Roku

Deal Alert! Roku Streaming Stick for $34.99 and TCL Roku 55″ 4K TV for $399.99

Deal Alert! Roku Streaming Stick for $34.99 and TCL Roku 55″ 4K TV for $399.99

This post may contain affiliate links. See the full disclosure here.

Get your holiday shopping done early! If you’ve been looking to cut the cord or upgrade your streaming setup there’s no better time than now. If that sounds like you, then here are these early Black Friday deals you’ve gotta check out!

Get my favorite streaming device for new cord cutters, the Roku Streaming Stick for just $34.99. That’s the lowest I’ve ever seen this streaming player priced, at $15 off! Amazon reviews give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars!

If you are looking to overhaul your TV and streaming device, go with this awesome all-in-one solution, the TCL 55″ 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV for just $399.99. This is another record low price for this TV, at a whopping $300 off! Amazon reviews give it 4 out of 5 stars!

From Amazon.com:

Get big streaming power in a pocket-sized, easy-to-use stick. The 2016 Roku Streaming Stick delivers fast performance with a quad-core processor and dual-band wireless. Device works with all top movie and TV streaming services, including Amazon Instant Video, VUDU, Google Play, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and 3,000 more channels. Access 300,000+ movies and TV episodes plus music, sports, games, international content, and kids’ programming. Unbiased search across top channels shows you where content is free or cheapest to watch. And because Roku Streaming Stick is portable, you can stream to different HDTVs in your home, dorm, or hotel room. The Roku Streaming Stick delivers fast performance with a quad-core processor and dual-band wireless. Simple. Access your own subscriptions like Amazon Instant Video, VUDU, Google Play, Netflix, or Hulu. Rent or buy on-demand, and enjoy hundreds of free channels. Save time and money with search results that show you where movies and TV shows are free or cheapest to watch. Totally portable, and streams to different HDTVs in your home, dorm, or hotel room. Private listening via mobile. Use your smartphone or tablet and the Roku mobile app for iOS and Android to enjoy private listening anytime via your Bluetooth or plug-in headphones. Mobile control transforms your iOS or Android mobile device into a Roku remote, search with voice or text, and send photos, video or music, to your TV from your phone or tablet.

From Amazon.com

TCL, one of the world’s best-selling TV brands, and Roku, America’s most popular streaming service have come together to bring the latest in 4K technology and design. We’ve simplified the4k Ultra HD TV so you can instantly enjoy endless entertainment. Choose from more than 3,000 streaming channels that feature 350,000 movies and TV episodes plus live sports, news, music, kids and family, food, science and tech, fitness, foreign language and so much more.

 

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Posted by Dan in Deals, Roku, 0 comments
Our Cord Cutting Setup That Saves Us Over $100 Each Month

Our Cord Cutting Setup That Saves Us Over $100 Each Month

This post may contain affiliate links. See the full disclosure here.

When we cut our cable in 2014, we weren’t sure exactly where to start. We had heard some things about it and did a little research, but we were nervous. Would it work? Could we figure it out? What if we really miss all those channels that are included in our cable bundle?

It came to the point where there were no more excuses.

We had to bite the bullet, jump right in, and try it. We could figure things out as we go and we really had nothing to loose. In reality, we had only everything to gain with all the money we would be able to save and put towards student loan debt.

Our monthly bill to the cable company had climbed to an astronomical $165. If we could reduce that and still enjoy our favorite TV shows we would be happy campers. We could concur our ultimate goal to reduce our monthly spending to help pay off debt and ultimately build wealth. We could do it and still enjoy some relaxing couch time in the evenings.

Below are the steps that we took to become a cableless household.

We started simple and added things as we felt we needed them. Looking back it was much easier to make the switch then either of us thought. The devices and apps were actually very user-friendly and with a little patience we figured them out in no time.

The first thing we did was buy some HD antennas to test things out. We chose the Mohu Leaf 30 Paper-Thin Antenna to put in our guest room because it was super easy to install and is easily hidden on the wall behind the TV. For the remainder of our TV’s we got the Winegard Freevision HDTV Antenna, hung it in our attic and connected it to the existing coax cable lines that run inside the walls to our other TVs. Once we found out we could get tons of crystal clear stations for free, we were convinced. This cord cutting thing was actually going to work! With these antennas, we could watch live TV on the major networks for $0 each month! Here are the antennas we bought and still use today:

     

Live TV was great and let us watch a ton of stuff, but we needed something to complement the live local channels.

We wanted to stream stuff on demand, so we bought an Amazon Fire TV for the family room and a Roku Stick for the bedroom. Since we watch the most TV in our family room the Fire TV is the perfect solution because it is super powerful. In our bedroom, the Roku Stick was a great choice because it was low cost and has the right amount power to support our occasional streaming needs. With these streaming devices, we were able to install apps like YouTube and Netflix that let us binge watch shows and movies whenever we wanted. Here are the streaming boxes we have:

     

YouTube had a lot of great free stuff to watch and we already had a Netflix subscription so we were familiar with the things we could watch in the app, but we still were missing a few things. If we couldn’t watch a new episode of a show when it aired live, we didn’t have a way to view it on-demand. This had been where our DVR would have come in handy in the past, but it went out the door with our overpriced cable. Luckily for cord cutters, there are plenty of alternatives to a traditional DVR. After some research, we settled on the service PlayOn. We bought the Lifetime license and installed their companion apps on our laptop and the Fire TV and Roku. Now we could stream shows from the NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox websites directly on our TV’s after they become available for free viewing. This worked surprisingly well, was pretty easy to setup, and we still use it to this day.

playon-logo

After about a month of living the cord cutting life, we were hooked! We didn’t miss cable one bit. The picture from the antennas was fantastic, the streaming boxes and apps were working great, and we loved all the freedom we had to try new services without being held down by contracts. There was just one thing left to do, cancel our cable bundle and switch to an internet-only plan. For this, we went with Comcast because they are one of two service providers in our area and offer the best speeds. To help with the monthly cost and to avoid signing a contract we purchased our own cable modem and WiFi router. We could have used the ones provided by Comcast, but they would charge us a rental fee. The modem and router had very clear setup instructions and they paid for themselves after a couple months. Here are the two devices we got that give use wireless internet all throughout our house:

     

After a year of using our cord cutting setup, it was 2015 and more cableless services had made their way to the market. The one that caught our eye was Sling TV. This was a service that Dish Network came out with to provide cord cutters the ability to stream premium TV channels at an affordable price. This was pretty ground breaking because in the past most of these channels were only available with a cable subscription. For as little as $20 each month, Sling TV would let us watch channels like ESPN, HGTV and CNN using their apps on our Fire TV and Roku. Best of all…NO CONTRACT! We were able to sign up and cancel whenever we wanted. For us, this was a great solution that rounds out our cord cutting setup.


 

The last monthly cable bill we paid in 2014 was $165! After the upfront costs of getting things setup, we now spend only $55 each month. We pay $25 for Internet service, $20 for Sling TV and $10 for Netflix. That’s $110 back in our pockets every month!

This is the cord cutting setup that we put together to fit our needs. It has been working out great and we love the financial freedom it has provided us over the past few years. With such a great experience, we can’t ever imagine switching back to cable.

 

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Posted by Dan in Amazon Fire TV, Antenna, Roku, Sling TV, Streaming, TV, 0 comments
How to Survive Without a DVR as a Cord Cutter

How to Survive Without a DVR as a Cord Cutter

This post may contain affiliate links. See the full disclosure here.

Whether you aren’t home when your favorite show airs or you just don’t have time to sit down and watch TV until the kids go to bed, the good old DVR has become a necessity in today’s fast-paced world. When considering the life of a Cord Cutter you may be freaking out because no cable box means no DVR! Rest assured, there are plenty of ways to binge your favorite sitcom without paying for high priced cable. As a cord cutter, you need to shift your thinking from DVRs to On-Demand. Instead of having to schedule, update, and delete recordings for your favorite shows, there are services out there that publish the episodes as they air for you to stream, from the cloud, whenever you want. Here are some of my top ways for cord cutters to watch shows on-demand, without a DVR, after they air.

You can watch major network shows the day after they air with a few different subscription services.

The most popular option you may have heard of is Hulu, which carries shows from NBC, FOX, and ABC in addition to other networks as well as some original content. For $7.99 per month, you can watch new episodes the day after they air with advertisements or commercials. For ad-free viewing, you can add the “No Commercials Ad-On” for an extra $4. The Hulu subscription also includes past seasons of shows for your binging pleasure.

CBS does its own thing separate from Hulu. They offer their service, CBS All Access, for $5.99 per month. With your subscription to CBS All Access, you can watch new episodes of CBS shows the next day after they air and you get access to complete past seasons as well. There is also a commercial free subscription for $9.99.

Both the Hulu and CBS All Access services have apps for Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

If you don’t mind waiting a few days after a show airs, there are a few free and cheap ways to watch.

From your computer’s internet browser, you can watch shows on Yahoo View (which is a collection of what’s available on the NBC, FOX and ABC websites). New episodes are made available about a week after they air and usually the last 4 episodes are able to be streamed. It’s completely free to watch, but you will have to sit through the occasional advertisement or commercial.

If you’re after shows that are broadcast on CBS, then head over to CBS.com to see episodes for free with similar availability and viewing terms.

Most people aren’t fond of sitting in front of the computer screen and prefer a more “TV friendly” way to watch the free shows available on the network websites. If that sounds like you, then try out PlayOn. For a one-time fee of $59.99 (or less, they run sales often!) you can download their software which runs on a Windows PC. You add what they call “channels”, which are essentially links to the websites of NBC, FOX, ABC and CBS, and then the software on your computer “casts” the videos from those channels to the PlayOn app on your Roku or Fire TV. It works really well and the PlayOn app lets you navigate the websites through menu options, so it’s really easy to find the latest episode of your favorite show.

You can even watch shows on premium stations after they air if you subscribe to one of the over-the-top streaming services.

If the shows you like to watch are part of your Sling TV subscription, then check out their own On-Demand selection right in the app. You can do this by selecting a station in the app, pressing the down button and then selecting the show you want to watch. Sling usually carries the most recent season or two and you can even catch episodes right after they air.

PlayStation Vue also has a few ways to catch up on your favorite shows. In addition to the On-demand content offered by Vue, you also have a 28 day DVR built into the service that lets you “save” your favorite show to view at a later time.

If after all these options you still don’t think you can survive without a DVR, then you can always buy your own Over-The-Air DVR.

The Tablo DVR is one of the best OTA DVR’s on the market today. You buy the DVR box, plus a USB hard drive, connect your HD antenna to the back and login to your home WiFi. The Tablo DVR then records shows from any channel that you can receive over-the-air and when you are ready to watch, you stream the show from the DVR through an app on your Roku or Fire TV. The shows are saved on your hard drive for as long as you like. If you’re interested, you can learn more on Tablo’s website.

I suggest trying out all the options above for yourself to see which one fits you the best. They even offer free trial periods so you don’t have anything to lose.

So, do you think you can survive without your DVR? Which of the ways to watch sounds like the best option for you?

 

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Posted by Dan in Amazon Fire TV, DVR, Roku, Streaming, TV, 4 comments
How can I watch premium, dare I say “cable”, channels as a cord cutter?

How can I watch premium, dare I say “cable”, channels as a cord cutter?

This post may contain affiliate links. See the full disclosure here.

So what about those premium channels that are traditionally referred to as “cable channels”? Can I get those? I can’t go without my daily fix of SportsCenter or House Hunters. Well, lucky for you, as a cord cutter, you’ve got options and that’s what cord cutting is all about. Over the past two years, a few internet television services have come to the market offering small packages of premium channels that can be streamed directly to your TV. All of these services are available for a small monthly fee without any sort of contract, meaning you can sign up today and cancel tomorrow. This gives you the flexibility to only sign up for months that you will actually be watching these channels and then cancel during the other months so you aren’t wasting your money on something you’re not using. If you love football and only need ESPN to watch Monday Night Football, then you have the option to only sign up from September through December. Or, if you are a teacher and you love watching HGTV in the summer time when you are on break, then only sign up for the summer months. This kind of flexibility is what makes cord cutting so attractive and saves you tons of money! The way that you watch these services is through apps available on streaming media devices like Roku or Amazon Fire TV. If you haven’t picked one of those up yet then check out my guide to help you make the decision. The best part is that all of these services offer free trials so you can try them all out to see which works best for you at no cost! When was the last time a cable company offered you a free trial?? I’ll go ahead and answer that one for you…NEVER!

Live TV. $20 a month. No Cable Company. Sling TV.

Sling TV – Sling is the pioneer in affordable internet TV packages. This is actually a product of Dish Network that was released back in February of 2015. Sling TV’s mission is to “Take Back TV” and that’s exactly what they’re doing with their packages. You start by signing up for a base package of either $20 or $25 a month and then you have the option of purchasing “add-ons” of additional channels in a particular category for an extra $5 to $15 a piece. The channel selection varies slightly depending on the base package that you go with. Check them out at the Sling TV website to see what suits your needs best and to signup. You can download the Sling TV app on either your Roku or Amazon Fire TV.

sling_orange

Sling TV Orange Package | Photo Credit: sling.com/service

sling_blue

Sling TV Blue Package | Photo Credit: sling.com/service

 

PlayStation Vue – PlayStation Vue is Sony’s answer to Sling TV. They were the second major player to enter the internet TV game, launching nation-wide in March of 2016. Despite its name, you do not need to own a PlayStation in order to signup and use this service. There are 3 tiers to choose from with Vue: Access, Core, and Elite. The Access package starts at $29.99 and Elite goes all the way up to $44.99. It may seem like a lot, but you get a heck of a lot of channels bundled up for that price. Another bonus feature included in all 3 tiers is a 28-day cloud DVR. You can record shows on any of your channels and watch them up to 28 days later.  The PlayStation Vue app is available for both Roku and Amazon Fire TV. For the latest package and pricing info check out www.playstation.com/en-us/network/vue/.

psvue_access

PlayStation Vue Access Package | Photo Credit: playstation.com/en-us/network/vue/

psvue_core

PlayStation Vue Core Package | Photo Credit: playstation.com/en-us/network/vue/

psvue_elite

PlayStation Vue Elite Package | Photo Credit: playstation.com/en-us/network/vue/

 

Updated: SFN TV Now has discontinued their nationwide streaming option. Reports are that they will resume this service in the future at which time this guide will be updated.

SFN TV Now – Sothern Fibernet is the latest provider to enter the game with their SFN TV Now service. They pride themselves on offering the most affordable entry level packages starting at just $5! For this price range, you will only get access to the Faith channels, or at the $10 level to Atlanta’s local stations. Most of you will be interested in their Popular or Max packages starting at $34. These packages include the nationwide premium stations you are most familiar with. To sweeten the deal they have included a 7 Day Cloud DVR with their packages. To get more information on SNF TV Now head over to their website southernfibernet.com/index.php/television. Currently, SNF TV Now is only available on Roku (3 and 4 only), but they plan to add additional device support in the future.

sfn_popular

SFN TV Now Popular Package | Photo Credit: southernfibernet.com

sfn_max

SFN TV Now Max Package | Photo Credit: southernfibernet.com

 

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Posted by Dan in Amazon Fire TV, PlayStation Vue, Roku, SFN TV Now, Sling TV, Streaming, 0 comments
The best apps to watch free streaming content

The best apps to watch free streaming content

This post may contain affiliate links. See the full disclosure here.

One of the best parts about cord cutting is that you get the chance to explore all the apps that are available for streaming television and movie content. What you will find is that there are a lot of apps that offer great content completely free. That’s right, zero, zilch, nada…FREE! So before you go out and sign up for a bunch of subscription based services, check out my list below of the best apps to watch FREE streaming content. All of these apps are available on Roku and Amazon Fire TV. If you’re not sure which to get, check out my previous post to help you decide which streaming media player is the right choice for your household.

 

Pluto TV – Pluto is like public access television meets internet videos. What do I mean by that? The team at Pluto spends hours searching the internet, finding and organizing free videos into categories, or “channels”, that stream 24/7. The content is mostly from YouTube but also from big broadcasting sites like NBC and Bloomberg. They have everything from News, Sporting Events, Documentaries, Kids programs, even a channel dedicated to nothing but yoga lessons.

Pluto TV app for Roku / Pluto TV app for Fire TV

Crackle – This is Sony Pictures Entertainment’s totally free answer to the popular paid services like Netflix. Crackle offers a rotating selection of classic movies and television series in addition to a collection of some original content like Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and Sports Jeopardy!

Crackle app for Roku / Crackle app for Fire TV

Tubi TV – Tubi is another free alternative to Netflix. They offer a collection of TV series and movies to stream right to your living room. You will find mostly “oldie but goodie” classics and some hidden gems like those in the Cult Favorites and Good Eats sections. Tubi currently has the largest library of free TV and movies on the internet.

Tubi TV app for Roku / Tubi TV app for Fire TV

Popcornflix – This is one of the original completely FREE streaming services for movies and webisodes. Most of them fall into the independent and classic genres, but they are entertaining none the less. Popcornflix really stands out in the Family section, offering a ton of classic kids movies and TV shows.

Popcornflix app for Roku / Popcornflix app for Fire TV

PBS Kids – For kids, one of my favorite apps is PBS Kids. They offer totally free episodes of all the favorites, like Sesame street, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Odd Squad. There are usually about 4 free episodes available for each show and they add new episodes every couple days.

PBS Kids app for Roku / PBS Kids app for Fire TV

Disney Junior & Disney Channel – If you have kids that are into Disney shows then the Disney Junior and Disney Channel apps are a must. Younger kids will love watching episodes of Doc McStuffins, PJ Masks and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. For older kids, Austin & Ally, Descendants Wicked World and Girl Meets World episodes will be a big hit.

Disney Junior app for Roku / Disney Junior app for Fire TV

Disney Channel app for Roku / Disney Channel app for Fire TV

CBS News – The best way to catch all the latest breaking news stories is through the CBS News app. They offer a 24/7 live stream of national news as well as a selection of highlight clips. Everything from in-depth looks into what’s going on in the world to worldwide coverage of breaking news as it happens.

CBS News app for Roku / CBS News app for Fire TV

Weather Nation – It may seem silly to watch a weather channel on your TV with all the phone weather apps out there these days, but nothing replaces the security of having local forecasts and radar on your TV while that big storm is rolling in. They also follow some interesting stories, so this can be a great stream to just leave on in the background while you are busy at home.

Weather Nation app for Roku / Weather Nation app for Fire TV

 

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Posted by Dan in Free, Roku, Streaming, 0 comments
Rent New Movies at Home for Free!

Rent New Movies at Home for Free!

This post may contain affiliate links. See the full disclosure here.

That’s right! …and it’s legal too 🙂 Did you know that you can earn free store credits from Google for answering short surveys of 1 – 5 questions usually about your recent shopping habits? You can! All you have to do is download the Google Opinion Rewards app on your phone, go about your normal routine, and when a survey pops up just answer the questions. Super simple and you rack up free bucks in no time. The best part is that you can turn around and use those credits to rent (or buy) movies, even newly released ones, from the Google Play Store. We prefer to watch Google Play movies through our Roku using the Google Play Movies & TV channel, but you can also watch from your phone, tablet or computer browser.

Google Rewards = Free Movies

Google Rewards = Free Movies | Photo Credit: play.google.com channelstore.roku.com

We have been using this trick for years in our house. Both my wife and I have the app installed so we earn credits twice as fast! It has even turned into a friendly competition, seeing who can answer and earn the most 😉 Here’s how our current balances stack up:

Hubby VS Wifey

Hubby VS Wifey

Give it a try this weekend. Family movie night has never been so affordable!

 

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Which streaming media player is the right choice for your household

Which streaming media player is the right choice for your household

This post may contain affiliate links. See the full disclosure here.

Updated: 10/3/16 for new Fire TV Stick and new Roku Premiere+

With all those different streaming media players out there today and hearing about new ones every couple weeks, how can you be sure which one is right for you and your household? That’s why I put together this list of the ones we use in my house, and why, to hopefully help clear up some of the differences and help you make the right choice for your family.

Roku

Roku is probably the most well known brand in the “streaming” business. They have been around for years and were the first major choice in bringing “smarts” to your family room TV. Roku has made large strides in recent years and offers a wide variety of streaming devices to fit just about everyone’s needs. The major advantages to Roku, usability and large selection of apps. The user interface on Roku is extremely simple. It consists of a grid view that displays the apps that you have installed. No complicated menus to dig through. The remote is also very easy to use to navigate through the app grid and it also has dedicated app shortcut buttons for 4 of the most popular apps. Just click the dedicated app button and up pops that app ready for you to stream your favorite content. Pretty much any service you can think of has an app on Roku. If you don’t consider your self very “techie” or you have young kids in the house, I think Roku is the best option for you. It will give you the best hassle free cord cutting experience out there. Here are the Roku models that I suggest looking at:

Roku Premiere+ – This is the work horse Roku that is lightning fast and comes with voice search, wireless headphones, and 4K video support. It’s perfect for the family room or wherever you watch the most TV.

Roku Streaming Stick – This offers all the apps and streaming features as the other Roku players, but comes in a tiny stick design. It doesn’t have the high specs of the Roku 3, but will stream content just fine. It’s perfect for a secondary TV, like in the bedroom (we have one in our’s!), or if you have a wall mounted TV and don’t want another “box” like with the Roku 3. It’s also a really great value if you just want to test things out.

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV Homescreen

Amazon Fire TV Homescreen | Photo Credit: aftvnews.com

Amazon jumped into the streaming business with the release of the “Fire TV” a few years ago. It was the most popular device that Amazon has ever released and it has been gaining tons of support and popularity in it short existence. They even have TV commercials promoting this thing. The main advantage to the Fire TV is that it is heavily focused on Amazon content. So if you are a Prime member or already have a lot invested into Amazon, then this is the perfect pick for you. The user interface can be a little tricky at first, but once you figure out how Amazon decided to layout the menus it’s a piece of cake. Amazon has also included its very popular “Alexa” feature into the Fire TV, so now you can use voice search and voice commands! Aside from that, it runs on a custom version of Android, which, if you are like me and love tinkering with technology, opens up a whole new door with the ability to “sideload” any Android app that’s out there onto the Fire TV so you can enjoy it from your couch. If that last point sounds like Greek to you, don’t worry, that isn’t required to enjoy the Fire TV experience, it’s just one advantage I thought I should point out. Here are the two different Amazon Fire TV models to take a look at:

Amazon Fire TV – This is the top dog in Amazon’s lineup that is blazing fast and comes with 4K support. It’s the one I have in our family room as our primary streaming player.

Amazon Fire TV Stick – This is Amazon’s “more affordable” option. It offers the same apps and experience as the Fire TV, but comes in a smaller package with slightly less performance (and no 4K support). It’s great for a second TV in your house, like your basement TV for the kids (which is where we have ours), or it can be hidden behind that 50″ plasma screen above the fireplace.

The other guys (and why they aren’t my favorites)

Chromecast – This is Google’s cost effective solution for getting your phone or tablet screen displayed on your TV. The only problem is this solution requires you to always have a second device available like a phone or tablet to stream to it. Also, it lacks a little in the app department.

Apple TV – While Apple generally makes very quality products, I have to steer clear of the Apple TV. It’s is one of the most expensive streaming devices and it has a limited app selection.

Nexus Player – Google really tried to bring Android TV back from the dead with this, but they failed to support the device in an ever evolving market and have discontinued support.

Generic Android TV Boxes – These boxes are all over Amazon and Ebay. They look great on the surface, low price, boast thousands of apps and even “free TV”. However, most of these boxes perform poorly once in use and lack support from their developers. Also, the claims of “free TV” usually mean they have tweaked things so you can watch pirated content on the Internet.

 

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