The world around us is constantly evolving, faster now than ever. The shift towards smartphones took place only in the past decade. While video hasn’t killed the radio star, iTunes most certainly killed the record store. Netflix has destroyed Blockbuster. Driverless cars are on the market! It’s safe to say technology, and the endless capabilities of the Internet, will continue to completely change the way we interact with the world. One of those changes is the shift away from traditional cable or satellite. At some point all of us will cut the cord, the only question is when.
Ready to take the leap?
I’m going to set out a road map that will allow you to sever your ties to the cable guy. To maximize your experience after cutting the cord, there are three things you are going to want to have: antennas, streaming devices, and a robust home Wi-Fi network.
Rabbit Ears 2.0
The beauty of television antennas has always been the fact that they pick up local channels for free. The drawback in the pre-cable era was that they looked like mangled coat hangers and needed more attention than insecure toddlers.
This technology has come a long way. Fully HD capable, sleek and versatile, today’s digital antennae, such as the RCA SLIVR, will give you complete, and free, access to local programming.
This unit doesn’t rely on perfect positioning to do its job. It can be put where you want it: if you’re like me that means out of sight. It can rest on its side or lay flat, you can even wall mount it. I love this about the SLIVR, because each of my televisions are in unique situations, and this allows me to position it where it best works for each one rather than being forced to expose it to the room.
The SLIVR picks up all television signals within roughly 80 kilometres. If you’re living in an urban area, this will likely get you every local channel in your market, many of which will carry all the network television programs you love. It is also an amplified antenna, meaning you can get better reception and additional clarity from weaker signals, and possibly pick up even more channels than you would with a passive antenna.
For roughly the cost of one month of cable, at the very least, it is worth trying out to see if it works for you before cancelling your service. I’m guessing you won’t look back.
Google’s Chromecast platform is a compact conduit to endless content online. The new Chromecast Ultra even allows for streaming 4K content!
Nearly every show that you love exists online, so if the networks your antenna is picking up miss a couple of the shows you love, it’s highly likely you can stream it using Chromecast. When you pull the plug and stop paying for hundreds of channels you never watch, you can target your spending on shows you actually do want.
Love watching sports?
One thing that holds people back from making the switch is the concern they will miss out on live sports. Chromecast has you covered here too.
You can purchase entire seasons of NHL, MLB, NFL and the NBA through their individual apps. Most of these leagues also give you the option of choosing your favourite team, paying game by game, or you can sign up for every game played by any team, all season long.
It goes on and on with PGA, ATP, MLS all offering live event streams. The only missing piece I have found is English Premier League soccer, which just means you may have to head to your favourite pub to catch some of these games live. There are worse things!
Chromecast is super easy to connect to your existing system, with a single HDMI output, it’s virtually foolproof. Once you download the apps that allow you to “cast” content from your smartphone, tablet, or computer, you’re up and running with access to over 200,000 content options.
Optional ways to stream content
There are many other ways you can connect to content online as well. Gaming systems and Blu-ray players offer a variety of streaming services. These platforms ultimately get you access to the same content, just through a different vehicle, and may require a hard wired internet connection as opposed to the wireless capabilities of system like Chromecast
How to avoid buffering
Streaming video wirelessly, particularly HD and 4K content, can draw a fair amount of bandwidth off your Wi-Fi router. Attempting multiple streams simultaneously can overload your network, resulting in an endless cycle of interrupted content and buffering. If you’re too far from the router, some of your content will lag, causing even more frustration. To fully enjoy a cable free lifestyle, buffering isn’t an option.
Google Mesh Wi-Fi system
A great way to prevent buffering is with Google Mesh Wi-Fi whole home system. This replaces your existing wireless router with a number of smaller nodes that are placed around your home. They connect to each other, and instantly amplify your Wi-Fi network. Dealing with dead zones and signal drops will be a thing of the past.
Cutting the cord to cable doesn’t mean that everyone in the home has to agree on what’s being watched. Separate streams in separate rooms can be enjoyed with adequate attention to your Wi-Fi network. The Mesh system will blanket an area of 4500 square feet with super fast download speeds ideal for supporting multiple HD or 4K streams.
The Mesh system comes with the added benefits of allowing you to block certain devices from having internet access, which can be super handy if you want to ensure your kids are up all night online. You can track usage, easily setup guest networks, and even prioritize devices if your bandwidth is getting close to maxing out.
The shift away from traditional cable and satellite TV is on, and it’s not slowing down. Every major player in the tech sector, and all stakeholders in the media biz are looking at ways to gain access to this new market. We as consumers have ultimate control. The question we need to ask ourselves is when we would like to break free from tradition, and begin exerting it.