Archives For Deals

2016 Roku Buying Advice

Dave Zatz —  September 26, 2016 — 23 Comments

After busting out several dozen new Rokus today, I wanted to chime in with some initial purchasing advice.


2015 Roku 3 (~$80)
If you’re not yet on the 4K bandwagon, but want a great balance of streamer performance with a tricked out remote capable of voice recognition and headphones, I actually suggest you look for a deal on last year’s Roku 3 model.

2016 Roku Streaming Stick ($50)
If a more compact form with snappier quad-core performance interest you and you don’t mind giving up the advanced remote control, the Roku Streaming Stick provide a great balance of pricing and performance. Although a new Amazon Fire TV Stick is expected any day now…

Roku Express ($30)
This will no doubt be one of the top selling stocking stuffers of 2016 and I’d absolutely recommend the Roku Express for family members new to the fold… or to gift yourself in tertiary rooms in the home. It’s dirt cheap and the interface is simplistic enough for most.

The 4K Conundrum
On the 4K front, the situation is a bit tricker and I’d suggest waiting for some real world reviews. Barring that, if you don’t have an HDR-capable set, you may as well save a few bucks with the Premiere ($80). The Premiere+ at $20 more gets you HDR, the RF headphone remote, and Ethernet, whereas the $50 more Ultra builds upon that with voice remote, optical out, and a remote finder. Even fully loaded at $130, the Roku Ultra will surely clock in less ($$$) than the 4K Apple TV that must be in the pipeline.

While it still may be some time before we see an Amazon Video app on Apple TV, the retailer’s streaming service continues to see improvements. And one of the more interesting developments has been the aggregation of third party video services — including on-demand and soon, in some cases, “live” content. Presumably, like Roku, Amazon is compensated for new subscriber referrals. So we get a large catalog of providers and a (somewhat) unified Prime Video entry point, as Amazon generates additional revue. Win, win. (Well, other than the fact our à la carte “channels” will likely end up costing us more than cable.)


Also, like Roku, Amazon is tempting us with a number of free trials worth checking out:


Woot’s offering up a new, not refurb, 3rd generation Nest learning thermostat for $50 off retail at $200. I much prefer ecobee3, but this is a decent value if you happen to be in the market…


By way of DVR reseller Weaknees, we learn that TiVo’s recently devalued Lifetime Service is once again available for $400 under the company’s newer “All In” label. While the math, during this promotion or trial, is certainly more compelling than the prior $600 rate, the cost is not insignificant. Further, existing Bolt hardware configurations, with limited storage and tuners, may not appeal to the sort of power user that recognizes TiVo’s long term value as we collectively await a CableCARD replacement. Based on forum chatter, this reduced All-In rate may also apply to previously purchased hardware of different flavors, with something like a 26 month break even point. Should you find yourself more enthused than I, you’d take part online directly through TiVo (as pictured above) or by activating retailer-purchased units by calling in and mentioning the deal (possibly with Weaknees’ “TiVoInstall200” code word).

TiVo Roamio OTA *with Lifetime* back in stock for $300


TiVo Mini On Sale for $69.99

Dave Zatz —  January 14, 2016

Woot’s clearing reburb first generation TiVo Minis, once again, for a compelling $70. As a refresher, the TiVo Mini extends a TiVo Premiere, Roamio, or Bolt to another TV in the same home – both live television and DVR recordings, carried via Ethernet or MoCA. And the primary, noticeable distinction of this original TiVo Mini, vs the current model (MSRP $130), is inclusion of an IR remote. So you can’t easily hide the extender inside a cabinet, as you can with the RF remote capabilities that ship with v2.


(Thanks Greg P!)

Deal of the Day: $30 off Apple TV

Dave Zatz —  December 26, 2015

While it may be a few years before we once again “watch TV”, my new blessed reality clearly hasn’t slowed me from acquiring gadgets. So, although I missed out on Target’s limited Black Friday inventory, I just ordered Apple TV on sale from… RadioShack’s zombie corpse. This $120 deal drops $30 off MSRP and bundles an HDMI cable of unknown length and provenance.


Of course, what sets the new Apple TV apart from its predecessors is a full-fledged and open (vs curated) app store along with a premium touch sensitive remote that also sports Siri voice control. Apple offers both 32GB and 64GB models, but the extra space doesn’t yet seem useful and the 32GB is probably suitable for most… for now. The Roku 2 (2015) is still the streamer I most frequently recommend given the broad app selection, simple but efficient interface, at a very attractive price point ($60-70). However, until or unless Roku migrates their platform to Android, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV offerings will potentially be richer and more capable.

(Thanks Bryan A!)

Giving or getting a Roku this Christmas? The streaming pioneer has lined up an impressive array of free trials. Some of the more compelling offerings:

  • Hulu – 3 months free
  • HBO Now – 1 month free
  • Netflix – 1 month free
  • Showtime – 1 month free
  • CinemaNow – 3 movie rentals


Some of the promos, like Netflix can be applied to (certain) existing accounts, whereas Hulu and HBO require new identities. But while the terms may slightly vary, the bottom line is you’re going to need to link up a Roku account with your credit card and remember to cancel any subscription before the trial is up. Unless you’re so enamored with the service you choose to carry on — which, of course, is their hope.

Having recently outfitted both our kitchen and guest bedroom with 32″ Roku TVs, I took advantage of the Hulu trial. Despite the commercial interruption, we thoroughly enjoyed the first season of Manhattan and are currently bingeing the Hulu-original Casual. We have until 1/16 to activate any of the others before the promotion period expires… and it sounds like I’ll want to catch up on new seasons of Showtime’s Homeland and The Affair.