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 don't need to put together an extremely detailed accounting of this right from the get-go, but it's helpful to keep what you want in mind as we examine the services and devices that promise to deliver it. All of the cord cutting world's services and devices are setting out to solve certain problems and deliver on certain promises. You should have at least a vague idea of whether you care about the problems they address or should be excited by the promises they make!
The savings are all tied to a service that is in a sense revolutionary. Sling TV, a new live TV streaming service from Dish provides you with access to networks like ESPN 1, ESPN 2, HGTV, Food TV,TBS, Disney and more for $19.99 per month. All you need is an internet connection to watch Sling TV on a television, phone or tablet. With a deal I found, just for signing up, you get a FREE Fire TV Stick.
The $99 Apple TV is a tiny little device that fits anywhere in your living room. The remote is very basic, but extremely easy to use—something a lot of living room remotes lack these days. It feels very solid, and the buttons respond nicely, making the whole product pleasant to use. Setup is a snap: just plug it in, link it up with your iTunes library and Apple ID, and you're ready to go. Typing in your credentials is kind of annoying due to the lack of keyboard. I wish I could set up things like Netflix and Hulu in iTunes from my computer, but for now you'll have to trudge through the remote-driven setup.
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In 2012, Jesse Zwick of The New Republic criticized RT, stating it held that "civilian casualties in Syria are minimal, foreign intervention would be disastrous, and any humanitarian appeals from Western nations are a thin veil for a NATO-backed move to isolate Iran, China, and Russia." He wrote that RT wants to "make the United States look out of line for lecturing Russia." Zwick also wrote that RT provided a "disproportionate amount of time" to covering libertarian Republican Ron Paul during his 2012 presidential campaign. Writing after her 2014 on-air resignation, Liz Wahl suggested the reason for this "wasn't his message of freedom and liberty but his non-interventionist stance and consistent criticism of U.S. foreign policy. His message fit RT's narrative that the United States is a huge bully." In a June 2011 broadcast of Adam vs. the Man, host Adam Kokesh had endorsed fundraising for Paul, leading to a complaint to the Federal Election Commission charging a political contribution had been made by a foreign corporation. Kokesh denied his cancellation in August was related to the complaint, but said it did involve Paul's aide Jesse Benton.
Another often-ignored cord cutting technology is the indoor TV antenna, the modern equivalent of the old-school “rabbit ears,” which can cost under $10 and gives free access to network content. It’s not on-demand (unless you shell out extra for a recording device), but for live events like the Super Bowl or the Oscars, having an antenna could be a lifesaver.
All carry national channels such as AMC, CNN, ESPN and Nickelodeon, but they also offer local channels too, including the Big Four networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) as well as My TV and The CW in many cities (Note: CBS is the parent company of CNET.) The problem is, not every city gets all four networks, especially if you live outside a major metropolitan area.
Another option for the serious bargain seeker is to find the previous generation’s model on a site like eBay, though we obviously can’t vouch for any reliability there. While the previous generation Apple TV is definitely showing its age (and lacks 4K support), it’s still very handy for Apple fans thanks to AirPlay, which easily allows you to stream media from your iPhone or iPad to the TV. Either way, if you’re a big-time Apple fan, the Apple TV 4K is likely to be a viable choice as your streaming hub.
The antenna seems well-made and it works. I tried it initially indoors on the first floor. I wasn't expecting too much, as the TV stations are around 50 miles away. I only got a few stations set up this way. It makes a difference where in the room the antenna is located. Sitting in a window that faces the direction of the TV stations is the place to start. Or maybe in an attic. This antenna is also designed for outdoor use. I mounted it outside on an eave-mounted TV mast. If you have a mounting mast, it is VERY easy to install.
We're sure you already have Netflix for binge-watching movies and some TV shows, but that's obviously not a replacement for cable and live television. The streaming service market has grown exponentially over the past few years with too many plans and channel options to pick from, and you're probably panicking and wondering which streaming service is right for you.
One note of caution: if you do decide to cancel your cable subscription, there is no perfect method to cut the cord and no magic configuration that will give you all the access that you’re used to with cable at a deep discount. You will likely have to subscribe to a patchwork of different services to get all the channels and shows you want to watch. And even then you might have to forgo watching certain shows live and decide to sacrifice access to channels you’re used to having.
Consensus: We'd pay for Hulu just for access to the originals. The thought of that, plus access to live TV and most of the classic channels you'd want from cable anyway (except for Viacom, RIP) isn't a bad gig. However, other premium services like DirecTV NOW and PlayStation Vue offer more channels in their base package for the same price (or less), so if you weren't with Hulu in the first place for the non-live stuff, you'll probably want to look elsewhere. But if all you want are some basic news channels plus a few extras, Hulu is where it's at.
We like the Leaf Metro because its small profile easily tucks away, without sacrificing much functionality. Though its range is limited to approximately 25 miles, it’s perfect for those living in smaller apartments or rented rooms, especially in urban environments where over-air TV signals are plentiful. To compound the versatility enabled by its tiny size, the antenna comes in either black or white, and you can also paint it to match your interior. Plus, its adhesive coating means it will stick to most any surface and can be moved to other locations with ease. An included 10-foot coaxial cable allows for fairly flexible installation.
* It is possible to build an antenna for less than $20 that can receive stations from over 50 miles away. Google for “M4 DB4 antenna DIY” for plans and instructions. A home-built antenna can be specificly tuned to the RF channels in your area. My area still has 5 very important stations in the Hi-VHF range – I suspect most metro areas are in a similar situation, though many stations are broadcasting on UHF now.
Something to keep in mind is that not all of these alternative will have the latest and greatest shows. So, if you want to avoid spoilers and keep up with your friends who have still have cable, you’ll want to get something like Hulu that offers new shows right after they air on cable vs Netflix, where you have to wait until the entire season is over and that’s if they acquire the rights to the show.
A reader of the blog informed me that WOW! now offers Internet access in Knoxville Tennessee. They offer speeds of 30 Mbps for just $25 and 60 Mbps for just $40 a Mbps. If anyone has any experience with their Internet-only service them please post in the comments. They appear to offer service in parts of South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Kansas, Michigan, Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio.