I’m really thinking about dumping cable TV. There are only two television programs I really enjoy watching, but at this point in my life I could easily wait until the episodes hit Netflix. My kids watch VERY little cable TV, preferring to watch their cartoons and movies on Netflix (often on their tablets or Nintendo devices). But my wife watches a lot of TV, so going cable TV-less may be a hard sell there.
But I’ve been looking at my options this week, despite the eye rolling and dirty looks I am getting from my wife. At first I thought about building a PC to use as a media server, but realized that with the exception of my iTunes library, I don’t have a lot of local content to stream, but I typically just sync a playlist or six to the iPod and dock it in a speaker system, so even lack of iTunes support isn’t a total show stopper, if I were to look at other devices. So just what other options do I have?
Kindle Fire HD: I coould spend the $10 or so needed to buy the micro-HDMI to HDMI cable, and dedicate the device to streaming Netflix, Amazon Video, You Tube, and music. But the lack of a remote control is bothersome. And I’d lose my primary ebook reading device.
On the other hand I know someone who does this, and he is quite pleased with the cost vs performance. So this is a very attractive option from a price point of view, though I’m still not sure about the whole lack of remote control.
iPad 2: I could buy the dock connector to HDMI cable adapter, and dedicate the device to streaming also, and I could stream my video podcasts and DRM’d . And it would give me a really good justification for buying a new tablet! But again, the lack of remote control is bothersome.
Chromecast: I’ve read good things and bad things about the Chromecast device, but it would eliminate the remote control issue. I realize at this point it will be a glorified Netflix and You Tube player, but it’ll be interesting to see how the the development community reacts to the device. Plus the “tab casting” feature sounds like it may make this a really useful device.
Roku 3: It offers everything I want, and includes a traditional looking remote, that might ease my wife’s transition to streaming media. Plus it offers the most “channels” and the user interface looks really good.
Xbox 360: We already have an Xbox 360 connected to the living room TV, and a controller shaped like a TV remote is available. The greatest drawback besides the recurring fee for a Microsoft Live account, is that I would need to set up Microsoft Media Center on a PC somewhere in the house, and import all of my non DRM’d media.
I’m sure there are other options available out there, however I think these are enough to get me started. Plus they all break the sub $100 price point. I’d really like to try the Roku device, as it looks like it offers the best compromise of price, performance, and available services.
However, since I already own the Xbox 360, and it’s connected to the living room TV, I am going to get the TV remote looking controller, and have my wife give it a go.
And I also think I am going to go ahead and order a Chromecast device. I’ll hook it up to the bedroom TV, and see how well I like it. For the price, if I love it, awesome! If I hate it, I’m not going to be upset if I gift it to someone else to try.