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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cutting the cable cord

I wanted to try a “cheap dad” type of a post, because I have been obsessing over figuring out how to cut our cable cord and not pay for the proverbial “idiot box” any longer.  There are basically five options for cord-cutters: Logitech Revue, Roku, Apple TV, Boxee, and just a plain ol’ computer.

They all have different pros and cons, as noted in the following table from PC World’s site (note the Logitech Revue and the Boxess are now $99):

In defense of the Revue, reports Hulu is pending, but who knows when that will happen.  Also: ABC, CBS, NBC, and Hulu have all blocked Google TV from accessing their shows on the web, so revue is not the one you want to cut the cord.  Revue does offer Amazon Video which is sort of like the iTunes store in which you pay about $2 per show.  Logitech also allows video calling if you get the logitech TV cam accessory, but the person you are calling must also have the same setup – so that is essentially useless.

Roku does not utilize a full web browser, so simply browsing the web and web-searching is not an option, nor is full facebook usage.  While the Revue does not have Hulu, Roku only has Hulu plus which is $8 per month.  If you do that and netlix you are eating into your cord cutting savings (adding TV to a bundled FIOS internet plan saves you around $20 only – anyone have the scoop on the cheapest local internet plans?).

Apple TV has some good features for $99.99 and is rumored to include facetime so you can video call your iphone using peoples.  But still no web-browser.  The word is this is best if you are an iTunes junky because it integrates really well with your existing library.

The Revue gives you the advantage of a web browser (that you can access while watching any other content), which Roku or Apple TV does not offer.  So the decision comes down to Hulu Plus or a web browser?  The decision may also involve the Roku 100+ included “channels” (whatever that means to them) compared to the included Google TV channels.

Logitech has also just announced they will no longer support google tv and their revue product.  So that will probably make their customer support about the same as it normally is for logitech products – meaning non-existent.  We took the plunge anyway for the $99 Revue which was available through our credit card point so no cash out of pocket.  The wireless keyboard with trackpad works really well, and is worth at least $50 if you bought it separately -  so to me it was like getting another computer for surfing the web and emailing from our couch.  The extra apps and video content is just gravy, and there are even some kid-friendly apps like drawing with the trackpad.  It’s not going to allow us to cut the cord just yet, but it doubles as a pretty good glorified remote and integrated well enough with our Verizon Fios box.

Boxee gets points for their hip attitude including providing instructions for you to forgo buying their hardware: but I really wanted a web-browser.

If you are really serious about cord-cutting, all the info online agrees just hooking up a PC with HDMI out and using a wireless keyboard with trackpad is still the best setup around.  It was more expensive to plunk down for a new PC, so we went Revue.  But we are keeping the scissors close if it turns out that we like google TV enough to ditch the cable.