1 standard. This is useful, as the HDMI Forum previously ruled that no HDMI cables or devices can display which standard they were manufactured to, making it impossible to determine your setup’s configuration.

HDMI uses the same video format standards as DVI, so the two are compatible through the use of an adaptor. As no signal conversion is necessary, there is no loss of quality either. Although, unlike HDMI, DVI does not support audio.

There are three commonly used HDMI connectors. Type A is the full-sized HDMI connection for use on TVs and home theater equipment. Mini-HDMI (Type C) is frequently used on laptops and tablets, while Micro-HDMI (Type D) is mostly used on mobile devices.

DisplayPort Connections

DisplayPort cable
Image Credit: Davis Mosans/Flickr

DisplayPort is a digital display interface developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA). DisplayPort can carry digital video and audio, making it functionally similar to HDMI. As of DisplayPort 2.0, these connections support resolutions up to 8K, High Dynamic Range (HDR) at higher resolutions, and better support for multi-display configurations.

However, HDMI and DisplayPort were designed for different markets. While HDMI is primarily for home entertainment, DisplayPort was designed for connecting computing devices to monitors.

Due to their similar functionality, it is possible to connect DisplayPort and HDMI devices together using a Dual-Mode DisplayPort adapter. DisplayPort operates using packet data transmission, most commonly used in Ethernet and USB connections. Thus, making it ideal for use in computing rather than home entertainment.

Thunderbolt Connections

Thunderbolt 3 cable
Image Credit: Tony Webster/Flickr

Thunderbolt is an interface commonly found on Apple computers, iMacs, and MacBooks. Intel developed the standard with support from Apple as a means to connect peripherals to your computer.

The connection made its debut with the launch of the 2011 edition of the MacBook Pro and is still commonplace on the company’s hardware. If you own an Apple computer, it might be worth checking out the best Thunderbolt accessories for your Mac. Like other video connections, Thunderbolt cables integrate other technologies into a single device.

The connection combines PCI Express and DisplayPort, while also providing DC power, enabling up to six device connections on a single cable. To complicate matters, there is an overlap between Thunderbolt and USB Type-C. Thunderbolt specifications have been integrated into USB standards across the years.

With the introduction of Thunderbolt 3, all Thunderbolt cables share the same connector as USB Type-C cables. This means you can use the cheaper USB-C cable with Thunderbolt ports and devices. However, performance will be limited as USB-C cables don’t support the same rates of data transfer or power.

The Right Video Cable for Your Needs

When a new technology hits the market, manufacturers compete to make their version the global standard. This is why there are so many video cable connection types that are still in use today.

However, standardization is possible. In the mid-2000s, each cell phone would come with a proprietary charger. These days, it’s almost guaranteed your smartphone will charge via a micro-USB or USB-C connector.

The same is true of video standards, where HDMI has become the most common connection. If you need a new cable, then consider one of the best HDMI cables for Smart TVs and displays.

Read the full article: Video Cable Types Explained: Differences Between VGA, DVI, and HDMI Ports

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Netflix Will Now Cancel Your Account Unless You Use It

If you pay for Netflix but don’t actually use the streaming service, you should probably cancel your subscription. After all, that’s several dollars leaving your account each month for nothing. Just like a gym membership for people who no longer work out.

However, even if you don’t cancel your own Netflix you may have it cancelled for you. This is because Netflix has announced it’s going to start cancelling inactive accounts automatically in order to stop people spending money on something they don’t use.

Netflix Cancels Inactive Accounts

In a post on the Netflix Media Center, Netflix announced that it’s going to automatically cancel the subscriptions of people not using their accounts. Inactive accounts represent “less than half of one percent” of its userbase, or “a few hundred thousand”.

Netflix considers an account inactive if it hasn’t been used for two years. Or, if you’re a newer subscriber, for one year since signing up. And anyone with an inactive account will be asked to confirm that they want to keep their membership.

“You know that sinking feeling when you realize you signed up for something but haven’t used it in ages? At Netflix, the last thing we want is people paying for something they’re not using…”

— Eddy Wu, Product Innovation at Netflix

This will be done by email and in-app notifications, which will begin appearing this week. If you see one you’ll need to confirm that you want to keep your Netflix subscription or Netflix will automatically cancel it. Saving you a few dollars each month.

Netflix insists that it’s easy for lapsed users who have their memberships cancelled to restart them again. And the company will be happy to have you back. If you rejoin within 10 months of cancelling, your profile and watchlist will still be as you left them.

How to Renew Your Love for Netflix

We’re big fans of Netflix here at MakeUseOf. So, the notion that you can’t find anything to watch on Netflix is beyond us. Still, maybe you’ve got better things to do than binge-watch endless TV. In which case, Netflix is doing you a massive favor here.

However, if the threat of Netflix cancelling your account makes you want to take a fresh look at the streaming service, check out our exhaustive guide to Netflix. It contains tips and tricks, tutorials and troubleshooting, and recommendations of what to watch.

Read the full article: Netflix Will Now Cancel Your Account Unless You Use It

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The 8 Best Free Streaming News Channels to Watch Online

Traditionally, one of the biggest drawbacks of canceling cable TV has been the availability of news from other sources. Sure, if you pay for Sling TV or Hulu + Live TV, you’ll get some 24-hour news channels included in your package. However, it hasn’t always been easy to find free streaming news channels to watch.

Thankfully, the situation has changed in recent years. And there are now plenty of free news channels available to stream. Some are offered by global news conglomerates, while others are apps by niche news gatherers. So, with that in mind, here are the best free streaming news channels you can watch today.

1. NewsON

NewsON app

Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire, Android TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast

NewsON is a news service based in the United States, and the app is only available within America’s borders. Its primary focus is on local news from around the country.

It currently offers more than 170 local stations from 113 American cities and towns, thus reaching 84 percent of the population.

Originally, seven of the largest American TV station owners backed the app (ABC Owned Television Stations, Cox Media Group, Hearst Television, Media General, plus Raycom Media, Hubbard Broadcasting, and Sinclair Broadcasting). Unfortunately, ABC pulled its channels from the service in January 2020.

You can choose the news categories that interest you, then enjoy a continuous feed of newscasts and clips that match your preferences. You can also watch live feeds of the 170 channels if you want a more traditional news experience.

2. Newsy

Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire, Android TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast

Rather than acting as a middleman for existing network news channels, Newsy creates its own content. Its main topics of focus are world news, politics, science and health, entertainment, technology, business, and sports.

The company takes a short-form approach to news—you won’t find any long investigative pieces or in-depth analysis. It simply takes the biggest headlines for each day and breaks them down into digestible chunks of two to three minutes.

Once you’ve selected your favorite categories and locales, Newsy will keep lining up the short videos for you to watch. It gives you a “lean-back” TV watching experience that’s often sorely lacking in the world of cord-cutting.

Newsy also prides itself on a lack of bias that’s rare in the mainstream media. It aims to cover multiple sides of every story, thus giving you balanced and fair coverage. Only you can be the judge of whether the claims of impartiality are accurate.

3. Haystack TV

Available on: Amazon Fire, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, LG TVs, and Samsung TVs

Haystack uses big data to provide a personalized free news channel. Yes, you can add your own preferences within the app, but the company has a more expansive algorithm that determines which videos it should show you.

The algorithm grabs thousands of user-generated data points every day and uses them to create real-time interest graphs. It breaks the graphs down by world, local, and interest-based content. The graphs are then correlated against your profile and the app will suggest breaking stories and topics it thinks you’ll be interested in.

If you’re willing to give the company access to your Facebook or Google account when you sign in, the recommendations become even better.

The topics and headlines can vary from the mainstream to the extremely niche, depending on how quirky your interests are. But ultimately, the result is a never-ending feed of news you’ll love. Most videos are between three and five minutes long.

4. YouTube

YouTube news categories

Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Plex, most gaming consoles, and the web

You might be surprised to see YouTube on this list, but it more than deserves its place. The site’s auto-generated news channels are a rich source of free content.

Start by heading to the main News channel, where you’ll find seven further subcategories. They are Sports News, Entertainment News, Business News, Science and Technology News, World News, National News, and Health News.

Click on any of the topics that interest you, hover your mouse over the Top Stories icon, and click Play All. You’ll now be able to sit back and enjoy several hours’ worth of continuous content from the biggest providers in your country.

Best of all, there’s so much stuff on YouTube, you’ll never have to watch the same report twice. If you come back tomorrow, you’ll have an entirely updated set of videos to enjoy.

5. Plex

Plex news

Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox, PlayStation, and selected smart TVs

Plex added news to its repertoire with the 2017 acquisition of the free streaming news channel, Watchup. The app is now fully integrated into Plex’s UI.

It means Plex can pull news stories from more than 190 different publishers, including CNN, Bloomberg, CBS Interactive, PBS, Euronews, FOX News, Sky News, and the Financial Times. As you watch the stories, you can add topics to your preference list, allowing the recommendations to become more personalized over time.

You can further personalize your content by selecting preferred locations, sources, and more. News on Plex is available for free, so you do not need a Plex Pass.

6. Sky News

Available on: Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, and the web

Sky News is one of the world’s largest distributors of free live news. It has apps available for all of the leading platforms, and you can tune in even if you live outside the UK. The content is a mix of rolling news and standalone news-themed shows.

The channel was frequently accused of bias in the 1990s and 2000s under the ownership of Rupert Murdoch and later, FOX. Today, it is owned by Comcast and is the current holder of the prestigious “Royal Television Society News Channel of the Year” in Britain.

If you don’t want to download the standalone app, you can stream Sky News for free on YouTube.

7. Bloomberg

Bloomberg TV

Available on: Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, YouTube, Roku, and the web

If you want up-to-the-minute business and financial news, Bloomberg is hard to beat. It lacks the bias of FOX Business and the sensationalism of CNBC. It is also the only one of the “big three” that’s available to stream for free via the web.

The channel is split into three distinct sub-channels—Bloomberg (from the US), Bloomberg Europe (from London), and Bloomberg Asia (from Hong Kong)—which air at different times of the day.

Other channels called “Bloomberg” that are not one of the three mentioned above are only the Bloomberg name via a franchise agreement. Which means you may not be able to find live streams of them.

As well as the dedicated app and YouTube stream, you can also stream Bloomberg for free on some of the best streaming TV services.

8. Al Jazeera

Available on: Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, YouTube, and the web

In the last decade, Al Jazeera has grown into one of the largest news organizations on the planet. It now boasts more than 80 bureaus around the world and has largely shed its reputation as being a mouthpiece for the Qatari government.

This free news channel is available in the US, UK, Canada, most of the EU, India, and parts of North Africa and the Middle East.

Which Free News Channels Do You Watch?

In this article, we’ve recommended the best streaming news channels that let you get your daily fix of current affairs. All of the options have pros and cons. The best one for you depends on the platform you’re using and whether you prefer watching content from global news conglomerates or indie producers.

Remember that you can get free news from sources other than TV, too. To learn more, check out our list of the best news apps available for free.

Read the full article: The 8 Best Free Streaming News Channels to Watch Online

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The Best TV Shows to Binge-Watch During Lockdown

Are you fed up with being stuck at home all day? Join the club. To help anyone currently locked down due to COVIID-19, we have compiled a list of the best shows to binge-watch on a range of streaming platforms.

1. ReGenesis

Let’s kick off with a virus-themed show. ReGenesis is a Canadian series that ran for four seasons in the 2000s. The story follows a scientific research lab in Toronto as it investigates bioterrorism, diseases, and environmental changes across North America.

You can grab all four seasons on The Roku Channel and Pluto TV.

2. The Office US

The Office US is always worth watching thanks to its neverending stream of comedy gold.

But more aptly, but for the millions of office workers around the world who are stuck at home during the coronavirus lockdown, the series serves as a timely reminder of what they’re missing out on (or happily avoiding!).

You can watch all nine seasons of this binge-worthy show on Netflix.

3. Porridge

A show based in a prison draws obvious parallels with the current lockdown we’re all going through.

But for fans of classic British comedy, Porridge is a must-watch. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest British sitcoms ever and stars one of the UK’s most talented comedians of all-time, the late Ronnie Barker.

The show ran for three seasons in the mid-70s. It is available to stream on Britbox.

4. The Last Dance

The Last Dance has been one of the big hits of the quarantine period. It doesn’t even matter if you’re not a basketball fan—this documentary about Michael Jordan is one of the best shows to binge-watch on Netflix right now.

It includes interviews with a litany of sports stars and celebrities; everyone from Dennis Rodman to Carmen Electra gets screen time.

Watch The Last Dance on Netflix.

5. El Chapo

This co-production between Netflix and Univision is a crime drama about the life of fallen Mexican drug lord, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

Once the most powerful drug trafficker in the world, El Chapo now sits in a supermax federal prison in Colorado. This show tells the story of how he got there.

You can stream El Chapo on Netflix.

6. Game of Thrones

Has there ever been a more binge-worthy show than Game of Thrones? Over the course of its eight seasons between 2011 and 2019, the show grew into a cultural phenomenon. Only one season failed to earn a score of more than 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Game of Thrones is available to stream on HBO GO.

7. Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak

This Netflix Original documentary, released with uncanny timing in January 2020, explores how humans could tackle a serious virus if faced with a global pandemic.

The six episodes explore influenza outbreaks, vaccines, new viruses, and more. Several leading scientists are interviewed throughout.

You can watch Pandemic on Netflix around the world.

8. Peaky Blinders

Is Peaky Blinders the best TV series to come out of the UK in the last decade? You could certainly make the case.

The show is based on the real-life story of the Peaky Blinders. They were a British street gang operating in Birmingham between 1890 and 1930.

And if you’re looking for good shows to watch and you still haven’t ticked this one off your list, stop reading the article, go and watch every episode on Netflix right now, then come back.

9. Suits

Suits is another of the best shows to binge-watch during lockdown. The drama tells the story of the relationship between college-dropout-come-legal-protégé Mike Ross and a senior partner at his law firm, Harvey Specter.

The show offers solid storylines, a healthy dose of comedy, and a motley mix of supporting characters.

You’ll need an account with Amazon Prime Video to stream all eight seasons.

10. Tiger King

Who could have predicted that a TV show about a dispute between a zookeeper and the CEO of an animal sanctuary would become one of the best series to watch during the coronavirus crisis?

35 million people tuned in within 10 days of Tiger King’s release, making this Netflix show one of the company’s most successful series to date.

You can watch Tiger King on Netflix right now.

11. Sunderland ‘Til I Die

Anyone who’s missing their fix of soccer should try watching Sunderland ‘Til I Die. The sports documentary runs for two seasons as it follows the fortunes of English football side, Sunderland FC.

The club was relegated from the English Premier League in 2017. The series has unprecedented access to the chairman and manager as they try to fight their way out of the second division at the first attempt during the 17/18 season.

Sunderland’ Til I Die is available to watch on Netflix.

12. The Simpsons

With 31 seasons, 700 episodes, and a feature film, there’s enough material in The Simpsons’ back catalog to keep you busy until Christmas.

And hey, if quarantine does last that long because of the dreaded “second wave,” what better way to spend your time than watching the longest-running American sitcom in history?

All 31 seasons are available on Disney+.

13. Breaking Bad

Many people claim Breaking Bad is the best TV show of all time. Making it a shoe-in for our list of the best shows to binge-watch.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the story follows the life of Walter White, a terminally ill chemistry teacher who moves into the meth business to protect his family’s financial future.

The show can be streamed on Netflix.

14. Mad Men

The advertising industry of the 1960s played a prominent role in driving the cultural changes that took place across the US and Europe throughout the decade. Yet the industry itself was also in a state of flux, as old pre-war attitudes were swept away for a sexier and more sophisticated image.

Mad Men, which picked up 16 Emmys and 5 Golden Globes over its seven-season run, tells the story of the 60s through the eyes of one of the largest ad agencies on New York’s famed Madison Avenue.

You can watch Mad Men right now on Netflix.

15. Between

We end with one more show about pandemics. Between was a joint production between Netflix and Canada’s Citytv network.

The story follows a small village that’s under attack from a deadly virus, with only the young surviving. The government issues a strict quarantine around the town, leaving the inhabitants to work the rest out for themselves.

You can stream the series on Netflix right now.

More of the Best Shows to Binge-Watch

If our list of the best shows to binge-watch during lockdown has left you wanting more, be sure to also take a look at our articles listing the best science TV shows to watch on Netflix and the best food documentaries to watch on Netflix.

You should also check out the A-Z of shows to binge-watch on Netflix.

Read the full article: The Best TV Shows to Binge-Watch During Lockdown