Smart TVs, over-the-top devices, and streaming services—how do you decide?

When it comes to improving the TV experience for you or a loved one, there’s no shortage of options. Traditional cable companies offer bundles of live channels, but so do subscription services like Sling TV and YouTube TV. Many channels and networks also make their content available on demand. And, of course, there are services like Netflix and Hulu that offer enormous libraries of TV shows and movies.

Not sure where to start? We’ve put together some examples of common scenarios.

Keep an existing cable or satellite subscription, but upgrade to a smart TV

If you want to keep an existing TV service, but also enjoy TheirCare and other smart TV features, buying a TV powered by Android or Amazon Fire is the easiest way to get the best of both worlds.

Pros

  • Ease of use: no need to learn a new set of channels, just plug in the existing cable connection
  • Added smart TV features: access to on-demand content and apps

Cons

  • Price and size: currently, these smart TVs are expensive and not available in small form factors

Note that TheirCare is only supported by smart TVs with Amazon Fire and Android built in. Other systems (like Roku) are similar, but they won't work with TheirCare. Click here for a full list of TVs and devices that support TheirCare.

Get an over-the-top device and take advantage of streaming video and free broadcast channels

Homes located in or near a large city can receive broadcast channels like ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS with an over-the-air antenna. Coupled with streaming apps like Netflix or Amazon Prime, it’s possible to assemble a large menu of content for a significantly lower cost than a cable subscription.

Pros

  • Price: over-the-top devices are affordable, and it’s hard to beat free channels
  • Value: only pay for the streaming services you use

Cons

  • Range: in rural areas, it’s often impossible to receive over-the-air channels without a long-range antenna
  • Selection: popular channels like ESPN, Fox News, and MSNBC are not available over the air

Get an over-the-top device and replace a cable subscription with an Internet TV service

Services like Sling TV and YouTube TV make live cable channels available over the Internet. These services cost less than a traditional cable subscription but include many of the same channels.

Pros

  • Price: online TV services cost less than a cable subscription
  • Selection: most popular cable channels are available

Cons

  • Availability: local channels are only available in certain areas