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.
In designing our guide, we took all of these factors into account and simplified things, designing five bundles of online television programing—one of which, we think, will suit just about any type of TV viewer. For each bundle, we show you the price, the projected savings compared to the 2014 average basic cable price of $66.61, and how many additional a la carte TV seasons (estimated $30 per show) you could buy before cable would be more cost-effective.
Many of the top channels are now starting to offer subscriptions to their individual channel. Much like HBO with HBO Go, CBS has their own All Access channel, and a channel for the Hallmark streaming service was launched last year. Some even offer some of their content for free via individual Roku channels like NBC and ABC. Our local news channel has their own individual channel on the Roku so you can watch the local news live through their app. Make a list of all the channels you can’t live without and find out if they have a Roku channel or app with free content.
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.
I was very disappointed when the NBC-based channel US Sports went to cable on January 1st. I used to enjoy the gymnastics and skating there. Now, in an Olympic year, they decided to move from the free NBC channel 5.3 to a paid cable channel. It’s like those certain sports events are only available on paid cable, or video reruns on USsports.com. It’s really lousy in an Olympic year!
First, the best TV moved from networks to cable. Now a similar transition is moving top talent from cable to the streaming world. Netflix ($8.99 per month for HD streaming) has House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt—all of which have received almost universal acclaim—and Amazon ($99 per year for video and a variety of other services) isn’t too far behind with comedy Alpha House, crime drama Bosch, and the Golden Globe-winning Transparent.
General idea: Need we say more than nearly 50 channels for $20 a month? That's unheard of, guys. We have yet to find a streaming service that offers that much for that little, and it's really all we need to say about Philo. The channels aren't news or sports oriented, but if you don't care about that, the variety is pretty legit: Featuring BBCAmerica, Cheddar, The Food Network, GSN, TLC, and more. There's a seven day free trial that you can try, and the coolest part is that they don't require your credit card information to set it up. Just enter your mobile number and you're ready to watch. They'll text you and ask for a payment later when your week runs out, but at least you know you won't be charged if you accidentally forget to cancel.
We also recommend testing your internet speed at peak streaming hours (between 6 – 10 p.m. weekdays) to determine if your neighborhood struggles under the strain of heavy traffic. For instance, if you routinely get around 10Mbps downloads during the day, but that figure takes a dive to about 3Mbps around dinner time, you’ll want to call your internet provider to see if anything can be done. Fortunately, this is an increasingly rare problem outside of rural areas, but better to check ahead.