There’s been a lot of talk across the Internet of cable replacement services. These services often save users time and money while offering a’ la carte services for custom station lineups.
There are several viable alternatives on the market that cost less than $100 and offer a range of features for the discerning user to choose from.
The Roku comes in many sizes from the Roku TV to the Roku 3., which includes voice recognition software. If you’re just looking to browse channels and shows, however, the Roku Streaming Stick offers thousands of apps, including the ever-popular Netflix, Amazon Instant, and Hulu. The Roku also features the ability to search for titles across more than a dozen services – useful when you’re trying to figure our where you can stream a show from. Unlike the Chomecast, it comes with a remote, giving it that classic-cable feel without the classic-cable price.
If you’re glued to your Android or iPhone all the
time nayway, then the Chromecast may be for you. The $35 streaming stick comes with regular updates that add apps all the time. The Chromecast has no TV interface or remote, meaning all of your selection and searching is done on a phone, computer, or tablet. Once your viewing (or listening) selection has been made from a supported service, select the Chromecast icon.
The Chromecast also offers the ability to cast tabs from the Chrome browser, giving you the opportunity to share web-browsing experiences with a room, or view your content on the larger televions screen.
For now Chromecast is a cheap, simple solution for those wanting basic screaming abilities, but in the future it will have more supported services, making it a stronger competitor for the Roku.
If you’re an Apple person, the Apple TV will fit right into your home. It offers excellent streaming from Apple devices and comes with a remote. It was an excellent app catalog including all major services and channels, except Amazon Instant.
Like the Roku and Chomecast, the Apple TV offers streaming thorugh Netflix, Hulu, and other services, but it also has a (currently) exclusive deal with HBO to be the only standalone streaming service through July 2015 – conveniently when the season of Game of Throne ends.
Though the Apple TV is an excellent companion for other Apple products, it may falter when used with 3rd party streaming services or other devices. If you rely almost exclusively on iTunes, however, the Apple TV might be for you.
Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV comes in two forms – the $39 stick and the $99 box. The stick offers most of the functionality available in its larger counterpart, making it a cost-effective alternative.
Like the Apple TV and Roku, the Amazon Fire TV comes with a remote that is voice-capable for search. Several apps can be searched at once, and the Amazon Fire TV offers the best gaming experience of all the streaming devices with an optional controller available.
If you rely on the major streaming services or Amazon exclusively, then the Amazon Fire TV will have all the functionality you need, but if you’re looking to explore a huge range of services, you may want to reconsider. There are far fewer apps available for the Amazon Fire TV.
We’d love to hear from you! What are your favorite streaming services? What devices do you use? Tell us in the comments.