Tuesday, April 30, 2019

FYI: My Why I Chose Roku Devices

In February, 2019, I "cut the cord" by dropping my cable TV subscription and began using an Internet streaming device.
  • All TV broadcasts use digital signals, anyway
  • Video quality is the same whether decoded  by a cable box or a streaming device
  • Streaming devices are available from familiar names 
    • Roku (stick, premier)
    • Amazon (Fire: stick & cube))
    • Google (Chromecast)
    • Apple TV 
  • They all have HDMI connections/cables

My Roku Review

I personally use Roku, and here's why...

Reasons for buying Roku

My first bias is that I hate in-your-face commercial advertising, and I want to talk about that for a moment. 

In-your-face advertising is one reason why a digital video recording device (DVR) was one of my favorite features from my cable provider, Spectrum.

I could record a show, then when I watched it later I could fast-forward past the 30% of the time that was used for commercials. That's 10 minutes of commercials in a 30-minute show, and a full 20 minutes of an hour-long recording!

As I began this journey, I attended a "cutting the cord" class at the Tampa Bay Technology Center (TBTC). They exclusively used the Amazon TV Fire Stick. I was impressed the features and functionality and the internal memory.

But the Fire Stick home screen has over 50% advertising for Amazon. Even the TBTC instructor talked about it.

The two other major devices are Apple (Apple TV) and Google (ChromeCast).

Apple TV is pricey, beginning at $175. I'm frugal to begin with, and I am not an Apple fan.

Google is cheaper at $35 but requires a PC; it duplicates the PC display on the TV. I do have a first general Chrome, but I rarely used it.

Roku Devices

Roku has two base models:
  • The "Express" or "Premier" ~ a small stand-alone box that connects with an HDMI cable. It uses the "Standard" remote.
  • The "Streaming Stick" ~ which is intended to plug directly into an HDMI port. You may order a free 3" extension if the TV configuration does not allow you to use the HDMI port directly.
Roku has two primary remotes:
  • "Standard" 
    • This is the basic remote. 
    • It's used for the Express box and has all the basic functions to add apps and select which app you want to watch on your TV. 
    • It uses infra-red to control the device, so plan for a direct line-of-sight this when you position your express box.
  • "Voice" 
    • This enhanced remote turns a TV on/off and adjusts the volume, and it also supports voice commands.
    • It is used only for a streaming stick.
    • It uses a radio signal to communicate with the Roku stick. I assume this is because the HDMI ports are usually behind a TV.
  • Replacements are available directly from Roku

Roku on Sale

Roku often puts one of its devices on sale each week, beginning on the weekend.There is usually a $10 savings that is honored at Amazon and Wal-Mart.

PS: I'm still please with cutting the cord!
My charges have dropped from over $200 to $81:

I wrote a followup article on June 20th. You can follow this link to read it: "Opps! More Cutting the Cord" (http://www.jaggers.pw/2019/06/fyi-opps-more-cutting-cord.html)

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