Sunday, September 6, 2015

Update for Roku

I figured I would do an update from my last post about the Roku 3 Streaming Media Player.

It's been a solid 3 weeks or so, and I've got quite the collection of apps on the device. This past week I had ordered a red Monoprice Select Series High-Speed HDMI Cable 1.5 Feet Supports Ethernet, 3D, 4K and Audio Return in hopes that the flickering would stop while I am trying to watch something. I don't need anything bigger than 1.5 feet; I am not trying to connect the world in various rooms.I'm perfectly content in the Roku sitting behind my TV as the remote does a good job in sending a signal to the Roku anywhere in the house. Which is odd, considering you need to hook up the device to your TV. I guess it can be used for those who have a home theater system, where they have some sort of projector (with an HDMI input) and plan on streaming from far away. Even still, why would you need anything longer than 2 feet of cord?

But anyway, just a couple days after ordering the cable, I received it in the mail. Hooked it up and voila; flicker rate is nil. I'm glad I researched the problem before I got truly invested in anything stressful. Come to find out, the flickering is one of those things you either have to deal with, or you get a noise cancelling HDMI cable. That's basically what this Monoprice wire is. It has little nubs on either end that (I guess) stop anything from coming or going into this cable that is not the audio and video signal that it should be.

So what have I been doing with this media player now that I've got everything hooked up?

One of the first things I watched was Dana Carvey: Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies. I had found it via the HBO Go app. From 2008, the guy is spot on in all his impersonations (see "Oracle Ronald Reagan") and his issues with his loving parents and his children (see: they're growing up too quickly and are in need of various sized condoms). Mr. Carvey isn't completely raunchy (no outlandish cursing or anything), but the whole condom bit was pretty funny. The second (and third) thing I saw were Tig Notaro specials, again, via the HBO app. She's okay as a comedienne, but can be rather monotone in how she tells her jokes.

Not everything has been HBO; I've started watching the Showtime / American version of Shameless (yet again). Thus far, I'm 7 episodes in. I was watching it when it originally aired, but got sick of it. I had seen every episode / season of the original Paul Abbott series, and thought this William H. Macy version was too much verbatim of the Manchester Gallaghers. I've read that season two of the Showtime allows the Yanks to do their own thing and any similarities between the Chatsworth and Chicagoans are null and void.

Suggestion: Anyone looking to invest in the original series, Amazon is selling series 1-11 as a box set, and you're going to need a multi region dvd player. Most players these days come with the North American adapter with the European plug / unit so there's no worry about buying anything extra. Just read the accessory list before you buy. I would honestly look into this comedy, as it's a definite change from the norm. It takes a few episodes to get used to, in regards to the accents, but worth every moment. Do some digging if you don't want to spend the money to get all 11 seasons together, and want to do one by one. It may be cheaper to buy in one swoop, and if you don't like it, there's always an auction site to resell it. *Shrugs*

What else is good with this Roku, now that I've gotten side tracked?

To reiterate a couple basic needs:

  • As long as you have a cable subscription, you are going to need to log into your subscriber's email to verify the app to run on your Roku.
    • If you have premium channels, you're going to need to log in to your cable email to watch something. I haven't looked in to every available app, but Showtime is the only one that I've seen that offers a second tiered app on for a cost. One app is "free" with cable subscription and the other one (actual Showtime streaming app) is $10.99 a month after a 30 day trial. It's the same premise as the free version, except you're not tied to a cable company. That's a good deal, considering Comcast is charging us an extra $10 a month to add Showtime to our line up.
    • HBO on the other hand, has a 30 day free trial and then costs $14.99 a month for "HBO Now". The freebie is "HBO Go" that comes with the cable subscription. HBO Now doesn't look like it's available (yet) for Roku, but it is for the streaming devices. The more I think about it, I think if you can figure out how to mirror the app from your phone / tablet or PC onto the Roku, you shouldn't have a problem streaming this app. But don't quote me; I haven't attempted to mirror anything yet. 
  • Once you pay for your Roku, you're essentially paying for whatever you want to watch. With all the free apps available (I've had on Sky News a couple times already), there's plenty to choose from. Kids must have hundreds of channels, and I even found a Jim Henson one, and all the seasons of Fraggle Rock is loaded. YAY!!!!! Brings me back to my youth *big grin*.

The more I sit and work at this device, the more I find things. I've got the iHeartRadio app and am able to listen to Boston radio stations, I've got the Weather Underground (weather app) to find out how hot it is, some retro TV channels to watch really old school shows, and a lot more. Every day I'm finding something new. So is this a good buy? I think so; like I've stated in other posts, this is more user friendly than Chromecast was to set up. Once you get the quirks out of the way (the HDMI cable, the registering a credit card, etc), this device is worth the investment.