Category: Life

Cord Cutting Part 2

Cord Cutting Part 2

So, a few weeks ago I cut the cord and got a Roku. I figured a couple months of trial and error would ensue. Interestingly, it has been easier than I thought to be a cord cutter. There are issues, but none I find insurmountable.

Let me explain….

  • Its a lot like using your smart phone. Roku channels are apps essentially. Some like Sling TV have lots of options in them and require a subscription. Other like Stargazer (international space station video) are free, but have ads (e.g. commercials).
  • You’ll have to change how you surf and consume entertainment. If you are mostly Netflix or such driven, it will be easy. If you are used to flipping between channels (ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, etc..) watch shows. Well that will be a lot harder. Simply put, if you are still consuming TV like you did in the 70s, 80, 90s and 00s, then it will suck for you. This is not like that.
  • Its not a DVR world (though that is happening too). You will stream like you do with Netflix and just like Netflix it is what’s available this week/month. You don’t record and playback, you search and consume.
  • Free content, though interesting, is not as good as paid. It costs money to produce good entertainment. So expect that you will need some paid content. Be picky, choose wisely, but mostly feel free to pick up and drop at as you need. No reason to pay for Netflix or Sling every month if you are using it at all.
  • Though somewhat À la carte, it is not really there. Frankly, that may be worse for us when they do get there. Sure I get a bunch of useless channels with Sling TV, but if I had to pay for each channel that I like watching. It would be more expensive. Imaging liking 10 channels with each costing $3-5 per month. That would be more than the 25 or so I get for $40 with Sling TV.
  • If you experiment, you can find some really interesting free content. I am enjoying TED talks – its funny and interesting. Smithsonian, Popular Mechanics, and Reuters all all neat. Still need to signup for curiosity stream, but work has just been super busy and I haven’t had much time. Plan to try it out soon.
  • One issue I have is “local weather and news”. I am into watching the Weather…. Here is Clearwater, Florida Brighthouse Networks (now Spectrum) has Bay News 9. A local news channel focused on the Tampa Bay area. Every 10 minutes is the weather traffic and the news loops every 30-60 minutes. This I really enjoyed and is what I miss the most. Didn’t realize how much I actually watched it! So I am still trying to adapt news and weather consumption to my “cord cutter life”.
  • Expect delays and bad “apps” (channels). There are some channels that just are buggy or don’t work. Its no different that you smartphone apps. Until more content creators join in and the business model flushes out, you’ll have a big disparity between good content and the junk out there.
  • Bandwidth/Wifi/Network – If you have a lot a “streamers” in the house. Get some bandwidth it will be worth it. If it is only one or two, that 50-100 mb connection is fine. Make sure if you are streaming on Wifi you have a good single where you need it (recommend checking the signal strength – “WiFi Analyzer” is a free Android app). I have one Roku on WiFi and I am thinking about running a network line over to it. I get some signal interruption.
  • Last, if you are getting a Roku then make sure you get one of the good ones. The delay if you get the cheaper units is a bit annoying,

So far, I think this has been good and have only a few complaints. Still think the experiment is on going, but I am pretty sure this will be a successful life experiment.




Cord Cutting Part 1

Cord Cutting Part 1

cordcutterNote: This started out as an email to my sister… Instead, I decided to post it on my blog.

Over the last few months I have been considering “cutting the cord“. We really stopped watching the garbage of TV over the last few years. Outside of a few things that were part of our cable service, we didn’t watch or even DVR much of anything. So I have started the process of cutting the cord.

A week ago I signed up for Sling TV and ordered a Roku Premier +. I watched a few shows on Sling TV like History Channel and some soccer matches on our Xbox One. It was OK, but kind of a bad experience. I had heard from a friend that it is better on a Roku, I waited until we got it.

Initial thoughts….

  • If you are a TV addict and watch all the big shows when they happen… Stick with Cable. If you don’t care about the current top 20 TV shows, then this is an option you can consider. I cannot name any of them and if I can, I couldn’t tell you if they were still on.
  • Sling TV is OK, but nothing amazing. The selection of channels is fine, but the amount of good content for streaming older episodes is weak.
  • Sling TV on the Xbox is a bad example of how the service works. It may look the same, but is really slow. On a Roku player (not the stick) it is pretty quick with very little delay.
  • Roku player – Get a good one. Pay for the Premier or Premier +. Its worth it for the better device.
  • Be prepared to compromise. Cable has a long history of getting content and free is not the same. You will get commercials like the old days or live channels. This will change your viewing habits. Frankly, that is probably a good thing.
  • Be prepared to pay for a few services for the more premium content. Sling TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Vudo, Hulu or HBO are things you might want. I don’t think you need all of them, but maybe Sling TV and Netflix are some must haves.
  • Start finding new and interesting things to watch. I am watching a lot of TED talks and National Geographic on Sling TV. I am interested in Curiosity Stream, so that might be worth the $3 or $6 plan.

Why do this… Well, I have a $160 a month cable bill  + Netflix ($10) + Amazon Prime ($8) = $180~. If I need just internet ($50 for 100 Mb) + Netflix ($10) + Amazon Prime ($8) + Sling TV ($40) = $108~. That is at least $70 a month. So two Roku devices for our two TVs gives me a $600 + a year savings.

Last, I don’t like most of the main stream media. It is really just crap and lowbrow entertainment. So why pay for something I don’t like, watch or support?