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 Movie Streaming Search Engine

I love to watch movies. I love to watch movies that are included in my subscription services (Netflix, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Roku).

Just Watch is a streaming search engine for movies only that finds where that movie is located. For example I wanted to view “Lawrence Of Arabia”. Below is the result I got back from Just Watch

JustWatch_Search

 

I searched for “Hutch” this time  and the results are below.

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Run, don’t walk to get this powerful search engine.

What Electronics Should You Bring To Ecuador ( Part 6 )

It’s now a year since I wrote Part 5 and my wife and I have lived in Ecuador for 3.5 years.  This post is largely subjective based on my usage and mistakes in Cuenca.

This advice is meant for those on a limited budget and not bringing a container to Ecuador. I am going to start with the most important device and work by way down to the small items that you can’t find or that are expensive in Ecuador.

Smartphone: Invest in an unlocked Nexus 6 or iPhone 6+. These are relatively large phones sometimes called Phablets but they will be your best techonology friend in Ecuador. I also suggest you buy a data plan. In Cuneca I pay $32 a month for minutes and data and never run out of either one.  Below are some uses other than voice and texting.

  • Maps and directions
  • Photo and video ( I haven’t used my expensive Canon in 4 months)
  • Easy Taxi – requesting taxis at night and in bad weather
  • Learning Spanish (Translate, SpanishDict, Duolingo)
  • Music listening ( Amazon complete music library)
  • Netflix (watching movies)
  • Playing Bridge

Tablet: I have the iPad Mini w/ retina screen but I can highly recommend the Nexus 7. I recommend the larger tablets ( The iPad Air is an excellent choice) if you are not going to bring your computer.  I’m sticking to my recommendation of not bringing a computer if you don’t need it for business or serious photo/video editing. A large tablet with a bluetooth keyboard will be powerful and very portable.

Streaming Boxes: These hockey puck  devices will be your night time companions if you enjoy watching movies and TV series. You can’t go wrong with the ones below:

  • Apple TV
  • Roku 3
  • Amazon Fire TV

Basically you can watch TV series and movies with these devices connected to your TV. They also have the added advantage of wirelessly connecting some of your devices ( computer, iphone tablet ) wirellessly to your TV. Important note ***. To fully utilize these services you need to purchase a VPN (virtual private network) Router. I use the Sabai Cisco router because of the excellent technical support. I go to great lengths to describe the challenges of watching TV/Movies in Ecuador. I recommend using the search facility on this blog and typing in “VPN” and you will see several posts with recommendations.

Google just came out with their own streaming box called Nexus Player but I haven’t seen enough reviews to recommend buying that device.

Miscellaneous recommendations:

  • Netflix subscription- $9 per month – Invaluable
  • Amazon Prime subscription $8.25 per month – (Music, Movies, Books, Unlimited Photo Storage(
  • Bluetooth keyboard for your tablet or smarthone
  • Thumb drives (32 gb) for transferring information or bring data to be printed
  • VPN subscription  – I use Strong VPN and it’s about $8 a month
  • Skype subscription – Free Video Calls to other Skype users.
  • MagicJack – Practically free phone calls to any cell or landline in the U.S.

Some of the subscribers of this blog have great success with Ooma. It’s  worth a look for cheap and dependable calls back to the U.S.

Again this are my recommendations based on my experience. I haven’t used my DVD player in 2 months and my camera in 4 months.  Save the room in your suitcases for good sheets and towels  🙂

 

streaming_media_boxes_-_Google_Search Phablet_-_Google_Search ipad_-_Google_Search

Sunday Morning- What’s On TV In Ecuador?

When I lived in Oregon there was a routine for watching LIVE TV on a Sunday Morning. First it was CBS Sunday Morning with Charles OsGood followed by NBC’s Meet The Press. Well now that I’m living in Cuenca the routine has changed but the content has only got richer.

Before I go any further I should say that I have two streaming media boxes (Roku & Apple TV) connected to a VPN router so that my presence on the Internet is somewhere in the U.S.

I start the morning off with CBS Sunday Morning. This Sunday there were two especially interesting stores.

  • Top Secret World War II POW housed in Alexandria Va.
  • The history of the Queen Mary Cruise Liner  and the role it played in WW II

The great part of viewing TV programs on the Streaming boxes is that I can go back several weeks and view  programs I may have missed.

After watching Meet The Press. I viewed the week’s new TED TALKS. TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). This week’s winners were:

  • Underground Parks in New York City
  • Children’s Literature
  • Amazon Rain Forest

The last two hours were devoted to watching the PBS Ken Burns Series “The Roosevelts”. An intimate story about Ted, Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt.  I did not know that Ted was shot while making a speech and went on for an hour with a bullet in his chest.

I highly recommend owning a media box and a VPN in Ecuador. I discuss media boxes and VPN on my blog. You can conduct two different searches by using the terms “VPN” and “Roku”.

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Apple TV Or Roku Box?

Full disclosure.  All my family devices are Apple (Macbook, iPad, iPhone, iPod). I also worked for Apple many years ago and finally my television viewing is in Ecuador. If you have enough ports on your HDTV and the budget to connect both devices I think you should purchase both boxes. The total cost is less than $200 and you will surely get at least 3 years use out of both boxes giving a per month cost of about $5. Plus the Apple TV Box has the benefit of connecting all your devices without wires via Airplay.

The next statement is going to surprise most people who know me but if you only have a Windows machine or Android tablet then I suggest you buy only the Roku Box.  Here are my reasons.

  • Many more channels (Amazon Video, Blockbuster, PBS, CBS News etc) to view via Roku
  • Better UI( User Interface)  and Remote  than Apple TV
  • On the Roku 3 you have the ability to mute the TV and listen on Headphones connected to the Remote
  • Free online support via the Roku website
  • Ability to add a usb drive for extra movie viewing
  • ***MOST IMPORTANTLY – THE ROKU STREAMS VIDEO MORE EFFICIENTLY  ***

Be aware that the Roku box requires a VPN router which i discussed in length at this post 

Conclusion: I am thoroughly enjoying my Roku experience and am very pleased at the diverse channel selection available to me.

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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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Netflix – Great Entertainment

When I lived in Oregon I had a Netflix subscription before they developed the streaming service. Netflix was introduced to Latin America at the end of 2011.  I use Netflix with my IPad, MacBook Air, and Apple TV.  There is only one flavor in Ecuador.  It’s $7.99 per month.  There are no first run movies but hundreds of choices in different genres and TV programs.

The best part is using Netflix through Apple TV.  The movie instantly starts.  Much better than ordering a movie from Itunes where there is a 20- 30 minute wait while the movie stream buffers.  Here is an offer that is valid as of today. If you don’t have a Netflix account then go to this url — netflix.com/twit and get a free month.  Below is a 30 second video of my Apple TV Netflix experience.