Handyman Wednesday: Ditch the Cable

Handyman Wednesday Returns (sort of).  Jess and I were online the other day when we saw that Best Buy was giving a $25 gift card for ANY Windows XP laptop that worked.  We just happened to have 2 of these laptops sitting around doing nothing.  Why not recycle them and get paid to do it?

Best_Buy_Recycle

Then came the problem: what do we buy?  Fortunately, I already had an idea.  The Roku Streaming Stick for $50 (Amazon Link).  If you’ve also been on Amazon the past couple weeks, you’ve noticed they released Fire TV.  This is basically a streaming service for your TV so you can watch Amazon, Netflix, etc on your TV without connecting your laptop to it.  The Roku Stick, which launched in late March, does the same thing… only better (because it’s so much smaller, cheaper, and you don’t need to find a place for the box!).

roku-streaming-stick-box-contents

All you have to do is plug this little guy into your HDMI port and USB port on the back of your TV, and connect to the wi-fi (there are on-screen instructions to help you).

roku stick TV Installation

It was PAINLESS.  Your grandma and grandpa could set this up on their own.  Then, using the included remote (which is an AWESOME little thing and works from anywhere in the house), you can stream your Amazon Prime content, your Netflix, your Hulu Plus, and over 1000 other services directly to your TV.  Plus, there are 4 buttons that launch the most popular apps.

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Honestly, you’ll only use 5-10 of these 1000 services, but who’s counting.  Here’s my favorite channels:

1. Amazon Prime (it’s AWESOME)

2. Netflix (We will be getting this when we ditch DirecTV at the end of our contract)

3. Hulu Plus (Don’t have this yet either).

4. Pandora

5. Blockbuster Movie Rental (No need to go to the store any more)

6. RedBox

Previously I had a ChromeCast and I found it useless.

Roku Stick vs Chromecast

You can’t stream videos from your laptop easily with the ChromeCast, there is no remote so you have to use your phone, and they don’t have Amazon Prime.  Trust me, pay the extra $15 and you’ll be well rewarded for your investment with Roku.  Disclaimer: I did NOT get anything for writing this.  No freebies, no money, no anything.  I paid for this just like you would.  I did, however, get a lot of enjoyment for my nerdy self.

Any questions or thoughts?  I’d love to hear them!  How does a shepherd count his flock without falling asleep?  Why do people say heads up when you should duck?  Have ex-cowboys become deranged?

 

7 comments

  1. Kristen says:

    We have the Roku box (from maybe a year ago?) and LOVE it. It makes living without cable so much easier! We mostly use Amazon Prime and Netflix, but have a slew of other channels to keep us busy. Joe’s been talking about getting ChromeCast but I’ll mention the Roku streaming stick as an alternative :)

    • Kevin Beals says:

      Thanks for the thoughts Kristen. I have officially retired my chromecast, as the only thing I could find it useful for is showing my browser on the TV. Think of the new stick as a copy of the Roku box you have, just a little slower to navigate the screens (and no headphone jack in the remote if you use that).

  2. liz says:

    i have been wondering about switching – your post is so timely! i have some questions for you, if you don’t mind…

    1. this is a 1:1 hardware scenario, correct? if you have 2 TVs, you’d need 2 Roku sticks?

    2. i set up accounts with amazon, netflix, hulu, hbo go, whatever, and it is all accessed through roku? can you watch current shows through those services?

    3. compared to directv (which i have too), is the savings significant?

    4. what internet speed is best with it?

    gah, that turned into a lot of questions. sorry! but thank you for your help!!

    • Kevin Beals says:

      I can help answer your questions Liz:

      Q. this is a 1:1 hardware scenario, correct? if you have 2 TVs, you’d need 2 Roku sticks?
      A. Yes, this is a 1:1 hardware scenario. Each Roku remote is paired with its specific Roku stick though, so you don’t have to worry about changing all the Roku’s if you change 1.

      Q. i set up accounts with amazon, netflix, hulu, hbo go, whatever, and it is all accessed through roku? can you watch current shows through those services?
      A. You are correct. Everything is accessed through Roku. You do have to enter your user name and passwords and Roku remembers them for you. Also, if you want to make a purchase you have to enter your CC# on the Roku website and create a PIN that is needed every time you make a purchase. You can watch current shows, but they have to be uploaded by Hulu Plus, Netflix, etc so the lag is usually a day or two. Make sure your favorite shows are covered by someone on this list before you take the plunge.

      Q. compared to directv (which i have too), is the savings significant?
      A. Depends on your cost. The Roku is a one time purchase. What services you buy cost more. Currently, Amazon Prime is $100/year (or $50 for students and moms). Netflix is under $10/month, so is Hulu Plus I think. Since I’m paying $90/month for DirecTV, this will save me about $700-$800/year.

      Q. what internet speed is best with it?
      A. I would recommend at least 6Mb/s download speed if you want to watch HD. I have 18Mb/s with Time Warner ($35/month) and it is crazy fast. Go to http://www.speedtest.net to find out your speed at home.

      Let me know if you have any more questions and I’d love to help.

  3. Ashley@AttemptsAtDomestication says:

    We have a Chromecast and love it. We usually just stream from our phones for Hulu and Netflix, and Youtube sometimes. I don’t think we’ve ever even bothered with streaming from our laptops. I bought Jesse a Bluray player in February that also streams Amazon and Netflix so we use that a lot too. We’ve never had cable and I don’t regret it at all.

  4. Amanda says:

    We have a “regular” Roku and a Chromecast and I love both (one stays upstairs on the main TV and the other stays downstairs on my tiny workout TV). I have to admit I love the streaming! We still have cable because of our internet but we only pay $50 a month for both so we couldn’t justify getting rid of it when the internet costs us $40 anyway. I’ll have to look into the Roku stick! Thanks!

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