After probably a decade without having a cable bill, and no issues doing so, I’m happy to still be cable bill free, but… you knew there was a but coming. 🙂
I was quite satisfied for 10 years doing without Television as a medium, and doing DVD rentals (typically for no or low cost at the library) or DVD purchases. But more often than not just spending far more time consuming books, and audio programs, and traveling.
So I’m happy to say I am still cable bill free, however of late I’ve become aware and become a dabbler in this… Roku thing.
Most of you are probably long time adopters of Roku, but for those of you who aren’t, Roku is both a company and a product. Roku is an American based company that produces a device, not much larger than a pack of cards, that allows you to stream channels, internet based stations, offering streaming TV shows, movies, documentaries, virtually everything you can find on cable, and much you cannot, in an on demand model to make traditional cable green with envy.
In a sentence, Roku is a wi-fi device that allows you to bring internet based channels and programming, content optimized for your computer, easily to your TV.
Internet access to your favorite TV/cable show is nothing new, however the Roku’s ease in consolidating all that content in one location and bringing it all to your TV, without the need of a cable bill is nothing short of amazing.
Of course utilizing your internet bandwidth there are obvious drawbacks, such as that as a whole the quality and speed is reliant on your broadband connection, and does not match the quality of cable.
But that given, Roku picture and sound quality is surprisingly good, and far better than the embarrassment and rip-off that is free digital TV in the United States. The garbage the FCC left us with when they stole the analog waves from the American people and gave it to big business and the military.
The 2nd problem is the Roku device upon first use/registration looks to collect your credit card and personal info by default in order to activate/use the Roku device.
That is a major problem. Especially if you only intend to use the free channels it is a huge potential and unnecessary privacy and security issue, particularly in this day of rampant hacking and identity theft.
Thankfully you can bypass the requirement to give your credit card number by calling customer service direct, but it is a hassle.
But those major problems acknowledged and bypassed, for between $60 and $100 depending on model (I recommend the Roku 2 XS, I’ll give a detailed breakdown of why next column), this wireless consolidator of online digital channels that streams easily to your tv, and easily lets you add and remove channels yourself, is (as long as the free channels last) nothing short of a marvel.
So yeah, until such time as the Roku concept stops being as awesome as it currently is, I’m going to enjoy having 1000s of hours of movies and television and music at my fingertips, for $0 a month.(Just like conventional cable you can add pay premium channels if you choose, but there is so much impressive free content out there that you definitely do not have to)
So if you are currently paying over $100 for cable or direct TV and locked into a contract, as most people are, and are looking not to do that anymore, I highly recommend taking the Roku for a spin. All you need is high-speed broadband internet to make use of it.
Well hope this article helps some of you who may have been seeking more info on Roku and alternatives to conventional cable. Come back next TECH TIPS as I provide you my favorite Roku channels as well as a weekly recommendation list for this week on Roku!
See you then, and feel free to leave comments if you are already a Roku convert. I’d love to hear a list of some of your favorite things about the Roku.
Okay, That’s all for now!
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UNDER THE RADAR was an experiment I started a while ago that I was quite proud of. Basically a very cool PDF I launched out to comic book retailers and fans to highlight titles you would otherwise miss, or get lost in the deluge from bigger publishers flooding the market.
It was fun, and very intensive, and very time consuming, so when time became an issue it fell by the wayside.
But I notice my old UNDER THE RADAR posts get a lot of hits, and even though a lot of people are doing preview podcasts, those can be quite time consuming, when what most people are looking for are a quickly viewed list of recommended items they might otherwise miss.
So with that in mind, UNDER THE RADAR is back, but in a FAR simpler format. No PDF, no long diatribes. just a monthly listing of new titles to preorder or be on the lookout for. Okay without further ado, this is a list of a/titles you can purchase now, at the time of this writing Oct 2010, and b/titles you can preorder this month through your local retailer for December 2010 arrival.
Okay Section 1. Comics I recommend purchasing for Oct 2010:[See tomorrow’s post for this info]
(The links will take you to My comic Shop.com where you can view and if you choose, purchase the titles in question. All purchases done through the links help this blog with a few pennies to continue. So get great books, and support this blog in one fell swoop.)
Section 2: Comics to pre-order (by November 1st) for December 2010 arrival:
No letters pages, no back matter, ads breaking up the story.
All these odd decisions from Marvel give no incentive to buy marvel issues monthly. Seemingly, they don’t care enough to give you a something beyond what you would get in the trade paperback, a real sense of a Stan Lee dialog, or sense of a monthly behind the scenes look at the creative process, so generally I say eff em. I’m talking about the publishing policies and policy makers of Marvel, not generally the creators, (as marvel has some great creators, but perhaps in service of not the greatest decision makers) but rather the lackluster way the creations are fed to you.
There are two types of companies these days, in my opinion. Companies that value you as a monthly reader (and provide the extras and the pricing to show that support) and that type of company you should support the individual issues with your dollars, and on the other side of the coin there are those companies that pretty much insult their monthly reader-base, and that’s a company you should really relegate to picking up at the library, or borrowing from a friend, or browsing the trade at a bookstore.
Marvel is the latter type of company.
So generally if there is a storyline you’re hearing decent things about, avoid the overpriced, and featureless single issues and wait for the trade, or pick up the books in the quarter bin, but don’t pay $4 for what I see as Marvel’s pretty evident air of disrespect to their potential readership. So all that said are of the 100s of products Marvel is releasing for December arrival, what are the ones that meet my criteria of giving you back-matter (letters pages, columns, articles, etc) and sufficient bang for your buck? Well I’m glad you asked 🙂 They are:
$2.99 SHIELD #5
Written by JONATHAN HICKMAN Penciled by DUSTIN WEAVER Cover by GERALD PAREL Historical Variant by DUSTIN WEAVER “The Forgotten Machines of XXXXXX XXXXX” The story that has taken the comic book world by storm marches on with an issue so secretive that we can’t even reveal the full title! WHO IS THE NIGHT MACHINE?! Find your answer here from Jonathan Hickman (FANTASTIC FOUR) and Dustin Weaver (X-MEN). Every issue has sold out and gone into multiple printings. IT’S GOOD! WE PROMISE! Don’t miss the sleeper hit of 2010! 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99
I’ve heard nothing but good things about this so far self-contained series by Jonathan Hickman of NIGHTLY NEWS fame. It also offers that backmatter I was alluding to, and the price point as $2.99 is right.
You can find issues 1-4 of SHIELD here:
$81.25 (save $43.75) THOR BY WALTER SIMONSON OMNIBUS HC
Written by WALTER SIMONSON Penciled by WALTER SIMONSON with SAL BUSCEMA Covers by WALTER SIMONSON Considered by many to be the greatest run on Thor ever, Walt Simonson’s classic tales of the God of Thunder are collected here–completely remastered from the original artwork and newly colored by Steve Oliff! And there are too many timeless tales to count: The Casket of Ancient Winters! The death of Odin! The origins of Asgard! The sacrifice of the Executioner! Thor as a frog! The Mutant Massacre! The curse of Hela! The debut of Thor’s body armor! Guest-starring Beta Ray Bill, Nick Fury and the Avengers! Featuring the threats of Fafnir the dragon, Loki, Lorelei, Malekith the Dark Elf, Surtur, Hela, the Titanium Man, Kurse, Zaniac, the Marauders, the Absorbing Man, Fin Fang Foom, the Destroyer and the Midgard Serpent! Collecting THOR #337-355, #357-369 & #371-382 and BALDER THE BRAVE #1-4. 1192 PGS./Rated A …$125.00
This is really, really expensive. But you are getting around 50 issues worth of comics, and Simonson’s run, unlike many of the omnibuses, is really deserving of such a format. And were you to buy the original issues, you might be able to come in a little cheaper (plus you would get the letters-pages, which I don’t think the omnibus will include, if you can’t tell I’m a huge fan of conversational type extras), but the hassle of doing that compared to just having one large book with everything in it to put on your shelf… it’s an individual call. For me, I know these issues, and with the pre-order discount, I’m in.
$2.99 THUNDERBOLTS #151
Written by JEFF PARKER Penciled by KEV WALKER Cover by GREG LAND Come sit by the fire and prepare to be frightened…we’re going to tell you a “Ghost Story! The Thunderbolts own psychologist, Moonstone, peels back the layers and delves into the mind and past of the brilliant and mysterious paranoid known only to the world as Ghost! How did his war on the corporate system begin and what made him leave his humanity behind? Even his hardened criminal teammates will be forced to admit that some things are better left unknown. Learn more than you ever wanted to about Iron Man’s fearsome foe in the latest issue of the series that has IGN.com raving: “I can’t recommend this book enough–you need to be reading THUNDERBOLTS.” 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99 (changed from $3.99)
I’ve never bought an issue of THUNDERBOLTS. But I’m aware of them. The fact that they dropped the price on this series, and it sounds like a done in one story, and Jeff Parker is writing, has me intrigued enough to plunk down my money. But it better have some extras/letterspage if they want to keep my money coming.
uhh– yeah that’s all for Marvel. There glut of product actually works against them. If there was one X-men book, or one spiderman book, or even one Thor book, I would be interested in reading it, but I’m not going to try and sort through 20 different takes on one character to find the ‘great’ one, the pure singular vision. So because of Editorial’s diarrea of production 🙂 I buy none of those books.
Well to end on a positive, come back tomorrow as I get into the really good stuff with Image, Boom, Dark Horse, Radical, DC and other great companies.