A TV Junkie's Review of Roku
This is a little off-topic from what we traditionally share on our blog, but I’ve had a lot of people ask about it. I think when you are in the TV industry, people think you know more about technology. Jokes on them!
Junkie might be a harsh term. But I do like to veg out and watch TV or Netflix at the end of the day. It’s how I unwind. I kept hearing about Roku and other streaming services that were gaining in popularity, but honestly never stopped long enough to even research it. We were long-time DirecTV customers and were very happy with our service.
I did occasionally get fed up with paying $120/month for TV. When that would happen, I would suspend our satellite service for a few months and just watch over-the-air programming. It wasn’t bad. The hardest part was remembering when certain shows came on since DVR wasn’t an option. Plus because of my junkie status, being able to go without TV for several months made me feel like I wasn’t such an addict. We have a trick for being able to get clearer channels over the airways WITHOUT buying an antenna. Prepare yourself, this blows people’s minds when I tell them about this trick. It’s a paperclip. Not a fancy paperclip, just a regular ol’ paperclip that you stick in the back of your TV’s coaxial cable. It magnifies like an antenna so the channels are clearer! Ta-da!
So that is your free option. It does have it’s limitations though. A good middle of the road option is using a Roku device that you buy off Amazon. After much research, we bought the Roku Express for under $30. It’s the base model. You plug it in the HDMI slot in the TV and you are good to go. Some fancy and newer TVs are already Roku compatible. This device let us gain access to apps like Netflix and Amazon, which we already had paid accounts for.
I love HGTV and TLC, the kid wanted Disney XD, and John wanted to make sure he could watch his SyFy channel to name a few. We also wanted to be able to watch the local news without having to change the input on our TV to our “antenna” paperclip. The local channels is where I found the most issues, especially with NBC. The Roku box advertised CBS and ABC apps that you could purchase but I couldn’t find how to purchase NBC (our most watched news channel).
Most providers will give you a 7 day free trial to try it out, so we did that with a few. That was very helpful to understand the navigation of the menu and what made sense to us.
Sling TV was pretty cheap. One level was only $15/month and we could have made that work easily. We could have even gone crazy and bought both levels each month for $25. Still so much cheaper than the satellite package we were paying. But no local channels.
YouTube TV was interesting. I’d heard a lot of positive things about it. It was $40/month and because we are near to one of the “lucky” cities, local networks were available. Plus it had unlimited cloud storage for your recorded shows. HBO could be added, for around $10-15/month.
DirecTV Now is what we ended up going with. It was comparable to YouTube TV in price at $40/month, but it had one major advantage. We could add HBO for only $5/month. So John would be able to watch Game of Thrones at a lower price than even with regular DirecTV service. And for you football people, plenty of the sports channels are included.
It was really the addition of the HBO discount that made us go with DirecTV now. But even with the premium channel included, we are saving about $75/month.
I have found myself wondering why it took me so long to make the switch. Kind of like when you cut off your home phone and started just using your cell. (Feeling old right now.)
If you are thinking about making the switch, I highly encourage it. The hardest part was remembering all of your passwords so that you could link your Netflix and Amazon accounts!