I suspect you're like me. You just want to sit down in front of the TV and find something interesting to watch. Fat chance of that these days. Watching your favorite shows is getting more complicated. It's also getting more expensive.
What's wrong with this picture?
For starters, let's look at the current TV landscape. We've got cable, satellite and over-the-air broadcasts. We've got basic stations and premium ones. We've got online video-streaming gadgets like the Apple TV, the Roku box, Google's Chromecast and smart TVs, which can sidestep cable TV.
If you ditch cable for streaming, though, you'll need to choose from the iTunes Store, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube and many other streaming services. Each has distinctive pros and cons but overall inconsistent support on the streaming hardware.
(For you technically astute, I know that there are also the game consoles that offer programming, but let's not even go there.)
If that wasn't enough, Amazon debuted a new box dubbed FireTV for movies, television shows and games. There are also reports of a new Android set-top box from Google that does the same. And not to be left out, there are announcements of a new slate of high-end shows, from Yahoo and Microsoft, getting into the original video programming area.
I suppose I should be thankful for all of this variety, but I'm really just tearing my hair out.
It's a free country, and any company that wants to get into this crazy game can. I understand that there are a lot of interested parties. On the one hand, there are old-school operations like the big cable companies (who want to keep subscribers tied to their big monthly fees) and the hardware makers (like Sony, which makes TVs, high-end game boxes and also owns movie and TV studios).
On the other are the economic disruptors, like Netflix or Apple or Amazon, that have the desire to bring this whole business into the 21st century and have the money to elbow their way into the mix.
I wish I could tell you things are going to get better. For now, they are not. None of these parties has a vested interest in making things easier for us, the consumers. The digital companies, I'll grant you, probably are a bit more idealistic about getting us together under one easy-to-use roof. But they've been frustrated by the old guard in the past and have basically just declared war.
In this analogy, that makes me and you the folks who duck and cover.
What to do in the meantime? To start, try to bring down those cable bills.
Call your cable company. Tell them, sincerely, your cable bills are too high and you need to cut some services; you might come out with a good deal. Or threaten to go to satellite or cut the cord entirely.
Next, consider whether you actually can live without cable. A lot of shows are available online.
If you're a news junkie, a little bit of time figuring out the browser called Tor will let you stream a lot of news programming live. Most cable providers don't let outlets like CNN stream live. They can be seen overseas however, and Tor disguises your country of origin.
If you're with me this far, and you don't have a streaming box yet, that's where your next decision lies. With all these companies vying for consumers, their products are reasonably priced, and quite powerful.
On the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, newsletters and more, visit www.komando.com. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.