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Krister's Blog
krister at hallergard dot com

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Smart TV - Internet TV - Part 3: My Choices
Streaming Media - Streaming Devices

This is about streaming media onto the big screen, to view videos and movies sitting in the TV couch. These are my considerations:
View Video 9 min

Smart TV (full size)

A full size Smart TV would of course be the solution - wouldn't it? But today I am not prepared to buy a new TV just in order to get a Smart TV, as HTPC and other streaming devices can provide just as good a service. But when my old TV does conk out, I will get a Smart TV and probably cannot avoid also getting 4K - even though we are hard pressed to notice any difference between HD and upscaled SD.

I would favour a TV with Android TV, today available from Philips, Sharp and Sony. In a year or two the Android TV concept should have matured, and will then ensure more frequent updates than most TV manufacturer's firmwares. And give access to the Google Play Store. Ability to multitask and a good remote would also be important considerations.

ISP - Current Contract

My current 18 month contract with TalkTalk expires in January 2016. These are the costs per month:
  • 17.70 Landline
  •   8.50 TV Essential (includes free evening & weekend calls UK)
                Unlimited Broadband, up to 18 Mbps
  •   5.00 International calls anytime
  • 30.20 TOTAL + daytime UK calls
I moved to TalkTalk in 2008 mainly to get their International Calls bundle (at that time 2.00 for free weekend calls). Since then most of our international calls are made with Skype or Hangouts, so I am planning to drop this part of the packet.

The TV Essential includes a YouView box without a hard disk, which we use with our second TV in the conservatory. Unlike in the US you own the box. From before I have a YouView box with a hard disk, which we use with our main TV in the livingroom. Both the YouView boxes come with these services:
  • Catch-up: BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All4, Demand 5
    and a few others plus BBC News and BBC Sports apps
  • TalkTalk Player (mainly movie rentals)
  • Subscription: Netflix and NowTV (from SKY)
  • Rental: Sky Store

YouView - On Demand - Players

I have three streaming devices: NowTV (1st generation), Mini PC - MK908 and Chromecast (1st generation). But I don't use them!

My Streaming Boxes

I thought I would sit in the TV couch when leisurely surfing the Internet. I find that I rather do that on my Nexus 9 Tablet, sitting anywhere.

But I do use my Home Theatre PC. To evaluate Amazon Instant Video I go to their website on my PC and watch on the livingroom TV. I am disappointed with the UK versions of Amazon Instant Video, Netflix and NowTV. Only old movies are available, and as to the US TV Shows, their seasons are rather old too. Believe these services to be more up to date in the US. Suspect that there might be copyright issues limiting what can be shown in the UK and how soon. I did enjoy the House of Cards on Netflix though.

Entertainment Folder on the PC Desktop
ISP - New Contract

Changing ISP usually means changed email address which could be a problem - but not for me. I am using to host my website giving me 15 GB cloud space for the my blog. For this I pay about 2 per month including my domain name with email.

Which ISP to choose? Virgin Media has no cable coverage in our area. If I were very much into Sports I would opt for SKY, but I am not. Their original bundle is 20 per month and the Sports bundle another 25.50 per month. So for me it is between BT and TalkTalk. I will probably go for 38 Mbps "fibre" broadband (add about 10 per month) and change to BT, unless TalkTalk gives me a better offer. Though I am not a great sports fan, it would be nice to try the BT Sport bundle. Will update this with the outcome.

Streaming Media - Streaming Devices

We do not plan on getting any streaming media subscription, as we are disappointed with what they have to offer in the UK. Instead we will for now use rentals from TalkTalk (or BT) and the Sky Store (using the YouView Box) - or from Google Play Movies and Amazon (using the HTPC setup) - or buy the DVD:s. Or go to the Cinema!

There are not strong enough reasons to get a streaming box though I am very tempted by Roku 4 (not yet available in the UK). So we intend to continue with my Home Theater PC setup - until the TV and/or the PC conks out.

Part 4: New Contract - February 2016

This is my new 12 month contract with BT (British Telecom). Costs per month:
  • 17.99 Landline
  • 20.00 Entertainment Plus
                Unlimited Infinity 1 (broadband up to 38 Mbps)
                Weekend Calls (free UK)
                BT Sport Pack
                AMC (streaming service)
  •   1.25 Friends & Family Cheap International Calls (anytime: 2.9 p/min + 17.07 p connection)
  • 39.24 TOTAL + cost for UK calls outside Weekends

Update 2016-02-19
I got a free router (BT Hub5 - activation fee 49 + delivery 6.95) and a free YouView Box with hard disk. Will move the old YouView Box to the conservatory and put the new one in the living room. When switching ISP you can get higher discounts than if you already are a customer. The above price is discounted with 20 per month.

A year from now I might consider switching back to Talktalk or to SKY on a strictly broadband package, at a cost of about 10 per month + landline rental - the YouView Boxes will still work even without a TV or Entertainment bundle.

Yes, new contract again!

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