June 15 , 2017

5 Tips to Get the Best Streaming Experience

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This is a guest post from Chris Brantner of CutCableToday.com

Streaming services have rapidly gained in popularity the last few years. They offer seemingly never-ending content for subscribers, including TV shows, movies and even streaming tons of live sports.

Unfortunately, all that content goes to waste if you have a bad streaming setup. You might think the only things you need to do are set up your Wi-Fi, subscribe to a service and begin streaming, but there’s much more you’ll want to do.

Make sure you take the right steps to ensure your setup is fine tuned for optimal streaming quality. That way you can avoid the disastrous scenario of waiting for the stream to buffer right as a huge play is breaking out while you’re streaming an NFL game. Here are five tips to help you get the best streaming experience: 

1. Determine what internet package you need

One thing that most people don’t realize is that you don’t need shockingly fast internet speeds for an ideal streaming experience. If you have one device streaming in high definition, you’ll need just 5Mbps (megabits per second) of download speed. With multiple devices, this can go up to 25Mbps.

In one case, this information can improve your streaming experience if you realize you don’t currently have fast enough internet speeds for your streaming needs. But, another benefit is you hopefully recognize there’s no need to overpay for that blazingly fast download speed, when a fraction of the cost will work just fine. This can save you some serious dough, which you can use to put toward better ways to improve the rest of your setup.

2. Pick the right internet provider 

There is no one answer to who the best internet service provider (ISP) is for everyone. The best option varies for each person and can easily change based on your location or the internet speed you decide you need. After figuring out your desired internet speed, you should shop around and compare ISPs.

Sometimes you’ll find a great offer from a competitor of your existing ISP, or you can even find a great offer that exactly meets your streaming needs. For example, some ISPs don’t offer packages with download speeds as low as 5Mbps. You might find another provider that has the lower package, which can once again save you money that you can spend elsewhere.

3. Get a good router and upgrade it regularly

Wifi in general is usually the key problem in most people’s streaming setups. A router is the key tool that will make or break your experience. This isn’t the place to skimp because even though your internet speed meets your needs, your router might not be delivering that to your devices.

You should get a solid router and make sure to upgrade it regularly. An upgrade is recommended about every two years. This could either mean you buy your own router and replace it every couple of years or just trade in the router you rent from your ISP for the latest version.

4. Set up your router correctly

Now that you have your router, you need to make sure you set it up properly. You should place the router in the center of your home. This increases the chance your Wifi will reach all of your rooms and minimize the chance of dead zones. Additionally, you should keep your router out in the open and off the floor to reduce any interference.

5. Improve your Wifi with a whole-home Wifi system

A whole-home Wifi system promises the improved Wifi experience the 21st century demands. Instead of having one access point, your purchase gets you multiple devices. You then set up each device throughout the house, which work to extend and amplify your Wifi service. This reduces any chance of dead zones. The market is new, but there are already a bunch of great options.

Whole-home systems work especially great if you have a room where you can never seem to get strong service. It can let you seamlessly stream ESPN in the basement, while someone else is binge-watching a show in the living room. Some of the most popular whole-home Wifi systems are Eero or Google Wifi.

Bonus Tip: Easily mirror your streams to your TV

AirParrot is an incredibly helpful software tool for anyone who likes to stream. This won’t impact the speed you’ll be able to download your streams, and it’ll add a ton of flexibility to your streaming experience. You just need to download AirParrot 2 on your laptop (PC or Mac). Then, you can wirelessly send whatever you’re streaming on your computer to your big screen. Stream all of your services in the Firefox or Chrome browser and you can then connect to your Apple TV or Chromecast.

Now you have all the information needed to improve your streaming setup. You’re ready for a top-notch streaming experience that’ll make all your friends jealous as they sit and watch the buffering icon.

May 26 , 2017

Cord Cutter’s Guide: How to Stream and Mirror the Indianapolis 500

It’s Memorial Day weekend, which means it’s time for family, food and (hopefully) good weather, but for some, it’s time to watch cars go around a 2.5-mile track 200 times. Coverage of the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 begins Sunday, May 28th at 11 a.m. ET on ABC.

Billed as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indianapolis 500 (also known as the Indy 500) is one of the most popular automobile races of all time. Millions of people tune in to watch the Indy 500 broadcast, while more than 250,000 people travel to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to experience it firsthand. 

Scott Dixon, Ed Carpenter, Alexander Rossi and more are ready to put the pedal to the metal and take on the 500 miles/200 laps/805km. So the question is, if they’re ready, are you?

Here are a few streaming (and mirroring) solutions to get you prepared for the big race.

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IndyCar Race Control is the best (and free!) option for cord cutters, and it gives viewers live scoring and updates throughout the day. No cable subscription required.

 

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Sling TV is one of the best ways for cord cutters to stream live TV without a cable subscription. Subscribers can choose the Broadcast Extra package ($5/mo.) on top of their Sling Orange package ($20/mo.) to have access to ABC. However, if you only want to use Sling TV for the Indy 500, you can try Sling TV free for seven days.

You can also use your Sling TV Orange account to watch the Indy 500 on WatchESPN. All you need to do is go to www.espn.com/watch and log in with your Sling TV credentials.

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One of the newest solutions for cord cutters is DirecTV NOW by AT&T. This online streaming service offers more than 60 TV channels, including ABC, for $35/mo. without a contract. You can also try it free for seven days. The service is available on most streaming devices including computers and mobile devices. 

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Good news, PlayStation owners! You can watch your favorite driver right from your gaming console. PlayStation Vue offers a large package of channels including ABC, which is what you need to watch the Indy 500. The package starts at $29.99/mo. and does not require a contract. This service is compatible with PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. Try it free!

Note: Channel availability, pricing and supported devices are subject to change and may vary by location. 

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SN Now is a live streaming service that allows viewers to watch coverage of all Verizon IndyCar series races, including the Indy 500. You can purchase this service for $24.99/mo., however, if you already subscribe to Sportsnet, SN Now is available at no additional cost.

Indy 500 viewing pro tip:

Finding ways to stream live TV is only half the battle for cord cutters. After all, nobody wants to watch the last lap of the historic Indy 500 with a roomful of people crowded around a tiny computer screen. Download AirParrot 2 on your Mac or PC to wirelessly mirror that live broadcast from your computer directly to an Apple TV or Chromecast.

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Enter http://racecontrol.indycar.com in your Chrome or Firefox browser, or log in to your Sling TV, DirecTV NOW or SN Now account to stream the event. Then open AirParrot and select your browser as the “From” option. Select your Apple TV or Chromecast as the “To” option. This will allow you to experience all the action on the big screen.

Learn more about the AirParrot 2 desktop mirroring/streaming app.

April 13 , 2017

How to stream NBA Playoffs, NHL Playoffs and MLB

This is a guest post from Chris Brantner of CutCableToday.com

Sports fans are able to enjoy multiple playoffs and a fresh new baseball season in April. It wasn’t long ago that fans were forced to have cable to watch their favorite sports. These days, the exact opposite is true. With the right streaming services, you’ll be able to watch your favorite sports and won’t be subjected to another unnecessary, overpriced cable bill. 

Beyond the Masters tournament, the three big sporting events of April are the return of Major League Baseball, the NHL playoffs and the NBA playoffs. If you’re a cord cutter, you can watch these events with the various streaming services outlined below.

Major League Baseball is underway

Baseball starts around the country in April. Everyone that loves baseball is hopeful for their team and ready to see them play some ball. If you’re ready to watch your favorite teams but don’t have cable, there are plenty of options to do it.

DIRECTV NOW: With DIRECTV NOW, packages start at $35 and include a minimum of 60 channels. You’ll have access to some local channels, regional FOX Sports Channels, FS1, TBS, MLB Network and multiple ESPN channels. In short, you have just about everything you could need to watch baseball. Most streaming devices work with DIRECTV NOW, though Roku is not yet supported. A free, one-week trial to check out the service is available!

Sling TV: Sling TV’s $25/month package offers more than 40 channels. You’ll have ESPN, TBS, FS1, FS2, FOX (in select markets) and many other channels. ESPN and TBS both regularly air games, so that’s a definite plus. FS1 and FOX also air plenty of games throughout the year. You can stream Sling TV on a wide variety of devices, including Xbox One and mobile devices. Like other streaming services, a one-week trial is available.

PlayStation Vue: PS Vue packages start at $30/month and include at least 45 channels. They offer a variety of ESPN channels, TBS, FOX (in select cities) and FS1. Plenty of other channels are included, as is the ability to add additional sports channels. Vue works on Roku, iOS, Chromecast and other devices. A five-day trial is available.

fuboTV: With fuboTV, the basic package is $35/month. One of the cool features here is the cloud-based DVR that will allow you to record games! Channels included are FS1 and FS2, NBCSN, regional FOX Sports and CSN channels, and numerous other channels. You receive a seven-day free trial at the start of your membership.

The NHL Playoffs run two months

It’s finally time for the Stanley Cup playoffs. If you’re a sports fan, you shouldn’t have to miss a minute of the action. Here are some of the best ways to stream the playoffs.

DIRECTV NOW: If you order the “Just Right” package for $50/month, you’ll have access to NBC (in select markets), CNBC, NBCSN and USA. These are four must-have networks when watching the Stanley Cup playoffs. If you upgrade to the “Go Big” package, you’ll also have access to NHL Network!

Sling TV: Choose Sling TV Blue ($25/month) to watch NBCSN, USA and NBC (select markets or on-demand). You can also add the Sports Extra bundle to add NHL Network and several other sports channels. 

PS Vue: It’s just $30 to get NBC (select areas), NBCSN, CNBC and USA. On the downside, PlayStation doesn’t offer NHL Network. On the plus side, it does have a cloud-based DVR so you can record the games you aren’t home to watch. Also keep in mind, you can use your Vue credentials to log into the NBC Sports app which will get you a stream of the NBC matchups.

fuboTV: fuboTV also has the cloud-based DVR offering, and it offers the four main channels you’ll need to watch the playoffs (NBC, CNBC, USA and NBCSN). Like Vue, you won’t have access to NHL Network here, but the four networks mentioned will allow you to stream most games. fuboTV costs $35/month after the free trial.

NBA Playoffs are about to begin

March Madness has ended, and now it’s time for the NBA playoffs. There are a few ways that you can watch basketball online. Keep in mind, the NBA Playoffs will go through June.

DIRECTV NOW: The starter package that is $35/month offers ESPN, ESPN2, TNT and some local channels like ABC in select areas. If you want NBA TV, that’s available in other packages. You can stream the content using many devices, but Roku access is unavailable. Make sure to sign up for the free trial to watch some basketball for free. 

Sling TV: All you need this time around is the $20 basic channel. This will give you access to ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3. Having ESPN3 gives you online access to the ABC games. You’ll also have TNT. If you want NBA TV and ESPNews, you can add them in the sports package an additional $5.

PlayStation Vue: Vue has access to all the channels that you need to watch every NBA game this season. Packages start at $30/month and you’ll have a cloud-based DVR so you can record the games you would otherwise miss.

As you can see, barring a few exceptions, most of these streaming services allow you to watch all the best sports action not only this April, but all year long!AirParrot-2-grey.pngPro Tip: How to mirror the stream to Apple TV or Chromecast
Download AirParrot 2 on your Mac or PC if you are watching the game on your computer. AirParrot will allow you to wirelessly mirror the live broadcast from your computer directly to an Apple TV or Chromecast. 

Use your Sling TV, DirecTV NOW, PlayStation Vue or fuboTV account in the Chrome or Firefox browser to stream the event. Then open the AirParrot software and select your browser as the “From” option. Select your Apple TV or Chromecast as the “To” option. This will allow you to experience all the action on the big screen. 

The image below was taken from the AirParrot menu and shows you how to do this. You simply select your browser or application, then select where to send it. 

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Learn more about the AirParrot 2 desktop mirroring/streaming app.

 

April 6 , 2017

Cord Cutter’s Guide: How to Stream and Mirror the 2017 Masters For Easy Viewing

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Early April signals one thing for golf fans around the world – the Masters. It’s the Super Bowl of golf.  

This tournament is one of four major championships in professional golf and is played annually at the Augusta National Golf Club. Only the best of the best get to play on this historical course, including Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler.

How to watch the Masters without cable 

Let’s be honest, our lives are busy and you won’t be able to catch every Masters shot on TV, or maybe you don't have cable to begin with. Here’s how you can stream the tournament for free online and feel like you’re on the green at Augusta National.

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Masters.com will allow viewers to see live feeds in 4K from the range, practice facilities, Amen Corner (holes 11, 12 and 13), the 15th and 16th hole and several featured groups. It’s completely free and no account is required. Coverage will start on Monday, April 3, and conclude on Sunday, April 9.

Below is the full live streaming schedule on Masters.com.

Thursday, April 6

Honorary starters: 7:45 –  8:30 a.m.
On the range: 8:30 – 11 a.m.
Featured groups: 9:15 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Amen Corner: 10:45 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Holes 15 and 16: 11:45 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Broadcast: 3 – 7:30 p.m.

Friday, April 7

On the range: 8:30 – 11 a.m.
Featured groups: 9:15 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Amen Corner: 10:45 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Holes 15 and 16: 11:45 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Broadcast: 3 – 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 8

Featured groups: 10:15 a.m. – 7 p.m.
On the range: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Amen Corner: 11:45 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Holes 15 and 16: 12:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Broadcast: 3 – 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 9

Featured groups: 10:15 a.m. – 7 p.m.
On the range: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Amen Corner: 11:45 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Holes 15 and 16: 12:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Broadcast: 3 – 7:30 p.m.
Green jacket ceremony: 7 p.m. 

Masters viewing pro tip:

Nobody wants to watch the final putt of the 18th hole around a tiny computer screen. Download AirParrot 2 on your Mac or PC to wirelessly mirror that live broadcast from your computer directly to an Apple TV or Chromecast.

Enter Masters.com in the Chrome or Firefox browser to stream the event. Then open AirParrot on your computer and select your browser as the “From” option. Select your Apple TV or Chromecast as the “To” option. This will wirelessly present the Masters from yoru computer to your TV and allow you to experience all the action on the big screen. 

The image below was taken from the AirParrot menu and shows you how to do this. You simply select your browser or application. Then select where to send it.

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Learn more about the AirParrot 2 desktop mirroring/streaming app.

March 6 , 2017

The Top Live Streaming Service for Cord Cutters

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Before most people cut the cord, they spend their time worrying how they’re going to live without their favorite cable channels. However, the truth is that there are more ways than ever to live stream cable channels without actually having a cable contract. With that in mind, here are some of the best live streaming options that are currently available. 

Sling TV: Sling TV is known for being the oldest live streaming service on the market. It costs the least, starting at $20 for more than 30 channels, and it specializes in the skinny bundle. The skinny bundle is a small number of popular channels with less filler channels and a lower price than cable.

Sling TV also offers small add-on bundles that give you a chance to personalize your package. Most bundles are $5/month and include options for kids programming, sports, news, lifestyle and other topics. Sling TV works on most streaming devices including some smart TVs, gaming consoles and more traditional options like Roku and Chromecast.

Channel options vary based on the package you choose. However, popular channel options include AMC, A&E, ESPN, CNN, Lifetime, TNT and TBS. Through package add-ons, you can also add channels like TLC, USA, HBO and even some local channels. Learn more in this complete Sling TV overview.

PlayStation Vue: PlayStation Vue came out after Sling TV but did not offer nationwide service until the beginning of 2016. The service offers four packages ranging from the Access Slim ($45/month) with over 45 channels to the Ultra Slim ($64.99/month) with over 90 channels (including HBO, Showtime and other premium content).

PlayStation Vue offers a solid interface. It’s easy to find your favorite channels and your favorite shows. They are also one of the few services to currently offer a cloud-based DVR, so you can record events like the NBA All-Star Weekend festivities to ensure that you don’t miss a thing. 

PlayStation Vue is also one of the only streaming services to include mobile restrictions. You can watch Vue on Chromecast, mobile devices, Amazon Fire TV and Roku, but when you sign up you’re tied to your home location. From that point, it can prove difficult at times to watch shows away from home.

As for channels, Vue has a lot of the same offerings as Sling, but they also offer FOX News and some local channels either on-demand or in live stream depending on location. However, Vue did recently lose Viacom channels.

DIRECTV NOW: Owned by cable giant AT&T, DIRECTV NOW is one of the newest names in live streaming. Packages start at $35 a month and go up in size and price to $70/month. As this service comes from a cable company, it’s probably going to be reminiscent of most cable packages. The packages here are large with tons of channels, the guide is what you’d expect if you had cable and it provides an overall pleasing experience. The package may cost a little more, but they make up for it by offering HBO for $5.

Each package includes everything from the prior package plus additional channels. The list of available networks includes AMC, Lifetime, Syfy, ESPN, FS1, FOX News, MSNBC, USA and tons of other channels. HBO and Cinemax are the only add-on options, but they are the cheapest in the streaming world at $5/month per channel. You can watch DIRECTV NOW on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and mobile devices. For a full look at DIRECTV NOW, check out this overview.

fuboTV: fuboTV is a good choice for any huge sports fan. The service just expanded offering a full cord-cutting solution with packages starting at $34.99 a month. It’s a great service for soccer fans (you get the entire FOX Soccer Plus platform), local sports, European soccer leagues, golf, MLB, NBA… you name it.

As for regular entertainment channels, you’ll have access to channels like FX, USA, FOX News, Lifetime, Viceland, MSNBC, Oxygen and a wide variety of other channels.

Like PlayStation Vue, fuboTV has a cloud-based DVR, so whether you’re watching sports or TV, you can record what you might have otherwise missed. fuboTV is a great way to watch those games that you were unable watch with the other services.

Other services will be out this year, and you can expect the market to continue to fill with choices in both the live and on-demand streaming circles. For now, these are your choices and all of them are worthwhile considerations given that they are much cheaper than cable. These services truly do offer all the substance with less of the fluff.

Happy streaming!

The Top Live Streamng Service For Cord Cutters is a guest post from Chris Brantner of CutCableToday.com

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