One of the simplest and most effective frugal changes you can make is ditching cable and the $50 monthly charge that goes along with it. Volumes have been written about cutting the cable cord to save money and regain copious amounts of free time for productive hobbies. Americans watch a mind boggling 34 hrs of TV each week, or nearly 5 hrs each day!
But this article isn’t about America’s crazy habits. It’s about how to still enjoy kick ass movies and TV shows once you’ve cut the cable cord. It may sound complicated, but let me assure you that it’s devilishly simple once your know your options. I’ll walk you through four ways to stream Netflix on your TV so you can finally give up cable and still enjoy movies and TV shows with your friends.
1) Hooking up your laptop
Hooking up your laptop to your TV is definitely the simplest and cheapest option available. All it takes is a $6 HDMI cable and a laptop. You just set up your laptop next to your TV, hook everything up, and hit play.
The only problem is that it’s a bit cumbersome. Everytime you want to pause an episode of Breaking Bad, you need to get up from your comfy couch and walk over to the laptop. There’s also the hassle of moving your computer everytime you want to watch TV. These don’t sound like major concerns, but believe me, they will start to get on your nerves. That’s why I’d recommend on of the other options if you’ve got the budget.
The Roku was built specifically for internet streaming. It’s just a sandwich sized black box with a remote control. You plug in the power cord and connect the HDMI cable to your TV and you’re good to go. It’s built almost exclusively for Netflix and Hulu Plus, but you can also use it for Pandora and a few other streaming services. It’s not super sexy, but it get’s the job done and it’s so simple my grandma could figure it out (So she can get her Downton Abbey fix).
A brand new Roku will cost you $80, but I’d recommend checking out Ebay or Craigslist and snagging a used unit for around $50. If you drop cable and switch to exclusively streaming your entertainment, this investment should pay for itself in about a month. I bought a craigslist Roku about a year ago and I haven’t looked back.
3) Apple TV
Apple TV is the next step up from the Roku. It’ll cost you $100 new or $85 used. The physical configuration is pretty much the same, but it’s able to do more than just stream netflix, Hulu Plus, and similar services. It also connects directly to you Itunes account so you can watch any movie you purchase from Apple.
Perhaps the coolest feature that sets Apple TV apart from Roku is AirPlay. If you’ve got an iphone or ipad you can stream content directly from your device. It essentially turns your Iphone into a remote control for your TV. Airplay is a cool enough feature that it totally justifies the extra $20 cost when compared to the Roku.
4) Google Chromecast
Chromecast is the newest and sexiest entry to the wireless TV streaming service. Though I haven’t gotten my hands on one yet, all accounts are that it blows the other options out of the water at a fraction of the price. For just $35 you can bring home a USB sized device that plugs directly into your HDMI port, no cable required. It does have a power cord that hangs down, but other than it’s sleek and stylish.
Google’s response to Apple TV doesn’t disappoint. Though you can only stream Netflix, Google Play videos, and Youtube right now, it’s a force to be reckoned with. It works on either Androids or Apple products and turns your phone/tablet into a smart remote control. You can even do other stuff with your phone while video is streaming to your TV. Pundits are talking about the Chromecast as a cable television killer. I don’t know about that, but I can tell you that at $35, this product is going to sell like hot cakes.
Do you still stream Netflix on your computer? Which solution have you chosen?