Just because you subscribe to cable or satellite doesn't mean you have to use the provided set-top box. In an effort to become part of the cord-cutting landscape, many of the major cable and satellite providers, who double as internet service providers, let users subscribe and then access all programing via apps rather than the cable box or even the tuner in the TV.
Perhaps the biggest enabler for those aiming to quit cable for good — without giving up live TV — is the growing list of live TV streaming services available, all of which come with free trial periods and no contracts. There are several to choose from, each with its own advantages (and disadvantages). We’ve got a detailed comparison piece that breaks down each of these services in finer detail, but below is a general overview.
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.
Comcast Availability: The Xfinity service area is within the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
PlayStation Vue got its name from Sony's gaming console, the PlayStation. But don't let that name fool you: while PlayStation Vue was originally only available on PlayStation consoles, the service now enjoys broad platform support and is an option for everyone, not just video gamers. PlayStation Vue offers multiple tiers of service at different price points. It offers the major networks in its cheapest package (“Access,” $44.99 per month), and peppers local and regional sports stations in at various price points. Read our full review of PlayStation Vue here.
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 and the Cato Institute who are critical of United States foreign and civil liberties policies. RT also features little known commentators, including anarchists, anti-globalists and left-wing activists. 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."
Another option for the serious bargain seeker is to find the previous generation’s model on a site like eBay, though we obviously can’t vouch for any reliability there. While the previous generation Apple TV is definitely showing its age (and lacks 4K support), it’s still very handy for Apple fans thanks to AirPlay, which easily allows you to stream media from your iPhone or iPad to the TV. Either way, if you’re a big-time Apple fan, the Apple TV 4K is likely to be a viable choice as your streaming hub.
Credit: ShutterstockTom's Guide compared all three services head-to-head-to-head, and discovered that Netflix is generally the best of the three. However, the services do not offer exactly the same thing. Netflix is a good all-purpose service, while Hulu focuses on recently aired TV, and Amazon Prime is part of a larger service that also offers free shipping on Amazon orders, e-book loans and other perks. (Viewers who just want Amazon Video without any other perks can now subscribe to it for $9 per month.)
The New Republic writer James Kirchick accused the network of "often virulent anti-Americanism, worshipful portrayal of Russian leaders." Edward Lucas wrote in The Economist (quoted in Al Jazeera English) that the core of RT was "anti-Westernism." Julia Ioffe wrote "Often, it seemed that Russia Today was just a way to stick it to the U.S. from behind the façade of legitimate newsgathering." Shaun Walker wrote in The Independent that RT "has made a name for itself as a strident critic of US policy." Allesandra Stanley wrote in The New York Times that RT is "like the Voice of America, only with more money and a zesty anti-American slant." David Weigel writes that RT goes further than merely creating distrust of the United States government, to saying, in effect: "You can trust the Russians more than you can trust those bastards."
To be honest, if you've got a decent laptop and a nice TV, with an HDMI cable between them you have all you need to be a cord cutter. Stream on your laptop and watch on the big screen. Or use your phone; the apps out there for casting or mirroring what you see on the phone to the TV are too numerous to mention. (Read How to Connect Your iPhone or iPad to Your TV for more.)
If you're looking to stream from more than a few services, this is the box to get. It's got nearly everything, and you can keep your menu as minimal or as packed as you want. The other services like games are nice, too. If you want to play local files too, you can do so with Plex, but don't expect an insanely full-featured media center out of it. All in all, if streaming is your top priority, get a Roku.
Other important factors include cloud DVR and the interface itself. Yes, most of the services above allow you to record and play back shows, just like a traditional cable or satellite DVR, but they often come with restrictions. Some services have a traditional, cable-box-like menu system, while some are more experimental (read: they have a steep learning curve).
Ultrafast broadband is defined as any broadband connection with a speed of 300Mbps or greater. Gigabit broadband refers to a connection with a speed of 1,000Mbps, so while you might call a gigabit connection 'ultrafast', not all ultrafast connections are a gigabit. Virgin Media is the only widely available provider to offer speeds in this range. However, there are very few cases where such speeds are necessary.