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Wednesday, January 15, 2014


For much of my life I've been on top of the latest gadgets.  I was early into Newton (the first personal digital assistant from Apple that flopped) and once taught computer courses at the University of Hawaii.  However, during these past few decades home electronics have surged passed my capabilities.  I can now only barely understand my watch, and downloading anything to my computers is a real challenge.

I keep reading about Apple TV (right) and something called Roku, but didn't have the faintest idea what they were all about.  Click on THIS to compare the two.  Actually, the more recent Roku 3 ($100...which is the one I should have purchased!!!) is used.  Apple TV also costs $100.  What caught my attention was the number of accessible entertainment channels:
  • Apple     13+
  • Roku 3  750+
Then, a few days ago I received a letter from berating me for being a Prime member but never once using their video options.  So I decided to drop by Radio Shack to talk to them.  The lady knew less than me, but I found myself purchasing Roku 1, for it was only $60 and how terrible would it be if it never worked?

With some trepidation, I opened the box and made the connections, which were trivial..  Within half an hour, after suffering through a couple of stupid failures on my computer (yes, you need a computer to complete the installation)  to make the link, it finally worked.  There was high euphoria.  If I can do this, anyone can.

Roku 1 and Apple TV are streaming media players.  What does that mean?  Best as I can describe, using the internet, you bypass your cable box to gain access to a 1000 stations, many free, but many not.  For example, I already subscribe to Netflix, paying $9/month.  Calculate this charge over two years and divide by the ten or so movies I have watched and the price comes to $20/film, which is crazy, but I don't really watch that many movies on TV.  This was a needless subscription, but once I had it connected I was afraid to quit, as the whole process of getting this going was challenging.  

So why did I go ahead and buy something that I might never use much?  When you get to my age, splurging on anything makes life more exciting.  And, frankly, as I grow older, I'll be watching a lot more TV movies than now, and Amazon promises 41,000 films, and more to come.  One final bit of trivia:  founder Anthony Wood chose the name Roku because that was his sixth company, and Roku is six in Japanese.

Anyway, when I tried to get into Netflix through Roku, I had to first type in my e-mail address and password.  As I had long forgotten what these were, it was a stressful five minute search to find it.  But I did and it worked.  What I'm saying is that if you don't already subscribe to Netflix, Roku will not allow you to watch that channel for free.  The Roku system came with three RCA cables (red, white and yellow) to connect to your TV.  However, the recommendation is to use an HDMI cable (to the right, which did not) for high definition.  So today I drop by Radio Shack and get one of those things to the right.

I then went on to link with Amazon, and still can't figure out if those movies are free or not.  But I'll get into this soon and will have a ROKU 1:  Part 2 someday soon.  Finally, here are the obviously free options:

Free channels

You don't need to subscribe to a cable service to access these channels.  But, oh, you need to have a router, which requires a subscription to Oceanic, HawTel or similar cable company.  But I don't think you need to pay the cable TV charge, just the computer link portion.  On the other hand, I will maintain both for convenience as I don't think Roku allows local TV stations.
Final current recommendation (this is a work in progress), for $40 more, get Roku 3, and Amazon features free delivery, I think.  I'll order one of these for my other TV when I move to 15 Craigside.


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