TV Answer Man
Roku Has 700 Channels - But Are They Free?
Washington, D.C. (February 13,
Editor's Note: TV's
Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your questions regarding how to
best use the latest products and services in TV technology. If
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Q. I read that Roku,
the Internet TV set-top, has more than 700 channels. But are
they free? is there a monthly fee like TiVo has? -- Katherine,
Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
For those not familiar with Roku, it's a set-top box that can
stream video and audio channels over the Internet to your TV.
You connect the Roku to your TV using an HDMI cable and then
capture the signals either using your wireless home network or a
direct wired connection. (For more information on how to connect
a Net TV device, click:
What Is a Smart TV? How Do I Connect It?)
And, Katherine, you'll be happy to know that Roku does not require a monthly fee
The difference in the two is that TiVo is a DVR which allows you
to record programming from traditional TV channels for future
viewing. (Some TiVo offer other features as well, including
streaming from services such as Netflix.) Roku is a set-top box
that allows you to watch and listen to channels that are
available on the Internet; the company does not charge you a fee for
So, what's the catch? Do you have to pay anything?
Well...yes. For starters, the Roku box starts at $48 (the $48
price is available this week at Amazon, which is sponsoring a
special $10 discount on Roku products. For more information,
Roku offers a mix of free and subscription-only or PPV channels.
The latter category includes Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu,
MLB.TV, NBA League Pass and Hulu Plus. They either require a
separate monthly subscription or, in the case of Vudu, a
Pay-Per-View fee for each movie you watch.
But Roku has quite a few free channels, too, such as
UStream, CNET, Wall Street Journal Live, Crackle, Pandora's music service, HBO Go (if you
subscribe to HBO and your Internet provider permits you to watch
HBO GO) and foreign language channels, among many others. Here's a
Roku's Channel page.
So, yes, Roku can give you more than 700 channels, but they are
not free. Not all of them anyway.
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