Steer clear of cable TV's $50-plus monthly bills with a combo of these Internet cable TV providers.
(MONEY Magazine) -- Cable TV's $50-plus monthly cost may be unavoidable for sports fans and news junkies -- but if you just want a good selection of TV and movies, try a combo of these online services.
Who it's for: The movie buff
Typical fare: "True Grit," "The African Queen," "Downton Abbey"
Thumbs up: Get instant access to newish movies, sturdy classics, and past seasons of TV series.
Thumbs down: New movies may not be available as quickly as on DVD. Many titles in Netflix's DVD library, which costs extra to use, aren't offered at all. $8/month (streaming video only); netflix.com
Who it's for: The TV junkie
Typical fare: "The Daily Show," 37 years of "Saturday Night Live," "Smiles of a Summer Night"
Thumbs up: Catch the full current season of popular network and cable shows, along with archives of past episodes and a smattering of art-house flicks.
Thumbs down: Just as with free TV, periodic advertisements may interrupt your show. $8/month; hulu.com
Who it's for: The impatient grazer
Typical fare: "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Glee" (Season 2), "Moneyball" ($4)
Thumbs up: Enjoy a little-known perk for paying $80 a year for Amazon Prime two-day shipping: Have instant access to shows and movies at no extra cost. Separately, get new films on pay-per-view.
Thumbs down: Selection is smaller than Netflix's. $80/year (Prime), $2-$4 (PPV); amazon.com
The simplest way to enjoy these services, once you've signed up, is to sit at your computer and stare. But you can do better.
To watch on a tablet: Just download the relevant app and sign up. Netflix and Hulu Plus work on iPads and Android tablets, while Amazon is built into a Kindle Fire.
To watch on your TV: Connect your PC by wire to your set. Buy a Roku settop box (starts at $50), which lets you send video wirelessly over a home network to your set. Or use a networked Blu-ray or videogame player, which probably has the necessary software built in.
Connect on the cheap: When you're making a PC-to-TV connection, don't get roped into spending more than you need to.
To get a video signal from most new computers (and other video gadgets) to most new TVs, you'll need what's known as an HDMI cable. You can spend anywhere from $25 to $100 for a brand-name beauty -- or get the same quality link from a generic HDMI that costs $5 on Amazon.com.
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