SHCC WYSIWYG Article from May 2017

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This article was written by Don VanSyckel, the club president, as a part of "The President's Pen".  This article appeared in the May 2017 WYSIWYG newsletter.

Roku an Alternative Video Source

by Don VanSyckel

Recuperating means you are limited to being on your butt and have a lot of time on your hands, so I thought I'd investigate the alternative video delivery sources namely the web based services. I investigated the Roku and decide it was the way I wanted to go. Roku's are available various places both locally and on line. Each retailer does not necessarily carry every model Roku so if interested I research on the Roku web site and then find who sells it. All the local stores that sell Roku's sell them at the list price which I found a bit odd.

Roku can output composite video but in today's electronics the HDMI output is much better. On line streaming content falls into four categories. The video type and the audio type. YouTube is a cross over because people like me turn on a music channel and listen, rarely looking at the video content. Then within the video and the audio types there are both the free and the pay services.

There really isn't anything that's free. The free content doesn't charge you money, they charge you your time to wade through advertisements. The other issue with the free content such as Crackle, which streams movies free, is they provide a list of a few hundred movies arranged in a few categories such as comedy, adventure, drama, etc. The list is not alphabetical and there isn't a search function so finding a movie your interested in watching is hit and miss, mostly miss. Then when your watching the movie the system stops the movie and shows you a couple of ads occasionally. Unlike broadcast TV where ads are inserted at specific points in the show, the ads are apparently inserted on a time basis which can interrupt the movie at awkward points. It was way too much work to use Crackle for way too little benefit. I previewed a couple other free movie sites and they all seemed to have roughly the same format. So I decided free content was too costly.

I then looked at SlingTV and HULU. SlingTV looked good but the $20 per month which they advertise was not going to do it. I would need services in the $60 to $70 per month range. Add on the cost of internet service and I'd be back to what I'm paying for cable TV and internet now. Various places mentioned that you can use multiple devices such as Roku, a tablet, or a smart phone; then I had a thought, while they mention different devices, I hadn't seen anything about concurrently. It was an effort but I finally found that one SlingTV or HULU account can only be used by one device at a time. We have four TVs and while my wife and I only use two at a time, two $60 per month subscriptions plus internet fee kills that idea. HULU didn't match our viewing needs as good as SlingTV but that's a person by person thing.

The other advantage to a Roku is you can take it with you when you travel. Most, or at least many, hotels have newer flat screen TVs with an HDMI input. I haven't tried this yet but there is information on the web about how to do it. The only issue is getting the Roku connected to the hotel network if they use a network service with questions you have to answer to connect. If the network is open like a home network, then there should be no issue.

Two of our TVs are smart TVs and two aren't. So that the Roku is not a waste, I intend to move it to one of the regular TVs since it will give that TV all the features we use on the smart TVs.

End of Article

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