What equipment do I need to cut the cord? Discover the pros and cons of Smart TVs, Streaming Devices, Game Systems, and HD Antennas.
What equipment do I need to cut the cord?
The most important thing for a cord cutter is a reliable internet service. If you are still renting your modem, we highly recommend purchasing one of your own. As long as it is compatible with your internet service provider, this purchase will usually pay for itself within a year.
Once your internet is set, it’s time to acquire a device capable of streaming your chosen service. It is important to note that not all streaming services work with all devices, so be sure you’re buying the right item for the content you want to watch.
These days, most televisions you’ll buy are considered “smart TVs.” For example, a TV with the Android operating system can download the apps necessary to stream almost every service.
If you already own a smart TV, check each link to verify what streaming options are available to you.
- LG Smart TV
- Samsung Smart TV
- Vizio Smart TV
- Android TV (Sony, Philips, Sharp, and other TVs use this software)
Adding a streaming app to your smart TV is usually a similar procedure to adding an app to your phone. You might go to the Google Play icon and search for the streaming app of your choice and download it. Adding the Netflix app to your TV’s home screen would allow you to select and open Netflix, for example.
Streaming Devices for your TV
If you don’t own a smart TV or if your preferred streaming service is not compatible, or if you’d prefer a different interface, you may choose a stand-alone streaming device that plugs into your TV. Be aware that some devices do not offer access to all streaming services, so choose carefully. Click each device to learn more about it.
Once you’ve purchased a streaming device, they usually plug into your TV through the HDMI port. Simply turn on your TV and the device, then use your TV remote to navigate to that HDMI input and you’ll see the device’s interface. You will need to connect these devices to the internet to work properly. While your device will often come preloaded with specific streaming options, you may need to use it to download additional apps to watch your chosen services.
Most new game systems allow you to download the necessary streaming apps, but their interfaces are often more clunky than the dedicated streaming devices above. Streaming via your game system is usually not recommended because they are usually very limited in the streaming services you can choose.
Phones and Tablets
If you’d like to watch your streaming services on mobile devices, nearly every streamer offers Android and iOS apps. Functionality or appearance may vary slightly from the experience on a television. Some apps allow for offline viewing, which is helpful if you find yourself without internet access for any reason.
Some apps, like YouTube TV, require you to check into your home network with your device every few days, so your access may be limited if you are traveling for an extended period of time.
Desktop and Laptop Computers
In addition, live and on demand streaming services will allow you to view content through your web browser. You may occasionally encounter compatibility problems if your browser is not supported. You may also run into problems if you use a VPN.
Most streaming problems on web browsers can be fixed by turning off your VPN or trying a different browser.
Optional: HD Antenna
An inexpensive TV antenna can provide free high-definition live video through your local network affiliates. To see what channels you can get in your area, consult the FCC DTV Reception Map.
An antenna is one smart way to watch live TV without eating into your data cap if your internet service provider applies one. It is possible to record an antenna signal for playback at a later time, but that will require additional equipment and a more elaborate setup.
Once you’ve decided what you want to watch and you’ve chosen your equipment, you’re ready to jump in! The final step is the fun one: considering which streaming services are right for you.