Which streaming service is the best?

Our definition of television has changed over the years. In the past, you could only watch TV on the TV. Back then, if you wanted to see a movie, you had to drive all the way to the store to buy or rent a DVD. Thanks to high-speed internet, we can now stream movies and TV shows from the cloud to everything from phones to computers (and yes, even your TV). Now that video streaming has proved insanely popular, dozens of online streaming services have sprung up, all vying for your attention and money. This begs the question: which is the best?

It would be almost impossible to describe every streaming service available, but here is my top 5 list of the most popular services out there.

iTunes: For the Apple enthusiast

Like most Apple products, you either love iTunes or hate it. If you already have Apple products, using iTunes is a great way to sync all your videos, music, and books across all your devices. And whenever you pause a video, you can continue watching where you left off, even on a different device. The downside of this service is that it is only available for Mac products or PC. It’s also slower to update rentals than other providers. Overall, iTunes is a good option for Mac users, but other options are still worth exploring.

Supported devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV, PC/Mac

Price: $0.99 for TV Show Rentals, Movie Rentals starts at $2.99

Selection: iTunes has a good selection to buy; Rentals update more slowly than some other providers

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Vudu: For videophiles

Vudu started life in 2008 as a box of HD movies delivered over the internet. Now they have done away with their hardware and licensed their service to other devices. If you only want the highest quality content, this is the service for you. Besides offering 3D content, Vudu also offers the highest quality videos of any streaming service. They also have some new movies available earlier than other streaming services. The catch is that this service can get expensive.

Supported devices: Android, iPad, Roku, HDTV/Blu-ray, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC/Mac

Price:$2 for 2 days for select titles, other titles start at $4.99 for HD and $5.99 for HDX (with 1080p HD) and typically last 24 hours

Selection: You have thousands of choices, and most titles are available the same day the DVD goes on sale

Amazon Instant Video: The Nice Afterthought

Amazon started selling digital media through a download service. They’ve since switched to Amazon Instant Video, ditching downloaded content in favor of streaming. To get access to Amazon Instant Video, you can sign up for Amazon Prime, which gives you access to some content for free after the annual subscription. Other content can be purchased.

While Amazon’s video catalog is growing rapidly, its level of content still isn’t on par with Netflix or Hulu. However, Amazon has some unique features that are unique to this platform: free two-day shipping and discounted overnight shipping on all Amazon Prime products, and even free monthly book loans from the Amazon Prime Lending Library.

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Supported devices: Kindle Fire, iPad, Nook, Roku, HDTV/Blu-ray, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, WiiU, PC/Mac and more

Price: $79 annual subscription to Amazon Prime, TV shows start at $1.39 to rent and $1.99 to own, new movies start at $3.99 to rent and $14.99 to own

Selection: They have a fair range of older shows and films, there is also a good selection of BBC programming. While they make some new movies available to Amazon Prime members, most of them require you to pay

Hulu Plus: For the TV show Junkie

Hulu Plus started out as a TV series streaming site, and although they offer some movies, the reason to subscribe to Hulu Plus is to watch TV shows. The platform offers more TV series than any other service, especially current episodes, and most of this content is ad-free to watch. Hulu also offers a free service for streaming new episodes of hit TV shows, but it’s only available on your computer.

Supported devices: Android, iPhone, iPad, Roku, Apple TV, HDTV/Blu-ray, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, WiiU, PC/Mac

Price: $7.99 monthly subscription

Selection: The best selection of TV shows from all providers. Hulu Plus is an especially good choice for those who want the latest episodes of hit TV shows

Netflix: Get a little bit of everything

Netflix came on the scene over 10 years ago and completely revolutionized video rentals. They have one of the largest streaming content libraries and millions of subscribers, making Netflix one of the largest video streaming services out there. HD quality isn’t as high as some providers, but the cheap subscription plan and availability on almost any device make Netflix a must-watch for any movie or TV lover.

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Supported devices: Android, iPhone, iPad, Nook, Roku, HDTV/Blu-ray, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, WiiU, PC/Mac and more (just about anything, really)

Price: $7.99 monthly subscription

Selection: With a huge selection of TV shows and a gargantuan selection of movies, Netflix has the best overall video selection out there.

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