So, I just bought my third roku yesterday. I now have a roku for every tv in the house. I have to say, I love this little black box. I get tv and movies on demand all the while I am saving money by cutting the cord on my satellite and cable bills. Of all the devices in my house, this is one of my favorites!
Save Money by Cutting the Cord
My roku adventure first started off as an effort to save money. My dish network bill was edging upwards all the time and had creeped to almost $80 dollars a month. Although I tried to cut down to the bare minimum, it was still over $30 a month just to get the bare minimum with local channels.
I recently took my family on vacation and found some great deals on Expedia. I found an good hotel near all the popular destinations at a good rate. Expedia saved me hundreds on my vacation.
We put the ALL in all-inclusive! Up to $3000 resort credit! Only with Expedia! - Expires 12/23/13.
It just wasn’t worth it. So I began to research the various set top boxes that would fulfill my entertainment needs and allow me to cut the cord on my satellite bill. I knew cutting the cord would save me quite a bit of money each month.
At the same time, I also knew that there was plenty of content that I could watch through streaming services such as Netflix. Beyond that I could also get my local channels over the air in high definition anyways. So with those thoughts in mind, I realized that cutting the cord is one of the most effective ways to save money each month.
Exploring My Options
I knew that I wanted an easy way to stream Netflix as well as other online content straight to my TV. So I began to explore my options. I found that there’s only a couple of truly viable options and in the end, I found the Roku to be the best one for me.
PC to TV
First off, I tried hooking up a spare pc to a television. I found that this was an overly complicated method to stream content to my TV, although it is a passable method.
The main difficulty is that most PC’s are not set up to be a sit back experience. For the most part, there’s no built in remote control. At the same time, most of the media centers are fairly clunky and there’s little in the way of software that gives you a quick method to stream content from multiple sources.
Unless you want to use a wireless keyboard and mouse in your living room, you’ll have to buy some kind of wireless remote to plug into your pc. Then you’ll need to install a media center such as xbmc or boxee to stream your various channels. Even with this setup, you need to keep a keyboard and mouse handy for rebooting your machine or when your media center software crashes.
Overall, I found this to be a clumsy method to implement. If you have a spare PC handy, it can be a cheap option and one way to test out streaming content, however I was overall dissatisfied with the experience.
The one thing I learned from this experience is that it is just better to have a dedicated box.
I think this is the closest competitor to the Roku. It’s comparable in price, but the main downside is that it lacks the same variety of content. The main offerings outside the itunes environment is netflix and youtube. I’d love the option to install other addons and play other streaming content. Overall, I think the Apple TV has a better interface and is more intuitive. However, it’s downfall is the lack of customization and outside content. If they had the appstore on the Apple TV I think it would beat out the Roku, but for now, I like the Roku better.
I love the free Boxee software for the PC. It curates a ton of content and puts it together in one interface. The interface can be a bit daunting for the uninitiated because of the vast amount of their content. Other than that, it’s an awesome piece of software. The boxee box, however is just too overpriced. It lists on Amazon at $199. That’s twice the price of a roku for virtually the same functionality. It may have more content out of the box, but you can add a number of free channels on the roku to accomplish the same thing.
Much like the Boxee Box, I find this option to be overpriced compared to it’s competitors. I never took a serious look at the Google TV after hearing the negative reviews and seeing the price comparisons.
There’s a few other set top streaming boxes out there, but these were the few of the bigger names. Overall, after doing my comparisons, I felt like Roku was the best option.
Internet Ready TV
One other option if you are shopping for a TV is to get an internet ready TV. You can find some really great deals on TV’s online and many of them these days are internet ready.
I recently got a TV that was internet ready and it is a good to get streaming capability without having to get a separate box. However, if you go that route, be prepared to stick to the built in internet apps provided with your TV. Here’s my TV as an example of the way it’s set up:
You can see the internet channels on the bottom of the screen. If you mostly watch netflix this is not a bad options.
These days you can find some really good deals on LCD and Plasma TV’s online. I got this internet capable Vizio TV for $499 online from Tiger Direct. I think they have generally the best deals on TV’s and if you are in the market for a new TV, that’s the place to shop.
Here are a few of their best current deals on TV’s:
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Ultimately, I wanted more variety than only netflix, so I still got a Roku to attach to my Vizio TV in my bedroom and I couldn’t be happier.
Why I Chose Roku
Roku offers tons of streaming HD content in a simple interface for a competitive price. I just got the second highest end model, the Roku XD for $79.99. This model includes wireless capability and 1080p streaming. This means that I can stream content at the highest quality from netflix at a cheaper price than any of the other streaming boxes.
The other advantage of the Roku is that it has a lot of streaming channels and constantly adds more. I now have 3 Roku devices and I’ve found that over time they’ve consistently added more content. Also, there are private channels from open source developers for even more content.
One of my favorite private channels is the Playon channel which allows me to stream all the content from my playon server on my computer. The playon software allows me to add scripts that gives access to just about any TV series, movie, or sports programming. While playon isn’t necessary as you can get plenty of content without this piece of software, it is one of my favorite programs that I use in conjunction with my roku device. (Playon is premium software, but you can get a lifetime license for $79 and they currently have a summer 30% off sale)
Overall, the Roku provides the most streaming content for me at the most reasonable price. Even though I had to spend some money to purchase the device, it saves me a lot of money overall since I cancelled my satellite service.
Bottom line. I love my Roku box! I got 3 of them and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone.
Save money and fulfill all your entertainment needs.