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The Verge Cord Cutter Handbook: Hardware, Software, and Services



Disconnecting the cable in 2018 is not a new concept for anyone. Millions of people have left the traditional cable behind to pay only for broadband Internet and streaming services. More and more people have never had a cable box in the house from the beginning. We all have our Netflix and Prime Video subscriptions. I do not have to sell you.

But maybe you do not know which streaming TV service best suits your tastes. Maybe it's been a few years since you bought a streaming stick and you're wondering what's best for us to enter the year 201

9 How much these things cost – not just per month, but over a year.

Below you will find the new manual of the string cutter of The Verge . We will bring everything up to date as new products are released, as streaming services will inevitably increase their prices and adjust programming, as consumers move further and further away from the traditional cable. When cutting cables, you can save money by finding the right Internet package and not having every subscription service within reach. however, does not have to be ; You may want to have the freedom to look wherever you want, or you do not want to put money in Comcast's pockets. Whatever the reason, hopefully the tips below will make things less confusing.

But let's TL, DR this a bit. Below is a combination of some of our recommended streaming services. If you need a streaming device, add $ 40 for a Roku premiere, one of the best and cheapest 4K-enabled options.

Netflix 4K Plan $ 13.99 / month
YouTube TV $ 40 / month
Amazon Prime $ 119 / year

Total subscription cost per year (before taxes / fees): $ 766.88
Average TV Amount in US: $ 107 / month ($ 1,284 per year)

Antenna

Streaming services often provide more than enough content to watch. But if you're a fan of live events like sports, a digital antenna is a cost-effective way to keep it. When you connect an HD antenna to your TV, you can enjoy live use of dozens of local channels – including the large four networks of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC in many areas. They're hired for primetime hits, live sports (NFL, MLB, etc.) and events like the Oscars.

If your entertainment needs are not very high, then an antenna connected to your TV plus Netflix or Prime Video will be enough to keep you going – and you'll save a lot of money.

Recommended Antennas:

Mohu Leaf Metro HDTV Antenna for Best Buy
Mohu Arc Indoor Curved HDTV Antenna for Best Buy
Mohu ReLeaf HDTV Antenna Amazon (Made of Recycled Materials)
Ultrathin HDTV Antenna Amazon

DVR

Recast of Fire TV | $ 189.99 (500 GB, two tuners) $ 229.99 (1TB, four tuners)

Amazon Fire Recast is one over a network connected hard drive in a black box that you connect to an antenna. You can use the Recast wherever the antenna signal in your house is strongest. It does not have to be near your TV. (Amazon's Fire TV app will help you find the ideal location.) The Recast pulls in all the channels available in your area, so most people use ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, and a dozen or more random ones Receive Channels


Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

You can stream these live programs to any TV with any of your company's Fire TV streaming devices. Amazon seamlessly integrates the recast channels into the main menu. When you're away from home, the Fire TV app also lets you watch live OTA content on a smartphone or tablet. Technically, you do not need a Fire TV streaming device to use the recast. You can watch live TV on your mobile devices without one, but you can not schedule DVR recordings unless you are on the Fire TV route.

What's special about Fire TV Recast is that there is a flat fee for the device without any additional subscriptions or monthly fees. At almost $ 200, the recast may feel a bit expensive for what he is. However, if you buy one, you get live TV from the big networks from everywhere and you're done with it.

Amazon also sells the 500 GB Recast, a Fire TV Stick 4K and an antenna package for $ 244.

HDHomeRun Connect Duo | $ 79 | Amazon Best Buy

The HDHomeRun Connect Duo from SiliconDust includes two tuners for OTA programming. The strategy for use is the same: pair it with an antenna wherever you get the best signal in your home. You can use the HDHomeRun app – both on smart TVs and mobile devices – to stream live programs. For users with their own NAS setup, the company also offers a $ 35 per year DVR service. When you buy the hardware, you have two months to try it out.

HDHomeRun definitely needs a bit more time for the user to get started.

TiVo Bolt OTA | $ 249 (1TB, four tuners) | Amazon

If you lose cables, this does not mean that you lose your beloved TiVo. Many of us have retired from the TiVo CableCard days, but there is still a group of people who prefer to stick to the company's familiar, user-friendly interface and recording options. For them, the TiVo Bolt OTA is a good solution. It contains four tuners – so you can record up to four shows simultaneously – and it stores up to 120 hours of DVR content.


Photo: TiVo

The Bolt is also part of a set-top box and includes Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube and other apps. Some of these services can be streamed in 4K. TiVo's OneSearch feature can search the content you are looking for in several services, and Bolt's OTA is compatible with Alexa.

You can watch live TV and your recordings from anywhere. However, TiVo's $ 6.99 monthly subscription is an important factor in the long-term value of the Bolt OTA. In the end, they pay significantly more than the base hardware cost.


Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Streaming Devices

With today's streaming sticks or set-top boxes, you can not go wrong. When choosing a system, it depends on which ecosystem you are most familiar with and most comfortable with Amazon. Apple? – Ease of use (where Roku stands out) and make sure you have all the apps you need. Not only do I talk about Netflix and Prime Video, but I also talk about Plex if you want to stream your personal movie collection from a PC or NAS to your network.

Amazon

The Verge recommends the Fire TV Stick 4K and the Fire TV Cube.

Amazon streaming devices are cheap, but they bring a lot of living space power. They are equipped with Alexa integration right from the start and offer an excellent voice experience compared to Apple or Roku. Amazon has the most of the most popular apps you want, but there are exceptions. Vudu is completely absent and Amazon's constant spitting with Google means you need to load YouTube into a web browser – and there is no YouTube TV app period.

But if you're a great observer of Prime Video – or if you're & # 39; If you are interested in the Fire TV Recast you discussed earlier, you just have to choose between Amazon's two newest streamers.


Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Why go with Amazon?

  • You get the full capabilities of Alexa as a built-in voice assistant, and Alexa is better and more useful than Siri or Rokus voice commands the living room.
  • Deep integration into the Amazon ecosystem.
  • The Fire TV Stick 4K offers 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos for far less money than an Apple TV 4K.

Reasons to choose something else:

  • Amazon advertises heavily on the home screen for its own content.
  • There is no Vudu app, so you do not have a big source of 4K Dolby Vision movies.
  • YouTube must be used through a web browser.
  • No YouTube TV app.
  • Worried that Alexa can listen to you.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Apple

The Verge recommends the Apple TV 4K.

Apple was too late in the release of a 4K streaming box, and even then it did not come without tripping, but the Apple TV 4K has improved significantly since launch. It now makes Dolby Atmos audio in addition to Dolby Vision HDR. It acts as a hub for your HomeKit Smart Home.

Why choose Apple TV 4K?

  • Powerful hardware that meets all specifications (HDR10, Dolby Vision and Atmos) to make the most of your TV and home theater equipment.
  • If you've already purchased a long movie description on iTunes, free 4K upgrades can be very interesting.
  • Only Apple TV includes apps like Apple Music, iTunes, Apple Photos, and more. If you're an iPhone user and are deep in the Apple ecosystem and iCloud environment, it's a natural fit.
  • It can serve as a hub for Apple's HomeKit platform, allowing you to remotely control smart home devices on the go.
  • privacy. Apple relinquishes less data and viewing habits to partners and is more strict in the anonymization of these data and the preservation of your privacy.

Reasons to choose something else:

  • It's far more expensive than competing Amazon and Roku products.
  • YouTube does not play at 4K resolution.
  • Apple tends to have fewer 4K HDR movies than Roku (eg, Disney).
  • Less hacking and customizable than Fire TV or something like an Nvidia shield.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Roku

The Verge recommends Roku Premiere +, Premiere, Streaming Stick + and Roku Ultra.

Rokus streaming devices remain our first choice for a number of reasons. The home screen and menus are easy to navigate and easy to understand. They have a seemingly endless selection of TV apps. If you are looking for content, Roku is neutral on the results and prefers your current subscriptions or other ways to view for free rather than having to pay to rent or buy.

Why should you choose Roku?

  • Unsurpassed ease of use.
  • Wide range of apps and a wealth of 4K HDR content.
  • Generally fast performance.

Reasons to choose something else:

  • You find Roku's signature grid-of-apps home screen boring and outdated
  • Roku shares all your viewing data with partners and advertisers. Some may feel uncomfortable with it.
  • Weakest voice control and search of the three, though Roku has recently added basic support for Google Assistant.

Nvidia Shield

I can not write a guide to the cable cutter without mentioning the Nvidia Shield, which stands out as a plex […] due to its powerful specifications, the flexibility of Android TV (read: laterally loaded apps) and its ability to server – not just a player. You can save your movies and TV shows directly on the shield instead of running a NAS or PC around the clock. If you need more storage space for this purpose, you can plug in a USB drive and enable Android's customizable storage feature so that Shield can display everything as an internal storage volume.


Image: Nvidia

Game emulators can be run to fill your nostalgia gauge. With Android TV running, you have full access to Google Assistant. See? The thing is nerdy and great, but I do not think it's for everyone. If you consider yourself an expert, you probably know that the shield is for you, and you probably already have one.


Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Live TV streaming services

The Verge previously had a cord-cutting tool that allows you to select your main channels to provide the ideal streaming service or to find a combination of them. But I'll catch up with you: These programming series and packages change too often to make that very convenient. I am only a man.

It is much easier to enumerate which popular TV stations are missing a service than the ones they are leading. Below are the missing channels for each service that might be falling into the Dealbreaker section for some people.

With the exception of YouTube TV, which offers all four major broadcast networks in every market it was launched on, the availability of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC is more spotty for the other services and depends on the city, in which you are. re in. This is another important reason to buy an antenna and repair your live TV via radio.

DirecTV Now

$ 40 / month for Live A Little with 65+ channels ($ 480 per year)
$ 55 / month for Just Right with 85+ channels ($ 660 per year)
$ 65 / month for Go Large with 105 channels ($ 780 per year)
$ 75 / month for Gotta Have It with 125 channels ($ 900 per year)

Availability: Nationwide
Works with: Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, iOS, Roku, Web
Not available: No major gaps in the channel setup. Click here to see the complete cable duct setup. To see if DirecTV Now offers your local broadcasting networks and regional sports networks, enter your postal code at this link.
DVR: 20 hours of storage, recordings expire after 30 days
Concurrent streams: Two, add a third for $ 5
Individual User Profiles: No
Parental Control: Yes
60 fps Playback: Yes
Surround Sound: Yes (Dolby Digital 5.1 on Apple TV and Fire TV)


DirecTV Now by AT & T may be available about the best stations among all competitors. Almost everything is taken into account, and the $ 65 basic package should be enough to satisfy many people. Sports enthusiasts will probably want to reach higher levels (with MLB Network, NBA TV, NFL Network, etc.), but many people will absolutely stick to the cheapest option.

DirecTV The downsides of DirecTV are the lack of user profiles, unobtrusive app performance on some platforms (though it has gotten a lot better over the last few weeks), and a DVR that only keeps your recordings for 30 days. The service also tends to lose track of your favorite channels. Finally, the company has strongly stated that a price increase is imminent and some channels could be cut to help DirecTV Now achieve its profitability. The service could look different in 2019.

Hulu with Live TV

$ 40 / month ($ 480 per year)

Availability: Nationwide
Works on: Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV , iOS, Roku, Web, Xbox
Not available: AMC, BBC America, Discovery Channel, Viacom Networks (Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, etc.) Click here to see Hulu Channel List in your nearby.
DVR: 50 hours storage, no fast forward through advertising. Can be upgraded to 200 hours with $ 15 add-on (also clears the fast-forward).
Individual User Profiles: Yes. You can create up to six profiles.
Parental Control: Yes, with kids fashion profiles.


Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Hulu's live TV offering was adversely affected by the company's fundamental overhaul when it was first launched. Hulu has taken a lot of criticism for his menus and navigation, which has made the visual appearance of usability and ease of use preferable. But it has been more than a year trying to get the balance back where it should be.

At $ 40, Hulu is missing on Viacom channels, and even AMC is disappointing. Honestly, Hulu's main incentive with Live TV is that you get something besides the regular Hulu video-on-demand service. So you have access to Casual and The Handmaid's Tale the other originals of Hulu and a huge back catalog with content from numerous networks – including some exclusive programs like Seinfeld ]. Hulu also puts a lot of work into his recommendation algorithms and suggestions for new programs to watch or record.

However, Hulu's DVR situation is frustrating. The basic live TV package allows a recording time of 50 hours. However, you can not quickly browse through the advertisements. If you want to do this, you will have to pay 15 euros extra each month for the "extended" DVR with 200 hours of cloud storage. This also unlocks the fast forward option.

PlayStation Vue

44.99 USD / month for access (539.88 USD per year)
49.99 USD / month for the core (599.88 USD per year)
59, 99 USD / Month for the Elite (719.88 USD per year)
79.99 USD per Month for Ultra (959.88 $ per year)

Availability: Nationwide
Works on: Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, iOS, PlayStation, Roku, Web
Doesn & # 39; s; You have: A & E, History Channel, Lifetime, Viacom Networks (Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, etc.) Click here to view the channel list for each level in your region.
DVR: unlimited disk space expires after 28 days
Custom User Profiles: Yes. You can create up to 10 profiles.
Parental Control: No
60 fps Playback: Yes
Surround Sound: No

PlayStation Vue was a popular favorite due to its intuitive user interface. and a robust multi-level channel selection. It's still a good choice for the first two, but Sony's TV service has become less attractive as channel selection has been cut somewhat, even though the lowest base price of any competitor was $ 45. Sports enthusiasts will seek the $ 50 prize to win Regional Sports Networks (RSNs).

However, Vue has other factors: You can create up to 10 individual user profiles that affect the rest of the field. Share with your roommates. And Sony is the only service that allows five streams simultaneously on different devices outside the home. On some devices, such as the Fire TV and Sony's own PlayStation 4, you can watch multiple shows simultaneously on the same screen. Vue also offers excellent video quality at 60 frames per second on all channels, while other services offer this frame rate only for some.

Sling TV

$ 25 / month for Sling Orange ($ 300 a year)
$ 25 / month for Sling Blue ($ 300 a year)
$ 40 / month for both ($ 480 each Year)

Availability: Nationwide
Works on: Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, iOS, Roku, Web, Windows 10, Xbox
Not available: Orange: CBS, Fox, FX, USA Blue: ABC, CBS, ESPN, The Disney Channel Click here to select your preferred channels and see which Sling TV subscription is right for you.
DVR: The paid add-on of $ 5 includes 50 hours of storage space. (Disney and ESPN can not be recorded.)
Simultaneous Streams: Sling Orange: Only One. Sling Blue: Three.
Individual User Profiles: No
Child Lock: Yes
60 fps Playback: Yes


Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Sling TV remains bargain-priced Option among the top five most popular streaming TV services. The price for the Orange or Blue Channel package is only $ 25 per month. You can add numerous 5 euro channel packages to your base subscription.

Sling Orange has ABC, Disney and ESPN. Choose Sling Blue instead if networks like Fox, FX and USA are what you want. Both packages include AMC, HGTV, the Viacom stations, which lacks some more expensive competitors, and more. The main weaknesses of Sling are that CBS is completely absent, and the coverage of the local channels for the other three networks is very sporadic.

In terms of user experience, Sling TV still offers a relatively simple app and does not offer custom user profiles like Hulu, PlayStation Vue or YouTube TV. The company owned by Dish, however, has worked regularly to refine its software. There is now a traditional, easy-to-navigate Grid Programming Guide.

Unfortunately, Sling TV's cloud DVR feature costs an additional $ 5 per month, and you can not record certain channels, such as Disney and ESPN.

YouTube TV

$ 40 / month ($ 480 per year)

Availability: Select Markets
Works on: Android TV, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Roku , Xbox One
doesn Viacom Networks (Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, etc.) and HBO
DVR: No Storage Restrictions, Records for Nine Months
Concurrent Streams: Three concurrent streams Streams
Individual user profiles: Yes. You can create up to six profiles.
Child Lock: No
60 fps Playback: Yes (some channels)
Surround Sound: No


Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge [19659150] YouTube TV is our favorite TV offering – if it's available in your specific area – because of its sleek, simple interface and world-class DVR. You can set up six user profiles and each gets its own DVR with unlimited storage space. The records are stored for nine months, which is quite generous compared to other services. With YouTube TV, you can also watch the recorded version of a show so you can skip commercials. Many services, such as Hulu, soon move to a video-on-demand version (often with unspatchable ads) after a show airs.

That said, YouTube TV is not without problems. It was not launched nationwide, and the list of supported devices is shorter than the competition (so if you have one of Amazon's Amazon products, you're out of luck). They also miss Viacom networks, and YouTube does not provide a way to subscribe to HBO, which most competitors offer. You now have to subscribe to HBO Now separately.

More TV Options

FuboTV

$ 39.99 / month ($ 479.88 per year)

Availability: Nationwide
Works with: Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, iOS, Roku
Not available: ABC, Discovery Channel, Disney, ESPN, Viacom Networks (Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, etc.)
DVR: 30 hours recording Time; "3-day repetition" for sports games of the last three days. Recordings indefinitely.
Simultaneous Streams: Two. Add a third for $ 5.99 / month.
Individual User Profiles: No
Child Lock: No
60 frames / sec Playback: Yes (some channels)
Surround Sound: No [19659164] Fubo applies as a sports-oriented OTT TV service, which also offers plenty of entertainment. For $ 39.99 you get a channel package that is very similar to the five main services. With the Fubo DVR you have 30 hours of recording time, and these recordings are stored indefinitely until you delete them. A Cloud DVR Plus add-on for $ 9.99 extends the recording time to 500 hours. Fubo offers numerous add-ons for additional sports channels and even shows some events in 4K on selected devices. A sport centered service without ESPN is not perfect, but if you can live without the big one, this is a great value.

Streaming Services

Netflix

7.99 USD / month for Basic (95.88 USD per year)
10.99 USD / month for Standard HD (131.88 USD per year)
13.99 USD / month for Premium 4K (167.88 USD per year)

The gradual rise in Netflix's prices has not caused much damage to the enormous popularity of the service. The main differences between the three levels are video quality – the baseline does not even let you see in high definition – and simultaneous streams. Customers with the Standard Plan can stream on two devices at the same time, while Premium customers receive up to four simultaneous streams.

Offline downloads are supported on Android and iOS. This can be lifesaving on flights, longer trips or even boring afternoons on vacation.

Amazon Prime Video

$ 119 / year or $ 59 / year for students
$ 12.99 / month ($ 155.88 a year) or $ 6.49 / month for students (77.88 $ per year)

There is no way to get Prime Video, of course, without Amazon Prime. In addition to Amazon's original shows and numerous back catalog movies, you get the usual mix of first-class benefits – as you should, as prices continue to rise.

HBO

$ 14.99 / month for most providers ($ 179.88 per year)
$ 5 / month add-on with DirecTV Now ($ 60 in addition to the annual subscription per year)

Standalone HBO is available at HBO itself numerous vendors, including Apple, Google, Roku and Samsung (on the latest TVs). You can also subscribe to HBO as an optional add-on on Amazon Prime, Hulu or PlayStation Vue.

The cheapest way to get HBO through a streaming TV service is DirecTV Now, which only charges $ 5 per month for the premium network.

CBS All Access

$ 5.99 / month ($ 71.88 per year)

With CBS 'Standalone Subscription Service, you can watch primetime broadcasts live in most markets and a huge vault of the previous one Stream the program of the network. It is also the only place you can watch, such as Star Trek: Discovery . All Access is available for all popular streaming gadgets and mobile devices.

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Last update: December 20, 2018.


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