Chromecast, Roku and Cutting the Cord (Potentially)

It’s Christmas time and we don’t have a fireplace in our high rise apartment. So what’s the next best thing? A video showing the Yule Log (there also is a Nick Offerman 45 minute one where he watches you and drinks whiskey and someone looped it for 10 hours, look it up on You Tube). This is playing through my Chromecast ($20) via Youtube and could be done through my Mac, iPad, or iPhone. And it looks great.

We finally gave up on our old Samsung TV and bought a new 55 inch “smart” TV from TCL with Roku included. The sound quality is great I got rid of my front speaker and subwoofer when I took my old TV to Goodwill and don’t plan to buy a new one (maybe I will with Xmas gift cards). Once we connected it to our router I was surprised at how high quality the TV picture was and how fast it booted up. You can quickly go into either Roku or something like the Chromecast (below) or just turn on the cable box directly (we have xfinity). Right here at the intersection of huge amounts of online content, high bandwidth, and seamless performance you can see how cable dies (although cable provides our Internet service, but this is a parallel question).

ChromeCast is made by Google and it plus into an HDMI port on your television and connects wirelessly to your internet. While you can use Chromecast to access all kinds of TV and music content, for me the goal was to “cast” whatever I had on my laptop or iPad onto the screen. Originally I thought I could just project anything on my screen onto the TV but it turns out that the “app” or “program” specifically has to have chromecast built in and enabled. Thus for my iPad it works for the You Tube app and also for the Vice app (which I use to watch their programs). However, it doesn’t work with the chrome browser app in IOS for the iPhone or iPad, probably because Google and Apple often don’t play well together (Apple wants me to buy Apple TV, but that’s a lot more than $20). On my MacBook, however, the chrome browser does “cast” onto the TV which enables me to show whatever I can bring up in a browser.

Unfortunately our apartment does not face the antenna for the local TV stations so it will be impossible for me to get an HD antenna and completely cut the cord unless I just want to buy something like Hulu or some other source of major network TV. But I certainly can see the possibilities once you start to control the TV from your phone, tablet or PC / Mac. It moves so much faster through content when compared with the clunky cable interface, although I really do like the ability to talk into your remote for xfinity (say “Chicago Bears” and it brings the game up).

For someone brand new on the scene I can understand how cable would just seem like an anachronism. It is a slower, lousier way to get to content that already exists digitally or streaming. Buy a new TV and connect it with more modern equipment (connectivity) and see it through their eyes.

Cross posted at LITGM

12 thoughts on “Chromecast, Roku and Cutting the Cord (Potentially)”

  1. I got a couple of Amazon Echo Shows. I think the similar Google devices have more advanced programming, but the Echo Show has a very high quality screen and speakers. It’s excellent for video calling and it actually works well for watching TV shows and probably listening to music and watching whatever other video content Amazon makes available.

  2. You guys are way too sophisticated for me.

    My wife watched TV. I watch college football. We both just sort of quit NFL although she has always been a big football fan.

    She likes stuff like “Battle Bots” and “Ninja Warriors.”

    I have a lot of DVDs of movies I like. We watched “Tom Jones” last week, which she had never seen.

    I have NetFlix but don’t watch much.

    Books are kind of my thing. Kindle for bed. Audible for the car and hardcover for the chair.

  3. Unfortunately our apartment does not face the antenna for the local TV stations so it will be impossible for me to get an HD antenna and completely cut the cord…

    That’s a shame. It used to be that apartments had a single antenna on the roof and each apartment had a coax connection.

  4. We got a couple of Roku boxes, and some subscription services and gave up the cable four and a half years ago – never looked back, although my daughter does miss Mysteries at the Museum. There are so many good programs out there, both new and archived and available through streaming video. Now and again we have stayed in a hotel, and tried to watch regular programming – just can’t bear the constant, constant commercial interruptions.

  5. I live in the country, just a short distance from a major university. I can walk to a healthcare facility that has fiber optic connections, and a fiber backbone runs underground just a few hundred yards from our house. We have no cable, the Verizon copper landline was turned off this past year because they did not want to maintain it and would not anyway offer DSL service. Our wireless provider stopped working, they claimed there was interference in their frequency band. Verizon wireless gave us decent cell and expensive but adequate internet service, until their tower co-sharing agreement expired, and they no longer use their competitor’s tower.

    Now the Verizon-owned tower they use gives us spotty cell phone service, and very spotty, very expensive, and data-capped internet service. Just updating our devices’ operating system consumes a third of our monthly capacity.

    I guess we won’t be participating in the cord cutting fun like you are, Carl.

  6. I just take what I want and throw it up on my 30″ 2560×1600 display. Did you know that the Pirate Bay is still up and running. ;)

    I have enough bandwidth to stream HD and I take the youtube feeds for my general amusement. I find there’s not much worth watching on mainstream TV. Nothing much has changed since I arranged to have 700 Sat channels as a technical exercise. There was nothing worth watching then. ;)

  7. I stopped TV when I didn’t want to hassle programming the remote for the HDTV transfer. I had watched mainly basketball, football, and PBS Brit comedies for maybe an average of 2 hours a week, so I didn’t lose much in stopping TV. I also noticed that using Internet without ad interference meant that I no longer had any tolerance for watching the 8? minutes of ads on a half hour TV show.

  8. One of the local PBS stations broadcasts Mhz Networks’ Worldview international channel, which has mysteries. Some great shows and some stinkers. Most of the Sweden/Norway/Denmark series are worth watching whereas only one of the Italian series–Fog and Crimes–is very good. The German shows are hit or miss. Maigret is always great. That’s about the only French language one I watch.

    There’s another broadcast channel called Retro that ran the excellent Canadian series Di Vinci’s Inquest several times and is currently running the very good Canadian Murdoch Mysteries.

    Last I checked I was getting >75 broadcast channels with my antenna. 2/3s of them aren’t worth watching but still, not bad for free.

  9. MHz has a lot of stuff; mysteries and cop shows, but also unusual dramas, like The Weissensee Saga, about life in East Germany, A French Village, about German-occupied France, and Kaboul Kitchen, about a Frenchman operating a restaurant in post-Taliban Afghanistan.

    There are some very good French adaptations of Agatha Christie, a German-made series about the Istanbul police, and Don Matteo, about a priest who solves crimes to the annoyance of the Barney Miller-ish local carabinieri. (My favorite, in a way.)

  10. I noticed on their website that Mhz couldn’t come to terms with the Don Matteo owners so they won’t be running that show anymore.

    Agreed, the Weissensee Saga is excellent and shows the “resistance” from a religious and environmentalist POV. A French Village is great as is the The Legacy from Denmark.

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