One thing that people spend a lot of money on, which in many cases is not a good use of money -- because they are paying for duplicated features they likely get from other options -- is buying Smart TVs.
Smart functions built into the TV are very expensive and add hundreds of dollars to the cost. You often do not need them because you get the same functions in Blu-ray players, Rokus, Apple TVs, Amazon Fire TV and many devices.
Major brands like Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, and others, make big mark-ups on their smart TVs. More economy brands like Visio and others, will add around a hundred dollars or so to the price tag.
We bought a 50 inch basic flatscreen TV made and branded by TCL. TCL is one of China's largest companies and they build sets for many other companies who then market them under their own name. It was a non-smart TV and was nothing more than a 50 inch monitor with so many I/O ports that it was amazing: three HDMI ports, TV/Cable/Antenna, Component, AV, USB, and even a serial port if you wanted to hook up an old computer to the TV. It cost us about $325 on the Amazon Deal of the Day. (I signed up and watch for deals like this.)
TCL makes a Smart TV that is just a built-in Roku and nothing else and it is a great buy if you are sure Roku is the way you want to go.
I just ran over to Amazon just now and I found this Sceptre non-smart TV that sells for far less than a same sized Smart TV. If you plan on getting or already use smart devices, why pay for them twice?
The Roku Sci-Fi Station
I haven't yet found this station on either Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV -- if you have, please comment below -- but Roku users who enjoy science fiction and fantasy will like this great free channel.
Sci-Fi Station is full of recent release newer films, not the old sci-fi that you might expect from a free service. It hails from the people at OVguide and they seem to have a lot of recent Sony Pictures fare for you to explore.
Many if not most of the movies were made in the 2000s and tend to be far better films (in my opinion) than most all the other free sci-fi channels.
Check it out if you use a Roku.
We are about to turn off the last of our Dish Network package because we have added a digital off-air antenna through which we now get our local networks for free.
We got one of our two Roku devices by paying our Sling TV bill in advance for three months. When that 90 day period runs out, we will likely turn off our Sling TV package for a few months, restarting it when the college football season begins again, and HGTV has had a chance to get more new episodes into their coffers. ESPN/ESPN2 and HGTV tend to be the main channels we watch in the Sling TV package. But we have been getting so many other channels and services now, that we are not really watching Sling TV.
When we turn off the Dish Network account and later temporarily turn off Sling TV, our total monthly television bill will be less than $19 a month. When we move the $10 a month we've been paying Dish Network for our local channels and allocate that $10 to Netflix, we'll be up to $29 a month.
When college football season begins again, we will restart the Sling TV package, which will add $20 a month to the bill. Because there are no contracts, when football season ends, we will likely turn off Sling TV after the five month college football season because football is my only real sports passion. The ability to move money around and turn on and off services that you are not under contract with, is one of the great advantages of the world of cable cutting.
There are so many free channels we are finding, that we seem to be having a great time discovering new channels and services, checking out a lot of great programming -- especially science and nature, films, news, new technology, etc. -- that in the end, we will likely settle in at around $49 a month for it all. That is about a third of the cost we were paying for our 250 channel cable TV package that gave us 235 channels that we never watched because it seemed that nothing was ever on when we went to the channels.
We have built a cluster of over 100 channels on the Roku that we do watch. We have so far found about 25 channels on the Apple TV 4. On the Amazon Fire TV we have found about 50 channels. Throw in network websites that we can use Google Chromecast to mirror to the TV screen (or that Apple and Android users can achieve using AirPlay or screen mirroring), and there seems so many great services that are now available outside the world of cable TV.
Another great advantage of cable cutting is that most of what you see are on-demand services, so the shows don't start until you get there and click on them. Showtime is up to you.
Cable cutting is a far different world that what you get with cable TV. It isn't for everybody but for us, we are thoroughly impressed and are having a great time saving about $1,000 a year.
I don't know if this latest gadget we bought to bring Netflix streaming to our home is pronounced Roe-Koo or Rock-You but I will tell you this, we have been quite impressed by it and it does rock. ;o)
In fact, we have been talking about dropping our cable television altogether and just using the ROKU. Why? For $99 we bought a device that allows us to use our $14.99 a month Netflix account to watch what we want, when we want. Is everything available? Not by a long shot. But there's more than I have time to watch.
Cable here in Paso Robles, California means just one company to choose from and at about $84 a month for the account, that works out to $1,008 a year for 100 Channels of Nothing's-On-When-You-Really-Want-It.
Sure, they have On Demand and some of it's free but we have had it lock up so many times and have had to reset our converter so many times and walk through the process after the picture freezes -- that we have grown so sick of it and no way I'd trust it for Pay-Per-View.
But with our $99 ROKU hooked up to our wireless modem, we log into Netflix and download many TV series and thousands of movies. Concerts and documentaries are there, too.
We still get our DVDs delivered from our choices and watch them, but it really is a great thing to be able to log into your $14.99 Netflix account and grab things on the fly that the cable company is charging a lot more for.
We will ROKU, indeed.