I use an Amazon FireTV with my cord cutting setup. It works well as I mostly watch Netflix and Amazon Videos. I also use Plex to watch content off of my home server.
What doesn’t work well is integration with Google play/apps (except YouTube). I have a Play Music subscription but haven’t been able to use it on the FireTV. I also don’t buy any video content from Google because it won’t play through the FireTV.
I don’t have Netflix or Hulu, but do have a Prime Account. I got rid of my cables several years back and have been using an antenna for OTA channels. Lately I discovered Kodi and have been using it on my Windows 10 HTPC. It’s pretty great because you can pretty much stream from just about all the OTA channels through their add-ons.
I’ve got a Chromecast that we’ve only used a little bit - we were already pretty well set for netflix access everywhere we want.
But I also use an OTA antenna combined with HD Homerun gizmo to get live tv access streamed to the whole house network. I use NextPVR for recording and a little live viewing, but mostly play back recordings with VLC. The televisions all have direct antenna access too. We lost most access to the local Fox station over a year ago, I’ve not got that sorted out, but haven’t missed it much. The stations we do get are super high quality as others report. That was a problem for a little while - it would swamp my wifi network, killing just about everything, not just the HD homerun stream. I switched to powerline networking, and it’s all been pretty stable since then.
We don’t subscribe to much - netflix for a long time, and occasional brief subscriptions to prime and hbo. We use our local library a lot for DVDs too.
This is what we did in chronological order. Note that I work from home and thus high speed and reliable internet service is required.
Tried to use a Verizon Wireless modem with a grandfathered unlimited SIM but service wasn’t good enough for whole house stuff. Then started consulting which required good internet. Which leads me to:
Dropped everything but internet (100/45 at $65 per month)
Took advantage of a sling offer for three months prepaid for a free Roku. Then got the T-Mobile 13.99 rate.
Took advantage of prepaying for three months of Directv streaming with a free Apple tv. Used that for a couple weeks while leaving Sling active. It sucked.
Moved to PS Vue when the app came to Apple tv and haven’t looked back.
Bought a HD antenna but never installed it.
The Directv deal, even with bad service, was worth it at the time. $150 Apple tv for $100.
Sling is good, especially with the cheap rate, but it lacks the package options that other services offer.
PSvue had the most platform agnostic footprint at the time. Mobile, numerous streaming devices make for attractive offerings.
We upgrade and downgrade the package based on time of year. Baseball season means we pay 55 bucks a month to get YES for Yankees games. When HBO shows are on, we upgrade so it’s all one login, then downgrade when the show is over.
If I had to do it all over again, I’d have went with PS Vue to begin with, still doing the Directv deal for the fee Apple tv but not the sling deal for the free Roku. Roku is only good for Amazon video, which we do watch some Amazon shows but rumor is that’s coming to Apple tv. Note I’m not a die hard Apple fan ether. I’m typing this on a Note8.
Hope this helps!
ETA: we have Amazon prime, as implied, and also Netflix which is now free with T-Mobile. We tried Hulu but didn’t see the value. We rent movies thru Apple tv via discounted Apple gift cards.
Plex has two components, a server that runs on a computer which has all your media on it and the client. In this setup the client is on Roku, but you can also get it for Android and fire tablets, iOS.
The biggest hurdle to Plex is getting your video downloaded. That’s a moral and possibly legal sorespot for some.
Plex handles the show and movie art and synopsis, groups by season etc automatically. You sit down with your Roku remote and launch Plex and browse automatically sorted and categorized beautiful looking lists of your files. Pressing play causes video to play in 2 seconds or so.
Kodi is harder on the setup side. It isn’t really hard but it is so different than the way you naturally load apps now it will take maybe an hour the first time you set it up or update it.
Media is as easy to find as a quick search BUT you need to have good kodi plugins installed. These plugins loosely mirror websites that aggregate content hosted on servers around the world. The list of servers each plugins uses isn’t updated or maintained particularly well. Also everything on kodi streams. So you’re at the mercy of your ISP and the hosting site as well.
Kodi plugins have episode guides and cover art and handle that automatically as well. My personal preference with Kodi is a keyboard and track pad, it could be tough with a remote only.
I can’t actually figure out how kodi even exists. There are no ads, these sites that host the content stream tens of thousand of times a day … This results in broken links and bad streams that stutter and such. After a few tries you’ll usually find a working link. But for things less popular you could be out of luck.
Kodi is also tough to find hd streams of anything but the most popular stuff. Plex is only limited by your source material, so if you rip your own hd content or download it you can play at native hd up to whatever your wifi network will facilitate.
Lurked on FW for years without creating an account. Created one here to comment.
Xbox One/PS4 for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. If you already have one of these consoles that will most likely be your best and cheapest option. The apps work fine for this.
Most recently my matx HTPC has turned into a server. It does run Plex Media Server but that isn’t used that often.
I set up a Raspberry Pi 3 with OSMC Linux as a dedicated Kodi box. Cost was about $42 for everything I needed and it wasn’t too difficult. This also runs the Plex addon within Kodi if I need to use it for some reason.
Future setup(after I purchase and move into a house) will see more use of Plex as I plan to purchase one or more tvs and Amazon FireTV Sticks to use in other rooms.
Currently everything in the living room is controlled with a Logitech Harmony Hub and Simple Remote. This includes both the Xbox and PS4. This actually took longer to set up than the Raspberry.
tldr: If you are just streaming and already own a current gen console just use that and not spend any extra money. Your best other option if you prefer Kodi and/or Plex is to do it yourself with Raspberry, much more support than the million random Kodi Android boxes floating around.
The biggest difference is that my 2 year old can use Plex with a Roku remote. Or on her Android tablet. Also helps when you have people over, “go to Plex” is easier to explain.
Agree Kodi can do what Plex does but Kodi isn’t available on Roku and probably never will be. I also like the Roku plugins for most major networks, Hulu, Netflix etc. More than watching in a browser. My previous setup was a full windows 10 device with keyboard and track pad. Worked really well but when the babysitter came over it was impossible to explain how to get anything working.
I generally agree with two caveats:
(1) I ran the numbers with my Xbox 360 vs. a FireTV, and the Xbox uses so much power, that the FireTV would pay for itself in a year based on just reduced power consumption. At the time, there was a nice deal on FireTV’s and the 360 my have higher power consumption than the One, so this math may not work out that way anymore.
(2) Xbox has a Plex app, so even if you go with the Plex route, you still don’t need anything additional for your TV if you already have an Xbox.