January 4, 2013

ROKU Review: Cutting Cable for Better Stuff at Cheaper Prices - I Love Streaming TV and You May, Too

Roku offers several options.

I cut cable on November 9, 2012 - this was such a big deal for me that I wrote the date on a stickie and stuck it on my monitor, so I'd remember the date.  Sure I was scared to see the cable box leave; of course I was worried I had made a mistake.

Lemme tell you: I have never looked back.

No, I didn't stop watching television - in fact, I'm watching TV about the same amount of time that I was before.  However, things are different now.

Big Money Saver


First things first: I'm saving around $100/month by opting for streaming TV via my ROKU HD instead of paying for TimeWarner cable (I had the account that was one above the basic service -- the one where you got TBN but no HBO or Showtime).  Start up costs here: around $50.00 for the ROKU device (I got it online at Roku's website) and about 10 minutes maximum to set things up.

Monthly charges?  I pay $8/month for Netflix and $8/month for Amazon Instant/Prime Videos.  My internet charge is for "turbo" from TimeWarner, and that's around $50.00 per month.  I signed up for Hulu Plus at $8/month but I never use it ... well, for Revenge on ABC when a new show airs.  I'm rethinking Hulu Plus right now: I could catch Revenge online at the ABC website for free, if that's all I need with the Hulu Plus membership.

Set up? It's a walk in the park.  


Seriously, this gizmo is easy peasy, set-up wise.  You do need to be ready to access the web with your laptop or tablet or whatever in order to do the initial login, etc. but it's not hard.  Astonishingly easy.


Great Stuff to Watch


As for content, I'm as happy as a bug in a rug.  No more commercials, for one thing!  Well, Hulu has one or two for their new content but it's not intrusive and rather unnoticeable.  Netflix and Amazon?  No commercials.

I do not miss Flo, the lady in white from Progressive insurance.  I may miss Mayhem from State Farm, though, just a little bit.  That guy was funny.

Selection? The selection of movies from Amazon and Netflix is amazing.  New stuff is being added all the time.  Some of it is new, some of it isn't.  Quite frankly, I think a lot of the stuff coming out of Hollywood the past few years is pretty bad so I'm not watching lots of the new movies out of personal preference.

Though I did watch "the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" last week, and really liked it.  Also caught "Bernie," with Shirley McClaine, Matthew McConaughey, and Jack Black.  That was good, too.

I like discovering things I missed -- like that decade where I was in law school and then working all those hours as an associate in the swanky law firm.  Netflix even has stuff organized by decade, so I can find films from the 1980s and 1990s.

If you like the new stuff, then the movies listed on Rotten Tomatoes' list of Top DVD Rentals can all be found on my ROKU channels.  And yes, there may be a charge for those on Amazon (say, $2.99 for 48 hours access) but not on Netflix.

Educational stuff is also on ROKU; there are several channels I watch regularly that are free and wonderful.  Like Smithsonian TV.  One cool thing there is to connect something on Smithsonian - like The King's Speech Revealed with the movie, The King's Speech; or to watch The Real Story of James Bond with any one of the Bond films.

Documentaries are available to me now much more than before.  We watched The Queen of Versailles and Farmageddon a few weeks ago.  Good stuff.

For kids, there are tons of cartoons from lots of different sources.  Huge amount of kid-oriented programming that seems to grow by the day.  Disney Channel is available on ROKU and now Netflix has a Disney connection, as well.

Weather?  I check Weather4Us, it's better than the local TV weather.  News?  The major media outlets are streaming now (Fox, CNN, BCC, etc.) and I've just discovered AOL that has Reuters, AP, Newsy, and the Wall Street Journal available.  It's strange at first to watch segments and not have the commercials but you get used to it pretty fast.

There are hundreds of ROKU channels, I'm still green on what all is offered by this little gizmo.  One thing is for sure, though:  I'm sold on streaming TV and I think you might like it, too.

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