One Month with Roku (and no Cable TV!)

December 22, 2013

imagesIt’s been about one month now since I’ve cut the Cable TV cord and have been using a combination of Netflix/Hulu Plus service with the Roku 3 media streaming device. So far, it’s been pretty good and my family doesn’t miss having Cable TV. What I really like, is the headphone feature where you can plug in a set of headphones into the side of the wireless remote and listen to your show without disturbing anyone else in the room. For example, today I was watching the Smithsonian Channel and later AETV in my family room while my son was playing games on his iPad tablet.

Another thing that I like is that the remote is wireless, but not Infrared like your standard TV remotes. So, you don’t need to point the Roku remote at the Roku device to use it. Also, I use an Android Roku app which allows me to pick video content to be displayed on my TV, and I can also use this app in lieu of the Roku remote.

A nice thing about purchasing my Roku 3 from Costco, is that it was $10 below the retail price and included as a bonus a HDMI cable and a free copy of the online Angry Birds Game for the Roku. I’m definitely liking Roku and it’s available content, and not missing Cable TV and its high monthly cost!

Roku Comments

November 24, 2013

imagesAfter using the Roku media streaming device for two days, I’d have to say I’m impressed at its ease of use and amount of available content. This is coming from someone who’s used an Apple TV device (similar media streaming) for the last year. Roku doesn’t actually provide Internet media services, but instead is a device where you can sign up to “channels” which do provide the media. For example, you can use Roku to access Netflix movies or Hulu Plus TV shows. In addition, there are several other channels available to stream movies and TV Shows as well as anything else you can think of. For example, weather information, current news, documentaries, music– the list seems endless.

I was using the Roku 3 model which I purchased from Costco for $95 US. The advantage for buying from Costco, is that you get a free HDMI cable, free copy of Angry Birds Space game for Roku, and a 1-month trial subscription for the Hulu Plus Channel.

Setting up Roku was a breeze, and I was online and adding channels within 15 minutes. Last night my son was watching several Disney videos, Arthur TV episodes, and a few other animated movies off Netflix. If you’re considering cutting the cable TV cord from your current cable/internet provider, I highly recommend checking out Roku.

Cable TV Cord Cutting…. Switching to Roku!

November 24, 2013

images-1I’m currently a Comcast subscriber signed up for the “Triple Play” plan, which gives me Cable Internet, TV, and Phone service. Over time this service has risen to a cost of $246 per month, so I’ve decided to investigate alternatives to reduce this monthly expense. I normally don’t watch much live TV shows, but I do use my EyeTV HD device connected to my Apple iMac to record cable TV shows. I just have a handful of shows that I record and watch, such as:

The Walking Dead
Hells on Wheels
Almost Human
Ask This Old House

I also occasionally record various movies that pop-up on the cable network schedule that I find interesting. ┬áMy wife has a more extensive list of shows she also records with her iMac, and my son usually watches cartoons on Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network to pass the time. But, $246/mo is really steep so I’ve decided to dump the Cable TV and Phone and only keep the Comcast Internet service. Unfortunately, Comcast is the only viable internet provider in my area so there’s not much competition in pricing available. But if I switch to an Internet-only service with 50 Mbps download speed, I believe I can reduce my monthly expense down to around $100 per month (including the city and state taxes and renting a cable modem).

So that saves me $146 per month which is a significant savings. But, what about access to the TV shows that my family watches? That’s where Roku comes in!

Roku is like a mini-computer system with an on screen menu system allowing you to stream various video content from the Internet to your TV screen. You need to connect Roku wirelessly (or wired) to an active Internet connection, then you can watch a multitude of shows from several free “channels”. The biggest difference from regular Network channels is that everything is “on-demand” so you don’t need to wait for a specific day or time to watch a particular show. You can stream any video content to your TV through Roku, at any time.

Roku advertises they have over 750 channels available, and after a weekend of exploring I do agree they have a tremendous amount of video content available. However, even with all the free stuff to watch you will probably still need to use some of the paid channels to get the most current TV shows and movies. For example, to watch the most current episode of my favorite shows I will need to subscribe to a channel called Hulu Plus for a price of $7.99/month. Hulu Plus is good for regular over-the-air network shows (like ABC, NBC, FOX, etc) but it isn’t good for cable channels such as AMC. For cable channels shows, you’ll need to pay $1.99 for each episode you want to watch from services like Vudu or MGo. This seems to be the standard method similar to what is offered through iTunes and the Google Play Store.

Now when I go down my specific list of shows, Hostages, Revolution, and Almost Human are all available under Hulu Plus for the $7.99/mo price. Ask This Old House is aired by PBS, which has a free channel on Roku also. So it’s the AMC shows like The Walking Dead and Hells on Wheels that will cost me $1.99 per episode to watch. So for these shows I can either pay the price to watch them this season, or wait until the season finishes and watch them for free on Netflix (another subscription service for $7.99/mo that I’m already signed up on and can view through Roku).

My wife is in a similar situation, where the majority of her shows are covered under the Hulu Plus service and a few of them are only available by the $1.99 charge. In the grand scheme of things, even if we pay the nominal charge a few times a month to watch a few selected paid shows we will still save a lot of money dumping the cable TV channels and going with Internet streaming services.

So, I think we’ve concluded that we can get by with our home entertainment by cutting the cord from Cable TV and going with the Roku system. My next battle will be with Comcast when I actually change my service to Internet-Only, since I know they will be trying hard to keep me as a Cable TV subscriber and keeping their monthly charges as high as possible!