Thursday, June 17, 2021

Tablo to the forefront

I mentioned a few weeks back that deciding between an Air TV or a Tablo to replace TiVo would be  a tossup. I'm not sure I feel this way any longer. The more I use Tablo, the more I like it better than Air TV.

Part of it is the interface. I don't think I am particularly enamored by the Tablo interface, but I really don't like the Air TV interface.

Actually, the Air TV interface is Sling TV. Don't get me wrong, I think the Sling TV service is a good service. Of course, you don't need a Sling TV subscription to use Air TV. You can use the free Sling TV service and it will add the antenna channels right there.

The thing is, I really don't like the Sling TV interface. Again, that's not to say I really like the Tablo interface. It's more like I dislike Sling TV's interface so much more.

That's a little unfair, but I'll go into all the details later. I'm not sure when. The point of this post is to share that I'll be doing a deeper look at Tablo and report back on that later.

I mentioned that I managed a couple of household setups, and that I ran Air TV at one and Tablo at the other. Well, I'm going to focus on Tablo for a bit and see if I really do like it better. I mean, I already think I like it better than Air TV, but I want to actually use it for a bit before I say for sure.

I do think I know how this will go, though. Me and My Streaming Life are so predictable. I'll post my thoughts on Tablo after using it for a week or so. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Classics no more?

I've been a fan of Hulu since the days it was a free Website service, and had a streaming box sister called Hulu Plus. If you don't know about that, briefly there were two related Hulu services. One was, as I said, free and watchable in a Web browser. The other was a paid service and you could watch it on a streaming device, such as on a Roku. In fact, Roku and Apple TV were the only major devices with a Hulu Plus app. Amazon Fire TV didn't even exist. There was no Chromecast.

Anyway, the point is, I've watched Hulu content for a long time. And I just noticed that Hulu has made a change that I find significant. Well, I do now that I discovered the change. Perhaps it's not all that significant to me, despite my thinking it is. Let's find out.

Hulu has long had categories for its content, both TV and movies. Adventure, Comedies, Drama, Family, Kids, Mystery, and so on. There was also a category called Classic. Maybe it was Classics. Yeah, let's go with Classics. Well, Classics isn't there anymore. Well, it is for movies, but not for TV.

In fact, for movies, there are only, as of this writing, 13 movies in the Classics category. Only about half of them, maybe just over half, are what I would call classics. The others are simply older films, with the newest from 1989.

In the TV section, though, there is no Classics category. Now, there are TV shows that would fall into that category: St. Elsewhere, Taxi, Cheers, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, I Love Lucy, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Golden Girls, and others. But, those and the others that you'd call Classics are scattered across other groupings such as Sci-Fi, Comedy, Award Winning, and others.

When did Hulu make this change? I have no idea. And that's probably the reason they made the change. I hardly ever went to Hulu and looked up Classics under the TV section. Not just me, but probably others didn't do it either. And, if it's something nobody is using, why have it.

So, yeah, I suppose it makes sense that they'd drop a feature or grouping that nobody used. That doesn't mean I like it. I wanted and expected it to be there for when I used it. Even if it's been over a year since I used it.

My Streaming Life changes, and not always in ways I like. I'll get over it, just like I do with things in real life.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

My YouTube conversion

When I first began streaming as my sole source of TV, back in 2011 when I cut cable, my primary sources for watching TV were Hulu and Netflix. I also was an Amazon Prime subscriber, but never watched it. I was an Amazon Prime subscriber for the shipping benefits, and had been for years, before they launched their streaming video. Amazon Prime Video was a later add-on and I never really watched it.

So, apart from Hulu -- called Hulu Plus at the time because Hulu was something a little different; yes, streaming was different back then -- and Netflix -- that was a lot cheaper back then -- I didn't watch much else.

Well, that's not exactly true. I probably spent 40% of the time watching Hulu or Hulu Plus, 40% of the time watching Netflix, and 25% of the time split among several small services or services in their early days. And yes, I know that adds up to 105%, but I watched a lot of streaming TV back then. Also, I just made those numbers up, but they feel about right.

Today, that's no longer the case. I still subscribe to Hulu, as it's now known since they merged Hulu and Hulu Plus. I dropped Netflix some time back. I found that I never watched it. I do watch a little Amazon Prime Video, but still not a lot, and not as much as I used to watch Netflix (back when I watched Netflix).

The various apps that made up the made-up number 25% are pretty much taken up by Pluto TV. Well, not entirely, but I do watch a lot of Pluto TV. I love Pluto TV, as I've mentioned before. But, more than any other app, is one I used to never watch: YouTube.

No, not YouTube TV. I've subscribed to YouTube TV in the past, but I don't maintain a subscription. It's not of that much value to me. No, I'm talking about regular old YouTube. The one with the cat videos.

Actually, you can find a lot of cat videos on Pluto TV, if that's your thing. It's not mine. Sure, I'll watch a cat video every now and then, but it's not a regular thing for me. No, I watch other stuff on YouTube.

I used to not, because it was a bunch of cat videos. If you were using YouTube 15 years ago, you know what I'm talking about. But, it did become more than that just a few years after Google bought it. Now, it's one I watch a lot. Educational videos, Brits solving Sudoku puzzles, bad movie reviews, and much much much more.

If I want to watch a TV show or a movie, I probably won't do the YouTube thing. But, if I want short form videos, it's YouTube.

Ten years ago, I never would have thought that. I was still stuck in the "nothing but cat videos" mindset. Now, I watch it more than anything. I don't usually count it as my most-watched app, even though it is. I'll still tell you it's Hulu, because that's my most used app for real TV. For mindless junk, even fun or educational stuff, I know that I watch YouTube more than any app.

When did I become aware it was my most-used app? As I wrote this. I will only admit it now. When I post this, I'll go back to lying to myself and saying "Hulu" as my most watched app. But you and I know the truth.

It's the dirty little secret about my Streaming Life.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Flag Day 2021

The flag of the United States means a lot to me. I grew up in this great nation, and for a period of time, had the honor of wearing my country's uniform.

Today is Flag Day, the day that recognizes the anniversary of the first flag of the United States in 1777, as well as the anniversary of the formation of the first Army, in 1775. This is a special day indeed.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Why I don't subscribe through Roku

I'm a Roku fan. While I do like Apple TV, and Chromecast with Google TV, I really like Roku. I've mentioned this before, I'm certain. But, I don't like everything about Roku. One of their biggest features they promote is one I really really do not like. I will not subscribe to any service through Roku billing.

Now, if I'm such a fan of Roku, why would I refuse to use one of their most promoted features? Simple. It's not what it does that I don't like, it's what it doesn't do.

First, here are the good things about subscribing to content through Roku.

All of your streaming billing is in one place. It's easy to find the stuff to which you have a subscription, and it's easy to cancel any subscription. You don't have your credit card on a bunch of different services. When you rent or buy something, in addition to subscriptions, it's really simple to do on a Roku device. It's super easy, barely an inconvenience.


There's one thing about Roku subscriptions that I really really really don't like. If you subscribe through Roku, you can only use that subscription on Roku.

"What's the big deal?" you might ask.

Here's the big deal. Do you have anything other than a Roku that you might want to watch the content on? For example, a Roku in the living room, and a Fire TV or Android TV (smart TV) in the bedroom? Guess what? You can only watch on your Roku.

Your iPhone or Android phone? Nope. Not watching Hulu though the Hulu app if you subscribed through Roku.

Your iPad or Fire tablet? Same problem.

Your laptop? Again, same thing.

Do you have multiple Roku accounts? For instance, you have a Roku for the kids, but don't want to have certain apps available to them? You can set up a separate Roku account that you control and limit what apps are available there, without impacting your Roku. Well, if you do this, and you subscribe to Netflix through Roku (for example) you can only watch it on your Roku (or others on that same account). Subscriptions are limited to Roku, and only Roku devices on your own Roku account.

What if you are visiting relatives for a few days? You can't use your Roku subscription unless you brought your Roku.  Well, yeah, you could have them put the Roku in Guest Mode, but that can be problematic if it's their main TV.

If you subscribe to Netflix or Hulu or any service directly, you lose the simplicity of Roku billing. I do like its simplicity. But, you are then limited to only watching on your Roku.

I really really really don't like that limitation. So much so, that I not only do not recommend Roku billing, I recommend not using it, but subscribing directly.

Sure, it may be exactly what you need. And, if that's the case, fantastic. It is easy to use and has some good points. But, it's not what I want in my Streaming Life.