Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV vie for streaming-video crown

For as little as $35, movie fans can cut the cord - or even cable - to wired streaming-video devices, letting people quickly, conveniently, and cheaply watch programs on their home TV sets.

WASHINGTON – Who needs cable TV anymore?

The arrival of streaming-video devices is prompting some long-time cable customers to cancel their subscriptions in favor of the digital media players that stream video and audio on home television systems, often for free.

“At $35 with easy installation and a cool integration with your computer, smartphone and tablet, the Chromecast is an interesting product,” says Larry Magid, technology analyst with CBS News.

Introduced in July, Chromecast, the almost 3 inch player plugs into a televisions HDMI port and connects to the Internet through a Wi-Fi connection to the user’s home network.

Chromecast supports Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Google Play and Pandora Radio and others.

“For $15 more you can get a Roku, which has far more channels, is very easy to install, and instead of having to use a mobile device to control it, it has an easy to use remote control,” Magid says.

Roku, with its least expensive model priced at $50, streams Amazon Instant Video, which offers thousands of free movies and television programs to Amazon Prime members. It also streams Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, and PBS Kids and Facebook.

“The Roku is a better value,” says Magid. “There’s much more content available, and frankly that’s what’s important when it comes to streaming entertainment and information devices.”

More expensive Roku models include a headphone jack built into the remote control, and the ability to stream 1080p HD video.

Apple TV, the $99 streaming device, which debuted in 2007, streams digital content from the iTunes Store, Netflix, YouTube, as well as view photos from Apple devices.

Even with so many options, Magid hasn’t cut the cable.

“Frankly I don’t watch cable that often, mostly just for news and sports,” says Magid, “When it comes to entertainment programming, I usually watch what’s on the Roku.”

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