Your local cable television provider still remains the simplest way for you to bring entertainment programming content into your home. It may not be the least expensive any longer, but it is the easiest way for you to distribute to each of the TV’s in your home. Local cable companies are staffed with support technicians who can do the installation for your, and many of these providers offer support if something goes wrong.
Local cable providers typically have a “hard-wired” connection into your home. This means they have a physical wire that connects their network to your home. As a result, you have limited choice of who you want to buy your cable TV from. If you’re lucky, you have more than one choice and can go with the provider who offers the best plan for your television viewing preferences. Many people will switch cable providers because of support problems.
Your local cable provider is most likely also the provider for your internet broadband connection. The kind of physical wiring used to distribute television programming into your home is also well suited for distributing broadband data.
You will have to find the cable television and internet broadband providers available for your area using the links provided at Find A Internet Broadband Service Provider.
All of the video streaming services in this category are typically downloaded and then viewed on home televisions using a separate setup box device. The box sits in between the service and your TV and takes care of the communication, including any buffering, so that from the user’s perspective it is plug and play. However, it does require an internet broadband connection.
Netflix has a variety of movies, TV shows, documentaries, etc. with unlimited access to streaming content. New content is not readily available and HD content is also lacking. The Netflix DVD service continues but is now a separate subscription since their recent rate increase.
Hulu is geared more toward TV shows with newer content more available. A main difference between Hulu and Hulu Plus is that Hulu only goes back several episodes while Hulu Plus offers previous seasons. Both only offer limited streaming of movies.
Vudu offers the best video and sound quality along with the most current offerings of movies. Generally movie titles are available on the same date as their DVD release. However, as the saying goes “you get what you pay for” this is true with Vudu – you pay more for their movies.
CinemaNow is affiliated with BestBuy and appears to be nothing more than an online movie rental service not much different than Blockbuster or Family Video. Movie rental costs appear to be about the same as your local video store with options to purchases as well. There is also a fairly decent selection of TV shows available to purchase. CinemaNow is also “Powered by RoxioNow”. If your internet broadband connection has monthly limits it may be less money and easier to take a short trip to your local video store instead.
Amazon video has a large selection of movies. They may not always be available the same date as the DVD release. Amazon Prime members get extras, including free movies, so it’s really an easy decision if you already have their Prime membership.
Google TV is fairly new with announcements in 2010. It’s only available via a few different devices, one of which by Logitech is already being discontinued. It’s not nearly as mainstream as some of the other options in this category and is getting only mediocre reviews. Some would even say it’s dying.
People seem to never tire of the wide variety of YouTube videos. It’s not your standard TV show programming, although some shows are uploaded (but some are almost as quickly removed) . There are a lot of good instructional videos. If you enjoy YouTube on your computer then chances are good you’ll enjoy it on your big screen TV. The price is right.
ZinvTV provides you with an easy way to search for your favorite content. For example you can select to search through either movies or TV series. It also provides a simple way to filter those shows which are free or require a subscription or payment. Another option allows you to filter by the device type you are using to watch with.
This service is basically a front end for other PayTV providers such as Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and some of the online network TV web sites. But it does give you a nice, simple way to search for your favorite TV shows or movies.
Boxee is similar to ZincTV but different in that it provides you with free software you can download and install on your PC. It would have to be a PC you could connect to your TV if that is where you want to watch it. The alternative is to buy their Boxee Box, which sits between your internet connection and your TV. It provides you with the built-in software needed to search the internet for your shows and movies and then catalogue them for your viewing.
Boxee TV is also releasing a device allowing you to watch your local live TV stations.
Livestation allows you to watch mostly foreign TV and News stations for free.
AnyTVPlayer is similar to Livestation with content. Difference is that it is provided as software which you download on to your PC.
Contains a variety of old and new movies along with popular TV series for free. You can download to your PC or stream to your TV. Provides both SD and HD content. It does provide adult content, so be careful if you want family friendly only.
Most of the major TV networks offer TV channels online – mostly online video of their popular shows previous episodes. Many of them are free, some require you to login via your local cable subscriber account. This allows you to watch these episodes on either your PC or portable device with internet access.