YouTube TV emulates the cable companies

Moving from cable to streaming for TV watching just became more expensive. In earlier columns, I analyzed the benefits and cost savings of making the move. While there was a small cost advantage, the main benefits were convenience, simplicity, and access to a wider variety of content that you could pick and choose from and pay accordingly, and not be subjected to the need to take it all from the cable companies.

Well, that’s not working out with an announcement this past week that YouTube TV is raising their monthly rate from $50 to $65. They claim it’s not as bad as it seems because they are adding a bunch more channels that few want, but it’s not an option. That move exploded the myth that streaming would allow us to buy and pay for the stations we want and not be forced to take the stations we don’t want. YouTube TV is now no better than the cable companies in this regard.

YouTube TV is making this move from a position of strength. Among all of the other services for accessing network and local TV, YouTube TV is the only one that  offers unlimited storage for accessing the programs when you choose, and has access to the most networks and local stations.

The best way to counter the increase is to find a friend to split the cost and share your subscription, something YouTube TV allows.

Now after a couple of months of shedding my cable, cancelling my TiVos, I’m continuing to find streaming to be an improvement. All TVs can access the same stored programs, there’s no more hardware clutter around each set, and no more issues getting TiVo and my cable company’s tuners to play nice together.

However, streaming is not without its own issues. My new Sony TV runs Android TV OS, and occasionally YouTube TV would freeze and refuse to play.  It was caused by software on the Sony TV, and was eventually corrected with a software update from Sony. During the interim I was able to add a Roku adapter to the set and access YTTV through that.


Is Hey Mail worth $99 per year?

I’ve been trying out the new Hey email product during it’s free 14 day trial,  Now that it’s coming to an end and is requiring a $99 annual fee to continue, I needed to decide whether it’s worth the cost and decide if I should buy it.

Hey is a service that’s intended to make email less of a task to get through and, after training, automatically screen your mail into three buckets, important mail, mail you want to review but is less important, and mail you want to retain for records of transactions. There are other benefits, such as reading your less important mail in one long blog, and pinning some mail off to the side for access later on.

I found that it did some things better, while some things ended up a little more complicated than conventional email, but it didn’t improve the process enough to justify its high annual fee.  The screening process often took more time and occasionally presented conflicts. Mail from Apple, for example contained records of monthly payments that were sent to the mail with records. But some mail from Apple I wanted to read right away, such as information about upgrades. And I think everyone will have similar cases that are not resolved with Hey’s rules and require careful thinking. Additionally, when scanning new email, it needs to be clicked opened for it to be removed from the main view. In conventional email, you can peruse new email by looking at it’s 1 to 3 line summary and choose to ignore without opening, and it automatically scrolls out of the way as new email comes in.

Hey Mail provides a new, pleasing, simplified interface, but it’s also limiting when composing new mail, such as adding bullets and other formatting. It has no auto signature capability, and its on screen interface does not at all look like the email my recipients would see. Now the product is new, and many of these features may come, but until it does I’m not ready to spend $99/yr for an email that trades some benefits for some disadvantages.

I currently use SaneBox, an add on service ($59/yr) to your existing email, that can also be easily trained to separate email into different folders,  allows mail to be set aside for later use, and maintains the email features you are used to. In addition, all of the email remains on your computer, unlike Hey, that’s stored on their servers, and inaccessible when offline.

So while Hey offers another approach with some good features, its current benefits don’t outweigh its limitations, particularly at its hefty cost.