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.
Video Streaming Services:  There are tons of online video streaming services like Hulu.com, Netflix,  Amazon.com Instant, CBS.com,  Philo, YouTube,  Comedy Central, HGTV, and ESPN that support the PlayOn software!  The software also now supports plugins, so additional channels are appearing all the time including the Food Network, NBA/NFL content, and others! –  Cost:  Free
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.
Subscribing to these services also gives you access to their exclusive content, which includes some of the most critically beloved and widely discussed shows on TV. Netflix is the only place you can watch Master of None, Stranger Things, or BoJack Horseman. Amazon is the only place you can watch Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, or The Man in the High Castle. And Hulu is the only place you can watch The Handmaid’s Tale, The Mindy Project, or Difficult People.
YouTube TV also falls a bit short in its device support, especially compared to the services we’ve previously covered. It does have the most flexible cloud DVR support, though, allowing users to store programming up to nine months after recording, with standard pause/rewind and catch-up features available. If you have a Google Home device and a Chromecast, YouTube TV can be controlled with voice commands via Google Assistant. Similarly, Google Assistant can even inform you of what content is currently saved to your DVR. If you’re an Android die-hard who utilizes Google’s ecosystem to its fullest, then YouTube TV may be the perfect addition. Read our YouTube TV guide for more info.

We cut the cord nearly 10 years ago and have no regrets. My husband built an antenna out of PVC pipe and wire hangers (there are plans online for this) for the last house we lived in, and mounted it in the attic. We got approximately 50 over-the-air channels that way. When we moved, we did use Sling for a little while, and while that was great, we opted to install an antenna on the roof of the current house and cancel Sling. That said, I highly recommend Sling for popular channels. Currently my lineup is Amazon Prime TV (comes with my Prime membership), Netflix, and I pay the $5/month for AcornTV, because I love my British shows. Thanks for summing these up—I’ve been preaching cord-cutting for a long time, it’s great to see a blogger I respect touting the same thing! 🙂


The Sling TV local channel offering is dependent on your level of service, your geographic location, and Sling TV’s contractual and other rights to distribute local channels.  Not all local channels may be purchased from Sling TV today, and some local channel content may include blackout restrictions. Explore our channels and discover what service you need to receive them here.
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
Yes, in theory, the higher the dB gain number the better. Although, overall performance is just as important. You must also consider where you live and where the broadcast towers are located. If they are over the visual horizon, a higher number is better. If not, a lower number is ok. You must watch out for high dB numbers that are marketing ploys to get you to pay more for a product you may not need.
Basically, when you go to your xbox and select to view video, you can view video from the xbox’s hard drive (stuff you download from xbox live), or from one of the connected media servers. Playon would be one of the connected media servers (in addition to the built in media server in windows vista -which only has limited streaming capabilities). Does that make sense or did I just muddy the water even more?
A 2007 article in the Christian Science Monitor wrote that RT reported on the good job Putin was doing in the world and next to nothing on things like the conflict in Chechnya or the murder of government critics.[210] According to a 2010 report by The Independent, RT journalists have said that coverage of sensitive issues in Russia is allowed, but direct criticism of Vladimir Putin or President Dmitry Medvedev was not.[40] Masha Karp wrote in Standpoint magazine that contemporary Russian issues "such as the suppression of free speech and peaceful demonstrations, or the economic inefficiency and corrupt judiciary, are either ignored or their significance played down".[211] In 2008, Stephen Heyman wrote in The New York Times that in RT's Russia, "corruption is not quite a scourge but a symptom of a developing economy."[38] Speaking after the launch of RT America, Garry Kasparov said "Russia Today is an extension of the methods and approach of the state-controlled media inside Russia, applied in a bid to influence the American cable audience".[15]
For example, Russia Today broadcast stories about microchips being implanted into office workers in EU to make them more "submissive"; about "majority" of Europeans supporting Russian annexation of Crimea; EU preparing "a form of genocide" against Russians; in Germany it falsely reported about a kidnapping of a Russian girl; that "NATO planned to store nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe"; that Hillary Clinton fell ill; it has also on many occasions misrepresented or invented statements from European leaders.[219][unreliable source?][220][unreliable source?][221][222][text–source integrity?] In response to accusations of spreading fake news RT started its own FakeCheck project. The Poynter Institute conducted a content analysis of FakeCheck and concluded it "mixes some legitimate debunks with other scantily sourced or dubiously framed 'fact checks.'"[223]
Can you please help me. I live in Mexico. I have a Shaw box and get cable from Canada. They are changing so I need to change. I have no idea what to do. Some people here have Roku, others have Netflix. I have a JVC and Samsung purchased in Mexico. I like to watch the British dramas Shaw offers on my 5 PBS channels. I also watch HGTV and vet shows. I have read a lot, but am confused. What do I do?
In broad strokes, the build and material quality is much more important in long HDMI cables than short. Over 15ft/3m there is a much higher chance that a mediocre cable won't work, or won't work at the resolution you want. This still doesn't mean you need to spend a fortune on a long cable, there are plenty of options for roughly the same price per-foot as the ones mentioned above. It does mean that no-name cables might be less likely to work. 
Not everyone thought this was a good service when it debuted, but it's so far stuck with that "introductory" price that would put it in line with icky cable subscriptions. If you've got an AT&T phone plan, you can add DirecTV Now for just $10 a month; HBO is included if you've got an AT&T Unlimited Choice or Plus plan. You can watch DirecTV Now on your PC via browser, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, ChromeCast, Roku devices, iOS, and Android—it's not on any game consoles. Lacking however: DVR options. There's plenty of video on demand, but not for every show.
John Feffer, co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus says he appears on RT as well as the U.S.-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, commented "I’ve been given the opportunity to talk about military expenditures in a way I haven’t been given in U.S. outlets". On the fairness issue, he said: "You're going to find blind spots in the coverage for any news organization".[142]
CBS/CBS All Access: The main CBS app includes the latest episodes of the broadcaster's major news programs, including CBS Evening News, 60 Minutes, and Face the Nation. Those programs can be accessed for free on mobile devices and televisions via Chromecast, though other TV devices require a $6-per-month CBS All Access subscription. Available on: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Xbox, and PlayStation 4
We just bought – and returned – what you refer to as a “networked media device,” an LG “wi-fi ready” blu-ray player. Turns out it wasn’t what I’d call “wifi ready” since you had to buy a proprietary wireless adapter from LG to get it connected to a wireless LAN. (To be fair, if you don’t mind 100′ of CAT6 cable running through your house or drilling a lot of holes and fishing cable, you could hook this thing up that way. But, that’s not what we had in mind.) Anyway, it was on sale for $300.

PlayOn Media Streaming Software:  The PlayOn software allows you to stream online video from popular services like Hulu.com, Netflix, Amazon Video, the big networks and a myriad of others straight to your TV through a networked media device (see below).  They also have a feature if you pay for the “Plus” version of the software that allows recording of series of shows, and automatic skipping of commercials.  They even allow you to record your favorite Netflix or Amazon shows so you can take them with you on the go (with no need for internet). It's essentially a home DVR for online video. Cost: Limited functionality free version, or one time fee of $59.99 for lifetime license. Monthly or yearly subscriptions are also available.
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]
In 1988, United Video Holdings' Trakker, Inc. unit was renamed Prevue Networks, Inc. The split-screen version of the EPG Sr. software was further updated and renamed "Prevue Guide". Now running on the Amiga 2000, it displayed a split-screen listings grid visually identical to the upgraded EPG Sr.'s, but also supported – along with up to 128 locally inserted top-screen graphical advertisements – the display of video with accompanying sound in the top half of the screen,[6] primarily promos for upcoming television shows, films and special events. These videos appeared in either the left or right halves of the top portion of the screen, coupled with supplementary information concerning the advertised program in the opposing halves (program title, channel, air date and time).

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.
Hauppauge TV tuners are solid, but they are not nearly as flexible as HDHomeRun. For example, you have to buy a specific type of Hauppauge if you want to use it with Xbox One – but you can use HDHomeRun on any platform that has an HDHomeRun app. Additionally, Hauppauge tuners are USB devices and have to be plugged in directly. HDHomeRun tuners connect to your network via WiFi, so you can set them up anywhere in your home.

Cable-replacement streaming services work exactly the same as having cable — live channels presented in real time — except they come streaming over the Internet rather than via an analog wire. The upside is that you don't have to give up the channels that you love. Sling TV carries multiple ESPN stations, plus Cartoon Network, TBS, Bloomberg, CNN, History and dozens of others. PlayStation Vue offers SyFy, Spike, USA, VH1, Fox News, Nickelodeon and more. You can also record programs to watch later on PS Vue, just like you would with a cable DVR box.
With the Digital Starter package starting at $49.99 per month, Xfinity comes in with the best all-around package out of all our recommended TV providers. The channel selection for Xfinity’s entry package is pretty similar to DISH’s base-level package (including channels like ESPN, TNT, AMC, and Discovery). It’s also a better bargain than the satellite service (and the next-closest cable TV provider, Spectrum) by about  $10 per month.
HBO – You can get HBO through cable or – as we just mentioned – through Amazon. You can also get it through skinny bundles (more on those later). But HBO also offers a standalone streaming service under its HBO Now branding. Regardless of how you choose to subscribe, you'll be able to stream great content. HBO has been producing the best shows on cable for ages, so the fact that you can get it over the internet now is bad news for cable. Plus, HBO's shift to streaming has helped prompt the original series arms race that now includes Netflix, Amazon, and others.
OneGuide is one of the core features of the Xbox One, and it integrates cable TV with the console in a single seamless interface. But what if you don't have cable TV? The good news is you're not frozen out, and you can very easily — in certain areas at least — integrate over-the-air (OTA) TV channels into your Xbox One experience with something like the Xbox OTA TV tuner.

DirecTV Now offers a base DVR for free, with 20 hours of recording per month, and will store recorded content for up to 30 days, after which it will be deleted to make room for new recordings. If that’s not quite enough for you, an upgrade is available for $10 per month that increases your DVR allowances to 100 recording hours and up to 90 days for storage. While these DVR features are better than most, it’s worth noting that DirecTV Now’s True Cloud DVR has a severe limitation on channels that can be paused, fast-forwarded, or rewound compared to other services. On the plus side, though, you’ll be able to watch all your DVR content from any device, even when on mobile devices outside your home Wi-Fi network. Recent updates also now allow HBO and Cinemax programming on the DVR service.


The most famous of the cheap HDMI brands, Monoprice has dozens of options to chose from. The linked cable is "Premium Certified," which is actually a certification. It basically means the cable is more or less guaranteed to work with 4K and HDR. The Premium Certified logo isn't required for 4K HDR, but if you see a cable that's Premium Certified and has the matching hologram and QR code, it's a pretty safe bet it will work. 
Lastly, Google TV's streaming services are pretty good, since it has most of the Google Play store at its disposal. You can watch Netflix, Amazon (however crappily), and some sports channels, but a lot of content is missing—like Hulu and other TV channels. It does, however, have the movies and TV section of Google Play, which like iTunes lets you download and rent videos to your TV. Prices are comparable for movies, costing about $15-20 to buy, with a pretty good selection. Shows are cheaper at $20-$40 per season, but the selection leaves a lot to be desired. That said, other apps like the Chrome web browser, the occasional video game, or the awesome Plex media center make Google TV a bit more appealing.
We've covered the first in depth already, but our discussions of that all-important second thing are spread across hundreds of posts. Our how-to pieces, of course, offer some great answers to the question of how to watch TV without cable. But, when it comes right down to it, our reviews and many of our news pieces are focused on how to watch TV without cable, too. So are lots of our email newsletters and many of the external links we include in our Friday Round-Ups. That adds up to a lot of posts to answer one seemingly simple question, and all of that information can seem a bit overwhelming.

Netflix – Netflix has loads of content at a low price. Most TV shows wind up on streaming after a season airs. There are also movies and a whole host of children’s programming available. The pricing is reasonable at $8.99 a month for unlimited HD streaming to two TVs simultaneously. If you are comfortable waiting a few months for a TV series, Netflix may be all you need.


RT is a brand of "TV-Novosti", an "autonomous non-profit organization", founded by the Russian news agency, RIA Novosti, on 6 April 2005.[1][7] During the economic crisis in December 2008, the Russian government, headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, included ANO "TV-Novosti" on its list of core organizations of strategic importance of Russia.[8][9][10]
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.
×