Cancel my cable please! Just saying it out loud feels good. For years I have predicted that the Internet was going to change the way that we watch our favorite television shows and movies. Of course until now, I wasn’t quite sure when or how this would happen. Keep reading if you want to find out how I am saving $1800 a year.
Being in the IT field, I am constantly asked about new products on the market. From iPhones, laptops, or the latest and greatest software applications, it’s a daily occurrence. This time it seems something has slipped “under the radar” and I wanted to tell everyone about it.
It all started in December of 2010 for me. My Mom was asking over and over “What do you want for Christmas?” Being a full-grown adult, this question didn’t excite me as it once did. So I asked her “What did my brothers ask for?” She says “Something called a Roku player.” So straight to Google I went, what in the world could this Roku thing be, I thought. As I read the product description I became more and more excited. It’s a tiny little box that hooks up to the TV that pulls media from the Internet. Sources that have television shows and movies, old and new, could play right on the big screen in my living room. Netflix, Hulu-Plus, WiFi, Ethernet, HDMI, 1080i! What more could a geek ask for? Best of all the Roku was less than $100. My decision was easy, and at the point I was eager to get that tiny little box in my hand.
Let me back up a little. For years I have been trying to figure out how I could cancel cable, yet still watch all the shows and movies that my family likes. With the economy the way it is, and the ever increasing cost of cable (Nearly $150 a month with DVR, pay-channels, etc). That may not be a lot to some of you, but I have two little girls and wife that need clothes and food! Not to mention storing the media. I have a box of VHS tapes that will never be used again. What is to come of DVDs and Blu-ray discs in the future? And who wants to handle them and place them in a machine and then put them back when there is a better way?!
Anyways, back to the topic at hand. Christmas comes and what do you know, there are 3 Roku’s under the tree. My brother Mike, myself, and Dad all had one to tinker with. Needless to say, we’re all hooked.
After emptying the contents of the box, putting the batteries in the remote, there were only a couple of steps left. Oh, keep in mind, you’ll need an extra HDMI cable if you don’t already have one, if you want Hi-Definition, that is. Included in the box there is a Composite (RCA) cable, Optical (for sound), and HDMI. Simply connect the HDMI from the Roku to the back or side of your TV making a mental note of the input you chose. Now simply plug it in and you’re ready to roll. You will have to enter your wireless security settings, but if you know your wireless passphrase it shouldn’t take any longer than a minute or two. After that you basically just need to go to Netflix.com/roku and get an activation ID to enter into the Roku when prompted to do so.
If you don’t have a Netflix account you will want to go ahead and sign-up. I’m pretty sure they have a streaming only plan for $7.99 a month, or if you want to get new release DVDs or Blu-Ray’s in the mail, it’s $9.99. Hulu Plus is a must if you can’t live without your favorite television show; it’s only $7.99 a month as well. Personally Netflix has plenty of shows for my taste, the only real difference is Hulu broadcasts shows during their current season, while Netflix doesn’t air them until a season is complete.
Just a quick overview, because there are far too many channels and cool features to mention, Amazon.com has a video On-Demand channel to watch new releases, there’s a CNN Channel, one of my favorites is a ufc fight tonight live for free channel, you can actually watch live Pay-Per-View fights in HD for the same price you would normally pay through your cable provider.
If you’re like me and have tons of movies/pictures/music, be sure to get the Roku XDS with USB support. You can actually watch movies that you’ve downloaded, stream music, or do picture slideshows too. The list goes on-and-on, but the bottom line is, this is the best decision I have made in some time. Finally free from the greedy cable companies. In all honesty, in 5-10 years, I don’t think the cable/satellite companies will even exist. Certainly not in the fashion that they are running in today, not just from the Roku, but from the expansion of Internet based TV as a whole.