After years of reading, research and very close calls, I finally took the plunge. I canceled my Comcast Triple Play package, unplugged the coax cables that ran around the house and returned the boxes I had been renting for two years. That's right, I'm officially a cord cutter with a card.
I'm only in the early days of my new ropeless world, but I can already say that the road will be both bright and bumpy. While I was expecting separation anxiety after years of cable TV bills, I did not know how much it would be different if Comcast, Cox or FiOS did not provide the channels. I ended up choosing DirecTV Now for my streaming needs, but I researched and tested some of them before I decided. Here are 10 things I've learned so far:
Choosing a TV streaming service is really difficult
Registering to the cable is relatively easy. There are generally one or two suppliers offering different price formulas. The choice of a supplier simply depends on the price and the channels. This is not the case with live streaming TV packages. TV channels are ubiquitous and you will need to make a list of the ones you can and can not live without.
For me and my family, the highlights were Food Network, AMC, Nickelodeon, Disney and FX, and it was not easy to find the one who owned them all. At the time, DirecTV Now was up to the task, but that's no longer the case. Fortunately, I have the rights acquired in the package that I chose. But it is more than likely that you have to sacrifice one or two favorite channels when you choose a streaming TV package.
Your bill will really go down
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Our OG resident cord cutter, Jared Newman, often opposes the argument that streaming costs more than cable because of the proliferation of pay services, and he is right.
Yes, if you subscribe to all services, your broadcast bill will be higher than your cable, but the beauty of the cable cut is that you only pay for what you need each month. I already subscribed to Netflix, HBO and Hulu as part of my Comcast plan. Even with the upgrade of my Internet service from 250 Mbps to 1 Gbps and the addition of DirecTV, I have now reduced my bill by about $ 50 a month.
The new DirecTV Now packages have less freedom and higher prices.
Prices, channels will change without notice
Less than 24 hours after registering for DirecTV Now, the price has changed. By much My package has gone up 25% from $ 40 to $ 50 a month, and the additional HBO option has gone from $ 5 to $ 15. All that being said, my monthly bill has risen by $ 20 in just 24 hours. Fortunately, I'm able to keep the channels in my package, but if I signed up a day later, I would have had none of the channels I wanted; namely AMC, Nickelodeon and Food Network. I'm used to wiring change packages and raising prices, but it's shocking that AT & T has increased so much and has cut so many channels at once.
The guide is really good
I thought the programming guide would be the hardest thing for me to give up when I emptied my cable boxes. I usually spend a lot of time browsing the channels to find something to watch, and I was concerned that the UI of the streaming TV service and the experience would be less than satisfactory, letting me use my own devices. I was wrong. The streaming services I've tested have all had excellent guides with broad overviews, channel icons and quality navigation. I've missed features such as the ability to automatically tune a channel when something starts, what I had with the Comcast UI, and I prefer a bit the old interface user, but overall, I like to navigate now as well as with the cable. .
The DirecTV guide is surprisingly good.
Channels may take longer to find
The guide may be useful for finding random shows, but it is not very good for tuning a specific channel. I never really thought about the order and layout of the channels in my wiring harness, but they were logical and smart, with cooking shows and grouped children's networks. DirectTV Networks now boil down to simple alphabetical lists, with more emphasis on favorites and bookmarks. Under the Comcast guide, the channels were logically grouped, the local stations were almost at the top and I could easily type a number to access a channel. Now, CBS comes after Cartoon Network. An alphabetical list seems to be a smarter option in theory, but I actually prefer organized grouped lists.
Quality varies greatly between platforms
With my Comcast Box, the experience depended essentially on the type of TV to which each box was connected. This is not the case with streaming. The speed and picture quality of the DirecTV Now app on my Apple TV 4K are better than last year on my Cube Fire TV. The same goes for my Roku case and my Samsung smart TV. Then there are simple connectivity issues. Some streams would not play HD, others would pause, and on some devices I would not even be able to tune to certain channels. So depending on the source you are using to stream, the experience can be good, excellent, terrible or somewhere in between, even if they are all connected to the same TV.
These types of error messages were more common on some platforms than on others.
Nickelodeon is a unicorn streaming
When I was looking for a streaming service, I was expecting networks like AMC, HBO and Disney to cost more. What I did not expect was that Nickelodeon is so hard to find. And with a 7 year old son, it's pretty much a must-have. Since Nickelodeon does not have its own paid service and its content is locked by a provider paywall, my options were DirecTV Now, Sling TV with Kids Extra or Philo (which lacked local networks and many other channels). I took care). And after the changes this week, it is not even available on DirectTV now (although, fortunately, it is kept in my package). So, if you have a child watching one of Nick's channels, Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue are waiting for you.
Remote control is not so good
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If you do not have to worry about something with the cable, it's the ability of the remote. The voice search on my Comcast remote was a surprisingly great way to find something to watch, and the standard keyboard was an easy backup to quickly tune a channel. The Apple TV and Fire TV remotes are terribly inadequate and even my Harmony universal remote does not quite understand what's happening in the DirecTV Now app. Voice control is another problem. Although most voice assistants launch seamless streaming applications, few of them are able to look inward to find items. DirectTV Now, we've recently added Siri Search support in the TV app, which is nice, but most of your voice commands will be dead, even if you use the Caavo remote to cut the cords.
The Cloud DVR is nice, but it is ridiculous compared to a hard drive.
Cloud DVR is not as good as a hard drive
I've been pleasantly surprised to find that most streaming services offer a cloud storage option that allows you to record live TV and quickly advance in the commercials. Although it now works on DirecTV, it is not nearly as fast and easy to navigate as it is on my X1 DVR. While it is still in beta – as it seems to be the case for almost a year – but stuttered and unattended broadcasts could not be played, fast forward speeds were unpredictable and some recordings were truncated. And while there are third-party DVRs such as Tivo Bolt Vox and Fire TV Recast, they are designed for live broadcasts and not for streaming services.
Streaming is more customizable than cable
When I had the cable, my wife, my son, and I could all watch different shows in different rooms, as long as we had boxes connected to each TV. And that was just about everything. Of course, there were options for parental control and accessibility, but browsing them meant navigating complicated menus and there was no control over what happened when I turned on the television.
Live TV broadcast gives you more control. DirecTV now remembers the last show I watched on any device, so I could play the game in another room without missing the action. I can set up live TV so that it starts playing when I start the application or mute the sound. I can automatically play the next episode on demand. Of course, none of these options change the game, but they are nice to have.