Roku 2

Roku has finally come out with a next-gen version of the Roku internet tv streamer and it is smaller than before.

Now let me see if I can remember how it was before because they don’t have their older models on their site anymore.  The cheaper one did not have HD at all, it was for older model tv’s.  The 2nd one was XD and the 3rd one was XS.  I remember that much.  The XD and XS were the only 2 that had HD in them.  I bought 2 of the XD’s because the only difference between the XD and XS were that the XS had a USB on it so you could hook up a USB drive for looking at external images and/or videos.  I forget what else but it wasn’t that much else.

They have added many more features to the XS now which makes me want it more than the XD.  Like the old XD had wired and wifi internet connection and now only the XS has that.  Well, when I bought the 2 XD’s in January, I had so much trouble with the wifi that I had to plug it in to the router with the wire.

I have several blog posts about the Roku.  The first one was about the Roku and about how I was going to buy it.  Internet TV.  Then We are officially switching our cable and I remember how excited I was that I was going to be saving SO much money every month by not having to pay for cable.  I was mislead into thinking that even though everything else was going to be like DVR where I’d have to find what to watch, just like I do on the internet, I’d also get live news.  (Roku didn’t mislead me, Chips family member did.)  Well, that wasn’t right and Darrin didn’t like that very much so we kept our cable.

Then I said I won’t miss my shows but I found out that was a total lie because there were only a few shows on Hulu Plus that they allowed you to watch on your TV.  In fact, I would end up having to watch 95% of my shows on the computer anyway.

Just before we got our Roku boxes I was starting to question my decision; Is getting the Roku was worth it.  Then the next day they came and I posted this: Our Roku Boxes Arrived Today… They’re Going Back Tomorrow.

The main issue that I had with the Roku boxes was getting them connected.  It took a long time to get them online with my wifi and when I finally did they were only on for 30 minutes before disconnecting.  I had spent several hours on the phone getting them turned on, even changing my router settings and everything and still nothing but problems.

They said I had 30 days to return them and of course they went to the post office the next day.

I was really sad because I really thought it was going to be such a cool thing but it turned out to be really disappointing to us.  Darrin likes to watch the news as it happens, not as it happened yesterday.  And with the Casey Anthony trial, he wanted to see all of that unfold as it happened.

So I was getting the Roku for the wrong reasons.  I was getting it so that I could save money on my cable bill because I was paying $110 for it every month and if I switched to Roku I’d only have to pay $8 for Netflix and $8 for Hulu Plus.  Well, the Netflix was a good thing but the Hulu Plus wasn’t.  The Roku has hundreds of channels (or websites) to choose from but the issue is still the same, no live anything.  If I cancel my cable I need to have something that is live, even if it’s streaming live tv from the net, I don’t care.  Roku doesn’t work that way.

I do recommend the Roku 2 only if you do not plan on canceling your cable.  It is not a cable replacement but an addition to your cable.  That is ok.  You can choose the different boxes that they have.

If I were to buy this again, which I am seriously thinking about, I would go with the XS version only because I really need to know that if my WiFi doesn’t connect, at least I can plug it in to my router.  Also, check it out, they’ve added games to it.  I also like that USB port.  My tv has an SD card but not USB so that would be cool to add.

If I didn’t care about the cable (wire, not cable tv) so much, I would buy the HD because it has everything else I need minus the 1080p which doesn’t really matter to me because most everything that is on the internet is not 1080p anyway, even Hulu+ and Netflix.  So the middle box doesn’t really make sense to me.

I am not so jaded by my past experience with Roku that I would slam them and say they have a horrible service because the problem I had was a minor technical problem with the wifi.  The service they provide is awesome.

I think the Roku is such an awesome piece of technology and I say go for it, buy it.  It works great and if really have to have Hulu then you can also do the PlayOn thing which means your desktop computer has to be super fast and you won’t be able to use it anymore since it is now your tv’s server lol.  I can’t do that because my computer isn’t fast enough.

I’m seriously thinking about it but that is off in the future because I’m too broke right now.  Maybe I will wait until Christmas when I might have the money.  But until then, I can hook my CR-48 up to my tv to watch videos, which is what I have been doing.  It’s not great but it’s something at least for now.

If I were to rate the Roku I would give them 5 stars.

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Our Roku Boxes Arrived Today… They’re Going Back Tomorrow

It was on Christmas Eve, more than a week ago when we were told by Chips family members that we should cancel our cable to get an Xbox to watch Hulu and Netflix instead. I researched my options and found Roku. I researched to find out if it was worth it and when I thought it would be, I rushed Darrin into making the decision to buy some Roku boxes, 1 for each TV in the house so that we would get a $10 discount per box.

I waited on pins and needles all weekend until they finally arrived this afternoon with the regular mail and was like a kid opening up his Christmas presents.

I opened one of the Roku boxes and connected it to the living room TV because I wanted the living room to be the first room that was connected with the Roku so Darrin would have it to watch when he got home. Problem… it wouldn’t connect to our network.

I brought it into the bedroom so that I could at least connect it with the network cable because I figured that maybe it needed to be connected with the wire first, then I could get it connected wirelessly. I get it connected and updated and all seemed fine but when I tried to get it to connect with the wi-fi, it just wouldn’t work.

So I got on the Roku website on the laptop and go to the help page to chat with a technician who can help me figure it out. We’re chatting for maybe 1 hour and 45 minutes and I lose the connection to the internet which means I lose the chat with “Sam”. I reconnected the laptop to the Verizon 3G network because I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t get disconnected again. I had to wait 20 minutes to talk to another person, I told them I was talking to Sam but he was already with someone else so that person tried helping me.

Another 45 minutes later and I finally figured it out, got it online then went into the living room and hooked the other one up to the tv and it connected without much trouble at all. I say thanks and goodbye to the person I was chatting with and I think I had a good 30 minutes to play with it when all of a sudden my internet goes out.

The problem is, “Sam” had me change my network name, the channel it was connected with,change it from WPA2 to WEP, change the password and everything. Now, nothing will connect. I spend the next 2 hours by myself trying to get it all back online.

This just isn’t working out so I unplugged both Roku boxes, roll up the AC wires, tie them up with the twist ties and put everything back in their boxes and spend another hour trying to get the network to work again and it did. I tried going back to my original settings but it just didn’t want to connect.

How I got the Roku boxes connected is with the mac address. I had to force the network to only accept the devices with their mac address. I’ve never had to do that before. I have connected my PSP, Nook, Chips computer and the CR-48 Laptop to the network and have never once had an issue with the mac address so why would I ever think that the Roku boxes would need me to do that?

So the Roku boxes go back tomorrow. We have to call the phone number and tell them that it just didn’t work out for us and we’re returning them. They give us a 30 day money back guarantee minus the shipping charges.

You know, I got to thinking, I can’t live without live TV. We need to be able to see the news or weather alerts that scroll on the top of the screen. It’s just not for us, we like it the way it is, no need to change it. Someone wise said to me on Twitter today “*whistles the old familiar tune* Why fix what ain’t done broke…..*snorts*”. It’s so true. And our system of watching TV on cable wasn’t broken, switching to the Roku only, now that’s broken.

I looked at Hulu plus and they only had maybe 10% of the shows that I watch. I installed PlayOn.tv and it ran so slow on the Roku because my processor wasn’t fast enough. It would’ve been ok for me if that worked but it didn’t.

I am not saying the Roku is a bad product but it just doesn’t work for me. It most certainly doesn’t work with my network but getting rid of cable and going with internet tv is just not what I want now. I still can’t afford $110 cable but we’re going to look into thinning out some of our services to make things easier on me.

I am not going to keep Hulu Plus after my 30 day trial is over nor am I keeping Netflix because I just can’t afford to have this additional expense on top of my cable. I will continue to use regular free Hulu if I miss a show but Hulu can’t replace cable for me.

Who knows, maybe one day I might get an Xbox or a PS3 or even a Blu-ray that will connect to Hulu and/or Netflix. If that day comes then it will be a nice addition but not replacement.

Is Getting a Roku Worth It?

Our Roku boxes are supposed to be coming today and I’m starting to freak out a little bit. I mean on one hand I have nothing to worry about because we can try the Roku boxes for 30 days and if we aren’t satisfied with the service then we can return them for a full refund. I’m not freaking out about the Roku box and what channels they provide but more about what Hulu Plus doesn’t provide.

I wish that I had done all of this research 100% before I bought the boxes but I was so gung-ho on getting them to get the $20 New Years Eve discount that I just wanted to buy them before that sale was over. This is what I’m finding out about Hulu Plus.

If you visit the Hulu Plus page they show all these pictures of their shows but if you click “alphabetical” then check the box that says “currently airing” you will notice the list shrinks.

This is the main reason I bought this box. I thought I was going to be able to watch all of my shows that are on Hulu (in my TV page) but as it turns out, I’m only going to be able to see my fox cartoons minus the Simpsons, the event and that’s it. Why would I pay Hulu $7.99 a month to watch 4 shows? I’m gonna end up having to watch the majority of my shows on my laptop which is not what I thought I was signing up for.

The reason Hulu Plus doesn’t have all of the shows they have on their regular Hulu service is because they can’t legally stream everything to your TV, they aren’t licensed for that. So why bother showing a few shows at all if they can’t stream them all? I mean, Chuck and The Event are both on NBC and Hulu is owned by NBC. What confuses me about that is they can stream The Event but not Chuck? That doesn’t make any sense. And they have all those Fox shows but no Simpsons? What?

I also signed up for a month of free Netflix and they have a lot of shows I can stream through my Roku box but they aren’t current seasons. They probably can’t stream those until the very end of the season, in the summer time. I don’t want to have to wait until summer to watch my shows.

Ok so another thing I found last night was this program that you install on your PC but run the app or channel through the Roku is PlayOn. That gives you a 14 day free trial then it’s $39 for 1 year then I believe it said $20 a year after that. So it’s only a couple of bucks per month and it allows you to stream regular Hulu, Netflix, CBS, Fox News, TBS etc through your Roku box (or other devices).

I’m really hoping this works out for me because I need for it to work. I don’t want to feel like I have wasted my money on the Roku boxes so I can just get Netflix. The trouble with PlayOn is that I have to use my desktop as a server which means I can’t use it for anything else while we’re watching it on the Roku. That’s fine because I’m using the CR-48 laptop now primarily but I do use the desktop for TweetDeck. Unfortunately, it says my CPU is Low when it does the tests which means we’re probably not going to get a very good stream. But we won’t know until we get the Roku boxes in the mail.

Ok so I’m still waiting for the box to come with my mail, I checked the tracking and it is here in Bakersfield at my local post office so it looks like I will get it.

Our cables next billing cycle begins on Thursday so we have 3 days to try the Roku box to see if we are happy with it. If not they are so going back and we are going to keep cable. I’m just hoping they refund the money right away but I have a feeling it will take them awhile to send us the refund.

When the package has come and I have everything hooked up and have played around with it then I will come back and give more feedback.

I Won’t Miss My Shows!

Since we’re getting our Roku box tomorrow and we’re canceling our $110 a month cable on Thursday, I’ve been kind of worried because not all of my shows are on Hulu and Netflix.

True Blood is one major reason why we have HBO. If I cancel our cable and I lose HBO then what am I going to do? I’m going to miss True Blood when it comes on. I really am not too keen on downloading it with P2P but what else could I do? Well, I just found out that Amazon Video On Demand will have it for only $2.09 an episode. WHEW! What a weight.

That’s not all though because even though Hulu has a BBC America page, they don’t have my BBC America shows on there like Doctor Who and Primeval. Last night was the season premiere of Primeval and this morning BBC America tweeted that the episode is available on iTunes and Amazon Video On Demand. Ok so I’m gonna have to pay $1.99 to buy (not rent) the episodes, fine, I don’t care as long as I get to see them. When Doctor Who comes back I will be way more than happy to buy each episode for $2.

There are certain shows that I will be missing that I have mentioned like Smallville, Supernatural and Vampire Diaries because CBS (who owns CW) refuses to get on the Hulu bandwagon. Well, luckily they have those shows on the CW website so I’m good there. They also have them for sale on iTunes and Amazon VOD but I refuse to pay for something that I can see for free on the CW website. If it’s a network show then why should I have to pay to watch it? If it’s a premium channel like HBO then I certainly don’t mind paying for it. Even BBC America, I’m good paying for it.

So now that I have this knowledge that I won’t miss them I am very pleased with our decision to cancel our cable.

We Are Officially Switching Our Cable

Now didn’t I tell you the other day that we were thinking about switching to the Roku player for watching TV instead of paying our cable company $110 every month? Well, it’s official. We bought our Roku boxes this morning at 10am. And since I bought it before 11am it’s going to be shipped out today and we should get it next week. They said it should take 3-7 days but the confirmation email included an address which I google mapped and they are only 4 1/2 hours from our house. I’m expecting it to be here by Monday.

Our cable cycle begins on January 6th and ends on February 5th according to the cable bill I got in the mail today. That means if we cancel our cable before Thursday of next week then when we cancel it we won’t have to worry about any new charges. I’ll be free and clear.

Ok so I’ve already been adding shows to my favorites on the Hulu website so whenever a show has a new episode then it will automatically go into my queue. I don’t know how queues work with Hulu on the Roku but I hopefully won’t have to do much searching when my shows come back on, just play my queue.

We got a code for a free month of Hulu Plus which I won’t do anything about until the Roku box actually comes. I wouldn’t want to waste a few days of Hulu, besides, I want my monthly payments to start AFTER I get my monthly checks, not before.

Even though I’m kind of PO’d that I’m going to be missing some of my shows, I’m still really excited about saving money every month. I mean, I have wanted BBC America, Logo and G4 for years and never had them until last year when we finally got HD and got the new channels. Well, it turns out that even though I have those channels now, I hardly ever watch them.

The shows that I’m going to miss on G4 are Attack of the show and Web Soup which aren’t really on Hulu. I mean they are but only clips. I can live with that I guess.

The shows that I’m going to miss on BBC America are Being Human, Doctor Who and The Graham Norton Show. As far as I know those aren’t on Hulu at all. I know Doctor Who is on Netflix but I might have to wait just a little bit longer for the new episodes to come.

I didn’t mention HBO but there is a show that I will definitely be missing and that is True Blood. That’s one of my favorites and I will definitely be missing it but it is on Netflix. Of course I will miss seeing it when it’s on, I can certainly wait until it’s on Netflix. Or just find a friend who still has HBO and watch it over there lol.

I’ve been telling everyone about this because I think it is so cool to get Hulu and Netflix and watch all of my shows without paying high cable prices. I just have to wait for them to show up in my Queue.

I have mentioned that not all of my shows are going to be on there but I’m not too worried because those shows are on their networks websites. Like CW, I’m going to be missing Smallville, Supernatural and Vampire Diaries. Well, luckily they are on the CW website. And I just started watching Glory Daze on TBS, well that is also on the TBS website. So, I won’t really be missing anything, I just can’t watch them on my TV that’s all.

So, until I get my box then..

Internet TV

We went to San Diego to visit Chips family this Christmas weekend and we were introduced to a concept that we never even thought of when it comes to watching tv. Cancel our cable and get an internet tv box and watch Netflix and Hulu only.

Ok, I’ve known about Hulu for a few years, I love Hulu for watching shows that I missed when they first aired on tv. When I was a regular user of the site they only had Fox and NBC that I knew of. Whenever I’d miss my CBS, ABC and CW shows I’d go there and they would redirect me to the network website.

We used to get Netflix DVD’s in the mail and I was a member when they first introduced streaming movies on their site. They would only allow you to watch 8 hours of movies per month with the rental membership and that clock was ticking away even when your movie was paused. I would pause it so that it could download because it played faster than it could download. This was when I had a lower DSL speed. So if I let it play in real-time, it would keep pausing which made it very difficult to watch and they only had older movies available for download so it really wasn’t worth my time since they had a very small selection.

What we were told by relatives was that if we had an X-box then we could watch Hulu and Netflix and replace our cable but what they don’t realize is that we don’t have an X-box, Wii or PS3 so we can’t just go out and pay a few hundred dollars for a video gaming system just so we can save money every month on our cable. But I may have found an alternative.

The Roku player is way cheaper than an x-box and it allows you to watch your internet tv shows and movies with Hulu and Netflix as well as many other services. There is no monthly fee with Roku, all you pay for is the monthly fee that the services like Hulu and Netflix charge. Hulu Plus charges $7.99 per month and Netflix charges $9.99 per month. Well, I pay $110 per month for my cable and I hardly ever watch it.

I can watch my shows when they come on at their regular time but sometimes that time isn’t convenient. Also, I ignore the phone when it rings because I don’t want to be interrupted during my shows because if I miss one second of it then I feel lost. Well, this way I can pause it when the phone rings instead.

The downside is that I can’t watch my shows when they air, like when Chuck is on at 8pm on Monday nights, I won’t be able to see it until the next day. I mean, I can deal with that but at the same time, I like to watch it when it comes on, not the next day. The last few seasons I had multiple shows on multiple channels at the same time so some shows I was forced to watch on Hulu the next day which I didn’t mind but it was irritating to have to wait. Also some of my shows weren’t on Hulu, I had to go to the ABC website for Pushing Daisies and the CW website for Smallville.

I have a DVD recorder but ever since they switched over to digital cable they have a block on recorders unless they are DVR recorders. I used to record one show on one channel on a DVD Ram disc while watching another show on another channel while it was on. After my shows were over then I’d watch what I recorded then delete it from the disc. Well, now I can’t even do that so my DVD recorder is a giant $250 paperweight.

Well, we won’t be starting this up right away because we have to order the Roku box for the living room and order the Hulu and Netflix services the day it arrives then we will try it and see if we like it before canceling our cable.

The problem is, I’m still going to have to use my computer to watch my CW shows because I looked on Hulu and they aren’t there. They might be on Netflix, I don’t know because they only have the dvd’s for season 10 of Smallville on their site. It doesn’t look like I can watch ALL of my shows on there which is a real bummer.

Also, sometimes you just like to turn the tv on and watch whatever is on. I don’t know if I want to feel pressured to choose something to turn on then when it’s over I gotta make another decision. At least with Cable you can turn it on a channel and watch whatever is on for a few hours.

I also didn’t see any of my HBO and Showtime shows. True Blood comes on in the summertime and if Hulu doesn’t have it and Netflix doesn’t have the current episodes for streaming then I’m gonna be screwed. I’m gonna have to go to a p2p website and download them. I don’t want to have to do that. I pay for HBO and Showtime each month and I’m gonna lose them over this so that would suck big time.

On one hand I want to save myself some big bucks every month but on the other hand, I’m still gonna have to use the computer to watch certain shows which I don’t like.

But, maybe this will convince me. Like I said, I pay $110 for cable and if we get this then I will only have to pay $18 per month for Hulu and Netflix. That’s a savings of $92 per month, that’s $1,104 per year in savings. Of course that will only go towards buying more groceries every month so that is great for us but not great when I can’t see True Blood.

I have a lot to think about here. Maybe someone can give me their opinions about #1 the Roku box and #2 this whole concept of canceling cable and going with internet tv instead. Please, give me all of your thoughts.