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Vulture Bytes: Five Tech Treats for Your Black Friday Shopping

Vulture Bytes is back with a new crop of gizmos, hacks, and diversions for your pop-culture infested soul. This week: Netflix, Kanye, 40,000 radio stations for your phone, watch Hulu on TV, and make your music sound $5,000 better! And with Black Friday around the corner, what better way to get in the mood for spending?

Oh, and a quick PSA before we begin: Have products/sites/apps that we should feature? Let us know!

A couple of years ago, we, along with every other effete iPhone owner, downloaded a public-radio app that let us listen to hundreds of NPR stations at once. We were impressed. We’re even more impressed with TuneIn Radio. This app features all of our public-radio feeds and tosses an extra 39,000 other stations from everywhere from Kentucky to Kathmandu into the mix. TuneIn has all the features you want: background audio, alarm clock, station bookmarks, etc. Really, though, it’s worth the price of entry just to discover what a folk station in Antarctica sounds like. (As sedate as folk stations in the U.S., it turns out.) There are also versions for Android and Blackberry. PRICE: $1.99
Netflix is a sneaky bastard. First it gave us a reason to use our DVD player all the time, and now it’s giving us a reason to never use it again. Sensing that we’re too busy watching Netflix online to actually watch the DVDs they keep sending us, Netflix has changed its pricing plan. If all you want is Netflix’s Watch Instantly library, now that’s all you have to pay for … not that it’s going to save you much money: A no-disc monthly plan is only one dollar cheaper than what we’ve been paying for the one-disc plan we downgraded to long ago. So, to review: Netflix gets to do less work, make more profit, and give us something they were giving us anyway. We’d be pissed if we weren’t so busy streaming that 25-year-old movie that someone once told us was great but is actually really dated. PRICE: $7.99 per month for unlimited streaming.
Up until now, Hulu could let you put TV on your Internet, but stubbornly made it difficult to let you then put it back on your TV: The service doesn’t allow devices like TiVo, Xbox360, and web-enabled TVs to stream content unless their owners have purchased their Hulu Plus subscription for $7.99 a month. To get around this required either a jumbled mass of cords connecting the two, or unintuitive services like PlayOn. But now Orb, a puckish little thing, easily connects to your Wi-Fi network and ports whatever’s showing on your computer screen to your TV. You control it all from your smartphone — Orb doesn’t come with a remote — and you don’t need to know where the shows are airing on the web, Orb will find them for you. If you factor in what you would’ve spent on a Hulu Plus subscription, Orb pays for itself in a year. PRICE: $99
This is one of the best Internet deals of all time. We may have mentioned that Kanye West’s new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is out this week. And it’s damn good — 10-from-Pitchfork good. Certainly worth more than $3.99, which is all Amazon is charging for a download of the entire album. What to do with the saved cash? How about pair Kanye’s latest with Robyn’s Body Talk, which Amazon is also selling for $3.99. Surely someone out there can do a Kanye-Robyn mash-up to make us proud? “Paranoid” and “Dancing on My Own” are a good place to start. PRICE: $3.99 for either.
Surely you, like us, are about to receive $5,000 for the holidays. And surely you, like us, want to spend that on a personal music server. The hand-built
Vulture Bytes: Five Tech Treats for Your Black Friday Shopping