Cut the Cord on Cable or Satellite TV
The phrase "cutting the cord" is a reference to cancelling normal cable or satellite TV monthly service and instead assessing free HD content over the air waves using an HD antennae for local channels, and subscribing to services like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, or Hulu Plus to access other shows on cable channels.
One of the ways to stream video is to use a device like the Chromecast or Roku, both of which connect to your home network and TV and access content from various sources over the internet, then streams it to your TV on demand.
Last year, Google upped the ante by creating a smaller and less expensive device than others that were on the market at the time, such as the Roku LT and HD streaming boxes among many others.
Now Roku is matching the Chromecast for size with the upcoming release of the Roku 3500R designed to compete with the Chromecast streaming device. It is scheduled to go on sale in April of 2014.
Roku 3500R Streaming Stick
The Roku 3500R Streaming Stick is similar in size to the Chromecast and does much the same thing. It gives you access to a lot of content online and allows you to stream it your TV. The difference this new version offers from previous Roku versions is that it uses USB or AC power and includes an upgraded remote. It also has the ability to control it from a mobile device. In fact, you can access and playback personal media on your iOS or Android mobile phone or tablet on your TV at home through the device.
All of the ROKU devices offer free access to various channels, most of which you have never heard of, but you would be surprised at the free content available for streaming online. There is more than enough to watch without ever having to pay for more content, however, if you are interested in streaming some of the main players such as Netflix of Hulu Plus, you will need to activate a monthly subscription from one of more of those services. The good news is that all of those apps, including Youtube, are already loaded on the Roku 3500R.
Furthermore, searching for content is made easy by the Roku software on the device. Included is a proprietary search feature to find out what to watch at that moment, or in the future. You can search for what’s on now within the free content, or search for your favorite movies or TV shows from all of the paid services like Netflix, HBO Go and VUDU and many more, and even compare the prices to determine if you want to buy a movie or subscribed to a monthly service. In that sense, it is similar to the way the Tivo software works, if you are familiar with that.
What You Need to Get Started
- An HD capable television with at least one free HDMI port
- A high-speed DSL or cable internet connection
- A wireless router and network
How complicated is this to setup?
Actually, it is very simple. You simply plug it into an HDMI port on your TV and a follow the
Setup involves a few easy on-screen steps such as connecting to your wireless network. For that, you simply enter your network password using the remote, then follow the rest of the prompts. Once it has access to your network, it may update the software on the device, but this should only take a minute.
How does the picture look on these streaming devices?
The device streams very well actually, if you have a normal connection speed. The faster your internet connection the better any type of streaming device will work. Users of streaming video services sometimes complain of “buffering” that occurs from time-to-time, however, that has a lot to do with your connection speed, your network, and your wireless router. If you have a lot of people in your home using the internet during the times you will be streaming, you may want to upgrade your wireless router to a dual-band model. It keeps the two types of use/traffic separate reducing the likelihood of those dreaded buffering pauses in movies.
So in general, you need at least 1.5 Mbps for SDTV and at least 3.0 Mbps for HDTV. If you do not know what your average speed is on your network, look for one of the speed test sites on the net and run a test.
Amazon Price: $71.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 1, 2016)
Out of the Box
- Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI Version)
- Roku standard remote with shortcut buttons for channels
- Item Weight: 0.6 ounces
- Product Dimensions: 3.1 x 1 x 0.4 inches
- Item model number: 3500R
- Batteries: 2 AA batteries required for remote (included)
- USB power cable and 5V -- 1A power adapter
- Setup Guide
- Compact stick design is easily hidden on wall-mounted TVs in an HDMI port
- Over 1,000 entertainment channels available for streaming through Roku
- Remote control or use a mobile app on iOS or Android and features RF technology so you can use your remote without pointing it at the TV
- Watch/Share videos on your phone by sending them to your TV via the Roku app
- HD video streaming up to 1080p* HD (HD video is limited by the content provides or the broad connection)
- Digital Audio over HDMI (7.1/5.1 channel surround sound pass-through and stereo)
- List your favorite channels and jump right to them
- Dual-band wireless capability
- Connect at both 2.4 and 5 Ghz bands
- Supports closed captioning for Netflix
These small streaming devices are much easier to use, and much more convenient to install on your TV due to their small size. They can easily be hidden behind a wall-mounted TV in an HDMI slot. Setup is easy and requires no special technical skills, nor any rewiring of cables. You do not even have to search for an available power outlet as it draws its power via HDMI.
So if you are looking to cut the cord, or simply adding to your content choices, give the new mini Roku a try before you severe your cable or satellite TV subscription and if you find you aren’t missing much, it is definitely a less expensive way to watch TV.