To augment your free supply of live network TV, the next step is to choose your hardware for on-demand programming delivered via your Internet connection. You may already have this capability in an existing device if you own a gaming console like an Xbox 360, Sony Playstation 3 or Nintendo Wii. Or perhaps you've bought a smart TV or Blu-ray player with built-in Wi-Fi.
Committing to a long term contract can be scary, especially when you're not sure what your budget is going to look like in the next few months. Luckily, there are providers that offer “no commitment” options, so you won't be tied down by a contract. Providers like Spectrum even offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you decide the service isn't worth the price, they'll give your money back: no questions asked and no hassle. If you're already stuck in a long-term contract from a previous cable provider with early termination fees, not to worry! Spectrum even offers to buy you out of your previous contract for up to $500, so you can get out of your commitment at no extra cost.
You can use a TV antenna to watch live TV, sure, but this isn't the 1970s. You need a DVR (digital video recorder). Consider the Tivo Bolt Vox (above), a system with six tuners and 75 hours of recording on a 500GB drive for $199.99, or get 150 hours for $299.99. Four of the tuners support OTA recording. (Don't get the high-end $499.99 version—that's cable-ready only.) The companion Vox Mini box sold separately lets you expand DVR coverage to other rooms. As the "vox" implies, you utilize voice control through the remote to run the DVR. Plus, it has plenty of built-in streaming apps. TiVo has a few other OTA DVRs, as do companies like Tablo and Channel Master.
This streaming service so happens to be more current and up to date than Netflix. The drawback about this is that the latest movies and TV shows (from both broadcast and cable) often come with an extra price tag. Regardless, its HBO library is to die for. Episodes of shows you wouldn’t find anywhere else like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, Oz, and Band of Brothers are available for free with your subscription, and you won’t find them anywhere else. It’s HBO content covers up for the lack of its attention-grabbing originals. There are no adds, and the subscription fee is 99$ a year, but if you do the math you’ll realize that it’s less than 9$ a month.
This used to be by far the most expensive cable-cutting service out there for it’s base $49.99/ month cost, however with the drop to $29.99 and it’s offering of probably the most comprehensive channel lineup, it’s definitely worth considering. And if you’re a sports fan, something to note is that there is now ESPN and ESPN2. Fox has their sports channels there (FS1, Fox College Sports, for example) but that’s it.
Roku. While Apple and Amazon might be household names, Roku quietly delivers the best overall service for those who want to dump cable. Roku was one of the first to develop a box dedicated to streaming video, it supports a wide variety of streaming services, and best of all, it is a neutral manufacturer so it works with almost any television or service. You can buy Roku as a stick, which is a small key-like device that your stick into your TV's HDMI port, or a more-powerful box.
Note: Several premium cable channels offer standalone monthly subscriptions to their original programming for people who don’t subscribe through cable or satellite providers. The most popular of these are HBO Now ($14.99/mo.), Showtime ($10.99/mo.) and Starz ($8.99/mo.). These (and others) are also available as add-on channels to Amazon Prime Video; of those three, only Showtime is cheaper as an add-on ($8.99/mo.).
We split our cable bill with our renter, but I think my wife and I are ready to get rid of it once she moves out (likely this Summer). There’s just too many cord-cutting options. I think we’ll get the $20/month Sling TV subscription, Netflix, and an HD antenna and be good to go. That’s just $30/month and no need to play games with the cable company (I’m sick of their crap!). And with Sling we’d even have ESPN, one of the last reasons people even consider keeping cable anymore (sports!).
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What you get: DirecTV Now should appeal to anyone who wants DirecTV service but not the satellite dish. The company recently hiked prices by $5 on its various plans. The company's Live a Little plan, which provides 60 channels, now costs $40 per month, and the Just Right package has gone to $55 per month. Go Big jumped to $65 per month, and the top 125-channel plan, Gotta Have It, costs $75 instead of the previous $70. The good news is that the NFL Network has been added to all DirecTV Now's packages starting with Just Right and above, at no additional cost. Also, you can add HBO for just $5 per month. The company will be launching a next-generation version of the service this spring that bumps up the number of simultaneous users from two to three.
But cable providers didn't factor in that the internet they provide would become their worst enemy via access to streaming video. Services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video are the most well-known names in what's become known as "cord cutting"—doing away with pay TV and using over-the-air (like the old days) or internet-based services to get all your "television" programming. That means no more paying a huge monthly fee for thousands of hours of TV you don't watch (in theory). Instead, you pay individual services for a la carte programming. It's a lot like paying for just what you watch. Almost.
I'm all for new features. Don't know how much time I've lost on just one more turn. But, I'm not a kid anymore. I think all people with families can testify, that you simply don't have the time to spend hours on a game. And each iteration makes the hurdle even bigger. I would probably get my ass handed to me by a 12 year old! Still love the game though!