You can subscribe to the streaming video services of your choice for the movies, series, or other programs you want to watch
Netflix is the best all-around choice for streaming movies and TV shows. You’ll find original programs such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Master of None. They’ve pursued exclusive licenses for movies from several studios. Enjoy ad-free viewing and use their recommendation engine to suggest programs. Watch on 2 screens at a time in HD for $10. Pay $8 for 1 screen in SD and $12 for 4 screens and add Ultra HD.Learn more
If you already subscribe to Amazon Prime to get free 2-day delivery, you can also watch Amazon Prime Video for free. You’ll find original programs such as Bosch, Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle as well as thousands of movies and TV episodes including HBO’s back catalog. All of that comes without commercials. You can also rent or buy content that isn’t available for free. Prime Video only is $9/month while full Amazon Prime is $99/year or $11/month.Learn more
Hulu focuses on TV shows from ABC, NBC, Fox, The CW and Comedy Central (but no CBS), along with some cable shows – both current and classic series. Episodes are available the day after they air. You’ll also find a smaller selection of movies. Hulu is building up their stable of original programming. For $12 you escape all commercials. Add SHOWTIME at a discounted rate of $9.Learn more
CBS All Access streams on-demand episodes from current CBS series as well as from their library of CBS classics, and live streams the local CBS broadcast. This includes college sports, but NFL games are blocked from the live stream. For $10, stream commercial free as long as it’s not a live stream.Learn more
With HBO NOW, enjoy HBO’s original series such as Game of Thrones, Veep, Silicon Valley, and Girls, as well as their sports and comedy specials, all without commercial interruptions. Though HBO NOW offers fewer movies than Netflix or Amazon, it tops them in the number of recent blockbuster movies.Learn more
SHOWTIME streams their original programs such as Homeland, Billions, Ray Donovan, and Shameless, along with sports and comedy specials. The SHOWTIME movie selection doesn’t measure up to Netflix, Amazon, or HBO.Learn more
Sling TV lets you live stream around 20 basic-cable channels including A&E, AMC, Cartoon Network, CNN, Disney Channel, ESPN, ESPN2, Food Network, HGTV, TBS, TNT, and Travel Channel. Viewer controls are somewhat limited as only some channels allow pause, rewind, or fast-forward and only some can stream on-demand and even then it may only be for a week after broadcast. Commercials are a part of Sling TV viewing. They offer add-on specialty packs of channels for additional fees.Learn more
For general sports coverage, Sling TV is your source for ESPN and ESPN2, and you can add a package of sports channels. To watch out-of-area games, you can subscribe to league packages such as MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, and NHL GameCenter LIVE. Subscribers to NFL Game Pass can stream regular season games as soon as they’re over. If you don’t need to see every game, an over-the-air antenna will let you watch sports on the local broadcast channels for free.
Your best bet for watching the most live local sports is from satellite, such as DISH, which includes local sports channels in addition to local broadcast channels and a large set of pay TV channels. If you don’t need to see every game, an over-the-air antenna will let you watch live sports on your local broadcast channels for free.
Some smart TVs, DVD/Blu-Ray players and game consoles can stream video though stand-alone streaming devices may offer more streaming features and are often easier to use. Start by taking a look at the Roku lineup of products.
The Roku Streaming Stick ($50) is our favorite all-around streaming device that’s great for most people. It delivers easy to use access to a huge range of streaming content. It searches across the most streaming services; search results don’t favor any service over another; and its voice search with its phone or tablet app is convenient. Their app boasts private listening via headphones to avoid disturbing anyone else. The Express ($30) is a slower, budget model while the Premiere ($80) and above add 4K Ultra HD.Learn more
The Apple TV showcases its ease of use in features such as advanced voice control via Siri, touchpad remote, and integration with Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, and iTunes. Searches cover multiple streaming services and you can play games using the remote as a controller. On the downside, the Apple TV is pricey and can’t directly stream Amazon Prime Video. Look elsewhere if you must have 4K Ultra HD support.Learn more
Amazon specifically designed their Fire TV devices to promote their own streaming content, so it’s great if you primarily watch Amazon Video. If you use any other video services, you’re better off with another device. Speak to Amazon’s Alexa for powerful voice control. The interface is responsive though you can’t customize it. Fire TV ($90) supports 4K Ultra HD, but the Fire TV Stick ($40) doesn’t, though it offers a better value.Learn more
The Google Chromecast offers a low price (though the Roku Express is lower) and will appeal to committed Android users. You use your smartphone or tablet to control it so you may miss the ease of use of a physical remote. It can search (with voice or typing) across multiple streaming services though fewer than Roku. However, it can’t directly stream Amazon Video, has sluggish performance, and no 4K Ultra HD support. If you have a bit more to spend, consider the Roku Streaming Stick.Learn more
The TiVo Bolt offers a unified TV experience as both a streaming hub and a DVR (digital video recorder) for live TV from an over-the-air antenna. It streams major services but fewer than other devices. It unifies search across multiple streaming services and your TV program guide, though without voice support. It’s a powerful DVR with great ease of use. A new example is skipping past entire ad breaks with the touch of a single button. It supports 4K Ultra HD. Service is $15 per month or $150 per year.Learn more
Consider using only your cell phones and dropping your home landline entirely – nearly half of all U.S. households have no landline. If your home phone is essential, you can switch to a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service at a fraction of the monthly cost. You’ll use your existing cordless phones.
The Ooma box connects to your cordless phone base unit and home router to provide nearly free nationwide calling. With the basic plan, you only pay applicable taxes and fees, which costs much less than landline phone service. It’s $4 to $8 per month in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ooma Premier is a bundle of premium calling features for $10 per month. Port your existing number for $40 or prepay a year of Premier ($120) to port your number for free.Learn more