Friday, June 25, 2021

Streaming Braves baseball

Around a week ago, I talked about my problem with MLB.TV in that it won't let me watch Braves games live. It finally occurred to me a couple of days ago that I never told how I do watch Braves games, since MLB.TV is a no-go.

Here's how I watch Braves games.

I don't.

If I'm a Braves fan, why not?

Well, simple. It's expensive, and I'm not willing to pony up the money to watch Braves games streaming. But I could. But I won't.

But what if a streamer does want to watch Braves games, or some other team's games? It's possible. Just expensive. How expensive? $85/month. That's how much AT&T TV Choice package costs.

That's $20/month more than YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, or Fubo TV live streaming services, which isn't really a lot. Unless, of course, you don't normally subscribe to a live streaming service. And I don't use a paid live streaming service. So, switching to AT&T TV during baseball season wouldn't change my monthly cost by $20/month; rather, it would increase it $85/month. And I'm not wanting to pay that.

During football season, I'll pay the extra $35/month for Sling TV to get college football. I wouldn't pay $85/month for it, though. And I won't pay it for Braves baseball.

Yes, I'm a Braves fan, but I'm not gonna pay that much to watch them. I want to watch the Braves, but I'm not going to pay that much for it. My Streaming Life is just fine doing without.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Tablo as my DVR

Last week, I said I'd be focusing on using Tablo as my DVR rather than Air TV. I have both, running at different households for which I manage streaming. So, for the last week, I used Tablo rather than Air TV.

I said I thought I would like Tablo better, and that has proven true.

But did my preconception impact my results? Maybe. But I think not. After all, I came to this preconceived notion from somewhere, right? Well, it came from my use of the two different systems, albeit briefly.

Well, I've now used Tablo a lot more. And the more I use, it the more I like it.

Don't get me wrong, there's still a lot to like about Air TV. If you're a Sling TV subscriber, it's really nice to have it all in that one interface, rather than having to launch a separate app. But, for me at least, the integration isn't as important as to how well the DVR works.

They both record content as expected. The respective interfaces are both easy to use, but there's one thing about Tablo that makes it my DVR of choice, and that's the quality of the tuner.

When I put up the Tablo device in place, I simply removed the Air TV device and put the Tablo there. Nothing else changed. Same antenna, same antenna cable, same everything except the actual DVR. So, how did it do?

The Tablo DVR had better recording quality than the Air TV. On the Air TV device, I would get little skips as if it lost the signal every so briefly. I didn't get that with Tablo. That indicates the tuner is better. Or at least something is better. And when you're watching TV, or recording TV, through a TV tuner, that's important. That's most important, in my book.

Playback is easy. The recording quality is great. And none of the skips that I got with Air TV. Well, almost none. Certainly a lot fewer with Tablo than with Air TV.

It would be nice if it could interface with other apps, if one used a live streaming cable replacement service. I don't, so Tablo being a separate app doesn't matter with me. Regardless, the quality of the watching and recording makes it my choice.

Tablo makes My Streaming Life so much easier. Perhaps it will for you, too.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Why the Hulu "no ads" streaming plans may still have ads

One of the most popular streaming services is Hulu. I've subscribed to Hulu ever since there were two Hulu plans: free and paid. Way back then, the free Hulu plan was for watching content in your Web browser. The paid plan was for watching Hulu Plus via a streaming device such as Roku. The catalog of shows was different for each plan, at least at first. Shows were either part of the free Hulu service, or they were part of the paid Hulu Plus service, but not both.

That eventually changed, and Hulu became just Hulu. Did that simplify things? Not really. Hulu no longer has a free plan and a paid plan. Hulu has four different paid plans. Two of the plans are "no ads" plans. And even the "no ads" plans can have ads.

It's complicated. Probably more complicated than it needs to be. But, here's what's going on, and why.

There are four plans. The first is...

Hulu. Plain old Hulu. It's the classic service of on-demand content of current TV shows and some older stuff too. There are ads with this plan. It's like watching TV shows on cable or over the air that you recorded. Only, you can't fast forward through the commercials. You gotta do the commercials. But there are fewer commercials than you get on cable or over the air.

The next plan is Hulu (No Ads). As the "no ads" part says, there are no ads. Except when there are. You see, there are some content that's excluded from not having ads. That is, there will be ads regardless on certain shows. Actually, certain show. There were around six that were excluded from no ads, but the list is now down to one: Grey's Anatomy. If you don't watch the show, this won't matter. Other than that, yeah, it's no ads.

Hulu also has a service called Hulu + Live TV. As the name implies, it's the regular Hulu plan, plus a live TV service. Hulu will have ads. Hulu's Live TV service will have ads. It's live TV, and live TV has ads. There is also a catalog of other on-demand content from the networks that you don't get with regular Hulu. Those will probably have ads. You can pretty much bank on it.

There's one other service that causes the most confusion. Or, more properly, a lot of people get confused about the plan. It's Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV. Pay close attention to the name. It's the Hulu (No Ads) service, plus the live TV service. The Hulu portion won't have ads (well, Grey's Anatomy sill has ads). However, the Live TV portion will. It's live TV, remember? There is no TARDIS circuit to skip you into the future past the commercials. It's the same live TV service that comes with Hulu + Live TV. It's the Hulu (No Ads) service, which we talked about earlier, plus the live TV service. 

And, the extra network on-demand content? Still has ads. The "no ads" only applies to the Hulu on-demand service. That's all.

So, is this confusing? Well, yeah, some get really confused about it. And sometimes they fuss and complain, probably because they don't understand that the "no ads" doesn't apply to everything in the overall service.

Now that you know, you will go into your planning for Hulu based on better information. Assuming of course that  you are considering Hulu as a content provider.

As I've said, I use the standard Hulu service and have for years. It works well, especially if you are used to watching shows you recorded. The on-demand service experience is much like a DVR service. Except for skipping commercials. If the no ads option is something you want, just keep in mind where the "no ads" applies and where it doesn't. That'll ensure no nasty surprises in your Streaming Life.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Watching YouTube TV on Roku

With the dispute between Roku and Google over the YouTube TV app, what do you do if you don't already have the YouTube TV app installed? Are you out of luck?

No, not really. You can still watch YouTube TV on Roku without the YouTube TV app. You do it through the YouTube app.

 Scroll down to the bottom of the menu on the left and select the YouTube TV item.

 Click that.

 Go to YouTube TV. It will load.

 Then the splash screen.

 And there it is. To sign in, click Sign In.

Congratulations. You're now watching YouTube TV through the YouTube app on your Roku device.

Monday, June 21, 2021

How I solved my network issues

I frequent some help forums for different things related to streaming. One common complaint across almost every help forum is people losing network connection. Related to that is when people have an issue that can be explained by network issues.

Most of the time, people don't like the suggestion that their network is at fault. That is akin to saying they wasted money in setting up a poor network, and nobody likes to be told they wasted money or otherwise made a bad decision. The thing is, people do waste money and make bad decisions. I do. You do. We all do. We just don't like being reminded of that.

So, rather than tell you that you made a bad decision about your network, let me tell you a good decision I made about mine. Oh, and if your network is working just fine and you have no issues with your streaming devices, then you made a good decision. Working is the goal, and if it works, you met the goal. You did good.

However, I had network issues that it took me a while to solve. Actually, I didn't have the issues. My mother had the issues.

Her house was built in the 1950s. And the 1960s. And the 1970s. You see, it was expanded and added on to many times over the years, and in none of that time was the thought of its 21st century layout and accounting for wireless networks considered. In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, all that was science fiction.

However, the 21st century did roll around and my mother had network issues. There were spots in rooms where one person was able to use a laptop on her wireless network, and in the same room, sitting in the next chair, another person couldn't keep a stable connection. The house, with it's weird wiring and rewiring and former outside walls that are now on the inside, was a wireless network nightmare.

So, how did I fix it? Let me tell you what didn't work first.

I got a bigger, more powerful wireless router (okay, access point, but it was all in one and we're calling it a router). That helped a little, but only a little. There were still some dead spots.

WiFi extenders were tried. They didn't really work. Maybe it was the location of them, but we never noticed a continued improvement.

We thought about running network cables and connecting additional hotspots, but didn't.

Finally, I replaced her network with a Google WiFi network. That cost a little bit of money because a set of three was around $300 on sale. And, as it turned out, three wasn't enough. There are now seven of those in that house. But, you know what? There's good network connectivity in every room.

Google WiFi was the one I tried, and it worked. This isn't to say you must get Google WiFi devices to make your network run properly. Rather, it's a suggestion that a mesh network, such as Google WiFi, Amazon Eero, Netgear Orbi, or one of any other such may be the way to go if you are having issues.

How well does it work. During her last year or so, the only time she ever mentioned the network was when I asked. She always responded that she hadn't thought about it because it simply worked. And, when family came over, there were no more questions or complaints about her wireless network.

In my and my family's experience, a mesh network works well. To my mother, she said "It just works." And it made her Streaming Life much simpler and easier.