I just cut the cord

Chris0nllyn

Well-Known Member
I just got rid of cable in favor of online streaming services. I'll try and document my experiences and any questions here and likely re-visit some things that have been discussed previously in other threads.

First step is to understand how things work. Services like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc. stream some level of video, TV shows, or movies. You pay some monthly fee (based on the level of subscription you choose) to watch them. Streaming devices such as Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, etc. are a "one stop shop" for your online streaming subscriptions and simply houses your subscriptions in one area. In some cases, your TV may be a "smart TV" and come with "apps" like Netflix, VUDU, etc. If your TV comes with your service, you may not need a streaming device.

I chose a Roku Streaming Stick as my streaming device because it's easy to use, cheap to buy (free to use), and has TONS of options for "apps" outside of the bigger name ones I mentioned above. I chose to go this route even though I have some smart TVs because my TVs didn't include all the streaming services I use. One nice things about the Roku (and maybe other devices) is that, unlike cable, you aren't charged any additional money for additional TVs.

Streaming services I chose (or already had) are Netflix, PrimeTV, and SlingTV. Netflix is primarily an "on-demand" movie and show streaming service. You pick and choose what tyou want to watch. Same with PrimeTV. Each has a collection of their "exclusive" or "original" series/movies. What about regular old TV stations? Here's where SlingTV comes in. They offer different TV "packages" that include about 20-25 channels or you can get the combo package for $40/month. SlingTV also has a current offer where if you pre-pay for two months of SlingTV, they send you a free Roku (another reason I went with Roku).

In all, I have 4 TVs. Bedroom, Living Room, Basement, and Shed (yes, shed). Roku offers different devices. Some include 4K, some include MIMO (multi-input, multi-output) wireless support, etc. I chose the Streaming Stick because it's basic (I don't need or subscribe to 4K streaming services) but does include TV volume and on/off control (limiting having to use two remotes). I bought 3 of them from Amazon during Cyber Week for 40% off ($30 ea.) and knew that I'd be getting another free one from Sling with their offer (note that the Roku Express comes with Sling. This doesn't offer volume or on/off control, but otherwise the same). The free Roku Express will be going in the shed.

Once the devices showed up, the next step was setup. The setup for Roku was incredibly easy. It plugs directly into the HDMI port and is powered by a USB connection. If your TV does not have a USB port (or that port does not have enough power to power the Roku), the Roku comes with a wall plug. Once plugged in, it'll ask you for WiFi login details. Once that's done it auto-detects the TV for volume control and auto-detects the display (1080p, 720p, etc). It then displays a code. Go online to Roku, set up an account (it's free) and link your device to your account. From this page you can also automatically select and sign-in to any apps you want like Netflix, Hulu, VUDU, PrimeTV, Pandora, etc. In all, 3 TVs took less than 30 minutes.

Now that my Rokus were up and running and all working, next step was to call my cable company. We had just gotten off our 2-year promotional deal and were stuck paying a bunch of money each month for TV and internet. Yes, you can haggle with them if you choose but I've done it for 4 years and am done with it. I had 150Mbs internet service with my old promotion and found it was overkill. Netflix recommends 5Mbs for HD quality video, for example, but you'll need to decide for yourself if your internet plan is enough. I ended up downgrading to a 60Mbs service and tested it playing Sling on one TV, Netflix on another, 2 cell phones using the internet, and a laptop. There have been only a few minor blips where Sling had to buffer, but not bad. If you have more people in your house or will use more devices at once, a faster service may be needed. You could always start off at a lower level of service and work your way up (or tell the kids to get off their devices if they're not working).

I found it incredibly easy to change my services. For all the grief Comcast (rightfully) gets, their customer service team seems leaps and bounds better than the last time I had the pleasure of calling them. I was able to change my service and downgrade my internet with minor fuss ("So why are you downgrading, if you don't mind me asking").

Previously, I was paying $195/mo. for internet and TV (with HBO), plus $11/mo. for Netflix and for most people PrimeTV would be $13/mo (I have Amazon Prime Business so it's different in my case) meaning that we were paying about $219/mo to watch TV.

The 60Mbs service is $75/mo (plus fees), Sling TV is $45/mo (Blue+Orange+Starz), and of course the $11 and $13/mo (for comparison sake) from Netflix and Prime, respectively, bringing the monthly total to $144. Round up to $160/mo (fees from cable) and we're saving about $60/mo or $720/year.

The main thing for us wasn't to cut things to bare minimum and save as much as we could, it was to pay for what we actually use. Way to often we found ourselves flipping through a thousand channels of nothing on. We got Starz because my wife like Outlander but could cancel it when the show isn't on. Same with HBO. We chose not to get it right now until Game of Thrones comes back.

For the sports fans out there, SlingTV gives you the local channels so you'll be able to watch the same games you normally would. Note that the seperate "Blue" and "Orange" Sling packages have different channels so you may not get ESPN, for example, on "Blue" (thus no MNF). You can also get sports package add-ons for a few bucks per month extra. That includes NFL RedZone, NHL Network, and some college channels.

All in all, the Roku is a bit slower to access content than cable. It's also subject to any obvious bandwidth issues. i.e. if your neighborhood is all at home on a snowy Saturday and using their internet, it may be slower for you but that largely depends on factors not in your control (though your internet provider may use it as a chance to up-sell your service). I have been surprised with how small the change has been and so far am happy with Roku and the services mentioned.

Helpful links:
Roku devices: https://www.roku.com/products/players
Sling channels: https://www.sling.com/service
Netflix speed recommendations: https://help.netflix.com/en/node/306
Sling speed recommendations: https://help.sling.com/en/support/solutions/articles/33000218989-what-do-i-need-to-get-started-with-sling-tv-
Amazon Prime: https://www.amazon.com/amazonprime?_encoding=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Hopefully that helps. I'm sure I missed something so if anyone has any specific questions, feel free to ask.
 
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GURPS

INGSOC
PREMO Member
I just got rid of cable in favor of online streaming services.

Hopefully that helps. I'm sure I missed something so if anyone has any specific questions, feel free to ask.
Congratz ...

... and Shed (yes, shed).
Isolated Man Cave FTW :yay:
Mine is 12 x 24

We got Starz because my wife like Outlander but could cancel it when the show isn't on. Same with HBO. We chose not to get it right now until Game of Thrones comes back.
if you are Morally opposed to some 'downloading' you really need not purchase those services again
 
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Airgasm

Well-Known Member
I just got rid of cable in favor of online streaming services. I'll try and document my experiences and any questions here and likely re-visit some things that have been discussed previously in other threads.


Hopefully that helps. I'm sure I missed something so if anyone has any specific questions, feel free to ask.
Wow, Impressive summary and a big help as I'm contemplating the switch as well and being out of touch with the options, its a bit overwhelming!

:cheers:
 

Chris0nllyn

Well-Known Member
Isolated Man Cave FTW :yay:
Mine is 12 x 24

if you are Morally opposed to some 'downloading' you really need not purchase those services again
Mine is about the same. Due for a re-build here shortly but until then it houses all "my" junk.

I'm not opposed to it but I can already see how it would go if I gave my wife a laundry list of instructions to watch her show(s).

Wow, Impressive summary and a big help as I'm contemplating the switch as well and being out of touch with the options, its a bit overwhelming!

:cheers:
Glad it helps. With so much out there it took me a good 2 months to search, learn, and finally make the decision. Any specific questions let me know.
 

PeoplesElbow

Well-Known Member
The ABC app is excellent, most of their content is free after it is a week old.

If you like any of the CW shows, the same.
 

GURPS

INGSOC
PREMO Member
I'm not opposed to it but I can already see how it would go if I gave my wife a laundry list of instructions to watch her show(s).
I acquire movies the family wishes to view, copy them to a PC connected to the Living Room TV .... from there the 13 yr old can handle it

I can also stream with VLC right off of the File Server ...


for my personal viewing pleasure I acquire whatever TV Shows I wish view [which is very few] ... usually at the end of a season and I binge all at once
 

Kyle

Imagine No Democrats
PREMO Member
I'll offer you one piece of advice.

If you go with Roku, it might be better to opt for the high end box for two reasons.

The processing power is better and it has an Ethernet port on it.

I have used Roku for four years now, with several different services and they all have one thing in common. Buffering is minimized or eliminated when you go to the RJ45 connection vs WiFi.
 

vraiblonde

Board Mommy
Staff member
PREMO Member
Chris, that was very comprehensive and helpful. :yay:

I have a Smart TV with Amazon Prime, and we get cable from wherever the house is parked.

Here's my question:

Occasionally we run into an RV park that has wifi too weak to stream TV solidly. Would a Roku stick or some similar device help that? Or is it just an app stick?
 

Chris0nllyn

Well-Known Member
I'll offer you one piece of advice.

If you go with Roku, it might be better to opt for the high end box for two reasons.

The processing power is better and it has an Ethernet port on it.

I have used Roku for four years now, with several different services and they all have one thing in common. Buffering is minimized or eliminated when you go to the RJ45 connection vs WiFi.
I've already noticed some lagging issues with the Streaming Stick so if it continues we may op for an upgraded unit.

Chris, that was very comprehensive and helpful. :yay:

I have a Smart TV with Amazon Prime, and we get cable from wherever the house is parked.

Here's my question:

Occasionally we run into an RV park that has wifi too weak to stream TV solidly. Would a Roku stick or some similar device help that? Or is it just an app stick?
No, it wouldn't help. Roku just houses the streaming services you use in one spot.
 

PeoplesElbow

Well-Known Member
I'll offer you one piece of advice.

If you go with Roku, it might be better to opt for the high end box for two reasons.

The processing power is better and it has an Ethernet port on it.

I have used Roku for four years now, with several different services and they all have one thing in common. Buffering is minimized or eliminated when you go to the RJ45 connection vs WiFi.
I have not noticed a difference, as long as you have the black stick, the old purple one was really under powered though.

I didn't even notice an issue with the stick when I had DSL for internet.
 

awpitt

Main Streeter
I just got rid of cable in favor of online streaming services. I'll try and document my experiences and any questions here and likely re-visit some things that have been discussed previously in other threads..........
Thanks for posting. Very informative. I'm moving toward cutting the cord as well. I've been "testing" YouTube TV and it seems to have everything I'm looking for. It allows six accounts per subscription so I just put a Chromecast on each of the TV and we each logging in our own Google accounts to access shows and "DVR" function.
 

SamSpade

Well-Known Member
Thanks for posting. Very informative. I'm moving toward cutting the cord as well. I've been "testing" YouTube TV and it seems to have everything I'm looking for. It allows six accounts per subscription so I just put a Chromecast on each of the TV and we each logging in our own Google accounts to access shows and "DVR" function.
Two questions.

1. Why do you need a Chromecast for each TV? I am guessing it's because you do NOT have a streaming device per TV?
2. Have you had - glitches - with your Chromecast? How long have you had your oldest one? I tried to stream a YouTube
video for my kids, and it kept "popping" so we went with a YouTube streaming channel right on the Roku TV.
 

awpitt

Main Streeter
Two questions.


1. Why do you need a Chromecast for each TV? I am guessing it's because you do NOT have a streaming device per TV?

So we can watch something different on each TV. The Chromecasts are my streaming devices. The content comes from whatever I’m casting at the moment.










Two questions.


2. Have you had - glitches - with your Chromecast? How long have you had your oldest one? I tried to stream a YouTube
video for my kids, and it kept "popping" so we went with a YouTube streaming channel right on the Roku TV.

I have one of the original models and the next newer one and have had no problems.
 

SamSpade

Well-Known Member
So we can watch something different on each TV. The Chromecasts are my streaming devices. The content comes from whatever I’m casting at the moment..
Yeah, this is what bugged me about Chromecast - it doesn't actually stream, it just re-directs from a laptop or phone.
If it does otherwise, I am not aware of it. I've mostly used it to send videos from things like Facebook so the family can watch.

PERSONALLY - I really like the TCL series of Roku TVs. They are incredibly cheap, and once you're used to the interface, easy to use.
We have three of them, and two other TVs have the Fire Stick. MUCH prefer the Roku TV.
 

awpitt

Main Streeter
Yeah, this is what bugged me about Chromecast - it doesn't actually stream, it just re-directs from a laptop or phone.
If it does otherwise, I am not aware of it. I've mostly used it to send videos from things like Facebook so the family can watch.

PERSONALLY - I really like the TCL series of Roku TVs. They are incredibly cheap, and once you're used to the interface, easy to use.
We have three of them, and two other TVs have the Fire Stick. MUCH prefer the Roku TV.
Actually, I like that flexibility. I can use whatever (phone, tablet, PC) to stream whatever (YouTube TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc) via the Chromecasts. I'm not tied to whatever is built into the device. And with YouTube TV, my TVs are just like having CATV.
 

SamSpade

Well-Known Member
Actually, I like that flexibility. I can use whatever (phone, tablet, PC) to stream whatever (YouTube TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc) via the Chromecasts. I'm not tied to whatever is built into the device. And with YouTube TV, my TVs are just like having CATV.
(shrug)

I'm one of those people who - while watching a movie or show at home - is on his phone or laptop looking stuff up, especially
to answer "where have we seen him before?". My wife is REALLY good at that - we'll watch an old movie, and she'll perk up and say
omigosh, do you KNOW who that is?
 

awpitt

Main Streeter
(shrug)

I'm one of those people who - while watching a movie or show at home - is on his phone or laptop looking stuff up, especially
to answer "where have we seen him before?". My wife is REALLY good at that - we'll watch an old movie, and she'll perk up and say
omigosh, do you KNOW who that is?
I tend to do the same thing and can since not all of my devices are tied up in order to watch TV
 

SamSpade

Well-Known Member
I tend to do the same thing and can since not all of my devices are tied up in order to watch TV
We were watching Criminal Minds yesterday and I piped up "wow, that's Penelope Ann Miller - Kindergarten Cop lady?".

Gone was the button nose and pouty lips - but her voice had not changed at all. I knew immediately it was her.

*SOMETIMES* if you listen carefully - especially on animations - you can almost catch a joke or two in the dialogue
when a line will refer to a role by someone who's doing the voice.
 

Chris0nllyn

Well-Known Member
A few months in update:

Still chugging along. It's getting a workout here recently. A few items of note.

- No CBS on Sling, so some football games can't be watched and no Super Bowl. You can pay for and download the CBA All-Access app on Roku (or other platform) if you want to watch CBS or their shows that bad.
- You have to be mindful of the limited number of streams available. For example, Fox5 is under Sling Blue and has up to 3 streams. ESPN is under Sling Orange and only 1 stream. So, I can watch Fox5 on 3 TVs (or 2 TVs and 1 phone, or some combination) at the same time but I cannot watch ESPN on more than 1 TV at a time.
- The Roku itself is slow at times. It seems to get hung up and won't let you do anything for 30+seconds. Often times it'll simply cut off and go back to its home screen. I'm not sure if this is a firmware issue with the Roku, or Sling is kicking you out due to bandwidth issues.
- The previews are nice. I've had 2 different ones so far. Sling gives you a package to preview for a few days/week. Last one was a news package with a bunch of news channels. Saw one for the LGBT community, one for Glenn Beck (The Blaze), etc. The current preview is NBA (LeaguePass maybe?) but each team's channel is shown. Hardly anything on outside of a game, but if you're a hardcore NBA fan (especially of a team not in your local market), it may be nice.
 
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