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Apple TV improves, But Roku Still on Top.

There has been some big news this month when it comes to over the top (OTT) devices being available on certain streaming services.  Last week it was announced that Sling TV will be available on the new Apple TV.  This has been a long time coming, and has been seen as a bit of a issue for both Sling and Apple TV. Cord-cutters that are dependent on Apple TV for streaming will finally have a solution for live streaming networks like AMC, TBS, ESPN, and more.

In bigger news this week, Roku has added a PlayStation Vue channel. The live streaming service will also be expanding to Android next week. I’ve previously chose the Roku 4 in my Roku vs Apple TV comparison. Apple TV merely keeping pace this year has done little to alter my opinion. The addition of Vue, makes Roku one of the most versatile  OTT devices on the market today. It now supports every major streaming service, with the one notable exception being Apple’s proprietary iTunes.

This allows the Roku users to create a cable-like package over the internet with services like Sling TV and Vue or go more a la carte by directly purchasing content from Vudu or Amazon Instant Video. For example, one could purchase a TV antenna to cover all their network TV from ABC, FOX, CBS, NBC, etc. and then purchase the current season of shows like “The Walking Dead” and  “Preacher” directly from Amazon Instant Videos.

If you only watch a handful of shows on cable, purchasing directly from Amazon can be quite affordable. The broadcast networks are free. With current seasons of shows available for around $25 a piece, you would only have to pay around $10 per month to follow 5 shows a year. Add that to the cost of your internet connection and your paying less than $70 per month for your internet and TV watching. I cover this very viable solution in more detail in my guide to watching TV without cable.

Roku gives users the flexibility to cut the cord on a budget as I described, or go all out and create themselves a streaming arsenal that provides most  all the bells and whistles of cable with better On-Demand and  improved picture quality.

Roku has had quite a year so far. The company recently crossed the 10 million active monthly users threshold. Prior to that they struck a deal with Comcast that will allow Roku to be used in place of a cable box at some point in the future. While cord cutters couldn’t care any less about Comcast, it does show that Roku is positioning itself to handle all comers when it comes to streaming video. This should be a comfort to Roku owners without cable as it adds stability to the Roku brand. In other words, Roku devices will be around for years to come.

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Categories: Tech News
Dennis Restauro :Dennis is the founder of Grounded Reason. He also hosts the Grounded Reason Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: Follow Dennis on Twitter

View Comments (15)

  • Hi Dennis,

    Very happy to find that ROKU added VUE, as I use it (ROKU-3) in my home office.

    An update to my cord cutting experience: I took advantage of the savings on the ROKU-3 deal with Sling, but also bought the TIVO Romeo for my OTA channels. I also have Amazon Prime, and the Amazon Fire box for our primary large screen TV, and an Amazon Fire Stick for a third TV so we are pretty well set. I find the Fire Stick very slow and sometimes unresponsive compared to both the ROKU and the Amazon Fire box.

    So now I have DELETED the continually increasing $115/month DISH bill, but added VUE at $40/month and the yearly Amazon Prime fee. I intend to drop Sling after my three months. so that will go away. All in all pretty happy with the cord cutting experience.

    My main complaint is having to use multiple controllers.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Dennis, awesome info on your site, keep up the good work. I did not know of PS Vue until now and am glad to see it added to Roku. It looks like the death of SlingTV in my house, at least on Vue (unlike Sling) I've HEARD of the channels I won't watch! But what can you expect from a "cord cutting" channel run by a satellite tv service?

    • SlingTV is handy for the regional Fox Networks, and it's cheaper. Let me know how the Vue works for you. I'm trying to get an idea of how the service performs. I've heard a couple disaster stories where people loose service for days due to their ISP assigning a new ip address. I'm curious to see if they fixed the issue.

  • Dennis, I've been studying up on the VUE website before I try it (which we will next time wife and I have same day off), and I read that several of the channels are available "on demand" only rather than "live". I wondered if you had researched into which are which. It won't matter to me if the content is similar, but I've found for example that on Sling's new "multi-beta" version that NatGeo Wild and FXX are on demand only, and very limited in content. Keep up your awesome work!

    • On demand channels are NBC, ABC and Fox. I'm in the Baltimore area and we have our local CBS affiliate as a live channel.

  • Just a side comment on PS Vue on the Roku - it does not have the Explore, Guide or Timeline features that are on Amazon Fire TV.

    To see what's on live, you need to just arrow right on "Live TV" , select "See All Live TV" and it will show you a list of live shows (with your selected "Favorite" shows shown first if they are on).

    • Thanks Dawn! I haven't had a chance to really experiment with it yet.

  • I've tried Sling and Vue on Roku. I wanted to like Sling since it's cheaper, but Vue just delivers a much smoother product. Sling would freeze pretty regularly.

    The 2 products I'm really looking forward to hearing about are SFN TV Now and Vidgo. SFN is on Roku as of a few days ago. Any input on SFN or Vidgo?


  • I can give you more info in about a week after our full VUE trial. And I have read the stories of the havoc caused by ISP's changing IP addresses. I spoke with my ISP about a static address but that won't work for residential accounts in my area, but he brought up an interesting point as to WHAT IP address VUE is looking at, the modem or the router? My guy says it is not uncommon for them to change modem IP's every 48 hrs, but my router stays the same. Anyone know?

    • It's definitely the address from your ISP, which is going to be on the modem. The router address is controlled by you on your internal network. Most people use a 10 or 192 address for those.

  • Dennis, re VUE: I had to "accept" the Zip code Sony VUE presented in order to (finally) get logged in to VUE. Hours on the phone with SONY VUE CSR's did not help.
    Once I did that (accepted the presented Zip) it located me in Miami altho I am in central FL - an extra $10 per month, Makes me wonder if the reason Sony has not corrected this IP address fiasco is driven by $$ - (extra in the big cities).
    Nevertheless, once I did this, (almost four weeks ago now), I have had no problems with VUE, and with the Amazon Fire Box the playback is smooth with no buffering except at start sometimes. I have only used the ROKU-3 for about a week, but so far it is OK.

    • I promised a quick "re-VUE" after some trial, here we go, and it really all depends on what channels you all watch in your home. Also note I have not tried everything I mention on every channel I get, and was all done on a Roku 3. So first the good: VUE offers 3 levels, Access (55+chs, $30), Core (70+, $35), and Elite (100+, $45). We opted for Access, and may in the future up to Core (more sports and TCM, IFC, and Sundance), but Elite is much more than we would ever watch. We have not had any issues (yet we hope) of switched IP addresses or buffering, the picture quality has been outstanding. You will still see some older shows in 4:3 format and not as clear but that's not VUE's fault as we know. The DVR function works well (28 day storage) as far as we've tested, recorded some shows and movies (only new shows I believe). You can pause/rew/ff on DVR'ed things to skip commercials (again as I have tested). Like Sling you can make fav channels, fav shows, etc. to make things easier to find. All in all (for us) a solid service that has been the undo of Sling here...Now the "bad" (and not so bad for us).

      "Install error 1016". I added the ch to Roku, set up a VUE acct. on computer, back to the Roku to get the website and activation code, to computer to enter code, Roku accepted on computer and BANG error 1016 call support when back to the TV. I realized I had not selected WHICH trial pack I wanted to try, so after back the the VUE site to "start free trial" it kicked right in. Next, the lack of a channel guide is a little inconvenient (the help screen says not on Roku now but I understand if you have a PS3 or 4 console you get that), so if this takes off with Roku users it's a matter of time I hope. You can with your full channel list see what's on now. If you select a channel you can see the nest 6 shows. Or 2 other options, Roku has a hidden channel called "what's on" and you can build your own lineup and put it on your Roku homepage or the TitanTV website even has PS Vue as a default provider and you can just add your OTA's and go that way. All in all for us I give 9 of 10 stars to this only because of lack of channel guide.

  • One more note on VUE so far. We here watch very little NBC, ABC, or Fox (maybe 3 Fox shows) but the Vue's VOD of these channels looks incomplete at a quick glance (ex., the new Mike Holmes show on Fox is not there). So you can either view them next-day on Hulu for the fee, or get them 8 days later for by adding the free NBC, WatchABC, and FoxNOW to Roku. We're big CBS fans so for now their ALLAccess is a must since Hulu does not have CBS's current shows (NCIS, Big Bang, 5-0, Zoo, etc.). It will be curious to see how VUE does when they add CBS VOD. I suspect the same will be true as Hulu else there won't be much reason for CBS A-A anymore. Great site Dennis, I've learned so much here thanks to you and everyone.