One of the great dreams of cord-cutting is that it will allow consumers to pick only the channels they actually want, rather than paying for programming they never watch. But the services above essentially operate more like traditional cable, providing packages of channels, not all of which are widely desirable. It’s unlikely that any one of these subscriptions will offer everything that a given consumer is looking for, and it will require viewers to scroll past a lot that they don’t.
Loosen and remove the head of the cable wire from the wall cable outlet. Connect the short coaxial TV cable to the wall by placing the head of the cable over the threaded coaxial wall connector. Attach the head of the other end of the short coaxial cable to the single-sided end of the cable splitter. The cable splitter has a one-sided end, where there is a single-threaded coaxial connector for the cable to go in, and a two-sided end, where the cable is split up and transmitted out to two separate TV's.
Video is watched on the desktop via the included app, or is sent over the home network and played full screen through a connected device. In our case that means the Xbox 360, Nexus tablet, Fire TV, Samsung Galaxy Smartphone or Chromecast connected to our 50″ Plasma TV. We can control playback via a smartphone or tablet via the PlayOn app. We can watch our shows on whatever devices we want!
fuboTV recently struck a deal with AMC Networks, which brought AMC, IFC, Sundance TV and BBC America to its sports-first channel lineup. A subscription to the entry-level channel bundle called Fubo Premier gets you 70+ channels. FS1, FS2, NBCSN, CBS, CBS Sports Network, NFL Network, Golf Channel, A&E, History and Travel Channel are included. fuboTV has 80 percent of the regional sports networks offered in the U.S.
The Amazon Fire TV has gone through a few iterations now, getting better with each one. The current version is a veritable revolution in streaming boxes, offering simple operation, as well as the ability to control your entire home theater and smart home system with your voice. That includes the ability to turn on and control basic functionality on other devices, including not only your TV, but also your A/V receiver and even your cable box thanks to CEC control and IR blasters — all with the power of your own voice. The result earned the Cube a perfect score in our recent review and a place on our TV console.
Pros: One benefit is unlimited DVR storage. Your recorded programs will be saved for up to nine months, compared with only about a month on some other streaming services. With more than 50 networks plus local news and sports, YouTube TV's offerings are greater than most of the others on our list. Also, you can create up to six accounts with your subscription, and you can stream on up to three devices at once.
Setting it up is a cinch: just fire up the Roku, go through its initial setup wizard, and start adding channels from its easy-to-browse library. The Roku's remote is a bit big, clunky, and ugly, but it only has a few buttons, making it easy to use. Furthermore, the Roku does a great job of offloading the more complicated processes—like signing into Netflix, Hulu, and other services—to your computer. Instead of using the remote to log in, the Roku gives you a PIN number that you enter in a browser on your computer, linking it to your different accounts. This particular task may seem complicated to first-time users, but it really is a lot more convenient than doing it from the remote.
If you want to take advantage of streaming services — Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and so forth — you'll need a way to display them on your TV. If you have a recent TV from a major manufacturer, you may not need to get anything at all. Smart TVs usually have these apps built in, and almost every high-end TV sold within the last two years or so has smart capabilities.
History appears to be on your side if you're ready to cancel your traditional paid TV subscription. The Video Advertising Bureau released a report suggesting that the number of households without a cable or satellite service in the United States has just about tripled since 2013. As the report doesn't take cable replacement services into account, the actual number might be even higher.
You might think that local news and cable news would be easy to find via your set-top box, but even if you get a live TV subscription, it may be missing your local channels, and it may not have your preferred cable pundits. (Fox News, for example, isn’t available on every service.) Hulu With Live TV will get you a lot of what you need with minimal hassle, but do check out your local line-up on the Hulu website first.
If you (and your significant other) are comfortable with a larger, more industrial design, the $100 ClearStream 2 is an indoor/outdoor antenna that boasts a 50-mile range. The benefit of the more powerful Clearstream 2 is that I could place it anywhere in the room and pull in 70 channels, ranging from the major networks to PBS affiliates and local Spanish and Chinese language broadcasts.
If you want all of those channels, you’ll need to spring for the $40 package, which includes everything in Blue and Orange, or you can augment either package with add-on channels. Add-on packages also vary in pricing and included channels, depending on which package you’re subscribed to, but you can expect to pay between $5 and $20 per month for each. In addition, a dispute over licensing with AT&T has resulted in a blackout of HBO and Univision channels on Sling TV and its parent company, Dish Network.
Being a cord cutter (actually, I've never had cable, so I haven't technically cut any cords), I'm always on the hunt for new ways to keep myself entertained. On Apple TV, I use a handful of apps that, either I subscribe to a streaming service for (like Hulu and Netflix), or offer a free streaming TV feature that doesn't require a cable subscription (like PBS and The CW).
Chromecast – Chromecast devices work a little differently than their competition. The idea with Chromecast is that you choose what to watch on some other device, then sling the screen on up to your TV. So with the itty-bitty Chromecast dongle plugged into your TV, you'd then turn to your laptop, smartphone, tablet, or other device and fire up Netflix or whatever else you want to watch. Then, with the touch of a button, you could put the stream up onto the TV. It's affordable and simple, but the drawback is that it's a bit harder to collaborate with others when choosing what to watch.
NFL Network – Though this is actually the National Football League's official cable channel, its website has a ton of post-game video footage for fans to check out. Due to licensing and TV restrictions, finding a legal way to live stream NFL football is next to impossible unless you live outside the US, but at least you can listen live to every game of the season with an NFL Field Pass.
Most HDTVs made these days have a built in digital tuner. If you bought it a few years ago before the new digital tuners were as common, and it was only advertised as an HDTV monitor, that could be the only caveat. Basically if it has a tuner built in usually it will have a video source on the unit called “TV” or something along those lines. Just plug in an antenna, go to the menu, and have it scan for channels. If you have a tuner those options should be there.
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.
Cons: Those unlimited screens come at an extra cost. Available only to Hulu With Live TV subscribers, the add-on costs an additional $14.99 per month, nearly twice the price of the basic subscription itself. One of users' biggest gripes with the service is that it doesn't allow for offline viewing. A lot of subscribers also recommend the no commercials add-on.