Advertisements SUMMARY There are alternatives to both cable and TiVo. If you want to save money and have the patience to hunt out content from multiple sources, you can save well over $1000 / year, not to mention up front equipment cost. The downside is that it is not packaged conveniently like TiVo and Cable. For us, in our home, my current solution is OTA, PLAYON, ROKU, and PlayStation VUE for OTT content bundles. We do have to hunt around for shows, in multiple locations, but that is the trade off to save a great deal of money each year. LONG DRAWN OUT STORY Like most here I’ve had a love hate relationship with TiVo for about 15 years. TiVo is increasingly being relegated to the sidelines in our home. I’m not happy about it, and I wish it were not the case. My Relevant Gear (and approx. cost at the time of purchase) - 3X TiVo Premiere Lifetime (about $300 each W/ Lifetime) = $900 - 1 Roof Mounted Outdoor Antenna and telescoping pole. = $300 - Used Lenovo Quad Core i7 Laptop 1TB HDD (for PLAYON) = $400 - ROKU Premiere + = $80 - PLAYON Plus, Lifetime, 1 Time Purchase Sale = $30 - (hardwired ethernet 1Gb for everything) My Monthly Subscriptions / Content Providers - OTA = $0 - Amazon (part of Prime Shipping already sunk cost) = $0 - Yahoo (Hulu Free) = $0 - Netflix = $12 - PlayStation Vue (* More Later) = $30 - Internet from Comcast 75 Mb (own Modem 2 Yr Contract) = $50 My Current Goals - Legally access as much content as possible as cheaply as possible - Watch any content (but especially “recorded” content) any time and any where CORD CUTTING – TAKE 3 Our rationale is fine, instead of paying the cable company $100+ / month, we purchase content from Amazon as it became available. This worked pretty well until TiVo messed up the integrated Guide Data. THE TIPPING POINT FOR PAY AS YOU GO CONTENT VS A SUBSCRIPTION. Two things happened that made me seek out an OTT content bundle subscription. There was a big power outage in our area whereas our in-laws had to live with us for several days during March Madness. I realized I had no way to let my father in-law watch the NCAA games, other than the few that were broadcast OTA on CBS. We also stumbled across 2 shows that we liked and had no way to catch up with past shows without buying new seasons @ $30 each. Since we had recently laid out $30 each for 3 other shows, it was starting to get expensive. (Still cheaper overall, but eating into savings). SLING-TV – NICE, BUT NOT RIGHT FOR ME. Tried the free trial, everything worked well, nice UI. You either get limited channels W/ESPN for $20 or Popular Channels W/O ESPN for $25 or both for $40. It was too much. They also don’t have DVR service. DVR Service is rumored to be coming with a $5 extra charge. However, the main reason why I discontinued SLING had nothing to with above. I can use PLAYON as my DVR, but it must be able to log into each content provider’s website, which requires you to select your TV Provider (like Xfinity or Uverse). I only found 1-2 channels that had a selection for SLING-TV. This meant we could only use Sling for Live TV or a handful of catch up shows. ROKU channels had the same requirements and again most of them did not have SLING as an option. PLAYSTATION VUE – CONTENT VS. INTERFACE We currently are using the PlayStation Vue – Skinny Bundle and plan to continue the paid subscription. It has most of the same channels as Sling (- LifeTime), it also has live local channels, it has more channels overall, and DVR(~ish) capability. The price is $30. Vue has user profiles for each user in the house (like Netflix), it can support simultaneous streams. It works on ROKU, PS3, PS4 , and via the Sony Vue website. (more devices are supported by both Sling and Sony, but these are the ones I use). I was a little surprised that there are no SmartTV Apps for my 2 Sony TV’s (2013 and 2015) for PS Vue, but maybe they will come over time. More importantly however, is that this subscription allows you to select “Playstation VUE” as a content provider network on every single website and standalone app I have tried. TOO MANY CHOICES CAUSES CONFUSION Why is being able to log into a website or ROKU Channel to watch directly so important to me, instead of aggregated on the Vue or Sling App? My number 1 priority was as much content as cheaply as possible. Each way to view a content provider’s shows has different results. I don’t know why, that is just the way it is. Say for example I want to catch up a show that has been running for 3 seasons on HGTV. - Sony (or Sling) might have the past 2-3 shows - The ROKU Channel for HGTV might have all episodes of the current season. - The HGTV Website (accessed via PLAYON) might have every episode of all 3 seasons. So, if I can’t log into the provider’s website directly, then I can’t catch up on back episodes unless I pay for them on Amazon. This is not a hard and fast rule, and any of these 3 sources may or may not have different content at any given time. But now with a little detective work I can usually find what I want. For example, we recently could not find “episode 1” of a new show, it was not on SONY, it was not even on the ABC website, it was not on Yahoo/Hulu, it was only on the ABC Channel in ROKU. I don’t know why. All the other sites started at episode 2. This presents a problem now, if we want to watch something other than a current show we have to remember where to find it. (Sony App, ROKU Channel, WebSite, Hulu), it takes some time. PLAYON - AN INCREASING IMPORTANT ROLE. Recording Today I set a OP on TiVo for OTA, but then as a safety I also set a “Subscription” to everything also in PLAYON for both OTA and anything else I want to watch from my Sony Content Bundle. Playback Through the ROKU PLAYON Channel, if I playback my recordings from PLAYON Recordings, I have instant commercial skip, which we are really starting to enjoy. I see now what all the excitement is about on the Bolt (when it reportedly worked). TIVO BEING RELEGATED TO 4TH STRING BENCH WARMER. We use TiVo mostly now as a tuner for live TV, just because that is what we are used to using (the remote etc). I could easily turn it off and just watch OTA from the TV Tuner (without pause). Almost anytime we sit down to watch “our shows” it is now through ROKU, and either the PlayStation VUE channel, or the PLAYON channel, and occasionally the content providers channel if I had not yet recorded it on PLAYON. If we want to watch Amazon or NetFlix, the ROKU is blazingly fast almost instant, we no longer have to wait sometimes up to several minutes for Netflix to load on TiVo. Perhaps this unfair to TiVo comparing an old 2009 Premier to a 2017 ROKU as far as processing capability, etc. Nevertheless, the only way to “upgrade” the experience with TiVo is to shell out another $500, instead of $80 for ROKU. The image quality on the ROKU Premiere+ is fantastic! We only have a 1080P TV, but whatever ROKU is doing (perhaps down-converting a 4K stream) it looks great! CONCLUSION We are only a week or so into this experiment with ROKU and SONY VUE, I know I am not breaking any new ground here. I tend to be on the downward curve of early adopters instead of bleeding edge. Again, I must state, if you want a homogeneous and consistent experience then stay with TiVo and Cable. Worts and all, it is still the best overall experience. It is just not the cheapest, nor the most flexible and guide data / recording can be hit or miss. Most of our frustration with TiVo has been that we see and implicitly understand its potential to be our universal entertainment aggregation point, but it can’t ever seem to reach its full potential. As soon as it gets close to this nirvana it shoots itself in the foot. I feel like I am rooting for the Detroit Lions again and again. It just leads to frustration and disappointment. I’ll probably keep the TiVo’s until I can prove they no longer serve a purpose. Mostly in hopes that something magical happens to make TiVo Great Again. Who knows, maybe the Lions will win the Super Bowl too! As always your mileage may vary. Anyway, these are my experiments. Have Fun, it is just TV. As my wife says if it all stops working we can always just read books.