This has nothing specific to do with Nicaragua but it addrresses a common problem for Gringos in Nicarragua. I figure it is worth mentioning as I, for one, didn't really realize the potential.

I am talking about a little box called ROKU that combined with a TV and a decent Internet connection can offer a lot of interesting entertainment options. Much of it is free.

I had seen NewEgg selling refurbed ROKU boxes. The description always seemed to say little. Things like "lots of free entertainment channels" and such. I decided to read a bit more and, eventually, buy one. The non-geek explanation is that it is an appliance that connects you with a lot of audio and video channels. The content is downloaded over the Internet and played through you TV.

Note that I said appliance. A lot of what the ROKU will get you is stuff you could find on the Internet. The appliance aspect is that you get a little box that just makes things work. A convenience for geeks and a must for non-geeks.

There are non-free options but also lots of free channels. As I am writing this I am listing to some 1970s rock. Ana's explorations so far were exercise and cooking videos. This is but a small sample of the free choices. Others include lots of movie options, sports, international channels and such.

The pay channels seem to run from $.99 to $7/month. Assuming you have the Internet connection and TV, you get a huge amount of audio and video forever for free. The unit itself (I got a ROKU 3) will set you back less than $100. It also says you can view movies, ... from your "local PC". My guess is that means only from an SMB server but I haven't tried it yet. I can do SMB but currently run NFS for my network.

For those interested, here is the nitty gritty starting with the hardware. You get the system box, a remote control, wall wart and earphone. The system box can connect to the Internet either by Ethernet of WiFi. It has an HDMI output to connect to your TV. The remote has an earphone jack so you can do your late night listening/viewing without disturbing others.

Software-wise it is designed for the average idiot. When you first turn it on you get a setup sequence where you start by picking the language. Choices, as I remember, are English, Spanish, French and German. You then need to go to the ROKU web site and register the unit. They will ask you for credit card info so you can subscribe to pay channels by just entering a PIN on the remote -- you have to do this even if you have no intent of paying for anything.

Once registered you can browse the channel list and pick what you want building your own subscription list. That's it. You now use the remote to pick and choose what you want. Many of your selections will have sub-selections. For example, the cooking channel we picked has multiple sub-sections. One, International, then has various countries and within the country, recipe choices.

Much but not all the choices are in English. There are even (non-free) language courses. I think it will have Nicaraguan appeal. For me, while I was writing this I have listened to Janis Joplin, The Stones and some other stuff from the 1970s.

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After a few months ...

I am still very satisfied with the Roku. I am no TV fan and Roku gives me music and some non-TV TV. I only have one complaint. There is an ongoing stream of new channels. That's good. But, about half of them are "Christian". That is, some irrelevant church somewhere adding a "free" channel where you can hear his interpretation of his God. Now, most Taoists are not real interested but it would seem that even Christians would like to not be bombarded with this. I have suggested to Roku that they divide up the new channel listings into at least "God" and "non-God". It would just make things easier.

There are lots of other things I am not interested in but generally each is only one or two new channels.

Roku 3

We have the Roku 3 and love it!! Combined with we are able to watch American stuff such as Netflix, Hulu, etc etc!!

A lot of people give the Roku 3 (and its equiv Apple tv) bad reviews as they expected everything to be free, which isn't the case! Yes there are free options, but depending on what ur interests are--they may be limited. I listen to Pandora music a fair bit.

Ensure u don't leave ur headphones plugged in--eats up the battery life!!

Netflix now streams to Nicaragua

Saw an ad for it on a program I have on my phone for Nicaraguan news headlines (Noticias de Nicaragua, I think).

Rebecca Brown

Apple TV

I have had the Apple TV for a month. Sounds similar: wall wart, Ethernet RJ45 connector, WiFi, HDMI cable to the TV, and remote. Configuration - get this - I selected my network, logged in and then tapped my Apple TV box with my iPad and it was done! That's a new feature with iOS 7 and the latest Apple TV.

I haven't given up my cable yet but here in the developed world there are a surprising number of people moving to digital antennas and Netflix. Almost everything I can see on the iPad can be shown on the TV. Look around and there is a lot of free programming with broadcasters showing first run programs on their websites, but considering this is an Apple product, you can also buy/rent programs from iTunes.

differences For us it came down to Roku 3 having a Prime member, lot of free shows on Amazon

No choice for me

Among other things, I'm a registered Apple developer. Watching TV with it is just a bonus.

Registered Apple Developer

How many Manzanas do you have?


A bushel or a peck - take your choice! LOL

So far, so good

For me, two free Linux channels and other tech stuff. Ana and Margarita are finding interesting stuff -- stuff that may actually cause them to get serious about learning English as well as some stuff in Spanish.

Two surprises have been:

  • TED
  • RT in Spanish as well as English and Farsi

I can see some things that someone might want to pay for but I am pretty amazed with the amount of free stuff that is at least of interest to us.

As for the "American stuff", I would rather have stuff in Spanish if possible plus I see access to non-US programming as a positive thing. It's easy to get the US viewpoint but a bit harder to get decent international viewpoint.

Margarita wants mTV. I want Al Jazeera but, of course, Al Jazeera is available on-line. The ROKU would just make it easier.


1 has to watch which Roku they purchase. As the latest model--Roku 3, only has an HDMI hook up to ur TV.