Tag Archives: Roku

HBO give us free! Cable, your days are numbered.

hbogo

I’ve been trying to contain my excitement over something I just heard.

“What’s that?” you ask.

Brace yourselves…

Next year you can get HBO without a cable subscription.

Now let it sink in.

Awesome right!?

I know.

Like many of you, I’ve got a two year contract with Fios for my TV, internet and phone.

When I switched from Comcast to Fios, I signed up for the bundled service with that great introductory price.

Once I added the DVR box, the additional set top boxes, and premium channels to the mix, that “great introductory price” went away.

And I end up with a bundle costing me a cool two bills a month.

Outside of the occasional on-demand movie or DVRd show I missed when it originally aired, I was just throwing away money with my cable subscription.

With the exception of HBO, I rarely watch anything on EPIX, STARZ, or any of the other premium channels I pay so dearly for.

So you can imagine my delight to hear that I’ll be able to decouple from cable and still get my HBO on.

Well maybe you can’t actually imagine my delight – but I am delighted damn it!

It’s true.

I started transitioning away from cable a few years ago when I got my Apple TV.

With Hulu Plus, Netflix, and iTunes, I’ve got access to virtually the same content as if offered on premium cable channels.

And the HBO GO app also allows me to watch all the content on that channel (albeit with my cable subscription) on the go.

The bigger thing for me, though, is not the decoupling of HBO from cable, it’s the precedent that HBO has set with this move.

Already, premium networks like EPIX, STARZ, ESPN, and Showtime have apps that let you access their content on demand.

With Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire and gaming systems like Xbox and Playstation all offering streaming services, once other broadcast companies follow suit, you’re no longer going to be beholden to the cable companies.

And soon(er than later) you’ll be able to cut the ties that bind (literally and figuratively) and get rid of that stupid cable bill.

We’ll have to see what kinds of deals HBO is able to strike with other set top box manufacturers, and how many of them ultimately end up carrying the channel.

But it’s definitely a sign of things to come.

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Apple TV, Roku, watch your backs. There’s a new dongle in town. Chromecast.

Chromecast dongle

One of my colleagues, Salvador Risk (not his real name), is an avowed Google fanatic.

Google Glass, Chromebook, Jellybean. If Google makes it, he lauds it.

Invariably, whenever there’s a Google announcement or milestone, he shoots a link over IM for us to check out.

It was he who recommended that we watch the hellacious Google 1/0 2013.

My eyes are still bleeding.

We usually mock him for being so devout a disciple.

Yesterday was no exception.

You see yesterday, in his typical zeal, he shot us a link for some new innocuous Google product.

Followed by the statement (and I quote) “i so want this” (lowercase “i” and all).

Of course, we mocked him mercilessly, once again.

Who the heck would want “this” stupid thing?

“This” is another attempt by Google to stick it’s tentacles where they don’t belong.

“This” (we opined) would go the way of many of Google’s other lame-brained, ill-fated, poorly executed schemes.

What was “this”?

“This” was Chromecast.

What the heck is Chromecast, you ask?

Well it’s a dongle which will allow you to stream content from your phone, tablet or laptop, directly to your TV.

Simply plug Chromecast into an HDMI port of your HDTV, and voila! You’re streaming.

Chromecast in your TV

Even though the Chromecast dongle isn’t available yet (it’s available for pre-order in the Google Play store), it’s already making waves.

Why all the commotion, you ask?

For one, it’s not a box.

It’s a…dongle.

Unlike other set top box makers, like Apple and Roku (among the more recognizable names in the game), Chromecast won’t take up any space on your TV stand.

It’s just a simple fob that plugs in discretely to your TV.

Which means no power cords or HDMI cables.

With Chromecast, there’s nothing to hide, tuck away or get tangled in.

Actually, there is a little cord, which plugs into a micro USB port in the top of the dongle…but it’s not a big cord.

Second, you don’t need a remote control.

Virtually every other set top box is manipulated by some additional piece of hardware.

But not with Chromebook.

Your Android, iPhone or tablet device serves as your remote.

Third, Chromecast provide much of the same utility of other set top boxes.

Like Apple TV and Roku, Chromecast lets you grab content from Netflix and YouTube.

But they also let you access content from your Google Play account (like iTunes/iPhoto) and the Chrome browser.

But wait! That’s not all.

Lest you think that Chromecast is just some dumb portal that simply lets you stream what’s on your device to your TV, Google claims that Chromecast will also automatically update apps.

And if they’re going after Apple and Roku, I can see the available list of options growing in short order.

Finally, and more (or most) importantly, there’s the cost.

Chromecast is only $35.

That’s way below Apple’s $99 price point.

And significantly less than Roku’s $49.99 streaming player.

In the final analysis, even though we were originally ribbing Salvator (not his real name) mercilessly for his blind allegiance to Google, we had to concede that he was really onto something.

Call me gullible (and a nerd), but I’m kinda excited for the release of Chromecast.

As someone who rocks with Apple TV, I’m interested to see how Chromecast stacks up.

Anyway, nerdfest over.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled life.

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