A quick list of the things you’ll need to get yourself streaming without cable.
Thinking of cutting the cord? Here’s what you’ll need:
— A TV. Well, duh, you’re thinking. Actually, you don’t have to use a TV. You can stream TV programming on any number of portable and digital devices. But if you do want to stream to TV, any television with an HDMI port will work.
— A broadband internet connection of at least 10 to 15 mbps (megabits per second) and preferably 50 mbps or faster. You can go to a bandwidth test site like speedtest.net to see what you’re getting, although keep in mind the numbers will vary due to time-of-day congestion and other factors. It’s best to run multiple tests over several days to get an average. A decent broadband connection costs $50 to $80 a month.
— A receiver device. This can be a box like AppleTV, a stick (Amazon Fire, Roku) or dongle (Google Home/Chromecast/YouTube TV). It connects to an HDMI port on your TV and communicates with a remote control. In the case of Chromecast, the remote is your smartphone. Device prices vary from $20 to $200.
— A streaming app. A dizzying array of apps exists. Most can be installed on a variety of devices besides the streaming TV receiver. Apps typically can be downloaded for free and used on a trial basis for a week to a month after a detailed registration process that includes your credit card info.
— A subscription service. The app is the front end to a subscription, which provides access to network bundles that vary wildly, from sports-heavy to movie-centric. It’s up to you as a consumer to figure out which suits you. Services run from $20 to $50 a month or more, depending on number of channels, etc.
— Also, if you want to cut the cord but don’t want to stream, note that you can hook an HD antenna to your TV. You will probably get some stations, but quality may vary wildly. At its best, over-the-air HD is sharper than the image you get on a typical TV. But that’s only if you get a good signal. Due to interference, some stations may break up, while others aren’t available at all. Antennas run from $20 to $30.
Even if you do stream, you may want to add an HD antenna (assuming you can get reception) to get local TV programming, which is offered only selectively, if at all, through most streaming services.