So, back in December, I took advantage of the ridiculously good and cheap crop of television options we now enjoy and got a new one. It's a Samsung, which got great ratings for picture quality and horrible ratings for it's "smart TV" functionality. Since I was cable-cutter-curious, I figured the "smart" part of the thing would be enough to satisfy the part of me that wanted to give cable the finger, which, truth to tell, was most of me.
I had done some research, and knew that almost all of my must-have shows were available through either Amazon Instant, Hulu, or both, just with (with some shows) a bit of a delay between first-run air date and the episodes' appearance on the streaming services. Bummer, but getting Top gear six months earlier than Hulu was not worth $1200 a year.
Desired shows: (Mix of free and not free, depending on newness of episodes.)
-Walking Dead - Getting a little slow and tedious in its budget-cut 3rd season. Can live without it.
-Game of Thrones
-How It's Made - Equivalent shows are all over the place on the streaming services.
-Mythbusters - Not available streaming, but the show is getting more and more scripted and lame.
-Wheeler Dealers - British car restoration show. Not available streaming. This one really hurts.
Adding up the cost of the infrequent seasons of the shows I would happily pay for, it's still less than the $150 per month I've been paying. Most of the time, when I flick on the TV, it's a rerun of something I've seen anyway. Any yes, I'm one of those tree-killers that turns the TV on while cooking, or working on the computer and stuff. When the house is silent, the voices come. We don't like the voices.
Found shows I wasn't looking for on Hulu Plus: ($10/month)
-International news from all over
-Numerous nature shows
-Loads of obscure anime
-Lots of guy brain-candy similar to How It's Made and Really Huge Bridges, or whatever.
-Lots of documentaries
-Weirdo B-movies I've never heard of
-Actual movies normal people would want to see
-5th Gear - Another British car show only slightly less good than Top Gear
It's pretty cool pressing a button on your remote and seeing a whole new screen filled with Netflix, Amazon Instant and Hulu logos, along with Samsung's idea of a home page. As it turns out, Samsung's idea of a home page is this: Start adding logos to click on, and when the screen gets full, make the screen slide left and right. This is a lesson that everyone else in the world learned was a bad idea back in 1998, in the prehistoric years of Web 1.0. Anyway, Samsung has been concentrating on making TVs all this time, so maybe they get a pass.
Since I was already an Amazon Prime member (something like $60 a year gets you free two day shipping on lots of things, and also includes free streaming content like movies and TV shows), I tried watching a few episodes of Top Gear. The thrill of watching something through an artery other than Comcast's main vein quickly wore off when stuttering and disconnects happened with disappointing regularity - about every 5 minutes. "TV has no internet connection. Please check your settings." Since I wasn't using wi-fi to connect to the web this was surprising. I had a cat 5 cable stuck in the back of the TV and my modem and router were doing nothing else at the time. How could there be traffic problems? I wondered if Comcast was throttling my connection, or I had reached my monthly data ceiling or something like that. I had never had to worry about streaming video before, so these were both possible.
Fast forward to me on the horn with a Comcast worker bee who verified that I had 15 megabit per second of download speed. I had done enough homework to know that services like Hulu recommend no less than 1 megabit download speed, and I had 15. That shouldn't be a problem.
I could taste the streaming content cake, but it often disappeared mid-chew and had to be re-bitten over and over again with only the occasional swallow. What was to be done?
Coming soon - What was to be Done.