With all of the different services and products available today for cord cutters, I know it can be difficult to figure out what you really need and what you can do without. So, I thought it would be useful to create a page with my personal recommendations — the companies that have earned Howie’s stamp of approval.
I have put countless hours of research into my recommendations, and I take this very seriously. I never recommend anything I don’t 100% believe in.
If you’d like to skip to specific section, just click one of the links below. Otherwise, scroll down to view all of my recommendations.
- Streaming Services
- Streaming Devices
- Antenna Installation
- Video Games
- Home Theater Audio
- Internet Service Providers
- Cell Phone Service
- Home Phone Service
- Everything Else
I’ve called Sling TV “the best cable TV alternative available today,” and I still feel that way. Sling TV is a streaming service that allows you to watch a number of popular cable channels on your TV, computer, tablet, or phone, using your internet connection. Most notably, you can watch ESPN, ESPN2, and a number of other sports networks, making it possible to legally watch a number of major sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, college football, and more) online without a cable subscription. You also get TNT, TBS, HGTV, Food Network, CNN, and several other great channels. You can even add HBO to your Sling TV subscription. The best part? Service starts at just $20 a month, and there’s no contract or commitment required.
Want to see what all the hype is about? You can try Sling TV free for 7 days right now. Or do what I did — get 50% off a Roku 3 Streaming Player or a FREE Roku Streaming Stick when you prepay for 3 months of Sling TV. It’s an awesome deal I highly recommend.
If you’re a T-Mobile customer, you have one additional option. Sling TV and T-Mobile have partnered up to offer T-Mobile customers a 30% discount on Sling TV’s basic package. You pay $14/month, get 20+ channels, and can stream them anywhere and anytime without data overage charges on your qualifying T-Mobile device. This offer is available to T-Mobile customers for up to 12 months each. Learn more about this offer and see whether your qualify by signing into your T-Mobile account.
Amazon Prime Instant Video
I think Amazon Prime Instant Video might just be the most underrated and under-utilized on-demand streaming service out there. So many people don’t know how much great content is available on the service. Honestly, I think Amazon Prime is better than Netflix. Not only can I catch shows like The Americans (my wife and I both agree on that one), but I get free two-day shipping and access to tons of eBooks and streaming music as well. It’s a no-brainer. I pay $99 per year for this, which averages out to only $8.25 per month.
The free 30-day trial is a great way to get started. I tried it out and never turned back! Click here to get your own free 30-day trial today.
Everyone knows about Netflix so I’m not going to waste your time telling you all about it. Simply put, Netflix has a little something for everyone in my family. I like House of Cards. My wife gets to rewatch Friends over and over, and the kids can enjoy Sesame Street, Veggie Tales, and a ton of other great programming. The Standard subscription is only $8.99 a month, which is more than worth it.
Beachbody On Demand
Who would have thought that cord cutting could make you fit? Beachbody, the company behind famous home workouts like Insanity and P90X, now has their very own streaming service, Beachbody On Demand. For about one-fourth the price of a gym membership, you get unlimited streaming access to a deep library of Beachbody’s most popular workouts. Stream them from home on your TV or on-the-go with your mobile device.
Want to give the service a shot? Try Beachbody On Demand free for 30 days here. No contracts, no commitment.
Roku 3 Streaming Player
CNET named the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00UJ3IULO” locale=”US” tag=”cutcabtod-20″]Roku 3[/easyazon_link] its “favorite overall streaming platform,” and I fully agree. The Roku 3 offers the easiest way to enjoy streaming content on your TV. It comes with over 2,000 channels, allowing you to watch Sling TV, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Netflix, and thousands of other channels. The Roku 3 also comes with an easy-to-use remote that offers voice search and has a built-in headphone jack so you can watch whatever you want, whenever you want without disturbing anyone else. Other key features include an incredibly fast processor for a smooth user experience, 1080p HD support, WiFi connectivity, and 1-2-3 easy setup.
Remember, you can get the Roku 3 50% off when you take advantage of Sling TV’s limited-time deal they’re currently running.
Roku Streaming Stick
The Roku Streaming Stick offers an excellent value and is the perfect streaming player for those looking to save a little money. With its compact stick design (it’s a little bigger than a USB flash drive), the Roku Streaming Stick plugs directly into your TV’s HDMI port, giving you rich, seamless video streaming up to 1080p HD.
I personally use the Roku Streaming Stick for my secondary TV in my bedroom, and it works beautifully. Like the Roku 3, the stick also comes with a remote, although it doesn’t have a headphone jack or voice search capabilities. The stick also gives you access to Sling TV, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Netflix, and over 2,000 other streaming channels on your TV.
Right now, you can get a FREE Roku Streaming Stick when you sign up for 3 months of Sling TV.
Indoor Antenna: Mohu Leaf 50 Indoor HDTV Antenna
[easyazon_link identifier=”B00APPDX86″ locale=”US” tag=”cutcabtod-20″]
[/easyazon_link]Welcome to the new generation of antennas. The Mohu Leaf 50 Indoor HDTV Antenna is the world’s first paper-thin antenna. With its sleek, stylish design, this antenna is omni-directional and can pick up channels in a 50-mile radius from your home. There’s no need to “point” your antenna like you would with rabbit ears. I personally get around 100 channels using my Mohu Leaf, including NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, and PBS. I can easily keep up with many of the most popular network TV shows, news, and sports in crystal-clear 1080p HD.
For the lowest pricing, I recommend getting your [easyazon_link identifier=”B00APPDX86″ locale=”US” tag=”cutcabtod-20″]Mohu Leaf on Amazon[/easyazon_link].
Outdoor Antenna: Mohu Sky
[easyazon_link identifier=”B00AVWKUXE” locale=”US” tag=”cutcabtod-20″]
[/easyazon_link]Many people email me asking for an outdoor antenna recommendation. Typically, outdoor antennas are necessary if you live far away from the broadcast towers or there are obstructions near your home that may block the signal from reaching an indoor antenna.
The best outdoor antenna I’ve tried is the Mohu Sky HDTV Attic/Outdoor Antenna. Featuring a totally revolutionary design, the Sky is incredibly powerful, picking up signals from up to 60 miles away. The Sky is also multi-directional, meaning you don’t have to mess around trying to point it in the right direction. It installs in minutes on your rooftop or in your attic, and it weighs only 3 pounds.
[easyazon_link identifier=”B00AVWKUXE” locale=”US” tag=”cutcabtod-20″]Click here to learn more about the Mohu Sky Attic/Outdoor Antenna[/easyazon_link].
Need a little help installing your antenna? I recommend using Angie’s List to find a local installer in your area who can make sure your antenna is set up properly to receive the best possible signal. The great thing about Angie’s List is members can access customer ratings and reviews, making it easy to find the most qualified antenna installation professional for the job. Best of all, it’s now FREE to join Angie’s List. Every membership includes access to over 10 million verified reviews from paid members.
Tablo 2-Tuner OTA DVR with WiFi
I wrote a detailed article comparing the most popular OTA DVRs on the market today, and while there are some great products out there, my favorite is the Tablo 2-Tuner OTA DVR with WiFi. The Tablo lets you record, pause, skip, and playback all of the channels you get through your antenna. You just connect the Tablo to your antenna and home internet, and you can record any over-the-air (OTA) programming from your antenna and watch it through any streaming device on your network. You can even pair your mobile device with your DVR and watch your recordings on the go, anywhere you want.
With the 2-Tuner Tablo, I can record up to two shows at a time and watch on up to six streaming devices simultaneously. If you’re looking to record more shows at once, the 4-Tuner from Tablo lets you record up to four shows at one time.
LG Electronics 55-Inch 1080p LED TV
I’m not a fan of Smart TVs. They have poor support for streaming apps, offer an inferior viewing experience compared to an actual streaming player like the Roku 3, and are typically overpriced. You’re much better off getting a regular HDTV and connecting a Roku streaming player to it. That’s why I recommend this 55-inch 1080p LED TV from LG Electronics. The picture quality is exceptional thanks to LED backlighting that offers bright and clear colors. This is one of the highest-rated HDTVs you’ll find on Amazon, and it’s priced very competitively.
TCL 48FS3700 48-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV
Some people are intent on getting a Smart TV (check out our guide to choosing the best smart TV) so they can cut the streaming device out of the equation. While I don’t generally recommend Smart TVs, if you must have one, then you need to go with what Wired calls, “The first Smart TVs worth using.” Roku has partnered with TCL to combine a normal TV with the Roku interface. It’s the best of both worlds!
Xbox One Elite 1 TB Bundle
For the ultimate gaming experience, you have to go with Xbox One. Recently, Xbox announced they’d be releasing a 1 TB version, which is bigger and faster than ever before. The beauty of the 1 TB model is it’s capacity for storage. And now that you can hook up an antenna to your Xbox, the 1 TB sets the stage for when Xbox releases it’s highly-anticipated DVR feature. Along with the ability to stream services like Netflix and HBO Now, the Xbox One is not only a gamer’s dream machine — it could be the ultimate cable cutter solution as well.
If you’re looking to set up a legit home theater experience, you need to check out the Sonos PLAYBAR. This nine-speaker soundbar is truly epic. It’s a beautiful, sleek, understated piece of equipment that measures 3.35 x 35.43 x 5.51 inches, but don’t be fooled by its size — this baby can shake the walls in your home with crisp, clear, full-theater sound when you crank it up.
Did I mention the PLAYBAR also offers wireless connectivity? You can connect it to your home WiFi network and play sound for TV, movies, music, video games, and more.
Not a day goes by that somebody doesn’t ask me about internet service, whether wondering which Internet Service Provider (ISP) I recommend or how fast their connection needs to be. Internet is essential for cutting the cord. You can’t stream without it. Of course, you will also need internet for your basic web surfing, checking your email, getting on Facebook, and all of that anyway, so this isn’t really an extra expense.
High-Speed Internet: DSL Extreme
Personally, I recommend DSL Extreme as the internet provider of choice for cord cutters. What’s DSL Extreme? It’s a high-speed internet service that has no data caps. That means you can stream all the video you want without incurring extra fees for going over your monthly data cap. DSL Extreme is the only internet-only service provider I know of right now that doesn’t have data caps for its customers. Plus, they use AT&T’s internet infrastructure, so you know you’ll get reliable fast speeds.
Check out our full DSL Extreme review for more info.
Satellite Internet: HughesNet
Not everyone is able to get good, affordable cable, DSL, or fiber internet where they live. In particular, high-speed internet options are often limited for those in rural areas. In such cases, satellite internet could be the best available alternative, although it may offer some limitations (low data caps). HughesNet offers top-rated satellite internet service to customers all across the US. They have a number of plans to choose from that are reasonably priced and can work for those with light streaming needs.
To learn more about Dish’s satellite internet service and current offers, I recommend you click here or call 888-981-5204 today to speak to a representative. Their customer service reps are great, can answer any questions you may have, and often have knowledge about special promotional offers that may not be on their website.
There are a few reasons my family uses Verizon Wireless. First, the coverage is always very reliable for me here in Houston and wherever I travel. Second, I often stream video on my smartphone, and Verizon’s 4G LTE service ensures my viewing experience is smooth and enjoyable. Finally, and this is a big one, with Verizon’s “More Everything” plan, I can download their NFL Mobile app and watch live NFL games for free on my phone. I’m able to watch all locally shown Sunday afternoon games as well as any night games throughout the week. It’s awesome.
For a limited time Verizon is offering $300 to new and existing customers when you trade in your old phone and buy a new one.
I often hear from readers who have their home phone service bundled with their cable and internet, making it difficult to break out of the bundle and cut the cord. If you truly need a home phone, I recommend Broadvoice. This VoIP phone service is very affordable (as low as $8.33/month), helping you save money by using your existing high-speed internet connection to make calls in the US and Canada. They also have a great international plan. You can even take your home phone number with you anywhere you go using your smartphone. Finally, and best of all, you can keep your existing number. I recommend clicking here to see if their current plans fit your needs. For a limited time, use promo code VOIPFAST5 to save an additional $5.
Amazon is my go-to store to buy just about anything I need, from equipment for my home entertainment setup to clothes and everything in between.