Adios DirecTV, Hello Roku

In October of 2013 we, as in our family, said farewell to DirecTV.  I will admit that the reason behind this was the ever increasing bill that we had been paying to the satellite company.  My family watches more TV than I, and it impacted them the most.  While I’m the one writing this, I have seen the evolution happen within the home.  Cable TV is nice, don’t get me wrong.  Turn on the TV and cable box if required and there is an assortment of channels waiting for you.  More than likely accompanied by a guide of what is on.  I’m aware than some of the basic channel packages do not come with a cable box nor do they have a guide.  I was once a subscriber to such package with Charter.  This ever ready guide and always on channels are what we as a family needed to change our thinking when it came to using the Roku.

I didn’t abandon broadcast television completely.  For $45 I bought an over the air antenna.  A trip to the local hardware store costing about the same, $45 enabled me to mount the antenna in the attic.  I also needed to run coax down to the master bedroom from the attic.  Fishing the wall while being in the attic was fairly easy.  My daughter was kind enough to tell me when the fish tape hit the coax junction box in the wall.  From there, I basically reversed the wiring that carried the satellite signal up to the bedroom, allowing me to feed the bedrooms, and downstairs with free programming.  Using my trusty compass and the location of Shoreview as provided by http://www.antennaweb.org, I aligned my antenna.  Off to the TV to scan for channels.  I believe it found 30 channels that day.  Reviewing the quality, I made another stab at the alignment.  There are 2 broadcasting points near Shoreview, MN.  I changed to the one that carried the major networks (Fox, CBS, etc).  In doing so I lost a few of the government stations.  It was a trade off I was willing to accept.

There we were, a few days til I would tell DirecTV to kiss off.  We had over the air local channels, Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime.  Possibly the biggest challenge was finding something to watch.  Granted with access to a number of movie and show options, we had a tough time finding that one thing to watch.  It was easy with cable.  Turn on the TV and what was on, was on.  Pick something out that you wanted to watch, or pick the least likely to send you packing.  With Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime, it took effort to find something to watch.  This just didn’t affect one person in the house.  All seemed to struggle with it.  Granted we could flip over to live TV but with the major stations carrying what we hardly watched anyhow, it didn’t get much attention.  I found myself throwing on the local channels, in fact I still do.  Once I come home from work, I find myself with Judge Judy on while doing work or assignments.  Its noise.  While browsing the selection on Roku, I end up trying to decide if I really what to watch this or that.

The problem with Roku.

The main issue I brought up is looking for content to watch on the Roku.  Sure you can get different channels to watch.  Like TED Talks, there is a channel you can add for those.  Listen to Pandora?  There is a channel for that as well.  Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime?  All those too.  Plenty more as well.  The biggest draw back has been those other channels.  Not quite as useful as they market them.  Sure they have their audience but it wasn’t us.  Digging for content wasn’t what we wanted, nor was it what we were used to.  We tried to find avenues to watch cable TV shows on the Roku.  It wasn’t as easy as advertised.  Even paying a small amount for Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime, we still needed to look for stuff to watch.  Those 3 don’t cover everything either.

Netflix:

The most watched by my family.  We have had Netflix for a while.  Back even when we did the 2 movie thing, perhaps it was 3 disks.  I can’t remember.  I only really remember watching envelops of movies come in with none of my titles ever showing up.  We have watched the first season of The Following, many episodes of Law and Order SVU and such.  Good interface on the Roku, we have Netflix smart app on the Vizio and it blows.

Hulu Plus:

Most watched by my daughter and for that it met it’s demise.  I’m not a fan of Sam and Cat nor Shake it up but somehow when I walked out of the room, that is what it was on if I came back.  Other than that, it was never used.  Sure I tried to find shows I would watch but when you are stoked that it found something on a title, only to find out it has a bunch of clips.  I was not impressed.  Additionally full length episodes and movies have commercials that rarely change.  Ads 1 of 3 when they all end up being the same, talk about mind numbing.  We canceled the service after 3 months.

Amazon Prime:

My favorite, not really used by anyone else.  Additionally this is not a month to month.  You pay for the year.  The bonus is free shipping on Amazon, from Amazon itself, not third party peeps.  Many movies and shows.  Some content is free if you have Amazon Prime with exceptions.  Such as if you really want to watch Hot Fuzz, you have to pay 2.99 for the rental.  Convenient but I wouldn’t bother.  Just because you can find it, doesn’t mean it’s free on Amazon Prime, there is a lot of overlap between Netflix and Amazon Prime.  Mainly it’s around because we get stuff from Amazon, especially textbooks, and that 2 day shipping helps pay for itself.

So, there we have a brief look at what it took for us to cut the cable.  We are not entirely free from cable, that coax is feeding live broadcasts as well.  The thing is, the broadcast is free.  The down side is not seeing anything live on those cable channels.  Sure if I dug enough and added a few private channels on the Roku, we might be able to see them.  Or there is the laptop.  I’m happy with the service we have.  We are out $14 bucks a month on average for Netflix and Amazon Prime.  The local channels come in if we want to watch something there.  We have 2 Roku units.  Roku 3 in the main room with Roku 2 in the bedroom.  Speaking of Roku, they really try to sell the device as something that will give you an obscene amount of content.  Unfortunately I haven’t found myself overwhelmed with content.

Million Pounds of Squats total: 67808 lbs

One thought on “Adios DirecTV, Hello Roku

  1. Wally and I are also cable and dish free. We have the Apple TV though which feeds my love of being up on current television like American Horror Story, Walking Dead or Mad Men. We also started paying our cable provider for HBO Go and Showtime’s internet streaming (since they’re buttheads and don’t let me buy their shows on iTunes) for the same reason. It ends up being a lot less yearly. With Hulu Plus covering a lot of my current network shows, Netflix getting original content and Amazon Prime, I’m good. The switching between systems gets annoying though.

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