You are determined to take the plunge and are going to ditch your cable/satellite TV service (I know because you’re still here)
Let’s layout the basic process and then I will share my experience with the process (in a separate post)
1) determine if you are under a contract with your cable or satellite provider. I recommend finishing the contract and then switching, easier and simpler for all.
2) do you already have home internet? Determine the speed – MBs (megabytes per second download), http://www.speedtest.net is a quick way to determine your existing speed. I recommend a minimum of 5 MBs but prefer at least 10 MBs for streaming video. 10 MBs should be sufficient to stream things like Netflix with no buffering/lag. If 4K is a must, then you will need at least 25 MBs, you might already have this. . . .
3) Are you close to any FREE over-the-air broadcast towers? If your TV is 2007 vintage (or newer), I believe it already has a digital tuner/receiver (new regs) built in – you already paid for the equipment – take advantage of something you already own! Visit http://www.antennaweb.org to determine how many towers are in your area and if it’s worth it to purchase an antenna (there are 54 towers for my address). If there are multiple towers within 60 miles of your home, then it probably makes sense.
4) Depending on your proximity to local broadcast towers, you will then need to purchase an appropriate antenna. This one-time purchase of hardware cost can vary widely depending on the strength you need. If most of the local channels (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX) are within 10 miles then you probably can use a small passive indoor antenna for probably $25 or less (try Walmart or Amazon). Getting the right antenna requires a little research and maybe a little trial and error – be patient, once you have completed this step (correctly) you will be able to get free high-definition broadcasts from the big 4 networks and probably numerous other independent stations.
5) Determine if your TV is a smart TV – if it is you can probably get by without a separate streaming device. This is somewhat of a personal preference but I recommend getting a streaming device even if you have a smart TV in order to get the most entertainment options, but I’m sure some will disagree with that opinion. I recommend going with one of the bigger players (Apple TV or Roku) – probably depends on your existing choices – if you are already in the Apple ecosystem (iphone, ipad, etc.) then Apple TV is a no brainer. If not, Roku is probably the better option.
6) hook up your streaming device to your TV (I recommend an HDMI cable) and internet service – I recommend hard wiring (CAT 5 cable should suffice) but many will prefer wifi instead. Once you have done that, sign up for a free trial of Netflix. You’ve done it! Freeeeeeeeedom!
Many will determine that a combination of free local broadcasts and Netflix is sufficient to supply their entertainment needs. If so, the ongoing monthly cost will only be $10 per month! I recommend you try this for awhile – maybe 6 months – before you consider adding any other over-the-top packages or apps (mostly because they all cost more $ and this basic setup might be all you need).
Short CNET video on cord cutting basics
longer video on cord cutting options