Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Should I really subscribe to Stan TV?

I was up at the nursing home the other day and I saw a guy on the TV in the TV viewing area they have there talking about Stan TV, which is a pay service that the Sydney Morning Herald is currently working with through a promotional offer that you can see on their website. The guy was sitting in his easy chair and leaning so far back I thought he was about to fall off through the studio wall into the street, he looked so relaxed. And he was spouting some codswallop about Stan "changing the way you watch TV" or some other commercial nonsense, after having said that all you need to do is go to the Stan website and sign up and "you're away".

Now it's true that you have to go to the Stan website and register your details for identification and billing purposes but it's a lot more complicated than that in real life as opposed to life in TV land, which is where this leaning guy was coming from. So far, for me, I've had three phone calls with the SMH talking about the subscription options. I have also had several email conversations with Stan representatives, and I called my TV connection experts as well. I think that now I have worked out what it all means but that still doesn't mean that I can just go to a website and put in my details and be "away".

For a start you need to have a special device to connect to your TV if you want to watch Stan from your TV. Some people might be fine watching Stan on their computer but frankly I spend enough time per day doing social media on the desktop that when I relax in the evening I want to do it leaning back on the couch. There's also the option to watch Stan on the iPhone (but it's got a too-small screen) or on the iPad (well, I don't have one). Stan will tell you, if you want to use your regular TV, that there are two devices that you can buy to connect your TV to the modem - Stan comes down through the modem like internet feed - and they are the Apple TV device or the Google Chromecast dongle. Both devices connect to the HDMI port on the back of your TV. Stan does not currently work with Smart TVs, by the way (whatever they are).

One problem for me is that I only have one HDMI port on my Samsung TV and that port is currently being used to connect the DVD player to the TV. The TV connection people put that in there. I actually talked to these guys but it seems they don't know much about Stan (or didn't when I talked with them, which was some weeks ago) because they thought you needed a Smart TV. Of course I could simply disconnect the DVD player from the TV and never watch DVDs again; or I could just plug in the DVD player on the rare occasion when I wanted to watch a DVD.

When I delved further with the Stan representative via email it turned out that the company recommends for my particular model of TV using the Apple TV device and not the Google one. I have seen these devices for sale at Dick Smith's so as far as I can tell I just have to walk into town to buy one and bring it home. Then I can disconnect the DVD player from the TV, register on the Stan website, and upgrade my current SMH subscription.

The SMH subscription thing is also a bit complicated, on top of all the other complications already listed above. Currently, I have a $15-per-month subscription that entitles me to use the internet to read the SMH. If I want to avail myself of the Stan promotional offer, however, I would have to upgrade to an "all digital" subscription, which is $25 per month. That would allow me to read the SMH, for example, on my mobile phone through an app that would improve the reading experience. (I don't know about other people, but reading the SMH on a mobile phone is a complete pain because the ads keep getting in the way and the pages lag, meaning you are constantly tapping on ridiculous ads for Caribbean cruises and aftershave.)

When you get down to it, for someone who wants to watch Stan on their regular TV there is quite a high barrier to cross in order to arrive at the goal of actually watching the feed they provide. Apart from anything else I have no idea what would happen to my remote control - or even if Stan has a special remote control - and how that could be used alongside my regular remote control. So many questions. So little actual need. Do I really want to watch more drama on my TV? Frankly I'm not sure. On top of everything else if I go with this promotional offer instead of paying $15 per month for the SMH I'll be paying $35 per month for the whole package (apart from 6 months free at the beginning of the Stan contract).


Lyn said...

Hi Matthew

I have installed Stan & have been watching now for over 2 months.

telling you honestly it is fantastic, brilliant reception, fabulous movies .

I just purchased the Comcast from Dick Smith $39.00 plugged it in, downloaded Stan to my ipad and away to go.

Your remote control works as normal you just use the HDMI button.

Once the streaming starts you can turn your ipad off.

I didn't have any reason to speak to Stan but needed to email on 2 occasions, they are efficient prompt and extremely helpful.

Cheers to you Lyn

Matthew da Silva said...

I guess that the fundamental issue for me that is stopping me from subscribing is the one of need. I really don't know if I need to have more program choice. In fact, I'm sort of happy having just the ABC to choose from (which is pretty much all I watch) because it means I don't have to think too much.