Someone recently commented to me that because of streaming media options, you can really ditch your cable or satellite service. His primary reason for ditching was cost, roughly $90 per year for Amazon Prime and Netflix versus $100+ per month for satellite.
My friend is slow to the game. We ditched our satellite over a year ago and (almost) haven’t regretted a minute. The biggest miss is being able to watch recorded programs via DVR, rather than real-time.
Here’s how our home set-up looks:
A RCA television antenna (here’s a link to others) allows us to view all of the local channels. We chose a cheap antenna, and it sits next to our television. Depending on your landscape, you might need to move the receiver into your attic for better reception. We have a few “regular” shows we watch, but most evenings involve limited channel surfing.
If there’s a particular show we’re interested in watching, sites like Sidereel can help locate your programs online. When we have an online option, then we’ll use this process, or something similar (usually linking the Chromebook to the television) to view the program. Easy, and usually commercial free.
Sometimes though, the program isn’t available online without paying for it. One example is my favorite program, Burn Notice. Unfortunately, some providers restrict their content. If you’re not following the newest episodes, this usually isn’t a problem. For instance, six of the seven seasons of Burn Notice are available on either Netflix or Amazon Prime.
We also have a Sony Blu-Ray player. The Blu-Ray player has built-in WiFi, which enables us to connect the player to the internet. Specially added apps in the player allow us to access content from Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu Plus, in addition to playing Blu-Ray movies.
And finally, I recently added Chromecast. This device plugs into an open HDMI port on my television, connects with my home’s WiFi, and allows me to stream movies and media from my tablet, phone, or Chromebook.
You really should be familiar with Amazon Prime. This service, which costs $79 per year, allows you to stream movies and television programs to your television or computer.
Unfortunately, Amazon’s service doesn’t work well with Android tablets unless it’s an Amazon Kindle Fire HD. But, because my DVD player has an Amazon app, I can play Amazon’s selection of Prime movies. Some of the movies are free, while others costs roughly the same price as standard DVD discs.
I use my my Prime membership to subscribe to Burn Notice: Season 7. At $2.99 per high-definition episode ($1.99 for standard), you can buy a season’s program for less than the month-to-month payments of cable or satellite. Of course, if I wanted to wait until the end of the season, the program would probably be available for free.
As a secondary alternative, we also subscribe to Netflix. Netflix was the first to bring streaming programming to the home. At $7.99 per month, Netflix is a perfect way to add media to your home.
Netflix has a free Android app, and is one of the only apps which works on Chromecast.
Many of the programs available on Amazon Prime are also available on Netflix, though both Amazon and Netflix have exclusive content.
Google Play Movies
Play Movies is my new preferred choice for watching media, especially since Amazon refuses to release a Prime videos app. Play Movies synchronize across my devices, allowing me to watch movies at anytime, from anywhere. If you pre-plan, Play Movies allows you to save your content for offline use.
Overall, you’ll probably find a sufficient selection of movies in Google Play or Amazon.
If you’re really interested in other content, especially sports, you’ll be pleased that you can also catch all of your content from other sources. For example, baseball fans will enjoy all of their games on MLB.com. You can also catch NFL football games, NBA basketball, or even NCAA football. Most importantly, if Google has its way, the NFL will come to online in 2014.
Of course, you might have to sacrifice some things, such a picture quality, but not having to “pay to play,” might be worth the cost. If you’re really a fanatic, try a sports bar with other dedicated fans.
Add in Chromecast, and You Have a Full Media Experience
I’m getting more and more disappointed that Google’s not opening Chromecast for local media playback. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m any less enamored with Chromecast’s functions, especially when playing movies from YouTube or Google Play.
I love being able to remotely control the Chromecast content. Being able to link Chromecast to a tethered WiFi connection means that you can stream movies and music while you’re traveling.
The ability to stream media from your tablet or PC is truly remarkable. There’s an enormous cost savings when you can ditch your satellite or cable connection.
Of course, whether you want to ditch your provider is up to you.