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.

Netflix is a great place for binge-watching entire seasons all at once. But unless it’s a Netflix original series, you’ll just have to wait until a season finishes airing to get started. But hey, no commercials! Accessing the service shouldn’t be a problem either. You probably have 10 devices in your house right now that came preloaded with the Netflix app. But if you want to use Netflix on more than one device at once, you’ll have to upgrade to the Standard ($10) or Premium ($12) plan.

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You forgot Playstation Vue. It’s way better than Sling (Sling’s app is terrible), has full function cloud DVR and OnDemand access, and has access to local Comcast SportsNet channels (DirecTV Now doesn’t in Philly). I’ve been using Vue for 6 months and I did a trial of DirectTV Now and Sling. DirecTV probably has the best app (Amazon Fire), but Vue has the best content if you’re a sports fan. Sling is a distant 3rd, worst app and worst performance.
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.
YouTube TV has been rolled out methodically, market-by-market, but the slow-and-steady approach has helped it offer a really robust product to those in its range. YouTube TV is pretty widely available now, so it's worth checking it out and seeing if you can use YouTube TV to watch live local TV without cable. For those in the right markets, YouTube TV could be a way to watch local feeds of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. YouTube TV costs $40 per month once your free trial is up (and you can sign up for that free trial via the link below).
Of course, as mentioned above, watching live sports through a streaming service means you’ll suffer a bit of a delay. If you’re watching the game on your own, you probably won’t notice, but you won’t want to follow along on Twitter or read text messages from your friends if you want to avoid spoilers. (Wirecutter staffers sometimes notice the neighbors yelling after an exciting play only to see it happen on our TVs 15 to 30 seconds later.) And if you’re using an older media streamer, we’ve found that Sling TV can start to stutter and lag after streaming a football game for two-plus hours; we “fix” the problem by restarting the app during a commercial break.
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.
Thanks for the list! I’ve been living without cable for 2.5 years and it’s great! I am surprised so many people continue to pay for cable, especially with prices for everything else going up. I watch a few broadcast shows, and then any shows I miss I can usually find online. I started out using fanpop.com but think I’ll check out a few of the above to compare. As for LM&M’s comments about talking about the shows at work….I think that you (David) work from home. 🙂 I say try the no-cable route for a while. You can always buy a package later…
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.
Another drawback is that you usually don’t get your local networks with these services. Since most TVs include an integrated HDTV tuner, adding an antenna will give you access to those channels, but you won’t be able to record or time-shift them. Streaming services lag behind satellite and cable by 15 to 60 seconds, too, so if you’re watching sports and trying to avoid spoilers, you’ll probably have to stop checking your Twitter timeline. You can also run into buffering issues, but those are usually due to problems with your Internet connection rather than the streaming service. (Some people have encountered issues during peak shows such as Game of Thrones, but Wirecutter staffers haven’t personally experienced them—it may depend more on your Internet connection and local network speed.)

Executives couldn't agree on how long to make old episodes available for subscribers. Some gave viewers only a day to catch up on a show they missed because the broadcasters had sold the reruns to another service. Others made past series available to subscribers for a month. Consumers became confused about where to go and how long they had to binge-watch a show. Some TV networks were slow to make their channels available online.
 “We cut out cable and tried to replace it with just streaming options, then with those plus PlayStation Vue (because they were the only option for live sports). That was a bust because the internet streaming couldn’t keep up with the speed of most sports, plus the DVR options were abysmal [which made missing live game broadcasts not an option]. So we went back! We are the proud payers of a DIRECTV bill and I’m not even sad about it.” ― Stephanie Bowen Earley  

Hulu started life as an on-demand streaming service, but has more recently expanded into offering live TV as well. For $40 per month, you get Hulu's traditional catalog of streaming shows and movies, plus access to more than 50 live channels, from A&E to ESPN to TNT. Hulu with Live TV is particularly good at recommending new content, and its interface is one of the most colorful and navigable in the cable-replacement sphere. You'll have to deal with a ton of advertisements, though, and if you want more DVR space or simultaneous streams, you'll have to pay up to $30 extra per month.

Beginning in late March 1993, Prevue Networks overhauled the Prevue Guide software, this time to modernize its appearance. Still operating on the same Amiga 2000 hardware, the old grid's black background with white text separated by colored lines gave way to a new, embossed-looking navy blue grid featuring 90 minutes of scheduling information for each channel. Arrow symbols were added to listings for programs whose start or end times stretched beyond that timeframe, and for viewer convenience, local cable operators could now configure the grid's scrolling action to momentarily pause for up to four seconds after each screenful of listings. Additionally, local cable operators could enable light grey sports and movie summaries within the grid. Appearing between each listings cycle, these showed all films and sporting events airing on any channel during the next 90 minutes.
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