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How to switch from cable television to streaming without dying in the attempt

switching from cable tv to streaming cuts the headDaniel Matus / Digital Trends in Spanish

The streaming It is more fashionable than ever these days, with services on demand such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and a series of newcomers, along with multiple live TV streaming services such as Sling TV, ESPN Plus, DirecTV Now and PlayStation Well, cutting the cable is easier than ever. Easy, s: but convenient? If you are willing to investigate a couple of things and, above all, reflect on what you really need, switching from cable television to streaming will not be traumatic or complicated, and that is what we want to explain in this article.

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Now you can access the successful channels and series that once were exclusively under the yoke of a cable subscription for a small monthly fee, without contracts, equipment rental or disastrous customer service. Getting rid of the cable or satellite service (and the bill that accompanies it) sounds great in theory, but it's not something you should hurry on.

First: how is your internet connection?

You have to be very clear from now on: you need a broadband connection that allows streaming. Netflix and other similar streaming services suggest download speeds of 5Mbps, but we don't think that much will be done with that, especially if there are more people connected to the network in your home.

Now you can access the successful channels and series for a small monthly fee, without contracts, equipment rental or disastrous customer service.

With 5Mbps you can get a high definition video transmission, but you can experience delays in loading and storage in the buffer if your network is suffocated by any other data traffic. If you want to enter the big leagues to access the growing variety of 4K Ultra HD streaming content available on Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and others, you will have to accelerate your broadband speed to at least 25Mbps.

We also recommend that you test your Internet speed at peak times (between 6 and 10 p.m. on weekdays) to determine if your neighborhood has problems with heavy traffic. Fortunately, this is an increasingly rare problem outside rural areas, but it is better to verify it.

Get an HD antenna

Before canceling your cable or satellite subscription, you should investigate what is available through an HD antenna. For urban areas, a good HD antenna will probably offer you the four main networks (FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS), along with 10-15 other selections (PBS, CW, etc.) in HD resolution, and all for free. Numerous antennas are available, such as the ClearStream Eclipse:

ClearStream Eclipse

ClearStream Eclipse offers some of the best results. The antenna is powerful and surprisingly versatile. It comes in four separate versions: variations of 35, 50, 60 and 70 miles, so you can get a model that best suits your location. The circular design of the antenna is unique, and it offers you the advantage of being the most suitable for capturing UHF signals (a type of high definition TV signal) than most other indoor antennas. In addition, it is multi-directional, so finding an ideal configuration where the signal is clearer is easy.

Leaf Metro

We like the Leaf Metro because its small profile easily camouflages itself, without sacrificing its functionality. Although its range is limited to approximately 25 miles, it is perfect for those who live in smaller apartments or rented rooms, especially in urban settings, where the television channels are abundant. To increase the versatility of its small size, the antenna also comes in black or white, and can also be painted to match its interior. In addition, its coating adheres to almost any surface, being able to change location easily. A 10-foot coaxial cable included allows a very flexible installation.

Channel Master FLATenna

If you are cutting the cable to save money, then it seems logical to also want to save with an indoor antenna. Fortunately, the Channel Master FLATenna is one of the cheapest in the spectrum, and has a performance almost equal to other models that cost five or six times more. The FLATenna has a range of 35 miles, and its simple design is also multidirectional. The antenna surface is adhesive for easy fixing to windows or walls, wherever you get the signals (and adjust them) as best as possible.

Switch to a real streaming device

You may have a Blu-ray player or a smart TV with streaming applications included, and the newest Samsung and LG TVs have pretty good smart interfaces. But if you are going to transition to a full-time streaming entertainment plan, you will need a device designed specifically for that job. These are our favorites:

Amazon Fire TV Cube ($ 70 to $ 120 dollars)

The Amazon Fire TV has gone through some updates, and it must be said that it has been improved with each of them. In fact, the current version is a true revolution of streaming, it offers simple operation and also the ability to control your entire home theater system and the configuration of your smart home using your voice. This includes the ability to turn on and control basic operation on other devices, including not only your TV, but also your A / V receiver and even your cable box. Amazon Fire TV Cube got a perfect score in our recent review.

Of course, voice control is only part of the package. Like almost all modern streaming devices, the Amazon Fire TV Cube supports 4K HDR images (although not Dolby Vision), so if you're about to buy a 4K TV, you're in luck.

Regardless of whether your home is full of Alexa devices or none, Fire TV Cube remains an excellent choice, especially for Amazon Prime subscribers, since all your Prime music and video content is available on the device. This compensates for the slightly weak application support that Fire TV has compared to Roku.

Amazon Fire TV Cube is our favorite device, but there are also other excellent alternatives, each with something special to offer.

Roku Stick ($ 60 dollars)

Caleb Denison / Digital Trends

While each Roku model has its own merits, the Roku Streaming Stick + is currently the best. With a fast processor, compatibility with 4K and HDR, and Wi-Fi 802.11ac, this small stick does everything you want for an incredibly low price. (Note: a function that Roku does not support is Dolby Vision, Dolby's HDR format, so if your TV is ready for Dolby Vision, you may want to see the other devices on this list.)

With thousands of “channels” available, the Roku platform connects to virtually all major online streaming services. More importantly, the interface is very intuitive; You can quickly search for the content of the providers by actor, series or movie title, or the specific genre you are looking for.

The Roku interface will even tell you what services they offer, what you want for free and what they charge you. The remote control is also useful, which allows you to control the power and volume in most.

Apple TV4K ($ 179- $ 199 dollars)

The most recent version, the Apple TV 4K, adds the long-awaited support for 4K UHD resolution and 4K content. The Apple TV 4K uses an intuitive touch remote control, designed to work more like an iPhone, and which can even be used as a game remote control. The system is also faster than previous models, and the inclusion of 4K makes it a viable alternative to 4K Roku and Amazon options for those who are unconditional to Apple.

Chromecast Ultra ($ 60 dollars)

Chromecast, the popular dongle of transmission, it does not have a remote control or on-screen menu, but it allows you to use your smart phone or tablet to “transmit” content to your TV, and it is also constantly updated with new compatible applications. The last version of the device, the Chromecast Ultra, has all the good of the previous models, and adds resolution 4K and HDR, with support for Dolby Vision and HDR10. If that is too high for your blood, the Chromecast HD costs only half and offers virtually the same functionality, in addition to 4K and HDR. While Chromecast is one of our favorite ways of streaming, your searches are still relatively limited through the Google Home app. That said, like Fire TV's relationship with Alexa, Chromcast is probably the ideal choice for Android users or those deeply rooted in the Google ecosystem, especially Google Home.

Choose a streaming service

Now that you have all the hardware you need, it is time to consider which data transmission services will best meet your needs. The most popular are Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu, HBO Now and Showtime. The prices of each one vary, as well as their libraries and contents. You may even prefer to combine two of these services to have access to a greater number of your favorite series and movies.

Netflix ($ 8-14 dollars per month)

An obvious option, and one that is almost essential on any list, Netflix's streaming service costs $ 8 on its most basic plan (only one transmission on a device, without HD or UHD content), $ 10 for the standard plan (up to two simultaneous transmissions, including HD) and up to $ 14 per month is uploaded for a premium plan that allows up to four users viewing at a time on different devices, plus access to 4K content with HDR. The Netflix catalog is loaded with complete TV series from other networks (past seasons only), dozens of licensed and internally produced films, and several original series such as Stranger Things, The Paper House, Jessica Jones, Sacred Games and many more.

Netflix

Amazon Prime Instant Video ($ 99 dollars a year / $ 13 dollars a month)

While Amazon's main video service may occasionally pale before the Netflix catalog, it has the exclusive rights to a series of classic HBO series such as The Sopranos Y Oz, along with their own original series, some highly acclaimed by critics as Mozart in the Jungle Y The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The service has been working hard to shorten distances with Netflix, including the addition of packages such as Showtime and Starz networks at reduced prices with a Prime account, along with a good selection of streaming content available in 4K and HDR. The company also offers videos on demand, which allows you to rent or buy newer movies and TV shows. Finally, Amazon has introduced a new monthly plan of $ 13 dollars a month. However, if you are one of those who make many purchases on Amazon, the free 2-day Prime shipping makes the $ 99 subscription a year the best of all offers.

Amazon Prime Video

Hulu ($ 8-12 dollars a month)

The only option of the ones mentioned so far that commercials reproduce, Hulu is the most beloved for its selection of current seasons of popular television programs, most of which appear on the site shortly after its original broadcast date. For those who want more, Hulu also offers a luxurious and commercial-free way to stream its growing catalog of original shows, network content and movies for only $ 4 more per month. It is worth it, if you are thinking of leaving the cable ties behind.

Hulu also recently launched into the ring of live TV broadcasts. The $ 40 month plan opens more than 50 TV channels Live (depending on your region) and includes all the VOD content you will get with a regular Hulu subscription. Below we give you more information about this service and how it compares with SlingTV, PlayStation Vue and others in the Web TV section.

Hulu

HBO Now

Those who love HBO will place HBO Now at the top of the list. Although its price of $ 15 dollars per month makes it the most expensive service on demand from the aforementioned, it has the advantage of being able to watch all the last shows of the channel, including game of Thrones, Westworld, Silicon Valley, Veep and others, all at the same time they appear in the traditional service. Add to this a good selection of past classics, from Sopranos until Deadwood, releases of more recent films and practically everything you want to order.

HBO Now

Showtime

The CBS premium network has made its own move in the game of streaming independent, calling your new transmission service in a simple (and not original) Showtime way. As the name implies, it includes practically all the benefits of being a subscriber of the Showtime cable version for $ 11 dollars a month, and has also reached agreements to combine Hulu and Amazon Prime for a reduced cost of $ 9 per month.

Showtime

A version is also offered on demand A good part of the CBS network programming in CBS All Access, which will cost you $ 6 dollars per month.

However, it is important to keep in mind that the more you expand your selection, the closer you will find to match the monthly cable bill. If you are looking to save money, choosing only two or three of these services is probably the best option.

You have the opportunity to choose what you don't want to see, and not just what the cable companies program in their grills.

In addition to those mentioned, ESPN, Nickelodeon and other networks and platforms are expected to follow the same example.

Web TV: the final piece of the puzzle

Perhaps the solution for those who want to get off the cable without giving up live TV is the growing list of services streaming (live television) that have proliferated in recent years, all with free trial periods and no contracts. Each has its own advantages, and some disadvantages. We mention them below.

Sling tv

Sling TV offers two monthly packages: Sling Orange ($ 20) and Sling Blue ($ 25). Sling Orange offers popular channels like ESPN, but is limited to only one broadcast, which means that subscribers can only watch it on one device at a time. Sling Blue offers many of the same channels as Orange, but it also lacks some key channels, ESPN among them. Sling Blue offers NFL Redzone, an essential channel for NFL fans. Viewers can subscribe for both packages and get a $ 5 discount, bringing the total to $ 40 per month.

In addition to the basic packages, complementary $ 5 packages such as News Extra, Kids Extra and other packages can be added.

Sling tv

PlayStation Vue

The Playstation Vuede Sony service includes support for Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. While Vue's large number of channels make it very complete, its base packages are more expensive than Sling TV, starting with $ 40 per month and moving to levels of $ 45 and $ 55.

Vue also offers ESPN with packages available throughout the country, instead of giving up a few cities. The service recently lost rights to Viacom-owned channels, such as Comedy Central, MTV and Spike. We tried to compensate for this by adding channels like BBC America and NBA TV, but losing key channels could serve as a warning to potential customers.

PlayStation Vue

DirecTV Now

The DirecTV Now of AT&T was officially presented on November 28. Like PlayStation Vue, this service is closer to the traditional cable than Sling TV, and offers four different programming packages.

The introductory package offers more than 60 channels for $ 35 per month, while for $ 50, the Just Right package offers more than 80. The package that received the most attention from DirecTV Now during its launch event was the Go Big, $ 60 per month and more than 100 channels. If you want it all, the Gotta Have It package packs more than 120 channels for $ 80 per month. Finally, additional channel packages such as HBO and Cinemax are available for only $ 5 each, which is very convenient.

DirecTV Now

Hulu with Live TV

Unlike most of its competitors, Hulu with Live TV charges $ 40 per month to access more than 60 channels (according to your region). Sports fans will probably find many interesting things with the Live TV user interface. Unlike the other services, Hulu does not have much in terms of adding channels to reinforce its list, but it has quite a few features premium which can be added to the subscription.

Hulu with Live TV

YouTube TV

It was obvious that the largest video platform in history created its own live TV streaming service. You will have access to more than 40 channels with a monthly subscription of $ 35, including a series of sports channels for which you will usually have to pay much more in other services. In addition to TV content, you will also have access to all content premium YouTube Network, which includes series produced by YouTube.

YouTube TV

Adjust your expectations

While live TV streaming services look a bit more like cable than Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, the cutting experience will definitely put you in a very different world than what you were used to, and you should go through a period of adjustment. Leaving the cable is like any change of something that is rooted in our lifestyle: at first, it can be uncomfortable, maybe even frustrating, but once you get used to it, everything will be natural. S: you will pass from channel to channel without meaning, but you will have the satisfaction of being more deliberate with your entertainment options. You have the opportunity to choose what you don't want to see, and not just what the cable companies program in their grills.

With regard to the cut of the cable, the choice is here the fundamental concept, since it is not always so much about saving, as many believe. With the modern method of gradual delivery, you can create your particular empire of entertainment as you see fit, choosing among all or none of our suggestions. Once you learn to do it, you will have even more options to choose from, with new selections that will appear all the time. Therefore, if you are tired of being carried by cable or satellite companies and want to follow your own path, follow our advice and cut with the cable. Many of us have already done so, and we believe that we have not looked back.

* Updated by Daniel Matus on July 7, 2019.

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