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Friday, August 21, 2015

Roku

I was looking at our pile of remote controls the other day and thinking that maybe I should go ahead and spring for one of them fancy all-in-one jobs. Then I stumbled over the new Roku unit which has a voice controlled search function. My goodness, how fancy is that?
    My wife's smart phone can translate voice to text. She uses it to send text messages to the kids, so maybe voice recognition technology really has advanced to the stage where you can use it reliably for something.
    We have subscriptions to three or four video-on-demand services for which we pay about $100 a month, depending on how you slice it. So now when we want to watch a show, we have to remember what service it is on. If you didn't remember then you have to search for it. With our old Roku you would need to switch to the service and then enter the title, one letter at a time, using the arrow keys. If you didn't remember what service it was on, well, you could spend minutes, minutes I tell you, pressing buttons on the remote to try and find it.
    The new Roku has a voice controlled search function that works from the top level. You say the name of the show you want and it will search all of your subscribed services to find it. We tried it out on a couple of shows and it worked flawlessly. Cool.
    Then I tried to use it to find the The Honorable Woman. It apparently worked because it found the show on two services, but when I tried to watch it I find out that it is a pay-per-view item. That's weird, because I already watched one episode for free. Could they have decided to start charging for it just now? Perhaps my post about the show triggered a small avalanche of events that caused this. Is my influence really that great?
    No, it's not. I gave up on the show, there are zillions of shows I've already paid for, I don't need to pay some more to watch this one, so I switch to Netflix to see if I can find something worth watching, and what pops up? The Honourable Woman. For free. Huh. So Roku's fancy voice controlled search function is not infallible.

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