How to Watch TV Online
With the HD antenna out of the way we’re almost home free. There is really only one last stop before freedom. The TV streaming device. This is the one tool that brings it all together and plugs you into all the different content channels you need access to. Think of this as the “command center” for your new content strategy. It’s your home screen to your content world.
Similar to the antennas, you have a handful of different options to meet your specific requirements. Don’t get too caught up on the plethora of selections … just focus on what meets your needs.
There are three general types of streaming content devices. For the sake of our goals (finding a simple, affordable device to meet our streaming needs, we focus most of our time/efforts on the first two categories.
- Set Top Boxes
- Portable Devices
- Other Devices
Set Top Boxes
One-time Cost: $50 – $150
Set top boxes are the closest thing to your old cable box. But don’t confuse them with the past, these devices are smaller in size and pack about 4x the punch. They’re built to be your one stop shop for content consumption. Just like you go to Pandora or Spotify if you want to listen to something, you’d go to this device if you want to watch something.
For someone who watches most of their content in one place, this is the right solution for you. Check out our guide to the Top 3 Set Top Streaming Devices.
One-time Cost: $0 – $100
Effectiveness: Medium to High
I’m a huge fan of the portable devices, as they represent a new concept in the digital video revolution, “content on a stick.” Just take your stick and plug it into an HDMI port in any TV and your off and running. To me, this fundamentally changes the TV/Video marketplace just like the IPod revolutionized the music industry.
No longer are you tied to your set top box to watch TV/Video. As long as you have your portable streaming device you can plug into any TV that has an HDMI port and accessible WiFi and you’re off and running.
If you tend to watch TV in several places, this is probably the direction you want to go in. While content streams a bit slower than the set top boxes, its almost unnoticable under normal conditions.
Check out our guide to the Top 3 Portable Streaming Devices.
Other Streaming Devices
One-time Cost: $100 – $400+
Effectiveness: Medium to High
If you’re a gamer or have recently purchased a HD DVD player, chances are you already have access to a streaming TV device. Most of the newer video game platforms (Play Station, XBox, Wii) have the ability to stream most of your needed content.
While we don’t recommend purchasing a gaming console for the sole purpose of streaming content (because it’s not cost effective), if you’re a gamer the good news is most new consoles will also include the ability to stream content over the internet.
Check out our guide to the Top 3 Other Streaming Devices.
Too Many Choices! What is the Best?
If you’ve read through our Streaming Device guide but don’t know which device to chose, just don’t get overwhelmed. They’re really a few different ways you can go with this. Most of these solutions require a one-time cost of less than $50, and from there you’re free of any additional device charges. Most devices have the same basic functionality, but each has its own quirks.
We chose the Amazon Fire TV Stick because we were already Prime members, and we actually got it for free after signing up for a 3-month commitment to Sling TV! And it pretty much does exactly what we need it to … and again, it was free!
If we weren’t Amazon Prime Members we would have either purchased the Roku 3 device or the Roku Streaming Stick.
It’s Time to Do This!
Well, folks. We’re pretty much there. We’ve identified our content needs, installed our HD antenna and purchased our new streaming device. Short of plugging everything in, the only thing standing between you and freedom is a call to your cable company to cancel your subscription.
Are you nervous? Do you have butterflies in your stomach? Let’s review all the details before you pull the trigger.