COVID-19: Curb the boredom

March 20, 2020

Many people are spending much more time at home to avoid spreading COVID-19. We may be able to work from home and learn from home, but at the end of the day, we need a little entertainment in our lives. Streaming video is a popular pastime, and here is a guide to popular devices and services:

Popular Streaming Devices

Roku

Many devices that allow TVs to connect to online streaming services are sold by companies that also offer TV content. As a result, not all services are available on every device. If that’s a consideration, consider a Roku, which can generally connect to all content providers. Rokus typically range in price from $30 to $99.

Apple TV

Prices for an Apple TV device range from $149 to $199, with the more expensive options having more storage capacity and the ability to play 4K video. The device will connect to most streaming services, and currently the purchase of a new Apple TV comes with a one-year subscription to the Apple TV+ streaming service.

Amazon Fire TV Cube or Fire Stick

Amazon’s Fire streaming devices cost from about $30 to nearly $200, based on capacity and the ability to offer 4K content. Look for frequent sales to find a bargain. The interface is clean and useful. Fans of Amazon Prime can have easy access to that service’s streaming options. While most competitors’ services may be available, that has changed from time to time.

Google Chromecast

Google offers its twist on the streaming boxes with a small, hockey-puck-shaped device that allows content to be “cast” from a computer, tablet or phone to the television. Most streaming services are supported, and viewers with a Google Home smart speaker can control programming with voice commands.

Popular streaming options

Netflix

Pros: Netflix is the gold standard for streaming services. It has a ton of original content to keep you entertained forever.

Cons: Netflix is losing some of its most popular content to other streaming services, including “Friends,” “The Office,” and “Parks and Recreation.”

Notable exclusives: “Stranger Things,” “Black Mirror” and “Seinfeld.”

Purchase options:

  • Basic ($8.99/month) — One screen at a time, standard definition.
  • Standard ($12.99/month) — Two screens at a time, high definition.
  • Premium (15.99/month) — Four screens at a time, HD and 4K ultra-HD.

Hulu

Pros: Hulu is one of only a few streaming services with a live TV option that can serve as a substitute for a cable subscription, and it includes a large library of content.

Cons: Some of the more popular shows out there are already exclusive to other streaming services.

Notable exclusives: “The Handmaids Tale,” “Family Guy” and all FX content.

Purchase options:

  • $5.99/month with ads.
  • $11.99/month with no ads.
  • $12.99/month bundle with Disney Plus and ESPN Plus.

Disney+

Pros: Disney Plus has an entire library of Disney content, from the most popular blockbusters to your favorite Disney Channel show from the ’90s.

Cons: If you are not a fan of typical Disney content, there’s not as much for you here.

Notable exclusives: Marvel, “Star Wars,” “Simpsons” and any Disney movie you can think of.

Purchase options:

  • $6.99/month.
  • $69.99/year.
  • $12.99/month bundle with Hulu and ESPN Plus.

Free streaming

With the market saturated with pay subscriptions, new streaming services are offering programming for free to set them apart from the others. Some of the best free services include:

Hoopla

Pros: Hoopla has more than 9,000 titles of movies or TV shows and is a great choice for critically acclaimed dramas, classics and family movies.

Cons: You will need a library card from a participating library to access it. It is not a good choice for new releases.

Notable movies: “City of God,” “Memento” and “Good Will Hunting.”

Notable TV shows: “Planet Earth,” “Rick and Morty” and “The Vietnam War.”

Available on: Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV Stick, Roku.

Kanopy

Pros: Kanopy is a great option for movies, especially Oscar nominees, foreign and indie films, documentaries, and educational courses.

Cons: It also requires a library card to access programming.

Notable movies: “Lady Bird,” “Moonlight” and “First Reformed.”

Available on: Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV Stick, Roku.

Tubi

Pros: With more than 15,000 titles in its database, Tubi has the largest selection of any free streaming service. It is a great option for comedy, action, anime, horror and action films.

Cons: Not a good option for those looking for new releases or classics.

Notable movies: “New Jack City,” “Spotlight” and “Kill Bill.”

Notable TV shows: “Cowboy Bebop,” “The Beatles Anthology” and “Mr. Bean.”

Available on: Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV Stick, PlayStation 4, Roku, Xbox One.

Pluto TV

Pros: Unlike many of the streaming services with on-demand options and movies, Pluto TV is primarily focused on live programming with hundreds of live TV shows. It’s an excellent source for news coverage and sports.

Cons: While Pluto TV does have a fair number of on-demand movies, it is not a good option for action or comedy movies.

Notable programming: “The King of New York,” “Election” and “Big Fish.”

Available on: Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV Stick, Roku.

Let us know if your household needs an internet plan upgrade due to the increased demands of streaming, working from home, and taking online classes. We understand how vital internet service is during these challenging times. Yes, I want an internet or WiFi upgrade.

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