Cutting the Cord: More Ways to Get TV and Movies Without Cable

This past week, I was pleasantly surprised to find a new channel on my Roku player called “Crackle.” It was free (ad-supported) so I took a look at it. I found that it’s basically a Roku feed of, so you people using Home Theater PCs and other devices that can access the Web, and can play Flash videos, can access it too.

So I quickly poked around and found that Crackle has full-length movies, TV series, movie trailers, and original content, all free and ad-supported, more or less like broadcast TV. Now, the movies are not first-run stuff by any means; I watched a Godzilla film that probably dates to the Sixties, but I saw several others that are more recent, including both versions of Heavy Metal and more various Godzilla and Mothra movies than I even knew existed. I didn’t attempt to look at all of the offerings. Crackle also has such TV series as The Tick (woot!) and Bewitched. Later I checked out on my computer and perused some of the original content. One that I am definitely going to watch regularly is called Trenches. It’s science fiction, and the five-and-a-half minute “teaser” episode was probably eighty-five or ninety percent action, with spaceships and ground troops shooting things up with lasers and who-knows-what. Video is available up to 720p so if you’ve got your device hooked to an HDTV, be ready for a visual treat.

About those ads (it’s ad-supported, remember?): During my viewing of Godzilla, there were several “breaks” during which a 10-second blurb for Battlefield 3 played. That was it. It wasn’t long enough to go grab a soda and chips (but the Roku remote has a pause/play button so in theory I could have).

The description for Trenches, by the way, grabbed me: “The creator of Star Wars Revelations brings Sci-Fi online with a take-no-prisoners attitude reminiscent of Pitch Black.” If you’re any kind of a geek, I think it will grab you, too.

Now, let’s see what else is available; visit each link for full details:

  • (mentioned above).
  • Everyone knows about Hulu by now. Personally, I’m not impressed, but many people love it. I find Hulu to be a resource hog, requiring about twice the amount of computer compared to every other method of getting TV over the Internet. Your mileage may vary; try it for free and see if it meets your needs.
  • Boxee has quite a range of shows, plus there is a list of live streaming TV maintained in the Boxee forums
  • is an app meant for Google Chrome; possibly you could make it work with another browser if you’re that masochistic. It aggregates links to many other video sources. Incidentally, I am running it on my Chromebook.
  • YouTube while not as easy to search as some other methods, now carries full movies in addition to user-submitted material.
  • Netflix has both streaming and disk-by-mail services, and carries movies, TV series (I am currently getting Season 1 of Torchwood, a Doctor Who spinoff) and documentaries which have appeared on cable channels like Discovery and The History Channel. You can even get full seasons of Mythbusters which is great for those weekends when you just want to blow stuff up, but you live in a no-explosives zone.
  • Amazon steaming video rentals range range from free on up.

There are several others that I am currently reviewing; I’ll edit this blog if I find any worth your time.


By icesnake

Icesnake, known to Law Enforcement the world over as Rich Tietjens, retired from the US Army in 1992 and has spent the intervening years attempting to die with the most gadgets, and thus, win. To this end, he has written software both as a freelance programmer and a paid consultant, tested network products and built driver disks for Intel, operated a Web hosting service for ten years, built more personal computers than any sane man would ever want, collected seven cats, and finally settled down in Oregon as the Information Technology Training Coordinator (fancy talk for "help desk and PC tech") for a small manufacturing firm. Rich started playing Dungeons and Dragons in 1976 and has never given up the RPG habit, progressing through Diablo, Everquest, Asheron's Call, Diablo 2, and World of Warcraft. Most evenings you can find him on Trollbane-US playing his mage, Icesnake - who is an Engineer and is trying to collect all the cool gadgets in Greater Azeroth... And so it goes.

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