Reducing And Unplugging Your Cable

Looking to unplug that expensive cable TV?  There are quite a few options out there, some well known and some not so much, but let’s take a look at the three most popular and weight the pros and cons.

chrometvGoogle’s Chromecast

First, let’s point out the this is probably the most inexpensive option out there.  I am all about saving money, but sometimes you get what you pay for.  Let’s see if this is one of these instances.

Okay, so here’s the first downfall that I see of this product.  It requires a separate streaming device.  Meaning that you need to have either your smartphone, tablet or notebook handy for this option. The device connects to the HDMI port in the back of your TV, and can be used for streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon +.  However, for any service that you want to use this device with, the app has to have Chromecast support built in, which severely limits which apps you can use this with.  However, if the support is there, setting it up is simple and all onscreen, and playing the content is as simple as a few taps on your device.

The visual performance of the device depends heavily on your personal bandwidth, but it does support multiple devices and you can stream it to several devices at once (keeping in mind that this will throttle your bandwidth, so if quality looks less than perfect, that your network’s limitation, not the devices).

The device integrates with Google Play rather seamlessly, but will error if you try and play your own content that you loaded into the service.  In fact, it won’t really let you play any of your own content, from any device.

Currently, Chromecast support has been added to YouTube, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Crackle, HBO Go, Pandora, Songza, Rdio, and a handful of other apps that might interest its potential users.  Should you be interested, you can find it at Walmart for the price listed above – Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player

rokustickRoku

I want to point out that there is a Roku 2 that retails for $70 (Roku 2 @ Amazon) and  Roku 3 (Roku 3 @ Amazon) that retails for $90 out now.  But we are talking fiscally responsibly alternative, so we’re sticking with the more inexpensive Roku.

First difference between this and Chromecast, is that this one comes with a remote.  Oh, and it’s purple.

Roku set up is simple, much like authorizing your system to access your Netflix account.  Once that’s done, you simply add the channels that you want onto your Roku’s menu.  Roku has a wide array of channels fro you to chose from, plus games (some that will be restricted by Roku’s lack of motion capture that the 2 & 3 have, but not a huge loss).

Much like Chromecast, you can also stream through a tablet or smartphone, should you so desire, but the Roku is much more of a media hub, whereas Chromecast seems like simply a way to get your mobile content onto the TV screen.

amazontvAmazon’s Fire TV Stick

Not to be confused with Amazon Fire TV box (available on Amazon for $99 at that link I just put there for you), this is it’s little brother: the less expensive but no less fun Fire TV stick.  Got it?  Okay, moving on.

Okay, so first, it’s Amazon, so you’ll get a bit more out of it if you are a Prime member.  Slight detour, I have Netflix for 2 devices and realized that the Amazon Prime yearly membership is about $20 less per year for me, and gives me the shipping perks.  Then again, I don’t have my Netflix exclusives, like Daredevil, and I barely order anything from Amazon, but, there’s a comparison for you on the services and their prices.  Added bonus, do with it what you will.

One of the downgrades from Fire TV to Fire TV Stick is the lack of a voice search option, via a microphone built into the remote that the Fire stick does not provide.  However, should that be something that you need, but don’t want the box, the upgraded remote is available for the stick for is available for $30. Or, and this is the way I’d go, there is an app for your smartphone or tablet that controls Fire TV and has the capability to let you control Fire TV and voice search through your own device.

The stick comes with quite a bit fo streaming content and several hundred games (for the gamer in us all).  According to public consensus, about half of the games work with the remote provided. The rest require an Amazon Fire Game Controller (which retails for about $40) or another Bluetooth controller of the sort.

Tada!

So, there you go!  Three rather inexpensive options for those of you looking to get rid of some TV-related hardware.  Read through the info again.  Go out to the retail sites and see what the people who’ve bought the devices are saying, and then make an educated choice.  Happy shopping.

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