Business Columns & Blogs

Tracking down closed caption

Q: How do I find English-language content with English-language subtitles? I am hard of hearing and lots of content, principally movies, will have subtitles in every language under the sun, except English.

A: Some video providers may be putting those subtitles in the settings for closed captions, which may be why you do not see English in the list of available languages for English-language content. Even though they may be grouped together by some companies, subtitles and closed captions are technically different features.

Subtitles serve to translate dialogue from one language to another. Closed captions — designed to aid the deaf and hearing-impaired — are transcriptions of spoken dialogue, and can also include written descriptions of other sounds in the scene, like a car honking or a baby crying.

Streaming and download services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes and the Windows Store are among the many sources of video with closed captions, and caption availability is typically listed in the description of the movie or TV show. To enable the captions, start playing the video and then look for a settings or closed captions icon (CC) in the tool bar.

Vimeo and YouTube support videos that contain closed captions, although not every creator includes them. The New York Times began adding closed captions to videos produced by the newsroom last year.

If a video includes closed captions but you do not see them, check the settings of your device to make sure the closed captions option is enabled. Apple’s iOS, Mac operating system and Apple TV set-top box all have caption controls in their Accessibility preferences, as do other systems like Google’s Android software systems and Roku’s TV set-top boxes. Microsoft keeps similar settings in the Ease of Access area for its Windows 10 and Xbox One software.

Portable computers in need of ports

Q: My new Mac laptop has a headphone jack and one USB-C port for everything else. What’s the best way to connect an HDMI cable or my camera’s Secure Digital memory card without having to haul around a bunch of adapters when I travel?

A: As cloud-based file storage and wireless connections have become common, Apple’s MacBook family (and some Windows-based ultrabooks) have been shedding ports and slots, all to make a more lightweight laptop. Apple and other vendors sell individual USB-C adapters (also called dongles) to convert the port for use with standard USB connectors, HDMI video cables, Secure Digital card readers and other gear.

Individual adapters can cost as little as $10, and you have to buy them only for ports you actually need. If you have more than two jacks to convert, investing a bit more money in a USB-C dock or hub simplifies things. One way to shop for a multiport dock is to make a list of all the connections you need to use with the laptop — like multiple standard USB ports, HDMI or VGA cables, and additional USB-C hardware — and then look for a model that has places to plug in everything.

If you need a portable dock that has both an HDMI port and an SD card reader, the OWC USB-C Travel Dock is one option; it sells for $50 and is about the size of a thick beverage coaster. The $200 Henge Stone dock is bigger and more expensive, but offers more ports. Other companies offer similar multiport docks, so shop around and compare reviews.

Wirecutter, a product-recommendation site owned by The New York Times, has a guide to picking the best USB-C hub based on specific connection needs. The site also has suggestions for Thunderbolt docks for MacBook Pro laptops and other models that use the Thunderbolt 3 technology with USB-C connectors.