I’ve been without cable since 2013, and I’ve never looked back. Initially, it was to save money, but now I’ve gotten so used to streaming services that I don’t think I’d ever return to paying the cable man. In this guide, I’ll discuss some of our favorite streaming boxes, popular apps, along with how to watch over-the-air TV.
Streaming Boxes for Cord Cutting
The first thing you are going to need is a great streaming box. Outside of a handful of apps, most boxes now have parity with content options. Thanks to Movies Anywhere, you can also access purchased Google Play, Vudu, and Amazon Movies on iTunes and vice versa. Here are some streaming boxes that I recommend:
- Apple TV 1080p
- Apple TV 4K
- Roku 1080p Streaming Stick
- Roku 4K Streaming Stick
- Roku Ultra 4k
- Amazon Fire TV Stick 1080p
- Amazon Fire TV 4K
- Chromecast Ultra 4K
- Nvidia Shield TV
All of the boxes have their strong points. I like the Apple TV, but it is the most expensive of the group. It comes down to which “eco-system” you live in. If you have all Apple gear/services (Apple Music, iCloud Photos, etc.), the Apple TV is probably worth the money.
If you are all in on Android and the Google ecosystem, you will probably prefer either the Chromecast or the Nvidia Shield. Both devices work very well with Android and ChromeOS.
All in all, each of the streaming boxes I’ve listed are great. I’ve used them all and can recommend them all. It all comes down to your budget and which ecosystem you prefer.
Standalone Streaming Services
Streaming services are essential content when you cancel cable. There are some services that contain a variety of content. There are also services that mimic live TV (a collection of live channels), and then there are sports streaming services. I’ve listed a handful of them below.
General Streaming Services
I subscribe to all three. Netflix provides enough back catalog along with its original content to make the $10.99 per month. Hulu provides me with current broadcast content with a few original series sprinkled in. We pay $4 extra per month to get commercial free access. While I don’t watch Amazon Prime near as much as Netflix or Hulu, I keep the subscription for the shipping perks. One thing I will mention is that most streaming services don’t have contracts, so you might binge the Netflix shows you are interested in, cancel the subscription, subscribe to Hulu, and repeat the process.
Live TV Alternatives
I’ve tried all of these services, and YouTube TV is the best in my experience. While it’s not the cheapest, it has the best interface. It also provides access to your local channels where most of the others do not. YouTube also provides a cloud-based DVR at no additional cost with up to 6 individual profiles per family. They all have free trials so give them a shot until you find the one that works best for you.
If you are a sports fan, there are a few specific networks you can subscribe to. One thing to remember is they all have regional blackouts, so you won’t be able to watch your local team. If your local baseball team is something you want, you’ll have to get one of the live TV alternatives above. Those services also generally include ESPN, ESPN 2, etc.
Antenna for Over The Air TV
Depending on where you live, you might be able to grab some channels for free using a digital antenna (Check Antennaweb.org to see your specific channels). Here are some ones I recommend.
- Mohu Leaf Antenna – 65 Mile
- Mohu Leaf Antenna – 30 Mile
- AmazonBasics – 30 Mile
- Mohu Leaf Antenna – Curved for Table Top
I’ve used all of them, and I can recommend each one. If budget isn’t an option, getting the Mohu 65 mile is the one to buy.
One item I highly-recommend is the HDHomeRun. You plug your antenna into it and then connect it to your home network. You will now be able to watch your antenna on all your TVs instead of just one using apps on the various streaming boxes I listed above. I’ve found this product increases the reception quality of my antenna because I typically put the antenna in the best location instead of only where my TV is.
Do you have any favorite cord-cutting gear? Let me know in the comments!