TRUMBULL, Conn. — Through the good graces of a librarians’ underground, writer and digital-streaming explainer extraordinaire Jim Gifford introduced a packed room of over 100 people at a Trumbull Library gathering to the mysteries of Cutting the Cord — dumping cable TV for a DIY construct of the many, varied and increasing streaming media choices.
Yes, cutting the cord is a viable option. The good news is that you have lots of choices, Gifford said.
The less good news is that change opens you up to a more-than-you-can-eat buffet in place of a meal ordered off a menu with but few morsels among everything you’re forced to eat.
So making the change is not as easy as flipping a switch. You’ll have to invest some time and a few dollars, you may change your viewing habits, and unless you’re truly disciplined (or running on a tight budget) you may not save an appreciable amount of money, Gifford said.
As a start, you’ll need an HDTV, and you’ll need to purchase a Roku box, Google Chromecast or some similar Internet connectable device for every TV you want to use to watch streamed content. If you have a smart TV you already have a few essential apps, but you’ll still a need a video streaming box, he said.
You’ll also need a broadband speed of at least 25Mbps and a modem and router that will serve up the higher speed throughout your home, Gifford said. If you’re hard core you may want to run Ethernet cabling at least to your primary TV, and perhaps to those heavily used for online gaming, to assure consistent data speeds.
If you live in a strong reception area, you can use an antenna to receive over the air channels (2 to 13) the old-fashioned way. Otherwise you'll pay for network programming.
With a bit of research you’ll find a number of streaming video providers, including single channel services like CBS All Access and HBO Now that offer their current season shows, older, archived shows, and original programming; Hulu, which aggregates content from a number of television networks; Vudu, a movie only provider; and Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that offer original content, multiple TV channels and long lists of movies, Gifford said.
Not be forgotten is that Apple TV is an option for Apple users, and Youtube, now that it has lifted its 15-minute maximum.
Additional research will lengthen your list of “Over The Top” products and services.
No single offering replicates everything you watch today nor provides everything you may want. Instead, you’ll have to create your own menu. It may be richer, but it will no doubt force trade offs — unless you have an unlimited budget, Gifford said.
Every service requires a monthly payment, and some add per view fees. So costly as cable is, if you’re a heavy viewer you could find yourself paying a semi-hefty monthly price, then getting nickeled and dimed to death.
So, do your research, make your choice — or choices. If cutting the cord is not yet for, stay tuned. Things are only improving.