Watching TV in Cuenca 2016

Last year at this time I wrote on article on this subject. So what has changed in a year? There are now 4 main legal streaming boxes:

  • Apple TV – Now in its 4th edition with voice control
  • Roku – Now in its 4th edition also with voice control
  • Amazon Fire TV – Now in its second edition with Alexa voice control
  • Android TV – The Google version with limited apps

There is a 5th alternative and its called KODI . First let me say that I don’t object to the non legal status of KODI since I often purchase bootleg DVD’s in Cuenca. Let me also state that I have limited knowledge of KODI. I do know in Cuenca there are KODI groups and some individuals that will handle the installation and support.  There are some safety concerns using KODI and this article does a good job of explaining it

The following are some paid subscriptions that are available to stream on the above boxes.

  • Netflix – Note the North American version is not longer available
  • Amazon Prime – No available on Apple TV
  • HBO Now
  • STARZ
  • Showtime
  • HULU

There is also DirecTV. 5 years ago I tried the service for 6 months. My experience was that it was expensive $40 + per month was limited in the quality of English programming.

My costs:

  • Puntonet 50 mb fiber optic service $60 per month +
  • Amazon Prime – $8 per month *
  • HBO – $15 per month
  • Strong VPN  $7 per month*

Note: * denotes other uses besides watching TV

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Watching TV In Cuenca 2015

Last year I posted my 2014 TV watching experiences. This year I have added the Amazon TV Fire Streaming Box to the Roku 3 (1st ed.) and the Apple TV (720p). Below are some of the additional benefits from last year

  • Amazon Fire TV has a dynamic voice search and phone app to search and control your TV
  • Amazon Prime continues to add original production (Transparent) and added HBO series
  • Netflix also produces original productions (House of Cards, Orange Is The New Black)
  • HBO NOW is available for the Apple TV and shortly for the other two streaming devices. Well worth the $14.99 monthly subscription
  • The new Roku 3 has a voice search and has the most add channels of the 3 streaming boxes.

So which is the best box? If I were to advise you on one box it would be the new Roku 3 with voice search. Why? The Roku 3 has the most channels including Amazon Prime.  If your budget is flexible and you have the HDMI ports for the other two I would definitely purchase them.

  • Fire TV has the best voice search and the most memory
  • Apple TV has Airplay to easily project your IOS device to your TV

There are also stick versions of the Fire TV and Roku available

  • The Apple TV (1080p) is now $69
  • The Fire TV is $99
  • Fire TV stick (limited memory and expansion) $39
  • Roku Stick(limited memory and expansion) is $49.99

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A Great New Way Of Watching More T.V. In Ecuador

Roku Users rejoice! Now you can add the “Google Play” Channel to your Roku Streaming Media Device.

Here is what the popular Gizmodo blog has to say:

Roku was already the best little streaming device money could buy. But now, Google has gone and given Roku players access to all your Google Play movie and TV goodies. Which, more than just being an unprecedented move on Google’s part, makes Roku pretty much unstoppable.

My home setup now has the three major services( Itunes, Amazon Prime and Google Play) just a remote click away. When you install the free Google channel on your Roku player Google treats you to the X-Men movie. And, here is a link of a survey of why users prefer Google Play ove Itunes. However, I highly recommend purchasing both Apple TV and Roku because of the eas of use of Apple TV and the Airplay which allows your Apple Product to wirelessly transmit to your TV.

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Watching TV In Cuenca – Revisited

Technology changes every day and TV Watching in Cuenca is no exception. Last year I wrote this post. I have revised and changed some prices and and added a few recommendations. The revisions are in bold and the new products have *** before them.

 

In April of 2012 I wrote a post about our TV services in Cuenca. A lot has changed in 18 months. We no longer have DirecTV and now our TV viewing is based on the following services.

I have installed a VPN Router. For the non geeks in the audience my VPN router came fromSabai Technology

This router basically is configured with VPN software and every time I  turn my computer, iPad, iPhone or Apple TV my Internet presence is in Miami and not in Ecuador. This allows me to watch anything on the web, Netflix, Amazon, Hula etc as if I was living in the U.S.

You also need to subscribe to VPN software. I use Strong VPN as my service. Good customer support and very reliable.

Summary of Costs:

  • One Time Cost: VPN Router $150
  • Yearly VPN subscription $90
  • Monthly Netflix Subscription: $8 – Now $9
  • Yearly Amazon Prime Subscription $70 – Now $99
  • One Time Cost  Apple TV – $99
  • One Time Cost Roku Box – $90

My monthly costs including the amortized hardware is about $25 per month

Pros:

  • No configuration of VPN software
  • All your devices are connected
  • Full Netflix and Amazon Prime Video collection available to you >10K titles
  • Watch any TV website on the Internet

Cons:

  • Initial Expense
  • Yearly recurring fee
  • Slight loss of Internet connection speed

I highly recommend this route. We watch great BBC and American TV series with no limitation.

*** Amazon Prime is now better than ever. They have added all the HBO Season 1 Shows and many more movies.

*** Netflix has added more movies and solid original productions like House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black

*** Amazon has come out with a Streaming Box similar to Roku and Apple TV called Amazon Fire TV. The initial reviews are excellent

 

On a separate note. A quick reminder that I do Skype consulting for those of you that are permanently moving to Ecuador. The charge is $25 and last night a happy future expat said that after the call she saved $150 by planning to bring certain electronics and eliminating others.

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Television In Cuenca – Testing A Roku Box

No sooner than I thought my TV experience was complete in Cuenca a friend loaned me a Roku Box to test on my system. In my TV revisited post 

I mentioned all the hardware and software service I used. The summary is below

  • VPN Router with Strong VPN software
  • Apple TV
  • Subscriptions to Netflix, and Amazon Prime

The Apple TV gave me the ability to stream via wif anything from my MAC, iPad, iPod or iPhone. Having a significant investment in Apple products I thought gave me the advantage to see everything that I wanted without the Roku Box.

Here are my findings after testing the Roku box for 3 days.

  • A significant increase in video and audio channels over Apple TV
  • I like the Remote better than the simple Apple TV remote
  • Amazon Video Selection is a channel on the Roku rather than streamed from my iPad
  • USTVNOW is a channel on Roku – I can easily watch Football games on my Big Screen TV
  • Searching is more complete and easier on the Roku Box
  • I can attach headphones to the Roku Box
  • Netflix streams better on the Roku.

What would I recommend?

If you have the available HDMI ports I would say buy both. Apple TV has the very impressive Itunes store for unlimited movie and TV shows.  Airplay is only available on the Apple TV so if you have Apple hardware this is a hard one to pass up. Also in mid October Apple is making a major announcement that includes improvements to the Apple TV.

Cost Summary:

  • Apple TV – $99 (one time)
  • Roku Box – $99 (one time)
  • VPN Router – $149 (one time)
  • VPN Software- $90 (per year)
  • Netflix – ($8 per month)
  • Amazon Prime Membership ( $70 per year)

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Apple TV Updates

As many of you know I’m a big fan of Apple TV. I use it every day for news, tech updates, movies and TV programs.  As of 5/8 there has not been automatic updates on many of the podcasts(i.e. NBC, CBS News, TED Talks etc).  There been much discussion on the Apple Forums but as of 5/12/12 at 1:30 pm Quito Time nothing has been done.   My guess is our only alternative is to raise a stink with Apple and be patient.

 

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Television In Cuenca

Recently there was a discussion on “Ecuador Expat Group” on Facebook about watching “The NCAA Basketball Final Four” Some interesting posts were raised. I thought I would share my experience with DirecTV and encourage other people to share their experience with TV Cable, the other TV provider in Cuenca.

DirecTV Installation, Setup and Cost:

  • The installation crew showed up as promised and on time.  The installation went flawless and took 20 minutes.
  • I opted for the HD Recorder and the basic packages
  • Cost for Installation was $84
  • Cost per month is $43 – taken out of my credit card on the first of each month

DirecTV Pros:

  • Extremely reliable
  • Pristine picture
  • Easy to use remote
  • English Track on select programs

DirecTV Cons:

  • No Network (ABC, CBS,NBC) programming. Fox is available
  • Limited English channels
  • Limited selection of movies
  • No PBS programs

To be fair my wife and I are not avid TV watchers.  I will probably cancel the DirecTV contract at the end of April. The initial contract was for 6 months.  I find myself using Apple TV for NBC and CBS News and tech video podcasts.

I’ll look forward to posting comments from others who subscribe to DirecTV and TV Cable.