Video, as we all know, killed the radio star. Now online streaming threatens to slaughter video and every other form of physical media. A growing number of digital download services offer unlimited access to movies, music and video games for less than what you might pay for a single disc. Here are several of the best ways to get more for less.
Old standbys Napster and Rhapsody still offer all-you-can eat buffets of popular songs as long as you subscribe, while alternative-leaning eMusic let you permanently buy a set number of monthly tracks at steep discounts. But streaming radio alternatives like Pandora, Last.fm, Slacker and Grooveshark go a step further, helping you discover, recommend and share a multitude of new music, for the most part without pesky subscriptions.
Movies and TV
Tops for streaming footage, Netflix’s instant play option lets you beam movies and TV shows to your PC, television, game console, WiFi-ready Blu-ray player or smartphone device. A new $8 download-only subscription plan makes its smaller online catalog (best for watching shows like Dexter and The Tudors) easier to swallow, and is already giving Comcast an aneurism over growing Internet usage. While not worth cutting cable for yet, online video service Hulu also makes an easy way to catch up on Bones or Grey’s Anatomy, and a small range of seemingly random films (Sleeping Beauty) and documentaries (Super Size Me).
For a flat monthly rate of $9.99, cloud gaming service OnLive will instantly stream over 40 solid but older titles such as Prince of Persia and Saw to your PC or TV without discs, downloads or lengthy waits — though a $99 adapter is required. Archaic as it seems, those reluctant to part with tangible goods can also try GameFly. Netflix for video games, GameFly lets you rent hundreds of new releases for all systems, delivered to your door and playable as long as you subscribe, starting at $5.95/month.