Providers and Devices
"Cutting the Cord," the process of ditching traditional cable and satellite content providers for cheaper online-based services, is nothing new. For years, consumers have cancelled their cable subscriptions (or declined to even subscribe in the first place), opting instead to get their entertainment from companies like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.
But the recent introduction of online streaming TV services like Sling TV, new technologies like HDR, and the slow online adoption of live local channels has made the idea of cord cutting more complicated. While cord cutters who are happy with just Netflix and YouTube need not worry, what are the solutions for those who don't like the idea of high cost cable subscriptions but also want to preserve access to things like local channels and the latest 4K HDR content?
This article is the first in a three-part series that will look at this "high-end" cord cutting scenario. We'll be taking a look at the options for online streaming TV, access to local "OTA" (over the air) channels, and the devices that can handle it all, including DVR support, 4K output, and HDR compliance.
There are two approaches that you can take when considering the cord cutting process. The first is to focus on capabilities: Do you want 4K? HDR? Lossless surround sound audio? Voice search? Gaming?
The second approach is to focus on content: Do you want live TV or à la carte downloads? Can you live without ESPN or must it and your other favorite networks still be available? Are you heavily invested in iTunes content? Perhaps most importantly for those concerned with the "Spousal Acceptance Factor" (SAP), do you want the majority of your content contained in a single app, which can prevent you and your family members from having to jump between apps or devices to find what they want?
While most people on the cord cutting path will consider both approaches to a certain degree, it's easier to focus on the one that's most important to you, as that will make other choices involving devices and content easier. Of course, there are those of us out there that are open to purchasing and using multiple devices and content sources at once, giving us everything at the expense of increased complexity. But most cord cutters, especially those with families, will want to pursue a setup based around a single device that accommodates most, if not all, of their needs. And that's exactly what we set out to find.
Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2017 - 12:41 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Roku announced updated hardware and software today, which The Register linked to here. The Roku Express and Roku Express+ have had a speed upgrade, with an increase in responsiveness of five times while the Streaming Stick and Streaming Stick+ now come with a voice activated remote, the higher end model will be capable of 4K and 4K HDR up to 60fps. The top end Roku Ultra offers the same features as its predecessor but now at a lower price.
More interesting is the software update, Roku OS 8 now lets you search over the air TV in its menu if you have an antenna configured and if you have an account with providers such as Dish, Cox or AT&T you will be able to access them on your Roku. You should expect to see the update become available for existing Roku devices as well as these new models later this month.
"The company is still leading the streaming media box market, in large part because it is simply better and offers more than its main competitors in AppleTV, Amazon's Fire TV, and Google's Chromecast."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- How OpenBSD and Linux Mitigate Security Bugs @ Linux.com
- Nvidia partners with Gigabyte and Leadtek for AI, says paper @ DigiTimes
- John McAfee finally reveals Sentinel anti-hacking system @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft extends its Skype-on-a-bike redesign to Linux users @ The Inquirer
- Shortages of all-screen displays to continue into 2018 @ DigiTimes
- Smart burglar alarms: Look who just tossed their hat into the ring ... It's, er, Ring @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2014 - 02:13 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: streaming stick, roku, Netflix, media streaming, chromecast
Roku has launched a new Streaming Stick for HD TVs with HDMI inputs. The small USB flash drive-sized device is powered by USB and plugs into the HDMI input of your television. From there, users can access the Roku app store to get thousands of streaming media channels including television, movies, sports, and music. For example, users can access media from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, VUDU, Pandora, and Spotify.
The Roku Streaming Stick can pass up to 1080p video and 7.1 channel digital audio to the TV. It can be controlled via a physical remote or an Android or iOS smartphone application. Roku is using RF for the hardware remote and Wi-Fi direct for the smartphone-to-Streaming Stick connection, which means that line of sight is not necessary (which is important since most TV HDMI ports are recessed on the back panel). Speaking of wireless, the Streaming Stick pulls its media from a Wi-Fi network connection, with support for dual band 802.11 a/b/g/n networks (2.4GHz or 5GHz).
Using the smartphone application, users can browse for and queue content. In general, the Roku stick can go out and fetch media on its own without a smartphone or computer intermediary passing the content. However, it does support limited “casting” functionality similar to Google’s Chromecast. In this mode, users, can pass YouTube, Netflix, and personal (on device) media over to the TV from the smartphone. Roku has stated that casting support for other media streams and casting from a PC is coming in the future.
Roku’s new Chromecast competitor is available for pre-order now for $49.99 with availability expected in April. The price is on the high side, but it does offer access to all of Roku’s channels, a physical remote for basic playback and navigation controls, is able to stream media on its own, and is also able to do media push functionality similar to the Chromecast (but in a more limited fashion at the moment). More devices and competition in this space is a good thing though!
Will you be picking up a Roku Streaming Stick or holding out for something else?