This cord-cutting survival pack will free you from your cable contract
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This feature is part is Reviewed.com's Guide to Cord Cutting, where we explain everything you need to know to start living life without a cable bill.
As an increasing number of people consider canceling their cable contracts and substituting them with streaming services, plenty of platforms have arisen in place of the Verizons and Comcasts of the world.
If you've never flirted with the idea of cutting the cord, now might be the time—for many people, nixing cable is a great way to save money. But with so many gadgets, acronyms, and brand names to keep track of, it may seem daunting to leave the cable nest, spread your wings, and fly far, far away.
That's why we've put together a cord-cutter's starter kit. Within this proverbial satchel lies everything you need to kick your cable contract to the curb. Our picks for the best tools for the job have been carefully selected based on performance and value, so let's get started saving you some money.
First thing's first: If you want to cut the cord, you're gonna need a reliable streaming device. The Roku Ultra (2018 version) used to be the top-price Roku in the lineup, but as of this year it's only $69.99, and just as simple and powerful as ever.
With our past favorite—the Premiere—off the market, the Roku Ultra is the new go-to if you want a future-proof way to stream your favorite content.
There's nothing wrong with the Roku Stick or Roku Express if you want something more portable or cheap, but at $70, the 4K/HDR-capable Roku Ultra is the best choice for pairing with a newer TV (or in anticipation of an upgrade), and offers a snappy, consistent experience.
This might come as a shock to you, but there's almost no reason to throw a bunch of money at overpriced HDMI cables, despite what their packaging might promise to do for your television's picture.
We recently put a whole bunch of HDMI 2.0 cables to the test and discovered that, while some of them happen to be longer or more durable than others, all of them provide the same level of performance when it comes to your TV's picture quality.
In other words, all of the gold-plating and fancy nylon threading in the world isn't going to make your movies look any better.
That's why we recommend sticking with Amazon's own HDMI cables, which offer exactly what you need at minimal cost. This 2-pack of AmazonBasics HDMI cables is less than $10 and will perform its singular duty without lightening your wallet.
Perhaps the first thing people fret about when considering cord-cutting is the loss of their local channels. Fear not—there's an easy way to ditch cable and still enjoy local offerings like CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, and PBS.
The sleek-looking Mohu Leaf is our pick for the best indoor HD antenna thanks to its minimal design and top-notch performance. We recommend the 50-mile Leaf for most cord-cutters, since it pulls in those hard-to-reach signals with an included signal amplifier and offers more flexibility when it comes to inconspicuous living room placement.
With an HD antenna, you won't miss out on local sports, late-night TV, and the news, traffic, and weather reports that affect you.
All right, look—sooner or later, you're going to have to upgrade your TV. It's the most important fixture in your living room, and we happen to be right on the cusp of some new and exciting technology (check out our breakdown of why your next TV should support HDR, even if you don't know what "HDR" means).
Our pick for an affordable 4K TV that supports HDR is the 55-inch TCL 6 Series. Not only does TCL's 6 Series come with Roku built in, its picture is commendable for $650.
When my colleague Lee reviewed the TCL 6 Series, he was seriously impressed with the TV's sheer value, considering just how well its performance held up in our lab tests. The P Series' built-in Roku platform also provides a heck of a lot of value if you plan on using Roku after cutting the cord.
Chances are you already have a Netflix account (it's the most popular streaming platform, after all), but if you don't, you're probably going to want to sign up before you cut the cord—we consider the service an essential part of any cord-cutters toolkit.
The catalog of movies and TV shows ranges in quality from month-to-month, but the real draw here are Netflix Originals like Stranger Things, Jessica Jones, Orange is the New Black, and House of Cards. Some of these shows are even available to stream in glorious 4K resolution, so if you've got a 4K TV, you're in luck.
And let's be honest—you don't want to be the only one who misses out on the second season of Stranger Things.
If you're not ready to let go of live cable channels just yet, it might be worth considering Sling TV.
Recently, I shared my experience as a year-long Sling TV subscriber, but here's the short version: I really dig it.
Sling offers packages of cable channels (like ESPN, AMC, Comedy Central, and CNN) starting at just $20 a month. Additionally, you can opt for premium add-ons like HBO, Showtime, and Starz. There's no contract to speak of and you can cancel anytime—just like Netflix.
Sling TV is also similar to Netflix in that you're not limited to watching on your TV—the service is available for tablets, computers, and smartphones in addition to living on your streaming device.
If you want to give it a spin, Sling TV is currently offering a 7-day trial subscription for free. It might not be a good fit for your lifestyle or budget, but you won't know until you try.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.