If you read my post on Roku and you’re still on the fence about purchasing a streaming entertainment box for your TV, let Cali from GeekBeat.tv introduce you to the Boxee Box. It might just convince you to get rid of cable once and for all.
The iPad 2 was released Friday and with it came lots of hype around a slimmer design, faster chips and included cameras. But, being a cord-cutter, I was much more interested in a small accessory that was demoed at the keynote.
When Steve Jobs showed off the Apple Digital AV Adapter ($39), I got giddy like a school girl. This little adapter would make it possible for you to mirror whatever is on your iPad, iPhone 4 or iPod Touch screen — apps, presentations, websites, videos and more — all on on your HDTV or HDMI-compatible display and up to 1080p HD (movies play at up to 720p). Everyone can sees what’s on your display — even when you rotate iPad from portrait to landscape or zoom in and out. Video mirroring is built into iOS so it’s very smooth and polished. No settings to tinker with or configuration needed.
The Digital AV Adapter also comes with a second 30-pin connecter that gives you the option to charge your device at the same time. No need to worry about running out of juice in the middle of your juicy slideshow.
I created a video to show you mirroring of a movie, Hulu Plus app and the PBS app. In my experience, it worked very smooth although you may want to adjust the settings of your TV for a few of the apps. Time will tell if apps could potentially block this feature in the future.
Note: Only the iPad 2 supports 1080p mirroring for apps. The original iPad, iPhone 4, and iPod Touch 4th gen will only support 720p mirroring. Video on all devices displays at 720p. For more information, check out the product page.
Many cord cutters depend on a setup that is heavily reliant on the speed of their internet connection. Streaming Hulu, Netflix and other services require a broadband connection, but if your connection isn’t fast enough, you may experience a lag or videos that stutter. For example, Netflix suggests that you have at least 3.0 Mb/s to stream DVD quality video. And although many services will lower the quality of your video depending on the available speed, you’ll want to make sure you have a big enough pipe to accompany all the other things in your household that connect to the internet.
To test the speed of your connection, go to SpeedTest.net and click the aqua “Begin Test” button. Their tool will take the next 30 seconds to test your download and upload speeds and ping latency. For this example, we’re most concerned about the download speed.
The sample to the right is fast enough to work with Netflix and offers a little bit of wiggle room for others who may be surfing the internet or listening to music on your network.
If you find that many of your videos are buffering for a long period of time (> 1 min), then try these helpful hints.
- Use a wired connection for more consistent speed. Wireless speeds could vary based on device, transfer speed and interference.
- Make sure no other bandwidth intensive applications are running elsewhere on the network (i.e. video games, file sharing, Skype)
- Lower the quality of your stream or try lowering the resolution on your display.
There’s a perfect storm brewing. An ever tightening grip from the cable companies coupled with economic downfall and a wide assortment of online media now have many people considering getting rid of their cable service. I’m here to help, but before you cut the cord and jump in with both feet, there are a few things you should consider.
It takes a little patience
Mainstream programming on the major networks can often be seen at the time and date when the original program airs, but for shows exclusive to premium TV, it can take anywhere from one day to a week for the episode to be available online. This wait, for some hard core TV addicts, can be too much to handle.
It’s going to feel weird
Coming home, flipping on the TV and mindlessly browsing around for hours without really watching anything goes out the door when you decide to cut the cord. Sure you can browse and find new favorites, but alternatives like Hulu and Netflix are really good at getting to the heart of the TV watching experience – actually watching television and movies.
New controllers and interfaces may have a small learning curve and members of your family could take some convincing, but be mindful of the freedom and extra money you’re enjoying.
Having a high-speed Internet connection is important
To have an optimal experience streaming video, playing games and surfing the web you’ll need some big pipes. I often recommend that users have at least 10MB/s high-speed Internet, especially if you have others who will all be online at the same time.
Many of the tutorials on Kick Out Cable are dependent on having a fast Internet connection. If you live in an area where high-speed internet isn’t available, you may want to consider the pros and cons before you get rid of cable TV entirely.
A device for each TV
Just as you need a separate box or connection with cable and satellite, you’ll also need with a setup for each of your TVs. Depending on your needs, the perfect setup could come with an initial investment – but usually much cheaper than a year of cable TV. For example, a few of my favorite cord cutting tools are the Playstation 3 which runs upwards of $400 and the Apple TV which is $99.
Live sports are still a little shaky
Live sports on ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX in your local area are a piece of cake with an Over the Air (OTA) antenna, but programming on the likes of ESPN, TNT and the NFL Network is a little more difficult right now.
Baseball has MLB.tv and basketball and hockey have their own sources available online through NBA All Access and NHL Game Center Live, but it’s next to impossible to find a legal online live stream for you die-hard NFL football fans.
I do anticipate, as more people begin to get their sports from alternative sources, the major sports networks will offer live programming through other sources not tied exclusively to cable or satellite.
It’s not 100% free
Right now you may be spending upwards of $100 – $150/month for cable, but as a heads-up, the alternatives aren’t 100% free. You’ll definitely be saving a substantial amount of money, but choosing to subscribe to Hulu Plus or Netflix generally run about $10 each per month. I’ve come to find that the more you’re willing to pay for alternatives, the easier the breakup with your cable company becomes.
So there are just a few things to consider before starting on the road to cable-free living. If there are other ideas and thoughts from readers, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
- 2013 March Madness – How to watch online March 19, 2013
- Apple opens up your AirPlay for everyones AppleTV September 12, 2013
- Fanhattan iPad App Aggregates Movies and TV Shows from Netflix, Hulu Plus and iTunes September 13, 2011
- What You Need To Know Before Cutting The Cord February 12, 2011
- Kids Programming – Advantages of Time-Shifted TV October 28, 2015
- Is the new Roamio TiVo DVR for Cord Cutters? August 27, 2014
- How to watch the US Open Online August 26, 2014
- Set Top Box Comparision: Which one is best and why July 10, 2014
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