It’s been a year since I joined the ranks of cord cutters, so I thought I’d share a few tidbits learned along the way and opinions on streaming devices.
I first dipped my toe into the water by starting out with Chromecast; it was a first-generation clearance item, making it an inexpensive experiment. While it was easy to use, the device would overheat and lock up within 25 to 45 minutes of using it. Since it was plugged into a TV that was mounted against the wall, I moved Chromecast to another TV that has better airflow around it. The device would still get hot, but it took longer to do so. Newer Chromecast models are supposed to be decent devices, but I can’t say that firsthand, since I switched brands.
Roku 3 and Roku 4
Next up, I tried Roku, plugging a Roku 3 and Roku 4 into different TVs. Like Chromecast, a Roku can be moved from TV to TV. The Roku 3 worked well. Occasionally, about once every two or three weeks, it would lock up, become unresponsive and need to be rebooted; that’s no biggie, though.
The Roku 4, which was considerably more expensive because it was new to the market, is good for 4K content—if you can find it. Maybe the Roku 4 I purchased was a flawed exception, but it locks up about every day or every other day and needs rebooted. Additionally, since it would frequently lose wireless connectivity—even though it’s right next a router—I changed it to a wired connection. If 4K content becomes available, then the Roku 4 might be the way to go. Otherwise, the less expensive Roku 3 was more dependable.
It’s up to you how much you want to spend for content from Netflix, Prime, Hulu or whatever and whether or not to go with annual or monthly subscriptions. Being a Game of Thrones fan, I paid monthly for HBO Now and then canceled it after the season ended. I will subscribe again when the next season starts.
Private Roku channels
Private hidden channels are some of the best Roku options. Unlike public channels, which are reviewed by Roku before appearing as official options in the Channel Store, private channels require a code. You add a private channel by logging into your Roku account. Go to “Add a Channel” under “Manage account.” Enter the access code, and the channel is added. Update your Roku system if you want the channel to appear right away.