The new year often brings changes to a household, especially when it comes to budgeting and how you’re spending your time and money. There is a growing group in the United States who have severed ties to cable and satellite video in lieu of streaming. According to a Nielsen study, more than five million households report having “zero TV”, up from two million only five years ago. Reasons for the drop include budget restrictions and “lack of interest.”
(Maybe there really isn’t anything good on TV?)
Of course, claiming “zero TV” doesn’t mean there isn’t a television in the house. More than 75% have a television that’s used for gaming, DVD or BluRay viewing, or more recently, streaming video. For those who have “cut ties with cable”, streaming video is a great, cost-efficient option for still getting great entertainment in your home without hundreds of dollars in monthly charges for cable or satellite. Here are some of our favorite types of equipment to help you stream video into your home.
What’s small enough to fit in your pocket and can turn your existing television into a full-scale entertainment machine? The Google Chromecast, a USB-sized device that will fit into the HDMI port of almost any HDTV or receiver. Google Chromecast connects to your home’s wireless network, letting you stream YouTube, Netflix, Google’s Chrome browser, and Google Play (home to thousands of movies, television shows.) This small USB-sized device has many of the features of a set-top box, and can be controlled using your laptop, smartphone or tablet. Check out more Google Chromecast featureson our in-depth review. The device retails for $35.
Roku 3 is a small, compact set-top box that lets users experience music, movies, and television quickly and easily. The latest version of the box, launched in April 2013, updated the search feature, allowing users to search a variety of platforms (including Netflix, Amazon, and Vudu) to find what they are looking for. Another cool feature of the Roku 3 is a headphone jack in the remote control – when ear buds are plugged in, the TV automatically mutes, keeping noise to a minimum. Learn more about the Roku 3 in our review. Roku 3 retails for $100.
Sometimes, nothing will do but the original. For iFanatics, there is only one choice for streaming video – Apple TV. The latest version of Apple TV (originally called iTV) was released in March 2012. This set-top box doesn’t just stream Netflix; Users can access almost any kind of media through a variety of apps like Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, NBA TV, and MLB.tv. Apple TV can also act as a component to a whole-home audio system by connecting up to five computers or iTunes libraries through Home Sharing. Apple TV also lets you “mirror” your iOS devices, so you can stream directly from your phone or tablets. Learn more on our Apple TV review. Apple TV starts at $99.
Have you given cable or satellite the ax? Which streaming video receiver would you choose?