So, you’ve gone over and over in your head and thought about the possibilities of leaving cable and deciding to cut the cord once and for all. To help you go from undecided to, “Okay, I’ve decided to cut the cord, now what?!!” In this post, we’re going to discuss how to cut the cord and not feel bad about it. If you’re ready to cut the cord, keep reading as this will probably be a lengthy piece for some; but I hope to ensure it will be a worthy post.
Okay so, we’re going to start off explaining the streaming aspects of cord-cutting. When you ask some folks why they cut the cord, they simply tell you, I wanted to save money, I got tired of the rate hikes from my cable subscription, or they just wanted to watch what they want, when they wanted to. Many people have their reasons as to why they made the choice, but to help you with your decision let’s lay out some perks to cutting the cord.
Services like Netflix, Hulu, Roku, and Amazon Prime have upgraded their services and are now producing a wide selection of their own in-house content broadening the choices of shows you get to watch. The shows are very unique compared to the usual broadcast shows you find on the regular cable networks. Sometimes, you can really find some great jewels when you begin doing your search within the aforementioned streaming services. This is just one reason, but there are other reasons and we’re going to talk about them.
Back to streaming, the first thing you need to do is, to be honest with yourself about what quality of internet you have. Your internet connection is one of THE most important pieces to the puzzle when we finally decide to cut the cord.
Imagine trying to watch a Netflix show/episode and suddenly, the connection is lost or not sufficient to stream the entire show. Some services automatically adjust the quality of the videos depending on your connection speed. To avoid this mishap, it’s best to get a device and internet service that can stream your videos at about 1mbps minimum. To view videos or streams at a much higher definition you will have to upgrade your internet connection, whether you’re using wired, wi-fi or mobile.
Keep in mind, today’s devices use a lot of data, so be very mindful of any data that you can expect to use. If you’ve got a Truly Unlimited connection then you are all set with no worries; but if on the other hand, you have a data allowance each month, you will still be able to stream; but it may not be in full HD/4K quality.
To be honest, I can do just fine with a video definition of 360p or 480p. For a more in-depth explanation of video quality check out Boxcast’s post on this subject here.
Do you have a home theater system? In the future, you might need to think about upgrading as many devices and Smart TV‘s are beginning to use 4K. If it’s not in your budget, I wouldn’t worry about upgrading at all because honestly, at the moment, it’s just a preference at this point.
Unless you have a Smart TV, you’re going to need a device that streams content for you. If you already have an Xbox or PlayStation, your console already has a host of wonderful apps, including streaming TV services and movie apps, ready for use. (Note: If you have a PlayStation, your live streaming TV options will be limited to the PS Vue network.) For everyone else, here are your best options depending on your needs.
Best budget streaming device: Roku Express
The Roku Express is a wonderful device, capable of delivering beautiful 1080p HD video across every major service for just $29.99 or below. Roku just refreshed its entire line, bringing five times more processing power to the device, which makes it suitable for everything from watching high-definition movies to streaming live TV. It even comes with a remote (though it doesn’t feature the advanced voice control options of other models). Roku’s smartphone app can also turn your iOS or Android device into a full-featured remote with some cool features, like the ability to listen to your TV through headphones plugged into your phone for night-time viewing. Heck, it can even turn your TV off and on for you and control the volume.
Best streaming device for old TVs: Roku Express+
The Roku Express+ comes with everything you read about the standard Roku Express. The difference is that this model includes a composite cable for those older TVs that might not have an HDMI input yet. If you travel a lot and stay at the kind of hotels that have Wi-Fi but still use old TVs, the Roku Express+ is a true delight. And, yes model also comes with a remote.
Best 4K device: Roku Streaming Stick+
Looking for the absolute best streaming experience, complete with 4K Ultra HD and HDR support? Look no further than Roku’s Streaming Stick+. This little gadget comes with a point-anywhere remote with built-in voice controls, power, and volume control options for your set, support for Roku’s smartphone app, and a range extender that gives it four times the wireless range of other sticks. When you’re trying to stream 4K video off a wireless connection, that power matters. In tests from around the web, the Roku Streaming Stick+ is the finest streaming experience available on the market. It’s worth every penny.
The best of the rest: Amazon Fire Stick and Google Chromecast
You might’ve noticed a trend by now: Roku reigns supreme when it comes to streaming devices. But if you already subscribe to Amazon Prime, it’s worth taking a look at Amazon Fire Stick. Amazon offers almost as many streaming channel options as Roku, and while its devices require a Prime subscription to fully utilize, that subscription includes access to Amazon’s massive streaming library of documentaries, 4K Ultra HD movies, and Amazon originals.
Each Amazon Fire TV Stick also comes with an Alexa voice remote, allowing you to search for shows and even order a pizza via command all from the comfort of your sofa. While we’ve personally enjoyed using Roku over the Fire TV Stick, Amazon’s devices are solid streaming options worth your review. Worth noting: Amazon’s app is available on Roku, so you can access its library if you have a Prime membership.)
As for Google’s Chromecast, it’s a serviceable option, but it doesn’t offer the same flexibility or value as Roku or Amazon devices.
When it comes time to cut the cord, there are two kinds of services you might need: live TV streaming and on-demand streaming. Live streaming content offers you a package of channels similar to what you might get from your local cable company. Some live TV streaming providers also include on-demand movies and shows. Then you have on-demand services like Netflix, which offer movies and shows that are available whenever you want to watch them.
Best live TV streaming budget option: Philo
Approx: $16 per month
For just $16 per month, Philo gives you 37 channels of top-notch entertainment, from MTV and Comedy Central to BBC America and Viceland. While its lack of news options is frustrating, Philo’s less-than-a-movie-ticket price keeps the pain at bay. If you can’t live without the ability to channel surf but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg, Philo is your best bet. But note: The only way to stream right now is via a Roku, iOS or Android device, or your computer. There are other services similar to this one and a future post may be written to discuss those services.
Best all-around live TV streaming package: Hulu with Live TV
Cost: $40 per month
Offering 50 channels, including all the major news networks and ESPN, for just $40 per month, Hulu with Live TV is the app to beat—especially when you consider it offers built-in cloud-DVR and a subscription to Hulu’s standard streaming service (an $8/month value). That means you have access to Hulu’s full library of on-demand movies, shows on Hulu, documentaries, anime, and must-see Hulu Originals. Working on almost every device, with the exception of the PlayStation, that streams media, Hulu with Live TV is the gold standard for options, quality, and selection. Add-ons like HBO and Showtime are available for a nominal fee.
Best live TV streaming channel listings: AT &T TV Now
Cost: $35-$70 per month
Downsizing isn’t for everyone. The best deal in regards to channel selection in the streaming world right now comes from AT& T TV Now. Starting at $35 for 60 channels and topping off with a $70 package that gives you 120 channels, including Showtime and HBO, DirecTV Now really can’t be beaten. Working on nearly every device on the market, with the exception of PlayStation, AT&T TV Now gives you news, entertainment, sports (including ESPN), and the familiar grid interface you remember from cable TV in an affordable package.
That’s a lot to take in, right?
Best streaming service for the whole family: Netflix
Approx: $8.99 – $13.99
You name it, Netflix has it: must-see movies, horror, comedy, indie flicks, rom-coms, anime, kids movies, nature documentaries, movies based on true stories, standup specials, TV shows, thrillers, 4K movies, and TV shows, and more. Over the last few years, Netflix has pushed heavily into producing original content, leading to a slew of incredible series, documentaries, docu-series, and movies.
Best budget streaming service: Hulu
Approx : $7.99 – $11.99
Netflix has the edge when it comes to movies and original content, but Hulu is where it’s at for TV. Unlike on Netflix, where you have to wait months—if not years—for a full season of a show to make its way to the service, shows appear on Hulu after airing, allowing you to stay up to date on all of your favorites. Hulu’s also the best budget service because it offers a version of its service—albeit with ads—for $7.99 a month, and unlike Netflix, you can add HBO, Starz, and Showtime to your subscription. Hulu has also made serious strides with its original series, most notably The Handmaid’s Tale, and it has the most robust anime library of the big three streaming services.
Largest streaming movie and TV selection: Amazon Prime Video
Cost: $130 (including taxes)/year
An Amazon Prime subscription pays for itself. It comes with free two-day shipping on Prime products, and it unlocks Amazon’s Video library, which includes Hollywood blockbusters and its own library of original streaming series. Amazon is also full of hard to find ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s classics. In fact, there are so many titles it can sometimes be overwhelming. Then there’s the TV shows section, which includes everything from Rosanne to HBO’s library, meaning you can catch up with The Sopranos or Eastbound and Down whenever you want. You can also add extra channels like Showtime, Starz, and more to your subscription for an extra fee. The only real downside is its underwhelming family content.
Best free streaming service: Crackle
Want to start streaming but don’t want to pay for it? Crackle is a wonderful compromise. It’s a free ad-supported streaming network with a diverse collection of free movies and TV shows for you to enjoy. Think of Crackle like a TNT afternoon movie marathon programmed by a drunk college student. Do you want to watch Bad Boys II, Talladega Nights, and a direct-to-video sequel to Joe Dirt? Crackle knows you do. That’s why it made a sequel to Joe Dirt. Crackle’s movie library is rotated out monthly (here’s our regularly updated guide to the best movies on Crackle) and augmented by an odd mix of classic sitcoms, like Mad About You, and odd blink-and-you’ll-miss-them one-season network TV shows, such as the brilliant Action and the less-brilliant Kidnapped.
Crackle has also started producing its own shows, with the bleak drama Startup standing out as a particular high point. Don’t like it? Don’t complain. It’s free.
Best Non-Mainstream streaming service: Movies.10 & Streamlive.to
Cost Approx: $9.99-$11.95/mo (Not including additional Add-ons)
This little-known streaming service provides several old and new movies that you can stream for a very low price. The Streamlive.to service has live broadcast channels that you can view on many of todays’ media devices. This service also comes with an Android & Apple Store app that you can download for your mobile device.
Free channels are provided but still require you to sign up for free. Once you’ve signed up, you get to watch several streaming broadcast channels for little to nothing. The movies.10 service has several of the same movies you would find from the larger companies. For a paid Premium account you can also add several cool add-ons to your account for even more entertainment.
I hope this post helps you with your decision. If you’re still not convinced you can always tailor your entertainment the way you like according to your budget, we hope you find this post helpful, and for sticking it out this long until the end of the post see our cord-cutters resources ebook below for download.