How To Use Roku As A Cable Box

How To Use Roku As A Cable Box

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Roku has been popular with cord cutters for years.

As the Streaming Advisor, I try my best to help a lot of people through videos on our YouTube channel, articles and even in person in the Raleigh area. But nothing gives me more satisfaction than when I can use my skills and knowledge  to help those closest to me.  I had such a situation emerge Tuesday visiting with my father. He lives in an apartment complex that folds cable from Time Warner Cable into the rent.

When his cable service was set up he was given a modem but no actual cable set-top box. Instead, his television was wired straight into the wall with a coax cable. I don’t know if that was an oversite or not. I recently found out that he was relying purely on streaming with a Roku 4 for all of his TV watching needs because for some reason his TV was only receiving 3 cable channels. Rescanning channels did not fix the problem. One of the only channels he could get was MSNBC. To some of your that would be a cruel joke I’m sure. The good news is he has full access to his cable lineup now thanks to a very rarely discussed app on the Roku. The TWC App. 

Why don’t people talk about the TWC App?
It is probably because of a couple of factors. First of all there is no motivation for Time Warner Cable to explain how easy it is to use the TWC app. This is because if their customers decide not to rent extra cable boxes from the company it’s like losing money. And another factor is that while Roku has some recommended channels and sell advertising on even their remotes via quick launch buttons the company does not openly say “you should add this app” instead it advertises an open ecosystem as a way to differentiate themselves from competition from Amazon and Apple. The last reason is probably because most people talk about Roku as a “cord-cutting” device as opposed to a media device. In fact the majority of cord-cutting sites peg every single streaming app as a cord cutter app, which is terribly short sited, but part of another discussion entirely, but just for giggles look at how many people have Netflix vs how many people have actually canceled cable.

How To Use Roku As A Cable Box

The moral of the story though is that you do not need a cable box if you have a Roku. What you do need is a modem that has been assigned to your personal TWC account. This is very important in fact because if you try to activate the TWC app, even with TWC password and username, without being within the range of the modem/router assigned to the specific username and account you will get a message explaining that you are unable to access the app.  Just to go a step further I contacted Time Warner Cable as though I was simply inquiring about getting cable TV. I asked if I could avoid using a cable box and rental fee and instead use a Roku and was told that yes I could. For that matter, I can choose to purchase a modem instead of leasing one, but that might be more of a hassle then I feel like putting up with when there is a problem. Dammit Jim, I’m a journalist, not a Trepairmanan! But you can sure save some space and simplify your TV viewing without the box if you do not care to use the DVR.

What do you need?
Not much.

1. A Roku from any of the last few generations, even the second gen Roku’s like the Roku 2 XS, or Roku 2 HD. I can’t promise that one of the original generation Rokus will work. And before you drop off a TV box test the app yourself.

2. An Internet-connected device. This could be anything that allows you access to the Internet. You will need to be able to connect the device with the cable company. A computer, tablet, smartphone or even an iPod Touch. I recommend a computer or tablet just because it is easier to sign in with larger screens.

3. Your own legitimately assigned modem/router
As said in the article you will need the actual modem in the same place as the Roku. You also need to have an account with the company of course. There is no password sharing here like some TV everywhere app.

4. You do need to be an actual Time Warner Cable customer (of course)

Once you have these things:

  1. Add the TWC app and follow instructions.
  2. Click through the intro welcome etc
  3. Follow instructions to go to the link site
  4. You will be asked if you have a username. If you don’t have a username you can create one by following the simple instructions on the link site. You will be prompted to do this on the website.
  5. If you have a username and don’t know it, contact the company via chat online or call. They will be glad to help you. I prefer online chatting to phone contact myself.
  6. Once you can confirm your username and password sign into the app and you are all set

It’s no harder than starting Netflix or Hulu. In fact, it might be easier because you don’t have to provide a credit card and such. If you have TWC cable and a Roku give it a try. You will love turning in at least extra boxes in other rooms.

How does the app perform
The TWC app is wonderfully designed. It provides users with a channel grid with program info and access to categorized on-demand content. The playback on the app was wonderful. We used a Roku 4 and an HDTV so the capabilities shined through for both TWC and Roku. In fact, I venture to say that it is far easier to use than the actual setup with a cable box and remote controller. Its actually quite nice to have a cable integrated streaming box with crystal clear reception that you can actually call customer service about when it is messed up along with thousands of streaming apps at your fingertips without the need to switch HDMI inputs.


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