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.
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An antenna is your means of access to local programming when cutting cable TV. If you want an in-depth guide for the information required for an optimal antenna solution, you should check out my antenna guide. Setting up an antenna may be seamless, or it may be the most difficult thing you do when canceling cable. There are numerous variables involved in television signals and antennas. If you are having a difficult time with this, the antenna guide makes this task easier.
Join the club! Some of us at Lifehacker HQ have already left or are ready to leave the cable company for 24/7 live TV streaming, too. We get this question all the time, and we've examined ditching the monthly bill in favor of watching programs online occasionally in the past, and we've also looked at ways to get your TV fix with apps like Boxee and Hulu, plus there are cool set-top devices like Roku and TiVo, but this is a good opportunity to get exhaustive. There are so many great options for catching a show here or there, but can you rely on them to replicate the cable TV experience? Well, yes and no.
Although HBO and Showtime are perhaps better-known these days for original programming, they still show recent theatrical releases, and they make them available through their subscription services. Starz is also excellent for anyone seeking current blockbusters. Consider tacking on a subscription to one, two or all three of these to an Amazon Prime Video account. Video-on-demand rentals are also an option, facilitated by multiple retailers. And if you’re interested in owning digital copies of your movies, the service Movies Anywhere is a helpful way to manage and view your library.
DirecTV Now, Hulu Live, YouTube TV, and Playstation Vue all offer local channels without cable, but they are currently only available for specific areas. You will have to check with each service to see if it is available for you. These subscriptions, while usually cheaper than the cable or satellite setup, will be a little more expensive than just using an Antenna. Packages range anywhere from $30 – $80 a month depending on the channels you want to see.
First, let’s look at the benefits. Since these services stream over the Internet, you can access them using all sorts of devices. For example, a Roku box supports each of them, and apps are available for many other devices—though the quality of those apps varies depending on the platform. You also can use apps on a smartphone or tablet or stream the content through your computer. You have the same freedom to watch where you want as you do with the channel apps covered above.
Most sports leagues also have their own streaming services for games: NFL Sunday Ticket, NBA League Pass, MLB.tv, and NHL.tv let you watch games on your streaming device or computer. Unfortunately, due to blackout rules, you often don’t get access to your local team, which is what many people want to watch most. If you’re a big fan of the sport overall, or if your favorite team isn’t your local team, these services give you access to (almost) all games anywhere you are. Though somewhat expensive, they're priced similarly to getting the games in your cable TV package.
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.
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?
Hulu ($7.99/mo., $11.99/mo.): Hulu’s original content isn’t as copious or as impressive as Netflix’s, but it did just win the first ever “Best Dramatic Series” Emmy for a subscription streaming service, courtesy of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Hulu is also becoming more and more of a boon to TV buffs, thanks to a growing library of classic older shows, as well as some current ABC, NBC, and Fox series. (In fact, one of Hulu’s main selling-points for cord-cutters is it has deals to allow subscribers to watch the most recent episode or episodes of much of those networks’ programming.) The lower price tier includes commercial breaks. The higher tier kills the ads. Hulu also has an option to add live TV (starting at $39.99/mo.), covered further down.
All of these will allow you to watch content on your TV, by the way, so don't worry about having to watch anything on a computer screen. We'll cover devices in Part II, but first, let's talk a bit about each of these three types of content-replacement techniques and what they have to offer you. We'll work through them in the same order that we listed them in that bullet list above.
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!
Our guide to watching TV without cable isn't over just yet, though. That because your plan, once you make it, is likely to include at least one streaming service (and maybe more than one). And unless you really like small screens (and who does?) that means you'll probably want to be able to use streaming services on your big, beautiful TV. And that brings us to our next topic of discussion: hardware.
The Boxee Box is the most expensive device on the list at $175, and it's easy to see why. Unlike most of the others, the Boxee Box seems to be geared more toward the tech-savvy user, providing a more feature-filled media center without the hassle of building it and installing the software yourself. You can add all of your networked files (of nearly any file type) to a library that grabs thumbnails and plot information for a beautiful browsing experience, as well as stream content from services like Netflix and Vudu. If you buy it with the live TV adapter, you can also integrate your live TV-watching experience, which is pretty nice. Boxee also has a lot of social integration, letting you get recommendations from your friends on Facebook and Twitter and see what other people are watching. It has a browser, which—while a pain to use—can play many Flash videos not supported by one of its channels. It also supports AirPlay, which is wonderful to see in a non-Apple device.
For years now, I have DSL High Speed Enhanced for $39.99/Mo. and NETFLIX for $10.99/Mo. I’m online researching all the time and have watched documentaries & movies for hours and hours on my tablet or laptop with Netflix with no problem and it streams beautifully after a short delay at the beginnings to load. Netflix on my Smart TV is not so good. It must be set up for cable speed not for DSL. Keeps stopping to load more, these interruptions are annoying. Screens are smaller but, Kindle tablet or Laptop work great. Still, so glad I cut the cord.
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.