Debbi and I dropped our cable service in early 2015 and officially became cord cutters. We started with a TiVo Roamio for over the air programming. Soon after, we added SlingTV—DISH’s live TV streaming service—to get her cooking shows and my sports programming.
As of this writing, SlingTV has an odd interface, and questionable customer service. They only have the licensing to offer on-demand and transport control (pause/fast-foward/rewind) on a limited number of channels. And there’s no way to record anything. After the first year, it’s fair to say we were ready to try something different—if only there were something different. Enter Playstation Vue.
Playstation Vue went nationwide in March and we signed up right away. I would have preferred a Roku interface but they don’t have one yet. Luckily, we also have a FireTV. So it would do for now.
Oh my. It turns out that the Playstation Vue interface is even weirder than SlingTV. The customer service is even more questionable. The growing pains are even worse.
On the up side, Vue offers a cloud-based DVR service and a lot more channels. You can pause live on almost any channel, and they include the Fox Sports regional channels in most areas. The Vue login will work with almost all of the networks’ standalone streaming apps and channels. By comparison, SlingTV’s login only works with WatchESPN, at least as of this writing.
On the down side, you’re limited to using Vue in a single location. You can login with five different devices though. With SlingTV, you can use it anywhere, but you can only have one device logged in at a time. Vue’s model works out better for our situation.
Vue’s cloud DVR has numerous bugs. Sometimes it will record a second showing days later instead of getting the first showing. You can’t set extra padded time for sports or other variable length programming. And often a recording will skip all over the place during playback, rendering it useless.
The programming guide uses a vertically scrolling grid, the opposite of the standard horizontally scrolling grid that everybody is used to. The small type is difficult to read, at least on the FireTV. And it takes a long time to scroll to channels you’re looking for. They need to do more caching and look-ahead programming. Listings are constantly delayed while it’s reloading data.
But, the DVR works most of the time. And if all else fails, you can log into many of the channels’ standalone streaming apps/channels.
AT&T and DirecTV have announced a new live TV service for later this year. And, both YouTube and Hulu have announced new services for next year. So hopefully the competition for customer service, interfaces, and programming will heat up soon.