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View Full Version : ROKU & High Speed internet questions - Please help if you know.



Sam Murdoch
12-24-2017, 8:56 AM
Hi All -

I'm looking to help my housebound sister (who lives 4 states away) to set up a better system for TV watching.

Current set up:

No smart TV

Cable for Internet only

DISH for TV but stupid expensive. Basic with one added channel and a Hopper for 2 TVs - but since she is a long time customer they keep upping the cost with no added benefit. Another $ 20.00 per month next month to nearly $ 100.00.

I'm considering dumping DISH and bumping her internet to a bundle for cable and phone with higher speed (to 200Mbps) then adding a ROKU. The ROKU will give her channels that she can't get on her local cable provider. She lives in a no competition for cable zone. (I'm the guy who pays these bills so I can deal with the companies directly.)

QUESTIONS:

1) Is 200Mbps fast enough for TV streaming?

2) Is ROKU a decent affordable way to do this?

3) Am I asking the right questions?

Additional info:

Family could chip in and buy her a new smart TV if that is needed to make ROKU work but she lives far away, is not that physically capable or technically savy enough to set up a new TV without help. Still...

If I cancel DISH, I know from my own experience that they will be very amenable to lowering the price and giving a much much better deal - as if you are a new customer - but possibly it will take being willing to be without TV for a few days to a few weeks. As she is housebound this is quite a sacrifice for her. I would rather avoid the drama.

The only options I have - again because of the lack of competition in her area and because of some very specific TV watching needs that she prefers - are:

1) The cable/ ROKU set up

2) Try to negotiate with DISH but with no clout.

# 1 is my preference if you guys can tell me that ROKU works well and is user friendly.

Thanks very much.

Sam

Perry Hilbert Jr
12-24-2017, 9:12 AM
Saw a Samsung dvd player at Sams club a few weeks ago that also acted as a smart tv box. Iirc it was only $40. I may get one for our none smart tv. (I have been streaming more video than watching cable anyway. I get 7 channels over the airwaves and I am thinking about cutting the cable anyway.) I can use my phone as a remote, look up what I want to see on the net, and push a button to have it play on the tv. A smart tv like an LG with web os can cruise the net like a computer using a wireless keyboard. A bit slower though.

Perry Hilbert Jr
12-24-2017, 9:15 AM
If you get the keyboard for the tv, get the keyboard with the mouse pad on it., $24 at best buy.

Jim Becker
12-24-2017, 9:26 AM
Roku is almost the "gold standard" when it comes to streaming content services and would be a good choice, IMHO, for what you state is needed. It gives you access to quite a few streaming content options, too, including Hulu + which includes live TV. And the 200mb Internet service is more than adequate for streaming. A single HD stream is only really using about 10mb max. I have 150/150 service and with multiple people streaming different content to different devices, there is plenty of bandwidth to spare.

FWIW, I'm an Apple guy and use Apple TV for streaming, but if I weren't, I'd be using Roku. I will say, however, that the Samsung Smart TVs that I bought my daughters for Christmas this year handle streaming very, very well and at under $300 for a 40" set, were a good value.

Nathan Johnson
12-24-2017, 9:38 AM
We average somewhere around 25 - 30 mbps and do not have cable. We have zero issues streaming content on the tv while each using smart phones.
I have one small smart tv with roku built in, and two blu-ray players (Samsung and sony) connected to other tvs. All tvs have rabbit ears for local channels in HD.
I would say the roku is probably the most user friendly. I would also say that I detest the Samsung interface...it's clunky and stupid...but it is several years old.
All in all, I don't watch hardly any tv, but my fiance uses Hulu and Netflix a lot. We do not miss cable at all, and I am quite happy not paying them for commercials and channel surfing.

You don't need a smart tv. You can buy a standalone blu-ray player, roku, firestick, etc streaming device/stick to plug into any of the newer televisions.

Pat Barry
12-24-2017, 9:50 AM
1) you have plenty of speed at 200 MPS
2) ROKU is great, I have ROKU a Firestick, a smart TV with googlecast built in. All work fine.
3) you dont get something for nothing. HULU, Netflix, HBO go, etc, all cost monthly fee. Those fees add up in a hurry
4) live TV sports is something you wont get with ROKU without something like an ESPN subscription.
5) I find sports lacking on all streaming media you can get that with cable

Robin Dobbie
12-24-2017, 10:06 AM
I would consider committing immoral acts for 200mbps.(not really) 4 or 5 megabits is plenty for one person, as long as the connection is stable.

Don't forget about Netflix DVD/Bluray mail service. Best quality, best selection, no commercials, no buffering.

Yonak Hawkins
12-24-2017, 10:22 AM
...Hulu + which includes live TV.
...you dont get something for nothing. HULU, Netflix, HBO go, etc, all cost monthly fee. Those fees add up in a hurry.

I've been seeing ads from Utube. They are offering live TV, as well. I can't vouch for its quality or inclusiveness, but I wonder if this is a good alternative to cable or satellite. It sounds promising.

glenn bradley
12-24-2017, 10:41 AM
I've been streaming TV for years over what was sold as a 10Mbps service without issue. This has morphed to a 30Mbps service but, not at my request for more bandwidth. Much of the hyperbole over Mbps is for up-selling. I have buildings on campus full of general computing users that still run on 100Mbps uplinks for lack of adequate fiber facilities for higher speeds. I also run 100Gbps paths for all sorts of gigantic research data and everything in between. I have been pushing data since 1200bps (yes, twelve hundred bits) was exciting. Large numbers impress people but, don't pay for something you don't need.

P.s. I also have a small form factor computer that was only a few hundred bucks that I use for nearly all my streaming functions. Sometimes a computer works better as a computer. For folks not comfortable with directly interfacing, something like the Roku or Fire Stick front end is better. I find them a little maddening ;-)

Perry Hilbert Jr
12-24-2017, 11:00 AM
Maybe I don't know enough about ROKU. I was told, rightly or wrongly, that it is preset for lots of streaming services, like hulu, but can not just surf the internet. If I locate a foreign streaming service, ROKU won't let me watch it. LG's Web os, will let me use the tv like a computer and just show the content without going through a thing like roku. I don't understand why these tv's do not have the fancy computer chips to do that without using a roku. I can even go on this forum and post this message from my Samsung tv. Can roku do that?

Jim Becker
12-24-2017, 1:34 PM
I would consider committing immoral acts for 200mbps.(not really) 4 or 5 megabits is plenty for one person, as long as the connection is stable.

'Kinda subjective... ;) "Needs" are relative to the individual. :D

Sam Murdoch
12-24-2017, 6:09 PM
Thank you all - valuable and encouraging info here. You are contributing to my sister's well being in her otherwise
small world, in the spirit of the Holy Days. Thanks again.

Sam

Matt Meiser
12-24-2017, 7:10 PM
4 or 5 megabits is plenty for one person, as long as the connection is stable

''''

Don't forget about Netflix DVD/Bluray mail service. Best quality, best selection, no commercials, no buffering.

:rolleyes:

Curt Harms
12-25-2017, 6:52 AM
If you want a good selection of content, you'll need something like Hulu or Netflix in addition to the Roku. I had Hulu for a year and it was OK but I'm not that much for movies, I tend toward TV shows and documentaries. I was paying around $8/month for Hulu and wasn't watching it that much. I switched to Amazon Prime for $3/yr. more and see it as a better value, good streaming video for my tastes and 2 day shipping on lots of stuff - or sometimes faster. One thing to be aware of re wifi streaming devices. I live in a townhouse community and there are a LOT of wifi networks. Most of them run at 2.4 Ghz, along with microwave ovens and other devices. The more devices emitting on the same frequency the slower the real world throughput. There is a second wifi frequency, 5 Ghz. which is not nearly as busy but many video streaming devices can't use that frequency. If I were to buy another streaming device, dual band (2.4/5 Ghz.) would be something I'd want. Now if I were in a cabin in the woods, 2.4 Ghz. would be fine and I think the lower frequencies are better for distance and obstacles.

Yonak Hawkins
12-25-2017, 12:15 PM
glenn, what service do you use to stream live TV ? Do you get most of the things offered on cable ?

Jim Becker
12-25-2017, 12:35 PM
glenn, what service do you use to stream live TV ? Do you get most of the things offered on cable ?
I'm not Glenn, but a few months ago, I was investigating this to determine if that was the direction we wanted to go. Note that these services change over time and some are affected by geography. Hulu Plus for about $40 a month had all the networks for live TV (including CBS at the time) and a good representation of typical "cable" channels. It's also compatible with most streaming devices. YouTubeTV also had a good selection, but was limited to certain devices and was missing CBS. It also has geography restrictions for the networks. PlayStation Vue had a good selection, but, well...it's focused on PlayStation as the device. ATT's DirectTVNow is very similar to regular DirectTV in content. Etc. You really need to look at each of the services to determine what's available to you on that service in your area as well as overall.

In the end, I chose to just keep the "LocalTV" option from Verizon FiOS without set top boxes and do the $6 a month subscription to CBS Now so we'd have access to recorded versions of Colbert to watch at times better for us, rather than late night. OTA actually worked great...except for the one channel that I watch each and every morning that was "geography challenged on Low-VHF", so staying with the "triple play" was actually the least expensive option to get what we actually watch. My girls have their own streaming accounts that they pay for...they refuse to share because of how bookmarked locations in shows get lost when someone else decides to watch the same content.

Tom Stenzel
12-25-2017, 10:42 PM
Just as a point of reference, we have U-verse service with a mighty 2 mbs. That's right, two. It can run our Roku box without any problem BUT the television is an old CRT model, not high definition. It does tie up the connection for any other use. Hi-def will need more speed, 200 mbs is plenty.

We also have a smart TV, we don't use both on a network connection at the same time. The smart TV is set for lo-def to lower the data rate.

A smart TV is used in place of a Roku box but the Roku has a choice of of channels that our smart TV can't match.

We have Netflix, used to have Hulu Plus but dumped them as no one watched it. My wife uses it a lot, I for the most part use that modern wireless tech called an antenna. No network connections at all, it's really quite advanced...:)

-Tom

Bill Graham
12-25-2017, 11:37 PM
Don't discount your weight as a long-term DISH customer, none of the TV/internet providers want to lose customers in today's highly competitive market. I have AT&T Uverse service for landline, DSL and their max plan on TV, my monthly bill would be well over $300/month at their standard rates. I just call in yearly and threaten to leave, the CS rep magically finds a way cut my bill back to $200.

"The squeaky wheel gets the grease", just make some noise and see what happens. Worst case is you have to switch and get an introductory price on a bundle from the cable provider but that's not likely to happen, selecting the menu option for canceling service takes you to a higher level in the CS tree and you get to talk to people who can actually do something for you. Go on the DISH website, see what they're offering new customers and ask for the same deal. There'll be some dickering but these reps get scored on customer retention, losing you directly effects their paycheck at review time. They'll do whatever they can to keep you as a customer.

Roku is nice but it depends on what you watch. The most popular network shows are available but there's a time delay. Cable networks like A&E, Discovery, etc. may have their own Roku channels but the number of programs they offer are limited. Your best bet for live network broadcast without a provider plan is an HDTV antenna if you're in an area with a good selection of local stations. It just depends on what you(or your sister in this case) want to watch. And there's always a subscription option for Netflix, HBO Go, Showtime Now, etc. if she's a movie buff. If you're an Amazon Prime member you get a lot of free stuff with your membership as well.

Just like everything else, you pays your money and takes your choice.

Sam Murdoch
12-26-2017, 7:48 AM
Bill - your advice to get squeaky with DISH is spot on. I went through this curve with them when I cancelled for myself. At that time I told them I was going with a roof top antenna and Netflix - which I did, with absolutely no regrets. On the phone with DISH, as you said, I was bumped up to supervisor of sales level and spoke several times with a very professional and friendly DISH rep. Every time we talked the price got lower. Finally, AFTER I had said my goodbyes, she called back and made me such a sweet deal that I honestly had to reconsider :rolleyes:. "They'll do whatever they can to keep you as a customer." EXACTLY!

The thing with this tactic is that you have to be ready to QUIT -not just fold 'em but walk away (at least as far as the DISH rep will believe you). I asked my sister if she could stand to be without her TV for a few days to a week but this made her shudder :(. I understand, so I backed off. Still, I will have another chat with the DISH I quit department and see what happens.

Good advice for others though.

Alan Rutherford
12-26-2017, 8:28 AM
I would consider committing immoral acts for 200mbps.(not really) 4 or 5 megabits is plenty for one person, as long as the connection is stable....

I agree with all the above. We have DSL at 5 mb, Roku with Netflix and Amazon Prime and TV with a homemade antenna. It's not great but for the price, you can't beat it. I hear we could now get 10 mb for the same price - I'm having trouble getting excited about that. At 5mb, Roku will sometimes stall briefly when first loading a show but otherwise OK. There's no apparent conflict sharing the bandwidth with our computers. The TV with external antenna is sometimes marginal depending on the channel and the weather.

We have or have tried Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and some others on the Roku. Every one is miserable to browse. It can be difficult to find something to watch unless you are easily satisfied and haven't already seen much of it. Browsing is easier on a computer, at least with Netflix, where you can get around with the mouse and add to your list.

Dick Strauss
12-26-2017, 8:57 AM
I know this will shock some folks but here goes...get a set of old rabbit ears for over the air tv if your sister lives within about 30-50 miles of a major city. We combine over the air with Amazon Prime and Netflix on a Roku for our viewing needs (for less than $20/month). There is also a more a la carte service called Sling that carries cable channels over Roku, etc. Service starts at about $20/month.

Matt Meiser
12-26-2017, 8:58 AM
I'll probably get slammed for suggesting this, but Santa brought us a pair of Apple TV's to replace our Roku Sticks that are a few years old. The kid wanted one so she can put her iPad screen on the TV in her den and since it probably means we'll buy some content from Apple, I wanted the same on the main TV. I'm really glad we did as the apps are way more responsive than the comparable apps on any Roku, smart TV, or Blu Ray player in our house. The Roku was the best of what we had so I'll demote them to my office and the master bedroom where we currently (rarely) use the smart TV functions.

You don't need any other Apple device in the house but if there's an iPhone or iPad, you can use them as the remote and you can type on the device instead of the PAINFULLY slow on-TV keyboards all devices like this use. You can do this with Roku too, but the remote app hasn't been the best (particularly because its impossible to tell the 2 devices in our house apart--just shows the serial numbers!) Its been crash prone and laggy as well.

We ditched DirecTV over the summer and are using a combination of Netfix and Amazon Prime plus a Tivo box for recording off the air to watch on our schedule, commercial-free.

Perry Hilbert Jr
12-26-2017, 1:41 PM
How is that different from my Samsung TV and using the key board on my smart phone, or even the wireless blue tooth keyboard I keep with each smart TV? Do you still need high speed internet or do you use your phone/tablet as a hot spot? Can you cruise the internet with just the TV and a keyboard? So far I see no difference than what I have been doing for three years on a Samsung smart tv.

Perry Hilbert Jr
12-26-2017, 1:49 PM
But do you still need high speed internet service? Does the Roku replace the internet service for streaming? My high speed internet includes the first tier cable. So I get the cable for free with the internet service. What is the advantage of Roku if you still need high speed internet? I have two TV's hooked to cable and two on antenna, but they are all smart TV's capable of casting from my phone or computer.

Pat Barry
12-26-2017, 2:10 PM
But do you still need high speed internet service? Does the Roku replace the internet service for streaming? My high speed internet includes the first tier cable. So I get the cable for free with the internet service. What is the advantage of Roku if you still need high speed internet? I have two TV's hooked to cable and two on antenna, but they are all smart TV's capable of casting from my phone or computer.
Biggest advantage of streaming is it is all on demand programming. Pause it, rewind, start over, on your schedule.
.

Jim Becker
12-26-2017, 2:40 PM
Biggest advantage of streaming is it is all on demand programming. Pause it, rewind, start over, on your schedule.
.
Streaming also can include live TV...There are a number of available sources you can subscribe to that essentially duplicate a "cable" lineup, including local channels.

Jim Becker
12-26-2017, 2:46 PM
How is that different from my Samsung TV and using the key board on my smart phone, or even the wireless blue tooth keyboard I keep with each smart TV? Do you still need high speed internet or do you use your phone/tablet as a hot spot? Can you cruise the internet with just the TV and a keyboard? So far I see no difference than what I have been doing for three years on a Samsung smart tv.

There is native integration between AppleTV and Apple devices and for those of us who use the latter, that can be a convenient advantage. The apps on a TV like your Samsung do provide similar service, but age of the TV makes a difference. The Samsung in our master bedroom which is about four years old is loathsomely slow when using on-board apps. The brand new Samsung SmartTVs that I gave my daughters for Christmas are much faster in that respect, but they are not as responsive as the 4th generation AppleTV I have in our master bedroom.

And yes, you still need high speed Internet if you want your content to come in that way instead of over a wireless carrier's expensive and generally heavily capped service. My Internet service through Verizon FiOS is 150mbps/150mbs which is considerably faster than any cell phone data will provide. With multiple people streaming, it doesn't noticeably affect anything else on the home network, too.