The interface is very pretty and shockingly easy to use. Plug in your USB drive and go to "Files" to start playing them. Have some files stored on the network? Just go to Movies or TV shows and add it as a source. Head to Services for streaming channels like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu movies, MLB, and a few others. The remote is a traditional remote that feels a little cheap, but works as well as you'd expect. The interface is also somewhat configurable, letting you view your movies and shows in a few different list formats.
You’d be surprised Vicki, many can’t part with either for some reason. That said, taking a look at that site there are very few series available on it so it wouldn’t be a good option for many. I’d also disagree that you can get most of what you want to watch online. For many they’ll want or need a streaming services to replace the channels/shows they watch most.
Hey I noticed that you keep mentioning you need internet, but haven’t said whether you need and internet device like a wifi hotspot etc, or whether having a wifi service via your phone service would suffice?? Tv, have it, phone with wifi have it. Can the 2 be connected with a fire stick or do we need an actual playstation or wifi hotspot, or internet service through a seperate company?? Thanks.
I have the exact same problem as Cara, which just started today. Everything was working perfectly yesterday. All I had to do was plug in my hdmi cable, set my tv to hdmi & I could get video & audio (didn't have to change any settings to get audio). Now today, suddenly, I've got no audio. I didn't make any changes or do anything different b/w last night and today, yet the audio stopped working. I did e/thing Cara did, except her "fix" didn't work for me (ie. changing the default audio to tv in the control panel of my laptop). Even when I "tested" the speakers, the sound came out of the tv, just like it did for Cara. So some setting somewhere got changed w/o my knowledge, I just can't figure out what it is. Ugh. My laptop is a Lenovo ideapad & I have a Vizio smart hdtv if that makes a difference. Can ANYBODY help those of us still having this problem? Please. Thank you
The setup I talked about above is only one way to get free or low cost TV content.   Another way we get free content at home is through the free over-the-air HDTV channels that are now available to everyone who has a HDTV tuner and an antenna.  Did you know that 94 of the top 100 watched shows are shown on network television – that you can get over-the-air?
When deal searching, be sure to inquire about the data download caps of your potential internet service provider. They will typically indicate this in the gigabytes (GB) you can transfer in a month. In this case, your video quality is an important factor. For example, a cap of 250 GB will allow for about 280 hours of standard definition streaming, but only 83 hours of high definition at 1080p. So be mindful and aware of the fine print.
Philo, like nearly every other service listed here, gives you a long list of popular cable channels to watch live over the internet. But it differs significantly in what content is supports — or more accurately, doesn’t support. Despite boasting a bevy of channels, including Viacom-owned favorites like MTV and Comedy Central  (absent from many competing services), the four major networks — Fox, NBC, CBS, and ABC — are not carried by Philo, nor is anything from ABC’s parent company, Disney. That means, along with no local affiliates, there is also no ESPN. When it comes to locals, though, many viewers can get them over the air with a simple (and affordable) HD antenna for free.
Consensus: We'd pay for Hulu just for access to the originals. The thought of that, plus access to live TV and most of the classic channels you'd want from cable anyway (except for Viacom, RIP) isn't a bad gig. However, other premium services like DirecTV NOW and PlayStation Vue offer more channels in their base package for the same price (or less), so if you weren't with Hulu in the first place for the non-live stuff, you'll probably want to look elsewhere. But if all you want are some basic news channels plus a few extras, Hulu is where it's at.
Hulu With Live TV ($39.99/mo.): The package varies from region to region, but for the most part this is one of the most conveniently cable-like services out there. It has most of the major basic cable channels — including ESPN and the big cable news outlets (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News) — and some local broadcast channels. The base price also includes everything that standard Hulu has to offer and up to 50 hours of DVR recording of live telecasts. For additional fees, users can eliminate commercials on Hulu shows, expand the DVR storage and add subscriptions to HBO, Cinemax and Showtime.
In the UK the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB) has included RT in the viewer data it publishes since 2012.[103] According to their data approximately 2.5 million Britons watched RT during the third quarter of 2012, making it the third most-watched rolling news channel in Britain, behind BBC News and Sky News (not including Sky Sports News).[90][124][125] However RT was soon overtaken by Al Jazeera English,[126] and viewing figures had dropped to about 2.1 million by the end of 2013.[127] For comparison it has marginally fewer viewers than S4C, the state-funded Welsh language broadcaster,[128] or minor channels such as Zing, Viva and Rishtey.[129] According to internal documents submitted for Kremlin review, RT's viewership amounts to less than 0.1 percent of Europe's television audience, except in Britain, where 2013 viewership was estimated at approximately 120,000 persons per day.[121] According to the leaked documents, RT was ranked 175th out of 278 channels in Great Britain in May 2013, or in fifth place out of eight cable news channels.[121] In August 2015, RT's average weekly viewing figure had fallen to around 450,000 (0.8 percent of the total UK audience), 100,000 fewer than in June 2012 and less than half that of Al Jazeera English.[103][130] In March 2016 the monthly viewing was figure 0.04%.[131]
As far as watching shows when they air, if it’s a show on one of the cable networks you may or may not get the show a day or two after it airs on a service like Hulu. Otherwise you might need to pay for that particular show on a service like Amazon – which in many cases is still cheaper than paying for cable. Or in some cases you can watch live shows on a service like Sling TV.
Usually, the apps themselves are free. However, some networks offer paid subscription options to access certain shows or old episodes. But that doesn’t mean the cost isn’t potentially reasonable, depending on how many shows you may watch. For example, CBS All Access is available for as little as $5.99 per month (plus tax), which isn’t bad in comparison to the cost of cable.
My take is that they are focused on the areas that get NO cable service because they know it’s a slam dunk so they charge rates that are more expensive for what they offer because they can. It’s like this, if they want my business, they have to have the same TV channels for less and they are so far from it. Also, if they do undercut any pricing, it’s marginal because they are trying to maximize their profits exponentially. Take a look at the free trials they all offer. They’re almost all the same: 1 week, or maybe 5 days, and then the monthly rate kicks in. What a joke. They’re greedy.
Armed with technology that makes a smaller antenna possible and a digital protocol that makes the signals easier to capture over longer distances, antenna companies are now delivering powerful long-range units with home decor as a design directive, resulting in small, unobtrusive and even fashionable indoor models. Mark Buff, CEO of antenna maker Mohu says that with cable TV having been the norm for so long, "many people had forgotten that OTA (over the air) signals still exist. But we're now seeing increased interest by cord cutters. And even customers who aren't cancelling subscriptions are using antennas for second and third TVs as well as for their vacation homes, saving the cost of additional cable boxes."

All that said, Google TV does have a feature that is—in my opinion—the Holy Grail feature of set-top boxes: universal search. If you enter the TV & Movies app and search for a TV show, it'll show you a list of seasons and episodes. Select an episode and it'll show you which services it's available on (like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube). You can then decide from there which service you want to use to watch it. It's a lot nicer than having to search each library separately for that show that's harder to find. Every device should implement this, and I really hope Google expands it to include other apps in the future.


If you need a cheap alternative to a gaming system I’d highly recommend the $35 Google Chromecast. I did a full review of it here: Google Chromecast review. Basically you can use it in conjunction with services like Netflix, Hulu, Google Play and others for cheap entertainment. It can also stream online shows in your Chrome web browser from your computer over the wi-fi connection. We’ve been using it a bunch lately and love it.
Very interesting reading. I am wondering if you are familiar with Kodi? I (think) it’s Linux-based, runs on pc and Mac. You can also create a “private” DVR (using an external hard drive is best, since you can get a 2TB for around $80). I’ll admit I need more info! Anything is better than paying ridiculous amounts to satellite / cable companies. Any thoughts?
Amazon has invested heavily in creating original TV shows, and often asks viewers to vote on the pilots they'd like Amazon to develop into full seasons (supposedly they're doing away with "pilot season" in the future). Great shows include The Tick, Sneaky Pete, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Catastrophe, Bosch, Mozart in the Jungle, and The Man in the High Castle.

"wow, goodbye cablevision!!!!! hello playstation vue. what a rip off cable tv really is. we are paying an outrageous amount of money for 18 minutes of actual programing and the rest of the hour is commercials. thank you play station vue for coming up with this app, so easy to use and great customer service, my husband and i are enjoying all the benefits and programing on this app. when all is said and done, we will have picked netflix, playstation and internet at just at $100 plus tax, our savings is big and we are very happy."


The answer to that will depend on what you’re specifically looking for from television. If your answer is “I want it all,” then honestly, you may be better off sticking with cable or satellite, because getting it “all” piecemeal will likely be prohibitively expensive. But if you have particular areas of interest, cord-cutting is definitely feasible and probably cheaper. (More advice on how to cut your bill without fully cutting the cord can be found in this guide from Wirecutter.)
1. Buy an HDTV antenna. Since 2007, local TV stations have been broadcasting digital signals so crisp that the reception is better than that of cable TV. Plus, despite all the hype about shows on niche networks, 19 of the top 20 TV shows in 2016 aired on over-the-air broadcast networks. That’s why Step 1 is to buy an antenna. These are not your father’s antennas. No rabbit ears necessary. A modern digital TV antenna can be so sleek it will match your decor or so skinny you can mount it out of sight. When Consumer Reports tested antennas ranging in price from $8 to $80, it found the cheapest often performed just as well as the priciest. So try an inexpensive one first and upgrade only if necessary.
DirecTV Now ($35/mo. - $70/mo.): The breadth of channels and the reasonable pricing tiers will make DirecTV an attractive option to a lot of cord-cutters — especially those who already have AT&T mobile phone plans, which offer heavy discounts on this service. As always, the availability of local channels varies. And unlike the live TV services above, DirecTV Now is not the best place for watching a show after it airs. The service has DVR cloud storage, but it is still being developed, and at the moment it is relatively limited in storage and functionality when compared with many of its competitors.
Although these drawbacks sound fairly significant, streaming sports can work out well if what you want to watch is available on your service of choice. For example, football fans can pay $20 to $40 a month during the college and NFL seasons, stream almost all the games to any device, and then cancel when the season ends; if you want to watch only March Madness, a single month of streaming will get you access to all the games.
On January 5, 2009, Lionsgate announced its intent to purchase TV Guide Network and TV Guide Online for $255 million in cash. Lionsgate closed the transaction on March 2, 2009.[23] The following April, Lionsgate announced plans to revamp the network into a more entertainment-oriented channel, including plans to discontinue the bottom-screen scrolling program listings grid that has been a part of the channel since its inception in late 1981;[24][25][26] this was partly because internet-based TV listings websites, mobile applications and the on-screen interactive program guides (IPGs) built directly into most modern cable and satellite set-top terminals (such as TV Guide's own IPG software, TV Guide Interactive, which is visually similar in its presentation to the channel's pre-2015 listings grid) as well as into digital video recorders like TiVo eliminated the need for a dedicated television listings channel by providing the same information in a speedier manner, and often in much more detail and with greater flexibility. Even so, the channels that were listed in the grid, long after many providers began offering digital cable service, were usually limited to those within their expanded basic tier, with only select channels on its digital service appearing in a separate grid towards the end of the listings cycle. Following the announcement, Mediacom announced that it would be dropping the network;[27] Time Warner Cable also dropped the network from its Texas systems.[28]
Hulu and CBS All Access are the best places to start here, with Netflix as a potential add-on. You also may want to invest in an antenna to see if you can pick up a local channel that carries MeTV or a similar retro television service. Also, since the Philo live TV service has Nickelodeon and TV Land (and is super-cheap, starting at a bare-bones package for $16 a month), it might be worth subscribing to that as well.
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.). 
I have Comcast for internet but included the basic TV package since our OTA antenna does not pick up all local stations well in our area. PBS does not come in at all. Playon is a great addition to our Roku which we use with Hulu Plus to catch up on the TV shows we don’t have time to watch when they are on (I’m a Castle addict). I try to keep up with new private channels and plugins periodically. I also have a Touchpad and downloaded a wonderful app for $2 called Video Flood HD to stream other shows I can’t get elsewhere, including HGTV. Not sure if something like it is available for other platforms, but it would be great if a similar app was available to integrate into Roku or Playon.
We interviewed about 20 current and former industry executives and analysts to understand why traditional television has started losing its foothold in America’s living rooms. Some blamed their peers for decisions that made cable too pricey or opened the door to online competition, and many declined to be identified for fear of angering business associates. In reality, almost everyone played a role in jeopardizing the business.
Beyond the DVR issue, DirecTV Now is one of the stingiest services we’ve seen when it comes to simultaneous screens. You can only stream on two devices at a time, regardless of which channel package you choose. So even if you put down good money to get the $70-per-month “Gotta Have It” channel package with 120 channels, you still won’t get any additional streams added to your account.
"This is great, and much cheaper than cable! Sucks not having DVR, but they do have a good selection of on demand stuff, and with the fire box I run this through I can also download a lot of channel apps to watch stuff Direct TV Now doesn't stream on demand. Great channel lineup, everyone knows sports channels cost the most, not being much of a sports fan I got no use out of them. But that didn't stop my cable provider from making me get and pay for them with a basic package. So all in all I am very happy with this service, yes a couple of glitches/downers, but the price is right, and the customer care is great. Since cutting the cable I have not looked back."
"Who wouldn't like to go from a $100+ cable TV bill with a bunch of channels we never watch to $25 for basically the ones we *do* watch? Yes, there are limits (mainly local TV, but it appears that may be coming soon). We're just glad that we no longer have to be affected by the cable stranglehold and the lack of response to customers who are looking for choice. Do it."
For example, CBS offers a lot of free full episodes with even more when you sign up for CBS All Access ($59.99/yr with limited commercials or $99.99/yr without commercials after a 7-day free trial). For many shows, like 60 Minutes, you can watch the last 5 episodes for free. Some others have an entire season for free – such as Big Brother: Over the Top.
Also with the transition from Prevue Channel to TV Guide Channel, the nature of the service's scrolling listings grid began to change. During broadcasts of the channel's original primetime series as well as during red carpet awards ceremony coverage, programming started appearing almost entirely full-screen, with a translucent, non-scrolling, two-line version of the channel's regular listings grid occupying only the extreme bottom of the frame. Semi-regular stylistic redesigns of the grid also occurred, and support was added for the display of locally inserted provider logos and graphical advertisements within it. Starting in 2004, light blue backgrounds began to appear on listings for children's programming, complementing the red, green and purple background colors already applied to listings for films, sporting events, and pay-per-view programming respectively.
None of this platform-focused talk is meant to imply that it doesn't matter whether you spend $35 on a streaming device or $200, nor that it doesn't matter whether you choose an external device or a smart TV. But thinking about platforms first is a helpful way to narrow down your options, because – as we'll see in a moment – each of these platforms offers a lineup of its own, which means you'd be dealing with an awful lot of choices if you didn't first take some out of the running.

Bonus: If you take advantage of Amazon Instant Video by purchasing Amazon Prime you’ll get other benefits. You’ll get on-demand, ad-free music streaming.  In addition, you have access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. This means you can borrow one Kindle book a month free with no due dates. Also, you’ll qualify for free unlimited photo storage and more.
Eric narrowly averted a career in food service when he began in tech publishing at Ziff-Davis over 25 years ago. He was on the founding staff of Windows Sources, FamilyPC, and Access Internet Magazine (all defunct, and it's not his fault). He's the author of two novels, BETA TEST ("an unusually lighthearted apocalyptic tale"--Publishers' Weekly) an... See Full Bio
I was very disappointed when the NBC-based channel US Sports went to cable on January 1st. I used to enjoy the gymnastics and skating there. Now, in an Olympic year, they decided to move from the free NBC channel 5.3 to a paid cable channel. It’s like those certain sports events are only available on paid cable, or video reruns on USsports.com. It’s really lousy in an Olympic year!
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