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We were living in Queens, New York in a quiet, tree-lined residential neighborhood when we decided to move. Our commute into Manhattan was just too long, too arduous. Packing everything up into boxes and downsizing from a four-bedroom home to a one-bedroom apartment wasn’t easy, but living in Manhattan requires major sacrifice.
When we finally moved, which happened around Christmas, there was just so much up in the air—getting cable just wasn’t on our list of to-dos. In fact, it took us two weeks to figure out which service we’d go with, which service worked with our building’s wirings, or when we would even be home to let the cable guy in.
Fortunately, we weren't completely cut off from the world, our neighbor kindly let us use their WiFi until we got out stuff together. This is the horrifying tale of how we lived without cable.
First up: we bought an Apple TV, which would arguably be the best decision we made. Apple TV ran us about $100—which is, by the way, entirely worth it. Apple TV is pretty much a cable cutters perfect product.
Apple TV comes packed with pretty much every streaming app you could ever need, allowing you to watch tons of content that doesn’t require cable. You can watch live news from some apps, view a bunch of subscription-less content on many others and simply watch free stuff on services like Crackle, which offers tons of series episodes and movies.
From our Macbooks, we enabled AirPlay for almost everything. If we wanted to watch a movie on our big TV, we’d simply AirPlay it from our laptops—which takes all but three seconds by clicking the AirPlay icon at the top right of your computer screen.
While we found the various Apple devices perfectly suited to our needs, if you are not part of the iOS eco-system there are plenty of alternative devices to choose from. The multiple Roku products are well-regarded and are compatible with many of the same services available on Apple TV. Similarly, the Amazon Fire TV line is a simple way to get started with cable-free viewing. Finally, so long as you don't mind using your smartphone as a remote, the Google Chromecast is one of the cheapest options around.
Combining Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime’s video selections, which ran us about $30 per month, we were able to watch pretty much everything and anything. By not having to flip through hundreds of (usually pretty boring or unwatchable) television stations, we were able to curate our watching habits: beautiful films, documentaries, favorite TV shows, and more.
In addition to those streaming services, YouTube allows you to purchase or rent movies you perhaps wouldn’t find anywhere else for low prices. Most rentals cost between $2.99 and $3.99, while purchases start at $9.99. You can AirPlay these onto your TV or you can watch them through your YouTube App.
We’re millennials, which means we were brought up to stream movies, but we also lived in the era of real, live DVDs. Our collection of DVDs is pretty impressive, so we needed some way to watch them. Of course DVD and Blu-Ray players are a dime a dozen these days, but what if you want something a little more multifunctional?
Both the Xbox One and Playstation 4 are capable of playing DVDs and Blu-Ray discs not to mention some truly awesome games. As an added bonus both the Xbox and PS4 have native Netflix and Amazon Instant Video apps, among others.
One of the cooler things we did was listen to audiobooks, something we actually hadn’t done before. We turned off all the lights, sat down on the couch, and picked our favorites. Audible is $14.95 per month and provides access to thousands of amazing books.
It’s not currently compatible with Apple TV directly. However, you can download the e-book files to your computer, phone or iPad—and once again, you can AirPlay it from your TV or simply sit down and listen with headphones on.
It's safe to say that we are in the middle of the golden age of podcasts, so regardless of your interests you're almost guaranteed to find something that suits your taste. With topics ranging from science to comedy to true-crime and everything in-between, podcasts are arguably one of the most exciting new mediums to explore.
You can of course listen to podcasts on your smartphone or computer, but if you want to have a more communal listening experience just switch on your Apple TV. We used the Podcasts app on Apple TV to listen to amazing podcasts—from humorous ones to educational ones. Podcasts offer a refreshing way to engage your mind, listen to something in the background and stay entertained.