What is Roku? And which Roku is the best one to buy? Hi again, John and Jerry here. We are guys who love to save money, and are constantly looking for ways that we can enjoy our leisure time by watching tv in total comfort, while spending as little money as possible. When we say total comfort, we are talking elastic—our goal is to wear nothing with a zipper. Stretchy pants all the way!
One of the best, quickest and effective ways to save hundreds of dollars each month in your household budget is to cut the cord to cable. We got rid of cable television a long time ago, and have never regretted the decision! We literally save hundreds of dollars each month, and have more television viewing options than ever before.
Why do I need a streaming device?
If you already know the answer, skip this section, but if you don’t, here’s the deal: Once you cut the cord to cable, there are only two ways to get content on your television. You could have an antenna and get free tv like we used to in the olden days when John and Jerry were young—Remember? “The plane, the plane!” “Good night John Boy!” “Greg Brady as rock star Johnny Bravo!” By the way, if you don’t know what any of those are, screw you for being so young! There is nothing wrong with this option at all. Heck, We grew up with like only five channels or so, right? As long as we can get the news and Home Shopping Network, how much more do you need? By the way, you can check out our article for our recommendation for the best indoor antennas by clicking this link here: best indoor antennas
Anyway, the only other way to get a signal to your tv if you get rid of cable is to keep your internet provider, and purchase a device, like the Roku, that bridges the gap between your tv and the outside world via the internet. Once you get it connected, the Roku will allow you to potentially stream 500,000 programs! Much of it is free, but for some stuff, you’ll have to pay a small subscription fee per month to get a service like Netflix or Hulu.
Which streaming device should I get?
If you have gotten this far, you are probably ready to get rid of cable, purchase a device and start streaming. But which device? Your head might be spinning from all of the options you may have read about: Roku, Amazon Firestick, Airtv, Nvidia Shield…it’s like if you had to pick just one craft beer to drink the rest of your life… which would you choose? Yikes, high stakes!
Don’t fear, John and Jerry are here! We have done the legwork, will answer all of your questions, and make purchasing a click away!
Which Roku should I buy?
One of the most popular streaming devices is Roku. Roku looks and acts very much like the Amazon Firestick (check out our review of the Amazon Firestick). Many people claim that they like the Roku better, but we have tried both and really think they are pretty equal. We have filtered our research through John’s extensive technological knowledge, Jerry’s total need to make things simple (typical Jerry inside-the-head rant: “What do you mean ‘cannot connect to the internet at this time—what the hell does that mean?”) and through our collective filter of wanting to get the best bang for our buck, we have narrowed the Roku buffet down to only two tasty items (most of our analogies are food related—go figure!)
Our two Roku options we recommend for you are the Roku Express, and the Roku Streaming Stick. One is about $30.00 and the other is about $50.00. We’ll explain why there is a difference in price in a minute, and honestly, they are both very easy to install. First, let’s talk about the Roku Express.
Recommendation #1: The Roku Express!
If you go looking for a Roku, sometimes you’ll find old model Roku’s for sale. Even the 2014 model is still available out there. We strongly suggest staying away from those models. There is a reason they kept on making newer models, the older ones had their issues. There is no 2018 model, the newest Roku models are the 2017 model, and the least expensive is the Roku Express. At $29.88 as of this writing, it is the least expensive of the Roku devices on the market. In spite of the price, it still streams 500,000 movies and tv episodes. There is a free iOS or android app so you can watch on a mobile device. The only downsides have to do with the remote. There is no tv power button, voice search, or any tv volume buttons on the remote. If these things aren’t important to you, this is your model! Just know that you’ll have to have your tv remote handy. For us old farts, this may not be a big deal. We remember when we were young, WE were the remote control, and had to get up and change the channel! Remember?
Recommendation #2: The Roku Streaming Stick!
Our second recommendation costs $20.00 more than our first recommendation, but the slight increase in price just might be worth it. The Roku Streaming Stick still gives you access to all of the movies and tv episodes, just like the Roku Express. Just like the Roku Express, the Roku Streaming Stick still has the free iOS app that lets you stream content to mobile devices. If you purchase the Roku Streaming Stick, you are really paying the $20.00 extra to get the voice search, the tv power and tv volume buttons on your remote. While this isn’t essential, it is kind of cool to be able to have the voice activation on your remote. You just hold a button down and say something like “Show me some M.A.S.H reruns” and like magic, they will appear!
Whichever option you choose, you may want to consider one insider tip—if at all possible, use the power adapter and plug the Roku into an wall outlet instead of it drawing power just from the tv USB port. The Roku will boot up much faster.
What kind of content can I get?
This is where we suggest getting a cup of coffee one Saturday morning, get the remote out and start playing around. This is a different way of watching content. The days of a tv show coming on at a certain time of day only one day a week are over. Once you get the hang of this new way of finding content to watch, you will love it—promise! You will be able to watch any content, anytime and with the wireless device apps, you can watch anywhere. Some content is free, some content you must pay for.
There is a lot of content that is free. You have to use your remote and go to each channel to see what they have for free. Often tv stations will put up the last four or five episodes of your favorite shows so you can watch them. Sometimes they go all the way back and you can watch old favorites or shows you didn’t get a chance to watch before from the very beginning of Season 1, Episode 1. You just have to go exploring. Much of this content will still have commercials during your shows, so just be prepared!
If you are looking for totally free content without ads, there is a lot out there, but much of it is old. Like Leave it to Beaver black-and-white tv old. There are lots of classic black-and-white movies or even some early color television shows or movies which, quite frankly, might be just what you’re looking for. Use the search option on your remote or If you have the voice remote, ask it to find old episodes of your favorite tv shows from when you were growing up!
Ok, that’s a little bit about the streaming life. We have that this has helped you understand what cutting the cord to cable is all about. We hope that all of the time we have invested into doing all the research for you will pay great dividends for you, and allow you to make a decision faster. Until next time, have fun, dress comfortably (remember, wearing nothing with a zipper is the standard) and be safe!