Cutting the TV cord – Part 1

Most of us are tired of TV. Tired of its high cost. Tired of its limited selection. Tired of commercials. Tired of having to buy “packages” of channels to get the one or two we want.

So we have come up with the term “cut the TV cord” to refer to the ending our cable TV service altogether. The author of this article cut the TV cord, more than 10 years ago, with no ill effects: I have always felt current on news and entertainment options, with a high degree of control, and little effort.

Now, with the incredible Internet speeds available and the plethora of media service and device options, it is even easier to cut the TV cord. Most of us enjoy 15Mbps-or-more download speed, which is enough to have one or two high-definition video streams running. Many of us subscribe to Netflix or similar services where we can choose from hundreds of shows and movies.

And the selection of devices keeps growing: computers, smartphones, tablets, smart-TVs, and media players can all link into today’s TV alternatives. You can choose to stream to your small screen, or “cast” to a larger screen … or enjoy directly on your smart-TV or connected media player.

Most of these devices follow the “app” approach to media. You want access a particular media source? Download the app and connect to their service. Some services are free, while some are paid. The selection varies depending on the device you are on, but the general approach is the same as your smartphone or tablet.

Most game consoles can also act as a media player, but not all of us are into games or the cost of these consoles. Smart-TVs have some nice features, but have a hard time keeping up with the rapid changes of the industry and the demands of ever-improving apps. This is where a media player can fit in: it can make your dumb-TV, or not-so-smart-TV, into a real performer for (roughly) $40 – $240.

One media player that stands out for me is the Minix Neo U9-H. Release in Feb2017, it is currently the one to beat for price/performance. It comes in a few configurations depending if you want no remote (i.e. control it with your phone), simple wireless remote, or one of a few fancy wireless keyboard remotes.