How streaming is your secret weapon in the TV battles this Christmas
All I want for Christmas
This Christmas, there's one problem that irks so many of us: how do keep watching the stuff WE want to watch when so many other people are fighting for a spot in front of the gogglebox?
It used to be impossible to win when the family is desperate to watch Strictly Come Dancing, but now you can shuttle from TV to laptop to phone in the blink of an eye - and easily pick up where you left off.
Think about it. Not so long ago we would have been wowed by the humble VHS, and its ability to let us watch stuff on the TV whenever we want - as long as we'd had the foresight to set it up beforehand.
DVDs were voodoo in comparison, with their ability to skip through chapters and scenes. In 2015 though, we not only get our content (what we used to call TV shows…) in sparkling Full HD, but we can have it EVERYWHERE - and it can help us in the terrible moments when we're not allowed to watch the TV we want to.
After all, what sort of dark ages is it where we can start watching Jessica Jones on the TV, but aren't able to keep our eyes glued to the action while we sit on the toilet when every other room is filled with screaming children?
Netflix was one of the first companies to implement this feature, and a good thing it did too given that the service is available on pretty much everything.
To watch on your TV, the app is available for most major Smart TVs and connected Blu Ray players by Samsung, Panasonic, LG, Philips, Sony, Sharp and Toshiba.
Then there's also all of the major games consoles: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and even the Wii and WiiU - and dedicated streaming boxes are supported too, including Apple TV (both the new and previous version), Amazon's rival Fire TV (and Fire TV Stick), Roku and Chromecast (though you'll need to use your smartphone or computer to use it with this).
The only real missing platform is Sky - though this is set to change with the launch of Sky Q later this year.
Device support is vast too: There are iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android and even Windows Phone apps (sorry Blackberry), or you can simply watch on Netflix.com in your web browser.
You can even have Netflix on the WiiU gamepad, for if you want to send the kids to play some approved content in their room while you watch something else in the living room.
As with the other services mentioned in this article, switching between devices doesn't take any effort - simply hit "pause" on one device, boot it up on another and it should automatically remember where you were as long as it had a connection (sometimes this can mess up if you've been watching stuff on the commute, but this is rare).
Amazon Instant Video
Netflix's biggest rival in Amazon Instant Video with its Prime Instant Video subscription service. Like Netflix, it has been rolling out apps to as many platforms as possible.
For watching on TV, there's support for loads of Smart TVs and Blu-Ray players by companies such as LG, Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic. Games consoles are also covered, with support on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii and WiiU.
Other connected devices are a little patchier: though Amazon obviously supports its own Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, as well as Roku, the company is stubbornly not getting on board the new Apple TV - although this could be coming from either party.
The best way to watch though is surely on one of Amazon's own Fire TV devices, which offer a deeper level of integration between app and the system it runs on.
For example, Fire TV supports the automatic pre-buffering of content, so that after you finish one episode of The Man in the High Castle, it will have the next one ready to go, with no spinning wheel to wait.
Also as part of the devices' main navigation you can browse through films and TV shows directly, and even carry out voices searches.
The "X-Ray" feature while watching is pretty good too, as it will display extra information about what you're watching with information cribbed from IMDB.
But importantly: What about going mobile? The Instant Video app is built into Amazon's own Kindle Fire tablets (with the same sort of OS integration as the Fire TV), and is also available for download on iPad and iOS.
On other Android devices though, in order to get it you have to first install the Amazon App Store, and then download it from there instead. In other words, there are a few extra hoops to jump through.
If you do use the Android app, you can even download stuff to watch offline - and resume your viewing on the bus or wherever a connection to the magical internet world might be lacking.
Back in August, the BBC finally launched resume functionality for its iPlayer. If you're signed in on multiple devices with your BBC ID (yep, another thing you'll need an account for), you can pause and pick up your show again later either on the same device or elsewhere.
Unfortunately though, support for resume isn't quite universal. Though the iPlayer is available on pretty much every platform imaginable, resume is at the moment only supported on the web browser version of iPlayer and mobile apps.
The Beeb's intention is to roll the feature out wider to other devices (games consoles would be a good start), there isn't a timescale given.
A way around this in the meantime might be to use Google's Chromecast dongle. Then it is simply a case of triggering playback from your laptop or phone, and then stopping casting when you want to pause, so the device remembers your position when you pick it up again.
EE's TV offering is quite unique: it's essentially a Freeview box built for the 21st century. What this means is that in addition to being able to record up to six channels at once, you can access and watch back your recordings - as well as live TV - on both the living room TV and your mobile device.
This at last makes TV truly portable. All you need, aside the EE TV hardware, is the app downloaded to your phone or tablet (both iOS and Android are supported), and you can access and control your TV.
You can even control the programme guide remotely and set stuff to record from your phone.
In terms of resuming between the two, when the box launched EE was very keen to promote the fact that you can "flick" content you're watching on the EE app up on your phone or tablet, and have it automatically continue playing on the TV.
Following on from EE TV it's not surprising Sky has finally joined the multi-platform game with a new premium service called Sky Q launching next year.
Essentially this is a whole new box that will sit under your main TV and will record TV, play on demand and even let you watch TV live as it is broadcast (people still do that, apparently).
The interface has been completely redesigned to look more app-driven than a TV guide - an obvious step towards the 'future' (one that rivals have been working on for years).
But what is perhaps more important is that if you have the Sky Q app on your phone or tablet (which will almost certainly be coming to iOS and Android), or a "Mini Box" under any other TVs in your house then you can watch your content wherever you need it.
Like EE TV this means you can stream TV live, recorded or on demand to your device - and we will be stunned if Sky doesn't build in "resume" style functionality.
The new box is also set to support apps from both Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, so that you can use both of these services on the box, as well as control them with Sky's new touch and voice remote.
Microsoft Movies and TV
If you're a user of Microsoft's ever-shifting portfolio of entertainment services and stores (what is it this week? Zune? Groove? Xbox?) then you'll be pleased to hear that you can continue watching videos bought through the store on mobile devices.
To watch on the TV, you'll need an Xbox One or an Xbox 360 - or a Windows 10 machine plugged in. And to go mobile you can use the Xbox SmartGlass app to watch your video around the home, which is available for both iOS and Android as well as, of course, Windows Phone.
Microsoft is also apparently busy developing a separate Microsoft Movies and TV app for mobile devices where you'll also be able to access your purchases - but this is niche in the extreme compared to the behemoths listed in the piece.
And finally… what about YouTube? As the internet becomes an increasingly important mechanism for delivering content, the amateurs on YouTube are getting bolder and making increasingly long videos too.
But what are you to do if you can't manage all of MovieBob's mammoth dissection of the Spider-Man movies all in one go?
It turns out that YouTube does let you resume watching videos. If what you're watching is more than 20 minutes long, you're signed into your YouTube account and you've watched at least one minute of the video it will remember your play position, so when you navigate back to watch some more it will remember where you are. Brilliant!
Sadly cross-device support for this seems patchy (we can neither find a definitive source confirming either way), but fingers crossed it will be officially supported and shouted about now that YouTube Red sees Google making its on-demand video service more professional.