Is Amazon Prime really worth it? How about now?

Is Amazon Prime really worth it? How about now?

Prime seems expensive: the upfront annual cost went up to $99 since I signed up years ago. But if it was worth it to me then, it is a steal of a deal now, if you consider all the newly added benefits you get access to.

Get Prime by the month: Don’t have $99 lying around, or don’t think you need an entire year of Prime? Sign up by the month and pay $10.99. And you get a deal if you qualify for low-income benefits: it’s only $5.99 per month for customers with an EBT card. Sign up for Prime around Thanksgiving and cash in on all the online Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals, with free shipping to boot, and then drop it when you’re done.

Prime Student: Use your school email (ending in .edu) to score four $49-years of Prime. Act soon and you can get 6 months free.

Amazon Household: A Prime account is for your whole household, not just one person. Two adults living in the same house, and with separate Amazon accounts, can link their accounts to share the benefits of a single Prime account. You can share payment methods, and even add profiles for up to four children so your kids can take advantage of all the free reading and streaming of videos and music without being able to order anything. (You cannot use Amazon Household if you have a Prime Student discount).

Prime Wardrobe: Try before you buy. Choose 3 or more items of clothing, and have them shipped to you to try on. Send back what you don’t want in a prepaid box, and only pay for what you keep. Keeping more items earns you discounts, too: up to 20%. Currently, Prime Wardrobe is in beta, but you can ask to be notified when it launches.

Prime Video: Originals like Transparent and Catastrophe are available. They also have Downton Abbey, The Wire, and you can pay a little extra for channels like Showtime and HBO.

Unlimited cloud storage for pictures: Store as many precious memories in the secure Cloud Drive as you want, and stop worrying about losing them.

Prime Music: Choose songs, albums, or a station. More than 2 million available songs and you can also upload your current collection and listen on any device with the app. There is also a paid subscription that gives you access to tens of millions of songs for $7.99 a month; however, the family plan is $14.99 per month and allows up to six family members to use it. That’s $2.50 per person! Quick, I need five people! Anybody?mp3 player

Food: Have some grocery staples shipped to your door: Prime Pantry boxes ship for $5.99, and you can save 15% with Subscribe and Save. Weekly deals and coupons also make grocery shopping online attractive.

Prime Rewards Visa: For serious Amazon shoppers, the 5% back (in credit, not cash) may be a draw. Add a $70 gift card for signing up.

Free two-day shipping: Of course, this perk is awesome, but it can only be used for certain items. If you shop Amazon for everything, this perk may be worth the fee on its own: leading up to Christmas, the free shipping alone more than pays for my account. However, sometimes you can opt in for slower shipping and get credits for books, music, and more.

Prime Reading: There is a large rotating collection of books, magazines, comics and more available free with your Prime account, and some even have Audible narration, if you would rather listen.

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle

Video games for Prime: Twitch Prime includes a Twitch subscription and free content. Prime discounts on video games could save you some real money, and some pre-orders are delivered ON THE RELEASE DATE. That means you can skip the line and still get that new game the second it is released.

It’s hard to resist all those perks for about $8.25 per month if you pay by the year. Amazon Prime members are much more likely to only shop at Amazon (I can see why), but beware: sometimes they have the best deal, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they really don’t, and getting free shipping may not make up the price difference, especially considering that other online retailers like Walmart and Jet are making a major effort to compete by offering their own free shipping. So remember to shop around.

 

Stranger Things season 2 is coming out October 27 on Netflix

Stranger Things season 2 is coming out October 27 on Netflix

Stranger Things season 2 is coming out October 27, and it looks every bit as creepy and amazing as season 1.

Netflix has announced the official release date for the second season of Stranger Things, and it’s set to coincide with Halloween, which is the time frame the episodes also span. “The world is turning upside down,” says the trailer, and the silhouette in the roiling red clouds looks a lot more serious (not to mention bigger) than the Demogorgon from the first season.

According to the synopsis, “it’s 1984 and the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana are still reeling from the horrors of the Demogorgon and the secrets of Hawkins Lab. Will Byers has been rescued from the Upside Down but a bigger, sinister entity still threatens those who survived.”

The second season features 9 episodes, as well as performances by Paul Riser and Sean Astin in addition to the regular cast of Winona Ryder, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Millie Bobby Brown, Noah Schnapp, and Caleb McLaughlin.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the show creators revealed a few details about where the show’s characters are now, approximately one year after the events of last season. Will is having flashbacks and visions but is unable to tell if they are real, or an effect of the PTSD from being taken to the Upside Down. Sean Astin plays Joyce’s new boyfriend, and Paul Riser plays the new director of the Hawkins Institute, where the portal to the Upside Down is still open. But what comes out of it won’t all be monsters, though creator Matt Duffer wouldn’t elaborate on what “different kinds of horror” are in store for the town of Hawkins. But he did make clear that there are still enough unexplored facets of the story for several more seasons.

Main characters in Ghostbusters costumes

Netflix

One thing is certain: the characters from season 1 are still reeling from dealing with the Demogorgon last season, and certainly not prepared for the doom that is about to descend upon them. Will was absent for much of the first season, but he will be the center of the second, and apparently, Noah Schnapp is every bit as talented as his co-stars. But this Will is a different person after what happened to him, as is everyone, and much of the conflict comes from the emotional trauma, coping, and loss. A few newcomers (with the worst timing ever) will be moving to town as well.

Working with such a young cast on an ongoing project has challenges, as anyone who has watched Harry Potter or Game of Thrones knows. “As much as I would love to have it be Christmas right after that, it’s just not feasible, so we’re going to skip a year. They’ll be a year older, and all their changes they’re going through, we’ll take that into account and kind of work that into the show,” says Duffer.

Reports that this season will be darker and creepier than the already-pretty-dark-and-creepy season 1 mean that I already know what I am watching during Halloween.

Have you watched Stranger Things season 1? What did you think? Any theories about what’s going on, or where Eleven is right now? Tweet at me!

@easyinternetnow

@willreadforfood

 

Castlevania is on Netflix, and it is awsome

Castlevania is on Netflix, and it is awsome

Everyone is talking about Castlevania, and after watching the series on Netflix last weekend, I can see why. Sometimes my job is hard: lots of research and lots of brainstorming unique ideas to write about. Sometimes I just want to watch Netflix instead. Sometimes I do watch Netflix instead. Sometimes I find an excuse to call watching Netflix “working.” This is one of those times.

Is this just another show about vampires?

According to the IMDB series synopsis, “a vampire hunter fights to save a besieged city from an army of otherworldly creatures controlled by Dracula.” By that description, it could be any vampire movie. But fans of the Castlevania series of video games (which is the number one source material for the show) have certain expectations for this series, not the least of which is wall chicken.

screen cap from the game showing chicken in the wall

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/castlevaniaturkey.png

Producer Adi Shankar doesn’t know about the wall chicken quite yet, but he’s not about to let gamers’ expectations go unmet. Expect Easter eggs from the games, and a soundtrack with “the heavy metal electro guitar vibe found in the early games.”

Shankar said in an interview for Collider.com: “The goal is to bring hard hitting anime to the America and be America’s first animated series for adults.”

To an outsider, it may appear that the series is trying to get onboard with the huge audience for dark fantasy (Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings), vampire shows (Angel, Buffy, Underworld), or Japanese anime (Akira, Ghost in the Shell). And maybe that is what made 2017 the time to release this show. But the show was being conceptualized in 2005. That’s right: this has been in the works for 12 years; before the wave of dark, medieval magical beasts took over our entertainment.

It’s an animated series, but it isn’t for children

It may go without saying, but I’m going to say it: this cartoon is not for kids. The creators have called it “R-rated as ****,” and it totally is. Profanity and entrails abound, as one may have come to expect from a show about hunting vampires. The Castlevania target demographic is made up mainly of those who played the original game (Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, 1990), which puts the average age around late-20s at a minimum.

The cast of the show is excellent. Adi Shankar is an executive producer (The Grey, Dredd, Judge Dredd: Superfiend, The Punisher: Dirty Laundry). Richard Armitage (Thorin from The Hobbit) voices Trevor Belmont. James Callis (Dr. Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica) voices Alucard. Graham McTavish (Dwalin from The Hobbit) voices Dracula. The series is written by Warren Ellis, a seasoned comic book creator who has written for animated series (X-Men, Justice League, Wolverine) as well as major motion pictures (Iron Man 3, Red). Emmy-award winning Trevor Morris is in charge of the soundtrack (Dragon Age: Inquisition, Immortals, The Tudors).

promotional poster. Castlevania is on Netflix July 7th

https://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/castlevania/images/e/ee/NetflixPosterS1.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20170709100903

The first season only has four 30-minute episodes, but a second, 8-episode season has been confirmed.

How well does it reflect the games?

Season 1 is dedicated to fleshing out the main players in a way that wasn’t really possible in the video game, and I am a fan of the slow revelation of backstory over the course of several episodes.

As far as the soundtrack is concerned, I am reminded more of the Japanese anime series’ the show animation takes inspiration from, rather than the Castlevania games. This may come as a disappointment to fans of the games, as the original music was iconic, and has been reprised many, many times in different styles. A big part of the nostalgia for gamer fans is wrapped up in the original soundtrack, though it is possible the show creators were unable to license the original music from Konami. This may be the reason that the show, despite maintaining the integrity of the original game canon, has garnered some fan comments that it doesn’t really feel like Castlevania.

 

Even so, it is great for many other reasons: the animation is great, and even haunting at times. Fans of Japanese anime will enjoy the style. The storytelling is deft and rich, and the voice acting is top notch. This is, without a doubt, one of the best video game adaptations to date. A+, highly recommend, would watch again.

 

 

HBO may be coming to Hulu

HBO may be coming to Hulu

The top 3 streaming services—Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu—are always looking for a way to one-up the others, and Hulu may have found a way to come out on top.

Hulu is currently negotiating with HBO for access to its on-demand content and live TV, and the clock is ticking: will they be able to get access before the July 16th release of Game of Thrones Season 7?

Currently, customers can access HBO:

  • Through cable providers.
  • By subscribing to HBO Now.
  • Through Amazon Channels: Amazon users can access HBO for an additional $14.99 per month through Amazon Channels, or purchase individual episodes.

Hulu already offers Showtime for an additional $8.99. It is possible that they may either offer HBO at an additional cost as well, or raise their prices once HBO is in the bag—especially considering the legions of rabid fans who will descend on the service for GOT season 7, if nothing else—but if Hulu maintains their low subscription, they will be offering access to HBO’s premium content for the lowest price in town. And that price includes all the excellent content that Hulu already offers.

Hulu also now has content from HGTV including popular shows, like:

House Hunters logo

HGTV/Hulu

 

  • Property Brothers and PB Buying and Selling
  • House Hunters, HH International, and HH Renovation
  • Love It or List It
  • Flea Market Flip
  • Design on a Dime
  • Flip or Flop

Original content

The thing that may differentiate the three streaming services the most is their original content. Each service makes their own movies and shows, and some of them are really great. In this contest of companies, the viewer is the winner. But to get to see all the most popular shows and movies coming out, you need access to all three services. Otherwise, you have to decide who has the original content you are most interested in.

Here are some of the most popular original shows on each platform:

Netflix

  • Stranger Things
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Arrested Development
  • House of Cards
  • 13 Reasons Why
  • The Crown

Amazon

  • Sneaky Pete
  • The Man in the High Castle
  • Red Oaks
  • Bosch
  • Ripper Street
  • Transparent

Hulu

  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Harlots
  • The Path
  • Casual
  • The Mindy Project

Don’t know which service is right for you, or what other shows and movies are available? That’s ok, it’s hard to keep up because the shows on each service change so often. Consider this guide.

So far, my favorite shows are Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Stranger Things. What are yours? Tweet your show recommendations @willreadforfood or @easyinternetnow. (Please, no spoilers. Be cool.)

HBO released a second trailer for Game of Thrones Season 7

HBO released a second trailer for Game of Thrones Season 7

#WinterIsHere 7/16

Winter is coming in July, and after seeing the latest trailer for Season 7 of Game of Thrones, it is clear that the stakes have never been higher. Timid princess-turned-predator Sansa continues her tutelage with the king of games, Little Finger. Everyone knows that in the Game of Thrones, you win or you die, and we are given a glimpse of those who haven’t yet lost: Cersei, Daenerys, Arya, Jaimie, Tyrion, Brandon, and the vast cast of supporting characters who have one way or another managed to survive against the odds.

Yet it is clear that the death count is about to rise again, and it isn’t only humans who are struggling for supremacy. The White Walkers are on the move, and among the living, only those who can play nice with others will have a chance. “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.” This is not the general philosophy of Westeros, however; the dog-eat-dire-wolf ethos is the only reason any of the current major players are still alive. Even Sansa, who grew up thinking chivalry was not dead, has made it clear she is looking out for numero uno, even above family.

Sansa in front of a Weir tree

In it to win it.                                                                              00:03 of the GOT trailer, HBO.com

Unlike previous seasons, which spun their rich bounty of drama, death and intrigue over 10 episodes, season 7 will only have 7 episodes, though most will be longer than average, and one is nearly as long as a full-length movie.

Like season 6, season 7 is breaking new ground in the Game of Thrones universe. The book this season is based upon (The Winds of Winter) has not been released yet, and no firm release date has been set, which only adds to the excitement over new developments in the extremely complex epic fantasy.

Time to get excited

If you feel a little behind the action, or you call half of the characters “that guy,” “what’s-his-face” or a Westerosy-sounding name you made up (like Barodarodarian, or Sir Friendzone), you might be interested in signing up for HBONow’s one month free trial and getting caught up. They have every episode available, from season one onward.

Don’t have time to re-watch everything, don’t want to use your 30 day trial (or already used it), or just looking for a quick reference? That’s not a problem, because HBO also has exclusive extras available without a subscription, which include episode synopsis’ so you can quickly brush up. Also available are discussions by the creators and the cast, behind-the-scenes footage, and a massive library of biographical information about the characters so you don’t have to play “guess who I’m talking about” with your friends.

Don’t remember where everyone is, or where they are going? Check out the interactive map of Westeros!

 

 

 

Youtube unveils live TV service for cord cutters

Youtube unveils live TV service for cord cutters

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s  YouTube will launch a live TV service featuring U.S. broadcast networks and cable channels to attract young fans of online videos to a pay television package, YouTube executives said on Tuesday.

The new offering, called YouTube TV, will compete with other services fighting to attract mobile-loving younger audiences who dropped pricier, traditional cable and satellite packages or never signed up in the first place.

YouTube TV will be delivered over the internet and debut in the coming months at a cost of $35 a month for six accounts, YouTube Chief Executive Susan Wojcicki told reporters at an event in Los Angeles.

YouTube TV subscribers will be able to watch original programming that appears on YouTube Red, a subscription service that includes movies and shows starring popular YouTube video creators.

The development of the live TV package is an attempt to sell a new service to viewers hooked on YouTube’s free videos.

“Millennials love great TV content, but what we’ve seen is they don’t want to watch it in the traditional setting,” Wojcicki said.

YouTube TV will feature Walt Disney Co’s ABC, CBS Corp’s CBS, 21st Century Fox’s Fox and Comcast Corp’s (CMCSA.O) NBC plus cable channels including ESPN, USA and FX. It will launch initially in select U.S. markets.

The offering will compete with services such as Dish Network Corp’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Sony Corp’s PlayStation Vue. Those packages sell for roughly $20 to $65 a month. Hulu also is developing a live TV service.

All of the live digital services provide TV networks an avenue to make up for their loss of customers to “cord cutting,” or the dropping of pay TV. Channel owners say they earn as much or more for each subscriber on a live digital service as they do through cable or satellite packages.

YouTube executives said they aimed to make the YouTube TV app easy to use across mobile devices, desktop computers or an Internet-connected televisions. Users will be able to record programming on a cloud DVR and watch it for up to nine months. Engineers also are incorporating technology from Google, such as the ability to voice search TV shows through a Google Home device.

“Even though we are in this golden age of content, the current TV age isn’t doing it justice,” said Neal Mohan, YouTube’s chief product officer. “We feel we are in a great position to reinvent the way TV works.”

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles and Julia Love in San Francisco; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Andrew Hay)