Find out which of the dozens of available streaming services has what you want
Jared Norman | Apr 5, 2013
Our definition of television has changed dramatically over the last few years. It wasn’t long ago that people had to get their media through a cable or satellite box. If you wanted to watch a movie back in those primitive days you would actually have to go to the store and buy a DVD. Thanks to high speed internet we can now stream movies and TV from the cloud onto all sorts of devices from phones, to computers (and yes even on your TV).
Many new HDTVs will support an internet connection and allow you to access some of the streaming services out there, but you can access virtually all of them from your computer. If you don’t have a TV that supports your chosen streaming or download, there are many inexpensive adapters that will let you watch content from your computer on your TV.
Now that video streaming has proven its popularity, there have been dozens of online streaming services all competing for your attention. We’ve decided to take a closer look at some of the more popular ones to see how they compare.
iTunes: For the Apple Enthusiast
Like most of Apple’s products, you either love iTunes or you hate it. Because of this iTunes is targeted specifically to Apple users. iTunes videos will work in iTunes or on Apple devices, and nothing else. The new Apple TV is a box that allows you to access the Apple store on your TV. The downside is that it’s $99.00.
This is one of those times when a simple adapters to connect your TV to your computer would be a less expensive solution. The good part is you wouldn’t even need to sacrifice video quality, since some adapters will give you full 1080p HD. With the addition of the iCloud users can now stream purchased content without downloading. And, if you choose to download a video, it is easy to transfer that video from device to device. Overall, iTunes is a pretty good option for TV show rentals, but it’s still worth it to explore other options.
Devices Supported: iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV, PC/Mac
Price: $0.99 for TV show rentals, movie rentals start at $2.99
Selection: iTunes has a good selection for purchase; rentals are updated slower than some other providers
Vudu: For the Videophile
Vudu began its life back in 2008 as a box offering HD movies delivered via the internet. Now they got rid of their hardware and license their service to other devices. Recently Vudu began streaming 3D content. They also have some new movies out sooner than other streaming services. Vudu has the highest quality videos of any streaming service, but it can also get very expensive.
Devices Supported: Android, iPad, Roku, HDTV/Blu-ray, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC/Mac
Price:$2 for 2 days on select titles, other titles start at $4.99 for HD and $5.99 for HDX (featuring 1080p HD) and usually last for 24 hours
Selection: They have several thousand selections, and most titles are available the same day the DVD comes out in stores
Amazon Instant Video: The Nice Afterthought
Amazon started selling digital media using a download service, they have since switched to a Amazon Instant Video and gone away from downloaded content in favor of streaming. You can sign up for Amazon Prime, which allows you access to some content for free (other than your yearly subscription).
This service has the added benefit of free shipping on much of the products available through Amazon. Purchases are stored on your amazon account and can be accessed on other devices. Device support is somewhat limited, but it is still a good deal, especially if you frequently shop online for other products.
Devices Supported: Kindle Fire, iPad, Nook, Roku, HDTV/Blu-ray, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, WiiU, PC/Mac, and more
Price: $79 yearly subscription for Amazon prime, TV shows start at $1.39 to rent and $1.99 to own, new movies start at $3.99 to rent and $14.99 to own
Selection: They have a fair number of older shows and movies, there is also a good selection of BBC programs. While they have some new movies available to Amazon Prime members, most of them require you to pay for them
Hulu Plus: For the TV Show Junkie
Hulu plus began as a TV series streaming site. Hulu Plus allows you to watch most content commercial-free. While not the best platform for movies, Hulu Plus does offer the greatest number of TV series, especially current episodes. Hulu also has a free service for streaming new episodes of hit TV shows. The downside is that it’s only available on your computer. This is another instance where a PC to TV PC to TV adapter would be beneficial.
Devices Supported: Android, iPhone, iPad, Roku, Apple TV, HDTV/Blu-ray, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, WiiU, PC/Mac
Price: $7.99 monthly subscription
Selection: The best selection of TV shows of any provider. Hulu Plus is an especially good choice for those wanting the most current episodes of hit TV series
Netflix:Get a Little Bit of Everything
Netflix came onto the scene over 10 years ago and completely revolutionized video rentals. Netflix has one of the largest streaming content libraries and has millions of subscribers, making Netflix one of the biggest video streaming services out there. HD quality isn’t as high as some providers, but the cheap subscription, huge selection, and availability on almost any device makes Netflix a must-have for any movie or TV lover.
Devices Supported: Android, iPhone, iPad, Nook, Roku, HDTV/Blu-ray, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, WiiU, PC/Mac, and more (really pretty much anything)
Price: $7.99 monthly subscription
Selection: With a large selection of TV shows and a positively gargantuan selection of movies, Netflix has the best overall video selection out there
There are even more services out there for you to choose from, but this list shows the most popular and should give you a good start. You can also check out this diagram to see more services and how the stack up. Whichever service you choose you can use Sewell's line of different adapters so that you can watch your favorite shows on the big screen.