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Hey Kids! No more Cable TV, It’s time for Roku!

Date: April 26, 2013 Author: Eli Categories: Blog, Family Media Use, Parents, Product Reviews 3

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As you may have read from my wife, Stefanie, we have decided to pull the plug on cable TV! While it may seem daunting to some, the entire experience has been smooth and we really don’t miss our cable TV provider.  Why? because of a little box called Roku.  Roku manufactures a variety of digital media receivers that allow customers to access internet streamed video or audio services through televisions. This includes subscription-based services like Netflix and Hulu, as well as services that are available through the receiver free of charge, like TED TV, Ustream and Vimeo.

Product: Roku (www.roku.com)

Pros: Quick Setup, Easily stream media to your TV, Customized TV viewing experience, Dramatic reduction in monthly expense, Less Toy commercials for your kids :)

Cons: Local news coverage is only available in specific areas, Limited (but available) sports coverage

Cost: one time fee of $49.99 – $99.99 (Depending on the model you purchase).  Your only monthly charges will be from streaming memberships like Netflix, or individual content purchases from Amazon.

Tips for Roku Success with your Family

1. Search through your Roku or Roku.com and download channel apps that are valuable to your family.  Some of the FREE apps that we like include TED TV, Nowhere TV, Vevo, PBS Kids and Vimeo.

2. Get a membership to Netflix or HuluPlus.  While Roku has a lot of free content options, paying for a Netflix membership will give you access to a larger spectrum of Nickelodeon and Disney content while also giving the adults access to movies and critically acclaimed TV shows like Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey.

Baby watching TV3. Use Amazon Instant Video on Roku to download movie rentals and singular episodes of TV shows not on Netflix, like Homeland or Real Housewives of Atlanta.

4. Add FREE “private” channels to your Roku.  These channels can not be downloaded straight from the Roku channel browser, but with a few simple steps you can add a larger set of viewing options to your library.  Here are steps for adding a private channel and an ever growing list of channels available.

5. Get a digital TV antenna.  You will be able to receive HD quality basic network channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, etc).

6. If your antenna does not get a good signal.  Sign up for Aereo or USTVNow  to get live TV as needed.  These services give you the opportunity to watch live TV with a DVR for as low as $1 a day or $8 a month.  No one wants to miss the SuperBowl.

7. Keep an open mind and be willing to learn a new approach to managing your TV viewing experience.  TV has been “pushed” to you for years, now you will be “pulling” just the content you are interested in consuming.


What do I really think of Roku?

Overall, I am pretty happy with our decision to kick Cable TV to the curb.  Streaming internet content has been a success and we are not looking back.  We are saving some money, we are choosing educational, appropriate and fun content that works for our family, and our daughter can still dance with Yo Gabba Gabba.

Have  you had a similar experience?  What tools are you using to create a managed and customized TV experience for your family?  Have you gotten rid of TV altogether?

 

Eli Brown is the co-founder of Preschoology, where he is known as the resident Tech-Dad. As a computer engineer and doting father, he has a passion for making technology work for families. Eli spends his days (and some nights!) working as a project manager for a financial software company. He and his wife, Stefanie, spend their free time coming up with concepts for mobile apps to help young children learn and grow.

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  • Daniel

    Hi Eli: I’ve kicked Cable/Satellite TV to the curb couple years ago. Instead of Roku, I’ve got an Apple TV for steaming Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, Podcasts and my own content using iTunes Home Sharing. So far, I’m very happy so I got another Apple TV. I’m still interested in Roku (especially the Roku 3) for the ability to add many channels. I’ve also got a Mohu Leaf Antenna for broadcast TV.

    • Eli Brown

      Hi Daniel… Thanks for the comment… yeah… I went back and forth between Apple TV and Roku. I ended up choosing Roku because of the additional channels. Roku is kind of like having a “jail broken” Apple TV. There are so many additional channels you can not get on the Apple TV. Either way, its a win. I am sure I would have been happy with an Apple TV as well. I tried using the Mohu Leaf, but I could not get a good signal. No worries though, I was able to get the news using Nowhere TV on Roku.

      • Daniel

        Hi Eli: Roku 3 has been getting rave reviews so far. The new interface is supposed to be able to search all channels for media. I’m so ingrained in the Apple ecosystem (iPhone, iPad and Macs) so I went with the Apple TV. The Mohu Leaf had much better reception that my old rabbit ears. I’ve also ordered MiiPC which allows you to use Android Apps and Desktop on your TV. Look forward to receiving in August.