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Verge Cord Cutter's Guide: Hardware, Software, and Services



Cable cut-off is not a new concept for anyone in 2018. Millions of people have left traditional cable behind to pay only for broadband internet and streaming services. An increasing number has never had a cable box in the home from get-go. We have all received Netflix and our Prime Video subscriptions; I do not have to sell you on them.

But maybe you do not know which streaming TV service best suits your taste. Maybe it's been a few years since you bought a streaming stick and you wonder what's best when we go into 2019. And as more of us confront the subscription's overload and try to eradicate the entertainment we can live without, it's useful to have a reference to how much these things cost ̵

1; not just by month but also set up over a year.

Below you will find The Verge's New Sniper Cutter. We update everything as new products are released, because streaming services inevitably increase prices and adjust programming, and consumers continue to break away from traditional cable. Cord cutting can be about saving money if you find the right internet package and do not need any subscription service at your fingertips. But it does not have to have to be; Perhaps you want the freedom to watch TV where you want or just do not like putting money in Comcast's pockets. Whatever the reason, hopefully our tips below will make things less confusing.

But let's TL; DR this a bit. Below is a combination of some of our recommended streaming services. If you need a streaming device, add $ 40 at the top for a Roku Premiere, one of the best and cheapest 4K ready options.

Netflix 4K Plan $ 13.99 / month
YouTube TV $ 40 / month
Amazon Prime $ 119 / year

Total subscription price per yr (before tax / taxes): $ 766.88
Average payment TV bill in the US: $ 107 / month ($ 1,284 per year)

Antenna

Streaming services can often provide more than enough content to watch, but if you are a fan of live events, such as sports , a digital antenna is a cheap way to keep them around. At a minimum, an HD antenna will be connected to your TV, allowing you to access dozens of local channels, including the four major networks ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC in many areas. You will be covered for primetime hits, live sports (NFL, MLB, etc.), and events like the Oscars.

If your entertainment needs are not very demanding, an antenna hooked on your TV plus Netflix or Prime Video may be enough to keep you going – saving you a lot of money.

Recommended Antennas:

Mohu Leaf Metro Indoor HDTV Antenna Best Buy
Mohu Arc Bundled HDTV Antenna Best Buy
Mohu ReLeaf HDTV Antenna Amazon (Recycled Material)
AmazonBasics Ultra-thin HDTV Antenna Amazon

DVR

Four TV Recast | $ 189.99 (500GB, Two Tuners) $ 229.99 (1TB, Four Tuners)

Amazon's Four TV Recast is a network-connected hard drive in a black box that you connect to an antenna. You put the embrace where the antenna signal in your house is strongest; It does not have to go near your TV. (Amazon's Four TV app will help you find the ideal location.) Recast pulls all the channels available in your area, so most will get ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS and a dozen or more other random channels


Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

You can stream the live programming on a TV with any of the company's four TV streaming devices plugged in. Amazon seamlessly integrates the connection channels in the main menu. When you're away from home, you can also watch live OTA content using the Fire TV app on a smartphone or tablet. Technically, you do not need a fire-TV streaming device to use rework; You can watch live TV on your mobile devices without one, but you can not schedule DVR recordings unless you go on the fire TV route.

What's particularly nice with Fire TV Recast is that it's a flat fee for your device without additional subscriptions or monthly charges. At almost $ 200, the rework can feel a bit expensive for what it is. But if you buy one, you get live TV from the big networks, wherever you are and done with it.

Amazon also sells 500GB recycler, a Fire TV Stick 4K and an antenna as a $ 244 package deal.

HDHomeRun Connect Duo | $ 79 | Amazon Best Buy

SiliconDusts HDHomeRun Connect Duo contains two tuners for OTA programming. The strategy for using it is the same: pair it with an antenna where you get the best signal in your home. You can use the HDHomeRun app – on both smart TVs and mobile devices – to stream live programming. For users with their own NAS setup, the company also offers a $ 35-per-year DVR service; You will have two free months to try it with a purchase of the hardware.

HDHomeRun definitely takes a little more on the user's side to get up.

TiVo Bolt OTA | $ 249 (1TB, four tuners) | Amazon

Shedding cable does not mean to lose on your beloved TiVo. Many of us have moved from the TiVo CableCard days, but it's still a contingent of people who prefer to stick with the company's famous, easy-to-use interface and shooting options. For them, TiVo Bolt OTA is a good solution. It contains four tuners – allowing you to record up to four programs simultaneously – and it stores up to 120 hours of DVR content.


Photo: TiVo

The bolt is also a set-top box and includes Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube and other apps, and can stream any of these services in 4K. TiVos OneSearch feature can search across multiple services for the content you are trying to find, and Bolt OTA is compatible with Alexa.

You can watch live TV and your recordings from anywhere. But TiVo's monthly $ 6.99 subscription is a real thing about Bolt OTA's long-term value; You will end up paying significantly more than the basic cost of the hardware itself.


Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Power Devices

You can not go wrong with any of today's streaming sticks or set-top boxes. To pick one comes down to which ecosystem you are most familiar with and comfortable with – Amazon? Apple? – ease of use (where Roku stands out), and ensures you get all the apps you need. I'm not just talking about Netflix and Prime Video, but also things like Plex if you want to stream your personal movie collection from a PC or NAS on your network.

Amazon

The Verge recommends Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube.

Amazon streaming devices come cheap, but they pack a lot of power in the living room. They come with Alexa integration from the start, offering a superior voice experience compared to Apple or Roku. Amazon has most of the popular apps you want, but there are exceptions. Vudu is completely absent, and Amazon's continued spit with Google means that you must load YouTube into a browser – and there is no YouTube TV app period.

But if you're a big Prime Video watcher – or if you're interested in Fire TV Recast discussed earlier – the only real decision you'll have to make is between Amazon's last two streamers.


Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Why Go With Amazon?

  • You get the full features of Alexa as your built-in voice assistant, and Alexa is better and more useful than Siri or Rokus voice commands in the living room.
  • Deep Integration with Amazon Ecosystem. 19659043] Four TV Stick 4K offers 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos for much less money than an Apple TV 4K.

Reasons to choose something else:

  • Amazon heavily advertises its own content on the home screen. ] There is no Vudu app, so you're left without a big source of 4K Dolby Vision movies.
  • YouTube must be used via a browser.
  • No YouTube TV app.
  • You're worried about Alexa listening to you.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Kra lesson / The Verge

Apple

The Verge recommends Apple TV 4K.

Apple was late in the release of a 4K streaming box, and even then it did not get any stumbling but Apple TV 4K has improved significantly since its launch. It now makes Dolby Atmos sound as well as Dolby Vision HDR. It acts as a hub for your HomeKit-powered smart home.

Why go with Apple TV 4K?

  • Powerful hardware that hits all specifications (HDR10, Dolby Vision and Atmos) to get the most out of your TV set and home theater.
  • If you already have a long path of movie purchases from iTunes, free 4K upgrades can be very convincing.
  • Only Apple TV includes apps like Apple Music, iTunes, Apple Photos, and so on. If you are an iPhone user and deep in Apple's ecosystem and iCloud, it's a natural fit.
  • It can act as a hub for Apple's HomeKit platform, allowing you to control smart home devices remotely when you're gone.
  • personal information. Apple shares less data and viewing habits with partners and stricter about anonymizing it and preserving your privacy.

Reasons to choose something else:

  • It's far more expensive than competing products from Amazon and Roku.
  • YouTube does not play with 4K resolution.
  • Apple has a tendency to offer fewer 4K HDR movies than Roku (for example: Disney).
  • Less hackable and customizable than Fire TV or something like a Nvidia Shield.

The Verge recommends Roku Premiere +, Premiere, Streaming Stick + and Roku Ultra.

Roku's streaming devices remain our best choice for some reasons. The home screen and menus are easy to navigate and easy to understand. You have an apparently endless selection of TV shows. When searching for content, Roku is neutral about the results, favoring your current subscriptions or other ways of looking for something free, instead of paying to rent or buy it.

Why go with Roku?

  • Unusual simplicity of use.
  • Large selection of apps and a wealth of 4K HDR content.
  • General Fast Performance.

Reasons to choose something else:

  • You'll find the Rokus signature interface of the apps screen dull and outdated.
  • Roku shares a lot of your display data with partners and advertisers. Some may be uncomfortable with it.
  • Weakest voice checks and search of the three, although Roku recently added basic support for Google Assistant.

Nvidia Shield

I can not write a sneaker's manual without mentioning Nvidia Shield, which has proven to be a favorite of enthusiasts because of its powerful specifications, Android TV's flexibility (read: sideloaded apps) and its ability to to act as a Plex server – not just a player. You can save movies and TV shows directly on the shield instead of running an NAS or holding a PC running 24/7. And if you need more storage for that purpose, you can connect to a USB drive and enable the Android's adoption storage feature to get the shield to see everything as an internal storage volume.


Image: Nvidia

It may drive game mowers to scratch the nostalgia itch. Since it is powered by Android TV, you have full access to Google Assistant. See? The thing is nerdy and great, but I do not think it's for everyone. If you consider yourself as an expert, you probably know that the shield is for you and you probably already have one.


Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Live TV streaming services

Verge has previously had a snowmobile tool that lets you choose your channel to find the ideal streaming service or a combination of them. But I'll keep up with you: these programming lines and bundles change too often to make it very convenient. I'm just a man.

It's much easier to list which popular TV channels a service is missing than the ones it carries. Then below you will find the missing channels for each service that may fall into the deal-breaker territory for some people.

With the exception of YouTube TV, which offers all four major broadcasting networks in every market where it has launched, the availability of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC on the other services is more spotty and will depend on which city you & # 39 ; re in. This is another great reason to buy an antenna and get your live TV fix over the air.

DirecTV now

$ 40 / month for Live A Little with 65+ channels ($ 480 per year)
$ 55 / month for Just Right with 85+ channels ($ 660 per year)
$ 65 / month for Go Large with 105+ channels ($ 780 per year)
$ 75 / month for Gotta Have It with 125+ channels ($ 900 per year)

Availability: Nationwide
Works on: Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, iOS, Roku, web
Do not have: No big holes in channel setup. Click here for full cable channel lineup. To see if DirecTV now offers your local broadcasting network and regional sports network, enter your zip code on this link.
DVR: 20 hour storage, recording expires after 30 days
Simultaneous feeds: Two, add one-third for $ 5
Individual User Profiles: No
Parental Controls: Yes
60 fps playback: Yes
Surround sound: Yes Dolby Digital 5.1 on Apple TV and Fire TV)


AT & Ts DirecTV now has perhaps the best channel selection among all competitors. Almost everything stands for and the base $ 65 package should be enough to satisfy many people. Athletes want to go up to higher levels (with MLB Network, NBA TV, NFL Network, etc.), but many people will be fine to stick to the cheapest option.

DirecTV Now the drawbacks are a lack of user profiles, lack of application on some platforms (although this has been much better in recent weeks), and a DVR that keeps your recordings for 30 days. The service also tends to lose the list of your favorite channels. And finally, the company has strongly suggested that a price increase is on its way and some channels may be cut in an effort to help DirecTV reach its profitability. The service may look different in 2019.

Hulu with Live TV

$ 40 / month ($ 480 a year)

Availability: Nationwide
Works on: Android , Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, IOS, Nintendo Switch, Roku, Internet, Xbox
Do not have: AMC, BBC America, Viacom Network (Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, etc.) Click here to See Hulu Channel List in your area.
DVR: 50 hours storage, no fast forwarding through advertisements. Can be upgraded to 200 hours with $ 15 add-on (also locked fast forward).
Individual User Profiles: Yes. You can create up to six profiles.
Parental Control: Yes, with child mode profiles.


Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Hulus live TV service was negatively impacted by the company's major design overhaul when it was first launched. Hulu took a lot of criticism for his menus and navigation, which favored beautiful visual over usability and convenience. But it has taken more than a year to try to get the balance back to where it should be.

At $ 40, Hulu's lack of Viacom channels and even AMC is disappointing. Honestly, Hulu's main appeal with Live TV is that you also get the usual Hulu video-on-demand service next to it. Then you get access to Casual and The Handmaid's Voice Hulu's other originals, and a large back catalog of content from many networks – including some exclusives such as Seinfeld ]. Hulu also puts a lot of work into recommendation algorithms and suggestions for new shows to watch or record. And it's the only streaming TV service currently available on the Nintendo switch, if it's worth anything for you.

Hulus DVR situation, however, is frustrating. The base Live TV package allows for 50 hours of recording time, but you can not fast forward through commercials. If you want to do that, you'll have to pay $ 15 extra each month for the "enhanced" DVR with 200 hours of storage. This also locks the ability to fast forward.

PlayStation Vue

$ 44.99 / month for Access ($ 539.88 per year)
$ 49.99 / Month for Core ($ 599.88 per year)
$ 59.99 / Month for Elite ($ 719.88 per year)
$ 79.99 / month
Works on: Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, iOS, PlayStation, Roku, web
t have: A & E, History Channel, Lifetime, Viacom Network (Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, etc.) Click here to view the channel list for each level in your area.
DVR: unlimited storage, recordings expire after 28 days
Individual user profiles: Yes. You can create up to 10 profiles.
Parental Control: No
60fps Playback: Yes
Surround Sound: No

PlayStation Vue was an early favorite because of its intuitive interface, unlimited DVR space, and a robust multi-level channel selection. It's still a good choice because of the first two, but Sony's TV service has lost some appeal, as the channel selection has been trimmed a little, despite keeping the most expensive base subscription price of all competitors at $ 45. Athletes want to move up to the pricier $ 50 plan to get regional sports network (RSN).

But Vue has other factors in its favor: you can create up to 10 individual user profiles, which trounces the rest of the field. Share away with your roommates. And Sony is the only service that allows five streams simultaneously at different devices outside the home. And on some devices like Fire TV and Sony's own PlayStation 4, you can watch multiple comics simultaneously on the same screen. Vue also delivers excellent video quality of 60 fps on all channels, while other services only offer frames on anyone.

Sling TV

$ 25 / month for Sling Orange ($ 300 per year)
$ 25 / month for Sling Blue ($ 300 per year)
$ 40 / month for both ($ 480 per month Appearance Countrywide
Works on: Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, IOS, Roku, Web, Windows 10, Xbox
Do not have: ] Orange: CBS, Fox, FX, USA Blue: ABC, CBS, ESPN, Disney Channel Click here to select your favorite channels and see which Sling TV subscription can work for you.
DVR: $ 5 paid addition includes 50 hours of storage. (Disney and ESPN can not be played.)
Simultaneous streams: Sling Orange: Just one. Sling Blue: Three.
Individual User Profiles: No
Parental Controls: Yes
60fps Playback: Yes


Picture of Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Sling TV remains a bargain option among the five most prominent streaming television services. It starts with just $ 25 per month for either the Orange or Blue Channel package, and you can add more $ 5 channel packages to your subscription.

Sling Orange has ABC, Disney and ESPN. Choose Sling Blue instead if networks like Fox, FX and the US are more to your liking. Both packages include AMC, HGTV, Viacom drives that some more expensive competitors are missing, and more. Sling's biggest weaknesses are that it's missing CBS completely, and local channel coverage for the other three nights is very spotty.

With regard to the user experience, Sling TV still offers a relatively bare-bone app and does not offer individual user profiles such as Hulu, PlayStation Vue or YouTube TV. But the targeted company has regularly put work in refining its software. It is now a traditional, easy-to-navigate grid programming guide.

Unfortunately, Sling TV's Cloud DVR feature costs an additional $ 5 per month and you are blocked from registering certain channels like Disney and ESPN.

YouTube TV

$ 40 / month ($ 480 a year)

Availability: Select markets
Works on: Android TV, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Roku , Xbox One
does not have: Viacom Network (Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, etc.) and HBO
DVR: No storage restrictions recorded for nine months
Simultaneous feeds: Three simultaneous streams
Individual user profiles: Yes. You can create up to six profiles.
Parental Control: No
60fps playback: Yes (any channels)
Surround sound: No


Picture of Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

YouTube TV is our favorite TV service – if available in your specific area – due to its sleek, simple interface and the best DVR. You can configure six user profiles, and each has its own DVR with unlimited storage. The recordings are stored for nine months, which is quite generous compared to other services. YouTube TV also gives you the opportunity to always watch recorded version of a show so you can skip commercials. Many services like Hulu flip over to a video-on-demand version (often with unskippable ads) soon after a show has aired unless you pay extra.

That said, YouTube TV is not without problems. It has not rolled out nationwide, for one, and the list of supported devices is shorter than the competition (namely, if you have one of Amazon's four TV products, you're not lucky). You also miss Viacom networks, and YouTube does not offer any way to subscribe to HBO, as most of its rivals provide. You must subscribe to HBO now separately.

Other TV Options

FuboTV

$ 44.99 / month ($ 539.88 per year)

Availability: Nationwide
Works on: Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, iOS, Roku
Do not have: ABC, Discovery Channel, Disney, ESPN, Viacom Network (Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, etc.)
DVR: 30 hours recording time; "3-day replay" for sports games from the last three days. Recording is held indefinitely. Storage can be upgraded to 500 hours for additional $ 9.99 each month.
Concurrent flows: Two. Add a third for $ 5.99 / month.
Individual User Profiles: No
Parental Controls: No
60fps Playback: Yes (Some Channels)
Surround Sound: No

Fubo Announces Self as a sport-focused OTT TV service that also blends in good entertainment. For $ 39.99 you get a channel pack that is quite similar to the most important five services. With Fubo's DVR, you get 30 hours of recording time, and these recordings are stored indefinitely until you delete them. A $ 9.99 Cloud DVR Plus add-on expands recording time to 500 hours. Fubo offers many accessories for additional sports channels, and even shows some events in 4K on selected devices. A sports-centric service without ESPN is not perfect, but if you can live without the big one, it's a strong value.

Streaming Services

Amazon Prime Video

$ 119 / year or $ 59 / year for students
$ 12.99 / month ($ 155.88 per year) or $ 6.49 / month for students ($ 77.88 per year )

There is no way to get Prime Video without Amazon Prime, naturally. But along with Amazon's original show and lots of back-catalog movies, you get the usual mix of Prime benefits – as you should when the price continues to go up.

CBS All Access

$ 5.99 / month ($ 71.88 per year)

CBS free subscription service lets you watch live primetime broadcasts in most markets and stream a large vault of previous programming of the network. It's also the only place you see, see some original content like Star Trek: Discovery . All Access is available across all popular streaming gadgets and mobile devices.

HBO

$ 14.99 / month through most providers ($ 179.88 per year)
$ 5 / month addition with DirecTV Now ($ 60 added to main subscription per year)

Standalone HBO is available from HBO itself and many suppliers, including Apple, Google, Roku and Samsung (on their newer TVs). You can also opt to subscribe to HBO as an option via Amazon Prime, Hulu or PlayStation Vue.

The cheapest way to get HBO through a TV streaming service is with DirecTV Now, which only costs $ 5 extra each month for the premium network.

Halla

$ 7.99 / month ($ 95.88 per year) for Limited Advertising Plan
$ 11.99 / month ($ 143.88 per year) for no commercials plan
$ 12.99 / month Spotify Premium
$ 4.99 / Month ($ 59.88 per year) Limited Advertising Plan Student Combination and Spotify Premium

Its Growing Range of Highly Original Programming – With The Tailor's Language On top of the pile – Hulu's traditional service makes a must for many people. The basic service is $ 7.99 per month, but you can upgrade to no promotional schedule for $ 11.99. Some exceptions apply to the latter, but most of the programs will be interrupted.

Netflix

$ 7.99 per month for Basic ($ 95.88 per year)
$ 10.99 / month for Standard HD ($ 131.88 per year)
$ 13.99 / month for Premium 4K $ 167.88 per year)

Netflix's gradual rising prices have not done much damage to the service's huge popularity. The main differences between the three levels are video quality – The basic plan does not even allow you to view high definition and simultaneous streams. Customers in the default plan can stream on two devices at the same time, while on Premium they get up to four simultaneous streams.

Offline downloads supported on Android and iOS, which can be a lifeguard on flights, during other long journeys, or even for those boring afternoons on vacation.

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Last updated: December 20, 2018.


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