If you’re cutting the cord and ditching cable for good, you’ll need a few devices to replace your old cable setup. Yes, you’ll have to make an upfront investment in your new equipment, but you’ll save more than the cost of these items in the long-run.
Here are six must-have devices for your cord-cutting setup.
An over-the-air (OTA) antenna should be at the top of your must-have list. It allows you to pick up free broadcast channels in clear HD. You may not be able to watch cable TV, but you’ll be able to watch:
It’s completely legal and completely free. Antennas are easy to install. Some sit behind the TV, while others hang on the window. Finding the right position is important and will affect how many channels you receive, but most people shouldn’t have a problem getting at least a dozen channels
We’ve reviewed several indoor antennas. You’re sure to find one that meets your needs and budget.
Antennas allow you to watch live TV and some shows on major broadcast networks. But your content choices are still limited if your setup only includes an antenna. A streaming device will give you more options when it comes to movies and television shows.
Keep in mind that most streaming services will require a subscription, but you can also find some free content, including YouTube.
Top streaming devices include:
The Amazon Fire TV dongle is capable of streaming in 4K and at 60fps. It also features Amazon Alexa support through the remote.
Amazon offers a variety of different devices in their Fire TV lineup, including:
If you have a Prime membership, it makes the most sense to use an Amazon Fire TV device. But even if you don’t, Fire TV is really easy to use and works with a huge range of apps.
A versatile device that allows you to stream virtually every service, including Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, YouTube, Amazon and more.
The Chromecast Ultra supports 4K Ultra HD and HDR. Even if you don’t have a 4K TV right now, buying the Ultra will ensure that you can watch in UHD when you do upgrade.
The NVIDIA Shield TV runs on the Android TV platform, so it gives you access to all of the streaming and media you can find on Google Play Store.
Stream YouTube or Netflix in 4K, or use the server apps Kodi and Plex. The box offers 16GB of onboard storage.
Apple is expanding its streaming device options greatly. Now, you can get the Apple TV+, which offers original content, and you can also purchase Apple TV 4K for UHD streaming. Of course, you also have the option of buying the original Apple TV HD as well.
Like Fire TV and Chromecast, Apple TV allows you to stream content from your favorite services, including Netflix, Hulu and even Amazon Prime Video.
Like Fire TV, Roku offers both stick and set top box options for their streaming services. It allows you to watch content on Netflix, Sling, HBO Now, Prime Video, ESPN and more. You can also choose from many different Roku Channels as well as private channels for even more content options.
A tuner antenna adapter allows you to link your antenna to your streaming device or the NVIDIA Shield TV box.
If you have the Shield or the Fire TV Recast, it’s easy to record OTA shows and movies directly.
I’ve already discussed two great DVR options: NVIDIA Shield and Fire TV Recast. If you have television shows that you watch on regular broadcast television, you may not be at home when they air. A DVR device will allow you to record those shows and watch them when it’s most convenient for you.
A DVR will allow you to maximize the benefits of your indoor antenna. You never have to worry about missing a TV show or movie again.
Shield and Recast are only two options for DVRs. Do your research to find one that meets your budget and needs.
If you want to use a streaming service, you’re going to need an Internet connection – which means that you’ll need a modem.
Pay attention to the up/down speeds when buying a modem. Ideally, you’d choose a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, which has 8-times faster download speeds compared to DOCSIS 2.0. These are ideal for streaming HD video content.
Along with a modem, you’ll also need a router if you want multiple devices to connect to the Internet. Depending on your Internet provider, you may receive a router and modem in one. I have AT&T Fiber, and my modem also acts as a Wi-Fi router.
It’s really convenient, but just like with any ISP-provided router, it does have its limits.
The biggest issue with Wi-Fi routers is that they often have a limited range. The more walls and floors between the router and your device, the weaker the connection.
You can solve this problem by investing in a better router with a larger range, or you could buy a signal booster. A booster will repeat your signal to expand its range.
Finally, if you want to stream content, you’ll probably need a streaming subscription. Technically, this isn’t a device, but it’s a cost that you’ll have to consider. You don’t have to subscribe to a streaming service. You’ll save the most money by just using an antenna. But if you want more content choices, you’ll probably want one streaming subscription. Fortunately, streaming subscriptions are a fraction of the cost of a cable subscription.