So what equipment does it take to cut the cord? In part one of this article, Louis asked: “Please send as much information as possible on how I can “cut the cord” to cable; include equipment needed to do so.”
Before we got to the equipment, we talked about other important things to consider before deciding if cord cutting is right for you. So if you haven’t read that article yet, click here to check it out.
There really isn’t much equipment required for cutting the cord. In fact, you may not need to buy anything.
I’ll start off y assuming you already have high-speed Internet in place. If you own a SmartTV, it already has apps you can use for accessing streaming services pre-installed. Which apps will depend on your particular TV. You you’ll need to consult the documentation that came with it.
You actually don’t need a TV at all for most streaming services. You can watch most of them on your tablet or your laptop if watching on a larger screen isn’t important to you. However, you generally can’t watch over-the-air broadcasts anywhere but a TV, though some laptops do have TV tuners.
But let’s say you have a TV. If you already have a PlayStation or an Xbox gaming console, they are capable of playing apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu that will give you access to a wide variety of television programming Navigating with the game controller can be a little awkward, so you might want to spring for a remote. The other issue is that other people in your house might want to use the game console and the TV for gaming, so you might end up with some conflicts.
You’ll probably want to purchase a streaming box or a streaming stick. What streaming boxes and streaming sticks do is basically turn your TV in to a tablet and allow it to run apps. The stick or the box is the tablet and your TV becomes the monitor. Instead of being controlled by a touch screen, you use a remote.
A steaming box will hook up to your TV via cables. It can normally pick up wireless or be wired straight into your modem. Popular brands include Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Google Chromecast. These boxes usually run around $100 including remote. Though Apple TV can run as high as $299. That’s a one time purchase price for the box. But the individual streaming services will cost a monthly or yearly fee.
A streaming stick plugs directly into the HDMI port of your TV. Popular brands include Chromecast, Fire TV Stick and Roku. Installation is super-easy. These sticks run between $30 and $50 including a remote. But the price of subscriptions to individual services will vary. Google’s Chromecast works differently than Roku or Amazon Fire TV. With most streaming devices, you have an on-screen interface that you operate with a remote and the media plays directly from that stick or box. With Chromecast, you use an app on your tablet, smartphone or PC to play the content and then stream or “cast” it to your television via the Chromecast stick or box.
The apps available on these devices vary, though most will offer you big names like NetFlix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and individual subscription services offered by networks like CBS.
Another piece of equipment you’ll want to consider is an antenna for your television. This will enable you to enjoy local channels and live television.
If you live in an area where it’s easy to pick up television signals over-the-air, you might not need more than a slim tabletop antenna.
Don’t assume you’ll be able to pick up channels over the air just because you could 10 years ago. With the advent of the digital transition, many places that previously could receive TV signals no longer can. Digital signals are not only line of sight, they also have to be basically perfect or nothing. So there are no fuzzy TV signals these days. It’s either clear or it isn’t here at all. You may find that you need to purchase and an outdoor antenna and mount it on a 30-foot-pole to get a signal.
The heart of cutting the cord lies with choosing streaming services. In the next part of our series, we’ll look at your options and how much they cost.