It’s time to grab a warm blanket and settle in for a full slate of fall TV. All of our favorite shows are back for new seasons, and we get our first look at the new breakout hits. Plus, sports fans can revel in a full lineup of football, basketball and hockey.
But what if you’re one of the 22 million U.S. adults expected to cut the cord by the end of 2017? Have no fear. It’s possible to stay on top of the action without being tethered to a costly cable or satellite package.
We chatted with Mike Gust, an expert Blue Shirt at our Best Buy store in Greenwood, Indiana, to get some tips for cord-cutters.
Today’s HDTV antennas have come a long way from the bunny ears of years ago. These new models are all you need to access network television and local broadcast channels in high definition without any subscription fees.
In major markets, it’s possible to get dozens of over-the-air and digital channels. That will get you network shows, local news and some local sports.
“Digital signals are weaker than analog signals, so you have to have a more powerful antenna,” Mike said. “Look for an antenna that’s specialized for digital, has both the UHF and VHF bands, and will reach whatever broadcasting station you want.”
If you live in a metro area, Mike recommends an omnidirectional, indoor antenna. Mohu Leaf and Terk are two ultrathin, sleek and easy-to-conceal models. Or, if you live in a more remote area, he suggests an Antennas Direct ClearStream outdoor antenna with a range of more than 70 miles.
If you’re looking for more content than you can get with an antenna, you’ll need a streaming media player. Options include Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Chromecast — and some of the newest models can even stream in 4K.
Choosing the right one depends on what you want to watch — or, more likely, binge-watch — and what other devices you have, Mike said. An expert Blue Shirt at your local Best Buy store can help sort through the options.
You also could choose a multifunction device, such as a smart TV, smart Blu-ray player or gaming console. For example, some Insignia TVs have Roku built into them.
Once you have your streaming device, you need to pick the streaming service that provides the shows, movies and music you want most. Popular subscription options include Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, as wells as premium cable channels that have their own services, such as HBO Go and Showtime Now.
You can even stream live TV over the internet with Sling TV, PlayStation Vue or DirecTV Now. Combined with an HDTV antenna, these can give you a full array of channels. (Best Buy offers free Sling TV trials with the purchase of select TVs, antennas and streaming devices.)
Miss the cable experience of being able to see all of your viewing options in one place? AirTV combines the channels from your over-the-air antenna and Sling TV into a single menu.
Just because you cut the cord doesn’t mean you have to give up the convenience of your DVR.
Sling TV and PlayStation Vue both offer cloud-based DVR services that let you record live, over-the-air TV or view a channel guide. And there are even options that work with an HDTV antenna.
“TiVo is still out there,” Mike said. “Plug it in, hook your antenna up, connect it to your internet and it pulls in all of your channels. Then you have a guide and the ability to do all of your streaming.”
If you’re planning to stream all of your television content, your Wi-Fi connection better be up to the task. Make sure you have an up-to-date modem and router with internet speeds that can handle the bandwidth of streaming content.
Full HD video requires download speeds of approximately 5 megabits (MB) per second, and 4K video requires an even more robust 25 MB per second.
“We always want our customers to be at a minimum of 25 MB per second, and we prefer upwards of 50 to 100 with the internet that’s available now,” Mike said.
Not sure if your connection is fast enough or need help getting everything to work together? A Geek Squad Agent can set up everything you need to cut the cord.
Ready to cut the cord? Click here for more info on the products and services you need to get started. Looking for a new TV? Check out this tool to help you find the right fit. And if you’re a football fan, check out this article about choosing a good TV for sports.