The Case for Switching to Internet Television
Virtually nobody likes their cable TV provider. Every year they keep raising prices hoping that you won’t switch and offering great prices for new customers only. They make you rent a box for every TV you own for an extra $10 per month even though you have paid more than the boxes are worth over time. And just when you sit down to watch the big game, you realize that it is only on Fox Sports 1 and you have to find a sports bar ASAP.
Fortunately there are now three awesome solutions that will allow you to turn in your cable box(es), save you money, and love TV again. I have been showing my clients the benefits of Sling.tv, Direct TV Now, and Sony PlayStation Vue for a few months and have helped them save $50 to $200 per month off of their cable bills. Internet TV is fabulous and let me show you how to move to the TV of the future.
Go Buy an Amazon Fire Stick Now
When I first started looking into getting cable through the internet I was disappointed to learn that both Sling TV and Direct TV Now would not work on my smart TV or through my Sony Playstation 3. Although I didn’t want an extra remote to keep up with, I am very happy I spent the $40 for an Fire TV stick. It is a small dongle that fits into one of the HDMI ports on the back of your TV and needs to be plugged into an electric outlet or a USB port for power. I thought I would only use the remote for internet cable, but I have found it offers so much more.
The Fire TV stick has an enormous selection of apps all in one place and has become the default portal to my entertainment on my TV. I use it to access Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, HBO Now, Youtube, and my new DirecTV Now subscription. You can also subscribe to individual stations like STARZ or Acorn TV to get your British TV fix.
The last great thing about a Fire TV Stick is that it is equipped with an Alexa Voice remote. It turns your TV into an Amazon Echo without you having to shell out an additional $180. You can ask it to play music, search for content, fast forward, and even order a Domino’s pizza. I recommend that you go to Settings -> Alexa -> Things to Try on your Fire Stick to learn all of the great things it can do. Expect Alexa to do even more as this technology improves in the future.
The search feature isn’t perfect yet, but it is pretty good. I just tried saying “play Deadpool” and the app realized that show is currently available on my HBO GO app. It also showed me that I could purchase it through Amazon. I then tried saying “play Scandal.” It instantly found that I could watch it for free through my Netflix subscription. Lastly, I tried “Captain America: Civil War” and it did not recognize that movie was in the Netflix catalog and only gave me the option to rent it or buy it through Amazon. With the arms race between Alexa, OK Google, Siri, and Cortana I expect this technology to be really good in three years.
Choose Your New Cable Provider
Hopefully you just ordered your Fire TV Stick. Now you need to determine which internet TV provider to go with. I suggest that you click on the following links to compare the channel line ups:
When I help clients sign up for these services, I find that different people value different programming. If your kids really like Nickelodeon, you may want to go with DirecTV Now or pay $5 with Sling to get the Kids Extra Package and not go with PlayStation VUE. I had one client that chose providers based on who had the Hallmark Channel (it is currently not on PlayStation VUE). You will also want to evaluate which service offers which local channels live in your local market. Some packages don’t have any local TV and other packages only offer local channels on demand (about 24 hours after a show has aired). I expect most services to offer most of the local channels live soon, but this can be a deal breaker for some people. I get pretty good reception with my HD antennae so local channels weren’t an issue for me.
After you have compared the channel line ups and packages there are a couple of things to consider. If having a DVR is really important to you, then PlayStation VUE has the only true DVR that is based in the cloud. I expect Sling and DirecTV Now to have one by the end of 2017. If you travel a lot and have AT&T as your cell phone carrier, you may favor DirecTV Now since you can stream TV to your phone without using your data. If you really love sports and want a good price, Sling TV’s $20 per month Orange package is really attractive.
I signed up with DirecTV Now because they had a limited time offer to get their 100 channel offering for only $30 per month (it is now $60). My wife and I absolutely love it. We have more channels than we could possibly watch. I can finally watch most sporting events that I want to. Even though it currently doesn’t have a DVR, you can save certain shows to your watch list and it will automatically add them after they have aired. The first season of Mr. Robot is available for free on Amazon Prime as is the first five seasons of Suits. After I have watched past episodes on Amazon, I can then watch the current seasons in my watch list.
All three services offer free trials and will offer free or reduced pricing for streaming devices (Amazon Fire Stick, Roku, Apple TV) if you prepay for one to three months. Unfortunately your streaming device will come in the mail deep into your free trial, so you may want to buy your device before you start the trial. If you like internet TV, then you will want to have a streaming device for each TV. You should also expect some frustrations as you learn how to use a new device, save shows, and navigate the new world of internet TV. It took me a frustrating half hour to figure out that I had to log into my Amazon.com account on my computer to download some of the apps to my Fire TV Stick. You probably have forgotten how hard it was at first to use you current cable provider.
Now go sign up for a free trial and you can thank me later.
Rosie the Robot, Amazon, and the Future of RAAI
Written by: Travis Briggs, CEO at ROBO Global US
It’s tough to find a kid out there who hasn’t dreamed about robots. Long before artificial intelligence existed in the real world, the idea of a non-human entity that could act and think like a human has been rooted in our imaginations. According to Greek legends, Cadmus turned dragon teeth into soldiers, Hephaestus fabricated tables that could “walk” on their own three legs, and Talos, perhaps the original “Tin Man,” defended Crete. Of course, in our own times, modern storytellers have added hundreds of new examples to the mix. Many of us grew up watching Rosie the Robot on The Jetsons. As we got older, the stories got more sophisticated. “Hal” in 2001: A Space Odyssey was soon followed by R2-D2 and C-3PO in the original Star Wars trilogy. RoboCop, Interstellar, and Ex Machina are just a few of the recent additions to the list.
Maybe it’s because these stories are such a part of our culture that few people realize just how far robotics has advanced today—and that artificial intelligence is anything but a futuristic fantasy. Ask anyone outside the industry how modern-day robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are used in the real world, and the answers are usually pretty generic. Surgical robots. Self-driving cars. Amazon’s Alexa. What remains a mystery to most is the immense and fast-growing role the combination of robotics automation and artificial intelligence, or RAAI (pronounced “ray”), plays in nearly every aspect of our everyday lives.
Today, shopping online is something most of us take for granted, and yet eCommerce is still in its relative infancy. Despite double-digit growth in the past four years, only 8% of total retail spending is currently done online. That number is growing every day. Business headlines in July announced that Amazon was on a hiring spree to add another 50K fulfillment employees to its already massive workforce. While that certainly reflects the shift from brick-and-mortar to web-based retail, it doesn’t even begin to tell the story of what this growth means for the technology and application firms that deliver the RAAI tools required to support the momentum of eCommerce. In 2017, only 5% of the warehouses that fuel eCommerce are even partially automated. This means that to keep up with demand, the application of RAAI will have to accelerate—and fast. In fact, RAAI is a key driver of success for top e-retailers like Amazon, Apple, and Wal-Mart as they strive to meet the explosion in online sales.
From an investor’s perspective, this fast-growing demand for robotics, automation and artificial intelligence is a promising opportunity—especially in logistics automation that includes the tools and technologies that drive efficiencies across complex retail supply chains. Considering the fact that four of the top ten supply chain automation players were acquired in the past three years, it’s clear that the industry is transforming rapidly. Amazon’s introduction of Prime delivery (which itself requires incredibly sophisticated logistics operations) was only made possible by its 2012 acquisition of Kiva Systems, the pioneer of autonomous mobile robots for warehouses and supply chains. Amazon recently upped the ante yet again with its recent acquisition of Whole Foods Market, which not only adds 450 warehouses to its immense logistics network, but is also expected to be a game-changer for the online grocery retail industry.
Clearly Amazon isn’t the only major driver of innovation in logistics automation. It’s just the largest, at least for the moment. It’s no wonder that many RAAI companies have outperformed the S&P500 in the past three years. And while some investors have worried that the RAAI movement is at risk of creating its own tech bubble, the growth of eCommerce is showing no signs of reaching a peak. In fact, if the online retail industry comes even close to achieving the growth predicted—of doubling to an amazing $4 trillion by 2020—it’s likely that logistics automation is still in the early stages of adoption. For best-of-breed players in every area of logistics automation, from equipment, software, and services to supply chain automation technology providers, the potential for growth is tremendous.
How can investors take advantage of the growth in robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence?
One simple way to track the performance of these markets is through the ROBO Global Robotics & Automation Index. The logistics subsector currently accounts for around 9% of the index and is the best performing subsector since its inception. The index includes leading players in every area of RAAI, including material handling systems, automated storage and retrieval systems, enterprise asset intelligence, and supply chain management software across a wide range of geographies and market capitalizations. Our index is research based and we apply quality filters to identify the best high growth companies that enable this infrastructure and technology that is driving the revolution in the retail and distribution world.
When I was a kid, I may have dreamed of having a Rosie the Robot of my own to help do my chores, but I certainly had no idea how her 21st century successors would revolutionize how we shop, where we shop, and even how we receive what we buy - often via delivery to our doorstep on the very same day. Of course, the use of RAAI is by no means limited to eCommerce. It’s driving transformative change in nearly every industry. But when it comes to enabling the logistics automation required to support a level of growth rarely seen in any industry, RAAI has a lot of legs to stand on—even if those “legs” are anything but human.
To learn more, download A Look Into Logistics Automation, our July 2017 whitepaper on the evolution and opportunity of logistics automation.
The ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation Index and the ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation UCITS Index (the “Indices”) are the property of ROBO who have contracted with Solactive AG to calculate and maintain the Indices. Past performance of an index is not a guarantee of future results. It is not intended that anything stated above should be construed as an offer or invitation to buy or sell any investment in any Investment Fund or other investment vehicle referred to in this website, or for potential investors to engage in any investment activity.
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