I put a couple of units to the test and found that the new breed of antennas really work as advertised. In an environment like New York City with numerous obstacles to transmission towers, a major selling point of cable TV in the analog era was that it was the only reliable way to get a clear signal from the free network channels. But today, on a lower floor of my Brooklyn brownstone, I can get 60 OTA channels with a small tabletop antenna like the $50 Mohu Curve, which has a 30-mile antenna range. It did take a bit of trial and error to find the spot in the room with the strongest signal for most stations, but I got the best results by placing it near a window.
Initial installation may be more expensive with satellite service than initial installation with cable TV. Satellite dishes can be costly, so if your plan doesn’t include a satellite dish and installation, you can end up paying a good deal extra for these services. However, a lot of companies will include a satellite dish and installation for no extra cost, so just be sure to read the fine print.
Great article. I’m just starting to look into cutting the cord and this was most helpful. I just ordered an Arris 6183 and Netgear R6400 in preparation for switching from Centurylink DSL (1.3Mbps max in our area) to Suddenlink (200 Mbps) as our current DSL modem/WI-FI router belongs to Centurylink. I’m leaning toward Sony Playstation Vue and noticed that you preferred the Amazon Fire TV streaming device for this. I was wondering what makes it better for Vue? Thanks
Let's not forget that most of us have access to live television! I know it sounds arcane, but it is still possible to pick up most major channels using a high-definition digital antenna. If the biggest thing holding you back from taking the leap is that you just can't wait an extra second to watch that television show, a good digital antenna will do the trick.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a movie night on every day of the week? Instead of just the weekends? Well, with the right cable company, you totally can! And what’s more, many cable TV providers even offer neat mobile apps with their plans. These allow you to take your screen-time with you wherever you go. Imagine watching your favorite movies & TV shows in the car, at work, or in the park. And continuing from where you left off once you’re back in your living room. By getting to know all the cable providers in your area, you can also cash-in on the best deals. So consider giving one of our friendly sales reps a call. And be guided on everything to do with gaining a cable TV subscription. Who knows, we might have a spectacular TV package simply waiting for you!
One of the more popular options for watching streamed TV shows leaves out the media streaming software and network media device altogether, and has you just connecting your desktop or laptop directly to your HDTV. With this option you all you need is a TV and a desktop or laptop with a video output. Our laptop has a HDMI output, so it works well to connect it to our HDTV if we want.
If you don’t have or don’t like any of the options above, there are a few ways to turn your TV into a “Smart TV.” There are a number of ways to do this. In the next section, I’ll cover the subscription services available. Certain devices only work on certain equipment so I’ll cover a few of these combinations in the Streaming Devices section of the post.
Showtime Online has a unique service of being able to be added on to other services that you may already subscribe to. For $9 a month, it can be added to Amazon Prime and Hulu and for $11, Playstation Vue. Showtime offers you award-winning series like Dexter, Weeds and House of Lies as well as a large selection of movies including action, comedies and dramas added each month. The stand-alone service is $11 and it offers both live viewing and streaming.
This streaming service so happens to be more current and up to date than Netflix. The drawback about this is that the latest movies and TV shows (from both broadcast and cable) often come with an extra price tag. Regardless, its HBO library is to die for. Episodes of shows you wouldn’t find anywhere else like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, Oz, and Band of Brothers are available for free with your subscription, and you won’t find them anywhere else. It’s HBO content covers up for the lack of its attention-grabbing originals. There are no adds, and the subscription fee is 99$ a year, but if you do the math you’ll realize that it’s less than 9$ a month.
The majority of Hulu content, and indeed the content upon which the service was founded, is current seasons of broadcast TV shows. With Hulu you can view current episodes of broadcast TV shows, with commercials, the day after they air. TV antenna users already have access to this content live, on the day that it airs, can record it on a DVR, skip commercials and don't have to use up data to stream it. Also, the non-broadcast content on Hulu, except for originals, can usually be found on Amazon or Vudu.
The Amazon Fire TV specs are enough to allow for playing over 300 console and PC Games. If you are a gamer and want to stream games, then this is the one to get. The Fire is rooted in the Amazon Prime service and if you don’t plan on using Amazon Instant Video then the Fire TV may not be for you. You get 1 month of Amazon Prime free if you want to give the service a try.
DirecTV Now offers a generous number of channels across four different packages, and it doesn't cost all that much, considering how much you get: $35 per month for more than 60 channels, up to $70 per month for more than 120 channels. While it's a good deal on paper, DirecTV Now itself has inconsistent video quality, a suboptimal interface and a haphazard selection of on-demand content. DVR options are still in their infancy, and platform availability is all over the place. If you want the largest amount of stuff to watch for the least amount of money, DirecTV Now works; otherwise, it's not the best choice.
Already mentioned in another thread, but, SlingTV has good sports coverage -- otherwise, we use OTA for, e.g. PBS -- but, beware that the SlingTV WebOS client (runs on LG 4K TVs) is unreliable with some sports channels. (With others, it works fine ?!) The SlingTV WebOS client needs to be robustified. SlingTV works fine via web/chrome/Windows10 and on IOS.
The moment for me when the idea of dropping TV service became a long term prospect rather than just a short term experiment so I could write this article, was when I plugged in the antenna. The fact that I can get such high quality output, for network and PBS channels I had been paying for makes it hard for me to envision going back to a cable TV subscription. In addition, I have to sit through far fewer commercials (though I suspect that may change over time). Watching Netflix movies on the TV is much more satisfying than on the smaller computer screen and of course the freedom to watch current TV programs on my own schedule is a huge benefit when juggling the demands of work and family. I know there will be times during the year when a sports event I want to watch will be unavailable. But there's just no arguing with the dramatic cost savings. Pay TV is undeniably a richer experience, but is it worth a 330% premium? Not for me.
Prime ($8.99/mo., $119/yr.): If you shop a lot on Amazon, it’s already worth it to pay the hundred bucks a year (or $12.99/mo.) for Prime, which includes the streaming Prime Video service, the Prime Music service, some free Kindle books and free two-day shipping on many products. If you’re not big on yearly commitments, you can still get just the video service for $8.99 a month.
There are not any additional steps as you just press the “cast” button on the app you want to show on your TV. This also works with the Google Chrome browser after installing a simple plugin. There are no frills with this one, but it does exactly what we need for cutting cable TV at a great price. If you are comfortable using your phone as your main content delivery mechanism than Chromecast is a good choice. Otherwise, I would look to Roku, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire TV.
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It could be true that choosing one of these options won’t get you all of shows you could get with cable. However, if you truly want to get rid of cable, knowing what some of the options are can help you choose the BEST one. Then you can make the decision of whether or not it is worth it to spend the additional money to get the extra one or two channels through cable OR sacrifice one or two shows to save a BUNCH of money. It just depends your priorities.
Satellite providers like DISH and DIRECTV host service in all 50 states. The only clear differentiator between satellite and cable TV, is that satellite requires a dish on your roof. Unlike the slow speeds that come with satellite internet service, there are no restrictions on your television service. In fact, both DISH and DIRECTV offer a vast range of channels and exclusive sports packages like NFL Fantasy Zone and MLB Network Strike Zone.
No cable service truly offers a la carte cable TV. However, through VUDU, iTunes and Amazon (even if you’re not a Prime Instant Video subscriber) you can buy episodes of entire seasons of shows a la carte. This includes shows currently airing. At first, that might seem expensive, but shows are $1.99 an episode and you can get a discount on the season pass. I saved a ton of cash this way when my family cut the cord. My family purchases only 3-4 season passes a year, keeping it under $10 a month.
If you haven’t heard of Tablo, it is a clever little box. You plug it into your wall socket, connect your over-the-air TV antenna to the Tablo, and then download the sister app to your phone or tablet. The Tablo can connect to your house router via WiFi or by using the included Ethernet cable. I used the cable. Then the app brings up an easy-to-use TV guide on your phone. You can record shows and series as you would with any other DVR, and you can watch live TV through it. Its playback functions and interface are awesome -- much easier to traverse than the one I pay for with ATT -- and let me zip through commercials in seconds. In another part of my home, I have a smart TV with Roku built in. It has a Tablo app on it that allows me to watch my recordings or live TV on the big screen. And I also have a Chromecast on my other TV to do the same.
A library card can be a powerful thing. With hoopla, you can use your library card to borrow movies and TV shows each month. The selection might not exactly be as current as what you’ll find in your local Redbox parked outside the grocery store, but it’s a massive resource to watch free movies online. It’s worth considering since it’s right in front of you.
There are few networks dealing with this migration to live streaming better than CBS. Their standalone live streaming channel CBSN functions with its own news anchors and has a vibrant roundup of breaking news from around the world. So it really kicks cable-stalwart networks like CNN in shins. CBSN has original programming, including CBSN: On Assignment.
Apple TV has direct access to some streaming services using the remote control, and for others you must use an Apple device to cast the service to the TV. In addition, neither Chromecast nor Apple TV provides native access to the Amazon streaming service, so if you are an Amazon Prime member using either of these devices you are missing out on the valuable benefits from your Prime membership.
6 months ago I decided to try and replace my Dish Network service. I built a HTPC with plenty of power, storage, and have a pretty high speed internet service. I put up an outside antenna and get all the stations from about 60 miles away in the computer using a Hauppauge 4 tuner card. Then I started looking at program content providers including IPTV providers and several others such as Hulu and DirecTV Now. I was able to get Kodi and NextPVR loaded on the computer and had some success with OTA and the 2nd IPTV provider I tried. Then I had a problem with them. I decided I would go with DirecTV Now and actually got it working but not with Kodi. I think PlayOn will allow me to connect DTVN to Kodi but not sure how that will work.
Every cable-replacement service has strengths and weaknesses. This list is presented in order from the strongest overall (PlayStation Vue) to the weakest (DirecTV Now). While your preference among services may depend on what you want to watch, which programs you want to record and how much you're willing to pay, this guide should help you decide what's worth your money.
BMT, many of the networks are actually raising the prices they charge cable companies because their revenues are down. It is having he opposite affect of your prediction, and many basic cable plans are becoming more expensive. The competition between the major providers is the only thing currently keeping pricing in check. We still have our cable for the time being, but I wouldn’t be opposed to dropping cable at some point – we rarely watch much TV. Unfortunately, the channels we watch most often are cable only channels! 🙂
This streaming service has the seasons of most, if not all, broadcast TV series such as (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, The CW) with the latest recently aired episodes. Hulu also hosts a large selection of cable network series (including Comedy Central, MTV, and A&E). They have a movie library, but its content is not that good. Although their number of originals doesn’t match those of Netflix, Hulu has been trying to push some of its originals like The Hotwives of Orlando and Deadbeat. Their service costs about 7.99$ a month, 11.99$ if you want a commercial-free streaming experience. For those who are addicted to traditional television, Hulu Live TV is their best chance at watching the full lineups of national networks and locals. If you’re are TV-oriented, Hulu Plus is the best option for you. While you can get plenty of Hulu for free, paying 8$ on a monthly basis will get you the next-day service you need.
Hulu is a great option if you want to watch Hulu original series or currently airing shows soon after they broadcast (along with many past seasons). The only catch? Unless you want to upgrade to the commercial-free version ($12), you’ll have to sit through some repetitive ads. So if you’d rather not wait to keep watching, maybe cough up the extra four bucks. Still, it's one of the best alternatives to cable tv on the market.
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But if you are serious about cutting the cord, you might want to invest in less-expensive, dedicated solution called a dongle. Smart TVs are great, but technology updates so quickly that it doesn't take long before the "smart" functionality becomes a bit antiquated and you probably don't want to switch out your TV every few years. Dongles include: