3 TV Must-Haves Once You Cut the Cable Cord
Is it time for you to join in on the cord cutting movement? You know that you're only watching a few channels out of the hundreds that you're paying for. And cutting the cord on your cable bill will undoubtedly be good for your budget. But can you still watch the shows you love? Yes. You'll be surprised at the variety of options you have without paying for hundreds of channels you don't use.
An HD antenna
The first option to consider when you're ready to cut the cord is an HD antenna that you can install in your home. Here are a few of your best options.
Mohu Leaf 50 Indoor Antenna
For about $50, you can pick up a Mohu Leaf and depending on where you live, score a bunch of HD channels for free. The Leaf has a 50-mile range and can be placed indoors on a window or bookcase shelf. To figure out how many free HD channels you can get at your home, visit NoCable.org and enter your address.
Antennas Direct 50 Clearstream Eclipse
If you're cutting the cord from DishNetwork or DIRECTV, the Antennas Direct 50 is a great alternative. This is due to the fact that you can install the antenna directly onto your abandoned satellite dish, or a wall or window indoors, making installation really easy. You can then connect the antenna to the existing infrastructure of your home and start watching free HD channels immediately.
Mohu Sky 60 Antenna
If you live in more of a rural area, especially with mountains and hills, the Leaf probably won't get you many free channels. So instead, check out the Mohu Sky 60, which should be attic- or roof-mounted and will offer a much better solution. For example, I live 10 miles out of town with hills in every direction. The Leaf gives me only two HD channels, while the Sky 60 gives me six HD channels including FOX, CBS, and ABC.
A subscription to a streaming service
For the rest of the TV shows and movies you've come to depend on through your cable or satellite service, choose among these affordable streaming services.
A Netflix streaming account starts at $7.99 per month, or $9.99 per month if you want HD quality. While you won't pick up cable channels with Netflix, you will pick up a ton of original programming as well as thousands of movies, TV shows, and documentaries. Besides viewing on your TV, you can also access all of Netflix's programming on your tablet, computer, or smartphone.
Prime Streaming is available free to all Amazon Prime members. Prime membership costs $99 per year and gets you access to thousands of titles, including popular TV shows and movies. You can also use Amazon's streaming service to rent or buy current TV shows and new movies to view immediately. You can also pay an additional fee to get access to HBO, Cinemax, Starz, and Showtime. Plus, get access to special programming like animé, foreign dramas, and more, as add-on services.
If you're interested in streaming the current season of your favorite TV shows, get Hulu. For $7.99 per month, you can stream many of the current shows that won't be available on Netflix until next year. Movies are also available on Hulu.
DIRECTV NOW Streaming
Just recently DIRECTV introduced a streaming option to try and capture a new customer base and it actually looks promising. For $35 a month, you can stream live TV from over 120 channels plus over 10,000 on-demand titles. With the cheapest DIRECTV satellite package coming in at about $55, this is a solid alternative if you don't want to give up your satellite options.
For $14.99 per month, you can access HBO's original shows, documentaries, and their movie selection, without having a cable subscription. This is the main difference between Now and HBO Go — which you're only able to access with cable.
There still aren't many streaming options for sports programming, but Livestream is one of the few available at the moment. This app allows you to stream live events through your Chromecast, Roku, or Apple TV. The app is free and you can also use it on your iPhone or Android device.
If you're one of the many who hasn't cut the cord because of a lack of streaming sports options, Sling TV just might be for you. Sling TV is the first true internet-only alternative to a traditional cable package. For only $20/mo, you can get the Sling TV Orange package which includes ESPN, TBS, and CNN plus about 25 other popular channels.
A streaming device
Using streaming services doesn't mean you can only watch on your computer. There are some nifty devices that allow you to stream these shows to your TV, so you can sit back and still enjoy shows and movies on your big screen TV. Most newer TVs have the required USB port that the streaming sticks and players directly connect to. On older TVs without a USB port, you might be able to use an HDMI-to-USB adapter cord, but it depends on your HDMI setup in the back of your TV.
Amazon Fire TV Stick
The Amazon Fire TV Stick plugs into the back of your TV and lets you immediately start streaming. Of course, you need a Wi-Fi connection in your home, too. The Fire TV Stick is compatible with all of the popular subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video, as well as free streaming options like YouTube.
Roku Streaming Stick
The Roku Stick stands out from the Fire TV stick in the number of apps available, as well as a convenient search feature. The Roku Stick actually searches across all streaming services to find you the exact program you're looking for.
This is Google's streaming device, and it also uses your Wi-Fi connection to stream music and videos on your TV. The main difference with Chromecast compared to the options above is that there's no remote. You use your phone, iPad, or laptop computer to control your programming.
Much like the two options above, Apple TV comes equipped with all the video/streaming apps you could ever need. Apple TV has over 1,600 of them, and the video quality is outstanding. It also connects to your iTunes library so you can seamlessly access your favorite music on your TV.
If you're a gamer, you might not need a streaming device at all, because new gaming consoles come equipped with a streaming interface. Nintendo Wii, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, and PS4 are all gaming consoles that are able to stream TV through their wireless connection, so you can download the streaming apps (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.) and watch your favorite shows and movies through your console.
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