How the Roku is Helping Me Beat My Cable TV Costs
How I Learned About the Roku
Late last year, I was complaining to a friend that I was unable to watch TV because my TV converter box was always breaking up the image/sound quality on my screen. Most people had by then purchased cable TV subscriptions in order to watch "regular" TV. However, I didn't want to shell out the money for cable because I hardly watched TV to begin with, and in the summer the set just gathered dust. My friend recommended that I look into getting a Roku streaming device for my television. She said that this device would only cost me about $100 and allow me to watch a ton of different programs from sites like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon videos, Pandora, Crackle, etc. I'd never before heard of this Roku, but I definitely intrigued.
So, What is the Roku Anyway?
The Roku, which is actually a 4th generation streaming device from Netflix, hooks up to your TV set and streams Internet content from sites like Netflix, Hulu, etc. As such, you must have an Internet connection in your house. The Roku device can pick up Wi-Fi signal, although you can also connect a "wired" Internet connection directly into the Roku as well. The Roku operates with both HD (through an HDMI slot) and regular TV (via the red, white and yellow cables) sets, so you needn't worry about buying the latest and greatest TV in order to enjoy the Roku.
The Roku also comes in four different models and price ranges: There is the Roku LT for about $50, the Roku 2 HD for $60, the Toku 2 XD for $80, and the top-of-the-line Roku 2 XS, which runs about $100. The more money you pay, the more/better features and resolution you receive. All the models support 720p video, for instance, but the Roku 2 XD and XS models can go up to 1080p. The XD/XS models also offer a microSD card for storing game/channel settings. Meanwhile, the Roku 2 XS comes bundled with a Bluetooth game remote control as well as ethernet and USB ports.
What Programs Does Roku Stream?
After I installed my Roku 2 XS, I was able to access Netflix, Roku Newscaster, Hulu Plus, Amazon video, Crackle, much like I would access through my computer. I also found a host of audio channels preloaded onto the Roku, such as Pandora. Typical online news channels like CNBC, Fox News, WSJ Live and NBC News were also available and streaming.
Many of these channels are absolutely free while others require that you pay a pay-per-view or monthly fee. While the biggest complaint of Roku owners is that they must still pay a fee to watch certain programs, the same would be true if you had cable TV and wanted to watch a special game or movie. The Roku merely streams the Internet to your TV; it does not cover subscription or pay-per-view fees.
Roku and Netflix versus Cable
I already have a Netflix subscription that costs me $8.43/month for a one-at-a-time DVD subscription. My Roku 2 XS costs me exactly $88 with shipping. Assuming I get at least one year's use of my Roku, my TV-watching costs come out to $15.76/month. Compare that to the cost of even basic cable, which is roughly $65/month, and you can see how I'm saving about $50/month on my TV-viewing pleasure.
Angry Birds is Preloaded on the Roku 2 XS
It may be a small selling point to some, but I loved the fact that my Roku 2 XS came preloaded with the game Angry Birds. Since I don't have a smartphone, the only time I could play Angry Birds was on Facebook. Now, using my Bluetooth remote game controller, I could play Angry Birds by just moving my remote-holding hand over the TV screen. This remote operates much like the Wii game controllers.