Tag Archives: hulu plus

My favorite gadget of 2013: Roku 3

R3 frontAs a Netflix streaming video fan, I’ve picked up every version of the Roku (streaming video / audio) box that’s been released. I upgraded to the Roku 3 this year and consider it one of the best consumer tech buys out there.

Why do I love the Roku 3? Read on…

  • Inexpensive: The Roku 3 is normally priced at $99.99 — today it’s even cheaper at $10 off (89.99)
  • Fast: When I sit down to watch streaming video, I don’t want to watch the buffering symbol… I want to watch the movie! Roku 3 is fast, fast, fast. Very little buffering and steaming video / audio loads quickly.
  • Great video quality: Roku 3 is designed for use only with HDTVs and the video quality is gorgeous. Of course, the video source needs to be good quality, too.
  • Roku offers numerous streaming video sources (most are free): I love Amazon Prime Instant Video and have found Roku to be the easiest way to watch these movies and TV shows on my TV. Best of all? Roku is constantly adding new channels. Here are my Roku 3 channels:
    • Netflix (subscription)
    • hulu plus (subscription — sign up for free trial)
    • Amazon instant video (subscription / paid)
    • Crackle
    • Roku Newscaster (news from several different sources)
    • cnet
    • soma fm (internet radio)
    • tuneine (radio)
    • classical tv
    • livestation
    • CNN
    • WSJ live
    • Ted
    • TWIT
    • MIT unofficial OpenCourseware
    • NASA (which I used to watch the recent spacewalks)
    • Amazon cloud player (for my Amazon tunes)
    • iHeartradio
    • Smithsonian channel
    • CNN International
    • Nowhere TV
    • vevo
    • Rutgers
    • Frightpix
    • indieflix (Indie films)
    • Radio Paradise
    • Congressional video stream (by Sunlight Foundation)
    • Supreme Court audio stream (by Sunlight Foundation)
    • University of California’s uctv.tv
    • Pandora
    • Slacker
    • PBS
    • Russia Today Europe (news)
    • CNBC RT (real-time)
    • MHz networks
    • livestream
    • AOL On
    • Film Movement (award winning Indie films)
    • Youtube (currently only available on Roku 3)

Frankly, Roku offers so many channels that I use Roku Guide to keep up with new additions.

Aside from my smartphone and TiVo Roamio Pro, the Roku 3 is the gadget I use most often. At less than $100, it’s a steal. If you’ve never bought a Roku box and have an HDTV, I’d say go for it! If you have an earlier Roku box, I still say go for it… the speed improvements are significant enough to make it worthwhile. 

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Hulu Plus: Now cheaper

hulu

I’ve used Hulu since it came out and love how it lets me catch up on recent episodes I’ve missed. However, it doesn’t help when I’ve found a show I like and want to catch up on a larger back catalogue of episodes:

  • Comcast pay per view sometimes only lists 4 – 5 recent episodes (like Hulu)
  • Often Netflix has the series available for streaming, but not every season
  • For seasons / episodes not available on Comcast pay per view or Netflix, I’d wind up going to iTunes or Amazon Video on Demand (VoD). Unfortunately, that approach can get expensive quickly.

I happened across an article yesterday that mentioned Hulu Plus recently had a price drop from $9.99 to $7.99. That price drop coupled with the week-long free trial convinced me to give Hulu Plus a shot.

Getting set up was easy. I entered my info onto the Hulu Plus web page and then added Hulu Plus as a channel on my Roku XR box. Roku directed me to a web page to activate my Hulu Plus subscription on that box, and I was able to start watching TV instantly.

If you don’t have a Roku box, there are other devices you can use to watch Hulu Plus, including iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and several other listed here.

From what I’ve seen so far, the biggest benefits to Hulu Plus are:

  • HD quality streaming (vs SD quality offered by the free Hulu subscription). Picture quality is very good, especially considering my Roku box is connected wirelessly to my router.
  • Large back catalogues for many shows, and in many cases, the full back catalogue (all episodes for all seasons)

And here are the downsides that I’ve noticed so far:

  • Not all U.S. TV series are available via Hulu Plus. My recent favorite, Sons of Anarchy, is nowhere to be found. But series such as The Office (both US & UK versions) are available, and there’s enough variety that I’ve been able to watch shows that I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.
  • Unlike Hulu, Hulu Plus lists only TV series. You won’t find movies listed in the Hulu Plus catalogue. EDIT: Actually, the previous sentence is incorrect — there are both TV series and movies available for viewing on Hulu Plus.

For me, being able to catch up on back catalogues of interesting TV series is worth $7.99/month and I’ll continue to pay for Hulu Plus after my trial ends.

Interested? Use this referral code for a free 2-week (vs only 1 week) trial: http://hulu.com/r/VD6hSw (Updated: Sorry, all the referral codes have now been used)