Before you buy a streaming device to watch live cable TV online, be sure to take a complete inventory of what's already in your living room and each device's features.
At $99, Apple TV with internet TV box is very similar to the Roku, but is best for people who already own Apple products, Wilcox said.
"If you already live in Apple's world, it makes a lot of sense to get an Apple TV," he said.
Apple TV has access to iTunes, Apple's online video store and rental service. It makes it possible to broadcast movies and photos from an iPad onto a home television. The device only works with an HDMI plug-in, which means your live cable TV online needs to be new enough to work. Also, keep in mind that HDMI cables typically aren't included in the price. The cables are sold at retailers, but are typically less expensive if purchased online.
Roku, alternatively, works with older, analog sets. although older TVs can't deliver the sharpest digital images.
Other streaming video brands include the Boxee Box, $200, and the Logitech Revue, $300. Each product has pluses and minuses and it makes sense to shop carefully before making a purchase.
Determine what kind of music and video content you're likely to watch before buying. Double-check the kind of content each internet TV box offers.
For example, only Boxee Box works with Spotify, a type of music streaming channel. Roku offers Pandora, Amazon Instant video rentals and Hulu Plus, but Apple TV doesn't.
One great features of all devices is that they are extensible, or can get better each time they connect to the Internet. Product developers can add features to watch live cable TV online, channels and services automatically.