Archive for October, 2014

Companies like DISH and Sony are looking to jump into the IPTV market and make a ton of money. That is your money. But there are options.

DISH is exploring an internet TV option geared to 18-34 year old consumers that would provide content to all devices EXCEPT TV’s for $20-$30/month. I am not sure how that will work for the rest of us. Not all local TV providers will be included based on the original Bloomberg article (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-22/dish-said-to-target-summer-debut-for-internet-tv-service.html).

Sony on the other hand wants to provide IPTV service for $60-$80/month (https://gigaom.com/2014/10/06/looks-like-web-tv-is-going-to-be-as-expensive-as-cable-unless-you-use-an-antenna/). Like I want to pay more for what?

We will have to wait and see how all of this posturing by the big guys shakes out. In the meantime, buy yourself an HD antenna, subscribe to Netflix and Hulu and you won’t care what happens with the big boys.

Homemediaguy

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The FCC is actually starting to consider a new rule that would let internet content providers negotiate with TV stations just like cable and satellite companies do now. What does that mean for you and me. The government is slowly moving to give the little guy a choice. Better late than never.

There are still a bunch of ways we can still suffer, like charging a ton of money for a few stations. But guess what? For most people, you can buy an HD antenna and get local live programming for FREE. Just like you parents did decades ago.

And, you don’t have to wait for the FCC. You can buy the antenna today, install it today and get FREE live TV today.

Homemediaguy

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Why I Like Roku boxes for IPTV

Posted: October 29, 2014 in Home Media
Tags: , ,

I am somewhat of an evangelist. When I really like something, I spread the word. That is one of the reasons I write my blog.

I have had my Roku 3 boxes since they became available a few years ago. They haven’t changed at all regarding the hardware, and the automatic software updates are nice. I have friends with a lot more disposable income than I do, and they have purchased boxes like the Amazon Fire, Apple TV and other devices. They say the processors are faster, they have more fluid interfaces with their backend content provided by the companies who make the hardware.

That’s great for them. But part of the reason I write this blog is because IPTV gives people choices you don’t get from cable behemoths. So there are pluses and minuses to everything involved with making IPTV hardware and content choices.

The reason I started to look for alternatives to cable is for the choices. Roku gives me the choices regarding programs and content and the hardware really works. I use my Roku’s wirelessly in a 3 story town house and have no issues. What really gets me excited is the choices or programming or channels. Tons and tons of stuff “I like to watch and is worth watching”.

One of my favorite channels on my Roku is called PLEX. It is a media manager that runs on my home media server. I recently I installed a new channel in PLEX that almost doubles the amount of movies and shows I have available. What a deal.

I enjoy all my content with complete control and choices (unlike cable) through tons of channels with my Roku boxes. So if you are deciding if you want to dump cable, do two things:

  1. Buy an HD antenna for FREE Live HD programming.
  2. Get a Roku box to give you all the other content you want in addition to your Free live TV.

Homemediaguy

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Almost everyone I know has a cable modem and sometimes a wireless router in their home to access the internet and watch Netflix. If I want to download a movie I connect my laptop with an Ethernet cable to my Asus AC-RT66U and at 100Mbs I can download a movie in a few minutes. When I use wireless, it usually turns into 20-40 minutes depending on the size of the movie file.

OK so what? Well, I found out through a lot of research that not all wireless routers are the same. There is a lot of technical stuff behind it and I will provide you a link to investigate for yourself. The point is there is a big difference in features and SPEED. Asus just announced a new router that is worth investigating. Click on the link to check it out (http://www.tomsguide.com/us/asus-rt-ac68u-router,review-2277.html). It’s worth every penny.

Samsung also announced a new wireless router technology (available in 2020) that will blow all other routers out of the water. Something worth keeping an eye on. Find out more here (http://www.pcworld.com/article/2825060/samsungs-new-wi-fi-tech-is-five-times-faster-than-todays-wireless-networks.html)

homemediaguy

It is so cool to be able to watch the shift from the omnipotent cable companies who control TV programming to IPTV. We are in a time similar to when the Internet first became popular in the 90’s. Free ideas, lots of choices, but Whoops, very few standards.

I certainly understand this is just the beginning and companies like Roku, Aereo, Apple and Google have jumped into this trend will both feet. But I think we are now at the time that the masses (that’s us) and not the big corporations need to step up and tell those companies along with small developers what we really want. Thus I am providing my wish list. Feel free to Tweet, Facebook and email to anyone who will listen what you really want.

One of the biggest problems IPTV needs to solve is the current “user experience”. That is hitting the guide button and surfing to find what you want to watch. So simple compared to today’s channel structure in IPTV (Roku, Apple TV, etc.). Most people don’t want to have to work to find what they want, which is what you have to do today to find a show you like; even if the shows are already categorized by channel (UFO TV, Kino Lober, etc.). You have to drill down the menus sometimes 3 or 4 times to get to the listings you want to choose from.

My list.

  1. One or two or even three types of channel guides for IPTV content. I mean a channel guide similar to cable in format (for lack of a better idea). Where the channel provider like Paranormal TV, Russia Today, Netflix, HuluPlus, and everyone who provides content will show you their content on the FIRST screen. Say the channels would be across the top (where cable companies put the time) and what is showing now along the left edge. Any new content (shows, channels, etc) would be listed at the top with a “NEW” logo. This idea means that the providers would “push” what is available to you instead of you “pulling” digging and drilling down to find what you want.
  2. Select “Favorites” from providers like Hulu on the first screen like cable so you don’t have to sort through tons of stuff you don’t care about.
  3. Finally, wouldn’t it be cool to integrate this concept with an over the air channel guide like the one Tablo provides? Right now it’s just a dream. But you have to start somewhere.

Hey, I understand all the content providers will scream NO! But like a lot of IT related issues, rarely do they think of the “user experience”. Fixing the channel lineup issue will go a long way to move from the early adopters of today to the masses.

What do you think? Help spread the word.

Homemediaguy

Back in the 90’s there were thousands of internet service providers who would give you internet access for a decent price. Sure back then it was dial up, but it only cost a few bucks to connect. In other words Affordable and reliable.

Those sneaky and smart cable companies realized what the future held and bought out all the little guys, then bought out each other to get to the giants they are today.

The reason it is nearly impossible to cut the cord to cable TV is because the same company is also your internet service provider. So they price their “internet only” offerings so high (twice as much as Europe) you have to be a diehard cord cutter and cut the cord based on principal and not dollar savings. And if you are lucky, you might save a few bucks (no monthly cable box charges).

There is a way to disrupt the status quo. It’s not easy, considering many people don’t have the interest to vote in local and state elections. Cities, counties and even states have passed laws making it illegal for local municipalities to compete in the same geography as cable companies for internet service offerings. The cable companies did a great job of lobbying the right folks. If we changed lose laws, once again we would have something we all thought was lost forever – COMPETITON.

Yes, municipalities have tried and failed, but the success rate is getting much better because cities are learning from the mistakes of others. But first the laws need to change.

Since many people don’t have the time to mess with stuff like this (voting and complaining to elected officials), what we need is a champion. I think that the champion should be Google. They are running very high speed fiber in select cities; they are looking out for our privacy (NSA) and seem like good guys. AND, like the cable companies they have a TON OF MONEY. Let me know what you think.

Contact Google to see if they will fund my nonprofit to change laws for city competition to cable companies.

Ninety nine percent of us use WIFI whenever we connect to the internet with our laptops, smartphones or tablets. What we tend to forget is that if use that (UUGGGHH!) ugly network cable, we can easily double our speed on the internet. Over the last few years wireless router manufacturers like ASUS (my router manufacturer) have done a lot to optimize the wireless connection speeds. As a matter of fact the latest ASUS router, the RT AC68U (www.tomsguide.com/us/asus-rt-ac68u-router,review-2277.html) is one of the fastest and only costs a little over $200. A great deal for cord cutters.

No matter which router you have, there are a few adjustments you can make to ensure you are getting the most reliable and fastest connections. One of the simplest adjustments is setting which channel the router will use. A channel is kind of like a lane on a road. If there are a bunch of wireless routers in your neighborhood or apartment building, many of them will be using the default factory set channel. That means you are all using the same lane. Whoops!

I am not going to get into the details of changing channels but there are a number of FREE smartphone and tablet apps that can show you the signal strength of each channel on your router and of other routers in our area. So check out he Google Playstore or iTunes. Then visit you router manufacturers website to get help to make those channel adjustments.

You might also visit the geekzone (http://www.geekzone.co.nz/sbiddle/8728 ) for and in depth article on wireless routers and the technology that affects their performance including channel selection. It is pretty easy to read. Good luck.

homemediaguy

Finally. Roku announces on their blog (http://www.tomsguide.com/us/roku-smartphone-pc-screen-mirroring,news-19674.html) that the Roku 3 will soon be able to mirror just like Chromecast and Airplay. The software updates are rolling out but may take a few weeks to get to everyone (I cant wait).

Roku also provided step by step instructions to make sure your hardware can handle the new mirroring feature here: http://support.roku.com/entries/56266670-How-do-I-enable-screen-mirroring-on-my-Roku-player-.

Let me know how it works out for you…

homemediaguy