And It Just Doesn’t Work

Posted on July 5, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Hardware, iOS, Mobile, Music + Videos, Paul, Smart Home, Xbox One with 136 Comments

And It Just Doesn't Work

We’re planning a big move, and while this is a stressful and uncertain time, I’m rethinking the personal technology we use day-to-day with an aim to make things better. And that means finally pulling the trigger on some changes I’ve been considering for a long time: Getting rid of cable TV and our phone lines, being smarter about connected speakers, implementing a mesh wireless network, and more.

Like many of you, I bet—probably most of you—the mess of products and services we currently use at home is the result of years of piling on. And what you end up with, ultimately, is a bunch of stuff that doesn’t work well together. Much of which duplicates functionality elsewhere. It’s a mess.

Consider the living room. We currently have multiple devices—a cable box, Xbox One, Apple TV, Android TV/Chromecast, and so on—attached to our HDTV. And the onus is on everyone in the family to figure out how to get where they want to go. For example, most of these devices, including the TV itself (it’s a 4K/UHD Smart TV) include a Netflix app. And … it’s not clear which one is best. Literally.

The Apple TV doesn’t support 4K/UHD or HDR, and yet it often provides the best picture quality. The Smart TV version of the app does support 4K/UHD and HDR, but it can be buggy, and the remote is terrible. (The Apple TV remote is also terrible.) We could run Netflix off of our phones and cast it to the TV, and there are benefits to doing so, including the fact that the Netflix mobile app includes better content browsing capabilities than the set-top box apps. But then you have to use the phone to control playback, and that is less than ideal. And using an Xbox to run Netflix is like taking a battleship to the corner store to buy milk.

My goal, of course, is to minimize complexity while maximizing functionality. But just looking at Netflix, which is a single app, you can see the issue. There’s no obvious best solution there.

OK, there may be one, though it comes a bit out of left field. The Android TV-based Mi Box works like a 4K-capable Chromecast and has its own remote, and that remote is better than the remotes that come with the TV or Apple TV. This is a solution very few people will ever consider, I bet. But it’s the kind of thinking I’m trying to apply to this problem. Find one thing that works.

We’ll never really have one thing attached to the TV. But one of my goals with this move is to simplify this setup, and part of that change will be not using a cable box. So we’ll see how that goes. YouTube TV? Maybe. (It’s available now where I’m trying to move.) I’ll probably look at a variety of services over the first few months of our move, which is scheduled for late August.

And that’s just the TV, of course. We now have three Sonos speakers, and we like them quite a bit. But because I purchased the cheapest PLAY-1 models—typical thinking on my part, sadly—we’re missing out on interoperability with Chromecast, which limits their usefulness. Higher-end Sonos speakers include an audio-in jack, but the PLAY-1 does not.

Which means I’d be better off selling these speakers and buying $100 bookshelf speakers, and adding a Chromecast Audio to each. And … I may just do that. But I will wait until this move is complete, and see how well that works. And then decide.

The house we’re moving to is considerably bigger than our current home. This was never a goal, in fact, my wife and I have long planned to downsize when the kids were out of the house. We try to be OK with this unexpected change by rationalizing that the new house is a different kind of downsizing because it is significantly less expensive than our current home. (Suburban Boston is one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. Rural Pennsylvania? Not so much.) But it presents logistical issues nonetheless.

Home networking is a great example. Using that “piling on over time” non-strategy I mentioned earlier, we’ve implemented wired Ethernet over a weird 50 percent of our current home, but we mostly rely on terrible FIOS router-based wireless networking capabilities. The new home is bigger, and it will require a different approach.

I may one day wire it for Ethernet, though we have more pressing concerns related to updating all of the electrical receptacles and light switches, and many of the light fixtures, to be more modern and less “beiged with age,” as I call them. (Not to mention limited funds.) For the short term, I’m going to try a mesh wireless networking setup.

Next week, RCN is coming to the home to install a cable modem (only, with no phones or cable TV), and I’ll see if a Google WiFi three-pack can effectively cover the house, as I suspect it will. That way, Internet access will be ready and waiting for us when we actually move over a month later.

(And, no, RCN isn’t my first, second, or even my third choice for connectivity. But that’s what we got. It offers speeds of 330 Mbps down, which is great, but only 20 Mbps up, which will be challenging.)

Beyond these things, I will be evaluating whether it makes sense to do any kind of smart home control implementation related to heat/AC (on different systems because Pennsylvania), though just consolidating the many incompatible thermostats in the house—literally five different types across the house—will itself be a major achievement. But that’s the bane of home ownership: There is always more to do, more to spend money on.

It’s going to be a busy year, regardless. Where it makes sense, I’ll write about these changes in more detail, but I’m mostly worried about just making it all work. And doing it in a way that is more integrated and better planned. I guess it could only be better.

 

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Comments (139)

139 responses to “And It Just Doesn’t Work”

    • Avatar

      ilovemissy85

      The house we’re moving to is considerably bigger than our current home. This was never a goal, in fact, my wife and I have long planned to downsize when the kids were out of the house. We try to be OK with this unexpected change by rationalizing that the new house is a different kind of downsizing because it is significantly less expensive than our current home. (Suburban Boston is one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. Rural Pennsylvania? Not so much.) But it presents logistical issues nonetheless.This is why they are moving.In reply to MyCleverUsername:


  1. Avatar

    glenn8878

    How did you buy three Sonos speakers that served you well in the past suddenly change after the move? Now, to suggest you need three entirely new speakers because you prefer Chromecast capability. Well, maybe you should buy one to test. I use the same Bluetooth speaker in three rooms. I carry it room to room.


    I use a power connected adapter for internet. Don't rewire everything unless you do standard cable wires too to save time and money. Wireless is still the way to go. Buy a powerful router. Most televisions and boxes have wireless built in.

    • Avatar

      Ezzy Black

      In reply to glenn8878:

      Wow, my philosophy is completely different. It's probably because I used to work in signals intelligence. If it can be wired, it should be wired. For instance, I wouldn't type your password with a wireless keyboard, let alone mine.


      Not only is wired access much faster, its infinitely more secure.

      • Avatar

        glenn8878

        In reply to Ezzy:

        Except for desktop computers that are better having a hardwire ethernet connection, most households have phones, tablets, laptops, smart televisions, and Roku that rely on wireless. I'm not referring to wireless keyboards. However, I trust wireless internet also known as the ubiquitous wifi. Many households don't have desktops anymore or just one so why wire the entire house for ethernet?

  2. Avatar

    Minok

    The video media content consumption is indeed still such a painful mess.


    Apple TV - no YouTube (because Apple or Google?), no Amazon Prime - and constant reboots because after 1.5 Twit.tv podcast shows the Apple TV won't cache anymore and stutters - needs a network adapter reset (wifi). HBO Go has no issue letting me binge GoT or Newsroom, so its the Podcast App I assume. And ffwd/rew is a pain in the rear.


    XBox 360 - remote is attrocious - an xbox controller to pause/rewind video is a bad idea because the few times I need it to re-wind that episode of The Expanse (via Amazon Prime).. the controller went to sleep and thus takes a wakeup-handshake, then the long trigger usage to rewind again.


    The TiVo simplicity with the programmable HomeTheaterRemotes single controler that has most everything programmed in is great. Cable card = no cable box. TiVo has the best ffwd/rew capability and does help a bit as my older receiver has no HDMI, it serves as the audio switcher/amp to the 7.1 channels worth of speakers - and an external HDMI switcher does that bit, but switching sources is still a mess as some are composite (yes VHS) and component (DVD/BluRay), vs HDMI (Xbox 360, AppleTV, TiVo).. and annoyingly some of the gear (Sony XBR TV, I'm looking at YOU) don't have discrete IR codes for input selection (really Sony?).


    Thermostats - now thats a hoot. I've been using a Nest for many years (that replaced an LCD touchscreen that wasn't networked). Not sure the nest is better, as the ability to change the (only have one thermostat, I feel left out Paul) temp without having to get out of bed / up from the couch is nice.. until it doesn't work because internet connectivity to the Google Nest servers is required for the phone app because the iOS app cannot talk directly to the Nest on the same wifi LAN. (To which one gets brilliant support forum comments from geniuses like "why don't you just get up and go turn the dial manually". (as if thats why we purchase an wireless thermostat, to be able to have to get up to change the temp because the Nest servers are down in California).



  3. Avatar

    Jeffrey Tschiltsch

    Paul, take a good look at the Orbi for your mesh network solution, I'm using a pair (router and satellite) to cover 4000 sq feet in our 4 floor Chicago brownstone (1000 sq ft per floor) and it's been flawless. The biggest advantage I see is that the satellite has 4 RJ45 ports on it, just like the main router, so that means you can direct-connect 4 devices to the satellite and it's almost the same as being direct-connected to the router given how the Orbi satellite communicates with the main router. Our satellite is in the media room and I have our Directv, Nvidia Shield TV, Sony BD player and Slingbox connected directly to it using Ethernet and the performance is outstanding :)

  4. Avatar

    Rob_Wade

    I'm sorry, but I feel a large part of the described problem is self-inflicted. The fact is that there is NO device that does EVERYTHING we may want the absolute best. If you want the BEST of any given feature or service, you will have to resign yourself to several specialized/optimized devices. If you want the CONVENIENCE, then the fact is you will have to settle for merely good-to-excellent in combined devices. I think it's really silly to complain about using an "overpowered" device to do something simple. That should never be the concern. Can the device get you to the service/feature you need in a way you're comfortable with?


    This is why I continue to slam the Xbox. It COULD have been that for me. When we bought the Xbox One w/Kinect, it had the beginnings of the perfect nexus. Gesture control, voice control, a slowly growing apps list, Blueray, etc. Then Microsoft start screwing around with it because GAMERS. Now it's painful to use.

    • Avatar

      Minok

      In reply to Rob_Wade:

      I don't know. Voice control is typically more agrivation that usefull unless you live in a quiet house alone, and even then its grief. The amount of times I'm yelling back at the Echo with "Alexa, no won is #*($& talking to you!" Numbers in the dozens.


      The last thing I need is my display device doing something 'cause it thinks it heard something.


      Having to speak out sensitive personal information to phone systems while calling from the office cubicle land is always such a joy, cause I want all those on my floor to know my birthdate.

    • Avatar

      Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to Rob_Wade:

      MS missed the mark on XboxOne. Kinect shouldn't have been included by default, as it drove up the asking price. I think if the combo had launched for $400, there would have been no problem, but instead it was a double whammy--in order to bundle at $500, it took a major performance hit compared to PS4. Now we have a console that was designed to use Kinect getting its Kinect features removed.

      • Avatar

        wolters

        In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

        I am another Kinect defender. I still us it for voice commands and if I discover a new Kinect game (found "Q" the other day, I buy it to support the developers.)


        And interesting, Microsoft released a promo video the other day that is heavy on Kinect usage:


        https://youtu.be/tzddv-Vv7cM


  5. Avatar

    William Clark

    Your Xbox comment seems to be antithetical to your comment about finding "one thing that works". So what if it's "overkill" for Netflix. Does it provide all (or most) of the other functions you need like gaming, DVD playback etc?


    It seems like we're always "over-provisioning" technology. We buy more storage than we need, more CPU, a bigger screen etc. It's what we do. I liken this to a VCR purchase back int he 80s. You go into Best Buy to get a VCR that can play tapes you rent from Blockbuster Video and you want to keep the price down. But when you get there the sales guy says, hey you have cable TV right? You know if you upgrade to this model for $50 you can record movies off of HBO and watch them later. You think, hmm, that sounds interesting. Then the sales guys says, and you know you want to get the best sound while watching those movies so for $50 more you can get this one which has Dolby Surround sound built-in. And then he says, oh and you'll want this home theater audio system to get the most out of the Dolby soundtrack. And then he says, oh and this one has HDMI output for the best picture but you say my TV doesn't have HDMI to which he says, over here we have this beautiful flat screen TV with HMDI for only $2000 to give you the very best in home theater video.


    So $3000 later you're walking out of Best Buy with a future proof VHS recorder, a 39" tube TV and an audio system that may need to be powered by an ancillary generator when all you wanted was a $150 VHS player do your kid can watch Disney video tapes. Oh and you just read a story about this new DVD thing coming out soon.

  6. Avatar

    Bill Russell

    Well, this is choice and freedom. Not always super simple and easy. Being Paul's age, all I had was a few channels of likely snowy TV over aluminum foil rabbit ears to at best a 19" color mono CRT tv, or maybe just B&W. It was a simpler time then, but crappier as far as video entertainment.

    Then came Atari, then Cable and VCRs.


    Today, I think it would be bad if a single company "fixed it" and got deals with everyone to have a simple front end to it all. In the short term it might simplify but over time it would be bad. I'll take things how they are today. This is not a transition point to some simplified unified end result but how things should be - a "complicated mess".

  7. Avatar

    Cubkyle

    YouTube TV is pretty good if you like the selection it offers, and they're working on expanding that too. As it currently stands though, it does require an app and a Chromecast to use it. A recent update to the Android app quietly made it possible to cast to the YouTube app on devices like Roku, but I don't know if that made it to iOS, and I know it's still Chromecast only from the Chrome browser. May not solve the issue of complexity in your house just yet.

  8. Avatar

    Darmok N Jalad

    If your new home has two-pronger outlets like the one in your picture, you may wish to change them out for standard 3-prong grounded outlets as soon as you can. The challenge, of course isn't the outlet swap, it's getting proper wiring to carry the ground wire and likely upgrading to a modern fuse panel. My dad's house has the 2-prong with old threaded fuses, and it is an electronics slaughterhouse during storm season. I gave him my old 32" HDTV when we last upgraded, and it didn't last 6 months.

    • Avatar

      Philip

      In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

      Look into Eaton Whole House Surge Protectors. When we remodeled the kitchen, the new appliances have so much sensitive electronics that we decided to protect everything at the circuit breaker box. We have had multiple power outages, brown-outs, and thunder storms without any damage to the appliances or any electronics.

  9. Avatar

    skborders

    I bought a $80 ubiquity POE access point and put it in the center of my house. I have no trouble with internet connectivity.

    • Avatar

      jjaegers

      In reply to skborders:

      Yeah... I know it's adding devices but I would ALWAYS try to use dedicated wireless APs instead of the built in wireless that comes with a standard cable router. Been using an Aruba AP at home for a year or two now and I haven't even had to reboot it...

      • Avatar

        Jeff Jones

        In reply to jjaegers:

        Not all dedicated access points are the same though. It's not simply the feature of being stand-alone.


        I've tried some from Trendnet and EnGenius and D-Link, but the Ubiquiti performs noticeably better than those for about the same price.

    • Avatar

      Jeff Jones

      In reply to skborders:

      Another vote for Ubiquiti access points. A single access point from Ubiquiti often covers a medium to large house where all the well known consumer brands need range extenders and other stuff to get by. I don't know what they do different, but it's worth the effort of dealing with their Java based configuration utility (or spending the extra to get the standalone Cloud Key)


  10. Avatar

    aelaan

    This is why, when I move, there WILL be a mancave with proper setup for ME. In our living room I have the same mess hanging off of a 1080p TV with a single remote controller (Logitech). The ladies have a common understanding that they use NetFlix and at 6 PM the old man comes in and we are watching the news. I am somewhat a dictator in that.

    The rest, I could care less what they are watching, I am not that interested in old stuff. My preferences are with tech, documentaries and gaming. I have three screens in my office, the one on my laptop (obviously). The external monitor, laptop, gaming PC. The TV set with the PI3, Rogers NetBox for way too much money for way too many channels, Gaming consoles. I barely watch NetFlix but like to watch UFC with a pint. My office is well insulated for obvious reasons. Most of the devices actually run over wire, 1Gb and a DIY mesh for phones, tablets and that crud. The hub is a 10Gb capable switch in the basement where all "home automation" runs to. Which of course led to 7 small UPS devices to protect and guard for the all North American brown-outs and spikes. I use 1Gb Rogers Ignite which serves my needs well, unlimited of course. Why I still pay for all these TV channels is something I have had lengthy discussions over with my cable company and my family. They "need" it because they "might miss something". So each month I pay close to 200 CAD for something that could most likely be 120 bucks cheaper... But the wants are higher than the needs. My next place, which we are going to start actively looking for next year (something we said last year) will most likely not be in an urban setting. This in itself brings a new set of challenges with it. For now we consolidated on one remote control that constantly runs out of batteries and the old man in his office with two remote controls that are constantly missing or dragged to another part in the house. Technology, digital or analogue... it remains a struggle.

  11. Avatar

    Winner

    So why is Paul moving? I haven't heard explained why on WW or WTT even though I've heard he's doing it. Seems that it came on quickly. I hope it's not parental health related or anything like that.

  12. Avatar

    CaedenV

    Ya, TV is a problem. I gave up several years ago and just merged my TV and PC setup so I just have the single PC plugged into the TV (work is done on the desk with a laptop and port replicator). This way all of my streaming services, games, and big-screen work are done on a single box... but this simplification of input and routing means added complication in login and getting to the actual content; which for me is totally fine, but now that my kids are growing up I am beginning to see the potential issues in how they access content on it.

    Still, this has worked pretty well for me so far, and it may be a way to simplify the IO if not the UI

  13. Avatar

    lezmaka

    Fox Netflix (and other video services) on Xbox, get a regular-style Xbox remote. I did and it works much better than trying to use a controller. I didn't get the small/limited Microsoft remote, just a 3rd party remote I found at Best Buy. It has all the buttons to get around the Xbox interface (arrow buttons, A/B/etc, Home, the two little buttons in the middle of the controller), back, volume, play/pause/rewind/skip back/etc. (and channel changing which won't mean anything for you since you won't have TV service). Works nice for the Blu-ray player too.

  14. Avatar

    brettscoast

    You have some decisions to make and none of them very easy or straight forward i am of the believe that hard wired ethernet cable is best in most circumstances to stand alone PC's, smart TV's gaming consoles for throughput and reliability but there has been rapid improvement in wireless networking technologies in both speed and range which would probably do the job for you. One thing is for sure you will inevitably be able to reduce your technology footprint in one way or another.

  15. Avatar

    sinclap

    Paul, you should of moved to Minneapolis/St Paul metro. Easy access to airport. Outdoor and shopping amenities. Flagship side by side Apple and M$ stores at MOA.


    You could of got low cost fiber and avoid Comcast.


    https://fiber.usinternet.com/

  16. Avatar

    Angusmatheson

    the sad part about this is that Microsoft to have a living room solution. After being in his space before everyone else with products like Media Center, they have totally abandoned it. Other than a mirror cast HDMI single, Microsoft has surrendered the living room. After the Xbox 1 was released with much fanfare to be a living room computer. After bush back from the gaming community, the media center voice control was completely abandoned. No one else is getting this right, but I think at least trying and evolving makes sense. Why abandon all that work?

  17. Avatar

    bsd107

    "And using an Xbox to run Netflix is like taking a battleship to the corner store to buy milk."


    I completely disagree. If you have it, and it is sitting there hooked up to your TV, you should use it (assuming it gives you the best Neflix experience).


    Don't confuse BUYING a XBone for Netflix use only (which I agree would be overkill), as opposed to using one you already own.


    Personally, I actually use Netflix on my Xbox One S, with the Xbox One Media Remote. I wouldn't say that it is a perfect experience, but overall I find it the best as compared to my Roku, PS3, PS4, Apple TV (older version) and the app built into my Android TV's. I do wish it supported voice search (through Kinect - if it does work, I have not figured out how).

  18. Avatar

    B Mallon

    Rather than running Ethernet throughout the house, you can use MoCa adapters with the coax cable connections in your house to have a wired connection where you need to. MoCA 2.0 Ethernet to Coax Adapter can deliver wired speeds up to 700 Mbps. I have used MocA adapters for a few years now to have a wired connection for Lync/Skype for Business and to stream videos from the basement server to the living room TV. It has always worked well for me.

    • Avatar

      Minok

      In reply to B_Mallon:

      That is interesting - I wonder how MoCA manages to accomplish that over RG56 coax (the most likely in wall coax in locations where there is no modern wiring pre-installed.

      10base2, the ethernet that used coax, only achieved 10Mbps as the name indicates, but that was in a bus network configuration. Is it just the chips that allow that higher frequency usage? I suppose 10base2 died out due to the way it needed to be wired (any break and all nodes are off-line).. so MoCA seems to be a better architecture all around.

  19. Avatar

    Gordon

    Holy Hannah, welcome to the neighborhood. I did the same thing (within Pennsylvania). I rented in the suburban Philadelphia region for ages. When looking to buy, a house out in Amish country was half of what it would have been where I was already living.


    If you think the heating/AC is a PA thing, wait until you get to enjoy our obtuse liquor laws. Beer and hard liquor in the same store? That'd be insanity. :P

  20. Avatar

    elessar25

    Sounds interesting. Keep us posted.

  21. Avatar

    JBSTG424

    Paul,

    If you are replacing lots of electrical receptacles, do yourself a favor and ask about a contractor's pack. It may be the standard level receptacle instead of ones with USB built-in but it'll work and buying in bulk will give you cost savings.

  22. Avatar

    waverunning.geek

    Welcome to PA, Paul.  Enjoy our bizarre drinking laws.


    20 Mbps up? I can't even get that with Crapcast. They're still stuck at 10.

    • Avatar

      Gordon

      In reply to waverunning.geek:


      Hey, at least you can get up to a 12 pack in many grocery stores now. And wine...that's a revolution. :P


      You're lucky. I can't even get Comcast where I am. It's Blue Ridge and they CAP at 10Mbps upstream (1/10th of downstream). I miss being able to dump large amounts of data up to DropBox.

  23. Avatar

    peterh_oz

    Fubo.tv might satisfy your sport watching without needing cable. And why not just get one of the $150 apple tv sized HTPC devices? Using a browser is often better than any app, and accesses EVERY service available, not limited to those with apps.Small, fanless, and easy to use. Esp with cloud (lonedrive) storage and the upcoming placeholders for your photos etc.

  24. Avatar

    Thayios

    I did the upgrades and such BEFORE moving to my new house (technically still moving, just have to get it closed).


    Cut the cable, went to Plex (boy, is that $60 a month bill fannnntastic compared to the $200ish I was spending with FiOS Internet and TV).


    Ecobee 3 are on sale right now (or were) and still a fantastic device (Ecobee 4 includes Alexa, which is meh on the Thermostat).


    I consolidated everything down to just the Xbox One S in the living room, so my Harmony cuts it on when I pull up so I'm always either ready to watch Plex or game.


    Samsung Smart Things + Aeon/GE Products for all of my HA needs (and my home is truly automated for the most part, I rarely need to trigger things manually).

  25. Avatar

    Ugur

    Hello Paul,

    i wondered, have you ever talked about why you're moving? If you'd like to keep it personal, no worries, i just wondered if i missed something.

    On the topic itself: yeah, i wonder about these things sometimes in between, too.

    Some things are much better inter operable in some ways over time.

    Like hey, one can get some xbox games on pc and xbox and for some games there will even be cross platform multiplayer between pc, xbox and switch.

    Or on a different topic it's great that roaming fees are forced to stop across europe so hey, one can use one's contract in more countries, that's pretty cool (even though some carriers try to push extra fees on customers in other ways to make up for that).

    On the other side, it's weird how some other things are so much less inter operable than they should be nowadays.

    Like for example when one thinks about it, messaging on phones when from something crude and limited like SMS, which worked basically across most providers though (let's not get into the MMS part), to like 5-10 popular messaging services which are way less interoperable. One can send a smiley on one device and i's a surprise what image if any the recipient will see on the other end.

    heck, if one uses a service like Apple's messages app on an iOS device, it's free to send things to other iOS users (like part of your usual data volume) but when one sends the same messages to Android users it will cost extra money.

    Like how stupid is that when one thinks about it =)


    And likewise, yeah, when one thinks about the bigger picture, it's also really weird as user to have to choose between all those tv boxes where each has different pros and cons and one does not get all the content and services on all.

    Sure, tv in the past was way more restrictive regarding what's available when, but one could basically expect to have the base service working the same on all.

    So on the upside thanks to the free open markets we get more selection, but since each company wants their own thing to be the dominant one, many of them intentionally don't work well together with others any more than they have to, which yeah, kinda sucks.

    Regarding tv i watch things only via the internet via streaming services etc, for a good number of years now.

    I still have a cable subscription for the case my Mom wants to watch something when i'm not there and she can't get the thing playing over the streaming box.

    In germany everyone also basically is forced to pay money for public tv/radio support GEZ.

    (In return cable subscriptions are much cheaper in average in Germany than in the US).

    Overall it's a mess though, i have an Amazon tv, apple tv, chromecast (no roku since not available here) and all are sorta ok but really none of them halfway close to what i'd call ideal.

    Since no Roku here Chromecast and Apple tv (once it also gets amazon video) are closest to being all right to me, but even there not even a good remote for it like you said.

    I'm considering getting that box the the Verge fellas talked about if it comes out and works well.Forgot the name but basically one plugs in all the streaming boxes etc and then via machine learning etc it figures out what is where and one can look for content and it will find it across all the boxes and one can use it with a single remote.

  26. Avatar

    alabamaboy

    Can someone tell me how to turn off alerts? They are driving me crazy on this thread.

  27. Avatar

    pesos

    For the TV +1 for the Logitech remote option that my wife and mother in law can use properly (95% of the time). It can handle the bluray player, dvr, apple tv, and vizio tv's built in netflix app.


    An additional wrinkle we have on top of most people's setup is that my wife's from japan and we prefer to watch Netflix Japan when together so she can get subtitles (and I can actually get other shows much sooner than Netflix USA gets them, such as Better Call Saul)... So I have separate wireless networks configured for our normal connectivity and for the box that handles our vpn to my buddy's living room in Japan (so the apple tv is on the USA network for USA Netflix, hbogo, etc) and the vizio is on the Japan network for Netflix Japan). I have a FireTV stick and a Microsoft Wireless HDMI adapter too but the rest of the household doesn't have to know how those work. Other than an occasional glitch with the soundbar audio negotiation it works pretty well.


    Beyond that we're iOS people on the mobile side which has led to trying to stick to homekit stuff. Very happy with the Schlage Sense, hue lights, and Ecobee3 thermostats we have. Also have a Hunter Symphony homekit ceiling fan in my home office and considering doing a couple more of those around the house. About time to replace some smoke alarms but the homekit option there looks poor, and honestly homekit integration there is probably not important, so will go with nest. Hopefully chamberlain gets their act together soon and gets their thrice-delayed product out the door for the garage. Boggles my mind that there are no homekit garage options out there yet.


    Our house was built about 13 years ago (with solar... THANK YOU original owners) and was wired with cat5e, but oddly I can only nego at 100mbit throughout. I am guessing they cheaped out on the jack plates and that is causing an issue but haven't had time yet to rip them out and try with a better one. 100 mbit was plenty until the cable company started a war with Htel Fiber for our development so Htel bumped us up to 500/50!

  28. Avatar

    illuminated

    Roku is great for video. Apps are OK. They have some irritating inconsistencies. The most basic thing - fast forward or rewind works differently in each app and sound volume seems to be random from one clip to another but overall Roku is pretty nice. Easy to use and with wired network cable it kind of rocks. Remote is dead simple. Pretty close to perfection IMHO.


  29. Avatar

    Waethorn

    Wireless will always disappoint.


    That's a sad truth.


    I sit here, having a house with finished basement walls and drywall ceilings, having tried numerous WiFi extenders, added Ethernet-connected wireless access points in the one unfinished basement room that I have, even Powerline-routed WAP's. Wireless will always disappoint. I have cable internet that runs into a corner of my basement, with two floors above with bad signal reception and numerous walls in between. I wish I could run direct Ethernet, but it's just not possible without smashing some walls down, and it's just not feasible to do that. Using mesh networking is going to introduce lag, probably moreso than Powerline networking.

    • Avatar

      Jeff Jones

      In reply to Waethorn:

      I wouldn't say always.


      Did you try a Ubiquti long range access point? Those are really good, although a little complicated to setup since you have to run the separate java based configuration interface on a computer or else get their dedicated Cloud Key which is basically the same thing.


      Based on what you said already, the only other thing I would even suggest is Google Wifi. Those are extremely simple to setup.

      • Avatar

        Waethorn

        In reply to DataMeister:


        "Complicated setup" and "Java interface" are exactly the reasons why I won't use Ubiquiti products.


        Besides that, there are too many walls to penetrate. Tried Plume's pods, but the number of hops necessary to span one corner of the house to another just adds to lag.


        I'm looking at Google WiFi, but the $500 price for 3 access points is a hard pill to swallow, considering that I've already tried Powerline networking that links access points via a hard-line instead of just being a WiFi repeater.

        • Avatar

          CaedenV

          In reply to Waethorn:

          1) Ubiquity isn't that hard to set up, if you haven't at least tried then you are just compiling. Besides, it is only hard once; save the config, and you are set for years. They make great products, and I used them in schools and homes LONG before I knew how networking worked. If you can make sense of Paul's writing (ie, you can read), then you can set up a Ubiquity AP, especially their instant products.


          2) While not legally binding advice (ie potentially a terrible idea lol), have you considered wiring Ethernet through your duct work? I live in an old home with a lot of plaster and chicken mesh in the walls... wifi is a nightmare, and drilling holes isn't an option. So I have a few Ubiquity APs, and stationary devices get placed near ducts with Ethernet running through them. It is less than ideal, and I am sure my firefighter friend would have a cow if he saw it, but it works very well.

          • Avatar

            skborders

            In reply to CaedenV:

            I have one Ubiquiti AP in my house, 1700 sqft it is in the center of my house at the top of the stairs and I have access everywhere. It is not hard At all to set up. The worst part is remembering your password to it because, once it is set up, you probably won’t touch it for years.

  30. Avatar

    adamcorbally

    Does anybody need any of this stuff? Does anybody else feel it's getting a bit much? Is any of it really improving our lives?

    • Avatar

      wright_is

      In reply to adamcorbally:

      I sort of agree. We don't need any of this stuff, let alone all of it. But some things are better than without.

      But, for example, my VCR broke around 1995, I have never replaced it and never bought any kind of DVR. I worked out that nothing on TV was that important and those things that I wanted to see would be repeated usually a couple of days later on another channel.

      We have Amazon TV, because we already have Prime, but I wouldn't have paid for it on its own.

  31. Avatar

    Jorge Garcia

    We're living in a rather sucky (yet amazing) period where these things just aren't going to gel together for a while, I predict 10 years? Thankfully, I only personally care for retro video gaming, so for now I can get by happily with just a good wifi router and a few high-quality Android Boxes connected to every TV. I can get access to my media files from the hard drive attached directly to the router, and there are apps in the play store that accomplish almost anything one desires. As for interface aspect, it admittedly is a little less than ideal, but I find the RC-11 air mouse to be the best way to manipulate an Android "tablet" interface from 10' away.

  32. Avatar

    Delmont

    Ugh... yes... why so much clutter? Get a Smart TV / and or Amazon Fire Stick and get on with life. Why would want all that crap in your living room? Land lines? Yes, dump that too. I haven't had a land line since 2001. I don't get the mesh wireless stuff either. To me, very expensive. Get a good router and an extender and move on with life.

  33. Avatar

    jjaegers

    RCN... Yuck! I live in rural PA and I am lucky enough to have FiOS in my area... My big problem with TV stuff right now is my FiOS bill is too cheap to even consider cutting the cord.  Considering we would still need internet access we would likely be look at around $60/month for a decent internet only package for Verizon FiOS... Since I am still clinging to my Media Center with the Ceton 4 tuner card in it I only pay a $3/month rental fee on the cable card... I have all the pay channels on FiOS with some package I have and only pay $100/month... so moving to something like HuluTV and still having to have the internet package from Verizon I would still be paying about the same amount for a lot less... especially since I get access to HBOGo, etc since I have the cable package with it in it.


    The best thing I have done with my TV in the past few months is setup Emby on my Media Center box... this makes it so I can watch the live TV from media center on ANY device (iPad, iPhone, Android Phone, XBOX One, Roku, etc)... and I have a Roku 4K TV with the excellent Roku software built in!  Emby has truly extended the life of my Media Center box and is well worth the small cost to get a lifetime license for it!

  34. Avatar

    Skolvikings

    We also dropped cable TV and wired phone service this year. Kept internet only and subscribed to PS Vue so I still get live ESPN, my wife still gets HGTV, my kids still get Disney, but overall we saved around $125/month. Wish we had made the switch sooner.

    • Avatar

      bmatusz

      In reply to Skolvikings:


      Questions: Is this off a FireTV or Apple TV? Are you running 4k / UHD? What is the picture quality? Dying to dump DirecTV and PS Vue appears to be the best option.

      • Avatar

        Skolvikings

        In reply to bmatusz:

        I will say my favorite part is how you can change your channel package at any time with no commitments. We recently downgraded to the package that does not include HBO and Epix once we watched all the movies we were interested in. Will probably upgrade back in a month or so and catch up again.

      • Avatar

        Skolvikings

        In reply to bmatusz:

        I use PS Vue on a FireTV. We also have a PS4 in the house, but oddly enough never use Vue from it.


        I feel the picture quality is very good. It's not 4K and I've read that it's often not full HD, but we never notice. I do use it on a 4K set and feel it's fine. It might be my ISP, but we rarely have issues with buffering. Occasionally would during popular live sporting events, but lately that has improved significantly.


        My wife is not very technical and yet she has zero problems using the service, navigating the guide, etc., once I gave her a 20 second tutorial on which remote buttons do what.

  35. Avatar

    Narg

    I'd like to get rid of the "box". Not entirely, but as the main solution at least. I've been looking a Roku based TVs, and they look pretty good on paper. Also waiting to see what Amazon has in store for their rumored Echo based TV solution. Seems to me this type of TV would provide a much more robust and seamless design, removing more of the need for other boxes to bring the desired content to the screen. If we could get the streaming services, with a good experience (that's the hard part it seems) to the screen without the need for the box, and making use of other "boxes" more seamless, that would be the TV that I buy next. Right now I use my Xbox One as my main content controller and it has been good, but not perfect. The TV to me needs to be the center point, not an external box.

  36. Avatar

    jcalamita

    If you are doing some wiring in your house, don't forget that cable run from the attic to a spot for an OTA antenna... depending on where you are in PA (Lancaster county?) You can get Baltimore, Philly and a bunch of other stations. Have friends in the Philly area that can point north and get NY/NJ stations, point south and get Baltimore/DC stations...

    • Avatar

      Jaxidian

      In reply to jcalamita:

      We have done *exactly* that. We have an attic antenna mounted pointing at all of the Indianapolis broadcast towers and the coax runs from the attic down to the basement where it goes into a TiVo Roamio OTA unit. I then have TiVo Mini units at other TVs and this is our whole-house DVR system that cost us ~$250 up-front + $15/mo recurring. We're VERY happy with it and it also gives us Netflix, Vudu, Youtube, and Amazon Video at all of our TVs without having to rely on the less-than-ideal smart boxes & video game consoles that also serve that purpose. We'll sometimes use Netflix on the Xbox One at one of the TVs but it's nice to have all of that at all of our (4) TVs with it being covered within our above-mentioned costs all while also getting live sports and DVR'd content.

  37. Avatar

    brduffy

    Greetings from Delaware, which could be very close or very far away from your new destination. At the very least you should enjoy the fall leaves in rural PA, unless of course you are raking them. I was a little surprised you didn't mention Amazon's Fire TV which I happen to really like. It has essentially replaced my Apple TV and covers most of the the things I am interested in. I also have an Alexa Echo which rarely gets much use, although it is nice to say "Alexa play the blues" and have it choose a blues channel and play the music from my Prime subscription through my DAC.

  38. Avatar

    drjohnnyray

    I detect a distinct lack of excitement about your move, but things in life things do happen. If my wife and I ever do decide to move anywhere, availability of

    Internet services would now a major factor in where we would live. Good luck!

  39. Avatar

    North of 49th

    Paul, if you have an electrician in the house re-wiring outlets, then I would highly recommend that you have them put Ethernet outlets in and drop the lines to the basement/electrical panel room because they will have the tools to do it. You don’t have to put in a switch right away, but take advantage of the opportunity now.

    Switching gears, I’ve had a lot of success using Logitech’s Harmony products in the Living room to bring order to the chaos of day to day usability.

    • Avatar

      wright_is

      In reply to North of 49th:

      Exactly. That is what I plan to do, if we have any electrical work done.

      At the moment I have a mixture of Wi-Fi (ground floor) and power over electricity adapters for the basement and 1st floor (what you would probably call 2nd floor).

      We have re-enforced concrete floors, which means getting signals between floors is challenging.

  40. Avatar

    mmcpher

    I will follow this real-life experiment with interest. We have about a third of our large, brick house hard-wired but were so continually dissatisfied with the coverage and speed of the Fios router that I bypassed it in favor of a succession of better, faster routers over the years. We used a number of range extenders to help with the coverage. Some extenders worked and fit within the network better than others but eventually the squawking of the offspring quieted into silence. It was initially very tough to get the bypass to behave with Fios (I still use the Fios modem to coax the set-top boxes) but it's since hung together well enough to make mesh unnecessary. My understanding is that the mesh systems though much easier to set up, do not yet meet the top-end router speeds.


    At one point, we had Fios, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV and even the Microsoft Adapter running through various Tv's. We had and have Netflix, of course, and Hulu (which we dropped) and Filmstruck and Spotify. Where we lag is on the actual Tv's, none of which are smart. We also have an Amazon Echo and Show (big fun).


    We have a one-bedroom getaway place with 2 smart 4k Tv's (a Samsung and a LG). We don't really miss the Fios cable, nor the various casters even though the remotes and TV UI's are poorly designed. What works well and provides a surprisingly sharp picture is the 60 Mile HDTV external antenna that is ungainly but cheap andnjust fills in enough local channel gaps.


    We have come to the point where we could drop the expensive Fios movie packages but for the 2 year bundling. That deal also allows us to use WiFi at the getaway to access HBO, Showtime, STARZ etc. on phones and/or tablets a d laptops and project to the smart Tv's. (thanks, Windows 10).

  41. Avatar

    Nadawan

    Sadly, when I searched Paul's article for "MS", I got "foruMS" and "systeMS". In other words, MS doesn’t work anymore at home! Nadella, what have you done?

  42. Avatar

    Nadawan

    Sadly, when I searched Paul's article for "MS", I got "foruMS" and "systeMS". In other words, MS doesn’t work anymore at home! Nadella, what have you done?

  43. Avatar

    christianwilson

    I'm planning something similar for a move next year. It is the perfect opportunity to streamline this mess of home gadgets I've accumulated over the years.


    Welcome to Pennsylvania and good luck with your move. Sounds like yours is going to be a drastic change.

  44. Avatar

    creugea7

    Paul, I know you talked about the google mesh system but I would also take a look at this one that just came out. https://www.engeniustech.com/enmesh-wifi/enmesh-whole-home-wifi-system-features/ You can purchase on Amazon and it is very simple to setup. It currently does not offer advance setting, though I think it will down the road. Also, good luck. I know your pain!

  45. Avatar

    spacein_vader

    I'd seriously reconsider putting off wiring for ethernet. If you're going to do it, doing it before you move in and while a lot of other sockets are being altered is the least disruptive timing possible.


    Put it off and you either won't do it or end up with a similar hybrid bodge to that you describe at your current home.

    • Avatar

      cchubbuck

      In reply to spacein_vader:


      The best way to make your WiFi better is to use less of it....but long ago I had the same philosophy as you did. When I built my house I ran Ethernet to every room, figuring I'd use it...Wifi came along and didn't bother.

      I'd begun noticing that there were 22(!) WiFi AP's I could see from my desk. Coordinating with neighbors is a non-starter, so I began utilizing all that 'dark' Ethernet in my walls. Anything I could wire up, I would...now I'm looking to my Ethernet as backhaul for a mesh system, like Eero or Plume. I like the Plume philosophy of small high quality 'pools' of wifi in each room rather than a high powered blowtorch trying to shout WiFi to all corners of creation.

      • Avatar

        Darmok N Jalad

        In reply to cchubbuck:

        Yeah, I live in a duplex neighborhood, and the number of WiFi networks blasting is amazing. WiFi analyzer app came in handy for finding a less crowded channel, but the better channel changes from front of the house to the back. If I wasn't renting, I'd likely be wiring in any stationary device I own. The consoles, HTPC and Smart TV are all plugged into the router, but my desktop machine upstairs is stuck on WiFi. When I buy a home, I'll seriously consider wiring a few critical rooms if it doesn't involve opening up walls.

      • Avatar

        Jeff Jones

        In reply to cchubbuck:


        Wifi is noticeably slower too. If you are doing things to max out a connection, like transferring multi-gigabyte files back and forth, it can take twice as long over Wifi. Plus, the next step up for hard wired networking is 2, 5, and 10 Gbps speeds.


        So it depends on what one is working with.

    • Avatar

      euskalzabe

      In reply to spacein_vader:

      Alternatively, why even bother wiring for ethernet? We just bought a house last year where the ONLY ethernet port was in the living room... when ATT came for the installation, we requested adding 2 ethernet outlets in the office room (literally running a giant cable under the house). That's the only 2 ethernets we use, for each desktop computer (PC and Mac).


      The rest? We just cover the house with Wifi. It's just as effective and much cheaper overall.

  46. Avatar

    Bats

    Wow....congratulations to Paul Thurrott on the move to a new home. Hopefully, the move will force him to think of technology from a from a viewpoint, other than Microsoft.

    For one thing, it's 2017...the middle of 2017. Gone are the days of "wires." For someone like Paul, there is no speed difference between a modem that can go 100 mbps as opposed to 50.

    Second, there is no need to go "Apple" on anything. From hereon, it should be all Google. Google Wifi to network the home, Chromecast to supply the entertainment, NEST to make your thermostat "smart", and Google Home to make your house all around "cool." 


    Gone are the days of spending money to build an "all around media hub." Also gone, should be the inclination to buy anything from the iTunes Music Store. Paul needs to stop WASTING money on that crap, In addition, he needs to stop wasting his time waiting for using Microsoft's solutions. In order to have a smart home NOW (and live a little easier), you have to go Google. Microsoft will never be Google, when it comes to "smart" living. Microsoft simply does not have the smart people to "go there." Microsoft is only good for one thing, OFFICE.

    Paul needs to simplify his professional and personal tech ecosystem and not over-complicate it.

    In regards to TV, I personally use YouTube TV. In his new neck of the woods, he might not have that available to him. However, if he is cutting the cord, then perhaps Hulu and.......(wait for it)........Playstation Vue, might be the best solution for him. Why? If Paul is going to have programming for each nonsmart TV in the house, then he needs to furnish them with either a Chomecast, Firestick, and/or Roku. Paul likes remote controls so perhaps the FireStick or Roku is the way to go. Hulu and Playstation Vue can be accessed through those devices. The reason for my recommendation of Hulu or Playstation Vue is the cloud DVR. I had DirecTV Now, but cancelled it despite the $35 promo, because after using Youtube TV's (unlimited) Cloud DVR, i found that recording everything is an invaluable feature to have. 

    It's too bad Microsoft doesn't provide the tech for "smart" living anymore. I am someone who bought Microsoft UltimateTV (Tivo competitor), MS Wireless Router, and as much Microsoft branded products to "microsoft" my home,...about 15 years ago. Fifteen years later, Microsoft is still clueless and should not be trusted. Microsoft can be trusted with professional software and stuff, but nothing outside of that. 

    All in all....Paul is fifty years old. Tech should be making his life easier, not overcomplicating it. The first step is to give up on Microsoft......like I did.




  47. Avatar

    cyloncat

    A good mesh network solves a lot of problems. I went with Eero last December, and it's been excellent.

  48. Avatar

    rameshthanikodi

    Why not try powerline ethernet, paul? All ethernet needs is copper, and electrical wiring in our houses are already full of it, if the electrical wiring in the house is good, powerline ethernet will be just as good as running ethernet wires everywhere. Then, at the end of each powerline adapter, you can place a wireless AP. The nice thing about powerline is that the distance between two adapters don't matter at all (as long as there's no circuit breaker between) allowing you to place an AP waaaaaaaaay further and at more extreme corners of the house, whereas Wifi Mesh nodes need to be within range of each other.

    But of course, Wireless mesh is not a bad option either. I just am skeptical of Google Wifi because i've heard bad things about it. I'd rather go with Eero or Orbi.

    • Avatar

      CaedenV

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      Except it is not, sadly.

      Powerline Ethernet is generally going to be good enough for a small household with modest needs, but it basically puts everything on a hub (something we got away from in networking a very long time ago) which means the more devices you have, the worse and worse it performs. Again, perfectly acceptable for a point-to-point connection, or a single user environment... but once you start streaming videos and really relying on it, it can fall apart quickly.


      Personally, I like the self-hosted wireless mesh options better. Sure, initial setup is more of a pain than these hosted options that are becoming popular... but there is also no monthly management fee, and your internal network keeps working even when your internet goes down. Besides, once the initial setup is done, how often do you really change settings? Just get through the pain of setup, and then enjoy it for 5-7 years before something better comes along.

      • Avatar

        Narg

        In reply to CaedenV:

        I've used Powerline Ethernet for a number of years. It definitely used to suck. Just upgraded to the latest from D-Link. WOW! They are far better than they used to be. Zero problems streaming to 2 in the house simultaneously, all why moving files and printing too. Of course YMMV as some houses are built bad with split pole power outlets, which kill this idea completely.

      • Avatar

        rameshthanikodi

        In reply to CaedenV:

        Yup, but that applies if you have gigabit ethernet or something, but Paul is getting 330 Mbps/20 Mbps up. There are gigabit powerline adapters now, and with those, Paul is more likely to hit the limits of his ISP before the powerline's bandwidth.

      • Avatar

        maethorechannen

        In reply to CaedenV:


        I don't have any issues with streaming over power line across several rooms. YMMV I guess (especially as I've found some manufacturers are better than others - I'd swear that the TP in TP-Link is for toilet paper)

  49. Avatar

    Polycrastinator

    I just set up Google WiFi in my house and I'm pretty happy. It's worth knowing that the Ethernet jacks in the back of the units allow you to wire in items nearby, which is how my WHS (yes, I still have one) and desktop are hooked up. If you do end up running Ethernet, you can also plug the Google WiFi units in and they'll use the wire as backhaul rather than meshing, so if you go wired later you don't have to discard your investment. Overall they've just been a joy to set up and use (with FiOS in my case).

    We've gone with Roku because it has the best application selection. Given you can also cast to a Roku (Netflix and YouTube only, sadly), but if I were to start over completely, I think I'd go all-in with Chromecast and Google Home so I could just tell the TV what I wanted to watch with my voice.

  50. Avatar

    Daekar

    Wow, I had no idea that people went through so much trouble participate in legacy media now. We have a 720p TV with a blueray player, a Nintendo Switch, and a Chromecast. None of it gets used with any frequency except the Switch, because we have our phones and tablets - and even the Switch is normally used in handheld mode.

    I will certainly never waste time and money on a wired stereo or surround sound system again, and I don't really find the Sonos or equivalent products very compelling either. We either listen via the TV speakers or use a Bose Bluetooth speaker with our phones.

    I have never enjoyed technology more than when I embraced simplicity. Our house is now filled with plants, wood, and velvet antiques rather than speakers, boxes, wires, and massive screens fixed in place.

    I will echo other posters. We all are used to WiFi, but we all forget how terrible it is compared to real ethernet. Wire those suckers in ASAP, and at the very least you'll be able to use them as a foundation for WiFi range extenders.

    • Avatar

      Minok

      In reply to Daekar:

      Well, I found that Star Wars is just more immersive and awesome on my 56" LCD screen in a dark room surrounded by 7.1 channels of 150W audio via B&W speakers direct wired; vs enjoying the movie on my 5" smartphone screen with one speaker and some velvet covered antiques.

  51. Avatar

    canamrotax

    I have installed several Nest thermostats, and reading your new home has so many thermostats, they are worth considering. They will work together, even when the systems currently don't. They are not cheap, I'm just replacing the several in my home as I can afford it.

    https://nest.com/ca/support/article/How-does-Nest-work-if-I-have-multiple-Nest-Learning-Thermostats-in-the-same-home

  52. Avatar

    Patrick3D

    For the AppleTV I would highly recommend getting the Griffin "Survivor" silicone case. It adds the typical rounded bulk that a regular remote has making it much easier to grip and use the Siri Remote with one hand. When putting it on, make sure the edges around the touch pad are pulled up and over the pad, they tend to get stuck underneath the pad when installing.

    For networking, get a 2nd quote from the electrician for having CAT6 pulled at the same time as the electrical work is done. Shouldn't cost more than $100 per run, if you have it done at the same time as the electrical work then there should be some cost savings on labor making it even less.

    Don't worry about home automation, you can get plug-and-play modules for just about everything, lighting, garage, HVAC, etc... That's one area where you can try out different solutions and add them later down the road. I will say though, if you decide to go the Apple Homekit route then you will want to keep the AppleTV around so you can control things remotely while travelling. Also, check with the electrical company for discounts on smart thermostats. I can get a top brand device for $100-$150 through my electrical company.

  53. Avatar

    Jeff Jones

    Too bad you didn't find a home in Chatanooga TN where EPB operates. Either that or a Google Fiber region. Maybe by the 50s all the ISPs around the U.S. will catch up to these guys.

    Regarding the type of streaming box, have you looked at the nVidia Shield? It's more expensive than that Mi Box, but you could run games, and eventually use the SPOT around the house, if they ever release them. Those could be fun.

    Personally I think Google needs to release a similar SPOT like device for their Home assistant.

    The Shield could also operate as a Plex Server if you don't already have a NAS capable of doing that.


  54. Avatar

    Gardner

    For the ala-carte channel providers, compare carefully the channel lineups and if the service will authenticate you for the various individual apps like CBS All Access.

    Remember these single network apps require you to have a cable login, and not all over the top services will authenticate for all apps. Really a mess..

    For channel lineups, Youtube (and fubo) have chosen not to include any of the "turner" channels .. CNN, TNT, TBS, TCM. Whether this is important to you depends on your television watching patterns.

    There also appear to be too many entrants... sling, directv, playstation, youtube, fubo ... and likely consolidation will happen eventually.

  55. Avatar

    BrianEricFord

    You might want to look into DirectTV Now for your cable box replacement needs. It's available as an app on AppleTV (and I assume other streaming boxes) and offers several bundles that will cover almost all program needs and includes many live TV options and all of the usual "watch anywhere" login options.

    • Avatar

      Jeff Jones

      In reply to BrianEricFord:


      I have DirecTV Now. If they ever get a DVR feature implemented it will probably be the best of this new streaming cable market. They seem to have more channels and more website login options than Youtube, Hulu, Sling, and PlayStation Vue. Right now though, the lack of a DVR makes it hard to use. The shows I like to see are almost never on at the time I want to watch.

      • Avatar

        BrianEricFord

        In reply to DataMeister:


        are they generally available within a day, either on the DirectTV Now app itself or on the provider app via a watch anywhere login?


        I THINK I could live with waiting a day for anything I couldn't catch live so long as it wasn't only a day. (Or whenever I got around to it.)

        • Avatar

          Jeff Jones

          In reply to BrianEricFord:

          The shows that are available within a day are shows that qualify for their 72 hour rewind feature. The problem is that not all channels, and not all shows, seem to support that feature. It's not a true history of the past 72 hours. It's unpredictable and therefore not a replacement for a DVR.


          They have some bugs to work out with these also. Last time I tried to watch a movie from the 72 hour rewind we got to 30 minutes from the end and the connection glitched and froze. When I started the show over I realized the fast forward was disabled. There seem to be a lot of shows like that for some reason. I wasn't about to sit through 90 minutes of the same movie just to watch the last 30 minutes. That pissed me off and I haven't tried anything from the 72 hour selection since.


          The other problem I've noticed with the on demand content is they basically follow the same rules as the channel's native web site. So if a show expires after 5 weeks, that is what will happen to the DirecTV Now listing.

          • Avatar

            Minok

            In reply to DataMeister:

            Indeed its been idiotic network streaming restrictions that has caused me to abandon several serial story telling series over the years because I'd miss an episode and then I'd not be able to watch it again as I missed the original broadcast.. and if and when it finally did I was over a season behind and just said -eff-it. Halt and Catch Fire as well as Orphan Black bit it for me that way.

  56. Avatar

    Narg

    One other point of concern, land line ISPs now have data limits. These limits were not there a few years ago, why now? This kind of kills the possibility for some to consider "cutting the cable" and going with an on-line cable TV provider. So, I believe this is anti-competitive. There is absolutely no reason to limit data on a land line connection. Do not believe the hype that there is. I know, spending a few years working for a backbone internet provider, there is a glut of data bandwidth available. Limiting the data on a land line is only due to the greed of the ISPs. They want to keep you on their TV subscriptions, and also want to find a way to get more $$ out of you.

    I'm lucky in that my current ISP provides 1 TB of data per month. I still get close to that and don't even use streaming cable TV providers, just Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. But when I get a 4K TV, what then? How fast will that Terabyte go? This is not a good situation, and I'm ticked the FTC and FCC haven't looked into it yet.

  57. Avatar

    wolters

    "And … it’s not clear which one is best. Literally."


    I can relate to this...not only for living room boxes but streaming music services, especially since I have Echo's.


    The XBOX One is the only box connected in our living room. It can be cumbersome to use as a Media Player but it works well enough for us. We still used the Kinect for voice commands and it has improved over the last several updates. I'd like to see a better media remote and a good keyboard, as I often use Edge for website streaming that I don't have an "app" for,

  58. Avatar

    wright_is

    We just have a UHD TV, with Amazon Prime installed, we do also have a FireTV, but we haven't used it in months - it is 1st generation and doesn't support UHD.

  59. Avatar

    maethorechannen

    Gigabit HomePlug AV works well for me as an alternative to cabling the house with Ethernet.

    • Avatar

      ChristopherCollins

      In reply to maethorechannen:


      I cabled my house when I ran RG6 throughout to deal with modern satellites (was low grade RG55). I ran Cat5e at the time and it has been nice. I ran tons of coax too, as I like to have an off air antenna connected though the home too.


      My brother bought a new home and it is wired really well electrically. Tons of dedicated circuits, which is common place/proper. I tried to help him with HomePlug and it was horribly inconsistent. I ended up putting wifi in his desktop to get by.


      I just visited him for a week and had him order a Google WiFi 3 Pack prior to my arrival. This is the first time he has ever seen full speed wireless from his connection (was using the cable router's WiFi). I am rather impressed with Google Home. He really didn't need the third one as two did the trick. Instead of throwing it on the shelf, I put it in his office room and ran an ethernet cable from it to his desktop... Full speed ahead for him now.


      I expected Google to be simple and it was. The performance is great and the ability for wireless OR ethernet backhauling is impressive. I would recommend that system to anyone.



  60. Avatar

    scoob101

    "And using an Xbox to run Netflix is like taking a battleship to the corner store to buy milk."


    I`m sorry, but this is utter nonsense.


    If you`ve got your xbox one setup properly for media duties, i.e. controlling your TV, STB, and Amp. It makes perfect sense to put your media apps into the same platform . Certainly much more coherent than having loads of different devices and having to switch inputs and controllers.



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