I love movies and television, and I enjoy watching when and where I want. But lately I’ve been thinking: Does this in some way reflect negatively on me? I mean, I’m not a bad person. But am I greedy or selfish for playing movies and TV shows on my Roku and Laptop PC, rather than on my big screen TV?
Maybe AT&T thinks so. Because the other day I received a mailer entitled “Updates to Internet Usage Allowances.” It says that AT&T will be increasing the U-verse Internet data allowances for many customers. Okay, I’ve expected this because as consumer demands increase, so will the bandwidth delivered. And we’ve all heard the rumors that companies like Comcast and Verizon are building bigger and better Internet delivery systems in order to meet customer demands. But then the mailer states “…there’s a $10 charge for each 50GB of data you use over the allowance amount.”
This worries me. Because I don’t consider myself a data-pig. I do watch a good deal of video on my PC and my Roku, but I don’t download large movies, and I don’t require full HD when I stream. And therein lies “the catch.”
When I stream on Hulu or a site like Crackle, I cannot control the exact quality of the content I watch. In Hulu, I am allowed to select their settings “gear” and choose a low or medium setting – but I have no idea how much bandwidth this uses. I’d like to select SD or Widescreen SD because I know this would use much less “Internet Data” than true HD. And in most cases the resolution is just fine for me. Why?
Television resolution is Relative. In most cases you cannot see the difference between 720P or Full-HD or Ultra HD.)
I’d have to line up two TV’s next to each other and broadcast the same video in order to appreciate the difference in the details. You think you need Full-HD or the 4k Ultra HD. The TV manufactures have been pushing bigger and bigger TV sets on us, and insisting that the Big Screen TV or “10-foot experience” can only be appreciated with a 1920 x 1080 quality video. And of course to support your Internet TV, you should expect to use large amounts of Internet bandwidth to get the true HD experience – if you can tell the difference that is. And that’s going to get expensive.
So who is going to pay to deliver HDTV quality video to me? Is it AT&T’s responsibility to deliver Internet-bandwidth that will support the demands of my PC and Roku while not charging for these upgraded services?
In other words: I’ve been talking with Netflix, Roku and other Connected TV uses for months now about a conflict of interest which is:
How and why would Comcast, AT&T and others want to make TV and Movie programming available to you over the Internet when they already deliver it to you via their Cable/Fiber-Optic/SAT to your TV?
Somethings gotta give, and I’m afraid the folks out there who thought that they could enjoy Full-HD via their Internet connection on a PC and especially on TV’s like the Roku 4K Ultra HDTV or Samsung Smart TV are in for a price hike.
Roku 4 requires a 15mbps connection, but they don’t talk about how much data you will use to enjoy Full-HD on your TV. And like I say, if you watch a television program on your PC via Hulu or another service you might be able to select a low or medium resolution, but you won’t know how much data you are using. For the AT&T customer, 50GB’s goes very fast and I don’t want to spend 10 bucks just to watch Sharknado.
What can we do? I for one try to encourage people to set their connected TV (Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV) to the SD setting. Not all Set Top Boxes have this feature, so I bought the low end Roku 1. It has component (RCA) plugs. I use these plugs instead of the HD port , and I setup my television in the Standard Definition (4×3) mode. I also went into my Roku’s display setting and selected SD (4×3.) For programs like Star Trek, I get a 4×3 display. And somehow, my set up still delivers a widescreen picture when a film is formatted to support it. It requires much less data for SD than HD.
If you must have HD, then Roku’s most expensive model 4 is $129 and it promises to up-rez 720HD videos to a full HD 1920×1080 experience. But I cannot recommend this as a way to save Internet data use, because for one, the unit requires a very strong Internet connection of 15mbps, and that tells me it’s demanding a large amount of bandwidth (data.)
Have I been able to insure that my Roku settings are really saving me money? Not yet, AT&T won’t allow me to monitor my data usage until May 23rd! Haa! There’s always a catch.