10 superior (and not-so-awesome) issues I realized whereas changing into a cord-cutter

After years of studying, analysis, and actually shut calls, I lastly made the plunge. I canceled my Comcast Triple Play bundle, disconnected the coaxial cables operating throughout my home, and returned the packing containers I’ve been renting for the final two years. That’s proper, I’m formally a card-carrying cord-cutter.

I’m solely within the first few days of my new cord-free world, however I can already inform the highway forward shall be equal elements vibrant and bumpy. Whereas I anticipated some separation anxiousness after years of cable TV payments, I naively didn’t understand simply how completely different it might be with out Comcast or Cox or FiOS supplying the channels. I ended up selecting DirecTV Now for my streaming wants, however I researched and examined a few them earlier than deciding on it. Listed here are 10 issues I’ve realized to this point:

Selecting a streaming TV service is admittedly laborious

Signing up for cable is comparatively straightforward. There are usually one or two suppliers with distinct pricing packages to select from, and choosing one merely is dependent upon worth and channels. That’s not the case with stay TV streaming packages. Channel choices are in all places, and also you’ll have to make an inventory of those you possibly can and may’t stay with out.

For me and my household, the must-haves included Meals Community, AMC, Nickelodeon, Disney, and FX, and it wasn’t straightforward to search out one which had all of them. On the time, DirecTV Now match the invoice, however that’s not the case anymore, so fortunately I’m grandfathered into the package deal I picked. Nevertheless it’s greater than seemingly that you just’ll have to sacrifice a favourite channel or two while you choose a streaming TV package deal.

Your invoice actually will go down

Our resident OG cord-cutter Jared Newman typically rails in opposition to the argument that streaming is costlier than cable as a result of proliferation of paid providers, and he’s proper.

Sure, in the event you subscribe to each service, your streaming invoice shall be greater than your cable one, however the fantastic thing about twine chopping is that you just solely pay for what you want every month. I used to be already subscribing to Netflix, HBO, and Hulu below my Comcast plan, so even with upgrading my web service from 250Mbps to 1Gbps and including DirecTV Now, I minimize my invoice by round $50 a month.

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The brand new DirecTV Now packages have much less freedom and better costs.

Costs, channels will change with out warning

Lower than 24 hours after I signed up for DirecTV Now, the value modified. By so much. My package deal elevated by 25 p.c, from $40 a month to $50 a month, and the add-on HBO possibility rose from $5 to $15. All mentioned, my month-to-month invoice elevated by $20 in simply 24 hours. Fortunately I’m in a position to hold the channels in my package deal, but when I had signed up only a day later, I wouldn’t have gotten any of the channels I wished; particularly, AMC, Nickelodeon, and Meals Community. I’m used to cable altering packages and upping costs, nevertheless it’s stunning that AT&T raised it a lot and took away so many very important channels without delay.

The information is admittedly good

I assumed the toughest factor for me to surrender once I dumped my cable packing containers could be  the programming information. I usually spend a whole lot of time shopping channels to search out one thing to observe, and I feared the streaming TV service’s person interface and expertise could be lower than nice, leaving me to rely alone gadgets. I used to be improper. The streaming providers I attempted out all had glorious guides with giant previews, channel icons, and nice navigation. I missed such options as the power to mechanically tune to a channel when one thing begins, which I had with the Comcast person interface, and I sort of want the previous UI, however general, I take pleasure in shopping now simply as a lot as I did with cable.

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The DirecTV Guide is surprisingly good.

Channels can take longer to find

The guide might be good for finding random shows, but it’s not so great for tuning to a specific channel. I never gave much thought to the order and arrangement of the channels in my cable bundle, but they were logical and smart, with food shows and kids networks lumped together. DirectTV Now, on the other hand, boils networks down to simple alphabetical listings, putting a greater emphasis on favorites and bookmarks. Under the Comcast guide, channels were logically grouped, local stations were near the top, and I could easily type in a number to jump to a channel. Now CBS comes after Cartoon Network. An alphabetical listing seems like a smarter option in theory, but I actually prefer the curated grouped lists.

Quality varies greatly between platforms

With my Comcast boxes, the experience basically depended on the type of TV each box was connected to. That’s not the case with streaming. The speed and picture quality of the DirecTV Now app on my Apple TV 4K is light years better than it is on my Fire TV Cube. The same goes for my Roku box and my Samsung smart TV. Then there’s simple connectivity issues. Some streams wouldn’t play HD, others constantly paused, and on some devices I couldn’t even tune to certain channels. So, depending on the source you’re using to stream, the experience could be good, great, terrible, or somewhere in between, even if they’re all hooked up to the same television.

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These types of error messages were more common on some platforms than others.

Nickelodeon is a streaming unicorn

When shopping for a streaming service, I expected networks like AMC, HBO, and Disney to cost more. What I didn’t expect was Nickelodeon to be so hard to find. And with a 7-year-son, it’s pretty much a must-have. Since Nickelodeon doesn’t have its own pay service, and its content is locked behind a provider paywall, my options came down to DirecTV Now, Sling TV with the Kids Extra package, or Philo (which was missing local networks and numerous other channels I cared about). And after this week’s changes, it’s not even available on DirectTV Now anymore (though thankfully it’s grandfathered into my package). So if you have a kid who watches any of the Nick channels, Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, and PlayStation Vue are all out.

Remote controlling isn’t so good

If there’s one thing you don’t have to worry about with cable, it’s the capability of the remote. Voice search on my Comcast remote was a surprisingly excellent way to find something to watch, and the standard keypad was an easy backup for quickly tuning to a channel. The Apple TV and Fire TV remotes are woefully inadequate, and even my Harmony universal remote doesn’t quite understand what’s going on inside the DirecTV Now app. Voice control is another issue. While most of the voice assistants will launch streaming apps without trouble, few of them are able to look inside to find stuff. DirectTV Now just recently added Siri search support in the TV app, which is nice, but most of your voice commands will go unheeded, even if you’re using the made-for-cord-cutters Caavo remote.

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The Cloud DVR is nice to have, but it pales in comparison to a actual hard drive.

Cloud DVR isn’t as good as a hard drive

I was pleasantly surprised to find that most streaming services offer a cloud storage option that lets you record live TV and fast-forward through commercials. While it works on DirecTV Now, however, it’s nowhere near as fast and easy to navigate as the one on my X1 DVR. Granted it’s still in beta—as it’s apparently been for nearly a year—but shows stuttered and straight-up wouldn’t play, fast-forwarding speeds were unpredictable, and some recordings were truncated. And while third-party DVRs such as Tivo Bolt Vox and Fire TV Recast do exist, they’re designed for over-the-air broadcasts, not over-the-top streaming TV services.

Streaming is more customizable than cable

When I had cable, my wife, son, and I could all watch different shows in different rooms—provided we had boxes hooked up to each TV. And that was pretty much it. Sure, there were parental controls and accessibility options, but navigating them required a trip through complicated menus, and there was no control over what happened when I turned on the TV.

Live TV streaming gives you more control. DirecTV Now remembers the last show I was watching on any device, so I can flip on the game in another room without missing any of the action. I can set live TV to start playing when I launch the app or mute the audio. I can autoplay the next episode on demand. Granted, none of these are game-changing options, but they sure are nice to have.

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