Nearly everything in life fades into the past and becomes a distant memory. Kids today don’t even know what a VCR or a Gameboy is. When cable debuted, it was the latest in technology, offering a wide array of sixteen channels, including specialized premium channels like HBO and Cinemax. However, cable television is quickly becoming as antiquated as compact discs, CD-ROM drives, and standard DVD players. While not everyone is ditching cable in favor of streaming, many are at least using the two in tandem to achieve maximum entertainment and save money in the process.
In a time when many households are cutting unnecessary items from their budgets, cable television has started to become an outrageous expense. However, subscription programs used for streaming are being offered for pennies per day. Programs like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Instant Video used in combination can expose viewers to nearly every show that cable can offer, without nearly the same expense. Two of the three services are available for less than $8 per month for basic viewing, while Amazon’s full Prime catalog is included with the purchase of a Prime membership, for around a hundred dollars per year. With a traditional cable bill hovering barely under a hundred dollars, surely $20 per month certainly sweetens the streaming deal.
So what is streaming? What does it entail? How do you do it? Many people are already hip to the answers to the aforementioned questions, but for newbies, let’s walk through it. Streaming is using your broadband internet connection to access movies and television shows via a device of some sort. Many of the streaming programs available offer access to both classic and newer television shows and an extensive array of fan-favorite films. It’s pretty simple to stream, once a device is chosen, but how do you go about choosing the perfect device?
There are many different ways to stream on the market today, but for someone who is new to the streaming game, the options may seem too plentiful. With all the static surrounding each and every device, it’s often difficult to suss out what you’ll need to perform the actions that you so wish. Another concern of recent additions to the streaming audience is what is going to work best for the longest period of time, given that technology quickly becomes outdated. Here are the top three on the market right now.
- Amazon Firestick – The Firestick is by far the easiest streaming device I have ever encountered. It features a plug and go setup. Simply plug the Firestick into an HDMI port in your television, connect the power supply and begin the simple setup process. Connect the device to your internet connection, download your desired apps, and start streaming. With an Amazon Prime account, you’ll be treated to everything offered for free or at a low cost in their extensive library. The lowest cost device of the three, the Firestick is both easy to use and inexpensive enough to connect all of your TVs.
- Apple TV – It’s no secret that Apple is taking over the technology game. With more and more people switching over to iPhones from the Android system, their electronics have become immensely popular. Perhaps the unsung hero of the Apple bunch is the seldom-used Apple TV. Connection should also be a snap; simply connect the low profile setup box to your TV, and begin the same process. Download your desired apps, and get started. While Apple TV didn’t used to include access to Amazon Instant, its main flaw, rumor has it that the newer version will support the programs use. The most expensive of the options, at $149, Apple TV may not be the right price for everyone, but Apple enthusiasts will dig it.
- Roku – The Roku has all of the same capabilities of the other streaming devices on the list but tends to be a bit more buggy than the two previously mentioned. As an avid streamer, this was my first device, and I still use it but get annoyed with it easily. The original version, which is also the cheapest, doesn’t feature Auto Play options like the Firestick within the Netflix app, so users must select each and every episode. With a price ranging from $49-100, the Roku comes in at the middle of the selection and is slightly more user-friendly and less confusing to select apps than the previous two devices.
Whether you’re new to the streaming world, or you’re just looking to upgrade your current device, the options are plentiful. Streaming can also be accessed from gaming platforms like the PS4 and the XBoxOne, but those options are quite expensive if you’re only looking to stream. The choice is going to center around what is the right price or the most user-friendly option on the market. Whatever choice you make, an avalanche of movies and TV will be immediately available at the touch of a button.