First of all, I do not have cable TV. Never had it, so I am not a cord cutter. I have been using over the air TV, Renting DVD's and watching the free movies on Hulu. I used to hook up my laptop to my TV and watch HULU all the time. I watched over 150 movies in the last year. All free.
But I got tired of hooking up my laptop to the TV when I wanted to watch a free HULU movie. So I bought a ROKU 3. I wanted the best. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think to check that the free HULU movies I could get on my laptop would no longer be free on my ROKU 3. I was shocked. What is going on with that?
So my plans for HULU did not work out. Maybe there are other things on the ROKU 3 I could get that would still make it a smart purchase. Well I found very little content that I was interested in. And almost nothing that is truly live. I only found 3 channels I am using. YouTube, Crackle and Pandora. To get my free movies from HULU, I still have to hook up my laptop. Needless to say, I am not thrilled with that situation. This was the main reason for going ROKU.
And now for my other big gripe. Most of the other channels that are quote FREE are only free if you already have cable TV. What's up with that? For example, I tried to get EPIX, but you have to be a cable TV customer, which I am not. I guess there are a few people that have both ROKU and cable TV. But this is not how I thought it was going to work. If you already have cable TV, I don't see a big need to have a streaming device. But without cable TV, you can't get a lot of channels like EPIX and HGTV.
The bottom line here is that I am disappointed with the limited amount of truly free content. It looks like it all works better is you already have cable TV, which I don't. I am still stuck with a laptop hooked up to my TV for free HULU. And to really get the most of the ROKU, you need to pay for subscriptions. And I didn't count on that.
If anyone knows any good free channels (especially movies and "LIVE" programs), please let me know. So I don't have to return this device. Thanks...
P.S. The ROKU 3 works great. I just thought I could get more out of it without spending money for all these subscriptions.
With all due respect, don't blame Roku for you not doing your research properly before buying. Roku has never been advertised to be a "free cable TV replacement". However, if you learn how to use your Roku to its max potential you will have access to a lot of free content. Lets give you a brief start:
1. (Basic Level) Just look in the channel store and see what is available that interest you that is free. Sadly, a lot of the better free channels include a lot of advertisements that may or may not irritate you but at least offer mainstream content for free. I can recommend:
CW Seed, TubiTV, Pluto.TV, Crackle, Popcorn Flix, Viewster, PBS, SnagFilms, Smithsonian.
The ones that require CableTV/Sat subs sometimes offer unlocked free episodes. Vudu, Google and Amazon also have pilot and free episodes of certain shows.
Youtube has a lot of free full episodes. I suggest you open a YT account and build yourself a library. Do a search using keywords "full episode" and or "full length" and see what comes up. Whatever interests you, add to favorites (watch later) and build your library.
2. (Intermediate) Look into setting up a computer with PLEX Media Server and use Plex Roku channel or Roku Media Player. PLEX includes many free channel plug-ins for free online video. Look at adding private Roku channels not listed in the app/channel store. I recommend http://streamfree.tv
Add channels like Channel Pear, FilmOn, SJTV, NowhereTV, Veetlebox (Down at the moment). You may consider looking into PLAYON Media server and Roku channel for even more content but it is not free. However, once you pay for it you can access FREE PC Hulu on your Roku among other content.
3. (Advanced) Learn the different ways to cast content to your Roku. You can use RokuCast Roku channel with RokuCast browser extension, Screen Mirroring (New Roku 2, 3, 4, HDMI stick), Android Firefox Beta Browser and Roku client Channel and PlayTo. Learn how to use a Roku-friendly OTA DVR solution like Tablo, Simple.TV or EyeTV. Learn to use PLEX with unsupported app store to have access to file-sharing sources like Kodi/XBMC does on other streaming devices.
There are many Youtube videos, forums, google searches, etc. that will show you how to do this. I did not learn all this over-night but there is a lot of free content to watch on Roku if you learn how and know where to look and what sources to add.
My advice is "don't be disappointed" but rather learn how to use your Roku to its max potential. However, if all this is too complicated or advanced for you, you can always pay for one or more subscription services (SlingTV, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime). With what you can get OTA with an antenna, what you can get free on Roku plus at least one subscription (Netflix maybe) you will get A LOT of good content for just the cost of the subscription service.
Good luck and enjoy your journey into how to use your Roku to its max potential.