Friday, July 1, 2011

Roku

I purchase two roku units in early June and cut way back on cable service. We had two DVRs and a pretty extensive lineup of channels through Comcast. Now we have one DVR and the economy plan. We subscribed to Netflix steaming service and hulu plus, for a total cost of $17 per month. After recouping the cost of the roku, which are $75 each, we’ll be saving a lot of money.

The Roku with Netflix and hulu plus has really changed the way we watch television. We only kept cable to watch particular shows that are not (yet) available through Netflix and Hulu. Other than the shows we record on the DVR, we never watch cable. It’s all on demand viewing via Netflix and Hulu. I don’t think our kids have watched any television through cable since the switch.

The savings and selection are nice, but there is a downside. First and foremost, there are almost no live sports through the Roku. You can watch live baseball for a fee, but I only watch Big 10 football. I will sorely miss that.

The biggest problem impacts some television models and Roku has been trying to resolve it for 4 years+ Sometimes when switching to the Roku you will only see a green screen. This only occurs if you are using an HDMI cable with specific television sets. I want to use the HDMI cable to get a 1080 picture when it’s available. There are a variety of ways to work around this problem. You can restart the Roku but this takes 3 minutes. You can reseat the HDMI cable but this is hard on the cable and I’ve read you can damage the cable or the HDMI port on your Roku or TV. Reseating the cable every time you want to watch TV is a real drag. I have found if I switch from a HD signal off another HDMI device to the Roku it’s fine 100% of the time. If I switch from a standard def signal or a device using component cables, it produces the green screen 100% of the time.

I’ve read you can set your Roku to 720p max or use component cables, but I really want that 1080p picture when it’s available, so I haven’t tested these methods.

Roku forums and support have been pretty good. I had trouble setting up one of the two units I purchased and their support staff did an excellent job resolving the issue. Information on the green screen issue has been inconsistent and unclear.

Now that I have a way to make my roku work 100% of the time, I’m quite happy with the purchase. It’s a nice addition and has really changed how my family watches TV.