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Cord Cutter's Diary

An experiment in living without a cable TV subscription, by @zseward
May 14 '12

Why I bought a Roku XD

First you cut the cord, then you put it back together.

I dropped my cable TV subscription at the end of April, saving about $100 a month, but didn’t know exactly how I would supplant my media consumption. In a thread on Google+ last month, I proposed buying a Boxee box (for Netflix,, and other paid services) and the Boxee tuner (for free network television) but was steered, instead, toward Roku.

After giving it some more thought, I agreed that Roku — specifically, a Roku XD for $69.99 from Amazon — should be the first piece of hardware I purchased for my cord-cutting setup. Here’s why:

  • It’s cheaper than the Boxee Box, which would run me $179.99 at Amazon. Boxee has much to speak for it, including an apparently superior UI, but that’s a steep price to pay before I really know what I’m looking for. I’m piecing together my setup, so cheaper and more extensible options will almost always be preferable.
  • Relatedly, I haven’t decided what I’m going to do about network TV, which I can get for free over the air, but Boxee’s tuner was a tempting option. It’s small and competitively priced at $49, and I love the elegance of plugging it into the back of your Boxee Box. But, alas, it requires committing to a Boxee Box, and I wasn’t ready to do that. Instead, I’m likely to opt for a standalone tuner at a similar price or another option I’ll discuss soon.
  • I don’t think I need a set-top box to watch random videos I find on the Web, which is a core feature of Boxee (and Google TV). I can do that on my laptop or iPad, and if I need to watch those videos on my TV, I can plug in a computer.
  • Roku has Amazon, and Boxee doesn’t. I don’t know how much I’ll rely on Amazon for my streaming media — I’m starting with a Netflix subscription at $7.99 a month — but it’s a good potential alternative to iTunes.
  • Speaking of which, since pretty much all my other devices are made by Apple, I may still get a $99 Apple TV for a really nice experience with iTunes content. Together with the $70 Roku XD, that would still be cheaper than the $180 Boxee box alone.
1 note Tags: roku
  1. cordcutter posted this