Streaming TV Service - Tips and Information
The days of Cable and Satelite TV service have all but come to an end. TV Services which work over your existing internet connection that cost half the price have replaced these delivery mechanisms, and now contain the same content and channels from several providers. Additionally, there are content providers like Netflix, HBO, and others who provider commercial free options and premium content beyond what traditional television made available.
In this blog post we'll outline some of the options available and discuss how to get started with Streaming TV Services.
There are a number of streaming TV providers, but a few of the most popular are Hulu + Live TV, Youtube TV, and Sling TV. All three offer free trials.
Sling TV starts at $30/mo, with 10 hours of cloud DVR storage. You can add an additional 50 hours of storage for $5/mo. Recordings are stored indefinitely so long as your subscription is active. Sling offers two different channel line-ups, marketed as Sling Blue and Sling Orange, each for $30/mo or combined for $45/mo. Notably, ESPN is only included in Sling Orange, and a number of news networks are only included in Sling Blue, so if you watch a mix of both you'll likely want to select the $45/mo package. It's worth noting that Sling Orange channels only allow one concurrent streaming device, whereas Sling Blue channels allow 3. The full list of available channels in your area for each package can be found at https://www.sling.com/service.
Hulu + Live TV starts at $55/mo, with 50 hours of cloud DVR storage. Unlike the other two providers listed here, Hulu + Live TV doesn't allow skipping ads in recorded content stored on the cloud DVR unless you pay $10/mo for the Enhanced Cloud DVR service, which also increases the amount of storage to 200 hours. The full list of available channels in your area can be found at https://www.hulu.com/live-tv by clicking "View Channels In Your Area" and entering your ZIP code.
Youtube TV starts at $65/mo, with unlimited hours of cloud DVR storage. Live TV recordings are deleted after 9 months. Youtube TV is the highest-priced of the options listed here, but in exchange has the largest channel lineup and no limit on hours of recorded content. The full list of available channels in your area can be found at https://tv.youtube.com/welcome/ by entering your ZIP code.
If you purchased your TV in the past several years, it's almost certainly a smart model, which means it can connect to your home network and likely offers apps for the most common streaming platforms. Youtube TV supports most Samsung TVs released in 2016 onward, as well as most LG TVs released in that same time period. It also supports some Sony TVs, specifically models running the Android TV operating system. Other brands vary more widely in their support.
If your TV doesn't offer an app for your streaming service of choice, your best option is to purchase an external streaming device. There are three popular brands for these devices: Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV.
Roku provides a wide range of streaming devices, from the $29 Roku Express to the $99 Roku Ultra. While the cheaper devices may seem tempting, we recommend against purchasing the Express and Premiere lines, as they only support 2.4GHz wireless. This can result in frequent buffering issues. Instead, we suggest purchasing either the Roku Streaming Stick+ or the Roku Ultra, both of which support the more robust 5GHz wireless standard. The Roku Ultra also supports wired connections, and is our recommended Roku model for 4K streaming if you have Ethernet to your TV.
The current Apple TV comes in two versions, the HD ($150) and 4K ($180), both of which offer the full suite of network connectivity options, including both 2.4GHz wireless as well as 5GHz wireless and wired Ethernet. The latest version of the Apple TV supports Youtube TV, Hulu + Live TV, and Sling TV, as well as some of the other popular options.
Amazon offers two form factors of streaming device: The Fire TV Stick, and the Fire TV Cube. The most current models in their respective lines are the Fire TV Stick 4K ($50) and the Fire TV Cube 2nd Generation ($120). Both models support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless, and the Fire TV Cube comes with a USB-to-Ethernet adapter for wired networking. The Fire TV Cube also comes with a built-in speaker for use with their Alexa smart home integrations.