Getting Rid of Cable (Part 2)

Getting Rid of Cable Part 1 is here.

Received the Roku XDS Streaming Player 1080p, but the same day we discovered that we could get Hulu on our Playstation 3, so it sat unopened while we tested Hulu Plus. We’ve used Netflix (I love Netflix) on our PS3, so we had a streaming comparison for both HD and SD. (On a side note, I’m anti-Sony and am looking fwd to Hulu arriving on the Xbox. Their site says it’s “coming soon to xbox”)

The Hulu Plus interface was very easy to figure out. They make it very user-friendly and you can find shows easily and watch immediately. We quickly found the “Colbert Report” and Hulu had the most recent show already available to watch! They also had episodes spanning at least a week (maybe more), in case you missed other episodes. This was also the case for tons of popular shows (Modern Family, The Office, Family Guy, etc.) Some shows had all episodes from all seasons, but some others only had the current season of episodes. It appeared as though they had some agreement with Fox and ABC, since those shows were so prominent…but that was a cursory glance/opinion and many other stations and popular shows were available as well.

Some shows have commercials throughout. A 30-second one before the show started and then ones ranging from 15-30 seconds at each “station break”. We sometimes paused during a commercial and ran out for a drink or bathroom break. When we came back, it was sitting there waiting for us to hit “play” on our remote and continue. Some shows had no commercials at all (those seemed to be ABC, Fox, and Comedy Central, but we haven’t explored every network and show to see the commercial vs. non-commercial pattern).

The above are either pros or cons, depending on your personal tastes. But here is a major Con that was consistently and issue: The shows kept freezing! Some wouldn’t, but almost all did at some point. It was sporadic, so we’re fairly certain that it was nothing we did wrong. I spoke with two friends who watch Hulu via their Roku and they said they experience the exact same issue. Most freezes lasted exactly 8 seconds and then it fixed itself and continued. A few times, we had to hit the FF, Rewind, or Play button on our remote to unfreeze it…then it would either continue without issue or might freeze once more. It was so random, we couldn’t find a pattern. Our conclusion here was that Hulu has issues. Possibly because they’re growing too fast and need more servers. Don’t know, but I can only assume/hope that they are aware of this issue and are working on it. After all, we’re paid subscribers and they don’t want everyone to start cancelling. Some episodes never froze…even ones in HD…so I think I’m going to continue using them and chalk it up to “growing pains”.

And yes, I’m aware that Netflix streaming will do the little spinning circle once in a while, but that’s not Netflix’s fault but rather your wireless internet/network changing its network speed (so if you’re watching an HD movie and your internet speed slows down, Netflix will automatically change your stream from HD to SD…and when your internet speed goes back up, Netflix will switch you back again, hence the spinning circle of waiting. But I’ve found it rare and predictably fast).

So…I’m returning the Roku for a refund. I’m also going to call the cable company today and ask them to disconnect the cable and return the HD DVR (I think that will be a $30.00 drop in my cable bill). I’m keeping my cable and HD DVR in my bedroom, until I experience what it’s like with the new, no-cable, system in the living room. Rumor has it that if I remove all cable tv from my home (and keep only internet), that the cable company will severely jack up my internet pricing. A friend said they did that to her when she got rid of everything but internet. I assume this is true, since these are “bundle” packages and if there’s no bundle then you’re going to pay “A La Carte” pricing which offers no discounts. Regardless, I will still be paying substantially less and will post those amounts in another “Getting Rid of Cable” update.

Getting Rid Of Cable (Part 3) is here.

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