Jim Fisher

“Cutting the cord” is a term used to describe telling the common TV providers to kiss it and start streaming TV instead. I used to switch back and forth between DirecTV or AT&T’s Uverse service every time one of them ticked me off--which was every time the contract ran out and they upped the price on me. A few years ago, DirecTV and AT&T merged so I really don’t have that option anymore. So I’ve been looking for a TV service that would deliver a fair price and decent channel lineup without a bunch of hassle. I think I’ve settled on YouTube TV for a flat $50 per month - $30 less than what I was paying.

First the good news: YouTube TV offers all the channels I watch including SyFy, AMC, Food Network, lots of sports stuff, along with all the other channels that no one watches. It also comes with all the major news channels and local stations.

You can try out YouTube TV for seven days before you’re charged. There’s no contract for the service so you can cancel at any time. Each YouTube TV subscription allows for up to six separate user accounts so each family member can create a unique profile for customized suggestions and private DVR libraries. Up to three accounts/TVs can stream content simultaneously. Subscribers can record as many shows as they want with no storage limit.

Your TV must have a way of streaming YouTube TV. Newer smart TVs may already have the YouTube TV app. Older TVs will require an external device such as a $35 Chromecast (that’s what I use) or a $25 Firestick from Amazon. You use your smartphone or computer to select what you want to watch.

There is one flaw that I’m struggling to adjust to: the lack of a remote control I can use without looking at it. One of my favorite pastimes is laying on the couch with the remote in one hand, finger on the channel button, and eyes half closed while I channel surf. You can’t do that with YouTube TV. Every time you want to adjust the TV, you have to unlock your phone, launch the app (if it’s not already launched), and look at the phone to do stuff. You can also simply say what you want to watch such as, “Play CNN on living room TV” and your TV will power itself on and play. You can say, “pause TV” or “unpause TV” or “fast forward 3 minutes” and TV will obey. Your TV’s own remote control can also be used to pause and start programs. But none of that is as handy as a simple remote control.

YouTube TV’s channel guide takes some getting used to. You still have to have to use the TV’s remote control to adjust the volume. These annoyances tend to fade a little when I remind myself that I’m saving nearly $400 per year. That will buy plenty of pizza and movie popcorn!

Jim Fisher owns Excel Computer Services in Florence. Reach him at www.ExcelAL.com