A friend asked me to help her set up Roku to replace Time Warner Cable. I’m not a fan of Time Warner (I had to get a DVR on no notice and the DVR periodically doesn’t record.) so no worries about helping them have one less customer.
We started by listing what shows she watches to make sure the Roku met her needs. The must haves were all on network tv with the exception of Fox News and HGTV. HGTV doesn’t stream live anywhere although some shows are on their website. Knowing this, she decided it wasn’t worth cable for just that one channel.
Setting up the Roku
They made this part really easy. The instructions were simple and easy to follow. The only wrinkle was that the Roku comes with a RCA component cable. There is an option to use a HDMI cable, but you have to buy it separately. My friend’s TV requires an adapter to use a RCA cable. Lucky her cable box uses a HDMI cable so we borrowed that.
Activation was online. Roku gives you a URL to type in. It then polls to see if you’ve activated because the Roku knew it was activated as soon as we entered the registration info on the computer.
What went well
The Roku is easy to use. It is easy to search for channels on it. In fact, it does everything it promises. The problems were almost all caused by external parties.
Problem #1 – six month Hulu Plus gift card
Roku is running a promotion that you get 6 months of Hulu Plus for free if you buy the $79 version. They said you get it even if you buy the hardware in a physical store. Needless to say, Best Buy knows nothing about this. Calling Roku tech support, they insisted that Best Buy has the 6 month gift card and knows about it.
Problem #1.5 – CBS on Hulu
This isn’t really a problem; this is me not looking in advance. I figured we would test the Roku with a show that we both like – Big Bang Theory – and tried to find it on Hulu Plus. This show is available live free on over the air tv. And later on cbs.com. (We then tested watching Modern Family and the quality was good.)
Problem #2 – Fox news
The Fox News Channel listing shows an option to watch “Live Video.” Including a link to the image because this is so key.
See how it clearly says you can watch live video? Well, you can’t. Going to that channel on the Roku only shows three options – live audio, shows and topics. Roku support says it is available “certain times depending on your area.” I don’t buy that. Searching online said this feature was always intermittently available. The website live.foxnews.com takes you to FOX Business channel.
I did find an explanation of what is going on that is better than Roku Support’s answer. Per RokuGuide.com:
FOXNews.com Roku channel has been relaunched as Fox News Channel. Gone is live weekday streaming of the Web-based Fox News Live program. In its place you now get live 24/7 streaming of Fox News Radio and clips from several popular Fox News television shows.
So far, Roku provides a convenient way of getting shows from different websites. Which can be done for no additional fee. Convenience doesn’t generally save money.
Over the air tv + watching internet streams on the tv seem like a better bet. Still doesn’t show Fox News, but why should my friend pay $80 to have the same abilities she can get for free.