Now that I have had a few months of using PlayStation Vue instead of a cable subscription, enough time has passed for my small brain to marinate all my thoughts on the topic and share them with friends like a deliciously seasoned steak that’s ready for the grill.
One caveat to keep in mind: my review here, if you want to call it that, is based on me using an Amazon Fire TV with an Ethernet connection and a Motorola SURFboard SB6141 cable modem. I only mention it because I’ve read complaints on Reddit and other places about people getting choppy reception. This has never happened to me. I didn’t want get into a situation where my wife and I would feel like we were trying to use a dial-up connection from the 1990s, only to return to cable in defeat like a couple of scolded dogs with our tails between our legs. So I made sure my 50Mbps Internet connection had the right plumbing to go through ahead of time.
Here’s why I think PlayStation Vue is doing it better than cable:
CHANNEL LINEUP: My wife and I made a list of channels we’d like to keep if we were going to ditch cable. It was a worthwhile exercise because we realized how little of our cable package we actually liked versus what we were paying for. She wanted Bravo, Nat Geo and Nat Geo Wild. She got all of that and then some. I was surprised to find a bunch of channels that are a lot better than what we had with cable. MTV Live always has either a concert or great live music playing. Epix has a decent amount of new movies and lots of on-demand movies, including some impressive original documentaries like Deep Web. The channel is like a junior HBO that I don’t pay extra for. Fusion has a Viceland vibe with shows about drug lords, gun running and the adult entertainment industry. Nightline on Fusion and America with Jorge Ramos offer some nice alternatives to the daily grind of cable news. It’s also worth mentioning that with a “smaller” package or “skinny bundle” of 100 channels from Vue, you’re just weeding out all of the junk ones that sprout in your cable lineup as if they were weeds that were allowed to run amok and can bury a real gem like IFC or the horror-only channel Chiller.
LIMITLESS CLOUD DVR: We rarely watch live TV. With cable, I was always annoyed with running out of memory on our TiVo. It was easy to get lost in the grid of shows we had, especially with the older stuff that we hung onto forever but never got around to watching. With Vue, you can bookmark and keep as many shows as you want. No space limits. But the shows disappear after 28 days. Some reviewers complain about this. Give me a break, dude. If you’re not watching it after a month, it’s not going to happen…ever.
CHANNEL LAYOUT: I’m done with the grid of channels that looks like an Excel spreadsheet. Whether you’re looking at live TV, your DVR stash or on-demand options, the Vue gives you a nice block-style menu similar to what you see on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. Channel flipping is a big deal in our household. And whether we’re using the Amazon Fire TV remote or the television remote hooked into our PS3 in the other room, we can flip around just fine.
POPULARITY FEATURE: At first, I was put off by how my channel line-up was ordered by the most popular shows that other people were watching live. I mean who cares if everyone is watching a Major League Baseball game, or Captain America. Over time, I began thinking about those programs that end up rating high in the popularity feed. Maybe I should check one of those shows out. The popularity-based listing can be changed to an alphabetical order of channels or programs. But really the default popularity listing is no different than a list of trending hashtags on Twitter.
PRICE & NO CONTRACT: Anyone who wants to lock me into a contract – whether it’s a cable company, a phone company or stinking magazine subscription, you’re suspect in my book. Either you have a good, competitive price, or you don’t. It’s really that simple. I’m paying $45 per month PlayStation Vue, which gives me 100 channels. My Internet service runs $35 per month. That’s a fair price in exchange for what I’m getting — and a competitive one. I’m not looking for cable to be free. I’ll gladly pay for good service at a decent price, and I shouldn’t have to limit my options just to lock in a fair one.
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