Five Internet TV cable cutting considerations

I cut the television cable once and for all six months ago. Here's what I've found that's important along the way.

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I've been watching video over the Internet since its first days. And, I've been pushing that video from the net to televisions for almost as long. It wasn't until late year though that I finally cut my cable and went to just watching television over the Internet and with a little bit of over-the-air (OTA) for good measure. If you're considering cutting the cable or satellite cord too, here are some things you should know. 1.You must have sufficient bandwidth. To watch TV over the Internet, you need at least a 3Mbps DSL Internet connection. I've tried it at slower rates, and you really don't want to go there. Most of Internet TV's accessories are pure-streaming devices. If there's much more than a second or two of lag on your Internet connection, you're going to see the latest episode of Community stutter across the screen. Personally, I recommend using at least a 10Mbps connection. I'm currently running with a 100Mbps cable connection and it works well all the way up to 1080p HDTV. On the other hand, I've yet to find any combination of sites, content delivery networks (CDN)s and broadband that can 1080p. 720p, yes, 1080p, no. 2. Use 802.11n or an Ethernet connection to bring that bandwidth to your TV. Your connection to your device is only as good as your slowest link. You can have a 150Mbps FiOS connection to your house, but if use vanilla 802.11g only 54Mbps of that is going to get to your TV. Eventually, you'll want an 802.11ac connection, but until the day these become common, a hardwire Ethernet connection or a properly tuned 802.11n connection are your best choices 3. A Blu-Ray DVD player may be your best device choice. You have lots of choices when it comes to bringing your Internet video to your TV. Currently, I use an Apple TV, a Roku 2 XD, and a pair of Sony HD DVD player that come with streaming baked in. Each have their pluses and minuses, but unless, like me, you like playing with electronics, you'll be better off just buying just one device that supports the online video services you want and that's almost going certainly going to be a middle-to-high end Blu-Ray DVD player. 4. You won't be able to watch everything you want If you want the widest variety of entertainment choices, cable or satellite is still what you want. Some networks, like CBS, make relatively little of their content available to IPTV watchers. If you like watching recent top movies, earlier this year, my colleague, Tristan Louis, found that out of 2011's top 100 movies, 74 of them were available in early January 2012 on DVD while only most of the video-streaming networks-Amazon, iTunes, and Vudu-only had about 45 of them. Netflix, with its all-you-can watch for one price streaming plan, only had five. In particular, sports are weak. ESPN3 is decent for soccer and college sports. MLB.TV is, as you would expect, great for baseball. But other than that, your choices aren't that good. In particular, if you like the National Football League, forget about it. The SuperBowl, which was steamed for the first time this year, was a disaster. If you needed any more proof that sports, the big media companies and the Internet still aren't on the same page, just consider that NBC won't let you stream any of the London Olympics unless you're a subscriber to one of the approved cable or satelite TV providers . 5. In the short run, your viewing choices may become poorer As the Olynpics mess showes, the big media companies still don't know what to do about the Internet. They haven't been adapting their business models to the 21st century and so we end up with rumors that Hulu won't let you watch its shows unless you can show that you're already a cable or satellite customer. I asked Hulu about that early last week... and they never got back to me on it. Way to inspire confidence guys! Eventually, the content providers are going to wake up to the fact that they can either let us stream TV shows and movies a la carte or people will just keep pirating them via BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer (P2P) networks. The customer demand is there. It's now up to the companies to provide the shows we want for our video devices. Eventually, they'll get the clue as it becomes ever more clear that they can't mass sue their way our of their piracy worries..

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