Back in the day, the only way for us to get entertained by using our TVs is to have a cable subscription. That is because you get plenty of channels and you have a wide variety of options to choose from.
But, let me ask you something: How many of those channels do you actually like? On average, people only love about 4-5 channels on their cable subscriptions, which practically makes all other channels superfluous.
That is why if you are looking for cable TV alternatives, you’ve come to the right place. I will recommend the best services that you can get in 2020 that provide more meaningful channels that you will surely love.
I will also include some streaming services as well since most people nowadays already gravitate towards the said platform.
Best Cable TV Alternatives
The best cable TV alternative in 2020 is SlingTV. For those of you who do not know, this is a web TV service that pretty much acts like your traditional cable subscription, albeit it uses your internet connection to do so.
SlingTV provides you with a lot of flexibility. You will be offered a base package in the form of the Sling Orange or Sling Blue and you can opt to get either one of them based on the channels that you truly want.
What’s more, I love the fact that the service allows you to get specific channels that you like, but do keep in mind that every channel that you add on top of the base package would net you an additional $5.
You get a variety of different channels, including ESPN, Fox News, and a host of others. Where this falls short is in its interface.
Don’t get me wrong, it is intuitive in a way, but it just feels clunky whenever you navigate through the different menus.
Still, SlingTV offers the best value among other Web TV services out there and is the one that I would recommend for the cord-cutters.
Youtube is not only a streaming service but it actually provides you with a Web TV alternative to your current cable subscription.
The base package starts at $50 with 70 channels on offer and you also have the ability to add more channels as you see fit (for a fee, of course).
One of its biggest features is that you can record content on your DVR an unlimited number of times. This is certainly a welcome feature, especially for folks that do not have the luxury of time to be tuning in to the live event.
It is also worth mentioning that Youtube TV also provides you with the platform’s all-original content for free as well. The only problem is that most shows aren’t that great, except of course for the Cobra Kai, which is a Karate Kid sequel special.
Still, Youtube TV offers plenty of amazing channels for a base price of $50 which I think is also a particularly good deal for what you are getting.
3.Hulu with Live TV
Hulu started out as an on-demand streaming service but has since offered a Live TV subscription for an additional $45 (on top of the base $10 that is offered for the streaming-only service).
What makes Hulu’s Live TV service special is that you get over 60 channels with all of the popular ones on offer, including TNT, A&E, Fox, and more.
Although its main interface provides you with a lot of flexibility, it is a bit complex for most people to use. It would have been nice if it were more navigable, but at least you are given the options that you can tinker to improve your viewing experience even more.
While you can add more channels on top of the basic package, doing so is more expensive than the other previously-mentioned recommendations. Still, it is a nice touch for people that want to add specific channels that they fancy.
Do keep in mind that with the Live TV service, you also have the option to use the on-demand streaming service as well which makes Hulu one of the only platforms that offer this level of entertainment for a relatively affordable price.
Now we’re tackling the on-demand streaming service territory. The reason why I am including them on the list is that most people gravitate towards this platform over any other web tv service out there.
One of the reasons why such services are popular nowadays is that you have the option to choose whatever content that you want to watch out of the service’s content library and you also have the ability to watch them at your own convenient time.
With all of that being said, Disney+ is one of the new and budding streaming services today and that is thanks to its wide selection of Disney movies and originals.
If you are a fan of Star Wars, the National Geographic channel, Pixar, Marvel, and Disney, this streaming service has got you covered.
Disney+ also allows you to watch its original shows. The Mandalorian was a platform exclusive and it is certainly of the most popular shows in 2019 (and beyond).
For just $7 a month, you are getting a vast library of content from the aforementioned studios so you are really getting your money’s worth.
The only downside here is that this service is only available for US subscribers only, though you can use a VPN service to circumvent the geo-restriction.
5.Amazon Prime Video
Price: $13/month, $120/year
Amazon Prime Video is another on-demand streaming service that has gained a lot of traction over the years. What makes this an interesting cable TV alternative is that you not only have a plethora of content to choose from but you also get exclusive perks as you are deemed as an Amazon Prime member when you subscribe.
Aside from top movies, you also get some exclusive Amazon Prime content that cannot be found anywhere else.
In addition to that, almost all of the content that you can find on its library is Dolby Vision and HDR10+ compatible which means that if you have a device that can support these technologies, your viewing experience will be magnified to a considerable degree.
People with TV Soundbars will also love the fact that some of the shows that you can find on the platform also support Dolby Atmos for an even more immersive sound.
If you like the shows that are offered on Starz and Showtime, you do have the option to include them on your subscription, though you can do it for a fee.
While an Amazon Prime Video subscription can cost you $13 a month, it would be wise to get the $120 annual subscription instead, especially since most of the shows here are top-rated.
I think this platform needs no introduction. Netflix is the company that was responsible for launching the on-demand streaming service platforms all over the world.
Netflix has a plethora of different content to choose from. Whether you are looking for some classic movies or new TV shows, the company has got you covered.
Its content library constantly changes, though, as there are new movies and shows that are being replaced or added depending on the month.
Most of the shows and movies are HDR content which means that if you have a 4K TV that supports the new standard, then you can have a much-improved viewing experience.
Of course, the platform is also supported in a number of different mobile devices as well, so you really have a lot of things to choose from regarding your platform of choice.
At just $10 for the premium service, I am surprised that the company is offering quite an inexpensive solution that will help satisfy your entertainment needs.
Things to Consider When Getting any Cable TV Alternatives
I understand that you want to ditch your cable TV subscription, but you must make sure that you got all of these things first before cutting the cord entirely. Here are the things to consider when getting a cable TV alternative:
- Internet Connection- It goes without saying that you must have a fast internet connection to be able to stream content in the highest possible resolution. This is especially true if you are looking into 4K HDR content since you will need at least 15mbps connection speed for an unhindered viewing experience. For the most part, you want to aim for that threshold as a basis, though getting a faster connection works better.
- Device Support– Ideally, you want to use your TV to watch all of the shows as a much bigger screen can definitely help elevate your experience. But, you also want to go with a particular service that can support multiple devices such as a smartphone or a tablet. If you have an older TV, getting something like a Chromecast alternative makes sense as you can mirror what is on your mobile device’s screen to your TV’s display
- Package– All of the services that are mentioned in this article provide you with the best value. SlingTV is what I would consider the best because not only is it the lowest in price but the channels the company provides are better than others. You are also given the flexibility to add specific channels as well which is something that not a lot of other companies offer
- Price– Ultimately, it all comes down to price. Such services are meant to be subscribed to in the long term, so always go for a service that you think you can go with for a considerable amount of time.
Google Nest Audio vs Amazon Echo- The Battle of the New ‘Smart’ Speakers
Smart home speakers are not as popular as mobile phones, but in my opinion, it actually should be.
You see, companies are slowly rolling out smart home devices so that your life will be so much easier given the convenience of having them.
That being said, I am going to be talking about the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo speakers because they are the ones that are at the forefront when it comes to smart home speakers. Which of these should you choose? Read on to find out!
For those of you who do not know, Google Nest Audio is actually the Google Home speakers that were released just about a year ago. It seems that Google wanted to use a new moniker to denote that this particular thing can ‘nest’ your other smart home devices.
The Amazon Echo, on the other hand, refers to the medium-sized Bluetooth speaker that the largest online retailer sells. The company is set to release a new version of this device soon, so it would be interesting to see how well it performs.
Even though the new version of the Amazon Echo hasn’t arrived at our doorstep yet for an official review, this is not to say that we can somehow speculate what it can offer, especially considering that the company has provided us with some really good information about it.
With all of those out of the way, let’s talk more about the design first. The Google Nest Audio takes on a more cylindrical approach in that the speaker itself has a higher height than the Amazon Echo.
For that reason, you are getting a 75mm woofer and a single 19mm tweeter. Google touts the Google Nest Audio as a better sound solution compared to its original Google Home Speaker because of the changes.
On the other hand, the Amazon Echo, in my opinion, has better sound quality. That is thanks to its two 20mm tweeters and a huge 76.2mm woofer. Its design is more spherical but I am pleased (and surprised) that Amazon was able to include two tweeters on its Bluetooth speaker implementation.
At the base of the Amazon Echo is a blue light ring that changes the way it emits light depending on the current usage.
Both of these Bluetooth speakers are offered in various colors so you have different options to choose from.
If you look at the design of both speakers, you could make a case that the Amazon Echo wins this round when it comes to pure sound quality. Its two tweeters compared to the single tweeter on the Google Nest Audio, provides it with a much better chance of delivering mid-high sound frequencies.
This is not to discount the fact that Google has some tricks up its sleeves because its AI technology is smart enough to adjust the sound quality on the fly when needed.
Both of the speakers have an adaptive sound feature wherein if it detects that the ambient noise is loud enough, it increases the volume of whatever content you are consuming at that moment to compensate. This is using both of the speakers’ microphones. The volume should normalize to the last known level after it detects that the ambient sound has quieted down.
Of course, this is only my opinion after looking at the spec sheet because I will have to get my hands on these things before I can give my honest opinion. But, my initial assessment would be that the Amazon Echo delivers better sound compared to the Google Nest Audio.
To be able to provide you with ‘smart’ features, both the Google Nest Audio and Amazon Echo are equipped with processors that can handle just that.
The Google Nest Audio comes with the company’s TeraOPS A53 processor which is a quad-core chip that boasts of better performance compared to the company’s previous Bluetooth speakers.
On the other hand, Amazon’s own speaker is equipped with the AZ1 Neural Edge processor that, according to the company, should be more responsive to voice commands compared to previous versions.
It is hard to say who wins this round. You see, Amazon has Zigbee hub integration which means that your connected smart home devices have better compatibility with the said speaker because of this.
However, we all know that Google’s AI technology is so advanced (and even more accurate) than Alexa, so it could potentially provide you with better features overall compared to Amazon’s Bluetooth speaker.
Of course, I cannot truly say which one wins this round until I get to review these wireless audio solutions. In that case, stay tuned for more.
The Google Nest Audio will be available on October 5, while the Amazon Echo will not be released until later this month (October 22). That being said, both of these speakers will retail for $99.99, so stay tuned for our official product reviews to help you know which one you should ultimately choose for yourself.
Apple iPad 8th Generation Review- An Iterative Upgrade
When it comes to ease of use and convenience, people like getting Apple’s products because of its more streamlined approach to everything. Sure, there is a lot to tinker on Android but that is also precisely the reason why the user experience, at least for the layman, is not as great.
There is this saying that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, although I would have liked to say that here, I just don’t think that that approach applies here.
You see, the design of the 8th generation iPad is identical to its predecessor. As in everything about its aesthetics are similar which means that if you want to imagine what the new iPad looks like, all you have to do is look at the 7th gen variant.
Like all things, it can be a good thing or a bad thing. It is a good thing because that familiar design should feel right at home, especially for people that already own an iPad. It is bad because, in this day and age, more and more mobile devices have slimmer bezels and the new iPad still has those atrociously huge ones.
Don’t get me wrong, there are practical uses to having large bezels as it allows you to hold the tablet better when using it in landscape mode, but if you are watching online content, you can’t help but be bothered by the huge sides.
There are two versions of the 8th generation iPad and that is one with WiFi only and the other one having LTE. Its dimensions are 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.29. The only difference between the WiFi and the LTE versions is that the latter is a bit heavier at 495 grams compared to the 490 grams of the former.
Thankfully, Apple didn’t remove the headphone jack but if you are going to utilize its built-in speakers, you are better off using a good Bluetooth speaker instead.
The 8th generation iPad has a 10.2-inch Retina Display with a resolution of 2160 x 1620 and 264 pixels per inch or PPI. It has a good peak brightness at 500 nits, though you can still experience some problems when you are outside and the sun is shining brightly.
You can utilize the Apple Pencil on this device and it is also quite accurate as well (just keep in mind that it is sold separately).
What I love about iPads, in general, is that their displays provide you with crisp and clear details. Whether you are working on your documents or perhaps watching your favorite movies and TV shows, they do not disappoint.
Specs and Performance
- CPU: A12 Bionic
- GPU: Apple GPU (4-core graphics)
- RAM: 3GB
- Storage: 32GB/128GB
- Display: 10.2-inch Retina IPS LCD Display, 2160 x 1620, 4:3 aspect ratio, 500 nits brightness, 264 PPI
- OS: iPadOS 14
- Cameras: 8-megapixel (back), 1.2-megapixel (front)
- Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 AC, Bluetooth 4.2
- Battery: 32.4 Wh
So, if the 8th generation iPad has an identical design to its predecessor, what has changed here? Well, I am glad you asked. The only notable difference here is that the new model comes with the A12 Bionic chip and that’s pretty much it.
While you could be unhappy with the change, the new CPU actually beats its predecessor by a lot. By using Geekbench 5, single-core scores are about 60% higher than the 7th gen iPad and about 100% better in multi-core tasks than the previous model.
Granted that the said benchmark is relatively old, you couldn’t argue that the new processor is indeed way better than its predecessor.
Even when you are just using the tablet the way it should be used, you can really tell the difference. This is more evident if you are going to play some games.
Now, do not worry about the 3GB of RAM because the iOS ecosystem is quite streamlined and efficient that you normally wouldn’t need more than that.
It should also go without saying that the included cameras are just there for show and they do not really do anything special, so I don’t think that covering them is warranted here.
Sure, the new 8th generation iPad doesn’t bring a lot to the table, but its new processor is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. Does that justify buying the new one? Probably not, especially if you already own the 7th generation model.
However, if you own an older iPad and you want better performance across the board, then you could probably spend your money to get one.
My gripe here is that there are only two storage options to choose from. You can get the 32GB variant for only $329 but in this day and age, 32GB is not a lot of storage space.
If you want more storage, you will need to spend an additional $100 premium just to get the 128GB model. In fact, I would go on to say that you should be buying this particular model compared to the 32GB variant. I just don’t like that the company is gouging you another $100 ($429 in total) just to get one.
The 8th generation iPad is disappointing in a lot of ways and its only redeeming quality is its new processor. It would have been nice if there is a redesign or that the lightning cable is changed to USB-C, but there is just not a lot of things to talk about here.
Therefore, I should say that the 8th generation iPad is just an iterative upgrade. Whether you want to buy it or not is entirely up to you.
Amazon Echo Studio Review- The Bigger ‘Echo’ Speaker That Competes
Amazon, the biggest online retailer in the world, has created its own AI implementation in the form of the Amazon Alexa.
It is actually quite polished and it can go against Apple’s Siri and Google’s own AI. That being said, the company has released some ‘Echo’ speakers that not only act as Bluetooth audio devices but as smart devices as well.
Today, I am going to be reviewing the Amazon Echo Studio. Does this thing really have what it takes to compete with the others?
One of the biggest criticisms of Amazon’s Echo speakers of the past is that although its smart features are okay, their sound output leaves much to be desired. As a way of addressing the issue, Amazon has built the Echo Studio.
The Amazon Echo Studio is pretty big. It is 8 inches in height and 7 inches wide so this is indeed a pretty hefty audio solution. In fact, I would go on to say that this is one of the biggest Bluetooth speakers on the market.
Its design is pretty much akin to the Amazon Echo speakers of old. You get a fabric mesh design that encapsulates the speaker itself with all of its button controls situated at the top of the device.
You also get a blue ring light that will pretty much add to the aesthetic appeal of the unit. The microphone is also placed at the top and it is always on ‘listening mode’ so that whenever you want to interact with Alexa, it can do so at a moment’s notice.
Although you cannot see it, the Amazon Echo Studio is actually powered by a subwoofer, a tweeter, and four mid-range speakers that are mounted at the top and the sides. This thing is a beast as it can output 330 watts of power when needed, which is ample enough even for home cinema setups.
The Amazon Echo Studio is quite a powerful Bluetooth speaker. No matter what genre of content you’d like to consume, this thing can output the necessary sound to make your viewing experience more immersive.
I am usually keen on an audio solution’s performance when it comes to playing music and I am happy with the Echo Studio’s prowess.
Although it favors the lower frequencies more than the mids and the highs, it does so without drowning the latter two, which is something that you normally do not see on large Bluetooth speakers.
An interesting feature that the Amazon Echo Studio has is its support for 3D Audio. You will need to sign in to your Amazon Music HD account before you can get a hold of this feature and it is the only platform that supports the Echo Studio’s 3D Audio. Amazon did mention that it will hand out support for other streaming platforms at a later date though.
So, how is the speaker’s performance on that front? Well, I am not really sure what to think about it as I have mixed feelings about the said feature.
3D audio is meant to provide a more immersive listening experience but I can hardly tell the difference between traditional Hi-Res audio and this one.
I guess you could say that for tracks that have a more melodic tone that you can discern a 3D audio-enabled track from a regular track, but other than that, non-audiophiles can hardly tell the difference.
To be fair, the said feature is still not polished yet, so expect it to improve in the years to come.
The Amazon Echo Studio also has seamless integration with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, though it does support all other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu as well.
You are also given the option to link up another Amazon Echo Studio speaker so that you can have them work in tandem to provide you with even better sound. I do not have a second unit though, so I cannot really tell anything about this. But, the feature is there if you want to get another unit.
Aside from 3D audio, the Echo Studio also acts as a control hub for your smart devices. You can use Alexa to turn off your lights at a specific time of the night or you can have it play your favorite track if you want. The possibilities are endless.
Do keep in mind that while it should support most of the smart home devices that you can buy on the market, there are some products that do not play ball.
For instance, some smart locks can only be supported using Apple’s Siri, so you cannot control that using this device.
You can also link up a second Echo Studio speaker if you have one and you can use both of them to provide you with an even more powerful and more immersive listening experience.
You can control the speaker’s features by manually tapping on the buttons at the top of the device or by downloading its companion app.
Amazon has finally solved the issue of the Amazon Echo speakers of the past by giving you a relatively large speaker that can do a lot of things.
The Amazon Echo Studio has support for 3D audio, but you will need to have an Amazon Music HD account to get a hold of the said feature.
You can also use the speaker to control your smart home devices which is pretty nice. The microphone is always on listening mode so that you can call Alexa’s attention at a moment’s notice.
Normally, I would expect a product like this to cost more than $300, but the Amazon Echo Studio actually costs just $199. I guess getting another one is not too far out of the equation, eh?
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