Cutting the cable cord? Here's how to avoid withdrawals
From the new Apple TV to picking up an HDTV antenna, these are the tricks to use to kiss your monthly cable bill goodbye.
If the grand total at the end of your cable bill is making you wince each month, it may be time to consider "cutting the cord" and embracing online video streaming.
In addition to massive libraries of commercial-free content, you'll also gain access to apps and other exclusives not available in the worlds of cable and satellite television. Want to watch the latest episode of "Daredevil," and then later stream a video game for you and your friends to play? No problem. New services like the Israel-based cloud gaming platform Playcast and Apple's own on-demand gaming platform for the revamped Apple TV are aiming to make cord-cutting more appealing than ever before.
Below are five tips for those considering dropping cable and embracing the online world of media streaming. It may take a little getting used to, but the cost and time savings will quickly add up to make that monthly cable bill nothing but a bad memory.
1. Upgrade your wireless
Streaming video requires a decent wireless signal to achieve picture quality on par with cable television. (Photo: Twin Design/Shutterstock)
To ensure quick loading times for all of your favorite movies and television shows, now would be a great time to upgrade your home network. Many Internet service providers offer speed upgrades for extra dollars per month. Since you'll be saving so much dough dropping cable, it's not a bad idea to take advantage of these offers to make your downloads start faster and improve the quality (ie; high-definition video) of your streaming video. If your wireless router is feeling a bit sluggish, you may also want to plan an upgrade there as well.
2. Figure out which networks you watch a majority of your shows on
Cable subscribers are used to a giant endless catalog of channels to flip through. By cutting the cord, you'll not only give your thumb a much-needed rest from the remote, but also enjoy the stuff you want, when you want. The best thing to do is to narrow down the shows you enjoy and their corresponding networks. After that, jump over to The Verge's handy cost calculator to see what services (from HBO NOW to Netflix, etc.) best cover what you've enjoyed previously. You'll then receive a handy total to gauge whether cutting cable makes financial sense.
3. Purchase a streaming box
Take this from someone who's done this way too many times: hooking your laptop up to the television is cumbersome – and without fail, you'll almost certainly have to pause the action to find a power cord. Your best bet instead is to purchase a piece of streaming hardware such as the Apple TV, Roku, Google's Chromecast or Amazon's Fire TV stick. All are affordable and most come loaded with apps for streaming services such as Hulu, YouTube, and Amazon Prime. Simply plug them into your television HDMI port, power them up, and sit back and enjoy all of your streaming services on one handy device.
4. Use iTunes or Amazon Prime to buy season passes for must-see shows
If there's a network that has one or two series you love, but not much of anything else – skip the monthly subscription and instead purchase a "Season Pass" from Amazon Prime or iTunes. You'll be able to watch every episode within 24 hours or less of their television debut – and retain them for repeat viewings at another date. At $25-$40 for each pass, they might seem expensive, but you'll save money in the long run. For exclusive series not available anywhere else (ie; Netflix, HBO) simply sign up for a full subscription before the season premiere and then cancel after the finale.
5. For live sports and events, try an HD antenna
Use over-the-air HDTV broadcasts to score access to live sports and other events. (Photo: Ed Yourdon/Flickr)
Believe it or not, television is still broadcast over the airwaves and in beautiful high-definition. This free service allows you to easily tune in the major networks and get your fix on the various live events (sports, awards shows, nightly news) you'll likely want to experience as they happen. The easiest way to give this a shot is to first determine if your location is suitable for broadcast television (geography and location play a big role in getting a clear signal) and then purchase an HDTV antenna to hook into your television. Once you're up and running, you'll likely be smiling from ear-to-ear at just how gorgeous free TV can appear.
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