Thursday, June 02, 2011

Cable Free Experiment: The Beginning

I haven't cancelled my cable yet, but I'm going to try not using it for a couple of weeks to see how I handle it.

My Roku arrived on Thursday. So far, I like it. I am having a weird issue where every time it comes back from the screensaver the sound goes out.... I'm assuming that it's something with how I have it set up, because Googling doesn't show anyone else having this problem. I do like the channel selection, I've added a few "private channels" that are helping me create a cable tv replacement. BTW, "private channels" means it's an unofficial channel, one that has been created by 3rd party developers that hasn't yet been approved for (or even submitted to) the Roku Channel Store. I kind of wish that they used a different phrase to describe these channels, because to me "private channel" sounds like porn.

Anyway- I'm currently watching an episode of House Hunters on my HGTV channel. The picture gets a little pixel-y at times, usually when a video first starts, but for the most part the picture looks good. I watched a movie on the Netflix channel the other night and the picture looked just as good as streaming via the PS3. I've read some complaints online about the sound on the Roku, but honestly I can't tell the difference. Maybe if I bought a big fancy surround sound system I could hear the difference, but that's not going to happen any time soon. I haven't used the Hulu Plus channel yet, but I'm assuming it's going to be the same as when I used my free trial on the PS3.

My favorite thing so far about the Roku is that it's given me a chance to use Amazon Video On Demand. Now, I recognize that I could have watched it on my computer before I bought the Roku, but I never did. I'm an Amazon Prime member, so there is a selection of movies and TV shows that I can watch for free. However, their selection is kind of weak compared to Netflix. But, if I do go ahead and cut my cable I think I might use Amazon VOD more. I discovered when I was using my Hulu Plus trial a few months ago that AMC's TV shows weren't part of the Hulu lineup. But while searching through TV shows on Amazon's website, I noticed that they have a season pass for the AMC show The Killing for 94 cents an episode. In HD. I didn't have HD with my cable subscription because I'm too freakin' cheap to pay extra for it. But Amazon had the HD and the standard version season passes for the same price (buying individual HD episodes costs more). And at less than a dollar per episode, I'd be paying less than $13 for a show I like in HD, which is much less than I pay for cable.

So far it looks like I'll be dumping my cable subscription at the end of the month. I'm starting Grad School in the fall and the city is going to raise my water bill (last I heard they were raising it by 43%). I've gotta save money somewhere, and cable, while fun, is inessential. It's not like I can cut electricity. Or groceries. I'll continue on with this experiment for a little while longer, but it looks like the Roku is a good device for me.

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