I first cut the cord almost two years ago, and I've been a Sling TV customer almost the entire time since then. The service had its ups and downs, but for someone who watches TV as infrequently as I do, Sling was decent enough to keep.
But boy, I did not know what I was missing.
After months of staring at the free PlayStation Vue trial that my PS4 had been dangling in front of my face, I finally gave Sony' internet TV package a try. About an hour in, I immediately canceled Sling, and even ditched some other services. Here's why.
A Night and Day Difference
Going from Sling TV to PlayStation Vue felt like entering a fancy steak house after living on a McDonald's diet — and it's all because of the app experience. Whereas the Sling TV Xbox One app is a crusty, buggy mess (to be fair, other versions work better), PlayStation 4's PS Vue app is fast, clean and just kind of makes sense.
Within minutes, I was favoriting channels and adding shows to my personal library without fighting any weird interface issues. I was taken aback the first time I paused and resumed a live show, which felt far more immediate than doing so on my clunky old cable-box DVR.
Better yet, PlayStation Vue continued to impress me regardless of which device I watched it on. When I moved to my bedroom to watch some TV on my Roku stick, I was treated to the same great channel selection, albeit on a more stripped-down app. When I wanted to watch the Falcons annihilate the Packers on my iPad while playing video games on my TV, the PlayStation Vue mobile app was a perfectly worthy companion.
PlayStation Vue's various apps certainly aren't perfect; you can use the core service only on your home network, and if you want to watch PS Vue anywhere else, you'll have to live with a limited amount of channels on the iOS or Android app. But for someone who watches TV only at home, that minor trade-off has been well worth it.
A Strong Value
A streaming TV service is no good without great channels, and PlayStation Vue's $40-per-month, 45-channel Access package has just about everything I care about watching, however, Sling offers more channels for a lower price. So, it may be worth it to you to see what channels Sling TV has to offer.
But perhaps my favorite thing about PS Vue's channel lineup is that it includes local networks such as CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC (in select cities, at least — I'm in New York). That means that I don't have to switch to my HD antenna when I want to watch local news or catch live prime-time shows, which is a small but significant convenience that Sling didn't offer.
All of PlayStation Vue's channels are made better by an easy-to-use DVR that holds a virtually limitless amount of cloud storage. Once you add a program to your My Shows library, the DVR will automatically save all upcoming episodes. The process is so simple that I had a hard time believing it worked.
Sling currently has a cloud DVR feature in beta, though the service has its work cut out for it if it wants to be half as intuitive and useful as Sony's option.
I was previously paying $25 a month for Sling Orange, with a few Viacom channels added on. While I already got most of what I needed for a much lower price, I'm happy to pay more for PS Vue's robust cloud DVR, access to local channels, and, perhaps most importantly, a properly working app that's simply a joy to use.
Sling's $40 Orange + Blue package is pretty comparable to Sony's $40 Access package in terms of selection, but there's more to a great streaming service than how much you can watch on it.
Cutting Costs: Goodbye, Hulu
Now that I was spending more money on PlayStation Vue, it was time to see what unnecessary costs I could cut. My $8-per-month Hulu subscription was the first to go.
I was already fed up with Hulu; I still think it's absurd to deal with commercials on a paid, on-demand streaming package, and Hulu dropped the lineup of CW superhero shows that I used the service to catch up on (don't judge — The Flash is awesome). And since PS Vue has DVR and major network channels like ABC and NBC, I can binge Agents of Shield while also skipping those pesky ads.
With my Sling and Hulu subscriptions gone, I was paying $40 a month for my online TV fix compared to the combined $33 that those two services cost me. That's only $7 extra per month, and so far, it's been worth every penny.
When I recapped my first year with Sling, I wrote that "I'm fairly content with [the service], but I can't tell if that's because I'm genuinely enjoying the service or if I'm just too lazy to try something new." Looking back, it was certainly the latter.
Switching to PlayStation Vue has changed my life as a cord cutter. I can keep rambling about each tiny thing that makes the service great, from the limitless DVR to the strong channel selection, but what I keep coming back to is just how pleasant and effortless PlayStation Vue is to use. And for a product I turn to for zoning out after a long, tiring workday, that's the most important feature of all.