Paying big monthly fees to your cable or satellite provider can be frustrating, especially when there are nights you either never use them, or when you do, there’s nothing on! Wish there was a better solution to be in control of what you watch and how much you want to pay for instant programming? Internet streaming is starting to take over and many devices are out there to help you acquire a great deal of content. Through a combination of free, as well as pay-per-month services, you can have access to hundreds of commercial-free TV shows, movies and other programming all on-line, with your favorite electronic devices.
Before I even mention some ideas for people to try and make do without a cable service there is a large warning label: You need GREAT internet in your house. Your Wi-Fi signal needs to be solid and your provider needs to be supplying a good bandwidth. Cable providers often supply very high speed internet. If you have a DSL service through the phone lines: beware. You need to call and see if you can upgrade to at least 6Mbps (which may not be available in your area!) Once you have a good signal coming in, then you need a strong router. Try to avoid all in one modem/routers (gateways) and get yourself a very powerful router that is dual band simultaneous. That way, many devices can coexist on your network not weakening the network.
Also, Before we address the many ways to acquire content via the internet, keep in mind that you may be somewhere that the old fashion bunny ear antennas will actually pull in a free HD channel or two. Roof top antennas are also capable of doing this or you can buy a not so expensive indoor antenna that will beat bunny ears. Bottom line: Antennas will provide an HDTV (that all have built in HD tuners) to receive a bunch of local stations. Some of these stations will come in via HD quality and some will just be digital.
Ok, Down to the fun stuff:
For the Apple enthusiast (owner of iPhone, iPad & Mac OS products), the Apple TV is the way to go. This black hockey puck sized box plugs into your TV with an HDMI Cable (sold separately) and gives you access to your Netflix account, YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu Plus, Wall Street Journal News, Flickr account, and streaming sport services from MLB, NBA & NHL.
Want to watch the live news broadcast with one of the above apps? Too bad. Switch to your bunny ears if you receive stations
Bonus: Apple TV logs into your Mac or PC computer and will stream all iTunes Movies, TV Shows, Music and Photos you’ve stored anywhere on the computer. Best part about Apple TV is the Airplay element. You can wirelessly stream content from your iOS device to your Apple TV location or even mirror their displays. The mirroring even extends out to Mac OSX Mountain Lion newer Macs enabling them the mirror their screens or just send video, pics or music to that Apple TV location
For Everyone else: Blu-ray players have a ton of Apps you can install that can open us access to a great deal of content. This access to apps is what also makes a TV called a smart TV. The king of the smart TV(Google TV) will give you full web browsing allowing you to access media companies streaming websites.
Roku is a small box for the person that just bought a non-smart TV and already has an older Blu-ray player. Add the Roku and you’ll have access to customizable Apps. Bonus: Roku is a device that is very customizable. I once had a customer that wanted access to different countries full spread of TV programming and he was able to do that with an App someone made. He installed the App on his Roku, Pays a monthly fee and has tons of Russian TV Stations streaming to his TV without cable or satellite programming.
Lastly, Gaming consoles will also give you access to Apps and media stored on your computers in your house.
Here’s a recommendation: Go to all your favorite TV stations websites and see what streaming content they offer. That will be the bulk of what’s available when you ditch your TV provider. Also, take a look on the iTunes store and see how much your fav episode costs and how new it is. What you will find is that TV programming offers you the biggest spread of content and when the president pops up with an important message or if that annoying screen actually comes up due to alien invasion: you won’t miss it. If you got access to a good spread of off air content with antennae, then I think you’d have enough to get by when coupling it with all the great streaming content.