Once referred to as "experiment", livestreaming has caught the interest of a broad audience with on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, as well as live TV streaming services such as Sling TV, YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue and Hulu with Live TV all try to exploit the phenomenon of cable cutting. Channels and hit series that are strictly tied to the limits of a cable subscription can now be used for a small monthly fee, with no contract, no loaner and no crappy customer service. Add HD broadcasts and there's never been a better time to push cables to the curb.
Not everyone is, however, cut out as a "cable cutter". Dropping cables or satellites and the bills they carry sound great in theory, but it's not something you want to go through without first researching and working. As with most things, there is a proper way to cut the strings, and then there is the path that sends you back to your cable company to ask for forgiveness. We prefer the right way. Read on to find the most cost-effective ways to drop cables in favor of streaming.
First things first: how is your internet?
The thing about Internet TV is that you need a broadband connection that is compatible with the Internet's streaming lifestyle. This may sound like a foregone conclusion, but we want to make it clear that if you bet your valuable entertainment future on your network, it's best to have a solid connection. Netflix and other similar streaming video services recommend a downstream speed of at least 5 Mbps, but most people will not hack this, especially those with families who want to stream more than one show or movie at a time.
When New Cable Cutters are faced with buffering, they are understandably frustrated.
Keep in mind that 5Mbps can receive an HD video stream, but there may be load and buffer delays if your network is receiving other traffic. If you want to get into the big streaming leagues to access the growing range of 4K Ultra HD streaming content available from Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and others, you should boost your broadband speed up to at least 25Mbps , Cable television does not interrupt your broadcasting to buffer, and when new cable cutters are faced with delays, they are understandably frustrated. If you only download 4K content from websites like FandangoNow or Ultraflix, 1
We also recommend testing your internet speed at peak streaming hours (between 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm) to determine if your neighborhood is under the load of heavy traffic. For example, if you routinely receive 10Mbps downloads during the day, but that number will jump to about 3Mbps around dinner, you should call your Internet service provider to see if anything can be done. Fortunately, this is an increasingly rare problem outside rural areas, but it should be better assessed in advance.
Receiving an HD Antenna
Before you cancel your cable or satellite subscription, you may want to find out what's available to you for an HD antenna. For people in urban areas, a good HD antenna probably offers all four major networks (FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS), along with up to 10-15 other selections (PBS, CW, etc.) in HD resolution, for free. To make sure you get decent reception, you can simply buy one and try it out, ask in the neighborhood, or try this antenna analysis tool that will tell you which channels you can expect and even provides a standardized one Color code system that can recommend specific antenna types
There are numerous antennas that offer you many HD channels, but here are some of our favorites:
Clearstream Eclipse ($ 60)
Leaf Metro ($ 20)
We like the Leaf Metro because its small profile can be easily stowed away without sacrificing much functionality. Although its range is limited to about 25 miles, it is perfect for those who live in smaller apartments or rented rooms, especially in urban environments where over-the-air TV signals are abundant. To increase the versatility offered by its tiny size, the antenna is available in either black or white, and you can also paint it to match your interior. Thanks to its adhesive coating, it adheres to almost any surface and can be easily transported to other locations. A supplied 10-foot coaxial cable allows a relatively flexible installation.
Channel Master FLATenna Duo ($ 19)
The Channel Master FLATenna Duo is another very affordable antenna, and performs nearly as well as other models five or six times its price. The FLATenna Duo has a range of 35 miles and its simple design is also multidirectional. The antenna provides easy mounting to windows or walls – wherever signals (and fits) are best captured.
For more recommendations, see our Indoor Antenna Guide Antennas work and how to build them best
Do you think you might want to record your local TV channels? Consider purchasing a Channel Master DVR + or TiVo Roamio OTA DVR.
Replace a real streaming device
You may have a Blu-ray player or a Smart TV with streaming apps on board, and newer TVs from Samsung and LG have pretty impressive smart interfaces. But if you want to move to a full-time streaming entertainment plan, you may want a device that was designed specifically for this purpose. Below is a small selection of some of our favorites, but if you want more recommendations, check out our full list of the best streaming devices you can buy.
Amazon Fire TV Cube ($ 120)
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
The Amazon Fire TV has now gone through a few iterations, and it has gotten better with everyone. The current version is a true revolution in streaming boxes, offering ease of use and the ability to control your entire home theater and smart home setup with your voice. This includes the ability to turn on and control basic functions 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 blaster – all with the power of your own voice. The result has given the Cube a perfect score and a spot on our TV console in our current test.
The voice control is of course only part of the package. Like almost any modern streaming device, its worth it, the Amazon Fire TV Cube supports 4K HDR image (though no Dolby Vision here), so if you've opted for the 4K TV adoption craze, you're in luck. If you have not, you will be well prepared if you decide to take the leap in the future.
If you do not have a house full of Alexa devices (or any), the Fire TV Cube is still a great option, especially for Amazon Prime subscribers, as all of your Prime music and video content is available on the device , This balances the slightly truncated app support that Fire TV has over Roku.
View our full review of the latest Amazon Fire TV Cube.
While the Amazon Fire TV Cube is our favorite, there are some great alternatives, each of which has something special to offer. Here is a summary of some close contenders:
Roku Ultra ($ 99)
While each Roku model has its merits, the best is the bunch of Roku Ultra. The Ultra features 4K UHD images and support for HDR and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
With thousands of available "channels," Rokus connects to virtually any major online streaming service. More importantly, the interface is very intuitive; You can quickly search for content for different publishers by actor, series or movie title or by genre you are looking for. The Roku interface will even tell you which services offer what you want for free, and that will charge for that. The remote control is also super handy – you can even plug in a pair of headphones for wireless listening late at night. Apple TV (2015) “/>
Apple's latest version of its streaming box, the Apple TV 4K, offers long-awaited support for 4K UHD resolution and 4K content. The Apple TV 4K uses an intuitive touchpad remote that works more like an iPhone and can even be used as a gaming remote. The system is also faster than previous models, and the inclusion of 4K makes it a viable alternative to the 4K Roku and Amazon options for Apple users.
Another option for serious bargain hunters is to find the previous generation model on a website like eBay, although of course we can not guarantee reliability there. While Apple TV's predecessor generation is definitely showing its age (and lacking 4K support), it's still very convenient for Apple fans thanks to AirPlay, which lets you stream media from your iPhone or iPad to your TV. Anyway, if you're a big Apple fan, the Apple TV 4K is probably a viable choice as your streaming hub.
Take a look at our practical review of the Apple TV 4K.
Chromecast Ultra ($ 69)
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
Chromecast, the wild The popular streaming dongle has neither a remote nor an on-screen menu, but you can use your smartphone or tablet to "throw" content on your TV. It's also constantly updated with new supported apps for streaming. The latest version of the device, Chromecast Ultra, offers everything that's possible with previous models, but offers both 4K resolution and HDR, supporting both Dolby Vision and HDR10. If that's too rich for your blood, the HD Chromecast is only half the price and offers virtually the same functionality in addition to 4K and HDR. Although Chromecast is one of our most popular methods for streaming fast and dirty content, the search is still relatively limited through the Google Home app, and those who want to swap their smartphone or tablet for a more prominent interface on the big screen will want to be one the more traditional streaming boxes on our list. Nonetheless, the Chromecast, like Fire TV's relationship with Alexa, is likely to be the ideal choice for Android users or for those who have deeply penetrated the Google ecosystem – especially Google Home
the Chromecast Ultra.
Round off your video streaming services
Now that you've gotten all the hardware you need, it's time to think about it Streaming services will best meet your entertainment needs. We propose to strike a balance between diversity and cost.
Before we get to the services, we have to think of one thing: once you've subscribed to more than a few streaming services, you can track where available is becoming a problem. Luckily, there are solutions. If you have an iOS device or Apple TV 4K or Apple TV 4K, Apple has an app called TV that allows you to browse and navigate movies and TV shows in 60 different streaming services. If you prefer Android, Google offers its own offer in the Play Movies app. While this was initially just another place to buy movies and TV shows, Google added a feature that shows which streaming services movies and shows are available on, even if Google does not sell that particular show or movie. Most of the services listed below should be supported by both Apple and Google in their respective apps, with the proviso that Netflix can not currently be browsed through Google Play Movies & TV.
Netflix ($ 8-14 / month)
An obvious choice, which is almost indispensable when it comes to cutting cables. Netflix's streaming service costs $ 8 for the baseline (one stream at a time, no HD or UHD content), $ 10 for the standard plan (up to two concurrent streams, including HD video), and expands up to $ 14 a month for a premium plan that allows up to four users at once, with the added benefit of accessing 4K content with HDR. Netflix's catalog is packed with TV series from other networks (just past seasons), dozens of both licensed and produced films, and has original series such as Stranger Things Marvel's Luke Cage ] Sacred Games and so many more, all of which are freely available.
Amazon Prime Instant Video ($ 99 / year, $ 13 / month)  Amazon Prime Live TV “/>
While Amazon Prime's video service occasionally appears in the Netflix Catalog, he has exclusive rights to a number of classic HBO series such as The Sopranos and Oz along with a separate critically acclaimed original series such as Mozart in the Jungle and The Gorgeous Woman Maisel. The service has worked hard to bridge the gap with Netflix and beyond, including adding bundles like Showtime and Starz networks at reduced prices with a Prime account, along with a good selection of streaming content in 4K and HDR. The company also offers Video on Demand so you can rent or buy newer films and TV shows. Finally, Amazon has introduced a new monthly plan for $ 13 per month. However, if you're more into shopping at Amazon, Prime's free 2-day shipping makes the $ 99 / yr contract a much better deal.
Amazon Prime Video
Hulu ($ 8-12 / month)
Hulu is the only choice among the top three who plays commercials is best for loved his selection of current seasons of popular TV shows, most of which will soon appear on the site their original flight date. For those who want to eat their cake, Hulu also offers a luxurious, commercial free way to stream its growing catalog of original shows, network content and movies for just $ 4 more per month – worth it if you are leaving the gang of cables behind.
Hulu has recently also thrown his hat into the live TV streaming ring. The $ 40 / Monthly Plan gives you over 50 live TV channels (depending on your region) and includes all the VOD content you would receive with a regular Hulu subscription. We'll go deeper into this service and compare it to people like SlingTV, PlayStation Vue and others in the following streaming TV section.
Anyone who loves HBO wants to put HBO on the list. While the price of $ 15 / month is the most expensive on-demand service on our list, this has the benefit of seeing all the latest shows, including Game of Thrones, Westworld, Silicon Valley Veep, and more, all at the same time they appear on the traditional service. Add to this a cascade of classics of the past, from soprano to deadwood recent movie releases and virtually everything on the net anytime on demand.
CBS's premium network, Showtime, has taken its own step into the stand-alone streaming game and made its new streaming service easy (and confusing) called Showtime. As the name implies, you get virtually all the benefits of becoming subscribers to the cable version of Showtime for $ 11 per month, and the service has also bundled deals with Hulu and Amazon Prime at a reduced price of $ 9 per month ,
An on-demand version of much of CBS's network programming is also available on CBS All Access, where you earn $ 6 a month.
It is important to note, however, the more you spread your selection, the closer you come every month to this insidious account. If you're trying to save real money, you should target only two or three of our highlighted services.
In addition to these capabilities, ESPN, Nickelodeon, and other networks and platforms will soon follow.
Web TV – the last piece of the puzzle
Perhaps the biggest precursor to those who want to get rid of cables permanently – without giving up live TV – is the growing list of live TV streaming services it's last There were several years, all with free trial periods and no contracts. There are several out there, each with its own advantages (and disadvantages). We have a detailed comparison that details each of these services, but there is a general overview for each one below.
Sling TV offers two base channel monthly packages: Sling Orange ($ 25) and Sling Blue ($ 25). Sling Orange offers popular channels like ESPN, but is limited to a single stream – meaning that subscribers can only access one device at a time. Sling Blue offers many of the same channels as Orange and a whole lot more, but it also lacks some key channels, including ESPN. On the other hand, Sling Blue offers NFL RedZone, a must-have channel for NFL fans. Viewers can sign up for both packages and receive a discount, bringing the total to $ 40 a month.
You can pick your poison without feeding it with a spoon.
Apart from the basic packages, $ 5 add-on packs like News Extra, Kids Extra and other bundles can be added above. There is even a handsome selection of HD movies for $ 4 each. While the picture is not quite as reliable as cable or satellite television (often depending on your device), Sling TV is affordable and easy to use, and reliability has improved since launch.
In addition to the ons channel package, Sling TV offers premium add-ons, including live and on-demand HBO programming for $ 15 / month in addition to your basic package, at the same price as the HBO Standalone App. For more information, see our new Sling TV Guide
Sony's PlayStation Vue service has been switched to Chromecast from its PlayStation 3 and PS4 bindings, Roku , Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV support. While the number of Vue channels makes it much more comprehensive, its base packages are a bigger investment than Sling TV, starting at $ 45 a month and up to $ 50, and $ 60, and $ 80 levels. Vue has also given up its Slim packages, which were cheaper but do not offer local channels. In other words, PS Vue is an expensive affair.
Vue offers ESPN's channel tide with the packages available nationwide, as opposed to just a few cities. On the other hand, the service recently lost its rights to Viacom's own channels such as Comedy Central, MTV and Spike. The service tried to reduce the sting by adding channels such as BBC America and NBA TV, but the risk of losing important channels could serve as a warning to potential customers. Since the packages are complicated and often in flux, we also recommend that you check out the latest offers on the PlayStation Vue website.
AT & Ts DirecTV Now was Official Like the PlayStation Vue, this service is more akin to the old-fashioned cable than Sling TV and offers four different program packages.
Digital Trends / Keith Nelson Jr.
The intro package called Live A Little offered more than 60 channels at the time of release for $ 35 each Month – however, prices have been raised to $ 40 for the base The package will come into effect on July 26th. For $ 50, the Just Right package offers over 80 channels. The package that attracted the most attention during its inaugural event was the 60-pound Go Big package, which offers more than 100 channels. However, if you are looking for anything, you can use the Gotta Have It packages to put together more than 120 packages for $ 70 per month. As with PS Vue, these packages and prices are constantly changing so be sure to check out the website before you register.
Hulu with Live TV
Unlike most of its competitors, Hulu offers live single-channel TV (not the catchiest name) Channel package for only $ 40 per month for accessing over 60 channels (of course, depending on your region). Sports fans will probably find a lot about Hulu with the live TV interface, which makes tracking games and teams easy and concise. Unlike the other services here, Hulu does not have much in terms of add-on channels to boost your channel listing, but it has quite a few premium features that can be added to your subscription, such as more cloud DVR storage and an unlimited number of streams at the same time.
Hulu with Live TV
It's a breeze that the biggest video platform in history has its own live TV streaming service. Like Hulus Service, YouTube TV offers a one-channel package. You get over 40 channels with a monthly subscription of $ 40 – including a variety of sports channels that you would normally pay a lot more for other services – with the option of adding a small handful of premium add-ons. In addition to the TV content, you also have access to all premium content from YouTube Red, including YouTube-produced series of popular video artists and celebrities. However, at the time of publication, the service was still offered in select areas only, so you should check if it is available in your city before you get too excited.
Adjust Your Expectations
While Sling TV and the other live TV streaming services feel a little more like cables than Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, it differs Cable cutting is considerably different from what you are used to and you should expect adjustment period. Quitting cable is like dealing with any kind of lifestyle change: at first it may feel embarrassing, maybe even frustrating, but once you get used to it, it feels natural. No, you will not do much pointless channel surfing any more, but there is something satisfying about being more aware of your entertainment choices. You can pick your poison, do not let it feed with the spoon.
When it comes to string cutting, the choice is really what it's about (because it's not really about monstrous savings). With the modern piecemeal delivery method, you can build your entertainment empire as you see fit, choosing from all or none of our suggestions. Once you get the hang of it, there are even more options to choose from, with more and more choices. So, if you are tired of being pushed around by cable or satellite companies and go your own way, follow our lead and cut the cable. We did it, and we never looked back.