What you need to cut the cord

John Kopischke
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Streaming cable TV vs. streaming apps

Streaming cable TV and streaming apps let you watch your favorite shows on your favorite devices. They are two different ways to get the same content.

Streaming cable TV gives you the same TV programming that you can get with a cable TV box. Almost every streaming service has a few popular channels like CNN, ESPN, AMC, and Discovery Channel, and may also include some free on-demand programming.

Streaming apps are available for devices that don’t require you to have a cable TV box to watch. These include Android and iOS devices, game consoles, and Roku and Apple TV boxes. You can also get many apps for your PC or Mac computer.

The shows are usually the same, and many devices even support both streaming services.

Which one is better? It depends on what you’re looking for. The apps are often a better option if you want to watch your program on multiple devices. At home, it’s easier to have a bunch of streaming devices than it is to have multiple cable boxes. The convenience of a single cable box is harder to beat outside of the home.

How to get local channels and sports without cable

Traditional cable and satellite television services in most of the US have a few things in common. They are expensive, they have a limited number of channels, and they require contracts which often involve hidden fees for equipment and installation.

Getting local channels and sports without cable has been historically difficult for most consumers. Most cable providers will pay channels to only offer their content to viewers if they are subscribed to their service. The company spent a lot of money researching and delivering you the shows you want to watch and they will want to get something back. So they implemented regional sports networks and local channels that won’t air without the provider’s service. Unless you’re home with a DVR, or you subscribe to multiple services that carry the same channel, there is little you can do.

The rise of the internet, DVR services, and other online broadcast platforms have changed the TV world. You can now access many of the channels and watch the content you are paying for, for a lot less money. Especially if you are buying your cable or satellite service from a company that has no local service.

Thanks to these changes, you do have some choices now. Although most of these subscription services are relatively new and it’s hard to know what they will look like in the future, the initial signs are promising.

The cord-cutter’s shopping list

TV: Flat-panel TV or monitor with HDMI input,or Apple TV, FireTV, Roku, or Chromecast

AC: Avoid long cords by using a hard-wired Ethernet cable or powerline routers.

Ethernet: PCs, smartphones, tablets, routers, and switchboxes (to make Ethernet ports more available) that have an Ethernet port.

Controllers: Apple TV (any generation), Amazon FireTV—box and FireTV—stick, iOS/Android smartphone and tablet, and Wii, Xbox, and PlayStation

Signal boosters: These devices amplify a wireless signal, then transmit it to a router and connected devices. They can help maintain a strong connection when walls, floors, or other obstacles disrupt the Wi-Fi signal.