You can now watch live TV on Roku players in Canada

VMedia Roku

For $17.95 a month, Canadians can stream 20 live HD channels via VMedia TV on a Roku device.

Canadian cable, Internet and home phone service provider VMedia Inc. is now offering a live TV streaming service for Roku devices in Canada.

VMedia TV is a “skinny” package that offers subscribers 20 live HD channels, including CTV, CBC, Citytv and Global, along with American networks like CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and PBS. Users can also watch shows they missed over the last week with VMedia’s cloud-based “look back” feature.

RELATED: What you need to know about 4K Ultra HD content on Netflix

“VMedia’s mission is to make the live TV experience enjoyable, affordable and accessible – we aim to keep live TV an important part of everyone’s entertainment universe,” Alexei Tchernobrivets, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of VMedia, said in a statement.

Canadians can try VMedia TV for seven days by registering directly through the Roku Store on a Roku player, such as the Roku 3, or on a Roku TV. The service costs $17.95 per month once the 7-day trial ends and customers can cancel anytime.

RELATED: You can now stream CraveTV on the XBOX One

“Adding VMedia TV to the Roku Channel Store is great news for our Canadian customers. It enables them to watch live TV, from Canadian and US TV channels they are accustomed to, in addition to the wealth of on-demand entertainment our platform offers,” Ziba Kaboli-Gerbrands, director content acquisition at Roku, said in a release.

For more information on VMedia TV on Roku devices, visit vmedia.ca.

Are you interested in a skinny live streaming TV service like VMedia TV? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

VIZIO’s SmartCast home theatre displays now available in Canada

Vizio SmartCast P-Series

VIZIO’s P-Series SmartCast home theatre display with Android tablet remote.

California-based TV manufacturer VIZIO announced Monday that its line of SmartCast home theatre displays is now available in Canada, exclusively online at Costco.

VIZIO’s SmartCast line incorporates Google Cast technology, which gives users the ability to stream content from thousands of Android and iOS mobile apps to the VIZIO display. The displays can also be controlled via a SmartCast app on smartphones and tablets, and users can multi-task on their device while streaming content to the display.

“The new VIZIO SmartCast ecosystem finally brings home entertainment into the mobile era, providing consumers with advanced navigation, search and control of their display from any mobile device,” Matt McRae, VIZIO’s Chief Technology Officer said in a press release.

RELATED: 4 things Vizio got right with its M-Series 4K TV line

Available in three collections, the higher end P-Series and M-Series models both ship with a 6″ Android tablet remote. These come with docking stations and are also fully functional standalone tablet devices (the P-Series comes with a 1080p/16GB tablet while the M-Series comes with an 720p/8GB one). All models, including the lower end E-Series, also come with a regular IR remote as well.

While 4K Ultra HD and WiFi are now standard on every VIZIO display, one thing missing from VIZIO’s SmartCast line is a built-in tuner. This means that users will require a digital converter box if they want to watch over-the-air broadcasts via an antenna (VIZIO does include an HDMI cable with every model).

Pricing for VIZIO’s SmartCast line starts at a MSRP of $1,299 for the 60” E-Series model and goes up to $5,999 for the 80” M-Series model. A full list of models with pricing is below (all prices in Canadian dollars).

VIZIO SmartCast P-Series Ultra HD HDR Home Theatre Display Collection

-VIZIO SmartCast 50” P-Series Ultra HD HDR Home Theatre Display (P50-C1) – $1,499
-VIZIO SmartCast 55” P-Series Ultra HD HDR Home Theatre Display (P55-C1) – $1,799
-VIZIO SmartCast 65” P-Series Ultra HD HDR Home Theatre Display (P65-C1) – $2,999
-VIZIO SmartCast 75” P-Series Ultra HD HDR Home Theatre Display (P75-C1) – $5,499

VIZIO SmartCast M-Series Ultra HD HDR Home Theatre Display Collection

-VIZIO SmartCast 70” M-Series Ultra HD HDR Home Theatre Display (M70-D3) – $3,199
-VIZIO SmartCast 80” M-Series Ultra HD HDR Home Theatre Display (M80-D3) – $5,999

VIZIO SmartCast E-Series Ultra HD Home Theatre Display Collection

-VIZIO SmartCast 60” E-Series Ultra HD Home Theatre Display (E60u-D3) – $1,299
-VIZIO SmartCast 70” E-Series Ultra HD Home Theater Display (E70u-D3) – $2,199

VIZIO’s line of SmartCast displays is currently only available in Canada online at Costco.

Share your thoughts on the new VIZIO SmartCast line in the comments below or at facebook.com/bamcatBuzz.

Netflix will help you trick your kids to go to bed early this New Year’s Eve

Netflix 2016

Wondering how you can celebrate New Year’s Eve with the whole family without having to keep the kids up to midnight? Thanks to Netflix you no longer need to worry!

To help parents trick their kids into thinking they are celebrating the countdown to 2016 before midnight, the streaming video company has released six on-demand kid-friendly specials.

RELATED: Netflix wants to help you get your kids to bed on time

Covering off preschoolers to tweens, the 10-second countdowns feature popular characters like King Julien, Mr. Peabody and Sherman and Oona and Baba of Puffin Rock. Users can find the titles on Netflix by searching “New Year’s Eve Countdown” (full list of countdowns are listed below).

According to a survey Netflix conducted, 58 per cent of parents worldwide want their kids in bed before midnight on New Year’s Eve. In Canada that number jumps to 65 per cent of parents, with one in five parents (20 per cent) saying 9 p.m. is the ideal time to ring in 2016 with the little ones.

Will you use Netflix to trick your kids into celebrating 2016 early? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Countdowns available to stream include:

  • Puffin Rock residents Oona and Baba re-live their adventures from the past year and celebrate with the Northern Lights, nature’s very own fireworks.
  • Care Bears & Cousins head to Share Bear’s Shake Shack to gear up for a belly badge-tastic countdown in Care-a-Lot.
  • Inspector Gadget saves New Year’s Eve from a mischievous M.A.D. agent just in the nick of time for a dazzling firework display.
  • King Julien lives up to his party animal persona with a countdown to dance your way into the new year.
  • Mr. Peabody and Sherman venture around the world to gather their favorite talk show guests for a star-studded countdown event featuring Hiccup and Toothless, Puss in Boots, the Croods and the entire Dinotrux team.
  • Project Mc2 stars McKeyla, Adrienne, Bryden and Camryn team up for NOV8’s most important mission yet: Party!

What you need to know about 4K Ultra HD content on Netflix

Marvel's Jessica Jones

‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones’ will be available to stream in 4K Ultra HD when it premieres on Netflix Friday, Nov. 20.

I recently got to test a 65″ Vizio M-Series 4K TV at home for about a month. The TV offers many great features and is almost perfect in every aspect. But it’s the picture quality, especially when watching 4K content, that truly sets it apart from other TVs in this market (regular high-def content, even from a cable or satellite box source, also looks great on the M-Series).

Also known as Ultra HD and Super HD, my only source for true 4K content was via Netflix. And since not all devices that Netflix is available on can handle 4K (I’m looking at you Apple TV) I ended up using the native Netflix app that Vizio has available via their built-in Smart TV app store.

Here is what I found about Netflix’s 4K Ultra HD content after watching as much of it as I could over the course of a month.

You need to upgrade your account to access 4K Ultra HD content on Netflix

When I first went looking for 4K Ultra HD content on Netflix I was surprised that I couldn’t find any. This turned out to be because I only had the standard streaming account (the $9.99 per month one) and not the upgraded premium account ($11.99 a month), which offers Ultra HD content and the ability to watch Netflix on four screens at once. You also need to have your quality settings set to “High” (this can be found in your account settings under My Profile > Playback Settings).

Once I upgraded my account and changed my settings I instantly saw a 4K content section appear when I started browsing Netflix.

You need the right equipment and Internet connection to watch 4K Ultra HD content on Netflix

First (and this might sound obvious), you need a 4K TV in order to watch 4K content. While I am a fan of Vizio’s 4K lineup (mainly because they are quality TVs and are reasonably priced), Samsung, LG, Sony and Sharp all have great 4K TV options that work with Netflix. Check what TV brands and models Netflix supports here.

If you plan to stream via a streaming device this is where you need to take note. As I mentioned earlier, the Apple TV does not support 4K streaming. Neither does the Google Chromecast. And the PS4 and XBOX One currently don’t currently stream 4K (but they both might be one day). The only streaming devices that Netflix recommends for 4K Ultra HD content are the Roku 4, TiVo Bolt (not available in Canada), NVIDIA Shield and the new version of the Amazon Fire TV.

Lastly, your Internet connection has to be able to keep up with the large amounts of data 4K Ultra HD content streams. Netflix recommends no less than a 25Mbps connection in order to stream their 4K Ultra HD content.

The 4K Ultra HD content Netflix currently has available is very limited

Besides most of their own programming being in 4K Ultra HD (Narcos, House of Cards, Marco Polo, Daredevil, sense8, plus a couple others) there are only a few movies available, such as The Smurfs 2, Hitch and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (you can also watch Breaking Bad in 4K Ultra HD).

Netflix also offers some special nature documentary programming to highlight the quality of 4K. These are titled after the topic they are based on (Oceans, Forests, Deserts and Flowers) and all look tremendous in 4K Ultra HD.

Netflix has announced there will be more 4K Ultra HD content added in the future. Nothing new appeared in the 4K section while I was testing the TV, but Marvel’s Jessica Jones premieres on Nov. 20 and will be available in 4K Ultra HD.

BELOW: Watch the trailer for Marvel’s Jessica Jones

4K Ultra HD content uses much more bandwidth than regular HD content

When you upgrade the speed of your Internet connection you may also want to get unlimited bandwidth as well. Two episodes of Narcos (which is one of the best shows around and I highly recommend it) used roughly 14GB of bandwidth. Watching all 10 episodes of the series ate over 70GB of bandwidth. If you decide to binge-watch it along with something like Marvel’s Jessica Jones you’ll be pushing upwards of 150GB.

The quality of 4K Ultra HD content on Netflix will blow you away

Just like going from VHS to DVD and DVD to Blu-ray, the difference in quality going from regular HD to 4K Ultra HD is very noticeable and it will indeed knock your socks off. While viewing the Oceans documentary I almost forgot I was watching television it was so crystal clear (both my cats even tried jumping at the TV when a fish swam across the screen). And the quality of Narcos in 4K gave me extra goosebumps (seriously, you need to watch this show).

No, you don’t need to run out to upgrade to a 4K TV today. But if you’re in the market for a new television and have the chance to check out some of the 4K content Netflix has to offer, you will most definitely be a convert.

BELOW: Watch the trailer for Narcos

Share your thoughts and questions on Netflix’s 4K Ultra HD content in the comments below.

Nintendo World Championships 2015 premieres on CHRGD Nov. 15

Nintendo World Championships 2015

The Nintendo World Championships 2015 premieres in Canada on CHRGD November 15 at 7 p.m. ET.

To much fanfare during E3 earlier this year, Nintendo brought back the Nintendo World Championships for its 25th anniversary (if you remember the 1989 Fred Savage film The Wizard, that is what this competition basically is).

The competition had gamers from across North America play a catalogue of titles from Nintendo’s history, including classics like Super Metroid and The Legend of Zelda and new titles like Splatoon and Super Mario Maker.

The top prize was an awesome Gold Mario trophy, which is much cooler than the gold N64 controller I won from Nintendo Power for having the high score in Mario Kart 64 (that was about 20 years ago and I stupidly sold the controller with my N64 system).

Gather the kids and check out the Nintendo World Championships 2015 as it premieres in Canada this Sunday, November 15 at 7 p.m. ET on CHRGD.

Head over to CHRGD.ca for details.

Disney XD and Disney Junior coming back to Canada Dec. 1

Disney XD

A scene from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, airing on Disney XD in Canada as of Dec. 1.

When the Disney Channel officially arrived in Canada earlier this year, Disney XD and Disney Junior became CHRGD and Family Jr. This was due to rights issues and were only name changes as programming didn’t alter that much (trying to explain that to a four-year-old didn’t really go over well though).

The good news is that Disney XD and Disney Junior return to Canadian airwaves Dec. 1 while CHRGD and Family Jr. are here to stay as well. Now your little ones have more choice for their after-school TV viewing.

What will these new channels offer? Well for starters Star War Rebels, Gravity Falls, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Kirby Buckets and Lab Rats will now air exclusively on Disney XD, while Disney Junior will have Doc McStuffins, Jake and The Never Land Pirates, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Miles from Tomorrowland, Sofia the First and the new show Goldie & Bear.

Watch promos for the new Disney XD and Disney Junior channels below.

4 things Vizio got right with its M-Series 4K TV line (and 1 thing it didn’t)

Vizio M-Series

Netflix’s ‘House of Cards’ can be watched in 4K on the 65″ Vizio M-Series.

For the last month my family and I have been enjoying a 65” Vizio M-Series 4K Ultra HD television in our living room. We previously tested a 60” E-Series model, which was a great television but not even close to the 4K quality the M-Series delivers (watching Narcos in 4K on Netflix is euphoric). Besides being a beautiful, crystal clear display, four things about the television stood out to me as being extra special, while one important thing was a big letdown.

The stand

Most people who purchase a 65” TV probably have plans to wall-mount it somewhere in their basement or living room and won’t even bother with the stand that comes with it. If for some reason you can’t or don’t want to wall-mount it though, you’ll be happy to know the Vizio M-Series stand is better than most. Why? Mainly because it’s two pieces that go on either end of the unit and not a pedestal in the middle. This not only makes the unit sit sturdier but also leaves enough space to house a sound bar or cable/satellite box under the front of it. I also found installing the legs a much easier process than the average swivel stand.

Vizio M-Series

One of the legs on the 65″ Vizio M-Series.

HDMI ports

All models in the Vizio M-Series lineup have five HDMI ports, which is almost unheard of as most TVs come with only two or three ports these days. All the ports on the M-Series can handle 4K content as well, with one of them capable of handling playback at 60Hz (the others only handle 30Hz and only three of the five, including the 60Hz one, support HDCP 2.2 for decoding protected content). Being able to have my WiiU, PS3, satellite box and Apple TV connected all at once made life easier for the whole family.

Apps

I’m not usually a fan of “smart” TV features and find most built-in apps to be clunky compared to standalone devices like the Apple TV or Roku Streaming Player. Whether it was over the built-in WiFi or via the Ethernet port, the Vizio M-Series handles apps surprisingly well and the ones I used regularly worked great. The most important app of course is Netflix, and I found being able to stream it directly from the TV gave me the best quality I have ever gotten out of it (especially with 4K content). Among the other important apps (out of many available) are Plex and Spotify, both of which work extremely well.

Vizio M-Series

Apps actually work really well on the Vizio M-Series.

The price

Price is where Vizio wins the 4K TV race by a long shot. The 65” model is available in Canada at both Best Buy and Costco and will only set you back about $2,000. Similar models from LG, Samsung and Sony are all way more expensive. If you drop to the 60” model you can pick it up for about $1,600.

And the one thing that disappointed me about the Vizio M-Series…

The remote

The idea of the remote is much better than how it functions. It has quick access buttons on the front for Amazon Prime Video (which is not available in Canada), Netflix and iHeartRadio and the back is a full keyboard. The problem is that it hardly ever worked without me getting up to aim it directly at the bottom-left corner of the TV and fighting with it (yes, I replaced the batteries to ensure that was not the problem). The keyboard also didn’t work within Netflix or Spotify which kind of renders it useless. I pretty much packed the remote away and used my Logitech Harmony Ultimate remote to control the TV instead. Hopefully Vizio switches to an RF based remote in the future and incorporates keyboard functionality within all available apps.

Vizio M-Series remote

The biggest disappointment of the Vizio M-Series is the remote.

The Vizio M-Series is available in the following sizes: 43”, 49”, 50”, 55”, 60”, 65”, 70”, 75” and 80”. For more information, visit vizio.com.