In this tough economy, I am sure I am not the only one trying to figure out how to cut monthly expenses. One item that has been on my radar screen for a while is the cost of cable TV. With all of the new gadgets, such as Apple TV and the like, I continue to hold out hope for lower monthly fees on cable TV. For now, I have recently switched to Dish TV and have opted for their lowest channel package. This is saving me about $20 per month from what I was paying for cable.
Unlimited TV and Movies Through The Internet
I purchased an Apple TV unit for $160 a couple of years ago. This allowed me to stream movies and commercial-free TV shows to my television. Although it seemed like a great decision in the beginning, I quickly learned that there was little difference from buying movies through my cable company. Maybe (and that is a big maybe) I was saving a buck here and there on the cost of renting through Apple’s iTunes store vs. the prices offered by our local cable company. There are some other features, such as being able to connect to YouTube and free iTunes podcasts.
The Roku Breakthrough
Last week I purchased a Roku for $69 and believe I have really tapped in to a real money-saver this time. The Roku is a small box that connects to your TV and your home Internet connection (very similar in size to the Apple TV). It sounds complicated, but I had mine set up and connected to my home WiFi in about 10 minutes. The Roku gives you access to several sources of programming streamed from the Internet to your TV set.
Amazon Prime TV & Movies
The reason I bought the Roku was the announcement last week that Amazon was going to give its Prime Instant Video Service to Amazon Prime Members for free (Amazon’s flat rate shipping membership). Since I was already a member of the Amazon Prime program, this was too good of a deal to pass up. While I could have used my bonus membership to access free TV shows and movies via my laptop, I decided to spring for the one time cost of the Roku (which is designed to work with Amazon and NetFlix). Within a few minutes I was tapping in to a selection of more than 5,000 movies and TV shows for free! Very cool.
What Is Amazon Prime?
If you are not already a member of Amazon Prime, let me take a moment to explain this program. For $79.99 per year, you receive free two day shipping on most Amazon purchases. I have been a member of this program for going on three years. With the savings of sales tax on Internet purchases, added to the fact that I don’t pay shipping, I do most of my shopping online these days. What does this have to do with free TV shows and movies? Not sure, but the folks at Amazon decided to bonus their streaming video membership to all of us that have a shipping membership. I find Amazon Prime a very useful program to have. So many purchase decisions come down to the cost of shipping. With free shipping, online shopping wins out almost every time against local retail prices.
Roku And Netflix
I was super excited about my Amazon unlimited movie and TV deal, but was a little less than enthusiastic about the selection. Yes, it is 5,000 TV shows and movies (and that sounds like a lot) but the selection struck me as a little limited after browsing through it. I decided to add Netflix streaming to my Roku (1st month free trial $8 monthly after that). Netflix has a very impressive collection of about four to five times that of the free options at Amazon. So, if I was not already a member of the Amazon shipping program I would have to say that I would opt for NetFlix. Now I have unlimited access to movies and TV shows from both services. Roku also has the ability to stream Major League Baseball and NHL hockey. There are also quite a few Christian programs that can be accessd as well.
My First Weekend With The Roku
We watched four movies this weekend using our new movie memberships. Two movies were from Amazon and two from NetFlix. I would have normally spent about $16 using Apple TV. Right now, the only reason I even have the satellite TV is to watch the news channels. Once live news channels can be fully accessed online, the satellite will also get the boot. I am not quite ready to unplug my satellite dish, but that day seems to be coming very soon.
Helping you make the most of God’s money!