We included our custom-built XBMC media center—not everyone's taste, but a geekier option we love—for a bit of extra comparison (Note: since the writing of this article, streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon have gotten much more difficult in XBMC. See this post for more information). Obviously, you can't boil down five devices into just a small chart, though. So, we played with each of these five devices over the course of a few weeks, and here are our thoughts on each one: what it does well, what it lacks, and who it's good for.

I’m a 39 yr old single father, custody of my 3 year old, pay child support from my first marriage, (excessive amount in my opinion but I grit my teeth and persevere). Two divorces, debt from first marriage, legal fees. I’ve been swimming in debt for 10 years now. I’m fortunate to have a company match savings plan, and I consolidated all my debt by borrowing against my own retirement savings at 3.75 simple interest. Even having a good paying job doesn’t fix the debt problem quickly however. So I have cut every reasonable corner. Cable TV was gone a long time ago. I started out with my laptop and an S Video cable to my TV. For months I would just browse the web for anything free and entertaining. Then a friend with Netflix let me “borrow” her account for a while and I got hooked on the children’s content alone. $7.99/mo is a steal for the endless videos for my son, and most educational! Later I added the Hulu Plus subscription. I’m still paying only $16 a month plus $38/mo for broadband for my video entertainment vs the $120/mo I was paying for cable and Internet before. I also recently got the Roku player, and just recently downloaded PlayOn. Now a tip for computer users. You can get a USB remote keyboard and mouse. That’s what I did for a year to act as my “remote control”. I still have my laptop going to my S video and use the TV screen as a big monitor. But the various devices like Roku and XBox etc are also great for practical purposes. It makes it much more like watching cable. Another tip. I have a smart phone with YouTube. During lulls at work, I comb the Internet for various websites like “Chockadoc.com” that have a library of Documenaries that they link to from YouTube. I will find a title that interests me, go to YouTube and search it, add it to my favorites, and then when I get home in the evening I access YouTube through PlayOn and watch it. If it weren’t for kids programming on Netflix I’d be tempted to drop my subscription. Oh, another tip. Roku supports developers who create “private channels” similar to the way jailbroken iPhones have some great non iStore apps. One you can get is JustIn.tv …. I’m not promoting this, it’s a perfectly legal streaming service for creating private streaming channels. I’ve seen people stream video of their pet goldfish all day. And If you are easily offended, there are other things you will see, so avoid children in the room if you are browsing the channels. But some people do stream television content. Not promoting this, but if you just HAVE to watch the Superbowl :-) oh and for some sports, Southeastern Conference football comes to mind, some networks like CBS Sports will stream live premium games. And there are always sports bars and grills that have TVs if missing a game would ruin your weekend. Cable TV would not have lost me if they’d modernize their business model to adapt to the digital age. It’s too easy for them to offer packages that allow you to pick the channels that interest you and no more. Last thought. My provider allowance is 50 gigs a month. This is something you should check into because some providers have smaller allowances. Ive yet to consume all 50 in a month but I’ve used 80% before.
Amazon Fire ($39.99 - $74.99): Amazon’s set-top box and its cheaper stick have the advantage of syncing well with any other Amazon devices you may have. You can ask your Alexa to find a show for you, and after you start watching it, you can pause it on your TV and pick it up later on your Fire tablet. As with the Roku, the Amazon Fire’s features have also been integrated into a smart TV. The most expensive version of the box adds an HD antenna for picking up free over-the-air local broadcast signals. One common complaint about Fire devices is that they push Amazon Prime Video content over that of other streaming video companies, but that’s a bit of a nitpick. Netflix and Hulu shows are still easy to access with this interface.
Investors also pressured media companies to take Netflix’s cash. Take, for instance, Time Warner Inc., which is now owned by AT&T Inc. While Disney, CBS, and others licensed many of their old shows to Netflix, Time Warner initially held out. Starting in 2009, Time Warner and Comcast Corp. tried to rally the industry around an idea to slow Netflix by making TV episodes available online—but only to cable subscribers. The idea was called TV Everywhere.
Netflix.com:  Slightly more, but the added convenience of keeping the movies and TV shows as long as you want, and being able to stream a selection of movies and TV shows over the computer, or networked media device.  Netflix is getting better all the time, now with great original series like House of Cards. Find all plans and how to maximize your return on this post:  How Much Netflix Costs.
Direct TV Now is a streaming service from AT&T that offers live TV programming over the Internet. It gives you access to over 60 live channels for $35 per month. This includes popular stations, such as CNN, the Hallmark Channel, ESPN, the Disney Channel, HGTV, TBS, Discovery, Bravo, Animal Planet and Bloomberg, among many others. But you can also choose to add HBO, Starz or Showtime for an extra $5 to $8 per month. 

Ultimately, your final decision will completely depend on your needs, what services you subscribe to, and how much of a hassle you're willing to deal with. I'm still married to my home-built XBMC box, but I'd have to say the Roku was easily my favorite of the pre-built options. It's insanely cheap, has tons of streaming services, and with the addition of Plex, can even do some basic playing of network files. The Boxee Box was also pretty nice if you're willing to sit and configure it, while the Apple TV and WD TV Live provided great plug-and-play solutions. The Google TV is a bit more of a wild card for those that have specific needs, but provides a lot of configurability and niche apps that the others don't have (or, alternatively, makes a great feature-filled Plex box). Check out the home pages for each device to see more about what they offer and where you can buy your own.
Someone mentioned using a splitter with the high speed internet service to get free cable tv. That can’t work. I already had such a splitter (and still do) when I had cable tv, and the cable line went into a cable box. I had to return the box when I cancelled service. Our cable company is switching everyone including the basic cable tv customers to digital which means that everyone must have a cable box in order to get cable tv.
In response to Rob’s comment about the No Subscription Required site being safe or not ? I have been a fan of this site for the last five years without any problems caused to my pc, i have been careful to view links that are free steaming and not the download links, that can cause entering of viruses and spyware, this is maybe what happened to you. Only today have i seen the latest listing from No Subscription Required.net of Vwho.net that gives you all the possible links to all the latest media, my thanks to the site for giving us such a great service.
It’s really not that big of a shock that a major TV provider has inconsistent customer service at best. We pitted DIRECTV and DISH against each other in the customer service department, and DISH falls short on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI1).  From our experience, you can expect longer hold times with DISH’s customer service department.
You'll want an Omni-directional antenna if the TV broadcast towers are scattered around the home. An Omni-directional antenna is typically round-shaped like a disc and receives TV signals equally from all directions (360 degrees). If the TV broadcast towers are in the same general direction from the home (example: all towers are located north of the home), then a directional antenna can be used instead. An advantage of a multi-directional antenna is that it is usually rated for greater distances from the TV towers, and it can be pointed to receive maximum reception of these signals.
Always take a moment on a new TV to switch off any special features that are meant to reduce motion-blurring. (These go by different names depending on the manufacturer, but the setting typically has the word “motion” in it, as in Sony’s “Motionflow” or LG’s “TruMotion.”) These settings tend to make movies and even most modern television shows look more flat and artificial, in what’s often called “the soap opera effect.”
In September 2015, Ofcom found RT in breach of the impartiality rules in its coverage of the events in Ukraine and Syria. It also upheld the complaint by the BBC that allegations made in an episode of The Truthseeker that a BBC Panorama film, Saving Syria's Children, had faked a parts of a report on a chemical weapon attack in Syria were "materially misleading".[26][253][254]
The good news is that nearly all of these services offer the ESPN family of networks as standard, at the lowest tier. Many then offer regional Fox Sports channels, and even an array of overseas sports broadcasts. Soccer fanatics should also look into FuboTV, which emphasizes the major sports leagues in general but is particularly generous with international football. Again, be sure to check with the various live TV providers to see what you’re allowed to see in your region and for what price. (If you can afford it, consider Playstation Vue, which offers easy access to the many games streaming every day on ESPN’s website.) ESPN also now offers ESPN+, which features a selection of live games from professional and college sports, along with access to the network's documentary films and some studio content exclusive to the subscription service.

If you aren’t willing to spend the money for any of the above options, some of the networks will stream events like the Superbowl for free on YouTube or within their own app for smart TVs and mobile devices. The top networks know that people are cutting off their cable subscriptions in droves, and in order to keep them interested in the sports they broadcast, they are coming up with new ways for you to watch. So, just check with the channel that will be airing the event you want to see and find out if they are going to allow the public to stream it for free, with commercial interruptions, of course.

According to Jesse Zwick, RT persuades "legitimate experts and journalists" to appear as guests by allowing them to speak at length on issues ignored by larger news outlets. It frequently interviews progressive and libertarian academics, intellectuals and writers from organisations like The Nation, Reason magazine, Human Events, Center for American Progress[142] and the Cato Institute[45] who are critical of United States foreign and civil liberties policies.[142] RT also features little known commentators, including anarchists, anti-globalists and left-wing activists.[96] Journalist Danny Schechter holds that a primary reason for RT's success in the United States is that RT is "a force for diversity" which gives voice to people "who rarely get heard in current mainstream US media."[40]
Consensus: If you're trying to spend the least amount possible and are content with the 30-ish channels that Sling Orange offers, then only paying $20 a month is a sweet deal for you — and is a low price you won't find on most other streaming services. However, if you're thinking about opting for Sling's most expensive package, we'd suggest going with DirecTV's basic plan instead. You'll get a few more channels (over 60) and will be paying $5 less per month.
I returned several before I tried this ClearStream 4V. This time, however, I did pair my antenna with an amplifier. Now I'm not sure if that actually made a difference, but I was finally picking up some channels so I didn't want to mess with it anymore! I am getting 16 digital channels, which I know isn't much compared to what most people are able to pick up, but given the fact that I live in the middle of no where (we don't even have cell phone service at home), I am happy.

PlayStation Vue: With the $30-per-month Access Slim plan, you get CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, HLN, Fox Business, and CNBC. In some markets where local broadcast feeds are available, that price jumps to $40 per month for the Access plan. BBC World News requires an Elite plan for $15 per month more. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, and PlayStation consoles
"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."
ClearStream's final entry is the 4MAX, which is an improvement on the 4V when it comes to range and general setup. Quality-wise, this offers what you'd expect from the previous ClearStream antennas with a 70- mile range and 4K capability. That said, the 4MAX is able to bump up the range a bit in the right conditions. And it does use a more streamlined design over the 4V, making the overall setup much easier and saving a bit of space.
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