Streaming Movies, TV Shows & Sports

What is a VPN and do you need one?

Aug 11, 2016 2 weeks ago No Comments
Kodi VPN

What is a VPN and do you need one?

A VPN or Virtual Private Network is a service or program that does a few different things to make your internet usage more secure.  We could go into a long winded 20 page article on how exactly a VPN works. But we are not network engineers, nor do we think that our user would be interested in all of the nuts and bolts. So we will keep it as short as possible.

When you are on your computer at home and click on a website link, your internet connects to that websites server. That server can see your IP address (Think of an IP Address as your computers home address.) When a server sees your IP address it keeps a record of it. Pretty much each and every website that you visit keeps track of each and every connection / IP address that connects to it. This process happens billions of times a minute all across the world.

There are two negative things about how this works. The first is that your IP address / Computers home address are out there and can be viewed by a wide range of people. These people include Hackers, Government employees (NSA, FBI, CIA) and most people with a modest knowledge of computer networks.

Basically whatever you view or websites that you visit can be tracked. This means that while you may feel secure surfing the web in your office or bedroom, basically everything that you do on your computer can be tracked and monitored. Privacy is nonexistent on the internet. You can use Incognito Mode or Safe Browsing all that you want, but that just does not keep a browser history on your local device.

The second problem with this is hackers. Hackers used to be more of a mischievous group. Hacking into things to see if they could, or for bragging rights. But today hacking is big business. It is estimated that over 15 million people in the United States have their Identities stolen Each year. That is roughly 7% of the population. These staggering numbers grow each year and are only poised to get even worse.

While there are many various ways that hackers get credit card number and back account information, one of the main ways that this happens is when people make online purchases. Most of the larger online retailers such as Amazon use HTTPS & SSL Certificates to encrypt customers sensitive data (Skystream does both as well,) not all retailers do.

If the online merchant and you are not using an encryption system or connection, the data is vulnerable to be intercepted by hackers. They basically hack into the connection between you and the merchant and intercept the data. You will never notice, the transaction will be completed just like any other. But now someone in some part of the world has your name, address, email address and your credit card information. They have everything they need to begin making purchases on your behalf without you knowing it. Sometimes banks will notice this activity and notify you. But most of the time you will only notice once you get your credit card statement and notice some crazy charges.

How a VPN (Virtual Private Network) Works

Instead of directly connecting to a website, A VPN service first directs your IP Address to a server of theirs. From there it encrypts the connection and then connects to the website you are connecting to. By doing this it keeps your IP address from being displayed all over the internet and by encrypting the data it helps prevent hackers or anyone else from seeing what you are doing or getting your personal information.

More and more people are starting to use VPN services for a variety of reasons. Some people just don’t like the idea that their privacy online is nonexistent and want something that helps keep their privacy more secure. Some people like to download copy written content and do not want their internet service provider or government agencies to be able to see that and send them letters. Some people have used a VPN service to help protect their credit card information when making online purchases. Some people just use VPN for a better sense of security and privacy while using the internet on their mobile devices.

Another nice feature of most VPN services is that you can use them on a variety of devices all while only having one account. IPVanish and Express VPN both have programs / Apps for Android, IOS, Windows, Mac, Linux and for your Router.

This means that with one account you can ensure the utmost of privacy and security on all of the devices that you use to surf the web and make online transactions.

Kodi & VPN

At this time streaming is completely legal for end users. When you are streaming you are not in possession of the file in any way. You are just viewing a stream that is widely available on the internet. So you do not need a VPN service for strictly Kodi. However added security is never a bad thing.  No one has ever said that they were glad that they had too much security. So while we do not feel it is necessary to have a VPN service while using Kodi, we do feel that it cannot hurt and can only add more privacy.

Do you need a VPN Service?

We cannot answer that question for you. Each person uses the internet differently and has different level of privacy and security needs. But in this day and age of professional hackers and big brother keeping an eye on everyone, we feel that any level of extra security and privacy is worth its weight in gold. For a small monthly or annual fee we feel it is a great addition to your internet usage. And the fact that you can help secure every device in your house and that you use on a daily basis with one account is a great value.

There are so many VPN services. Which one do I choose?

Only the past few months we have tested about 15 different VPN services. We tested all of them on our Android TV Boxes, Android Phones, Android Tablets, IOS Phones and Windows Computers. Out of the 15 VPN services that we tested, two of them stood out as the best overall. IPVanish and Express VPN beat all of the other VPN’s in speeds, ease of use and overall performance.

If you would like to check out either of these highly recommended VPN services just click on the links below to learn more.

Please note that Skystream does not provide support for any VPN service. If you need technical or customer service for a VPN service you will need to contact the VPN service directly.

IPVanish VPN Service

Express VPN Service

Stay Safe, Secure and Stream On!!!

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Android TV Boxes and Android Versions

Aug 4, 2016 3 weeks ago No Comments
Android TV Boxes

Android TV Boxes and Android Versions

In the past few weeks we have been getting lots of questions about different versions of the Android operating system. Many of these questions have revolved around if we are going to upgrade the X4 & X5 to Android 5 Lollipop. The simple answer to that is, not at this time. We will discuss some of the reasons below.

Before we get into some of the specifics we need to make a few things clear about Google and the Android Operating system. When Google designs any version of Android, they take absolutely zero consideration to Android TV Boxes. Let me make this point a little bit more clear. Google does not care or acknowledge Android TV Boxes in any way shape or form. Not a single Android developer at Google has ever given a second of thought as to how they can make Android better for TV boxes.

When Google looks at what to improve in future versions of Android they look at current things that could be better for Smart Phones and Tablets. These improvements include Battery Life, Finger Print Sensors, App Multitasking, Split Screen, Camera Drivers, Chip Compatibility, Location Settings, Battery Charging Times and Adding more ways to make money from advertising within the Native Google apps.

None of the items listed above have anything to do with Android TV boxes, nor will they ever. Google does add improvements into any version of Android to improve anything on an Android TV Box, nor will they ever.

I’m sure a lot of your reading this have Android Phones and Tablets. If your devices have ever received an Android version update on your devices 99% of people noticed little if anything different. Maybe the system app icons changed a little bit, maybe the settings screen looks a little different, and maybe you notice that you can swipe to the left on a screen and it pulls up a certain menu. But if you are really honest with yourself, you barely notice any difference between the versions of Android.

The reason that you barely notice a difference is that Android was already an awesome operating system. With each version of Android that comes out less and less needs to be modified.

Update Addicts

As a culture we have been conditioned to focus on new things. Most of this is due to marketing by major companies and the feeling that has been engrained in our heads of having to have the newest thing. This has gone on for years in just about every market. Car companies some out with brand new models about every 3 years. Phone companies come out with new phones almost every 6 months. Clothing companies change their line every season.

This is done very intentionally. When you see that brand new Ford F-150 commercial on TV, and then look out at your 3 year old F-150 in your driveway you start to feel like your truck is old. Even though it runs great, gets great gas mileage and has under 40K miles, you still feel like you need the newest truck.

I am sure you have seen people in line waiting for the latest Iphone while browsing Facebook on the Iphone they bought 8 months ago. You may ask them, “Are you getting the new iphone” they reply with “Oh yeah, been in line for 8 hours!” “What is different?” “I’m not really sure, I think the headphone jack is on the bottom instead of the top.”

I could go on with more examples of people thinking that they need the newest everything, when most of the time they have no idea what is different.

When people ask us why we are not upgrading the X4 & X5 to a newer version of Android, we ask them what features Android 4.4.2 is missing that 5.0 or 5.1 has that they want to use. We get a long pause followed by a, “Well, there isn’t really a specific feature. But it’s a new version.” This where the upgrade addict mentality comes in. They have a strong sense of needing an updated version of Android, but have no idea why. They love their box, it does everything that they need it for, but for some reason they feel that they need it.

Always Evolving

As a company we have always been on the cutting edge of the Android TV Box market. We made the decision to offer our customers the newest and best technology very early on. If we spent months and thousands of dollars developing custom firmware each time Android came out with a new version of Android, we would still be selling Dual Cores with Android 5.1. The dual cores would still run exactly the same and do the same things. The hardware would just be 4 years old.

Creating a Firmware for a new version of Android

Many people have the misconception that upgrading a device to a newer version of Android is as simple and downloading the new version from Google and then sending it out to the device to update. Unfortunately the reality is completely the opposite. Samsung, HTC, Motorola all have large dedicated engineering teams that spend up to 6 months creating new versions of Android for EACH Phone. In order to do this one must take a base version of Android, modify the entire firmware to an Android TV Box Format. Once that is complete, one would need to create custom drivers for all of the internal components that are in the box. These include the processor, RAM, Internal Storage, Ethernet Port, Wifi Module, Bluetooth Module, Audio Output, SD Card Slot, Power Supply. Once this is done, You have what is called a base firmware. The next step is to create a brand new user Interface or launcher that is compatible with both the chip set and all of the components, as well as the version of Android.  Once this is complete, you then have to code all of the permissions for the device so apps know what components the device has and if they can be used on the device. Now that that is complete you have to integrate the Google Play store, which is much more complicated than it would seem. Once this is completed you now have a Beta firmware.

This beta firmware needs to be tested for multiple things. One of the most important is stability. We take at least a month to test and tweak all of our firmwares before we release a new product.

Before we started even working on the Skystream ONE, we had a decision to make. Do we as a company, spend 5 to 6 months creating a brand new firmware for the X4 & X5 that 99.9% of people will not notice a difference. Or do we invest that time in working on a new unit with a newer processor that was designed around Android 5.1.

We made the decision to invest our time creating a newer, faster box and to work on improving our Kodi Updater App instead of working on creating a new firmware for our boxes that run the S812 Chipset.

Continued Support

If you are familiar with Skystream, you already know that we are dedicated to our customers and stand behind each and every box that leaves our warehouse. We will continue to support all of our boxes and to help each and every customer that needs assistance. Please do not think that because we decided to invest our time into creating a newer and faster product that we will not continue to support and help all of our great customers. In fact, we still help with and support our dual core units, which we have not sold in over a year.

Please rest assured that Android 4.4 will continue to perform great for many years to come. Android 4.4 is actually the most common Android version in the world right now.

We hope this explains our position and why we have made the decisions that we have. We will always offer our customers the latest technology and provide each and every customer with top notch customer service.

 

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How to Reinstall Exodus or Install Addons

Aug 2, 2016 4 weeks ago No Comments

How to Reinstall Exodus or Install Addons

Recently a good amount of users of Kodi on all platforms has Exodus disappear from their addons with Kodi. Some people said that the developer did this intentionally to filter out users who bought loaded boxes and have no support. Some say it was just to filter out users who have no idea how to use Kodi and only use Exodus. Some people say it was just a coding issue that automatically removed Exodus. The world may never know the real reason this happened. But whatever the reason is, we wanted to create a tutorial on how to add the Exodus Addon or any other addon from a Repository.

Here at Skystream we have created tons of Kodi videos, articles on our Blog, and help articles on our Support Page. We have tons of information to teach you how to get the most out of your Skystream Android TV Box if you are willing to read a little bit.

With that in mind, let’s start learning how to add back the Exodus addon or any addon from a Kodi Repository.

  1. As you can see below the Exodus addon is not on our homescreen.

Kodi Home screen

 

2. Move your cursor to the System button. A Drop down will appear. Move it to Settings and click on it.

Kodi System Settings

 

3. Move your cursor to Add-ons and click on it.

Kodi Addons

 

4. Move your cursor to “Install from repository” and click on it.

Kodi Install from Repository

 

5. On this screen you will see all of the Kodi Repositories that are installed on your unit. To install Exodus, click on the Exodus Repository.

If you are trying to install an Addon that you heard about or saw on Youtube you will need to find out what Repository the addon is located in. A Google search will usually tell you very quickly what repository the addon is in. If that repository is not already installed on your unit you will need to find a tutorial on how to install that repository. As there are hundreds of repositories we cannot do a tutorial on all of them. Please note that we only support the addons and repositories that are installed with our Kodi Updater App and we cannot install additional repositories or addons for you.

Kodi Installed Repositories

 

6. Move your cursor to Video add-ons and click on it.

Please note that other repositories may have other sections such as Program add-ons, System add-ons or Music add-ons.

Exodus Repository

 

7. Click on Exodus

Kodi Exodus Addon

 

8. Click on Install

Exodus Install

 

9. Exodus will start downloading and installing. Once it is complete you will see a pop up at the bottom right of the screen saying “Exodus Add-on Enabled”

Exodus Enabled

 

10. As the Exodus Addon was already set as a shortcut in Kodi, the shortcut will automatically appear.

If Exodus was not set as one of your shortcuts or does not show up, please read our article on How to Add Shortcuts in Kodi.

Kodi Home Screen Exodus Installed

 

There you go. You have reinstalled the Exodus addon and are free to use it for streaming.

Please note – When adding addons or repositories that are outside of what we install with our Kodi Updater App, there are no guarantees that the addon or repository still work, are being maintained by the developer or have worked in months. Just because an Addon or Repository exists and can be installed does not mean it works.

As always, Stream On!!!

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The Skystream ONE – Pre Release Information

Jul 20, 2016 1 month ago No Comments
Fastest Android TV Box

Skystream ONE Android TV Box

As many of you know, we announced late last week that we are going to release a brand new Android TV Box in the near future. While this article is not going to release any of the specs or include any actual pictures of the Skystream ONE, it will release a few small tidbits about the box.

But before we get into the Skystream ONE, we wanted to discuss some of the questions and comments that we have gotten about the release announcement.

Why are you discontinuing the X5 Android TV Box?

When we made the announcement that we were releasing the Skystream ONE we got a few people asking why we discontinued the X5, so we wanted to address that in this article.

We decided to discontinue the X5 due to manufacturing times. We love the X5 and all that it can do. Both of our owners and all of our employees use them every day. The X5 is a great box and will be a streamers dream for years to come.

The issue that we ran into was that since it was a one off completely custom box, it took over two months from when we placed the order until we received them. With a product that was in such a high demand it was an everyday battle to keep them in stock. We spent countless hours contacting all of the various component makers getting updates, contacting their sources and to be blunt, freaking out on them to get materials and parts faster.

It may have seemed like we always had them in stock, because we did. But it took our owners working 65 hours plus a week coordinating custom parts to make that happen. They eventually made the decision that it was not sustainable to do for the long term. So the decision was made to begin work on a brand new box that we decided to name the Skystream ONE.

Why did you name it the Skystream ONE?

The name was chosen to signify solidarity, strength and to go back to our roots when the company was started in early 2013. We have always been a streaming company, it is in our blood, it is what we do and what we do best (Besides finding awesome customers like yourself.) We want to get back to our roots, saving our customers hundreds or thousands of dollars a month is what makes us smile each morning when we walk in the door.

ONE represents simplicity. We designed a simple beautiful Android TV Box. We took all of the likes and dislikes about the way our boxes looked and combined all of the good into the new ONE.

If you have been following our Facebook you may have noticed that we stated that the new Skystream ONE will not be black or grey in color. We felt that too many other Android TV Boxes were all black and we wanted something that would stand out while being a beautiful addition to your home entertainment set up.

What operating system will the Skystream ONE have?

This is by far the most popular question we have received since we announced the release of a new Android TV Box. While we are not going to release what operating system the new Skystream ONE will be running on, we will say that it will not be running Android KitKat 4.4.

The remote control in the picture looks very basic, Why is that?

What we have learned over the past 4 years of selling android TV Boxes is that there are two types of Skystream users. The first and most common are users who want a simple remote control. They want to be able to click up, down, left and right, go home, press back and use the menu button. So we created a high quality, long range, simplistic but elegant remote as the stock remote.

The second group of Skystream users are users who want to know everything about Kodi, want to learn the system and all of its capabilities. Many of these users already have USB keyboards, remotes with keyboards built in or have bought our Skystream Airmouse. These users will never use the stock remote and most likely already have an alternative device to control their Skystream box.

Why not include an Airmouse?

While we love using an airmouse to control and use our Skystream Android TV Boxes and highly recommend using one for the best experience, we have learned our lesson with including airmouses with our boxes.

Every time we include an airmouse as the stock remote we get two things; 1. Bad reviews on Amazon from users who did not take the time to read the quick start guide and insert the USB dongle, Turn on the Remote or charge the remote. 2. Lots of customer service calls with the same issues.

We made the decision to only include a basic remote for the Skystream ONE. As most advanced users who love airmouses have a personal favorite device, or prefer to use a USB keyboard, it makes sense to let them replace the stock remote with whatever device they choose.

This also lowers the cost of each unit and allows us to pass on the saving to our customers.

Will the Skystream ONE work on TV’s without an HDMI input?

Yes, The Skystream ONE will feature an AV Out port so that you can use it on a TV with a Yellow, Red & White Composite connection. However in an effort to be as green as possible and to reduce waste we are not including the cable with each unit as less than 1% of people will actually use the cable. We will have them ready so people can request to have the cable included.

What will be different from the X5?

Without letting the cat out of the bag, the ONE will be different from the X5. We have added lots of things and removed a few things.

One thing we will release at this time is that the Skystream ONE will have a brand new custom launcher. We are keeping a very similar functionality and ease of use, but we have created a brand new beautiful home screen and launcher that we think you will love. We set out to create a launcher that looks professional, crisp and clean while not being too serious and having a splash of color.

When will the Skystream ONE be released? Can I preorder it so I guarantee I get one of the first of these streaming masterpieces?

A firm release date has not been set at the time of writing this article. We are still finishing up on the packaging. But we expect to begin shipping out the Skystream ONE to our awesome customers within 5 weeks of this article being published. It will most likely be sooner than that, but we like to under promise and over deliver.

How to preorder the Skystream ONE?

We will be releasing all pre order information by email only. We will not be releasing any pre order dates, prices, coupon codes or specials on any of our social media accounts or on this blog. Pre order information will only to people who are signed up for our newsletter (We don’t spam people, Skystream never been about that!)

So if you are not already signed up for our newsletter list, the link is below so you can sign up. Trust me, you do not want to miss out on this preorder extravaganza! We expect to sell out of our first batch with pre orders.

CLICK HERE to receive Skystream ONE pre order Specials!

We hope that this article cleared up a good amount of questions about the Skystream ONE.

Almost forgot to mention that the Skystream ONE is going to be the absolute fastest Android TV Box created to date? We spent a solid two months solely on the firmware and brought on a second Android developer solely to enhance the speed and stability of this firmware. This thing is going to make other Android boxes look like a VCR on sleeping pills :)

Stream On!!!

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SkystreamX Kodi Updater – When to use it!

Jun 29, 2016 2 months ago No Comments
Kodi Updater

Everything you need to know about the SkystreamX Kodi Updater

When we started out designing the Kodi updater (Latest Version Installation Instructions HERE, The Old Version No Longer Works!) we were looking for something that all of our customers could use to stay up to date with the latest versions of Kodi and all of the latest Kodi Addons.

So far the feedback has been very positive and we are very proud of how well the program works. With the latest version of our updater all of our customers can seamlessly upgrade to Kodi 16.1. The newest version of Kodi, Newer versions of Kodi will be added once they are released and are tested for compatibility and stability. Users can also choose a build (Adult or Family Friendly) and have Kodi completely loaded in a matter of minutes.

If you just want to know when to run the updater and when to not run the updater, scroll down a bit.

How the Kodi Updater works

There are lots of moving parts to the Kodi Updater and how it works is actually pretty complicated. But for this article we will keep it pretty basic.

Kodi Version Update

The Kodi updater can see if you have Kodi installed on your Skystream Android TV Box. If it detects that any version (All older versions included) of Kodi is installed it will just give you the option to install the build of your choice.

However if the program does not see any version of Kodi installed on your unit, it will give you the option to “Install Media Center.” When you click on install media center it will begin to download the SkystreamX version of Kodi in the back ground. Once it is downloaded the user will need to go to My Apps or All Apps from the boxes home screen. Then open up the “App Installer” application, click on Local and then click on Kodi and Install.

Once Kodi is installed you can now open up the Kodi updater app and choose the build that you want to load into Kodi.

Kodi Updater Builds

As some of you know, we use the RSS feed at the bottom of Kodi’s home screen to notify our customers when a new build is updated. When you see that date change in the RSS feed, you are able to open the Kodi updater and click on the updated build that you want to install.

The updater will detect if you have the latest build installed in Kodi. If you already have the latest build already installed, the updater app will automatically open Kodi as there is no updated build to install.

Why does the Kodi Updater delete saved Favorites and Addons that I installed on my own?

When you click to install an updated build the program begins to download the build, once it is downloaded the build is then installed over the original build. The original build is what now houses your save Favorites and any additional addons that you installed on your own.

Unfortunately we have not found out a way to overwrite the original build while leaving any traces of Saved Favorites or additional addons. We are investigating this and If we find a way to do this we will add this feature to the application. But at this time it is not a possibility.

Kodi Addons Automatically Update

Before we start listing the scenarios when not to use the updater, we need to do a brief explanation of How Kodi Addons and Kodi Play together.

All of our Android TV Boxes come with Kodi that has the addon developers repositories installed (Many Box Sellers do not!). These repositories are what the developers use to push updates to their addons in Kodi. So once you have our unit with the original Kodi build or any updated builds that you have installed, your addons will automatically update on their own. So just because we create a new build does not mean that your Kodi addons are outdated. Most of the time we release updated builds so that users who are running the updater will have the latest versions of the addons without the addons having to update.

When Not to Run the SkystreamX Kodi Updater

  • If you do not want to lose your saved Favorites, or have self-installed addons that you use and do not want to reinstall them. Running the updater will delete both of these as previously stated.
  • If your Kodi is working just fine. If your Kodi is running perfectly there is no reason to run the updater. It is mainly designed for people who delete Kodi, Tinker with settings and mess things up, or people who have not used their unit in a long time.

When to run the SkystreamX Kodi Updater

  • If you are running an older version of Kodi like Kodi 14.2 or Kodi 15.2 and want to update to the latest stable version.
  • If you have started tinkering with settings and have messed up Kodi and do not know how to fix it. The Updater will change the setting in Kodi to the settings that we have preset to make Kodi run properly.
  • If we add an addon to our build that you need to have and are not worried about losing your saved Favorites or any additional addons that you have installed yourself.

Moving Forward

Moving forward we are going to use the RSS feed to notify users of an updated build and to explain what was updated. This way users can make a more educated decision if they should run the new build. As always we are always looking for ways to improve and make our system even better.

Also, please remember that there tons of people who do not have Skystream or any kind of updater for Kodi. They have to manually add and maintain addons which can take hours if you are not very proficient. Also, remember that if other users mess up their Kodi or Kodi crashes on them they have to uninstall Kodi and start from scratch. Having this updater is just another great perk for being part of team Skystream!

 

 

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