I’m trying Aereo for network TV over the internet, and so far, I’m really impressed. I can watch live or recorded programming at excellent quality on my iPhone, iPad, and Roku XD. The interface for flipping channels and setting recordings is a stunningly crafted web app that works almost as smoothly as a native app would. (At my day job, we’re also building a web app, so Aereo doubles as inspriation.) When watching on Roku, your iPhone or iPad serves as the remote, which is a little convoluted but ultimately makes sense. And there’s something a little magical about pulling up the “Today” show on your phone while walking to work.
The downside is obvious: I don’t really need to watch “Today” or most network TV fare. I assume my use of Aereo will be limited to live events like the Oscars or sports playoffs and a few network sitcoms and dramas. (I do watch “Gossip Girl” religiously, but there are other ways to watch it.)
Right now, while I’m in my free trial, it doesn’t matter, but I’ll ultimately have to decide whether Aereo is worth $12 a month. I’ve started a cord-cutting balance sheet that should be of help here. It calculates my costs over two years, which I think is a reasonable timeframe that smooths the difference between one-time and recurring payments while assuming new technology will render much of my setup obsolete every 24 months. It’s sort of a Moore’s Law of streaming media, but honestly, I think these things will turn over even faster than that. I mean, Aereo is two-months-old and only works in New York City but already faces several lawsuits from broadcasters.
So… Aereo would cost $288 over two years. And I’m definitely getting network TV somehow. Alternatives, discussed in my previous post about Aereo, include a one-time payment of $30 to $50 for a plain-old tuner or up to $400 for a tuner with DVR. So if recording network TV is valuable to me, Aereo starts to be cost effective.
But I should also consider how much I value accessing this programming from anywhere and without any additional devices or cables. In other words, can I put a price on elegance?