From April 2017/Updated January 2022
I’m going to look at 4 streaming services currently these are my favorite 4 streaming services. There are some significant differences between each service. There are other options available in one form or another that may require channel bundling to get lower prices on some of the packages available. I have specifically chosen stand-alone tv package services, these providers may have other content available to add to their packages or services. In the end, the requirement to make this list is they must be available as a stand-alone tv service. Start and stop at any time, no contracts, and no commitments of any kind.
Over the last three years, I have bounced back and forth between Sony’s Playstation Vue, and Sling TV. Over the last year and a half I have also used Directv Now and Philo extensively, each of these services fills a need. I’m going to list a link to the channels available for each service, and will also add the link for the bandwidth requirements each service requires. Most services require between 5 and 8 Mbps per HD video stream, some can operate well at as low as 3 Mbps without issue.
Founded in 2010, with plans that start at $16.00 you can’t ignore Philo and it’s become one of my favorites. Philo didn’t get released to the general public until November of 2017 but had been providing streaming tv services across college campuses since 2010. Philo is one of the easiest to use, it has a very simple interface your interface options are “Home”, “Live”, “Guide”, and “Saved”, and they are exactly as described.
Philo is rock solid for streaming I’ve been using it since the middle of November 2017 and have had no issues, authentication is simply done through your cell phone when adding a new device. This is a nice feature instead of authenticating a device through a web browser on another internet connected device, like most of the services available. For Philo to be successful on campuses it had to be nimble, simple to use, and cost-effective, it has all 3. If you don’t watch sports, or news this is definitely one to look at.
Playstation Vue: RIP 1/30/2020
Founded in 2015, with tiered based plans start at $39.99 for about 45 channels I’m going to review the $39.99 plan it’s the basic plan, the amount of channels is on par with any of the other plans from the other providers, although the cost is higher than most. PS Vue comes with an interface that is simple to use once you get used to it and includes a cloud-based DVR without space limitations or additional charges as part of its core packages.
I used PS Vue extensively for about 2 years (2015-2017), at the time I signed up it was the only one with simple pricing that included all the channels I wanted and included a cloud-based DVR without any additional charges or space limitations. PS Vue allowed me to drop my Satellite Directtv package that always seemed to inch its way up to $125 no matter how many services or devices I removed.
Founded in 2015 with tiered based plans that start at $19.99 for 1 stream of video. I’ve used SlingTV on and off for the last couple years. I like SlingTV, I’ve used the other services extensively due to the ala carte’ aspect of SlingTv. Previously to get all the channels I wanted with the multiple streams (I need at least 2) used to run me about $50 with the cloud-based DVR add-on. Over the last year they have started to do some bundling with some of the ala carte’ channel packages, now for about $40, I can get all the channels I want with their Cloud-based DVR. Slings DVR service costs $5.00/month and is limited to 50 hours of storage. The amount of channels for $40 rivals any of the other plans, but the service is tiered based and offers several upgrade packages not offered in the basic orange (1 stream/31 channels) or blue (3 streams/45 channels) package.
I used sling for about a year without any issues both on the Roku and the Kindle Fire Tv, the menu is simple to use, and you can control bandwidth usage if your limited or paying per GB in their options menu. Sling streams very nicely at about 3 Mbps.
Directv Now: RIP 11/30/2020
Started in 2017, tiered based plans start at $34.99 for 65 live tv channels currently there is no DVR service available for Directtv Now, but is in beta and should be available soon. The amount of channels rivals any of the other plans, but the service is tiered based and offers different higher priced packages that do include other channels not offered in other packages.
I’ve been using Directtv Now for about 6 months on the Roku and the Kindle Fire Tv the menu is simple to use and makes sense if you’re used to Directtv or most cable menu systems. It constantly stops on the FireTv stick something I refer to as the BSOD (Blue Square of Death), but runs flawlessly on the Roku and Kindle Fire Pendant, you just want to verify that your Roku can run the application, older Roku’s may not be capable of running the app. You’ll want to verify if you have an older Roku that yours is compatible with the service or you’ll want to upgrade your device to support it.
If your looking for a streaming service to replace your current television subscription package any of these should fit the bill and save you some money. None of them require contracts of any kind and are strictly month to month streaming services. If your not into sports or news Philo TV may be your best choice, it’s simple to use is the most mature amongst all of the services available and for only $16 a month, you can’t go wrong. PlayStation Vue is another rock-solid service with good channel offerings although it costs more than any of the other services based on the number of channels for the cost of the subscription. PlayStation Vue doesn’t require you to have or use a Playstation, I think it’s fair to assume most people don’t realize it’s a stand-alone service that doesn’t require anything other than Roku, FireTV, or Chromecast to view.
I have recently gone back to Sling TV for $40/month it has all the channels I watch and DVR, this works for me, it doesn’t buffer or stutter on most devices but seems to run best on the latest Roku device and seems to have a couple issues once in a while with the FireTv devices. DirectvNow is another service that works well they have steadily improved the service since they released any of the bugs that were around during the initial launch have slowly been removed and the quality only seems to get better. If your not looking for Sports or News Philo would be the easy choice, if your looking for more channels including Sports, News and a DVR Sling TV is the next best option.