I cut the cord over two years ago. I did it because I needed to make a budget change. We were paying way too much just to watch TV and it needed to stop. I was deep in debt and I thought cable was a necessity. Well, I’ve learned my lesson. Over the past two years, I have tried a number of different devices to help me stream shows and movies onto my TV. Now, just as a reminder, cutting the cord is not cutting internet. You need internet to really cut the cord. It wasn’t about getting away from Time Warner Cable, but more about paying them less.
I get a lot of questions from people looking to “cut the cord” as well, so I wanted to share my top 5 devices to help anyone cut the cord and save money. There are a number of devices out there to help you stream services like Netflix onto your TV, but these are my favorite. There is even one which doesn’t require any internet and is just a one time cost. Without further ado, here are the 5 devices to help you cut the cord!
Roku/Roku Streaming Stick
There are actually four Roku devices that are currently available, but I’m only going to talk about two of them. The Roku 3 and the Roku Streaming Stick. These are the two newest players in Roku’s lineup. If you don’t know Roku, then you have been living under a rock. These “cord-cutting” devices were some of the first in the industry and many have just followed. People love their Roku players.
As with the other devices (minus the Mohu Leaf), Roku allows you to stream both free channels and paid subscription services, such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Their streaming stick is the most cost effective, but the Roku 3 is by far the most powerful streaming device out there.
With the Roku 3 device, you can easily search with your remote or download their app and control the system with your smartphone or tablet. One of the cool features is the headphone jack in the remote. You can now listen to your shows late at night or when you shouldn’t bother someone around you. It’s a slick little feature. Many of their best channels are subscription based, such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Watch ESPN, and Amazon Instant Video, but they do have a number of free stations you can choose from.
This is one of the best over-the-air antennas on the market today. This little device was the first thing I purchased to cut the cord. It was such a small antenna (the thickness of a few sheets of paper) and it did the job well. I took a look at AntennaWeb before I bought it as I wanted to see what kind of broadcast channels I could receive. You should do the same.
Mohu has created quite a few different antennas for you viewing pleasure. I started with the Mohu 30, but have since moved onto the Mohu 50 Amplified version. There is even a Mohu Leaf Metro for those living in tight cities, and the Sky 60 Amplified made for your attic or outdoors.
Check out GoMohu.com for their full line up of awesome antennas!
The point of this device is to get the broadcast channels that major networks send out for free. You buy the antenna once and enjoy TV every day for free. I get ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and about 18 other channels. It depends on your area.
Amazon Fire TV/Fire TV Stick
Amazon’s Fire TV was their answer to Roku’s streaming device. They wanted to get into the streaming game. The Fire TV is a small standalone box that comes with a small remote capable of doing voice searches on titles. This device works best if you have Amazon Prime as it’s able to stream the Amazon Instant Video library, along with a number of other apps. It has access to over 200,000 movies, tv shows, and documentaries. Their main apps include Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Watch ESPN, Crackle, HBO Go, PBS Kids, Pandora, and many others.
The Fire TV Stick is a small version of the Fire TV, packaged in a nice little USB stick. It’s very portable and comes with it’s own remote as well. I did a detailed review of the Fire TV Stick, so you can check that out if you want. This is a device starting at $39. The remote doesn’t have voice search like Amazon Fire TV, but if you have both, you can use the Fire TV remote with the stick to enable voice searching.
Both Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick have the ability to play games with the remote. Amazon Fire TV also has a game controller for specific games, which require more control.
The Google Chromecast was the first to the small streaming market. While Roku was probably one of the first devices to stream, Google was the first to make it small, portable, and cheap! The ChromeCast is priced around $35 and it a bargain. This little USB dongle is easy to use and has apps such as Netflix, HBO Go, Youtube, Google Play movies and music, and much more. You can even cast your Google Chrome browser tab onto your TV with the Chromecast.
This is a highly rated device that does the job. If you want to have access to stream wherever you have internet access, then the Chromecast could be a good companion. It works with both Android and Apple products, as well as Windows, Mac, and Chromebook products.
This is something that many people/sites don’t talk about. PlayOn is not really a device, but it does require a computer to work. PlayOn is actually just like a media server. You install it onto your computer, then you can hook it to their approved devices to stream different apps. I have this service and it works well. It’s a little more complicated to get setup, but it’s not that hard.
With PlayOn, you have access to over 100 channels. You can watch in HD (if your internet access speeds support it) and you can even record in HD. PlayOn can be purchased on a yearly subscription or for a one-time fee. Right now, they are selling the one-time plan for only $40! You can stream content to your TV, your tablet, and smartphone. They have a service called PlayLater, which is a recording software. They even have AdSkipper, which lets you skip those pesky ads from TV stations.
Some of the bigger channels they offer are Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu/Hulu Plus, CNN, ESPN, Discovery Channel, and many more. You can check out the full list on their site.
There are many other devices out there to help you cut the cord, but these are the five I think are really good and easy to get started on. While most of them are super easy to setup, the PlayOn option does take a little more to setup, but still isn’t all that hard. If you’re looking to reduce your cable bill, then think about these options. I went from nearly $120 per month to about $60 with these devices and services. Yay!
I’ve Been Cable Free for 5 Years and Still Watch TV
While in debt, I cut cable and haven’t looked back. It’s easier than you think especially with new services out on the market. One of my favorites is Sling TV, which allows you to watch live TV on the internet. It’s awesome. Check out my Sling TV review.