As internet is taking over the cable industry with more and more users are migrating to the available streaming services every day. There are many quality services available in the market that will look after your entertainment needs without costing as much as the cable. However, to enjoy these services uninterrupted, you should have a good internet connection that offers speeds of more than 10 Mbps. Also, an unlimited data plan is desirable, if you want to stream movies and other programs, without having to check the usage every time. There is a slew of service providers ready to serve you, should you decide to cut the cord.
It comes with a large number of popular apps such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, and YouTube for watching online content. The user friendly interface and simple controls are the main reasons that have made Roku a crowd favorite. You can pick from Roku, 1, 2, 3 or their Roku Streaming Stick, depending on your content needs as well as your budget.
Since its release in March 2013, Roku 3 has been one of the most preferred television and movie streaming devices. It is seamless to move around and select different options. It also comes with a remote that has a built-in headphone slot, which makes it ideal for enjoying late night programs without disturbing anyone. There is ample memory, and SD card slots have been provided to expand it, if required. It also comes with gaming functionality, voice commands, and an Ethernet jack.
Roku 2 is a cheaper version of Roku 3 but without the extra space and slots. It also does not offer as smooth a search as the Roku 3. However, it works well with older models of TV.
The Roku Streaming Stick also is quite similar to Roku 2 in functionality. It works with any television with an HDMI port and the neat drive can just be plugged in, to enjoy television with the accompanying remote.
Roku 1 is the most basic of all versions. It offers the same services, but there are no extra jacks. It also does not feature the updated versions of many apps. It is a practical and affordable streaming device.
2. Apple TV
It did take a little time for the company to hit the bull’s eye, but the final product is worth it. Competitively priced at $99, this service offers a variety of media as much as its competitors. However, it does not support as many applications as its counterparts.
You can access your iTunes account, as well as mirror your MacBook screen on television with the help of Apple TV. The interface is fluid and there is a sense of familiarity, if you are already an Apple user. The compact and lightweight device offers control via any of the Apple devices like iPad, iPhone, among others. If you are a hardcore Apple fan, then this is a product for you, if you ever decide to cut the cord.
3. Google Chromecast & Nexus Player
With the compact dongle that plugs right into the HDMI port on any TV, Chromecast is also a big hit among cord cutters. You can use your smartphones, tablets and other devices to stream videos and watch them on the television.
You can use any of the services like Netflix, Pandora, Hulu Plus, YouTube and other popular platforms to get your entertainment fix. The biggest advantage that Chromecast has over its competitors is its affordable price of $35.
Google Nexus Player with its neat design also gets brownie points for the voice search. It returns relevant results even for complex searches, with name of actors, movie genre or a combination of both.
4. Amazon Fire TV
This one offers all the features of almost a $100 box in a humble Amazon Fire TV stick, for a much less price of $39. In terms of value, it has to be one of the best streaming devices out there. The other big advantage that comes with this particular streaming service is the unbelievable speed you can enjoy content on Amazon Prime and Amazon Instant. It also offers voice search for selected services like Hulu Plus, and Showtime Anytime, among a few others. The TV store also comes with a generous helping of games that can be played on your big TV screens. It also supports quite a good number of apps that makes it a worthy competitor in the industry.
It is one of the best DVR available, if you are looking to ditch cable and switching to television over the internet. You can record all your favorite movies and shows. It can be used for watching television on demand and also streaming content through various apps like YouTube, Pandora, and so on. The initial payment for hardware, about $200 and the subscription fee, may be prohibitive for some. But, it does provide a good service, is easy to navigate, and offers a huge selection of TV programs and movies to watch from.
Major Apps for Streaming
If you are not interested to let go of the cable, but want to watch the online libraries of television programs and movies, well that has been taken care of too. You can also stream all the content you want right on your existing device, whether it is a phone, tablet or anything else.
It is one of the most popular online streaming apps in the market. All you have to do is to pay a monthly subscription fee of $9, and access unlimited content. You can watch seasons of television shows, movies, rate them, mark them for watching later and much more. You will also get recommended content based on your preference for a better experience.
2. Hulu Plus
Hulu is quite similar to Netflix and lets you watch your favorite television programs and other content in exchange for a subscription of $8. The service does lose points for the user experience because of the constant advertisements, even in the paid version. The user interface and surfing is, however, a delight. It is a popular app for the quality and the range of content available.
This is one of the serious contenders for the top spot for streaming app. It is priced at the higher end of $20. The fee does translate into a wide variety of television channels and access to various programs. This also works like the cable television, where you pay for a bouquet of services depending on your requirement. This is a great app for those looking for an alternative to watching sports on cable TV.
With a huge collection of videos, YouTube is one of the most popular online video streaming services. You can easily play the content online and there is no need for any kind of subscription fee or initial deposit. As simple as that. However, this may not exactly be a replacement for regular television, because you cannot always find the content you are looking for. You can, however, subscribe to a particular channel on YouTube. This is a great way of entertainment, but may not be an alternative for watching television programs and movies.