Cord cutting devices: Android TV, Chromecast, Roku, etc

Cord cutting devices: Android TV, Chromecast, Roku, etc
0

#1

I decided to cut the cord with Comcast and try out a Chromecast and a Roku with Hulu and Amazon Instant Video.

Recently, I purchased (but have not received yet) a cheap Android TV box, this one in particular: http://www.ebay.com/itm/X96-TV-Box-Amlogic-S905X-Android-6-0-Quad-Core-2-4GHz-WiFi-HDMI2-0-1G-2G-8G-16G-/172885647828.

Any experience with these Android TV devices?


#2

I use an Amazon FireTV with my cord cutting setup. It works well as I mostly watch Netflix and Amazon Videos. I also use Plex to watch content off of my home server.

What doesn’t work well is integration with Google play/apps (except YouTube). I have a Play Music subscription but haven’t been able to use it on the FireTV. I also don’t buy any video content from Google because it won’t play through the FireTV.


#3

I don’t have Netflix or Hulu, but do have a Prime Account. I got rid of my cables several years back and have been using an antenna for OTA channels. Lately I discovered Kodi and have been using it on my Windows 10 HTPC. It’s pretty great because you can pretty much stream from just about all the OTA channels through their add-ons.


#4

There is a KODI android app. You should be able to easily install it on an Android TV box. You can also install it on the FireTV, but you have to side load it so it isn’t as straight forward.


#5

Haven’t paid for cable tv in many years. With Digital TV antenna, you get perfect reception if you want to watch all the major local stations. Programs like Kodi and a few others allow you to stream anything you can ever imagine. Was able to get unlimited (every station offered) u-verse for $10 a month and wouldn’t take it for free as I see no reason to pay to have to watch commercials. Also cuts down on the kids seeing all the toys being advertised and being asked constantly if I would buy those toys they just got excited seeing on a commercial.

There are a lot of cheap android boxes out there. Some are cheap because they are just garbage. When I say garbage, they freeze up, reboot, and various other problems. So I would recommend buying where you can easily return if it is flaky. FireTV and firestick are rather easy to use and pretty inexpensive. As someone else mentioned they need to be “side loaded” as the apps you want aren’t on the playstore. Google how to side load it, very easy, all of 5 minutes.

Many of the android boxes are made by a company called ENY in china. Just lots of companies put there name on them as they are really an OEM company. I’ve heard there are a lot of knockoffs of these ENY and those are the ones that really are troublesome, garbage.

My most recent one to upgrade an older box was:

Works well, no issues and it’s pretty snappy. These really are mini computers and offer a lot over something like a Roku in my opinion. Can for the most part run anything you can run on an android smartphone.

If you are looking for the top of the line android box, look at the Nvidia Shield. It’s android and a whole gaming/entertainment unit.


#6

I’m the opposite, I’ve gone from a Kodi setup to a Roku & Plex. Kodi just frustrates me too much.

If you’re ok with Kodi you’re probably ok Torrenting, and Plex and a Roku are pretty great.


#7

Is Kodi still good? I updated to a new version few months ago and seems like many services don’t work anymore. For example, ArmyStream (or is StreamArmy?) doesn’t seem to work anymore.


#8

I’ve got a Plex setup that I stream to chromecasts. I can get about any TV/Movie/Music from my library and it gets added straight away. Easy to get new releases as well.


#9

I’ve got a Chromecast that we’ve only used a little bit - we were already pretty well set for netflix access everywhere we want.

But I also use an OTA antenna combined with HD Homerun gizmo to get live tv access streamed to the whole house network. I use NextPVR for recording and a little live viewing, but mostly play back recordings with VLC. The televisions all have direct antenna access too. We lost most access to the local Fox station over a year ago, I’ve not got that sorted out, but haven’t missed it much. The stations we do get are super high quality as others report. That was a problem for a little while - it would swamp my wifi network, killing just about everything, not just the HD homerun stream. I switched to powerline networking, and it’s all been pretty stable since then.

We don’t subscribe to much - netflix for a long time, and occasional brief subscriptions to prime and hbo. We use our local library a lot for DVDs too.


#10

What about sling for $20 a month?


#11

If you signup for Sling TV for 2 months ($40) you can get a free Roku Streaming Stick ($39.99)

https://www.sling.com/devices/roku

I cut the cord over a year ago and never looked back.
Almost everything we watch is on Hulu.

My wife is a Walking Dead fan, so when that is on, we subscribe to Sling TV also, otherwise it is just Hulu in our household.


#12

I think sling is pretty reasonable.


#13

This is what we did in chronological order. Note that I work from home and thus high speed and reliable internet service is required.

Tried to use a Verizon Wireless modem with a grandfathered unlimited SIM but service wasn’t good enough for whole house stuff. Then started consulting which required good internet. Which leads me to:

  1. Dropped everything but internet (100/45 at $65 per month)
  2. Took advantage of a sling offer for three months prepaid for a free Roku. Then got the T-Mobile 13.99 rate.
  3. Took advantage of prepaying for three months of Directv streaming with a free Apple tv. Used that for a couple weeks while leaving Sling active. It sucked.
  4. Moved to PS Vue when the app came to Apple tv and haven’t looked back.
  5. Bought a HD antenna but never installed it.

Takeaways:

  1. The Directv deal, even with bad service, was worth it at the time. $150 Apple tv for $100.
  2. Sling is good, especially with the cheap rate, but it lacks the package options that other services offer.
  3. PSvue had the most platform agnostic footprint at the time. Mobile, numerous streaming devices make for attractive offerings.
  4. We upgrade and downgrade the package based on time of year. Baseball season means we pay 55 bucks a month to get YES for Yankees games. When HBO shows are on, we upgrade so it’s all one login, then downgrade when the show is over.

If I had to do it all over again, I’d have went with PS Vue to begin with, still doing the Directv deal for the fee Apple tv but not the sling deal for the free Roku. Roku is only good for Amazon video, which we do watch some Amazon shows but rumor is that’s coming to Apple tv. Note I’m not a die hard Apple fan ether. I’m typing this on a Note8.

Hope this helps!

ETA: we have Amazon prime, as implied, and also Netflix which is now free with T-Mobile. We tried Hulu but didn’t see the value. We rent movies thru Apple tv via discounted Apple gift cards.


#14

I’ve been leaning toward Kodi but you’re not the first person I’ve seen say this. Is the Plex/Roku set up similar? Is there a guide for dummies somewhere?


#15

Plex has two components, a server that runs on a computer which has all your media on it and the client. In this setup the client is on Roku, but you can also get it for Android and fire tablets, iOS.

The biggest hurdle to Plex is getting your video downloaded. That’s a moral and possibly legal sorespot for some.

Plex handles the show and movie art and synopsis, groups by season etc automatically. You sit down with your Roku remote and launch Plex and browse automatically sorted and categorized beautiful looking lists of your files. Pressing play causes video to play in 2 seconds or so.

Kodi is harder on the setup side. It isn’t really hard but it is so different than the way you naturally load apps now it will take maybe an hour the first time you set it up or update it.

Media is as easy to find as a quick search BUT you need to have good kodi plugins installed. These plugins loosely mirror websites that aggregate content hosted on servers around the world. The list of servers each plugins uses isn’t updated or maintained particularly well. Also everything on kodi streams. So you’re at the mercy of your ISP and the hosting site as well.

Kodi plugins have episode guides and cover art and handle that automatically as well. My personal preference with Kodi is a keyboard and track pad, it could be tough with a remote only.

I can’t actually figure out how kodi even exists. There are no ads, these sites that host the content stream tens of thousand of times a day … This results in broken links and bad streams that stutter and such. After a few tries you’ll usually find a working link. But for things less popular you could be out of luck.

Kodi is also tough to find hd streams of anything but the most popular stuff. Plex is only limited by your source material, so if you rip your own hd content or download it you can play at native hd up to whatever your wifi network will facilitate.


#16

I must be the only one, but plex’s handling of their recent privacy policy change left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m just not im love with what they collect, or could collect.


#17

Stubtify - Since you appear knowledgeable about both Kodi and Plex, I’m curious of your opinion in the difference if you don’t use Kodi to stream. As you described Plex as handling the shows, movies, art, and synopsis, grouped by season, etc doesn’t Kodi do that as well? I have loads of content that I maintain and using Kodi on a relatively inexpensive android box, it does all that you described in my opinion as well as stream if you decide to go that route. In addition, I will occasionally check my email or browse the web using my android box on my tv. Do agree that setting up Kodi isn’t as straight forward and intuitive as it could be. There are tons of youtube videos that walk people through setting it up. Once you have done it once, it makes sense and really isn’t difficult. I am wondering besides plex/roku combination being easier to set up, is there anything that it does that android box with Kodi won’t do?


#18

Lurked on FW for years without creating an account. Created one here to comment.

My setup:

Xbox One/PS4 for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. If you already have one of these consoles that will most likely be your best and cheapest option. The apps work fine for this.

Most recently my matx HTPC has turned into a server. It does run Plex Media Server but that isn’t used that often.

I set up a Raspberry Pi 3 with OSMC Linux as a dedicated Kodi box. Cost was about $42 for everything I needed and it wasn’t too difficult. This also runs the Plex addon within Kodi if I need to use it for some reason.

Future setup(after I purchase and move into a house) will see more use of Plex as I plan to purchase one or more tvs and Amazon FireTV Sticks to use in other rooms.

Currently everything in the living room is controlled with a Logitech Harmony Hub and Simple Remote. This includes both the Xbox and PS4. This actually took longer to set up than the Raspberry.

tldr: If you are just streaming and already own a current gen console just use that and not spend any extra money. Your best other option if you prefer Kodi and/or Plex is to do it yourself with Raspberry, much more support than the million random Kodi Android boxes floating around.


#19

Welcome! :relaxed:


#20

The biggest difference is that my 2 year old can use Plex with a Roku remote. Or on her Android tablet. Also helps when you have people over, “go to Plex” is easier to explain.

Agree Kodi can do what Plex does but Kodi isn’t available on Roku and probably never will be. I also like the Roku plugins for most major networks, Hulu, Netflix etc. More than watching in a browser. My previous setup was a full windows 10 device with keyboard and track pad. Worked really well but when the babysitter came over it was impossible to explain how to get anything working.