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Roku TV – A Cable Television Alternative

After one lie too any and an increase of 15% in my cable bill this year, I decided to drop Time Warner Cable. It took me a full month, and several irate phone calls to accomplish it, but I find myself both sad and elated at the change. For someone who uses cable as a background noise, when our monthly cable costs soared to nearly $200 for a family of three, I decided to just bite the bullet and dump the unresponsive, uncaring cable company.

I had asked them to repair the cable service for years now. Channels would just drop, internet would be slow in warm weather (even with new equipment I had to buy myself because they could not guarantee I would get a good modem if I traded in the 15 year old one I had and paid $8 a month for (14 years – $8 per month – $96 per year & $1,344 for 14 years), and the cable that had been installed in the 70’s was degrading, but they did not want to send people to fix it. It seemed to be stumping them. Oddly, when they replaced half the cables, half the issues disappeared, but try as I might, I could not get them out to replace all of it. They had done enough. Well, after my new increased bill, I had done enough too.

Roku? WTF is Roku?

unnamedEnter Roku. My brother had it playing at his summer house and I asked about it. Nearly free TV was getting attractive to me in August, and so I listened and then looked into it when I got home. I purchased a device to try it out. For $49 I was willing to find a solution, and the basic Roku stick was available for 49.99 on amazon prime that weekend. I got it in within two days. I spent a day figuring it out and looking for streaming channels. And then I tested it.

Testing it was fun. Going through the channels was fun (yes there is a Gumby channel). Dealing with them was sometimes a nightmare. It took about two weeks to get a good feel for what would and would not work, and simply Netflix, and Amazon prime, we had a good selection. I found Acorn TV, which for me is heaven. They carry I, Claudius as a regular feature – yes, I called it heaven. If you enjoy a farce (and I do), check out Blandings. But I digress. Within about 10 days I ordered a second Roku (the Roku 1 for older televisions) for my daughter’s Hello Kitty TV which connects with cables into the audio/video inputs on the tv. She was happy to find Forensics files on multiple channels.

Then there are the strictly free channels. Which are huge. Some require upgrades to access more programming, but many have absolutely free programming. Some have horrible commercial cut ins – such as raising the volume VERY high, or in the middle of a scene, but some are really just like tv, but with more choices. I am a huge fan of both crackle and tubitv. Although I abhor commercials, I knew when I was giving up cable and going to free streaming there would be a sacrifice. But after a month of interviewing free stream channels, I have found these two to have the best commercial intrusions so far.

You would not believe the Stuff I found on Roku!

I like the freakish content I can find. There is a dictator channel. All kinds of relaxation video/music channels. I found one that actually puts my insanely optimistic energetic rat terrier to sleep which is no small feat (thank you A Chaplin channel – which shows – yes – charlie chaplin movies – or at least one – I think.. just the one really – The Gold Rush with a Portuguese subtitle. Chucky talks to God, an animated channel of cartoons of Chucky talking to God in various scenarios. I took no offense, I cannot guarantee that of everyone. Meditation channels, travel channels, Comedy channels, Educational channels. I could spend an evening looking through channels. I know because I did one very boring restless night. I have yet to find a free weather channel I actually enjoy, but I do love watching the earth from the International Space Station.

I have since purchased SlingTv at a very reasonable rate of $25.00 per month. Of course, purchased in advance for three months, I got another Roku device – this one allows me to attach a hard drive with all the movies and series I have in addition to an extensive music collection that I can then play on my TV. Can I tell you how happy I am? Well, about cable anyway.

roku-stickI have made an investment of $100 for two Roku devices. I got one for free. I will need one more to get it on each TV. I happily got my cable costs from 187 a month to $41 a month, and I am no longer paying ungodly sums of money each month for old equipment (Steve at the counter told me he had never seen such old equipment – including a DVR from 1999) and remotes. That is a coup in my book. And I am hoping I have very few problems with my internet, as I am not sure Time Warner likes me anymore, and my streaming depends on it.