General Question

canidmajor's avatar

Can you help me with some questions about streaming (please see details)?

Asked by canidmajor (16870points) February 26th, 2017

I am considering switching to streaming services for television. Can you tell me about what you use, how you like it, how pricey it might be, how comprehensive it is, etc?
I’m talking about the Firestick, Roku, whatever device rather than just Netflix, Hulu, et al.

General question, genuine request for info. Thanks.

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18 Answers

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

I asked about this recently and Roku was the favorite. There’s a link below to that thread.

Hardware
This was for my mother, and I ended up buying her a Samsung TV with built-in support for Amazon, Netflix, etc.

In retrospect I wish I had paid a little more for a TV with built-in Roku. The Samsung interface is much less user friendly.

We’ll use it when we visit, but my mother will never figure out how to work it (dementia) so it didn’t really matter to her which option was included.

Service
Amazon Prime is the best deal ($10.99/month or $99/year) if you also take advantage of the other benefits like free shipping, music streaming, and ebooks.

The selection of movies and TV is pretty big. The show The Man in the High Castle is only on Amazon and that’s what prompted me to subscribe.

Netflix is popular, but I did not subscribe after the free 30 day trial. They didn’t have a lot that I wanted to see. But again, it’s very popular so lots of people do like the offerings.

What Internet TV device do you like (or not like) – Roku, Chromecast, Firestick, etc.)

canidmajor's avatar

Oh, thank you, @Call_Me_Jay! I guess I worded my search wrong, nothing helpful came up.
I appreciate the info and the link!

funkdaddy's avatar

We received an android tv as a gift and decided to cancel cable about two years ago. We weren’t watching much TV and figured it would make more sense to actually have to pick something out rather than just flipping through channels or having Law and Order in the background.

The biggest thing I didn’t fully grasp was that everything, content-wise, is in the services you pay for. There are a few channels that offer their new content after it’s on TV within their own apps, but there’s no good way to watch live TV most of the time beyond an antenna without paying for a package like hulu, sling, playstation vue, or carrying a cable subscription. A lot of the apps out there require you to identify an account with someone they have a contract with (a tv provider) in order to stream the live broadcast (especially sports). So many stations advertised how you can stream their content, I figured more of that live stuff was out there on it’s own, there really isn’t much live without a subscription.

Once you get past that, there’s a lot you can buy with what we were paying for cable (~$70/mo more than just our internet now), we spend about half of that on subscriptions and then buy a couple movies through a streaming service when we want to. We have NetFlix, Prime, and HBO Now as subscriptions. NetFlix is tops and awesome, I don’t know how they provide so much for $10ish a month. Prime we had already and 90% of the movie selection is pretty weak, but they drop in a few big name movies and have some really great original programming they produce. There’s so much else you get with that service (music, shipping, etc) that we’d have it anyway. HBO Now is probably about 100 movies at a time and all their original programming. My wife loves a few of their shows, so we have it, it’s about $15/mo.

I’ve never run out of things to watch, but honestly the kids dominate the TV time right now. If you have shows you love, make sure you find a way to get them. For example, my wife buys Walking Dead because they don’t have the latest episodes on any of the services we have. I occasionally wish I had access to some sporting event, but other than that I can’t remember ever feeling like I missed anything.

Interfaces and everything are OK, every now and then they’re all frustrating, HBO is especially bad, but any trouble is really pretty rare. Separately it’s a little weird to have to update and reboot your TV, wait for it to connect, etc, but again that’s fairly rare (once a month?).

On the upside, my kids have no idea what a commercial is, they think it’s another show that’s come on and we keep having to explain what’s going on. They just don’t exist on 95% of the content they’ve seen. They also have no idea why you’d have to wait for a show to come on, they usually just pick and play. They think “normal” TV is “news and weather”.

Overall, totally recommend giving it a try. Worst case is you get a great deal to sign back up with a cable provider as a new customer.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

there’s no good way to watch live TV most of the time beyond an antenna without paying for a package

Good point, it’s a good idea to also look at over-the-air options when you’re ditching cable. I get tons of stations with a $20 antenna, but of course that will vary by location.

Antennaweb shows the available channels based on your US address, which way to point the antenna(s), and helps choose the right kind of antenna.

canidmajor's avatar

Unfortunately, I live in a weird sort of reception free area, antennae really don’t work here, unless I want to really blow some big $ for a super system (words said by a friend who knows this stuff, I’m fairly ignorant).
I’ll be looking into Roku.

AshlynM's avatar

WIth Amazon Prime, you still have to pay for the episodes. Netflix you do not. I heard Hulu has ads in their shows, Netflix does not. I stream Netflix on my Roku. There’s also a lot of free channels you can add on the Roku.

Here’s some info on the Roku.

https://www.howtogeek.com/293645/which-roku-should-i-buy/

johnpowell's avatar

You might want to look into some of the deals if you prepay for three months of some of the live tv streaming services.

For example https://directvnow.com has a deal where if you pay three months in advance you get the three months of service and a Apple TV 4 for $105 (normally 150 for the ATV alone). And with one month in advance for $35 for get a free Fire TV stick.

And on Sling.com If you pay for three months in advance you can get a Apple TV4 for $89 plus three months of the service so that comes out to $159. Or a Roku Premiere+ for $49 + $60 for three months of service.

And if you don’t want the service you can just cancel. At least with Direct TV Now you get a discount on the device. And with sling you basically pay full price for the device and for a extra $10 for 3 months of their service.

I did the intro thing when Direct TV Now came out and got the 100 channel package for $35 a month (special promo deal that is persistent). So I got a free apple TV for the most part. And I took the Apple tv they sent me to WalMart to return it and I got 150 in store credit. So I made $45 and got three free months of service. I already had a few Apple TVs and didn’t need another one.

canidmajor's avatar

This is terrific info, guys, thanks so much!

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

WIth Amazon Prime, you still have to pay for the episodes.

Sometimes.

Downton Abbey, for example, is included with Prime. Mr. Robot Season 1 is free and season 2 costs extra. The same with movies – some are free, some cost extra.

I rarely pay extra for anything. I’m cheap stick mostly the the freebies.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I started using sling tv based in a recomendation here. It’s everything we had with cable and more. Works wonderfully with roku devices.

johnpowell's avatar

Sling is hard to beat for 20 a month. Just note that if you do one of the deals with Sling and change your plan they screw you. It resets your initial deal. I wanted to add the news channel thing after the deal for the Roku. I thought it would just at 5 a month. They wanted me to pay like 90 somehow. I talked to a few people on chat and they wouldn’t budge. So I canceled. But I still recommend Sling.

canidmajor's avatar

Follow up Q for you smart and savvy ones: my Internet package is 60mbps. Will that be enough to handle streaming to one Roku device ad well as a couple of phones and tablets?

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

I watched HD movies with 6Mbps. 60 is plenty.

Assuming you mean Mbps (capital M) not mbps, which would be much slower.)

canidmajor's avatar

Nah, I think it’s lower case mbps. How much slower? What’s the diff?

canidmajor's avatar

Is a megabit vs megabyte distinction? In which case, the 60 would be sufficient, as it converts to 7.5…

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

WAIT! Yes, I totally screwed up the megabits vs megabytes, my apologies!

I was happily watching HD movies at 6 megabits/s (small b).

60 megabits/s is a lot.

The capital “B” is the distinction between bits and bytes, not capital “M”. Mbps and mbps are the same thing.

You can check your speed at Oookla or MeasurementLab

canidmajor's avatar

Oh, thank you! Between jerking around with the cable company this morning and really not having the savvy to interpret most of this stuff, it really helps to have this info. I am grateful. :-D

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