introduction

The amazon fire TV stick and the roku streaming stick are very powerful streaming options. They offer a wide variety or streaming services such as netflix, hulu, and others on a device that can easily be tucked away behind your TV. Not only that, but both devices offer accessibility features out of the box, and both are a fraction of the price of the apple tv. However there are some differences and these will be broken down

roku

The roku streaming stick costs around $69.00. It includes accessibility features out of the box, so no sighted assistance is required for setting it up. It also includes a Voice remote, and the interface was pleasant to work with, though with a few pit falls. While the stick does not have any storage space, everything is controled through an account, and the system and voice guide will walk you through creating an account and adding channels.
Practically everything on the device speaks, and navigating settings and other options was a pleasant experience.

first time setup

Here is sadly where the issues became noticeable for me. When setting up your streaming player it did just fine until you entered a wireless network. If you entered the letters or numbers of your network too quickly, the stick would freeze, and you would have to restart. I never found out if this was the remote or the actual stick, but it took several tries to get by it. It took me slowing down to a crawl in entering the characters, before I could go on to the next screen. However, after that screen, things proceeded as expected.
The setup did take longer because it does walk you through creating an account, and I found the website to be easy to navigate and to work well with JAWS and NVDA. The how-to videos explaining concepts were very helpful as well, I will give roku a tun of credit for making their content accessible. Once setup was complete it was time to dive in to the main interface.

The main interface

The main interface of the roku player consisted of a home screen, and several menus. The Voice guide made navigating these menus easy and pleasant to use, even if there was a bit too much verbage at times. Going in to settings the guide read all options, and also read the legal agreements, wich is a surprise considering that most accessibility options in the past never read the legal stuff. I could restart my stick and the voice guide would come up imediately.
Starting and stopping the voice guide was easy enough, as you pressed the Star button, wich is to the right of the arrows and down from them. You pressed this button 3 times rapidly.

accessibility of aps

While I only tried a few, the aps I tried were accessible for the most part. I tried the following:

  • Amazon prime
  • WWE network
  • hulu
  • ESPN

The only one that did not work, was the ESPN ap, but all my other streaming services worked. The stick also had the options of streaming sling TV, wich I will admit, I have not tried on either device because of the trial period. Plus, it offered MLB at bat, and NBA TV. (have not tried either.) All in all though, for the aps I tried the accessibility in the ones I worked with was on target, and even though I had never used a roku before, the voice guide was there, walking me through the interface.

terrible voice

The next biggest con for me in using this device was the voice synthesizer. I’m not sure exactly what kind it was, but it was mechanical and did not have inflection. And, adding base did not help. This, along with the problems at setup is why I returned it. I get my tech at target, wich allows for a 30 day return policy, no questions asked, and also gives you technical support on electronic devices purchased, as long as you own the device. Target understood, and they allowed me to get the next device in this review.

Oh no there is a fire!

While not talking about fires in the literal sence, the fire TV stick cost less than the roku stick. While the roku stick costs $69.99, the amazon fire TV at the time costs $29.99. It also plugs directly in to the HDMI port of your TV, and includes many streaming services, with the ability to add more. Another appealing feature is the alexa voice remote, giving you access to alexa skills, and if you already own an echo, echo dot, or echo show, you can use them to control your fire TV stick.

setup

The setup process was simple and straight forward, and amazon’s voice view screen reader walks you through the setup. Pressing and holding the back and menu buttons on the alexa remote launched the screen reader, and there is even a tutorial to show you how to navigate. Adding your wireless network, was a breeze, and the device didn’t freeze. It then asks for your amazon account, wich I just entered with the remote. You would use the ring to navigate to each letter, and press the okay button inside the ring to select a letter. Voice View was very snappy at this, and could keep up with me navigating.Once setup was complete, it was time to get my binge on.

services and aps

While the amazon prime video, music, and the main amazon aps are accessible, I can also include netflix and hulu in that list. Others like sling TV, NBA TV, at MLB TV Seem to be accessible, but as they want either a subscription or a trial, I have not tested them yet. Two aps that were not accessible with Voice view were ESPN, and sadly and surprisingly, WWE network. While the WWE network ap or channel was accessible on everything from the Iphone, to my xbox, to the roku stick, it was not accessible with the fire TV stick. Voice View just kep telling me that there were unlabeled buttons.

Alexa is in the house!

Alexa also makes her presence known on this device, and I was amazed at what I could do with the device. I could listen to my audible books, play games, and other things. Only thing I can’t do is set timers, or use my sleep sounds on the stick. But I can use pandora as well, and well, alexa is um, alexa!
You are able to also search for programming with alexa, and alexa can tell you where it it can be found. For example, If I search for rugrats, alexa will find it on amazon prime and tell me that that is where it is.

The bottom line

For me, the amazon fire TV stick won out over the roku counterpart, even though the WWE network ap is not accessible. While I did not compare an apple TV for this review, the fire TV stick is a bit more responcive when navigating, and you also get alexa. Amazon throwing in alexa is a masterful idea, considering all the things that alexa can do. Even if you don’t have a smart TV, this device turns your TV in to a smart TV, and I must say I enjoy having that capability.
The amazon fire TV stick at that time was half the over half the price of the roku stick. At $29.99 the device was a steal, and I have not looked back on it.
The apple TV, when even compared price wise to the roku stick, is just off the wall, simply because of the Apple logo on it. As consumers, we have the power to change that, and I do not intend to agree to apple’s prices by purchasing their products at this time. The fire TV stick does more than I need it to do, and I am just getting started with it. It’s pleasant voice, and alexa remote make this device a joy to use.

Sprint away from sprint!

I am going to start by giving all of you who read this article a disclaimer. This is about my past experiences with the company, and therefore should not be taken as something that should be empirical. Also, there will not be a lot of reference articles and pages in this article. With that out of the way here we go!

the move from t-mobile

In 2016, after spending nearly 3 years with t-mobile, I had had enough, and decided to leave. While there were a lot of good things to like about them, the fact that you could never get a straight answer from anyone, and all the customer service representatives told you a different story regarding promotions, or account changes, all of that coupled with the fact that I would have to lose my jump plan forced my hand. I never really considered Verizon, because of there high prices, and At and t for at the time its lack of flexibility was not considered. So, I switched to sprint, thinking that while they were not as flexible as t-mobile,at least I would have a better price. Well, um, I was wrong.

in-store customer service

I have been to the sprint store so many times, that I can’t remember what all the trips were fore, but I do remember the events of one of my trips quite clearly. While I can’t remember the reason that brought me to the store, I can remember the behavior of the manager of the store.The manager wanted to leave the store so badly, that when I was asking him questions, trying to clear up some information, he was waving his keys in a circle, and trying to walk out the door, just so he would not have to deal with me. It was bad enough that all of the other reps had left, (not that there were that many to begin with), and that I was stuck with him, but also the fact that the message was clear to me: “Get out of here, I don’t get paid enough to deal with people past closing time.” Seriously? That is how Sprint treats its customers? Well, I reported the issue to sprint, and I have never had to deal with him after that, so perhaps he was fired, or transferred.

time waisted

Also the other problem, and I do not know if this is a thing for all in store visits to cellular providers, but the reps do not deal with you in a timely manner. With t-mobile and Sprint, I can bet that I will be there for 2 hours or sometimes even more. I went in to sprint to pay off some phones the other day, and I was there all day doing it. Not to mention again, that there are 4 reps in that entire store. While it may be cost affective, I would hate to see those stores backed up with people waiting in line for services. and even things like getting a price of a phone on your account require a visit to the store.
Even with t-mobile and Verizon, I could get billing questions answered over the phone with a local rep if I needed them, and things like getting the price of a phone were also permitted. And back when I had verizon, you seemed to be treated more like a person, and less like an inconvenience . Stores seemed to have more representatives, and while you had to wait for a few minutes, there was no waiting for 30 or 45 minutes while one customer was served while the other reps were either on break, or playing games on there devices, or worse, on face book. In some aspects, that’s worse than comcast, but that is for another story, as for starters we are not done with this one, and writing about internet providers is slightly more complicated.

A secure Inconvenience

I mentioned previously that both Sprint and T-mobile seem to have a policy of wait til they leave. In other words, there is not enough customer service reps to handle customer flow, and I think that is by design, in the hopes that some people will just get tired of waiting and either try again, or give up entirely. But while that is an annoying issue, this next one totally blows my mine.
Remember how I said that I could at least call my local stores at verizon and t-mobile and get some basic information, such as the price of phones and some basic account information?Oh, let me tell you, that is not possible at sprint! So here is how sprint works.

  • Need to know about your bill? Come to the store!
  • Need to know the price of a phone as it relates to your account and plan? Come to the store!
  • If you are intrested in a promotion and you want to discuss it, Yep you all guest it, Come to the store!
  • And finally my personal favorite Paying off phones, you can’t do it with customer service, so yep you guest it again, Come to the store!

And those are just some examples of how bound you are to the store. You probably couldn’t even get them to give you your pin, unless you came to the store. If I counted how many times I have said that fraise, I would be lost. For JAWS and NVDA users, please do a find and replace for the word store (there it is again), and let me know how many times in this section it is mentioned, but that should explain the gravity of the situation. The reason for you coming to the store if you need to blink? “It is a security policy, supposedly designed to protect us.” Well I have a huge problem with that!

Store Caracell and transportation

There are actual corporate stores, and then there are these little authorized agent outlets that sell sprint products. Here is the kicker though. If you get service at an outlet, you can’t recieve service at the corporate store, and it goes the other way around. The outlet stores can’t tell you anything about the corporate stores, and for some strange reason, the corporate stores can not tell you anything about the outlets. If that sounded as confusing as it was for me writing it, let me try and explain it another way.

  • You go to your local store wich is called sprint and you get service set up.
  • You find that you need to get a phone replaced, or you need another line and you go to another store, also called Sprint.
  • Upon entering the second store, you are informed that because you had service set up at this other store, wich is an outlet, you will need to go to the outlet to get your account managed.

    Here is what I can not get my head around. Your account is in all systems, and all customer service agents have access to your account right? If this is the case than logic 101 says “I before E except after C, right? No, like the english language, sprint has the rest of the saying Or when sounding like A as in Neighbor or way. This means that even though your account is in all their systems, and account information can be brought up in any store and over the phone, not only can you not get anything answered unless you go to the store, but you are also bound to a specific store. So if you activate service at an outlet, and have issues, you can not go to corporate to get them resolved, even if the issue can only be resolved by going there. It is one of the most
    stressing things to deal with, considering that taking uber and lyft to these places can add up in price, real quick. I have one more item, and I sware I am done.

    inflexible payment arrangements

    Everyone has issues from time to time, and these issues can result in not being able to pay your bill by the due date. Well, payment arrangements are a good way to deal with this. T-mobile and At and t have payment arrangements that will let you pay off your balance that is past due, on any date in the month, so long as the balance is paid at the day of the arrangement. So, if I need to, with at and t, I can set my arrangement to take place on the 30th of the next month, insuring that I can, and will pay the balance because I know by the 30th of the month, I will have money. If I find that I can pay it sooner, I can pay the balance off, and cancel the arrangement. With sprint?
    With sprint, you have 10 days after your due date to pay the balance. So let’s say your bill is due on the first of the month, you have until the 10th of the month to pay off the balance or set up an arrangement. Here is the kicker, (this is a violent article is it not?) you can only set up a payment arrangement up to 14 days after the day you set up the arrangement. So if Your bill is due on the 10th, you can only set up an arrangement to the 24th of the month. And if you do not get paid on the24th you are in serious trouble.
    You do have an option, though it is not a good one. If you want to adjust any part of your payment arrangement after it is set, you must pay off half of what you owe. This includes the date you would like to pay. So if you owe $206.00, you must pay $106.00 before you can move the rest of the payment arrangement forward to the date you want. If you can not pay off half your balance, well, your services are suspended until such time that you can pay the full balance, or make a new arrangement.
    /

    Conclusion

    Fact of the matter is, I came up with the title of this article, thanks to sprint. They always are saying sprint to sprint and save. Actually, that is not the case. Sprint is not very flexible in there policies regarding customers. You can’t get any service unless you go in to a store, some of there representatives will not want to deal with you, and their payment arrangements are the most convoluted pieces of crap that I have ever had to deal with. For all those reasons, as soon as I get the chance I am switching away from sprint. I do not know who I will go back to, but I am going to look far and wide until I find a provider who treats me better than this, and a provider who treats there customers with respect.
    One of my friends has told me to wait, because Sprint and t-mobile have merged but I do not know how much longer I can wait.

  • introduction

    He is perhaps at least to us vols fans one of the greatest radio announcers in the past 40 or 50 years. His dynamic style of announceing has left his own mark on all of us. And if you were a vols fan from 1998 and before that, his name alone well, you knew he was tennessee all the way. I am refering to the late John Ward
    It has been for me a difficult journey to find games that he has done, particularly in the 1990’s. the vol network has not given fans access to their archives, and youtube videos are even hard to come by. I was on a mission to find more of his games yesterday, when I accidently stumbled on an article that mentioned that John Ward had died. AAccording to this article from our local newspaper, “The Voice of the vols has gone Silent.”

    my reaction

    When I stumbled on that article, before looking at the link, I thought it was one of those Holks pieces that sometimes comes up about celebrities, but when I saw the link, I realized this was no holks. I could hardly read the article, and after I finished reading it, my first reaction was a quite audible “No! No! NO! This was not due to the fact that he was young. On the contrery he was 88 years old. This was not due to the fact either that I knew him personally. To be honest, I have never met the guy, but it was something that I had wanted to do. And then after that reaction, I actually cried.

    a look back in the past

    When I was growing up in the fall at my house, it was Chili or something like it on Saturdays, and the Tennessee Volunteers. My mom would turn down the sound on the tv, and turn up the clock radio that set on the floor by the front door. From that clock radio, we had some classic games, such as the Vols verses Aubron in 1997, for the SEC championship, vols verses Florida 1994 in wich I accidently cheered for Florida, (I Learned to bleed orange after that), and when the old clock radio died, we had other radios for the 1998 season. The 1998 season is the one I remember the most, because I started watching from my bedroom, but my mom also listened from there. I can remember the reaction from John ward when Travis Henry scored against Arkansas to preserve our 8 and 0 season: “The give to Henry, He dives… Yes! That’s all. Touch down Tennessee! And then when the clock Expired, he said, The Undefeated volunteers remain just that way, it wasn’t easy, but it ahappened.” He always made you believe in the orange and white, even if you didn’t follow them. I remember one game against Alabama, I believe it was 1998, and for Ward it was Tennessee and Alabama. But I remember this play in wich there was a flag that came out, and of course most radio announcers would have remained calm when they foundout that the flag was on Alabama, but not Ward. “And it is against… Al! La! Bama! Of course, anyone who listend also remembers this call:
    “Price will take at 3 yards deep in the enzone, and price will bring it out. At the 5, 10, 15, 20, up to the 25, to the 30, to the 35, to the 40, to the 45, acroos the 50, 45, 40, 35, 30, 25 20 15 10 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Touchdown, Pierless Price! It is a 100 yard return for Price! It is a big orange 100 Yarder!”
    Gosh, you felt like you just won that game right there! If you go back earlier to 1991, there is the miricle at south Bend, in wich a tennessee team down by 3 touchdowns came back to win the game by one. But oh, how he missed the call on that Field goal! The kick is up, and it is Good! No it is no good! It is no good! And if he thought a qb could run, like he did with T Martin, he would command from above. “Martin takes the snap, let him run with that football.”
    One more and I will move on, but if you were not a Florida fan, in the 1990s, you hated losing to Florida, and it was florida who always beat us in the 1990s, until 1998. We did have a couple wins in 1990 and 1992, but after 92, Florida took the next 5 from 1993, to 1997. But in 98, things were different. When that last field goal was missed, Ward has this to say on the Matter. The kick is high and in the air and it is… No, Sir, Re! No sir re! Final Score! Tennessee 20, Florida 17! Pandamonium rains! The field is full of fans! The fans are tearing up the goalposts!

    connecting the dots

    From the time when I first heard him in 1994, I loved listening to him, because he brought the game to life. However, I didn’t realize how much of an impact he would have on my life. After he retired at the end of the 1998 season, the broadcasts were not the same after that. Not just that, I really wanted to become a play by play announcer. While my blindness kind of prevents me from doing play by play at the moment, it didn’t prevent me from creating my own games, and driving people crazy. I would create my own games, in wich sometimes the oponents won, but most of the time, the vols won,particularly after a hard loss. I did not realize how much at the time I would start to immulate him, and when I started playing the playstation games particularly in the NCAA series, I would add a Ward/Bowles bit of announcing to my recordings that I would do. Truly he is the reason why I went in to radio, and I think I even put that in my application when I was at UT a few years ago. The application was to be a student dj for a project, and while I only did music, I loved it. I even got to join the rock solid sports program, but because of circumstances, that kind of went down hill.
    I hope to one day do my own program, but for now, I am content with what I have done.

    tribute to Ward

    Tonight, I am going to take Madden NFL 18, and I am going to do a tribute for him, during one of my games. I may not get the players names all correct, but I am going to give it my all. I am doing in this in his honor, and as strange as it sounds, I don’t want to fail him. Yes, for me, this is for all the marbles. Remember folks, Try to cell a home in Tennessee without natural gass. “Natural gass gives you a warm air feel on the coldest day. It did it 30 years ago, does it today.” He did so many different things, and I will miss him for it. I hope he’s making the calls up there in heaven, and if they are half as good as his calls were for my vols, they will be amazing.

    final thoughts

    For 31 years, Ward was the “Voice of the Vols”, and the vol network became the state wide stadium. There is no one who I have listened to, who can touch Ward, even when I have listened to other radio announcers. His dynamic way of calling the action, coupled with his love and excitement for the vols, made you feel like you were there. Our latest team, tries to be objective, but when you try to be objective, the results are not the same. While you need to come across as professional, sometimes being a fan helps you give the game new life. Ward did that, he was a fan as well as the announcer, and it made vols games special. John, you will be missed, and you will always be remembered.
    I say to you, “Good bye John.”
    Here is a link to a stream that I did. It is in no way perfect, but I wanted to do it just once.
    My Video Tribute.