Time Warner Cable charges too much and provides too little service to their customers. So I cut ties with them.
I failed to include the peasants screaming in vain at the
gates of the evil Time Warner Cable castle. Also, I realize
that these scissors are gigantic.
I don't like signing multi-year agreements for anything because the company I'm dealing with has less incentive to care about the service they are providing. Years ago my nearby Gold's Gym was taken over by Bally's. The physical location and all the equipment inside the gym remained the same but the management changed for the worse. Instead of paying for a gym membership every month, Bally's insisted that I sign a three year membership deal. Because the gym was close to my high school and a lot of my friends from school used that gym I decided to continue my membership. Of course, when it came time for me to leave and go to college Bally's refused to close my membership until I could show them written proof that I was moving out of the city and away from their gym.
One of the guys I knew in high school signed an agreement with Bally's on a Friday afternoon. On Saturday, he got a speeding ticket that cost him several hundred dollars. He called Bally's just hours after getting the ticket to explain that because of the money he would need to spend paying the ticket, he could no longer afford to pay them. Bally's did the classy, understanding thing: sent a collection agency after him to either get the money or ruin his credit. Yet another reason I don't like multi-year deals.
In December, the entertainment fund was raided to purchase a new high definition TV to replace the massive, ancient standard definition 32" set that was inherited from my Grandfather. When I took Grandad's set to the dump, I learned that it weighed 160 lbs. Right after the guy at the dump took it and weighed it for their records he accidentally allowed it to topple over smashing the screen to bits in a gloriously loud burst of broken glass and cracking wood (yes, my previous TV was old enough that it had a wooden frame).
In December of 2011, once I got the old TV out, I needed a new cable box capable of outputting a signal in high definition to replace the existing standard definition cable box. I packed up my cable box and drove it over to the evil Time Warner Cable store. The three bloated and partially decomposed bodies hanging by loops of coaxial cable at the Time Warner Cable entrance were a bit of an off putting sight. Massive black vultures pecking at the bodies flew off their perch atop a sign reading "Disgruntled Customers" no doubt startled by the sound of my car.
I found the situation inside to be even more disturbing.
A Time Warner Cable employee sat behind the counter sucking at the severed end of a femur. "Marrow?" he offered holding up the other half of the femur to a female employee who had just returned from a backroom, which I would swear was filled with nothing but flames.
Between sucks on his bone, the guy behind the counter at the cable company told me that because I still had four months on a two year contract, I could rent a new HD cable box and but would have to keep the current standard definition cable box, which is now worthless to because it doesn't offer any connectors that match up to the new TV. I looked at the guy in disbelief until both he and his female manager explained to me that they couldn't simply exchange cable boxes without me having to pay a $150 fee to break the contract. I offered to give them the old box but they didn't even want to take that insisting that I would have to drive back to their office in four months when my current two year agreement expired to return it. To explain my options more clearly she opened the door to the flame room and pointed inside. So, the old cable box would have to take up space in my home unused and gathering dust. None of this was explained to me when I called Time Warner Cable ahead of time to discuss the process of switching cable boxes. In fact, the Time Warner Cable representative I spoke with over the phone said I could simply bring in the old cable box and switch it out for a new one.
Roku Comes Into My Life
Because I officially dislike the service provided by Time Warner Cable, I bought a Roku XD and canceled cable TV service.
Looks Good Enough
Connect Roku to TV
I found that setting up the Roku unit was very easy. I plugged in an HDMI cable (which really should be supplied along with the Roku unit but, unfortunately, was not) to the Roku and the other end into the TV. Then, I entered the password for my home WiFi network, which is *************, to connect the Roku unit to the internet.
Setup Roku Channels
Once you have your Roku unit plugged in to your TV, you have to set it up with what they call channels, which are basically feeds from video content providers that have been coded for display on a Roku player. Netflix, Crackle, Hulu Plus, Disney, the major sports networks and a few other content providers have setup their own channels for Roku.
Netflix Comes Built In
Access to the Netflix library of content is really my goal in owning a Roku unit. The way I see things, $7.99 a month for access to the Watch Instantly library of Netflix content beats paying more than $100 each month for hundreds of cable TV channels that somehow never have anything I would like to watch displayed on them.
A monthly charge of $8 is lighter on my wallet than $100+ for cable
The Verdict - Pros
At the time I compared prices and features in December of 2011, Roku was the only device in the greater field of internet to TV players that would output video in 1080p. Perhaps someday Apple TV will get with the times and figure out how to output 1080p.
The Verdict - Cons
YouTube worked with Roku just fine in the past. Sadly, sometime before I bought my Roku YouTube stopped playing nicely with Roku and now Roku refused to play YouTube content.
Roku has a MicroSD card slot on the back of the device I purchased. Unfortunately, the unit doesn't allow me to save a video to a MicroSD card using my computer, plug it into the Roku unit and play back the video. The slightly more expensive model of Roku, called XS I believe, has a plug that will allow one to attach an external hard drive and play back video, which I would have bought if I had to do it all over again.
TL;DR: Roku is a quality Netflix player capable of outputting video in 1080p, which is available for less than $100. If I had to do it all over again I would buy the Roku 2 XS instead of the XD because the most expensive model can playback video from an external hard drive.