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Cut the Cord
"Cutting the cord" is a term for anyone who stops using premium cable or satellite TV services and accesses video content through a combination of antenna and streaming media players, as well as subscribing to streaming video services such as Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, and Netflix. If youíve always wanted to adopt or learn more about a 'cut the cord' lifestyle, this guide will help you navigate through the different cord-cutting steps in an easy-to-understand fashion.
Step 1: Buy an Antenna
A simple antenna plugged into the back of your TV set can offer you a wide variety of TV entertainment. Many broadcasters and TV channels send free digital signals that can be picked up by most modern TVís equipped with a digital receiver. Although the reception is dependent on your geographical location, a high-def (HD) antenna set-up in a populated area can pick up a handful of HD stations without the addition of monthly contracts and/or bills. Before you buy, make sure to check out the manufacturerís web site to see what channels are available in your area. Check out our selection of best selling TV antennas.
Note: You can skip this step if you are planning on using services like Aereo, which allows you to stream TV channels from various connected products (including your tablet, mobile phone, and/or other streaming media player devices) by accessing cloud services through the Internet.
Step 2: Optimizing Your Internet Set-Up
In addition to accessing free television programming through an antenna, you can stream online video content through services like Amazon Instant Video and Netflix. This will require that you have access to an Internet connection Ė we suggest investing in a dual-band high-performance router designed optimal video playback. You may want to consider connecting an Ethernet cable to one of the LAN ports on a router so that you can get faster speed than you would with a wireless connection. For more information on networking and routers, read our Wireless Router Buying Guide and check out our top-rated wireless routers.
Step 3: Select your Streaming Hardware
If youíve purchased a television in recent years, there is a good chance you may already have access to a connected user interface that offers streaming video services. Many streaming video apps are also available in gaming consoles like the XBox One and PlayStation 4 as well as select smart Blu-ray players.
If you have older televisions in the home that donít have connectivity to online streaming content, we strongly suggest purchasing a streaming media player to stream video over your homeís wireless network. To learn more about what these devices are, read our Streaming Media Players buying guide, or check-out our top-rated streaming media players.
You should also check out our Streaming Media Players storefront to find your ideal home entertainment streaming solution.
Step 4: Consider a DVR and/or Place-shifting Solution
DVR (a.k.a Digital Video Recorders): Beyond setting up all the televisions in your home with streaming media players, itís also a great idea to invest in a DVR solution to record all of the free content that is being picked up by your antenna. It is important to note that most DVR devices require a monthly subscription fee.
Place-shifting Solution: Place-shifting devices (such as the Slingbox device) allow you to watch and control live TV from your home TV from virtually anywhere, at any time (on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone). You can also hook these devices up to SD or HD sources (including DVRs and streaming media players). These devices are perfect for sports fans (never miss out on live sporting events), frequent travelers, military personnel, or college students.
Step 5: Choose What You Want to Watch
Subscription Streaming: Subscribing to streaming services (either through a streaming media player or other connected device) allows you to watch the latest and greatest shows and movies over a wi-fi connection. Subscription services like Amazon Instant Video (AIV), Netflix, and Hulu Plus allow you to spend a fixed amount on TV entertainment every month and access unlimited streaming, network television programming, and thousands of exclusive show originals. Choose one or multiple services (subscribing to AIV, Netflix, and Hulu Plus would equal to roughly $23-ish/month), and pay less than you would for an average cable bill every month. For the sports fanatic, you can pay a bit extra for season passes to MLB.TV, NHL GameCenter, and NBA League Pass.
Pay-As-You-View Rental/Purchase: Besides television programming, you can find premium movies and TV shows for rent or purchase from services like Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, and Google Play. Itís similar to renting/buying a physical DVD movie, without all the extra hassle!
Step 6: Making the Final Cut
Once you call your pay-TV service provider and cancel cable TV, donít forget to visit your local cable office to drop off any rented cable boxes/receivers and start saving money each month with your cord-cutting lifestyle.
Interested in saving time? Weíve created some Ďcut-the-cordí bundles for you to make your shopping experience easier. Check them out below: