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Geek Chic

Cable-cutters use Roku 3

3/20/2013

Twenty-one years ago, Bruce Springsteen’s “Human Touch” album featured the song “57 Channels (and Nothin’ On).” If Bruce had saved this song for 2013, the title would be somewhere closer to “1,557 Channels (and Nothin’ On).” Even worse, all those wasted channels cost cable and satellite subscriptions far more than $50 per month, and in many cases $100 per month.

For those brave enough to “cut the cord,” streaming Internet video services are becoming more of a viable option. Earlier this month, Roku, one of the most popular streaming service providers out there, released a new version of its set-top box.

With only a one-time cost of $99, the Roku 3 is ready to stream content almost immediately after hook up. The device streams in 1080p HD and offers a powerful search feature that scans more than 750 streaming channels including Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Cloud Player. Roku 3 also has a remote that comes with a headphone jack, which allows for private listening.

Of course there are many other services with competitive prices, such as the Apple TV, X-Box 360 and WiFi-enabled Blu-ray players, but none top Roku 3 on content options. (Watch Roku 3: Walkthrough & Review – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_GZkFi76gU).

Cutting the cord does have its disadvantages, though. Recording programs to a DVR is not as easy, basic cable channels such as Food Network, HGTV, MTV and many more are not currently available and live sports programming is pretty much non-existent.

Even with these deterrents, content options continue to grow with HBO, Disney, NBC and the NBA, all of which have dedicated streaming applications, and the Olympics, the NCAA Basketball tournament and the Superbowl are all available to stream online. So it seems like only a matter of time before all the content normally found exclusively through satellite and cable will eventually be available to stream online. CV

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @ResponsiblyWild.

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