Monday, January 16, 2012

Instant Video Streaming to Your TV

In case you couldn't tell, there's something in common that you can find in pretty much all of our articles. For the most part they are all overwhelmingly positive, and the reason for that is twofold. First of all, we really only like talking about things that we like, and second of all it's because there is so much great technology out there that makes the things we want to do with entertainment easier and better. But this week we'll be getting into video and TV-related things a little bit, including some new ways to tie that into the Kindle Fire, and we're going to find out that there are things coming out for the Fire that can't really be recommended at all. So we'll step up to the task of defending your money by letting you know what is out there that is too expensive, too troublesome, and just plain unnecessary.

But we'll kick off the week with something we can be very positive about: Roku Streaming Players, which have saved me literally like $1000 over the past year.

Roku Boxes like this one allow you to stream video from the internet onto your TV. It has a built-in WiFi connection that transport all of the things you watch online--Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, and Amazon Instant Video--right onto your TV screen so you can watch them from the couch. All of the movies and TV you get with the Amazon Prime trial that came with your Fire works as well.

Odds are that this isn't the first time you've heard about Roku either. In fact, I'm willing to bet we get plenty of great comments from people who already have one and love it. And the reviews across all models are very strong. Basically, the devices are easy to plug into almost any TV bought within the last decade. It comes with HDMI and A/V cables for both HD TV and non, remote, power adapter, WiFi connector, and batteries. Setup is a snap, and then you'll be able to start creating channels from any content online, even things like your Flickr account, giving you easy access to everything right on your TV.

There are 4 different models with ascending capabilities and prices ranging from $49.99 to $99.99. The higher you go up the ladder, the better the video quality and the more perks there are. The top one even includes a copy of Angry Birds and other games that you can play on your TV, but all of them will do the job of streaming video. It just depends how hi-tech your TV setup is.

Roku LT - $49.99                                     Roku 2 HD - $69.99

Roku 2 XD 1080p - $77.09                      Roku 2 XS 1080p - $99.99

Here's where I let you in on a little secret. These things have saved me ten times there price in as many months. I used to have a fancy satellite TV package with a bajillion channels, and it used to cost me about $100 a month. I had all of that, but I still only watched a handful of shows that I liked. First, I got rid of my expensive satellite package, and now I spend maybe $20-30 a month on Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus. It's still more than I could ever watch, but at least it's not breaking the bank. I think it's safe to say I'll never pay for cable or satellite again.

Give it a look and see if it's right for you!


  1. This is excellent advice, Gadget. Our family recently gave up our Direct TV package to stream our programming. We have Roku for the downstairs television and we stream from a laptop upstairs. With Amazon prime, Hulu+, and Netflix, we aren't missing the old system at all. We even get all the sports packages we had with Direct TV, but SO MUCH cheaper through online packages! My husband says we'll save about $800/year. :)

  2. That's definitely awesome, Shannon. Glad it's been working out for you!

  3. Do you know how much I can watch in this manner if I have a 5 GB monthly internet allowance? I live in a very rural area without many internet choices.

    Thank you

  4. How does the Roku 2 XS 1080 compare to a Mac TV 2?

  5. Hi Laura, 5GB really isn't a huge amount when it comes to movies and such. If you only watch a little TV, it might work, but if you watch more than a little you'll easily eclipse your allowance.

    @Mark I spent a little bit of time looking for information and comparisons, and the most thoughtful one I found was the top-rated review for the Roku 2 XS 1080, which explains what both can do and why that person went with the Roku because it worked better with Amazon Instant Video. Price looks approximately the same on both.

  6. I would love to go to this model but I don't see much live sports in either Amazon instant video or Hulu plus. What do you suggest for a sports fan?

  7. You know, actually, Patrick, these things are really great for sports fans. Here's the line from their description about the packages they work with: "Live sports packages including NBA League Pass, NHL GameCenter Live, MLS Matchday, UFC, and MLB.TV." So if you have any of those or are considering any of those, they'll all work perfectly with the Roku.

  8. Right that's what I figured. You have to pay extra for those packages. I don't see the NFL in there unfortunately. I've heard that MLB blacks out local games which doesn't make sense. So it'd be something to look into. Thanks for the info.

  9. No problem, Patrick. I was actually surprised when I was looking into it that it wasn't already hooked into NFL Sunday Ticket and the various ESPN stuff.


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